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