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Sunday, February 6, 2011

The 2010 Locus Recommended Reading List with Comments (by Liviu Suciu)

Locus has recently put out its annual Recommended Reading List and then followed with the Locus Awards online voting form. Since the magazine purports to represent the sff field, I always pay attention to its list and I vote in the poll.

I posted my
full vote list for 2008 HERE and highlights from my vote list for 2009 HERE - I do not remember why I did not post my full list but it may be that I forgot to save it - and once I will vote in the near future, I will post again my full vote list; I urge every sff lover to take 15-20 minutes and vote HERE.

For now I want to discuss the 3 main categories: SF novel, Fantasy novel and Debut novel.


Novels - Science Fiction

Comments: 17/18 novels with the Willis duo.

Opened 15 - have not heard of Birdbrain until now and I never touch a W. Gibson novel since I do not like his style.

Fully read 5 - Surface Detail (A++, #1 sff and all around 2010 novel of mine), Hull Zero Three (A+, recommended list), The Passage (A, very slow and boring middle third takes away from a better than expected novel), Terminal World (B/A-, disappointment list), The Dervish House (D, dismal)

More-or-less fast-read 2 - the ultra-forgettable Brain Thief and the "interesting premise but poor execution in which my suspension of disbelief got broken fast and I just could not take it seriously" Blackout; from the remaining books, the only one I am sure I will read at some point is Cryoburn, with Zendegi an outside shot if I am ever in the mood for it.

The one big surprise on the list is Directive 51 since I just cannot see how junk like that got included.

In general I found this list ok'ish, more core-sf'nal than I expected though still somewhat away from what is sf today and there is even a Baen book to my surprise, but I guess that Lois Bujold is too big a name to be ignored...


Novels - Fantasy

Comments: 24 novels

Opened 14 - 4 of the unopened ones are from series I do not follow since the first volume was not for me though I liked some of the respective authors' other offerings in two cases and I would be willing to try something closer to my taste in the other two (Changeless, Wolf Age, Jade Man's Skin, Hespira) 5 are from authors I do not touch since I do not like their style - Hill, Holland, McKillip, Straub, Stross, while the Pinborough novel seems far from my taste and being Gollancz, I would need to order it from the UK which I have no interest in doing; if it ever gets a US edition, I may take a look though.

Fully Read 6 - The Folding Knife (A++, top fantasy of mine in 2010), The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (A++, top 10 novel of 2010, though I do not really think it's fantasy, maybe sf if you want to make it sff), The Half -Made World (A++, top 25 novel and top 10 fantasy), The Sorcerer's House (A+, recommended list), The Desert Spear (A, more forgettable than I expected on first read), Under Heaven (A-, beautiful writing and world building but huge flaws and one of the worst main leads in recent novels, the "boy with the golden spoon")

Of the rest Kraken (still stuck around page 200) and Shades of Grey - this one I kind of fast read it, but when book 2 appears I may read it carefully too - are the ones most likely to be finished by me.

Here I cannot say I am surprised by any selection maybe except for Changeless, though Locus trying to at least pay lip service to the current trends by including standard UF is a good thing imho. The traditional fantasy is also better represented than I expected though the list is still far away from what core fantasy is today. Here Locus still needs a lot of catch-up to claim being representative.


First Novels

Comments: 15 novels

Opened 14 - I do not remember having heard of Meeks until now

Fully Read 6 - The Last Page (A++, top 25 novel), The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (A+, recommended list), The Bookman (A+, recommended list), Shades of Milk and Honey (A-, liked the style but too little substance), The Quantum Thief (B, far away from the hype but a mostly entertaining middling sf closer to Scalzi/Sawyer than to Banks/Reynolds, disappointment though mostly due to hype), The Dream of Perpetual Motion (D, the one debut I really wanted to like and it just fell flat for me - Robert has reviewed it for FBC and he liked it more)

More-or-less-finished - Clowns at Midnight (pretty good and I want to give it a more careful read at some point), How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe (dismal sf for grad-lits who have no clue about math, I recommend everyone to read this review of it since it says a lot of what I thought, though I would add a recommendation that the author tries to learn what a differential equation is before throwing the term around freely; at least Mr. Huso's holomorphs/holomorphy makes some sense in The Last Page's context and that is supposed to be fantasy not sf)

I am unlikely to read any of the remaining novels here. All in all, a decent list and considerably better than I expected.


MeiLin Miranda said...

Liviu, if you get a chance, read MK Hobson's "The Native Star." Very entertaining.

Liviu said...

I have a copy somewhere and I took a look and filed it under "to be considered" - so I may give it a try at some point, though as always the problem is that I have 100+ books (I own) I plan to read and I am currently reading from some 12...

Thank you for the suggestion!

Bastard said...

I follow Carriger's series, and that book has zero business being in that list.

I guess they like their comedy of manners, which is really where the book delivers.

John Dax said...

I love the cover on the Iain M Banks novel. Luckily, I have some other good reasons to read that book too.

Liviu said...

B: While the Carriger books are not for me, I applaud Locus trying to extend beyond their comfort zone and be more representative of the current scene

John: I like that cover too, though some people thought it too "photoshopped" - personally I think it fits the book and its theme well


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