lunes, 31 de diciembre de 2012

Top 5 novels of 2012 (and a honorable mention)

Although I still have to read some important 2012 releases (notably, The Hydrogen Sonata by Iain M. Banks, Great North Road by Peter F. Hamilton, 2312 by Kim Stanley Robinson and The Eternal Flame by Greg Egan) and this list might change in the near future, these are my Top 5 novels (and a honorable mention) of 2012 so far.

Honorable mention: Scourge of the Betrayer by Jeff Salyards

Scourge of the Betrayer, debut novel by Jeff Salyards, is the kind of book that shouldn't have worked for me. I usually prefer science fiction over fantasy and, when it comes to fantasy stories, I like them with a lot of magic and dragons. In Scourge of the Betrayer there are none of the latter and only hints of the former. However, Salyards's wonderful prose and masterful storytelling made this book a pleasure to read. 

In Scourge of the Betrayer we follow Arkamondos (Arki, for short), a young scribe that has just joined a band of Syldoon soldiers in a mysterious mission. Arki's peaceful life is about to go head over heels. He will have to confront raw violence, moral conflicts and terrible decisions as he has never seen before. And we will learn a thing or three in the process...

Read the rest of my review here.

Fifth place: vN by Madeline Ashby

In vN, Madeline Ashby's debut novel, you will find robots. Lots of robots (and some of them are very angry, by the way). But not your average kind of android, no. These robots are von Neumann machines or vNs: humanoid machines that, given enough raw materials (food) are able to replicate, to iterate (almost) perfect copies of themselves.

The main protagonist of the novel is Amy, a young vN with a very peculiar family: her mother is also a vN (so Amy is, in fact, a clone of her), her father a human and her grandmother... well, I'll come to that in a minute.

Fourth place: Spin the Sky by Katy Stauber

If I were to tell you that Spin the Sky, Katy Stauber's second novel, is a science-fictional retelling of The Odyssey with some romantic elements and the occasional lecture on the physics of cattle herds on space orbitals, you might think that such a combination is not very interesting and cannot possibly work. But you'd be deadly wrong.
Spin the Sky is a very intelligent novel written by an (obviously) very intelligent person. The characters are likable and fully fleshed. The dialog is natural and, at the same time, sharp and witty. And the prose is delicious, with a wonderful and clever sense of humor.

Third place: The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton (Tim Pratt)

Even though it was published by Nightshade Books (my favorite publisher) I had no intention to read The Constantine Affliction by T. Aaron Payton. My friend Miquel (in whose wonderful blog you can read the translation into Spanish of this review) emailed me to let know how cool he found the synopsis of the novel, but I simply wasn't attracted by this book. But then something happened that made me change my mind completely: Tim Pratt revealed that T. Aaron Payton was one of his pen names. As I'm immediately interested in anything written by Pratt, I quickly grabbed a review copy from NetGalley and began reading it. And boy am I glad that I did!

The Constantine Affliction is one of the best novels I've read this year. It is intelligent, surprising and, above all, a lot of fun. So it seems that my first impression about this book wasn't right at all. I wish being wrong always felt this good. 

Read the rest of the review and my interview with the author (Part 1 and part 2)


Second place: The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross

Some reviews are difficult to write, some are easier. But this is going to be like the easiest one ever. The Apocalypse Codex by Charles Stross is an awesome book. If you already are a fan of The Laundry Files you won't be disappointed in the least. If you aren't... what are you waiting for? You still have some time until the book is published. Go read The Atrocity Archives, The Jennifer Morgue and The Fuller Memorandum and then The Apocalypse Codex. You'll love them all.
That's all folks. My job here is done.


What? What happened? You still here? Wait... You wanna know more?! Ok, ok, but you'd better be cleared for this info or you know what can happen to your immortal soul and all that...

You can read the rest of the review here.


First place: Existence by David Brin

Many of my favorite novels are first contact or alien artifact stories: classics such as Rendezvous with Rama by Arthur C. Clarke or Gateway by Frederik Pohl and more modern books like Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds, Marrow by Robert Reed or Blindsight by Peter Watts. To them, I now have to add Existence by David Brin.

Existence is the first novel by Brin in ten years (in 2002 he published the also wonderful Kiln People). It was one of my highly anticipated books of 2012 and it has been worth the wait. In Existence you will find many of the most important themes in the science fiction of the last thirty years: virtual reality, artificial intelligence, the singularity, global warming, and, above all, the Fermi Paradox. Oh, and intelligent dolphins, of course.

Read the rest of my review to know how I liked this book so much.

Thank you all for reading Sense of Wonder in 2012. I'll see you in 2013!

(You can also read this post in Spanish/También puedes leer esta entrada en español) 

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