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Best Read of the Year: 2005 SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2005
compiled by Neil Walsh
In past years, there has frequently been considerable overlap between the SF Site Editors' choices and the Readers' choices for the best books of the year. This time, however, we were surprised to find that the top two books chosen by the SF Site Readership hadn't even made it at all onto the Editors' Choice Top 10. Oh, your top 2 choices received votes from the Contributors and Editors here, but they just didn't make it onto our Best of the Year recommendations -- and not because we don't think they're excellent books. Perhaps it was simply because there was just too much to choose from. At any rate, we're glad the lists are a little different from each other this year, because it gives us an opportunity to highlight an even wider array of great books. Read on to see what you and your fellow SF Site readers considered to be among the best books of 2005.

The Translation of Bastian Test The Translation of Bastian Test by Tom Arden
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
When fifteen-year-old Bastian Test's eccentric artist mother, Julian, dies in a house fire of suspicious origin, he's sent into the care of his guardian, the Marquess of Drumhallurick, who lives in a remote keep on the rocky Scottish coast. Bastian's guardian is the president and founder of the British African Survey Trust -- BAST for short -- which owns and mines the vast gold deposits of the British Anterior Sombagan Territories (BAST again) -- a mountain of riches that Bastian's guardian discovered through an obscure and discredited geological theory.

Eclipse Eclipse by K.A. Bedford
reviewed by Victoria Strauss
"This time tomorrow," thinks James Dunne, newly-minted graduate of the Royal Interstellar Service Academy, "I'll be an officer serving aboard a starship, charting unexplored space!" It's his life dream, untarnished despite the horrors of his Academy years -- an ordeal of rote learning, ritual hazing, and unremitting brutality that would give Pat Conroy nightmares. But the Academy is behind Dunne now, along with the tragedies of his family life and his nagging sense of his own inferiority. The rest of his life can begin. Things don't quite work out that way.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
A jobless pilgrim enters Ambergris, the City of Saints and Madmen. Looking through a window inside a house, he sees the woman he resolves to fall in love with. A tattooed dwarf offers him his services as a matchmaker. The endeavours of the passionate pilgrim lead him to a masturbating living saint and into the mad swirl of the festival of the freshwater squid, which becomes a life-threatening trap to him, for the mysterious greycaps have chosen him as sacrifice...

Like a Virgin: A Conversation with Jayme Lynn Blaschke Like a Virgin: A Conversation with Jayme Lynn Blaschke
Part 1 of an interview with Rick Klaw
On Preparation for an interview:
"I don't just show up, no. That's the kiss of death. You learn that early on in journalism as a reporter. If you show up, your ignorance will be on display for everyone to see and snicker at, and even when you do prepare, a lot of times your ignorance is on display because you haven't prepared enough, even if you do an extensive amount of preparation. "

Platinum Pohl Platinum Pohl by Frederik Pohl
reviewed by Steven H Silver
His career as a science fiction writer dates back to 1937 with the pseudonymous publication of the poem "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna." In addition, he has been an editor, an agent, and a publisher. He has won Hugos, Nebulas, the Skylark, John W. Campbell Memorials, a Grandmaster Award, and more. For all he has done, he is probably best know for his fiction, and this is the first retrospective look at his career since The Best of Frederik Pohl and The Early Pohl were published in 1976.

Giants of the Frost Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Victoria is a well-grounded atheistic meteorologist, who after a messy breakup lands a job on a remote wind-blown Norwegian Island, which just happens to be the Earth side of Bifrost, the mythical bridge between the 'real world' and Asgard, the home of Odin, Freja, Loki, Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon, including Odin's son Vidar. Victoria and Vidar meet, sparks fly, but between Victoria's entanglements with coworkers, Vidar's jealous bond-maiden, and Loki the trickster, things aren't going to go smoothly, especially when Odin hears of things.

