Frank's victims are mostly animals - but he has found time to kill a few children … Phil Daoust Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Space opera is unfashionable, but Banks couldn't care less. Consider Phlebas introduced the first of many misguided or untrustworthy heroes - Horza, who can change his body just by thinking about it - and a typically Banksian collision involving two giant trains in an subterranean station.
PD Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Life's rich tapestry is just that in Clive Barker's fantasy.
A magic carpet is the last refuge of a people known as the Seerkind, who for centuries have been hunted by both humans and the Scourge, a mysterious being that seems determined to live up to its name. When it all starts to unravel, the carpet people's best hope is a pigeon-fancying insurance clerk and his half-Seerkind companion.
Yes, it sounds twee, but as Barker himself said, "the Seerkind fornicate, fart - they're very far from pure". Nicola Barker has been accused of obscurity, but this Booker-shortlisted comic epic has a new lightness of touch and an almost soapy compulsiveness. Set in Ashford, Kent, the kind of everytown that has turned its back on history, the novel dips into the lives of a loosely connected cast of everyday eccentrics who find that history - in the persona of Edward IV's jester - is fighting back.
A jumble of voices and typefaces, mortal fear and sarky laughter, the novel is as true as it is truly odd, and beautifully written to boot. Justine Jordan Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. He sends him back to the far future in an attempt to save the Eloi woman Weena, only to find himself in a future timeline diverging from the one he left. Baxter's extraordinary continuation and expansion tackles the usual concerns of the time-travel story - paradox and causality - and goes on to explore many of the themes that taxed Wells: Bear combines intelligence, humour and the wonder of scientific discovery in a techno-thriller about a threat to the future of humanity.
A retro-viral plague sweeps the world, infecting women via their sexual partners and aborting their embryos. But the plague is more than it seems What might in other hands have been a mere end-of-the-world runaround is transformed by Bear's scientific knowledge into something marvellous, as reason overcomes paranoia and fear.
Somehow surviving, he swiftly gets down to it. Bester's novel updates The Count of Monte Cristo with telepathy, nuclear weapons and interplanetary travel. Those who stumble across it are inevitably surprised to find it was written half a century ago. Brite's first novel, a lush, decadent and refreshingly provocative take on vampirism told in rich, stylish prose, put her at the forefront of the s horror scene.
It's the story of Nothing, an angst-filled teenager who runs away from his adoptive parents to seek out his favourite band.
Along the way he joins up with a group of vampires, finds his true family and discovers what he really values, amid much blood, sex, drugs and drink. Keith Brooke Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Al Barker is a thrillseeking adventurer recruited to investigate an alien labyrinth on the moon. Everyone who enters the maze dies, so Barker's doppelganger is transmitted there while he remains in telepathic contact.
Barker is the first person to survive the trauma of witnessing their own death, returning again and again to explore. Rogue Moon works as both thriller and character study, a classic novel mapping out a new and sophisticated SF, just as Barker maps the alien maze. KB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop.
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When the Devil comes to s Moscow, his victims are pillars of the Soviet establishment: This is just a curtain-raiser for the main event, however: For his hostess, his satanic majesty chooses Margarita, a courageous young Russian whose lover is in a psychiatric hospital, traumatised by the banning of his novel.
No prizes for guessing whom Bulgakov identified with; although Stalin admired his early work, by the s he was personally banning it. This magisterial satire was not published until more than 20 years after the writer's death. In this pioneering work of British science fiction, the hero is a bumptious American mining engineer who stumbles on a subterranean civilisation. The "Vril-ya" enjoy a utopian social organisation based on "vril", a source of infinitely renewable electrical power commerce promptly produced the beef essence drink, Bovril.
The Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy Series by Rich Horton
Also present are ray guns, aerial travel and ESP. Ironically, the hero finds utopia too boring. He is rescued from death by the Princess Zee, who flies him to safety. The novel ends with the ominous prophecy that the superior race will invade the upper earth - "the Darwinian proposition", as Bulwer-Lytton called it. John Sutherland Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. One of a flurry of novels written by Burgess when he was under the mistaken belief that he had only a short time to live. Set in a dystopian socialist welfare state of the future, the novel fantasises a world without religion.
Alex is a "droog" - a juvenile delinquent who lives for sex, violence and subcult high fashion. The narrative takes the form of a memoir, in Alex's distinctive gang-slang. The state "programmes" Alex into virtue; later deprogrammed, he discovers what good and evil really are. The novel, internationally popularised by Stanley Kubrick's film into what Burgess called "Clockwork Marmalade", is Burgess's tribute to his cradle Catholicism and, as a writer, to James Joyce.
