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SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of 2001 SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of 2001
compiled by Neil Walsh
The results are in for our 4th annual Readers' Choice Best SF & Fantasy of the Year Top 10 List. Last year, the list was dominated by fantasy titles, but this year there's more of a balance between fantasy and science fiction. Have a look to see which are the most recommended titles from 2001 as determined by your fellow SF Site readers. (Thank you again to everyone who voted!)

Ursula K. Le Guin
Ursula K. Le Guin A Conversation With Ursula K. Le Guin
An interview with Nick Gevers
On Taoism:
"...but what happened to the practice and teaching of Taoism under Mao that was the initial impetus of [The Telling]. I was shocked to find that a 2500-year-old body of thought, belief, ritual, and art could be, had been, essentially destroyed within ten years, and shocked to find I hadn't known it, though it happened during my adult lifetime. The atrocity, and my long ignorance of it, haunted me. I had to write about it, in my own sidelong fashion."

The Telling The Telling by Ursula K. Le Guin
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Sutty, an Earth woman, comes to the planet Aka as an Ekumen envoy, researching Akan history and culture. Before leaving Earth she learned the ancient Akan language, but she arrives to discover that in the 60 light years her journey took, the planet has been transformed. A monolithic new government has outlawed all old customs and beliefs, including the old language, and all old books have been zealously hunted down and destroyed.


Meet Me in the Moon Room Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
There are some writers who consistently surprise their audience -- M. Night Shyamalan, Rod Serling, Alfred Hitchcock, spring to mind -- but these are "kid stuff" compared to this author. Anyone who can read the opening lines of one of his stories and predict the outcome has either cheated and read the ending first or actually has ESP, because there is no other way they could figure it out. Quite simply, no one else's mind works like his and we are helpless to resist his allure (so, apparently, were the Philip K. Dick award committee).

The Getaway Special The Getaway Special by Jerry Oltion
reviewed by Steven H Silver
Alan Meisner is a civilian scientist on a shuttle mission with three astronauts. Although he is aboard to perform an experiment which has NASA approval, nobody knows that Meisner's real agenda is to demonstrate his hyperdrive. At the same time, he releases the technical details on the internet. To his surprise, the governments of the world try to suppress his discovery and he finds himself on the run with Judy Gallagher, the shuttle pilot he manages to convince to accompany him.

Peril's Gate Peril's Gate by Janny Wurts
reviewed by William Thompson
Having escaped the plots of the Koriani enchantresses that concluded Grand Conspiracy, Arithon s'Ffalenn flees in winter across Rathain and the empty wastes of Daon Ramon Barrens, hounded by the Armies of Light and his half brother, Lysaer, the Curse of Deshthiere threatening at any moment to overtake him.  Alone, still aware that he is as yet ensnared within the web of the Prime's schemes to undermine the Law of the Major Balance, to break the compact established with the Paravians and grant mankind ascendancy, the Master of Shadow finds himself temporarily abandoned by the Fellowship, who themselves are under sorcerous siege, with no time to spare the s'Ffalenn heir.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick continues his answer to the question, Whatever Happened to Mr. Straczynski? The gentleman who gave us the Babylon 5, Legend of the Rangers and Crusade TV shows has moved on to Jeremiah. And Rick offers us news on The X-Files along with tips on what's worth watching on television during March.

Tails You Lose Tails You Lose by Lisa Smedman
reviewed by Donna McMahon
One of the signs of a successful novel is that it stands alone, regardless of whether the reader has read prequels, or -- in the case of media and gaming tie-ins -- is familiar with the universe it's set in. On that basis, this novel in the Shadowrun series, is a winner -- a book that is readable by anybody, regardless of their interest or disinterest in gaming.

The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 2002 The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, February 2002
reviewed by David Soyka
"We all know there's more than meets the eye out there." This theme is, to one extent or another, shared by all the fiction -- as well as non-fiction -- in February's issue, not to mention the genre, and literature as a whole. Which, David thinks, is why most of us read this stuff. Not just for fun -- though some of these stories are quite fun -- but to ponder what might be.

Frameshift Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer
reviewed by Rodger Turner
Pierre Tardivel's life hangs on the flip of a coin. His father died of Huntington's disease so he's got a 50-50 chance. He's moved to Berkeley to do post-doctoral work on the Human Genome Project, mankind's attempt to map DNA. The author asks a number of probing questions about where genetic science is leading us.

 Vox: SF For Your Ears Vox: SF For Your Ears
a column by Scott Danielson
Scott Danielson is looking at audio SF -- on tape, on CD, on whatever. This time out, he has been listening to American Gods by Neil Gaiman, Star Wars: The Approaching Storm by Alan Dean Foster and By His Bootstraps by Robert A. Heinlein.

The Ant-Men of Tibet and Other Stories The Ant-Men of Tibet and Other Stories edited by David Pringle
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
This is not really a best-of anthology, more of a sampling of recent work by writers who have come to be associated with Interzone. As such, it showcases a variety of material, both SF and fantasy, and the quality varies as much as the content. Highlights include Peter T. Garrat's "The Collectivization of Transylvania" putting the Dracula legend to good use during the fall of communism in Romania and Keith Brooke's "The People of the Sea" telling a tale of mermaids, fathers, and shifting time-lines.

