Scott Marlowe, fantasy author

Scott Marlowe

Author of the Alchemancer and Assassin Without a Name fantasy series

Favorite Reads of 2013

Carrying on the tradition of listing out my favorites reads of the year (here are my favorite reads of 2010 and 2011; apparently I skipped 2013—some tradition, huh?), I give you the books I found most enjoyable in 2013.

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You can see all of the books I read in 2013 on Goodreads.

Other "Best Of" Lists

Favorite Reads of 2011

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Something I’ve done the past few years is engage in a reading challenge. I documented 2010’s on this blog, but left it to GoodReads to handle the bookkeeping exclusively for me for 2011 (41 books read and counting on a challenge of 35. Yeah, baby!).

Reading challenges serve a couple of purposes. Most notably, it allows me to track what I’ve read in a fairly unobtrusive and sometimes fun manner, while also allowing me to gauge progress over the course of the year. Of course, it also makes it easier to write a “Favorite Reads of the Year” post, something which has become an annual thing for me.

So, without further ado, here are my favorite reads of this past year.

The Best of Robert E. Howard: Volume 1: The Shadow Kingdom The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
Fool's Fate (Tawny Man, #3) Viking Warrior (The Strongbow Saga)
Dragons From The Sea (The Strongbow Saga #2) The Children of Cthulhu
Into the Storm Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?
Crusade The Strange Affair of Spring Heeled Jack (Burton & Swinburne, #1)

Amazon Top 10 Science Fiction & Fantasy Books of 2010 (Editor's Picks)

Best Books of 2010

Amazon's list of Bestselling Science Fiction & Fantasy Novels of 2010alt is up. Below are the Top 10 editor's selections. Next post, I'll list out the Top 10 customer favorites.

While I am unfamiliar with many of the titles and authors, there are a few that I'll be adding to my 2011 reading list (#5 and #10 especially). Judge for yourself if any of them belong on your list as well.

It does strike me, though, that while these titles are science fiction or fantasy, some of them belong to certain sub-genres of which I'm not especially interested in. For me, I'll take a "Best Of" highlighting epic fantasy or sword and sorcery.

To each his own, though.

Nothing wrong with expanding one's reading horizons too.

1. The Golden Age

by Michal Ajvaz

The Golden Age is a fantastical travelogue in which a modern-day Gulliver writes a book about a civilization he once encountered on a tiny island in the Atlantic. The islanders seem at first to do nothing but sit and observe the world, and indeed draw no distinction between reality and representation, so that a mirror image seems as substantial to them as a person (and vice versa); but the center of their culture is revealed to be "The Book," a handwritten, collective novel filled with feuding royal families, murderous sorcerers, and narrow escapes. Anyone is free to write in "The Book," adding their own stories, crossing out others, or even ap- pending "footnotes" in the form of little paper pouches full of extra text—but of course there are pouches within pouches, so that the story is impossible to read "in order," and soon begins to overwhelm the narrator's orderly treatise.

2. How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe

by Charles Yu

Minor Universe 31 is a vast story-space on the outskirts of fiction, where paradox fluctuates like the stock market, lonely sexbots beckon failed protagonists, and time travel is serious business. Every day, people get into time machines and try to do the one thing they should never do: change the past. That’s where Charles Yu, time travel technician—part counselor, part gadget repair man—steps in. He helps save people from themselves. Literally. When he’s not taking client calls or consoling his boss, Phil, who could really use an upgrade, Yu visits his mother (stuck in a one-hour cycle of time, she makes dinner over and over and over) and searches for his father, who invented time travel and then vanished. Accompanied by TAMMY, an operating system with low self-esteem, and Ed, a nonexistent but ontologically valid dog, Yu sets out, and back, and beyond, in order to find the one day where he and his father can meet in memory. He learns that the key may be found in a book he got from his future self. It’s called How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe,and he’s the author. And somewhere inside it is the information that could help him—in fact it may even save his life.

3. Redemption in Indigo

by Karen Lord

Paama's husband is a fool and a glutton. Bad enough that he followed her to her parents' home in the village of Makende, now he's disgraced himself by murdering livestock and stealing corn. When Paama leaves him for good, she attracts the attention of the undying ones — the djombi — who present her with a gift: the Chaos Stick, which allows her to manipulate the subtle forces of the world. Unfortunately, a wrathful djombi with indigo skin believes this power should be his and his alone.

Bursting with humor and rich in fantastic detail, Redemption in Indigo is a clever, contemporary fairy tale that introduces readers to a dynamic new voice in Caribbean literature. Lord's world of spider tricksters and indigo immortals, inspired in part by a Senegalese folk tale, will feel instantly familiar — but Paama's adventures are fresh, surprising, and utterly original.

4. The Half-Made World

by Felix Gilman

The world is only half made. What exists has been carved out amidst a war between two rival factions: the Line, paving the world with industry and claiming its residents as slaves; and the Gun, a cult of terror and violence that cripples the population with fear. The only hope at stopping them has seemingly disappeared—the Red Republic that once battled the Gun and the Line, and almost won. Now they’re just a myth, a bedtime story parents tell their children, of hope.

To the west lies a vast, uncharted world, inhabited only by the legends of the immortal and powerful Hill People. Liv Alverhyusen, a doctor of the new science of psychology, travels to the edge of the made world to a spiritually protected mental institution in order to study the minds of those broken by the Gun and the Line. In its rooms lies an old general of the Red Republic, a man whose shattered mind just may hold the secret to stopping the Gun and the Line. And either side will do anything to understand how.

