Once again my end of the year list of books that enchanted me the most throughout the last 365 days (still three days left, but that would not change my list) will be made without taking into account the year of publication, genre or length of the book. Because although I would certainly like to read more and a bit more varied (not that fantasy would not have the lion’s share of my readings) it is not always possible. 2010 was quite a busy year and the time for reading a bit cut down compared to other years. It still was an interesting year when it comes to books though and here are my favorites, linked to my full impression of the reading experience:
1. “The City & The City” by China Miéville - “The City & The City” is an intricate, strange and beautiful novel, one that left me wondering if China Miéville doesn’t see things that the other humans fail to see or chose to “unsee”.
2. “The Folding Knife” by K.J. Parker - “The Folding Knife” has no action that emphasizes on physical qualities, but that should not drive readers away from this novel. As life offers smaller or bigger events each day so is “The Folding Knife”, with something happening with each page and chapter. As for the author of the present novel, I read enough of her works to say that every list of top genre writers would not be complete without K.J. Parker’s name on it.
3. “Purple and Black” by K.J. Parker - It is said that the strongest essences come in small vials, but I still regret that “Purple and Black” is a short piece of fiction, a wonderful story in the span of a few pages. I am happy though that my regret is counter-balanced by the fact that I can always find a couple of hours to read and enjoy K.J. Parker’s novella again.
4. “The Harm” by Gary McMahon - Previously of “The Harm” my only pleasant experience with a reading made on a computer screen was with Joe Hill’s “Gunpowder”, but this novella changed that, because Gary McMahon’s story is such a high-quality story that “The Harm” is worthy of a reading despite the form in which the novella is found.
5. “Gardens of the Moon” by Steven Erikson - I am still wondering how did I start to read Steven Erikson’s series after so much time, but I am very happy that I finally did. And by the looks of it “Gardens of the Moon” is just an appetizer introducing the main courses to follow.
6. “Kalpa Imperial” by Angélica Gorodischer - In the book’s presentation we can read that “Kalpa Imperial is the first of Argentinean writer Angélica Gorodischer’s nineteen award-winning books to be translated into English”. Sadly, seven years after its publication it is the only one available in English. The situation is so much unfortunate because “Kalpa Imperial” proves that the English market, and not only, has nothing but to gain from the translation of Angélica Gorodischer’s works.
7. “A Matter of Blood” by Sarah Pinborough - “A Matter of Blood” can be taken as a self contained story, but there are a few threads that are left hanging, leaving the door opened for the events to follow in “Dog-Faced Gods” series. If the events to follow will take the “Dog-Faced Gods” series to a new height is something to be seen in the novels to follow, but until then we have in the flesh of Cass Jones, a character who might be the person staying next to the reader as we speak, a realistic guide through the bleak atmosphere and the captivating story of Sarah Pinborough’s “A Matter of Blood”.
8. “Nopți Albe, Zile Negre” (White Nights, Black Days) by Marian Coman - Well, I am very happy that I met “White Nights, Black Days”, it showed me again that Marian Coman is a very talented writer. It also made me think that if I had the power I would force Marian Coman to write more. Better still, I would pay him to do it.
9. “The Reapers Are the Angels” by Alden Bell - Lately, I run away from zombie fiction, but “The Reapers are the Angels” didn’t prove to be a reason to keep running away. The zombie element is hardly the central part, just another cause for the world turning into a bleak setting. Instead, Alden Bell’s “The Reapers are the Angels” is a story of life, tragic in places, but engaging and beautifully written. It is a confirmation of the beauty of literature.
10. “Kraken” by China Miéville - “Kraken” is an excellent example of how urban fantasy should be made and although the engagement with the story requires a bit of patience from the reader that doesn’t ruin the pleasure of reading this novel. I feel that the novel didn’t reveal all its mysteries to me in this first reading and that a second one will show me new dimensions of the story. In the end, “Kraken” is a literary induced dream and China Miéville is the dealer providing it.
