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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Fantasy Book Critic’s 2008 Review/2009 Preview — Paul McAuley


Apart from a steady diet of non-fiction and pulp crime, I didn’t manage to read much until a big splurge at the end of the year. Here are a few novels I can throughly recommend:

1)The Word of God” by
Thomas M. Disch. Funny, sour-sweet, sometimes uncomfortable but always on-target satire by a much-missed master.
2)Night Work” by
Thomas Glavinic. A nicely sustained piece of dour mittel-European existential horror riffing on the last man on Earth theme.
3)House of Suns” by
Alastair Reynolds. A space opera that combines a mythic love story and a gothic-style family mystery with a slew of classic but thoroughly reworked SF tropes. His best yet. (Following John Clute’s Protocol of Candour, I must declare that Al Reynolds is a friend of mine, he’s recommended a novel I published this year, and I’ve written an introduction to his collection, Zima Blue, so take this with as large a pinch of salt as you like.)
4)Winterstrike” by
Liz Williams. Another family mystery story, this time set on Mars and Earth in the far future; an edgy, finely wrought science fantasy.

A couple of books I should have read when they came out, but am glad that I caught up with:

1)Blindsight” by
Peter Watts. A tough and challenging take on that old chestnut, First Contact. You might not wholly agree with Watt’s bleak, neo-Darwinian premise, but you have to admire how he weaves his arguments into the spine of the narrative.
2)Spin” by
Robert Charles Wilson. A very different take on First Contact, skilfully and sympathetically blending the stuff of ordinary human life with a dizzying plunge into Deep Time.


Paul McAuley is the author of numerous science fiction novels including the Philip K. Dick Award-winning “Four Hundred Billion Stars”, the acclaimed Confluence Trilogy, and “Fairyland” which won both the Arthur C. Clarke and John W. Campbell awards. “The Quiet War” is the author’s most recent release and will be followed by the sequel, “Gardens of the Sun”, in late 2009. Paul also has a Ph.D. in botany and has worked as a researcher in biology at various universities including Oxford and UCLA. For more information, please visit the author’s
Official Website and Official Blog.

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


Janet said...

There's a sequel to Spin: Axis. It is just as wonderful. Maybe better.


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