JS Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. In one of the first split-screen narratives, Burgess juxtaposes three key 20th-century themes: Trotsky's visit to New York is presented as a Broadway musical; a mournful Freud looks back on his life as he prepares to flee the Nazis; and in the year , as a rogue asteroid barrels towards the Earth, humanity argues over who will survive and what kind of society they will take to the stars.
JJ Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. John Carter, a Confederate veteran turned gold prospector, is hiding from Indians in an Arizona cave when he is mysteriously transported to Mars, known to the locals as Barsoom. There, surrounded by four-armed, green-skinned warriors, ferocious white apes, eight-legged horse-substitutes, legged "dogs", and so on, he falls in love with Princess Dejah Thoris, who might almost be human if she didn't lay eggs.
She is, naturally, both beautiful and extremely scantily clad Burroughs's first novel, published in serial form, is the purest pulp, and its lack of pretension is its greatest charm. Disjointed, hallucinatory cut-ups form a collage of, as Burroughs explained of the title, "a frozen moment when everyone sees what is on the end of every fork". A junkie's picaresque adventures in both the real world and the fantastical "Interzone", this is satire using the most savage of distorting mirrors: Only Cronenberg could have filmed it in , and even he recreated Burroughs's biography rather than his interior world.
Butler's fourth novel throws African American Dana Franklin back in time to the early s, where she is pitched into the reality of slavery and the individual struggle to survive its horrors. Butler single-handedly brought to the SF genre the concerns of gender politics, racial conflict and slavery. Several of her novels are groundbreaking, but none is more compelling or shocking than Kindred. A brilliant work on many levels, it ingeniously uses the device of time travel to explore the iniquity of slavery through Dana's modern sensibilities.
The wittiest of Victorian dystopias by the period's arch anti-Victorian.
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The hero Higgs finds himself in New Zealand as, for a while, did the chronic misfit Butler. Assisted by a native, Chowbok, he makes a perilous journey across a mountain range to Erewhon say it backwards , an upside-down world in which crime is "cured" and illness "punished", where universities are institutions of "Unreason" and technology is banned. The state religion is worship of the goddess Ydgrun ie "Mrs Grundy" - bourgeois morality.
Does it sound familiar? Higgs escapes by balloon, with the sweetheart he has found there. He ends up keeping his promise, witnessing the French revolution and its Napoleonic aftermath from the perspective of the Italian treetops. Drafted soon after Calvino's break with communism over the invasion of Hungary, the novel can be read as a fable about intellectual commitments.
At the same time, it's a perfectly turned fantasy, densely imagined but lightly written in a style modelled on Voltaire and Robert Louis Stevenson. Chris Tayler Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Campbell has long been one of the masters of psychological horror, proving again and again that what's in our heads is far scarier than any monster lurking in the shadows.
In this novel, the domineering old spinster Queenie dies - a relief to those around her. Her niece Alison inherits the house, but soon starts to suspect that the old woman is taking over her eight-year-old daughter Rowan. A paranoid, disturbing masterpiece. The intellectuals' favourite children's story began as an improvised tale told by an Oxford mathematics don to a colleague's daughters; later readers have found absurdism, political satire and linguistic philosophy in a work that, years on, remains fertile and fresh, crisp yet mysterious, and endlessly open to intepretation.
Alice, while reading in a meadow, sees a white rabbit rush by, feverishly consulting a watch. She follows him down a hole Freudian analysis, as elsewhere in the story, is all too easy , where she grows and shrinks in size and encounters creatures mythological, extinct and invented. Morbid jokes and gleeful subversion abound. The trippier sequel to Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and, like its predecessor, illustrated by John Tenniel. More donnish in tone, this fantasy follows Alice into a mirror world in which everything is reversed.
Her journey is based on chess moves, during the course of which she meets such figures as Humpty Dumpty and the riddling twins Tweedledum and Tweedledee. More challenging intellectually than the first instalment, it explores loneliness, language and the logic of dreams. The year is - and other times. Fevvers, aerialiste, circus performer and a virgin, claims she was not born, but hatched out of an egg.
She has two large and wonderful wings. In fact, she is large and wonderful in every way, from her false eyelashes to her ebullient and astonishing adventures. The journalist Jack Walser comes to interview her and stays to love and wonder, as will every reader of this entirely original extravaganza, which deftly and wittily questions every assumption we make about the lives of men and women on this planet. Carmen Callil Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. The golden age of the American comic book coincided with the outbreak of the second world war and was spearheaded by first- and second-generation Jewish immigrants who installed square-jawed supermen as bulwarks against the forces of evil.
