(Holiday obligations are leaving little time for writing. Sorry for the lack of links this time around.)
Here’s part one of my list of the best science fiction and fantasy novels from the past ten years. All these books come with the highest recommendation. I’ve listed them by date of publication.
Bones of the Earth (2002) – Michael Swanwick. Here is Michael Swanwick having fun in a delightful tale about time travel and dinosaurs. It’s full of old-fashioned “sense-of-wonder” and adventure but with good characters and strong plotting. I love the way Swanwick dismisses the paradox of time travel: “Step on as many butterflies as you wish!” (Rather than spend pages of explication, Swanwick efficiently establishes time travel as possible then moves on with the fun part--the story.) Still, time travel has its many dangers (and so do those dinosaurs!).
Light (2002)– M. John Harrison. Light may be the best science fiction novel of the decade. Harrison perfectly melds big ideas, SF tropes and world-building with some of the strongest characterization you’ll find in (or out) of the genre. What struck me about Light was the fact that much of the story—the struggle of the characters to discover themselves, to overcome their self-imposed obstacles—works regardless of the SF setting. There’s no science fictional crutch, here. Light is the one SF novel of the past ten years I most look forward to re-reading.
Cloud Atlas (2004) – David Mitchell. Here’s a book with SF at its core—literally. There are six nested narratives in Cloud Atlas, two taking place in the past, two in the present and two in the future. They fit perfectly into one another and my jaw dropped while I read Mitchell masterfully connect them. This is one of the most unique books of the decade.
2 weeks ago