Quiver Quiver by Stephanie Spinner
reviewed by Amal El-Mohtar
Set in a mythic, ancient Greece, where centaurs are as much of a threat to people as the boars sent by vengeful gods, it tells the story of Atalanta, who, cast out at birth for being a girl instead of the son her father hoped for, is suckled by a she-bear and raised by hunters. She takes a vow of chastity, devotes her life to the goddess Artemis, and, at sixteen, is reckoned by many to be "the swiftest mortal alive," as well as a brilliant huntress. She longs for glory and, in search of it, takes part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt.

Old Twentieth Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman
reviewed by Rich Horton
Here, the ideas the author juggles are immortality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and a variant on the generation starship. He is also, as the title tells us, concerned with the 20th Century, the bloodiest century (though the 21st will turn out to be bloodier, says this novel), and the last century in which death was inevitable.

Close To My Heart: Dune Close To My Heart: Dune by Frank Herbert
a review by Alma A. Hromic
"The original Dune was published in 1965; its two sequels, completing the original trilogy, followed over the next decade, with Children of Dune making an appearance in 1979. I was two when the first book was published, thirteen by the time the third one came out, and fourteen when I first crossed paths with Herbert's world."

Keith Brooke
Genetopia Genetopia by Keith Brooke
a novel excerpt
"In the day's harsh sunlight the Leaving Hill appeared white with bones. Flintreco Eltarn adjusted his sunhood and scrambled up the last of the rough incline, following the path his sister had taken moments before. It was good to get away after a morning spent working the fruit trees of the family holding."

Keith Brooke A Conversation With Keith Brooke
An interview with Jeff VanderMeer
On his Nick Gifford persona:
"I did have fun creating Nick's online presence, though, particularly his monthly journal at www.nickgifford.co.uk, which has turned into a blend of truth and one or two slight fabrications. As Nick's first novel was a vampire novel, he wrote about keeping pet vampire bats (called Harker, Mr Lugosi and Flopsy) at the bottom of his garden -- one of the commonest questions I was asked as Nick in the first year or so was how it was to keep vampire bats as pets. More recently, if you believe his journal, Nick has been doing a book tour of rather obscure English towns and villages."

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
The appeal of Doctor Who is curious -- somehow cheesy special effects are compensated for by the Doctor's cheeky insouciance, and what started out as a low-budget children's programme has become the longest running science fiction television series of all time.

SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2005 SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2005
compiled by Neil Walsh
If you've been an SF Site reader for more than a couple of years, you'll know that our annual Top 10 list is never limited to a mere 10 books. We've never fudged the numbers, which means that we always present ties exactly as they came out in the voting. Usually, however, there is a clear winner in the number one spot -- a runaway lead that leaves everything else far behind. This year was different.

Mythic Delirium, Issue 13 Mythic Delirium, Issue 13
reviewed by Amal El-Mohtar
Have you ever tried to recommend a brilliant fantasy or science fiction novel to a friend who has never read fantasy or science fiction before? Now, consider, these are obstacles that the avid SF reader must surmount in order to get readers of mainstream fiction to broaden their horizons. Imagine, then, how much more difficult it is to get anyone at all to read fantasy poetry.

First Novels

The Forgotten Beasts of Eld The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKillip
reviewed by Alma A. Hromic
There is a sense of antiquity about this book -- not that of a dusty obsolescence nor a sliding into oblivion. On the contrary, this is one of those shining complex things that our ancestors seemed to find it easy to do and that we have somehow forgotten in the rush and spin of our modern days -- this has the feel to it of a tale that has come down from some ancient dawn, a day long gone, but it is bright with the ancient magic and it feels ageless, eternal, light and perfect like a star.

Second Looks

The Overnight The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
The author does what he does best, write exquisite prose, develop atmosphere over blood and gore, and thereby develops a truly creepy and gloomy mood surrounding the store's staff and the sense of doom which overshadows them. The book is also interesting as each chapter is presented in turn from the point of view of a different character, so one gets, at times, multiples views of the same events.

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