Chabon's Pulitzer prize-winning picaresque charts the rise of two young cartoonists, Klayman and Kavalier. It celebrates the transformative power of pop culture, and reveals the harsh truths behind the hyperreal fantasies. XB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Clarke's third novel fuses science and mysticism in an optimistic treatise describing the transcendence of humankind from petty, warring beings to the guardians of utopia, and beyond.
One of the first major works to present alien arrival as beneficent, it describes the slow process of social transformation when the Overlords come to Earth and guide us to the light. Humanity ultimately transcends the physical and joins a cosmic overmind, so ushering in the childhood's end of the title EB Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. Chesterton's "nightmare", as he subtitled it, combines Edwardian delicacy with wonderfully melodramatic tub-thumping - beautiful sunsets and Armageddon - to create an Earth as strange as any far-distant planet.
Secret policemen infiltrate an anarchist cabal bent on destruction, whose members are known only by the days of the week; but behind each one's disguise, they discover only another policeman. At the centre of all is the terrifying Sunday, a superhuman force of mischief and pandemonium. Chesterton's distorting mirror combines spinetingling terror with round farce to give a fascinating perspective on Edwardian fears of and flirtations with anarchism, nihilism and a world without god.
Clarke's first novel is a vast, hugely satisfying alternative history, a decade in the writing, about the revival of magic - which had fallen into dusty, theoretical scholarship - in the early 19th century. Two rival magicians flex their new powers, pursuing military glory and power at court, striking a dangerous alliance with the Faerie King, and falling into passionate enmity over the use and meaning of the supernatural.
The book is studded with footnotes both scholarly and comical, layered with literary pastiche, and invents a whole new strain of folklore: This classic by an unjustly neglected writer tells the story of Drove and Pallahaxi-Browneyes on a far-flung alien world which undergoes long periods of summer and gruelling winters lasting some 40 years. It's both a love story and a war story, and a deeply felt essay, ahead of its time, about how all living things are mutually dependant. This is just the kind of jargon-free, humane, character-driven novel to convert sceptical readers to science fiction.
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Coupland began Girlfriend in a Coma in "probably the darkest period of my life", and it shows. Listening to the Smiths - whose single gave the book its title - can't have helped. This is a story about the end of the world, and the general falling-off that precedes it, as year-old Karen loses first her virginity, then consciousness. When she reawakens more than a decade later, the young people she knew and loved have died, become junkies or or simply lost that new-teenager smell.
Wondering what the future holds? It's wrinkles, disillusionment and the big sleep. It's not often you get to read a book vertically as well as horizontally, but there is much that is uncommon about House of Leaves. It's ostensibly a horror story, but the multiple narrations and typographical tricks - including one chapter that cuts down through the middle of the book - make it as much a comment on metatextuality as a novel.
That said, the creepiness stays with you, especially the house that keeps stealthily remodelling itself: Carrie O'Grady Buy this book at the Guardian bookshop. It wasn't a problem at first: But the changes don't stop there: The Night Whiskey by Jeffrey Ford, in which a whiskey distilled from a certain fruit can provide the drinker with a one night encounter with a dead friend or family member.
Eight Episodes by Robert Reed, in which a television show of debatable provenance seems to be manipulating people into abandoning space exploration—or is it? Heinlein, but this time with women that I can actually admire. Hectically paced, smart, and funny.
Jul 16, Bruce rated it really liked it Shelves: I've been reading Gardner Dozois year's best SF collection for around 15 years, but over the last few I have begun to find Dozois's collection rather tiring. Too few really good stories, too many extremely depressing or just plain boring. I thought I'd try Strahan and now despite the impressive shelf in my library filled with a lovely sequence of Dozois's fat volumes I'm going to switch to Strahan.
I enjoy the widening of the range to include fantasy, as much science fiction isn't anything like sc I've been reading Gardner Dozois year's best SF collection for around 15 years, but over the last few I have begun to find Dozois's collection rather tiring. I enjoy the widening of the range to include fantasy, as much science fiction isn't anything like scientific anyway. And why wouldn't you want, for example, a great Neil Gaiman story in your book? Much better a well written fantasy story than the latest dreadful homage to nuts, bolts, materialism and the heat death of the universe by some "hard SF" writer.
And since much of the fantasy in Strahan's volumes is representative of the "new weird" by great authors like Kelly Link, etc.
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My one regret is that not every single one of my absolute favorite stories sadly, only 2 from Dozois made it over into Strahan. So you can't have your cake and eat it too, I guess, but the hours spent wading through dreck in the Dozois volume weren't worth the one good story Strahan missed anyway. Feb 03, Kaethe rated it it was amazing Shelves: There are some excellent stories in here. I checked it out to read Willis' "D. I'm looking forward to the ones I haven't cracked yet. Oct 18, Ari rated it liked it Shelves: Jul 31, Ryun rated it really liked it.
