2009 was an interesting year for science fiction and fantasy. There were less exceptional science fiction and fantasy novels in ’09 than in previous years – although 2009 was a banner year for paranormal fantasy – but the decrease in the quantity of stellar SF/fantasy reads was more than compensated by the quality of an elite group of releases. The following 13 titles, especially the first five, are all extraordinary reads in their own right.

 

So, without further ado, the SF/Fantasy Novel of the Year is......Lamentation by Ken Scholes!

 

As far as being historically significant, the first two installments of Ken Scholes' Psalms of Isaak saga (Lamentation and Canticle) are the beginnings of a series that, I predict, will single-handedly redefine both the science fiction and fantasy genres. A fusion of epic fantasy and post-apocalyptic science fiction, I’ve described this series as “A Canticle for Leibowitz for the 21st Century.” The mastery of storytelling involved here – the intricacy of plotlines, the character development, the awe-inspiring world-building, the jaw-dropping backstory, etc. – is simply breathtaking and I challenge anyone to read these novels and not absolutely love them.

 

It seems that speculating about humankind’s near-future isn’t as appealing in 2009 as it was a few decades ago but although Paolo Bacigalupi’s debut novel The Windup Girl isn’t exactly optimistic, it is chillingly realistic speculation cloaked in a meticulously described future where much of the of the world is underwater – New York City, New Orleans, Mumbai, Rangoon, etc. – the global economy has collapsed, and never-ending agricultural plagues have the majority of the world’s population battling starvation. I described this novel as “nothing short of an instant dystopian classic – replete with genetically engineered elephants, clipper ships and dirigibles.”

 

Next up is Cherie Priest’s Boneshaker, an alternate history/steampunk adventure set in 19th century Seattle that I called a “transcendent masterpiece of imagination.” I’ve read all of Cherie’s work and this is easily her best work to date. This book will not only blow you away but also instantly make you a fan of steampunk.

 

2009 was a memorable year for Brandon Sanderson. Not only did he release The Gathering Storm, the long-awaited twelfth volume of Robert Jordan’s Wheel of Time cycle, he also released his first standalone work, entitled Warbreaker, a fantasy replete with brilliantly three-dimensional characters like the cynical god Lightsong, who questions his own divinity, and the mysterious assassin Vasher, whose five-foot long, sentient black sword Nightblood seems to kill everyone around it. And although the relationship between the two lead protagonists – princess sisters Siri and Vivenna – is certainly compelling, it’s the unlikely bond between Siri and the God King Susebron that powers this iridescent tale of magic, mystery, mayhem – and love.

 

 

 

1.Lamentation (Psalms of Isaak Series #1) by Ken Scholes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2.The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3.Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Warbreaker by Brandon Sanderson

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

5. Canticle (Psalms of Isaak Series #2) by Ken Scholes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

6. Makers by Cory Doctorow

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

7. The Ghost King (Transitions Series #3) by R.A. Salvatore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

8. The Sad Tale of the Brothers Grossbart by Jesse Bullington

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

9. The Temporal Void by Peter F. Hamilton

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

10. Watermind by M.M. Buckner

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

11. The Suicide Collectors by David Oppegaard

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

12. The Unincorporated Man by Dani and Eytan Kollin

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

13. Ice Song by Kirsten Imani Kasai

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

"Why be normal when you can be paranormal?"
Comments
by on ‎12-14-2009 08:46 PM

Paul,

 

I haven't read all the books on your list because the library hasn't got some of them and I can't afford to buy them.  But the ones I have read I agree that they are right up there.  I especially Love Ken Scholes two books and Ice Song.  I will be interested where she takes the story from here.  And Of course I can't leave out Cherie's book Boneshaker.  I just have a hard time finding things to say that are not repeating Melissa, Nadine and Carmen.

\

Toni

by goddessladyj on ‎12-14-2009 10:08 PM

I'm glad Brandon Sanderson made it onto your list, but I'd like to point out that Warbreaker is not his first standalone fantasy novel - Elantris is. (He's my favorite!)

by on ‎12-15-2009 09:33 AM

I totally agree with Nelsmom, those are my top 4 books from your list.

But check out David Oppegaard, I am currently reading Wormwood,Nevada. 100 pages in and hard to put down. So I will be reading Suicide Collectors very soon.

Paul, great list. I will definitely check out those books.

by 5avant on ‎12-15-2009 12:33 PM

The Windup Girl and Boneshaker are both very deservedly on this list. The Unincorporated Man is not. (I got through about half of it and couldn't stand it anymore. Amateurish and predictable.)

by KekeJ on ‎12-15-2009 06:49 PM

Just wondering why you always do a top "13" list. Any significance?

by Moderator paulgoatallen ‎12-15-2009 07:41 PM - edited ‎12-15-2009 07:43 PM

I'm obsessed with the number 13, Keke. I have published one novel and two poetry collections, all of which have 13 letter titles. Most of my poems have either 13 letter titles or 13 word titles. When I'm working out, I do 13 sets of 13 reps. I stir my coffee 13 times. My children's names are 13 letters long. That's normal, right?

by KekeJ on ‎12-15-2009 08:01 PM

Wow! That is some obsession you got there! I thought there had to be something behind it.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎12-15-2009 08:16 PM

And, plus, Top Ten lists are so conventional....

by on ‎12-16-2009 08:50 AM

"13 is my lucky number. To you it means stay inside."

 

Laurels to the first person who names the song where that line comes from.

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎12-16-2009 09:20 AM

"Bad Luck" by Social Distortion

by Moderator paulgoatallen ‎12-16-2009 09:57 AM - edited ‎12-16-2009 09:58 AM

Paul:

That brings up a potentially fascinating blog topic – the "good luck" of having a 13-letter book title. At one point years ago, I began a list of all of the historically significance genre fiction novels and short stories with 13 letters in the titles.... I was surprised by just how many there were. That would take quite a bit of research to update but it could be very interesting.... (Am I insane? Be honest. But make sure your response is 13 letters.....)

 

Paul

by on ‎12-16-2009 10:04 AM

Nope. Not insane.

by on ‎12-16-2009 05:13 PM

(chuckle) Ok

by catpaws1982 on ‎12-16-2009 06:23 PM

Warbreaker is not Brandon Sanderson's first stand-alone novel. Elantris is and it's a GREAT book. It's the first book I read from him and I absolutely loved it!

by Moderator paulgoatallen on ‎12-16-2009 06:53 PM

I haven't been classifying Elantris as a standalone ever since Brandon stated on his blog in 2007: "...the official word right now is yes: I will most likely be doing a sequel to Elantris. I don't know WHEN I'll do one, but I eventually will."

 

But you are right – Elantris was amazing! One of my all-time favorite debuts!

by Joan_P on ‎12-16-2009 09:47 PM

PaulH and paulgoatallen-

 

You guys put a smile on my face... wish I could give extra laurels to ya!

 

You so do rock!

 

Feel the luck!

 

-J

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