11. “Dog Blood” by David Moody - David Moody set for himself high standards with “Hater” and he successfully rises to those standards with “Dog Blood”. And since nothing from “Dog Blood” hints of the conclusion of David Moody’s trilogy we can only wait and see if the final volume will be as pleasantly surprising as the first two novels of the series were.
12. “City of Ruin” by Mark Charan Newton - Although “City of Ruin” is obviously connected to the first novel in the “Legends of the Red Sun” series, “Nights of Villjamur”, it can be read as a stand-alone novel without a problem. However, “City of Ruin” proves that Mark Charan Newton is growing fast as a writer, his prose, story and philosophical approach making his work more robust. I am certain that in this cadence Mark Charan Newton’s series can turn to be one of the landmarks of modern fantasy.
13. “Secrets of the Sands” by Leona Wisoker - Leona Wisoker introduces the reader to an exotic setting in “Secrets of the Sands”, a setting with a unique flavor and that together with the story incites to a further exploration in the novels to follow.
14. “Rain” by Conrad Williams - My first instinct after finishing Conrad Williams’ novella was to look for more of his works, because “Rain” is a short but strong story, as a summer storm, and it left a powerful mark on my mind.
15. “Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide” by William Hussey - Despite the fact that “Witchfinder: Dawn of the Demontide” didn’t work as strongly as “Through a Glass, Darkly” and “The Absence” for me, the novel still offers a beautiful reading and proves that William Hussey is a talented author and one of the strongest voices of modern horror.
Best female character: Sarah Mary Williams, Temple (“The Reapers Are the Angels” by Alden Bell) – More mature than her age, Temple tries to find a path to redeem herself with events of her past. Although she travels on a haunting landscape Temple finds beauty in it nonetheless. I was attached to Temple with ease and her strong character is a memorable one.
Best male character: Cass Jones (“A Matter of Blood” by Sarah Pinborough) – Haunted by the past, disturbed by the present and deeply flawed Cass Jones is one of the most human characters I encountered in my readings. His behavior is not an example to follow some times, but after all that is what makes us human and therefore Cass Jones is a character that enters in my personal favorites hall of fame.
Most fun character: Thanquol (“Grey Seer” by C.L. Werner) – His devious machinations and plotting turn out to be very entertaining things to follow and although, after all, Thanquol is a pestilence I would love to see him in other adventures too.
As we’ve seen at the beginning of this year the cover artwork for the new editions of Michael Moorcock’s first three novels in the “Hawkmoon” series, released by Tor Books, were at the top level. And it cannot be otherwise since the cover artist was the great Vance Kovacs. Earlier this month, Tor Books released the new edition of the last novel in the series, “The Runestaff”, and once again Vance Kovacs produced an excellent cover. Actually, looking over the entire series of covers Vance Kovacs made for the Michael Moorcock’s series I am tempted to buy the novels again just for the artwork, although I do own the entire series.
Dark Scribe Magazine has announced the nominations for the 4th Black Quill Awards. As Dark Scribe Magazine used us in the previous three years of the awards each of the 7 categories will have two winners, one voted by the editors and contributors of Dark Scribe Magazine, Editor’s Choice, and one voted by the readers, Reader’s Choice. Therefore we can cast our vote too, using the form made available by Dark Scribe Magazine on their website. The eligible works were published between November 1st, 2009 and October 31st, 2010. The voting ends on January 21st, 2011 and the winners of the Black Quill Awards will be announced on February 1st, 2011.
