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Anathem Anathem SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2008
compiled by Neil Walsh
For more than a decade now, SF Site has been annually soliciting you, our readers, to vote for your favourite books of the past year. Over the past couple of months, we've been receiving your input on the best of 2008 with interest, and now we're ready to present the results. What follows is the best books of 2008 as chosen by the SF Site readers. It's an interesting list this year and one that Neil feels good about, since there's so much overlap with the Editors' Choice Top 10.

Just Another Judgement Day Just Another Judgement Day by Simon R. Green
reviewed by Michael M Jones
The Walking Man, the unstoppable instrument of God's wrath, has come to the Nightside, for the sole purpose of killing the Authorities and razing the Nightside to the ground. Guess who gets tapped to try to resolve this situation? John Taylor, that's who. He's a private detective who's handled the weirdest, nastiest, most suicidal, most insane cases the Nightside has to offer, and they think he's just right for the job.

Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait Time Machines Repaired While-U-Wait by K.A. Bedford
reviewed by David Maddox
Time travel has fascinated humans for eons. To skip across years, see historical events that have passed and try to change your world for the better… or worse. But imagine a world where time machines are as common as a toaster oven. How would it affect choices, consequences and human nature?

The Empress of Mars The Empress of Mars by Kage Baker
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
Mars is being colonized and terra-formed under the auspices of the British Aerean Company, an off-shoot of the British company that had successfully built a colony on the moon. Colonizing Mars hasn't gone quite as well, there turns out to be a lot less immediate profit involved. As the story begins, many of the Martian colonists have found their jobs with British Aerean terminated, and they are being left to fend for themselves. Prominent among them is Mary Griffith, proprietor and brew-master of the only bar on the planet.

The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard The Horror Stories of Robert E. Howard by Robert E. Howard
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Robert E. Howard, creator of Conan the Barbarian, Solomon Kane and other memorable characters, has such a reputation as a master of heroic fantasy that it's easy to forget that his huge production includes a number of strong, colourful horror pieces. Never a refined stylist, he displayed an energetic and vivid type of storytelling also in his horror fiction which tends to feature brave, strong-willed men fearlessly facing alien forces and evil creatures.

The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy The Del Rey Book of Science Fiction and Fantasy edited by Ellen Datlow
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The first story, Jason Stoddard's "The Elephant Ironclads" features an alternate version of Navajo civilisation, where scientists are searching for uranium, and two native boys are fascinated by armoured elephants of legend. Elizabeth Bear, who is undoubtedly a top quality writer, delivers "Sonny Liston Takes the Fall," which offers an new slant on the famous clashes between Liston and the then Cassius Clay.

Clockwork Phoenix Clockwork Phoenix by Mike Allen
reviewed by Michael M Jones
Billed as "Tales of Beauty and Strangeness," this anthology is the editor's latest effort to inject a little more weirdness and artistic fantasy into the market, working from his own particular tastes of what he personally enjoys reading. His introduction to the anthology yields little concrete wisdom into the method and madness he used to construct this particular collection of stories, for all its poetic imagery and vivid, dreamlike narrative, but consulting the Clockwork Phoenix web site turns up more solid requirements.

Anathem Anathem by Neal Stephenson
an audiobook review by Sarah Trowbridge
"Do your neighbors burn one another alive? ... Do your shamans walk around on stilts? ... When a child gets sick, do you pray? Sacrifice to a painted stick? Or blame it on an old lady?" Thus begins this monumental new novel of ideas and adventure. Fraa Orolo is posing these questions to an artisan from the Saecular world who -- against orthodoxy -- has been summoned inside the walls of a monastic-style community (the "concent") to perform a hasty, unscheduled repair. Immersed in this encounter between denizens of separate societies, the listener begins to know a world that is, by turns, strangely familiar and suddenly unexpected.

Justice League of America: Exterminators Justice League of America: Exterminators by Christopher Golden
an audiobook review by Gil T. Wilson
Based on a novelization of DC Comics' series, this audio adaptation begins when a surprisingly large number of people begin popping up with super-powers. These "meta-humans" come under close scrutiny by the Justice League because the newcomers can use their powers for either good or bad. While some mutants want to help the world's renowned superheroes, others seek to use their powers for ill will, creating new problems for the heroes to overcome.

Starman Jones Starman Jones by Robert Heinlein
Narrated by Paul Michael Garcia

an audio review podcast by Brian Price
A boy runs away from home and runs to the stars. Innocent, absorbing, and immensely entertaining -- that's what Robert Heinlein brought to the Golden Age of science fiction.
Click on the link to get the MP3 podcast file.

Postscripts: by Author Postscripts: by Author
compiled by Rodger Turner
In the spring of 2004, PS Publishing launched a new magazine called Postscripts. Originally, the magazine was to feature fiction, a guest editorial, book reviews, and the occasional non-fiction article in each issue. Fiction includes SF, fantasy, horror, and crime/suspense. The book was produced in two formats: numbered, limited edition in hard cover signed by all contributors and a perfect bound paper cover version. With the publication of #18 (Spring 2009), Postscripts magazine has morphed into a quarterly anthology with the paper version transforming into a hard cover title.

