2008 Bests: Books

Science Fiction

It was a year filled with good science fiction books, some I read some I didn’t. But of everything I did read this year my favorite book was probably The Automatic Detective by A. Lee Martinez. An over-the top action packed detective story with a wacky vibe, great humor and tons of fun. A quick read that took me just over a day few other books entertained me quite as much as this one. If wise cracking reformed evil robots turned detectives don’t suit your needs then: a.) something is wrong with you and b.) maybe you should check out Tobias Buckell’s Sly Mongoose which features, amongst a well realized and extraordinarily unique Caribbean influenced interstellar culture, a cyborg ninja fighting space zombies. And if that isn’t your cup of tea than I’m sorry, I can’t help you.

Fantasy

I didn’t read as much fantasy (or as much at all) as I would have liked this year and stuck mostly to new entries in long running series I follow. The standout title here is Joe Abercrombie’s final book in the First Law trilogy Last Argument of Kings. Abercrombie’s books are a little something new and little something old; wholly entertaining works that are full of fascinating genres and offer a unique twist on traditional fantasy tropes (the sword field barbarian, the impetuous youth, the scared veteran, the wizened wizard, and the quest for the powerful magical artifact to name a few) that defies convention but never stoops to mockery.

Runners-up include both of the latest Jim Butcher books, Small Favor and Princep’s Fury with the latter eclipsing the former in terms of sheer quality for the first time in both series’ history. Certainly, Steven Erikson’s latest Toll the Hounds was another worthy entry in the consummately excellent Malazan series and Ian Cameron Esselmont’s Retrun of the Crimson Guard was a serious improvement over his first novel Night of Knives.

Regrets

I missed out on a lot of good titles this last year and I think I’m going to be refocusing my upcoming reads accordance with that fact over the next few days (expect to see some changes on my sidebar). Brent Weeks’ Way of Shadows series has gotten some excellent buzz and I intend to check those titles out as soon as possible. Matthew Stover put out a new novel featuring Caine from Heroes Die called Caine Black Knife that I skipped since I haven’t been able to find the middle book Blade of Tyselle though I would have liked to have read it. Greg Keyes finished his Kingdoms of Thorn and Bone series with The Born Queen, but since I have yet to read The Blood Knight (the penultimate volume) I skipped that too. Wizards of the Coast’s new imprint, Devil’s Cape and the Last Dragon, amongst many others from numerous publishers (series or standalone) that I wanted to read but just didn’t have the time and energy.

I’m perhaps most disappointed in that I’ve yet to find a horror novel as entertaining as David Wong’s John Dies at the End. I’ll keep looking, but it might be tough.

Resolution:
Read more books, or at least be more adamant about when and for how long I read. Stupid distractions.

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3 thoughts on “2008 Bests: Books

  1. it was pretty cool the other day I sold “The Automatic Detective” to a lady with a teenage son. I was very proud of hand-selling that book cause that book was pretty cool. I dunno if I told you about the book before but I’m reading a really awesome teen book called “Epic” It’s a really cool science fiction book. You can borrow it once I finish if you want.

  2. I assuming your talking about the Epic by Connor Kostick. If you like that book, if it is indeed the right one, you should try Heroes Die by Matthew Stover as mentioned above as it has a similar set-up. Here is the amazon.com description:

    “Our world has developed a hyper-rigid, occupation-based caste system in which the reading of freedom-based philosophy, from John Locke to Robert A. Heinlein, is punished. For entertainment, people participate vicariously in recorded Adventures from the Overworld, an other-dimensional realm of sword and sorcery with its own repressive government. On Earth, Hari Michaelson is the most popular Actor in Adventures; in Ankhana, with its rich palaces and criminal slums, he is known as Caine, the Blade of Tyshalle, famous assassin and warrior. Tired of killing, Hari agrees to return to the Overworld, driven to save his estranged wife, Pallas Ril?Actor and sorceress, unable to return to Earth due to a powerful spell?and ordered by the Studio to kill the tyrant Ma’elKoth…”

  3. Yeah.. That’s the right book. I just finished it on break today and while the ending was a little on the anti-climactic side (but very fitting the fact that it’s a teen book) I loved it and want to read the sequel. Heroes die sounds really good. I finally feel like I’m catching up with all my reading, I’m down to one book which is huge for me.

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