DARK GENRE NOVEL OF THE YEAR:
- “A Dark Matter” by Peter Straub (Doubleday/Orion) - “Kraken” by China Miéville (Pan Macmillan/Del Rey) - “Sparrow Rock” by Nate Kenyon (Leisure/Bad Moon Books) - “The Caretaker of Lorne Field” by David Zeltserman (Overlook Hardcover) - “The Passage” by Justin Cronin (Orion/Ballantine) - “Under the Dome” by Stephen King (Hodder/Scribner)
BEST SMALL PRESS CHILL:
- “A Book of Tongues” by Gemma Files (ChiZine Publications) - “Dreams in Black and White” by John R. Little (Morning Star) - “Invisible Fences” by Norman Prentiss (Cemetery Dance) - “The Castle of Los Angeles” by Lisa Morton (Gray Friar Press) - “The Wolf at the Door” by Jameson Currier (Chelsea Street Editions)
BEST DARK GENRE FICTION COLLECTION:
- “Blood and Gristle” by Michael Louis Calvillo (Bad Moon Books) - “In the Mean Time” by Paul Tremblay (ChiZine Publications) - “Little Things” by John R. Little (Bad Moon Books) - “Occultation” by Laird Barron (Night Shade Books) - “Summer, Fireworks, and My Corpse” by Otsuichi (VIZ Media LLC)
BEST DARK GENRE ANTHOLOGY:
- “Dark Faith” edited by Maurice Broaddus and Jerry Gordon (Apex Publications) - “Dead Set: A Zombie Anthology” edited by Michelle McCrary and Joe McKinney (23 House) - “Haunted Legends” edited by Ellen Datlow and Nick Mamatas (Tor) - “Horror Library IV” edited by RJ Cavender and Boyd E. Harris (Cutting Block Press) - “When The Night Comes Down” edited by Bill Breedlove (Dark Arts Books)
BEST DARK GENRE BOOK OF NON-FICTION:
- “Horrors: Great Stories of Fear and Their Creators” by Rocky Wood (McFarland) - “I Am Providence: The Life and Times of HP Lovecraft” by S.T. Joshi (Hippocampus Press) - “Night of the Living Dead: Behind the Scenes of the Most Terrifying Zombie Movie Ever” by Joe Kane (Citadel) - “The Conspiracy Against the Human Race” by Thomas Ligotti (Hippocampus Press) - “Thrillers: 100 Must Reads” edited by David Morrell and Hank Wagner (Oceanview Publishing)
BEST DARK SCRIBBLE:
- “Bully” by Jack Ketchum (Postscripts 22/23) - “Goblin Boy” by Rick Hautula (Cemetery Dance #63) - “Secretario” by Catherynne M. Valente (Weird Tales, Summer 2010) - “The Things” by Peter Watts (Clarkesworld, January 2010) - “We” by Bentley Little (Cemetery Dance #64)
BEST DARK GENRE BOOK TRAILER: (you can view all the book trailers on the nominations’ page on the Dark Scribe Magazine website)
- “Neverland” by Douglas Clegg / Produced by Circle of Seven Productions - “Radiant Shadows” by Melissa Marr / Produced by Circle of Seven Productions - “Specters in Coal Dust” edited by Michael Knost / Produced by Michael Knost & Black Water Films - “Under the Dome” by Stephen King / Produced by Scribner Marketing - “Unhappy Endings” by Brian Keene / Produced by Delirium Books
Congratulations and good luck to all the nominees!
THIS MAY 2011 EXPERIENCE ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST ALL ORIGINAL FREE COMIC BOOK DAY PREQUEL LEADING DIRECTLY INTO THE FIRST ISSUE THIS JULY
WRITTEN BY SUPERMAN & STAN LEE’S STARBORN NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER CHRIS ROBERSON
MICHAEL MOORCOCK'S MULTIVERSE COLLIDES WITH ELRIC, CORUM, AND HAWKMOON
For 40 years, Elric has thrilled comic book fandom beginning with Marvel Comics' CONAN THE BARBARIAN #15 in 1972. Neil Gaiman called Elric’s creator Michael Moorcock “my model for what a writer was” while Warren Ellis said he is one of the “eight core sites in my creative genome” — now, the godfather of the Multiverse concept brings one of the most critically acclaimed and most recognizable figures in the history of fantasy fiction back to sequential art with BOOM! Studios’ ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST!