Promised Land Promised Land by Connie Willis & Cynthia Felice
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Imagine you are an intelligent, ambitious young woman, just graduated from university. You travel to a backwater planet in order to settle your deceased mother's affairs, hoping to collect your inheritance, and get away within 24 hours. When you arrive, the lawyer informs you that you were betrothed as a child and, under the laws of this dismal colony, you are now legally married to a hick farmer who is here to take you back to his remote rural hovel.

Geeks With Books Geeks With Books
a column by Rick Klaw
Rick Klaw gives us a look at how things work from behind the counter of a book store. Many have wandered in asking for a book knowing nothing more that the colour of the cover, the design on the front or who the main character is. The bookseller's challenge: find that book and make a sale.

Best Read of the Year: 2001 Best Read of the Year: 2001
compiled by Neil Walsh
Just as our last Best Read of the Year: 2000 list did, this one had its share of surprises and treasures. As much effort as these kinds of Awards are to do, the rewards for the diligent compiler are considerable. The writers, reviewers and editors of the SF Site present their pick for the Top Ten Books of the year. Everyone who contributed to this list -- no matter how widely read we thought we were -- walked away with a discovery or 2 (or 10) that made all the work worthwhile.

The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay by Michael Chabon
reviewed by David Maddox
Right from the beginning it's clear that this book is something special. The magnificent paperback cover design by Henry Sene Yee resembling a well-worn, over-read pulp novel of the 40s helps to transport the reader back to a different era, a time when heroes were born. As the story opens, young Josef Kavalier, with the help of his magical mentor Bernard Kornblum, is escaping Nazi-occupied Europe while trying to conceal an ancient golem from inquisitive Gestapo.

New Arrivals New Arrivals
compiled by Neil Walsh
February was a short month and it sure did seem to go by quickly, but it brought us a good number of interesting new novels, collections and magazines, as well as a some noteworthy re-releases and reprinted classics...

First Novels

Altered Carbon Altered Carbon by Richard K. Morgan
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
Takeshi Kovacs is a former Envoy. Envoys' specialized training and neurochemical enhancements, designed to make them perfect long-distance warriors and flawless investigators, also place them just this side of psychopathic. Many Envoys, when discharged from the Corps, turn to crime, and Kovacs is no exception. Kovacs wakes from imprisonment to find himself in Bay City, Earth. He's been retrieved and hired by industrialist Laurens Bancroft, whose fabulous wealth allows him to maintain a clone facility that renders him and his family effectively immortal. Kovacs' assignment: to investigate Bancroft's death in a previous body, which the police have ruled a suicide.

The Ghost Sister The Ghost Sister by Liz Williams
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
Four explorers from the exquisitely controlled planet of Irie St. Syre have arrived at the failed colony of Monde D'Isle to understand what went wrong and to bring their religion of Gaianism to any survivors they might discover. What they find should push that missionary position completely out of their minds, but 3 of the 4 are a stubborn and single-minded lot. It is only Shu Gho, the team's tag-along author who will come to know the people of this "cursed" planet.

Non-Fiction

The Science of Science-Fiction Writing The Science of Science-Fiction Writing by James Gunn
reviewed by Trent Walters
With all the hundreds of books on writing (or dozens in the case of science fiction in particular), why should you pick up this one? One reason is that the author backs up his theory with examples. Another reason is the variety of sections not a focus in other books: "Author Strategy", "Scene -- the Smallest Dramatic Unit", and two entire sections not found in other books on writing: the specific protocols of SF and a critical focus on the successes of early SF giants.

Second Looks

The Black Chalice The Black Chalice by Marie Jakober
reviewed by Donna McMahon
It is the year 1103, and the German knight Karelian is returning from the Crusades to his home in the Reinmark, with his faithful young squire Paul in his retinue. Karelian is a man of thirty-eight who has made his fortune fighting, but is weary and embittered by the bloody atrocities committed in Jerusalem in the name of the Christian God. Karelian has no desire to fight ever again, but his duke, Gottfried, has returned from the Crusades with a megalomaniacal thirst to start a new holy war.

Only Begotten Daughter Only Begotten Daughter by James Morrow
reviewed by Martin Lewis
Every month Murray Katz supplements his income by donating to the local sperm bank. However, one month in 1974 something unusual happens. Murray's donation spontaneously becomes a cell cluster, a potential human. This can mean only one thing: immaculate conception. Murray's cell cluster is the daughter of God. He steals her and the ectogenesis machine that supports her and takes her back to his lighthouse on the Atlantic where he christens her Julie.

The Reality Dysfunction The Reality Dysfunction by Peter F. Hamilton
reviewed by Rodger Turner
On a start-up colony planet, a chance meeting between an indentured sociopath and an alien entity blends the two together forming an outwardly human hive collective. Spreading disorder and rebellion, he and his followers escape the planet to begin spreading through out the Confederation. Nothing seems capable of stopping them. The Navy tries, a group of privateers try, the AI consciousness running space platforms tries, the alien scientists try. Even the galaxy's worst bad guy exiled to a planet without escape tries. They all recognize that unless somebody stops this monster, their civilization will disappear.

The Night Watch The Night Watch by Sean Stewart
reviewed by Donna McMahon
This novel is a fantasy set in a post-apocalypse landscape of 2074. Small cores of survivors live in Edmonton and Vancouver. The apocalypse they survived was the re-emergence of magic into the world and its triumph over human technology. Technology still exists, but people have concentrated on learning the vital magic skills that allow them to co-exist with gods, ghosts and demons. However, like glaciers pulling back to the ice cap, magic may be starting to retreat, and it seems the world is about to change again.


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