Anthologies can be piecemeal affairs; readers tend to hopscotch around them, picking and choosing based on the author, the first page, the first sentence or even the title. Here, however, Strahan has paid such meticulous detail to order and rhythm that to do this would be a great disservice to the totality of the book.
Jun 07, Steve rated it really liked it. A decent collection of short stories, some better than others. Jun 21, Peter Tillman rated it really liked it Shelves: A fine kick-off to his then-new series. Notable for containing my favorite Peter S. Beagle story ever, "El Regalo": Nothing unusual about that: Marvyn and Milady had been an item since he was old enough to realize that the cat wasn't something to eat. What halted Angie as though she had walked into a wall was that they were playing Monopoly, and that Milady appeared to be winn A fine kick-off to his then-new series.
What halted Angie as though she had walked into a wall was that they were playing Monopoly, and that Milady appeared to be winning. Marvyn had to throw the dice for both Milady and himself, and the old cat was too riddled with arthritis to handle the pastel Monopoly money easily. But she waited her turn, and moved her piece -- she had the silver top hat -- very carefully, as if considering possible options. And she already had a hotel on Park Place.
The ending isn't quite as classy as the setup and opener, but, overall, a terrific story. More Good Stuff, and some not so good Amusing, if a bit facile. Dec 22, Brandi rated it really liked it Shelves: This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. Beagle I don't like the idea of magic without sacrifice--such as feeling weak afterward or something. So this fairytale-type magic in this story didn't do it for me. And it seems like there should be a learning curve involved, but successfully making garbage bags dance and getting the cat to play Monopoly?
It seems like it'd be rather "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" - Neil Gaiman A quiet glimpse into a typical day for a pair of young teen boys. It seems like it'd be rather complex for an 8-year-old.
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Of course this is just my own opinion on how I think magic should work. It's certainly not a representation of the quality of this short story--it's just not my thing: I'm already turned off by the idea of a sentient rowboat and a reef with an Australian accent. AI is interesting, but this didn't grab me. Not gonna lie, I'd love to live in a library like that One of my favorites, thanks to my nonagenarian neighbor's gorgeous catalpa specimen being an important part of my childhood. I'm not entirely sure what I took from this one. This one and Neil Gaiman's "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" have been the best in the anthology so far, and even those didn't fully grab me.
I hope this anthology starts delivering the goods soon. It took a little bit to get going, but I felt connected with the characters and was delighted by the ending. I was scratching my head, trying to figure out why the drunks were up in trees. I was definitely pulled into the story. This is one of those tales that sticks with you after you're done reading it. A strong sense of place. Poor Ticket--given and taken as an object all her life. Not sure yet where the story is going, though. Camels are Toyota are ok on their own, but "Staples compressed air"?
Dodge after "Staples," they're all going to stick out for me now! Ooo, keeping a loved one's ghost. Aside from distracting brand-name dropping don't do it, kids! I find myself really rooting for Tranh, poor sod. Green used to mean things like coriander and sillk and jade and now all it means to him is bloodthirsty men with patriotic headbands and hungry scavenging nights. An entire green city. An entire city of despair. Very nice use of flashbacks to tell the story. Rickert "People either touched him as if he would break, or hugged him as if he had already broken and only the vigor of the embrace kept him intact.
Very lyrical and dark. Though as a ghost, I'd kick that dude's ass for tying me up and throwing me in the water just to see if he was right. Page 10 of I threw up all the way to the RAH. I went through my vomit bag and hers and threw up on the bunk, the walls, the Hyperventilator, and, once we were weightless, on the air in front of me. Hehehehe, ok, here, the character is trying to learn to navigate weightlessness in space: I love the horror writer.
He certainly knows how to set up a mood! Such great atmosphere in this piece. I love the descriptions. My own failing, not necessarily his. Some parts I have trouble wrapping my head around. But I am entranced by the plot involving the little girl. Beautiful and lyrical without being "purple. Aug 19, Aaron Bellamy rated it really liked it Shelves: A better than average collection.
Strahan took chances with his selections, and it shows. R A better than average collection. Great stories for me were: The House of the Seven Librarians by Ellen Klages— a well written, nostalgic and sweet coming of age tale for anyone that loves books and reading. Yellow Card Man by Paulo Bacigaulpi — haunting image of a sickeningly possible futures. The Wizards of Perfil by Kelly Link — a bit predictable, sure, but how do you not love those characters. On to volume two. An excellent mixture of short stories, all different from each other, but all contain a sense of wonder and excitement.
Dec 04, Deborah Replogle rated it really liked it. Just a wonderful set of stories to lose yourself in. The year in question was , but some of the stories are timeless.