Written by SUPERMAN, iZOMBIE, and STAN LEE’S STARBORN New York Times bestselling scribe Chris Roberson, the adventure begins this May in an all-new, all-original FREE COMIC BOOK DAY edition that’s not simply a preview of the July series, but a prequel that will excite longtime Elric fans and serves an accessible entry point for the curious who have never experienced Moorcock’s saga.
Showcasing not just Elric, but Corum and Hawkmoon in a mammoth epic that uses Moorcock’s fascinating and intricate Multiverse as its tapestry, ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST #1 follows the May prequel and premieres as a full-blown series this July with its first issue.
“Elric is in inspired hands. I'm enthusiastically looking forward to his appearance from BOOM! Studios,” said legendary Elric creator Michael Moorcock. “One of the best writers of his generation, Chris Roberson, will be writing a brilliantly conceived, entirely new Elric story in the grand manner! I can't wait!”
"Publishing Michael Moorcock's Elric feels like a dream come true," said Editor-in-Chief Matt Gagnon. "Even more so when Michael is as enthused as we are about the revival of one of his most classic creations. This year will be 50 years since the creation of Elric and BOOM! Studios aims to live up to the standard and tradition that Michael Moorcock has set."
ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST features the return of Michael Moorcock’s legendary Multiverse, featuring some of the greatest fantasy characters of all time: Elric of Melniboné, Corum of the Scarlet Robe, and Dorian Hawkmoon in a brand-new story that will test the courage of the Eternal Champion! In this new series, the workings of Fate are being tampered with across the Multiverse, upsetting the Cosmic Balance. Elric of Melniboné must preserve the Balance and save the entire Multiverse from ruin. But no sooner has his journey begun than he is waylaid by dark forces and lost on the Moonbeam Roads. Elric finds himself stranded on a world where Chaos holds sway and where change is the only constant. Heroes are forced into action far and wide, but will they fight on the side of Law or Chaos?
ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST FCBD EDITION ships this May for FREE COMIC BOOK DAY, featuring an original prequel story by New York Times bestseller and SUPERMAN writer Chris Roberson and cover art by Erik Jones that leads directly into the first issue of the new ELRIC: THE BALANCE LOST this July.
About BOOM! Studios
BOOM! Studios (http://www.boom-studios.com/) 2009’s "Best Publisher” generates a wide-ranging catalog of multiple Eisner and Harvey Award-nominated comic books and graphic novels featuring some of the industry’s top talent, including Philip K. Dick's DO ANDROIDS DREAM OF ELECTRIC SHEEP?, 20th Century Fox's 28 DAYS LATER and DIE HARD, The Henson Company's FARSCAPE, and the original Mark Waid series IRREDEEMABLE. This fall sees BOOM! teaming up with the legendary Stan Lee, creator of Marvel Comics’ characters Spider-Man, The Hulk, and The X-Men for a line of original superhero series, the legend’s first new original superheroes to go to print in nearly 20 years. BOOM!'s youth imprint, BOOM Kids!, is an undisputed industry leader, publishing Disney/Pixar's THE INCREDIBLES, CARS, and TOY STORY, as well as Disney's THE MUPPETS, DONALD DUCK, UNCLE SCROOGE and WALT DISNEY'S COMICS AND STORIES. This year, BOOM! Studios celebrates its fifth anniversary.
This is not a proper return, since the working projects I talked about are prolonged for the entire December and also these days we await the imminent arrival of the new member of the family. However, not all of the past week was spent in hectic activity, I did find time for other things too. I finished a couple of novels and the writing of their reviews is a work in progress, I have four interviews close to be finalized and I am preparing the posts for the end of the 2010 reading year. My time remains a bit limited, therefore the posting will be a bit scarce for the rest of December, but we will see each other a little this month and in full schedule from January.
Things seem to be piling up sometimes and since the end of the year is close a few working projects are gathering here. Three such projects to be exact and all require a few trips outside the office, paperwork that needs to be finished and revised and they take a lot more time than usual. Therefore for a few days my free time will be heavily shorted and my online presence scarce. I will be back on posting sometimes next week though.