SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2004|
compiled by Neil Walsh
Once again we solicited our loyal SF Site readership to vote for their favourite books of the year. The results are in,
and the Top 10 Readers' Choice Best Books of 2004 are a healthy mix of science fiction, fantasy, and other genre-bending,
boundary-blurring work. You're invited to compare this list to the
Editors' Choice Top 10 Books of 2004 to see what the SF Site staff recommends and where there is
some overlap in what you, the readers, have chosen.
Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
reviewed by Margo MacDonald
Mr Norrell emerges out of decades of seclusion in his isolated library to prove that English magic has not completely
been lost and that he is the sole remaining practical (rather than theoretical) magician. He sets about, in his own
pedantic way, to restore English magic and make himself useful to the government in the wars against the French,
and so on. It soon becomes evident, however, that he is not the only magician in England. There is
another: Jonathan Strange. Norrell takes on Strange as his pupil but refuses, in his paranoid way, to teach him
even half of what he knows. Nevertheless, Strange is obviously more naturally talented than Norrell.
British Kids Have More Fun: The Corfu Trilogy
a column by Georges T. Dodds
The series begins with the story of the five years the Durrell family spent on the Greek island of Corfu after the death of the
father. While it does delve to some extent into the interpersonal relationships of family members, and some of the more colourful
local folk, it is mainly a chronicle of the development of a budding zoologist.
compiled by Neil Walsh
This month's list of new and forthcoming titles features books from Graham Joyce, Andre Norton, Peter Watts, Alexander C. Irvine, Tracy & Laura Hickman, and many more.
SF Site News
compiled by Steven H Silver
Every day, items of interest to you arrive in our email. Our bi-monthly format doesn't lend itself to daily updates.
However, this is a small inconvenience to our Contributing Editor Steven H Silver. His column
will fill you in on recent news in science fiction. We'll be updating the page as he sends in new items.
The Grand Tour by Patricia Wrede and Caroline Stevermer
reviewed by Rich Horton
In this sequel to Sorcery and Cecelia, Kate has married Thomas, Lord Schofield, and become Lady Schofield,
and Cecy has married James Tarleton. The four are setting off to the continent for a joint honeymoon tour. Instead of letters,
the book is told in alternating sections from Kate's "commonplace book" (in this case mostly a diary) and from a deposition Cecy
gives after the events of the novel. Almost immediately trouble strikes in various forms.
Deathstalker Coda by Simon R. Green
reviewed by Michael M Jones
Thanks to the efforts of Paragon-turned-Emperor Finn Durandal, the Golden Age that came about
through Owen Deathstalker's sacrifice two centuries ago is over, drowned in a sea of blood and immolated in the fires of
hatred. The Paragons themselves, one-time champions of the Empire, now exist as meat puppets for the terrifying uber-Espers,
psychic creatures of unholy power. Worst of all, the Terror, ancient enemy of all that lives, is approaching the capital
plan of Logres, slowly and inexorably destroying all in its path. All hope is not lost.
a movie review by Rick Norwood
Rick liked the opening few minutes, which introduce a McGuffin which is promptly forgotten about until the very end. Rick liked the
rubber duckie. Rick liked the angel. Rick kinda liked the devil, except that he's about as menacing as Sid Caesar.
The James Tiptree Award Anthology 1 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin, Jeffrey D. Smith
reviewed by Steven H Silver
For years, a woman writes using a man's name and nobody twigs to her real identity. In a major collection of her
work, an expert announces that there is something ineluctably masculine about the stories. Such was the early science
fiction career of Alice B. Sheldon, better known to the science fiction reading masses as James Tiptree, Jr. Following
Sheldon's tragic death, a cadre of admirers founded an award to honor the exploration and expansion of the use of gender.
Asgard's Conquerors by Brian Stableford
reviewed by Susan Dunman
Mike Rousseau is a stalwart explorer, renowned archeologist, or shameless charlatan, depending on who is giving the description. Having
survived a series of life-threatening mishaps on the mysterious, multi-level alien habitat known as Asgard, Rousseau decides to give
up a life of adventure before he gets killed. This second installment of The Asgard Trilogy begins with Rousseau's plans to return
home to Earth, but fate interferes with his ambitions for a leisurely retirement.
compiled by Rodger Turner
The Hugo awards are presented at an evening ceremony during the World Science Fiction Convention.
Nominations are as result of ballots cast by the convention members who vote by mail. They are
counted using a weighted method whereby ballot entries, listed by preference,
are assigned a value and then tallied. Those who fail to meet the cutoff or have the least number
are dropped and the counting is redone until such time as a clear winner appears.
Best Read of the Year: 2004
compiled by Neil Walsh
Every year we find the SF Site Top 10 Lists to be full of surprises. Every year we find a few great recommendations
for books we might otherwise have passed by. We hope you find the same thing, because we've polled the SF Site
contributors, reviewers and editors and come up with the following titles which are what collectively we
consider to be among the best of the past year.
