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The Dervish House The Dervish House Vote for SF Site's Readers' Choice Awards for 2011
Here we are again, offering you your annual chance to let the world know what you thought was the best of all the speculative reading material you encountered from the past year. If you've been a regular visitor to the SF Site for more than a couple of years, you are quite probably already familiar with this annual event. If you're new to us, all you need to know is that we want to hear what you believe was the very best of what you read from the past year. If you've forgotten what you chose in previous years, you can find them all linked at Best Read of the Year including The Dervish House by Ian McDonald which was the top choice last year.

The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 22 The Mammoth Book of Best New Horror Volume 22 edited by Stephen Jones
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
Now in its 22nd year, this anthology remains one of the few opportunities, for those unfamiliar with the secrets of the genre magazines and of the small, specialized press, to enjoy some good horror fiction through the mass market channels, available even at the local bookstore. For those who follow more closely the labyrinthine ways of horror fiction, the annual compilation always provides material which somehow had escaped their attention.

Raven Cursed Raven Cursed by Faith Hunter
reviewed by Katherine Petersen
In this adventure, Jane starts out as a bodyguard to the envoy that Leo Pellissier has sent to Asheville for a parlay with a North Carolina vampire who seeks to become master of his own city. A fanged attack on campers quickly turns Jane into an investigator, facing enemies, both recognized and unrecognized, from her past. As usual, her mouth gets her in trouble on numerous occasions.

The Cold Commands The Cold Commands The Cold Commands by Richard Morgan
reviewed by David Soyka
In the second of A Land Fit for Heroes series, our story involves Ringil's efforts against slave traders and the rescue of one of its victims from a fate that goes beyond indentured servitude. Meanwhile, the paths of three former comrades who fought together in the Dragon wars -- Ringil, Egar the Dragonbane and Arceth Indamaninarmal -- begin to intersect towards a quest to find a mythical island that shares existence with the Grey Places that may be a bulwark against a threat to civilization.

The Hobgoblin Bell Strikes Twelve The Hobgoblin Bell Strikes Twelve by X. Trevelyan
reviewed by Nathan Brazil
The craft of writing short stories is a very different skill to that of a novelist, and being able to accomplish one is never a guarantee that the other will be its equal. In this case, however, X. Trevelyan manages to produce something that has charm, style, and just enough substance to create its own micro-world.

All About Emily All About Emily by Connie Willis
reviewed by Rich Horton
Claire Havilland is an acclaimed actress, perhaps just a bit past her prime. Her agent inveigles her into an interview with the niece of the Grand Marshal of the Macy's Thanksgiving Day parade -- said niece is a huge fan of Claire and a bit stagestruck. The kicker is that the Grand Marshal is a famous roboticist, Dr. Oakes -- and his "niece" is a robot -- or "artificial," which is the polite word.

Ravensoul Ravensoul by James Barclay
reviewed by Dominic Cilli
James Barclay has created two series of books thus far, The Chronicles of the Raven and The Legends of the Raven, but essentially "The Raven" books are one long series of overlapping stand-alone adventures. Of course, there is some carry-over between books, but in a pinch you can probably pick any one of them up and not be lost in the storyline at all.

A Conversation With Paul Di Filippo A Conversation With Paul Di Filippo
An interview with Trent Walters
On shaping narratives:
"I used to plot things out in much more detail than I do now. Of course, I was never someone like Poul Anderson or Hal Clement who created immense binders of background info and character sheets for their projects. But I still used to have step-by-step breakdowns for plots. Now I'm much more looser and organic. I usually know beginnings and endings (mostly), and a few select key high points in between. But the passage from step stone to stepstone is Brownian motion."

After the Collapse After the Collapse by Paul Di Filippo
reviewed by Trent Walters
Stories with a similar motif or concept tend to rub off on one another when gathered in one place, often conferring more power to each. In rock, these would be the concept albums of Pink Floyd and Roger Waters where, even if there were a weak song or two, you don't mind because they cohere well together as a whole. In the genre, similar strength came when Isaac Asimov collected his robot stories or Fred Saberhagen his alien, killing machines -- the Berserkers.

Jupiter, Issue 34, October 2011 Jupiter, Issue 34, October 2011
reviewed by Rich Horton
Rich has long characterized it as a distinctly old-fashioned magazine. By this he refers to both its focus on pretty much pure science fiction, but also its fondness for tropes and plots that hearken back to the 50s through 70s, more or less. This isn't of necessity a bad thing -- indeed it's nice to have a magazine or two that provides a home for such stuff. Still, there is a burden on such stories to make the old new -- otherwise, why bother?

Watching the Future Watching the Future
a column by Derek Johnson
The future used to be a destination. It used to be The Future. And like a Zeno paradox, the closer we got to it, the more unattainable The Future seemed... until we realized that the destination had been demolished, the hundred-story skyscrapers of Fritz Lang's Metropolis and the pristine courtyards of William Cameron Menzies's Things to Come are now a never-ending string of strip malls selling cheap cell phones and tax advice.

Babylon 5.1: Televison Reviews Babylon 5.1
TV reviews by Rick Norwood
The Doctor Who Christmas Special was the best sf Rick has seen on tv this year, and is a likely winner of the 2011 best sf drama Hugo, short form. While he's waiting for something else good to show up on television, he as been watching all the old good movies in chronological order, starting with Elmo Lincoln in Tarzan of the Apes. He also gives us a list of what SF is on TV in February.

Nexus Graphica Nexus Graphica
a column by Rick Klaw and Mark London Williams
So as with his column about continuity -- which was engendered by a review of Stan Lee's how-to-write-comics book last year -- Mark London Williams is embarking on another of his "meta" discussions about comics, as he tries to figure what makes them tick as a medium, and how they're changing. This is kind of a two-fer, like one of those Ace paperbacks with back-to-back covers on each side (except, of course, those were prose and we're discussing the four-color panel, ¿que no?).

Second Looks

Limbo Limbo by Bernard Wolfe
reviewed by Matthew Hughes
In the middle an atomic war (pre-ICBMs) waged by fleets of bombers directed by a Soviet and a Western EMSIAC, Dr. Martine, a neurosurgeon in an airborne MASH plane, has had enough of the murderous madness. He steals an aircraft and, defying the computer, flies to a south Pacific island where he holes up for eighteen years, performing lobotomies on the locals, who have a tradition of skull-boring each other to control aggression.

The Last Song of Orpheus The Last Song of Orpheus by Robert Silverberg
reviewed by Trent Walters
This is Robert Silverberg tuning into his melodic voice to retell the myths surrounding this character. Those familiar with Greek myth can anticipate Orpheus' dive into Hades to retrieve his beautiful Eurydice, as well as his part in the story of Jason and the Argonauts. The story opens with the typical Greek bard's calling upon the Muse. Also, it establishes some of the themes to be visited throughout.


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