Saturday, August 30, 2008

ArmadilloCon 2008: What You Should Have Read

"The Year is Half Over: What I Should Have Read" is a traditional panel at ArmadilloCon, where a bunch of avid and discriminating readers recommend recent must-read books in the science fiction / fantasy genre. The panelists are an assortment of writers, editors and booksellers. Without further ado --

Rick Klaw recommends "Somnambulist" by Jonathan Barnes. It's a late Victorian era / Edwardian novel about a magician. It's the oddest novel you'll read this year, or perhaps any other year, says Rick. The ending is a little weak, but by that time you don't care. He also recommends Ann and Jeff Vandermeers' anthologies "Best American Fantasy" and "The New Weird" -- a collection of really odd stories. They also have a collection named "Steampunk". When you finish reading it, you'll have an idea exactly what steampunk is.

Rusty Hevelin recommends reprints of Robert Heinlein, and Jack Williamson, who's still as good as when he started selling in the 20s.

Sheila Williams didn't recommend any specific novel or story collection, but mentioned a few new authors she likes very much, such as Ted Kosmatka (especially his story "Divining Light" which came out in a recent issue of Asimov's, and got many fan letters from engineers and scientists, who all wanted to perform the double slit experiment described in the story), also Felicity Shoulders, who has a story "Burgerdroid" in Asimov's. She also mentioned recent stories by Elizabeth Bear (March), Stephen Baxter (September) and Nancy Kress, but I didn't catch the titles of those stories.

Willie Siros' list of this year's must-read books

Science fiction:

Charles Stross: Saturn's Children -- his take on the later Heinlein. If Heinlein hadn't gone crazy and was still writing well.

Iain Banks: Matter -- a new Culture novel. Incredibly fascinating far future.

Greg Egan: Incandescence -- Greg Egan is probably the most out there hard SF writer there is; keeps up with the cutting edge of matehmatics.

Greg Bear: City At The End Of Time

Melissa Snodgrass: Edge of Reason

Joe Scalzi -- Zoe's Tale

Joe Haldeman: Marsbound

Chris Roberson: The Dragon's Nine Sons

Cory Doctorow: Little Brother

Peter Hamilton: Temporal Void -- finishes current duology

Richard Morgan: Steel Remains -- a very bizarre far future world

Alistair Reynolds: House of Suns -- new space opera

Neal Stephenson: Anathem


Thomas Disch: Word of God -- in this novel Thomas Disch reveals that he's God, and that his opponent is Phillip K. Dick, which he's been fighting for all eternity.

Ursula Le Guin: Lavinia

Terry Pratchett: Nation

Diana Wynne Jones: House of Many Ways -- a sequel to Howl's Moving Castle. Willie thinks D.W. Jones is the one who God should have tapped on the shoulder, saying, hey, I'm gonna give you millions -- instead of JK Rowling.

Naomi Novik: Victory of Eagles

Adam. Roberts: Swiftly -- Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels turn out to be real.

Jeffrey Ford: Shadow Year

James Morrow: Philosopher's Apprentice

Gene Wolfe: Evil Guest

Joe Abercrombie: Last Argument of Kings

J. M. McDermott: Last Dragon

Matt Hughes: Hespira

Tim Scott: Love In The Time Of Fridges -- surreal. Too absurd to try to explain in 2 sentences.

Sean McMullen: Time Engine

Steve Erickson: Toll The Hounds

In addition to all this, Willie mentioned "Go-Go Girls of the Apocalypse" by Victor Gischler. I'm not sure which category it falls into.


Another person emailed me other recommendations that were mentioned on the panel, that I didn't catch.

Eric Marin recommends: -- crime fiction with a supernatural twist, from TV concepts

Sheila Williams:

-- a Gulliver' Travels redux thingie by Gord Seller

-- "Lester Young and the Jupiter's Moons Blues" in the July Asimov's

-- David ????, "Flowers of Nikosia" in December Asimov's, about a Nirvana cover band

Madeleine Dimond: Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union

Some other people recommended:

-- Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora

-- Michael Swanwick, The Dog Said Bow-Wow

Here are lists of books recommended on other "What You Should Have Read" panels: at ArmadilloCon 2005, ArmadilloCon 2006, ArmadilloCon 2007, ArmadilloCon 2009, ArmadilloCon 2010.

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