Four Views of Fantastical/SFnal Fiction in 2010: Locus Online Best-of Lists

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Last year, I did a comprehensive overview of genre books for Locus Online. This time, in the context of writing a SF/Fantasy column for the NYTBR, reviewing for LAT, WaPo, and B&N Review, along with being the major contributor to the Amazon top 10, I didn’t particularly like the feeling of being semi-ubiquitous. So I suggested to the marvelous Mark Kelly that I just do a list of the best fantasy and that getting at least three other views with a bias, respectively, toward SF, YA, and, finally, heroic fantasy would be a good idea.

The result is great, I think, because it means more and different books get additional attention. Here, then, are the full best-of lists posted on Locus. They’re also a useful counterpoint to and/or reinforcement of the Locus recommended list. To buy and the full-on articles, click the four header links, although I’ve provided buying links for my list just cause I’m an Amazon associate.

Fantasy in 2010, A Baker’s Dozen – Jeff VanderMeer
Best Novel of the Year (3-way tie):

The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz(Dalkey Archive Press)
The Narrator by Michael Cisco
(Civil Coping Mechanisms)
Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord
(Small Beer Press)

Ten More of the Best:
The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman(Tor)
The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms
and The Broken Kingdoms by NK Jemisin(Orbit)
Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey(Eos)
The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich(Two Dollar Radio)
The Gaslight Dogs by Karin Lowachee(Orbit)
The Many Deaths of the Firefly Brothers by Thomas Mullen(Random House)
Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor(DAW )
The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer(St. Martin’s)
Birdbrain by Johanna Sinisalo(Peter Owen)
A Special Place: The Heart of a Dark Matter by Peter Straub(Pegasus)

Heroic Fantasy–Larry Nolen
1. Carlos Gardini, Tríptico de Trinidad (Bibliopolis, Spain)
2. N.K. Jemisin, The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms (Orbit)
3. George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois (eds.), Warriors (Tor)
4. Paul Kearney, Corvus (Solaris)
5. Andrzej Sapkowski, La Dama del Lago, volumen 2 (Alamut, Spain)
6. Ian Cameron Esslemont, Stonewielder (Transworld, UK)
7. Jonathan Strahan and Lou Anders (eds.), Swords & Dark Magic (Harper Voyager)
8. Adrian Tchaikovsky, Salute the Dark (Pyr; Tor UK)
9. Brandon Sanderson, The Way of Kings (Tor)

Top 10–Gwenda Bond (with an emphasis on YA, although not exclusively)1. White Cat by Holly Black (Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books)
2. Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (Little, Brown)
3. Bleeding Violet by Dia Reeves (Simon Pulse)
4. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare (Simon & Schuster/McElderry Books)
5. Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve (Scholastic)
6. Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker Rhodes (Little, Brown)
7. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins
8. What I Didn’t See and Other Stories by Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer Press)
9. The Iron Duke by Meljean Brook (Berkley)
10. Blackout and All Clear by Connie Willis (Ballantine Spectra)

Top 10 SF Novels – Adam Roberts (in alpha order)Lauren Beukes, Zoo City (Angry Robot)
Project Itoh, Harmony (Haikasoru)
Tom McCarthy, C (Jonathan Cape; Knopf)
Ian McDonald’s The Dervish House (Gollancz; Pyr)
Hannu Rajaniemi The Quantum Thief (Gollancz)
Francis Spufford Red Plenty (Faber)
Tricia Sullivan, Lightborn (Orbit)
Scarlett Thomas, Our Tragic Universe (Canongate; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)
Jean-Christophe Valtat, Aurorama (Melville)
Charles Yu, How To Live Safely In A Science Fictional Universe (Corvus; Pantheon)


  1. Steve Tem says

    Oh dear, more books I’m going to have to buy. I’m not terribly keen on “best” lists in general–too many very unlike things being compared, at least to my mind–but some are invaluable to me for finding books I’d really like to know about but wouldn’t otherwise encounter. Yours is one of those. Many thanks for that.

  2. Jeff VanderMeer says

    Thanks, Steve. I’d hoped to do a short story collection list, too, and an antho list–somewhere. But I just got so busy I didn’t find the time, nor had I read enough in those categories to be of use. I still need to do an entry about your and Melanie’s collection on Amazon, though. Oy. The way time gets away…

  3. Steve Tem says

    I’m amazed by what you do get done, particularly the amount of sheer commentary on work of interest. Added to your fiction output, it’s a pretty impressive word count.

  4. Jeff VanderMeer says

    steve–it seems like more than it is because for Amazon interviews, I only have to sample the book in question. Sometimes I read the whole thing, but there’s not always time to do more than skim and sample.