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Monday, January 26, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Lev Grossman


There was a second there when I froze and thought, holy God, I can't think of enough great SF and F from 2008, and I will be exposed for what I am, a bad author who doesn't read enough. Then it all came back to me. Whew.

1)Matter” by
Iain Banks. “Sursamen collected adjectives the way ordinary planets collected moons. It was Arithmetic, it was Mottled, it was Disputed, it was Multiply Inhabited, it was Multi-million-year Safe, and it was Godded.” To me Banks is one of the Great Living Masters. Not only has he created a far-future, ultra-high-tech universe that feels as rich and detailed as, well, reality, he's created a whole rich, detailed, living vocabulary to describe it with. And he's funny, too.

2)The Graveyard Book” by
Neil Gaiman. A little boy whose parents have been killed wanders into a graveyard. The ghosts there decide they will bring him up as their own. Thus are the comforting and the horrifying mingled together so closely that you can't tell where one stops and the other starts. Each chapter of this book is as dense and moving as an entire novel by another, lesser author. Damn you Neil Gaiman.

3)Anathem” by
Neal Stephenson. I found it hard to get into this book, and once I was in I find it impossible to leave. The plot: cloistered mathematicians maintain the integrity of their scholarship by staying safely locked away from the contaminations of the outside world, and of other orders of mathematicians. Until the outside world goes to hell and needs some math to fix it. It seems impossible that anybody could be this smart and also this good of a writer. And yet here's the evidence.

4)The Great Outdoor Fight” by
Chris Onstad. The first major-label print book from the webcomic masterpiece Achewood. The Great Outdoor Fight: “3 Days. 3 Acres. 3,000 Men.” Achewood is one of those things that's kind of hard to explain. If you don't get it, you don't get it. But if you do get it? You've come home, son.

5) I'm having trouble cutting this list off at five.
Rich Burlew, the genius auteur behind “The Order of the Stick”, released another print volume this year, “War and XP’s”. If you're reading OOTS then you're probably also reading the equally great “Battle For Gobwin’s Knob”—still waiting for a print version of that. The final issue of “Y: The Last Man” came out this year. I think. And Naomi Novik released the fifth Temeraire book this year, “Victory of Eagles”. Dragons plus Napoleonic warfare—so great.


The great but difficult to pronounce
China Miéville has “The City and the City” coming up later this spring. The great, easily pronouncable George R.R. Martin has sworn a mighty oath to deliver “Dance With Dragons” this fall. Please, oh please. Also looking forward to volume 2 of “All-Star Superman”. Oh, and Daniel Suarez'sDaemon”, too. Though if we're going to stickle, “Daemon” Is already out, since it went on sale on January 8. And he self-published it back in 2006. And I've already read it. But it's still great.


My book “The Magicians” will be out in May in the U.K. and in August in the U.S. It's a novel about a boy named Quentin who's obsessed with a series of fantasy novels about a magical land called Fillory. Quentin winds up attending a secret college for magic—a bit like Hogwarts but more dangerous and with more drinking. Then when he graduates he discovers that Fillory isn't fictional at all...


A graduate from Harvard with a degree in Literature, Lev Grossman is the author of “Warp”, the internationally bestselling “Codex”, and the upcoming “The Magicians”. He has written for a number of notable publications including the Village Voice, Entertainment Weekly, Time Out New York, Salon and the New York Times, and is currently a book critic/technology writer for
Time. Lev is also the twin brother of Austin Grossman who wrote “Soon I Will Be Invincible”. For more information, please visit the author’s Official Website.

NOTE: For more author responses, please visit Fantasy Book Critic's 2008 Review/2009 Preview index


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