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SF Site's Readers' Choice: Best Read of the Year: 2005 compiled by Neil Walsh

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

In past years, there has frequently been considerable overlap between the SF Site Editors' choices and the Readers' choices for the best books of the year. This time, however, we were surprised to find that the top two books chosen by the SF Site Readership hadn't even made it at all onto the Editors' Choice Top 10. Oh, your top 2 choices received votes from the Contributors and Editors here, but they just didn't make it onto our Best of the Year recommendations -- and not because we don't think they're excellent books. Perhaps it was simply because there was just too much to choose from. At any rate, we're glad the lists are a little different from each other this year, because it gives us an opportunity to highlight an even wider array of great books. Read on to see what you and your fellow SF Site readers considered to be among the best books of 2005.



The Translation of Bastian Test by Tom Arden

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

When fifteen-year-old Bastian Test's eccentric artist mother, Julian, dies in a house fire of suspicious origin, he's sent into the care of his guardian, the Marquess of Drumhallurick, who lives in a remote keep on the rocky Scottish coast. Bastian's guardian is the president and founder of the British African Survey Trust -- BAST for short -- which owns and mines the vast gold deposits of the British Anterior Sombagan Territories (BAST again) -- a mountain of riches that Bastian's guardian discovered through an obscure and discredited geological theory.



Eclipse by K.A. Bedford

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"This time tomorrow," thinks James Dunne, newly-minted graduate of the Royal Interstellar Service Academy, "I'll be an officer serving aboard a starship, charting unexplored space!" It's his life dream, untarnished despite the horrors of his Academy years -- an ordeal of rote learning, ritual hazing, and unremitting brutality that would give Pat Conroy nightmares. But the Academy is behind Dunne now, along with the tragedies of his family life and his nagging sense of his own inferiority. The rest of his life can begin. Things don't quite work out that way.



City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

A jobless pilgrim enters Ambergris, the City of Saints and Madmen. Looking through a window inside a house, he sees the woman he resolves to fall in love with. A tattooed dwarf offers him his services as a matchmaker. The endeavours of the passionate pilgrim lead him to a masturbating living saint and into the mad swirl of the festival of the freshwater squid, which becomes a life-threatening trap to him, for the mysterious greycaps have chosen him as sacrifice...



Like a Virgin: A Conversation with Jayme Lynn Blaschke, Part 1

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"I don't just show up, no. That's the kiss of death. You learn that early on in journalism as a reporter. If you show up, your ignorance will be on display for everyone to see and snicker at, and even when you do prepare, a lot of times your ignorance is on display because you haven't prepared enough, even if you do an extensive amount of preparation. "



Platinum Pohl by Frederik Pohl

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

His career as a science fiction writer dates back to 1937 with the pseudonymous publication of the poem "Elegy to a Dead Planet: Luna." In addition, he has been an editor, an agent, and a publisher. He has won Hugos, Nebulas, the Skylark, John W. Campbell Memorials, a Grandmaster Award, and more. For all he has done, he is probably best know for his fiction, and this is the first retrospective look at his career since The Best of Frederik Pohl and The Early Pohl were published in 1976.



Giants of the Frost by Kim Wilkins

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Victoria is a well-grounded atheistic meteorologist, who after a messy breakup lands a job on a remote wind-blown Norwegian Island, which just happens to be the Earth side of Bifrost, the mythical bridge between the 'real world' and Asgard, the home of Odin, Freja, Loki, Thor and the rest of the Norse pantheon, including Odin's son Vidar. Victoria and Vidar meet, sparks fly, but between Victoria's entanglements with coworkers, Vidar's jealous bond-maiden, and Loki the trickster, things aren't going to go smoothly, especially when Odin hears of things.



Quiver by Stephanie Spinner

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Set in a mythic, ancient Greece, where centaurs are as much of a threat to people as the boars sent by vengeful gods, it tells the story of Atalanta, who, cast out at birth for being a girl instead of the son her father hoped for, is suckled by a she-bear and raised by hunters. She takes a vow of chastity, devotes her life to the goddess Artemis, and, at sixteen, is reckoned by many to be "the swiftest mortal alive," as well as a brilliant huntress. She longs for glory and, in search of it, takes part in the Calydonian Boar Hunt.



