Visions of Paradise

Saturday, November 21, 2009

The Best Science Fiction of the Decade

This is the fifth time I’ve picked my favorite books of the preceding decade, and I cannot help but wonder how many more chances I will have to do so in the future? Twice more? Three times perhaps? Scary thoughts.

Before I begin, here is a brief review of my selections from past decades:

The 1960s:
Best Novel: Lord of Light / Roger Zelazny
Best Short Fiction: The Star Pit / Samuel R. Delany
Favorite Authors: Samuel R. Delany / Robert Silverberg / Clifford D. Simak / Jack Vance / Roger Zelazny

The 1970s:
Best Novel: Gateway / Frederik Pohl
Best Short Fiction: The Girl Who Was Plugged In / James Tiptree Jr.
Favorite Authors: Michael Bishop / C.J. Cherryh / George R.R. Martin / Robert Silverberg / John Varley

The 1980s:
Best Novel: No Enemy But Time / Michael Bishop
Best Short Fiction: Her Habiline Husband / Michael Bishop
Favorite Authors: Michael Bishop / Marion Zimmer Bradley / Orson Scott Card / George R.R. Martin / Kim Stanley Robinson

The 1990s:
Best F&SF Novel: Brittle Innings / Michael Bishop
Best Historical Fiction: Stones From the River / Ursula Hegi
Best Short Fiction: Story of Your Life / Ted Chiang
Favorite Authors: Michael Bishop / Andrea Barrett / Toni Morrison / Kim Stanley Robinson

Those were merely the crême de la crême of the previous decades. Here are my complete selections of the favorite books I read (not which were necessarily published) in the 2000s. The selection in boldface is my overall favorite work in each category:

Best F&SF Novels:
Look to Windward/ Iain M. Banks
Resplendent / Stephen Baxter
The Etched City / K.J. Bishop
The Last Light of the Sun / Guy Gavriel Kay
Seeker / Jack McDevitt
Perdido Street Station / China Miéville
The Shadow Year/ Jeffrey Ford

Best Historical Fiction:
The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay / Michael Chabon
The Yiddish Policemen’s Union / Michael Chabon
The Time It Never Rained / Elmer Kelton
An Instance of the Fingerpost / Iain Pears
The Dream of Scipio / Iain Pears
The Judgment of Caesar/ Steven Saylor

Best Short Fiction:
The Potter of Bones / Eleanor Arnason
The Fluted Girl / Paolo Bacigalupi
The Chop Line / Stephen Baxter
The Rabbi’s Holiday / Peter Beagle
Hell is the Absence of God / Ted Chiang
The Empire of Ice Cream / Jeffrey Ford
The Cosmology of the Wider World / Jeffrey Ford
Good Mountain / Robert Reed
Zima Blue / Alastair Reynolds

Favorite Authors:
Stephen Baxter / Michael Chabon / Jeffrey Ford / Jack McDevitt / Iain Pears / Steven Saylor

Of the 16 f&sf selections, 8 are sf and 8 are fantasy, which surprised me somewhat since I generally prefer science fiction to fantasy. Overall, this was a good decade for fiction, although it was a bit harder seeking out the best short fiction since I read few prozines the past decade years than anytime since I became a fan of f&sf in the early 1960s.


  • Interesting---I definitely feel you on PERDIDO STREET STATION. Did you read THE SCAR??

    I don't know why, but I just can not get through even a few CHAPTERS of a MIchael Chabon novel. The only one I have been able to read is THE MYSTERIES OF PITTSBURGH.

    I read Iain M. Bank's MATTER for Xmas but haven't read LOOK TO WINDWARD yet.

    Have you read THE NAME OF THE WIND by Patrick Rothfuss.

    By Blogger Mad Professah, At 10:26 PM  

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