SF Site Discussion Forum
Each day we get many emails from SF Site visitors. Some are simple to answer. Others ask questions which stump us and we refer them
to others who may have the answer. Several just want to exchange views with somebody who will listen. All of this correspondence
convinced us to try installing a discussion forum. Drop by for a visit. Browse the topics. If you see something
that piques your interest, register and send your reply.
Mere by Robert Reed
reviewed by Matthew Cheney
The author's imagination is so fecund, his writings so fueled by tremendously strange and vivid visions of distant futures and
strange forms of life, that each story benefits from our memories of the wonders he has delivered in the past, so that with the
first paragraph of each new tale, our readerly desires are funnelled down into a single yearning to know what marvels await us this time.
Angel Road by Steve Savile
The Area 51 Series by Robert Doherty
reviewed by Lisa DuMond
In a collection concentrating on the endless variety of angels, hell is a surprisingly frequent last stop for the
characters. Fallen angels. Angels unseen. Angels opting for human form. Throughout the thirteen selections,
perhaps it is more accurate to say the possibilities of heavenly hosts weave through the lines of every
story. But angels are not the only names and faces to flicker in and out of the shadows closing in on every side.
The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks
reviewed by Donna McMahon
Fassin Taak is a Slow Seer who studies the most ancient alien race in the galaxy -- the Dwellers -- who inhabit gas
giants and have extraordinary lifespans of billions of years. A small number of humans who are tolerated by the Dwellers
sift through their archives for pearls of data that might transform a civilization. Taak is one of these, a youthful rebel
who prefers "Real Delving" in a tiny life support craft, rather than using remotes to dive into the clouds of the gas giant
while his body remains safely in orbit.
Life by Gwyneth Jones
reviewed by David Soyka
Anna Senoz is a genetics research scientist whose preliminary findings have controversial and surprising socio-biological implications
for the evolution of the species and concepts of gender. Limited resources with which to further prove her theory, as well as a glass
ceiling in which senior male researchers have the unquestioning power to maintain the comfortable status quo, impair not only her
research, but her career.
Tales of the Black Earth by R.A. Roth
reviewed by Georges T. Dodds
Rubert Pilgor, Jr. is the last man on an Earth where humanity has been "vaporized" by a highly evolved, sentient and vengeful
form of the HIV virus. Its remaining viroids inhabit him, render him immortal, and carry on a conversation with him. Besides
the many biological implausibilities of such a parasite-host interaction, Pilgor's sole survival seems more serendipitous than
Tainted Blood by Melanie Lee Bonnefoux
reviewed by Alisa McCune
Holly-Anne and her human boyfriend Ryan have decided to take a trip to Charlotte to visit Ryan's cousin Drew. As usual, strange
creatures and events seem to look for Holly and anyone with her. Michele, the Vampire Holder of Charlotte and a male, embroils
Holly in a dispute with the Elves of the Shamorah. This dispute threatens to destroy Charlotte and many people that Holly holds dear.
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
Rick offers his movie predictions for what is worth seeing in 2005, reflects upon his predictions for 2004 and
gives us some tips for what is on TV in March.
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Long before The DaVinci Code, another writer was putting together puzzle pieces drawn from the most enduring mysteries
of antiquity and modern mythology. The series does not purport to be fact, it's entirely fictional and
that allows its author license to bend the data as he chooses. Fortunately, this only adds to the fun, and quite often the
ingenious linkages he comes up with make a seductive kind of sense. The author's legend peppered prose is filled with wonderfully
entertaining cod science, shoring up an endlessly twisting plot strewn with edge-of-the-seat scenarios.
Understanding Middle Earth by Michael Martinez
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
Over the last few years, Middle-Earth has gained millions of new fans around the world, thanks to Peter Jackson's epic
movie trilogy. For some the journey of discovery has only just begun, due to the one thing which all who dip into the works
of J.R.R. Tolkien have in common; that moment of realisation where the depth and breadth of Middle-Earth is perceived. It's a world
so large that it has spawned a small industry of other writers, seeking to define or defile its wonders.
The Discontinuity Guide by Paul Cornell, Martin Day & Keith Topping
Glory Road by Robert A. Heinlein
reviewed by Chris Przybyszewski
The guide's strength is its detail and its interest in the facts. The authors do not shy from the
show's multiple blunders, and more attention is sometimes paid to what went wrong rather than what went right. However, a lack of
general context weakens the overall effect of anything the authors might be trying to show.
reviewed by Peter D. Tillman
This novel has long been one of Peter's two favorite Robert A. Heinlein novels. He cheerfully volunteered to review this new edition.
Well, there's always a risk in revisiting an old favorite, especially for a critical reading....