Old Twentieth by Joe Haldeman

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Here, the ideas the author juggles are immortality, Virtual Reality, Artificial Intelligence, and a variant on the generation starship. He is also, as the title tells us, concerned with the 20th Century, the bloodiest century (though the 21st will turn out to be bloodier, says this novel), and the last century in which death was inevitable.



Close To My Heart: Dune by Frank Herbert

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"The original Dune was published in 1965; its two sequels, completing the original trilogy, followed over the next decade, with Children of Dune making an appearance in 1979. I was two when the first book was published, thirteen by the time the third one came out, and fourteen when I first crossed paths with Herbert's world."



Genetopia by Keith Brooke: a novel excerpt

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"In the day's harsh sunlight the Leaving Hill appeared white with bones. Flintreco Eltarn adjusted his sunhood and scrambled up the last of the rough incline, following the path his sister had taken moments before. It was good to get away after a morning spent working the fruit trees of the family holding."



A Conversation With Keith Brooke

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"I did have fun creating Nick's online presence, though, particularly his monthly journal at www.nickgifford.co.uk, which has turned into a blend of truth and one or two slight fabrications. As Nick's first novel was a vampire novel, he wrote about keeping pet vampire bats (called Harker, Mr Lugosi and Flopsy) at the bottom of his garden -- one of the commonest questions I was asked as Nick in the first year or so was how it was to keep vampire bats as pets. More recently, if you believe his journal, Nick has been doing a book tour of rather obscure English towns and villages."



Babylon 5.1: TV reviews by Rick Norwood

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

The appeal of Doctor Who is curious -- somehow cheesy special effects are compensated for by the Doctor's cheeky insouciance, and what started out as a low-budget children's programme has become the longest running science fiction television series of all time.



SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2005 compiled by Neil Walsh

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

If you've been an SF Site reader for more than a couple of years, you'll know that our annual Top 10 list is never limited to a mere 10 books. We've never fudged the numbers, which means that we always present ties exactly as they came out in the voting. Usually, however, there is a clear winner in the number one spot -- a runaway lead that leaves everything else far behind. This year was different.



Mythic Delirium, Issue 13

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Have you ever tried to recommend a brilliant fantasy or science fiction novel to a friend who has never read fantasy or science fiction before? Now, consider, these are obstacles that the avid SF reader must surmount in order to get readers of mainstream fiction to broaden their horizons. Imagine, then, how much more difficult it is to get anyone at all to read fantasy poetry.



The Forgotten Beasts of Eld by Patricia A. McKilllip

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

There is a sense of antiquity about this book -- not that of a dusty obsolescence nor a sliding into oblivion. On the contrary, this is one of those shining complex things that our ancestors seemed to find it easy to do and that we have somehow forgotten in the rush and spin of our modern days -- this has the feel to it of a tale that has come down from some ancient dawn, a day long gone, but it is bright with the ancient magic and it feels ageless, eternal, light and perfect like a star.



The Overnight by Ramsey Campbell

Thu, 16 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

The author does what he does best, write exquisite prose, develop atmosphere over blood and gore, and thereby develops a truly creepy and gloomy mood surrounding the store's staff and the sense of doom which overshadows them. The book is also interesting as each chapter is presented in turn from the point of view of a different character, so one gets, at times, multiples views of the same events.



SF Site's Best Read of the Year: 2005

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

If you've been an SF Site reader for more than a couple of years, you'll know that our annual Top 10 list is never limited to a mere 10 books. We've never fudged the numbers, which means that we always present ties exactly as they came out in the voting. Usually, however, there is a clear winner in the number one spot -- a runaway lead that leaves everything else far behind. This year was different.



A Conversation With Conrad Williams

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

"I prefer writing short stories, because I know how to do it. Novels are still frightening for me, despite having written six since I was 21. I don't think I'm the only writer who frets over books like that. I want to be a novelist and aim to write a novel every year, but I think it's one of those things that take time and practise to master. I'd like to think I'm producing good work now, but that I'll really hit my stride in another ten years or so."