Anathem Anathem SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2008
compiled by Neil Walsh
Welcome to the SF Site's 12th annual Editors' Choice Top 10 Best Books of the Year -- our official Best Reading recommendations from 2008! As the votes came in for our official best read of the year, it seemed that our reviewers and other contributors were not reading very much of the same thing -- our tastes and preferences vary widely. In consequence, the results were very close. Nevertheless, I think you'll find that what we've come up with is a set of recommendations that will be sure to please.

A Conversation With Philip José Farmer A Conversation With Philip José Farmer (1918-2009)
An interview with Dave Truesdale
The following interview took place at Minicon 10, Minneapolis, MN, April 19, 1975 -- in the hotel bar. Its first and only publication appeared in Tangent #2, May, 1975. Interviewers were Dave Truesdale, Jerry Rauth, and Paul McGuire. Some few months before this interview, Phil Farmer had written Venus on the Half-Shell as by one of Kurt Vonnegut's characters, Kilgore Trout. It was all the rage in the fan and semi-pro magazine press back then as fans and authors alike spilled a lot of ink trying to guess who Kilgore Trout really was.

The Caryatids The Caryatids by Bruce Sterling
reviewed by Derek Johnson
Told in three sections with a different clone sister as viewpoint character in each, the book opens in the 2060s, thirty years after idealistic revolutionary Yelisaveta Mihajlovic has cloned seven daughters and one son -- the caryatids of the title -- to save the world from ecological collapse. Dispersed by political turmoil which results in the death of three, the surviving siblings are scattered throughout the globe, while their mother escapes to Earth orbit.

Incandescence Incandescence by Greg Egan
reviewed by Paul Kincaid
Why do we read hard science fiction? It could be that in a hard SF story the characters are bound by the laws of the universe, the threat they face is shaped by the immutable rule of nature. In other words, science is king, physics or chemistry or, just occasionally, biology provides the threat faced and the solution, if any. It is science fiction at its most intellectually austere, leaving little room for romance or colourful adventure.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
Alan Moore injected relevancy into mainstream comics in the 80s. Previously, comic books lagged some five to six years behind current trends. Moore's skills moved mainstream superhero comics ahead of popular culture and established new trends, the punk to the old guard's rock 'n' roll. His success paved the way for artists such as Moore protégé Neil Gaiman and Mike Mignola, as well as the re-tooling of superheroes that lead to this century's spate of successful films such as the Spider-Man franchise, the X-Men series, Iron Man, and even The Incredibles. Rick Klaw has some thoughts on how Alan Moore's vision translates onto movie screens.

News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media News Spotlight -- Genre Books and Media
a column by Sandy Auden
Carol E Barrowman talks about writing a new Captain Jack story with her brother John for Torchwood magazine, plus a free Torchwood story to read online; Ricardo Pinto reaches a significant milestone with The Stone Dance of the Chameleon; and we look into the future to see what's up and coming as Robert Holdstock returns to Mythago Wood and Serbian writer Zoran Živkovic goes loopy for PS Publishing.

Coraline Coraline
a movie review by Rick Norwood
See it, and by all means see it in 3D. But it could have been so much better if it had just stuck to the book. A book is not a sacred text. The changes Peter Jackson made in The Lord of the Rings were, for the most part, improvements. But the changes Henry Selick made in Coraline weaken the story and are hard to account for.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his thoughts on the conclusion of Battlestar Galactica this month. He looks at viewership and renewal of SF series and whether there will be a Babylon 5 movie. He also gives us a list of what SF is on TV in March.

First Novels

Black Ships Black Ships by Jo Graham
reviewed by Dustin Kenall
As seen through the eyes of Gull, a seer or Pythia of the Lady of Death, the story of Prince Aeneas of Troy unfolds in accessible prose that is a model of clarity and swift pacing. Whereas the Aeneid takes the perspective of a single individual, Black Ships zooms out to encompass the wider Mediterranean world at the end of the Bronze Age when some cataclysm shook the Ancient Classical world to its roots, inaugurating a mini-Dark Age of piracy, dislocation, and the eclipse of trade and learning. This is not the age of Sophocles, Euripides, and Aeschylus...

The Cabinet of Wonders The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski
reviewed by David Hebblethwaite
In 16th century Bohemia, Mikal Kronos made a magnificent clock for the young Prince Rodolfo; in return, the prince had the craftsman's eyes gouged out. Mikal's twelve-year-old daughter Petra resolves to travel to Prague to recover her father's eyes. She gets a job in the royal palace and, with the aid of her pet mechanical spider Astrophil and a Roma boy named Neel, sets about trying to find the eyes.

Matters of the Blood Matters of the Blood by Maria Lima
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
Keira Kelly, a descendant of a paranormal family, doesn't know much more than that as she hasn't come into her full powers yet, but the process has started. She could be a mind reader, healer or shape shifter, but until the change has run its course, she may have bits and pieces of each talent. The beginning of "the change" could explain some of her extraordinarily vivid nightmares including two dead animals on a nearby resort and the murder of her not-so-intelligent human cousin, Marty.

The Wanderer's Tale The Wanderer's Tale by David Bilsborough
reviewed by Tammy Moore
It starts in Vaagenfjord Maw, the final battle in an epic war between good and evil. Scathur, servant of the Rawgr and General of his armies, fulfils one last request for his dark master, a request that taints the victory of the Pel-Adan forces for centuries to come. Five hundred years later, there are still those who fear that the Rawgr will return and they have the ear of powerful men.

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