Updates: My 2020 in Review (Best SF Novels, Best SF Short Fiction, and Bonus Categories)

I’m not sure what I can add about the general sentiment of 2020. It was awful in every way. Here’s to a better 2021.

Reading and writing for the site—and participating in all the SF discussions it’s generated over the year—was a necessary and greatly appreciated salve. Thank you everyone!

I also have one (hopefully more) review coming out in The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction (the Curiosities column) in the spring. I’ve not included my reviews of those esoteric SF novels in this particular post.

Without further ado, here are my favorite novels and short stories I read in 2020 (with bonus categories). Tempted to track any of them down?

And feel free to list your favorite vintage (or non-vintage) SF reads of the year. As always, I look forward to reading your comments.


My Top 10 Science Fiction Novels (click titles for my review)

Tim White’s cover for the 1983 edition

1. Electric Forest, Tanith Lee (1979), 5/5 (Masterpiece): Tanith Lee spins a gauzy, sinister, and terrifying tale of manipulative resurrection. A brilliant inventor projects the mind of a grotesque social outcast into a new transcendent Continue reading

Book Review: The Best SF Stories from New Worlds 6, ed. Michael Moorcock (1970) (stories by J. G. Ballard, Hilary Bailey, Carol Emshwiller, M. John Harrison, et al.)

Paul Lehr’s cover for the 1971 edition

3.75/5 (collated rating: Good)

Welcome to a postmodern museum of disordered landscapes. J. G. Ballard paints a cratered England as a new Vietnam. Langdon Jones reduces the operation of the world to a series of sculptural machines. Hilary Bailey weaves a dystopic England changed beyond recognition in mere years. M. John Harrison’s characters interact with cardboard cutouts on an imaginary set. And Michael Moorcock’s Jerry Cornelius flits between India and Pakistan’s present and past.

While there are a few duds, the cream Continue reading

Book Review: The Black Corridor, Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey (1969)

(Detail from Bob Haberfield’s cover for the 1973 edition)

4.25/5 (Very Good)

In the Star Trek: Voyager episode “One” (1998), Seven of Nine, unaffected by a nebula’s subatomic radiation, must care for the crew while they’re placed in stasis. Alone on the ship, Seven experiences the prolonged effects of isolation including disturbing dreams and hallucinations. Ever since I saw “One” as a child, I’ve become fascinated with the strategies that humans might use in space to cope with isolation and the rituals they might enact to preserve sanity. Michael Moorcock and Hilary Bailey’s The Black Corridor (1969) (see note below), explores Continue reading

Updates: Recent Science Fiction/Fantasy Acquisitions No. CCXVIII (Wolfe + Saxton + Tilley + New Worlds Anthology)

1. This looks like a splendid New Worlds Quarterly anthology replete with book reviews, articles, and interior art by John Clute and James Cawthorn. When I review it (hopefully soon), I’ll include a few examples of the art. The quantity of authors I’ve not read in this anthology is high—for example, A.A. Attanasio, Harvey Jacobs, Rachel Pollack, among many others. See content lists below.

For more fantastic Mati Klarwein covers check out my recent art post.

2. Gene Wolfe’s novels are a major hole in my SFF knowledge. Here is an early fantasy work that I might in the near future. I tend to take perambulatory paths before tackling an author’s great works. Thoughts on this lesser known one?

I’ve read quite a few of his 60s and 70s short stories. For example, the spectacular “Silhouette” (1975) and “The Changeling” (1968).

3. It’s been a while since I raved about Josephine Saxton’s delightful The Hieros Gamos of Sam and An Smith (1969). An author I must return to….

4. Silly early 80s post-apocalyptical adventure anyone? Sometimes you need a break from Christopher Priest and J. G. Ballard! hah.

Let me know what books/covers intrigue you. Which have you read? Enjoyed? Hated?

~

1. New Worlds #6 (variant title: New Worlds #7), ed. Charles Platt and Hilary Bailey (1974)

(Mati Klarwein’s cover for the 1975 edition) Continue reading