Zanesville by Kris Saknussemm

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

A naked man awakens in Central Park with no memory of who he is or where he came from. He's blond, handsome, and hugely endowed; on his back is carved the truncated phrase FATHER FORGIVE THEM F. He's discovered by the Satyagrahi, the denizens of Fort Thoreau, a secret hi-tech sanctuary for society's dropouts run by an ex-lawyer drag queen and an embittered dwarf, under the aegis of shadowy master hacker Parousia Head.



Blackbird House by Alice Hoffman

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

In Cape Cod, there is a small farm compassing a small house, called Blackbird House. It's called that because of the white blackbird -- perhaps a ghost, perhaps not -- that has haunted the house since the eighteenth century. In it, people lose things; people who are lost find things; desire, love, heartbreak and fulfillment chase each other through the rafters and around the fields full of sweet peas, while the house witnesses and keeps their stories.



Babylon 5.1: TV reviews by Rick Norwood

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

What's on TV in March? Rick offers a list of what to watch. As well, he has some thoughts on recent episodes of Battlestar Galactica and Smallville.



The Voyage of the Sable Keech by Neal Asher

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

This is the sequel to the author's acclaimed Skinner, set again on the Line planet Spatterjay: a world of many monsters, some of them human. So pull up a stool, matey, pour a mug of seacane rum, and listen to more salty tales of titanic man-eating whelks, leeches the size of sperm-whales, swarms of vicious rhinoworms, glisters and heirodonts....



Wicked or What? by Sean Wright

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Jamey O'Rooke is the fat kid at school, forever being bullied until a couple of strangers mistakenly handed him a mysterious object that was intended for one of his tormentors. Jamey's best friend is Layla, who seems to be on his side but may have her own agenda. And, somewhere else entirely, an individual known as the Third travels across a strange landscape to join them, before it's too late...



Already Dead by Charlie Huston

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Joe Pitt's a Vampyre. He's been infected by a Vyrus that slows aging, imparts phenomenal strength and sensory abilities, enables almost instantaneous healing, and survives by feeding off its host's blood -- which forces its host to go out and drink more blood so the Vyrus can have plenty of sustenance. There's a whole Vampyre subculture in New York City, loosely gathered into Clans or collectives -- a hidden world of power and struggle unsuspected by ordinary human beings who live their lives in daylight. In this secret world, Joe's something of an outsider.



Orphans of Chaos by John C. Wright

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Five seeming children (the titular orphans) attend a British boarding school where just about everything is not as it appears on the surface -- not the least of which is that each orphan possesses a singular supernatural ability. While every kid in school probably has felt imprisoned, the orphans literally are so, and there is considerable uncertainty in whose interests their schoolmasters/captors operate.



The Begum's Millions by Jules Verne

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

The Franco-Prussian War of 1870 was a small war (the last of the French army had surrendered by February 1871), but it had a big effect. It led to the unification of Germany, and it scared the other European powers into an arms race and a system of alliances that would lead directly to the First World War. In Britain a succession of stories prophesied German invasion, and were instrumental in the invention of the scientific romance (via H.G. Wells's The War of the Worlds) and the spy novel (via Childers's The Riddle of the Sands). And, in France, it led their most successful novelist to create this peculiar dystopia.



New Arrivals compiled by Neil Walsh

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

New arrivals this past month have included the latest from Sara Douglass, Jennifer Fallon, Peter F. Hamilton, forthcoming works from Jeffrey Ford, Barth Anderson, Lisa Tuttle, and new editions of some old classics from Brian Lumley, Robert Silverberg, and Orson Scott Card



Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Wed, 1 Mar 2006 11:00:00 GMT

Trouble comes in the form of Cooger & Dark's Pandemonium Shadow Show. The show looks on the surface like a regular carnival, but it has a particularly special attraction. The carrousel, functional despite the "out of order" sign, can change a person's age. Ride the carrousel forward, and with each revolution you age one year. Ride it in reverse, and the years melt away.



RSS Feeds

Sat, 1 Jan 2005 11:00:00 GMT

After constructing our first RSS feed, it soon became apparent that the size of files could grow quickly. We decided to separate them into smaller ones, breaking them up by month. On this page you will find RSS feed files for all of our content beginning with January 2005.