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Saturday, January 17, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Felix Gilman


2008 FAVORITES:

I'm halfway through
Holly Phillip'sThe Engine's Child” right now, and I love it. It's beautiful and numinous, very richly visual, with a remarkable economy of words. I read half of it in 2008, that counts, right? I think I discovered Steph Swainston early this year (The Year of Our War, No Present Like Time, The Modern World) and I thought she did this sort of fantasy about as well as it can possibly be done. J.M. McDermott'sLast Dragon” is very odd and very good. Ditto, in a completely different way, Jeff VanderMeer's human-resources-gothic “The Situation”.

I think it was also this year that I discovered
Charles G. Finney. Finney has been dead for a quarter century, so this is old news, but what the hell. I'd always heard of The Circus of Dr. Lao as one of those classics you really should read, but never got round to it until I happened to come across a second-hand copy for a dollar on a bookstall just outside my apartment. It is incredibly good. I wish I'd read it earlier, so I could have read it more often. It takes its place alongside Gormenghast in my personal pantheon of the mid-century fantastic. Finney's other books, The Unholy City and The Magician Out of Manchuria, are also great, particularly The Unholy City.

Speaking of Gormenghast, there was a new edition this year of
Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast-related novella Boy in Darkness, It's a wonderful story, and the book is gorgeously illustrated (Peake made his living mainly as an illustrator).

William Vollmann's faux-hobo memoir-cum-polemic-cum-personal meditation “Riding Toward Everywhere” is probably not for everyone, in fact I would not blame you if you found it incredibly irritating, but if you like that sort of thing (and I do) it's fascinating and thought-provoking and moving & etc.

LOOKING AHEAD TO 2009:

China Mieville'sThe City and The City” and Jeff VanderMeer'sFinch”. Is that predictable or what?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Felix Gilman lives in New York City where he works as a lawyer. He is the author of “Thunderer” and the recently released sequel, “Gears of the City”. He also appears in “The New Weird” anthology edited by
Ann & Jeff VanderMeer. 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
HERE.

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