5. The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms

by N.K. Jemisin

Yeine Darr is an outcast from the barbarian north. But when her mother dies under mysterious circumstances, she is summoned to the majestic city of Sky, seat of the ruling Arameri family. There, to her shock, Yeine is named an heiress to the king. But the throne of the Hundred Thousand Kingdoms is not easily won, and Yeine is thrust into a vicious power struggle with a pair of cousins she never knew she had. As she fights for her life, she draws ever closer to the secrets of her mother’s death and her family’s bloody history.

With the fate of the world hanging in the balance, Yeine will learn how perilous it can be when love and hate — and gods and mortals — are bound inseparably.

6. The Orange Eats Creeps

by Grace Krilanovich

It's the '90s Pacific Northwest refracted through a dark mirror, where meth and madness hash it out in the woods. . . . A band of hobo vampire junkies roam the blighted landscape—trashing supermarket breakrooms, praying to the altar of Poison Idea and GG Allin at basement rock shows, crashing senior center pancake breakfasts—locked in the thrall of Robitussin trips and their own wild dreams.

A girl with drug-induced ESP and an eerie connection to Patty Reed (a young member of the Donner Party who credited her survival to her relationship with a hidden wooden doll), searches for her disappeared foster sister along "The Highway That Eats People," stalked by a conflation of Twin Peaks' "Bob" and the Green River Killer, known as Dactyl.

7. The Dream of Perpetual Motion

by Dexter Palmer

Imprisoned for life aboard a zeppelin that floats high above a fantastic metropolis, the greeting-card writer Harold Winslow pens his memoirs. His only companions are the disembodied voice of Miranda Taligent, the only woman he has ever loved, and the cryogenically frozen body of her father Prospero, the genius and industrial magnate who drove her insane.

The tale of Harold’s life is also one of an alternate reality, a lucid waking dream in which the well-heeled have mechanical men for servants, where the realms of fairy tales can be built from scratch, where replicas of deserted islands exist within skyscrapers.. As Harold’s childhood infatuation with Miranda changes over twenty years to love and then to obsession, the visionary inventions of her father also change Harold’s entire world, transforming it from a place of music and miracles to one of machines and noise. And as Harold heads toward a last desperate confrontation with Prospero to save Miranda’s life, he finds himself an unwitting participant in the creation of the greatest invention of them all: the perpetual motion machine.

Beautifully written, stunningly imagined, and wickedly funny, The Dream of Perpetual Motion is a heartfelt meditation on the place of love in a world dominated by technology.

8. Who Fears Death

by Nnedi Okorafor

Born into post-apocalyptic Africa by a mother who was raped after the slaughter of her entire tribe, Onyesonwu is tutored by a shaman and discovers that her magical destiny is to end the genocide of her people.

9. The Fixed Stars: Thirty-Seven Emblems for the Perilous Season

by Brian Conn

Juxtaposing barbarity and whimsy, Brian Conn’s The Fixed Stars is a novel that has the tenor of a contemporary fable with nearly the same dreamlike logic.

At the novel’s heart are the John’s Day celebration and the interactions of a small community dealing with a mystery disease. Routinely citizens are quarantined and then reintegrated into society in rituals marked by a haunting brutality. The infected and the healthy alike are quarantined. In a culture that has retreated from urbanism into a more pastoral society, the woman who nurtures spiders and the man who spins hemp exist alongside the mass acceptance of sexual promiscuity. Conn delivers a compelling portrait of a calamitous era, one tormented by pestilence, disease, violence, and post–late capitalism. An unflinching look at a world impossible to situate in time, The Fixed Stars is mythic and darkly magical.

10. Kill the Dead: A Sandman Slim Novel

by Richard Kadrey

James Stark, a.k.a. Sandman Slim, crawled out of Hell, took bloody revenge for his girlfriend's murder, and saved the world along the way. After that, what do you do for an encore? You take a lousy job tracking down monsters for money. It's a depressing gig, but it pays for your beer and cigarettes. But in L.A., things can always get worse.

Like when Lucifer comes to town to supervise his movie biography and drafts Stark as his bodyguard. Sandman Slim has to swim with the human and inhuman sharks of L.A.'s underground power elite. That's before the murders start. And before he runs into the Czech porn star who isn't quite what she seems. Even before all those murdered people start coming back from the dead and join a zombie army that will change our world and Stark's forever.

Death bites. Life is worse. All things considered, Hell's not looking so bad.

Favorite Reads of 2010

Best Books of 2010

Although we're not quite done with 2010, I'm starting to wind down my attempt at reading 50 books. I'm about halfway through my current read, and then I might be able to finish one more book after that before 2011 is upon us.

Looking back, here's a list of some of my favorite reads over the past year.

dragonhaven Dragon's Haven by Robin Hobb

[ read my review ]
sandmanslim Sandman Slim by Richard Kadrey

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Gunslinger by Stephen King

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Cugel's Saga by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Ephemera by Paul S. Kemp

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Dragon Keeper by Robin Hobb

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Sky of Swords by David Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Lord of the Fire Lands by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Billibub Baddings and the Case of the Singing Sword by Tee Morris

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Gilded Chain by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Alchemist's Pursuit by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Dying Earth by Jack Vance

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com The Alchemist's Code by Dave Duncan

[ read my review ]
View this book on Amazon.com Old Man's War by John Scalzi

[ read my review ]

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