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November 1, 2016 BOOKLIST
Find more Top 10 SF/Fantasy
The anxiety of influence is nowhere evident among these 10 rave-reviewed genre titles since the last Spotlight on sf/fantasy in the May 15, 2007, Booklist. Tips of the hat to Bram Stoker, Virgil, Lovecraft, the King Arthur legends, Milton, and the Bible are flagrant; others are more discreet. The books they have inspired, however, are just that—inspired.
Baltimore; or, The Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire. By Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden. 2007. Bantam/Spectra, $25 (9780553804713).
Attacked by a vampire on World War I’s western front, Lord Henry Baltimore somehow survives to pursue and destroy the monster, at terrible cost. Comics artist Mignola’s illustrations enhance a yarn he conceived.
Black Ships. By Jo Graham. 2008. Orbit, paper, $14.99 (9780316068000).
Graham retells the Aeneid from the perspective of half-Trojan Gull, who goes to guide the nine black ships under Prince Aeneas when they put in briefly at Pylos, where she is the voice of an oracle.
The Book of Joby. By Mark J. Ferrari. 2007. Tor, $27.95 (9780765316868); paper, $15.95 (9780765317537).
When Lucifer again proposes that God put someone virtuous to the test, with a remade Creation sans free will as the prize should the champion fail, God chooses nine-year-old Joby, and the Arthurian legend is replayed to mesmerizing effect.
Dagger Key and Other Stories. By Lucius Shepard. 2007. PS, $50 (9781904619734).
Lovecraftian aliens in indie rock, a hit man on the lam falling for a ghost, poker enhanced by voodoo, spirit possession by pirates, quest fantasy for antiheroes—Shepard makes such outlandish premises amusing and often surprisingly moving.
God’s Demon. By Wayne Barlowe. 2007. Tor, $24.95 (0-7653-0985-8).
Unresigned to eternal damnation for warring against God, noble Sargatanas rebels against hell’s corrupt ruler, hoping to prove worthy of redemption. Barlowe depicts hell awesomely and peoples it with compelling characters.
The Imago Sequence and Other Stories. By Laird Barron. 2007. Night Shade, $24.95 (9781597800884).
Barron rethinks the H. P. Lovecraft stock company, replacing professors with thugs as protagonists and the evil-alien Old Ones with entirely earthly monsters as antagonists. Bloody wonderful.
In the Courts of the Crimson Kings. By S. M. Stirling. 2008. Tor, $24.95 (0-7653-1489-4).
An archaeologist and a mercenary-slash-crown princess search for an ancient artifact and find it, love, and multiple murderous conspiracies. Sf adventure the way it’s supposed to be: 200 pages of edge-of-the-seat action.
Lonely Werewolf Girl. By Martin Millar. 2008. Soft Skull, paper, $15.95 (9780979663666).
The thane of the self-battling MacRinnalch clan of Scottish werewolves has succumbed to his 17-year-old daughter’s attack, and the succession’s in question. A grungy dark fantasy so compelling it should never end.
Mainspring. By Jay Lake. 2007. Tor, $24.95 (9780765317087); paper, $7.99 (9780765356369).
The angel Gabriel charges clock-maker’s apprentice Hethor with winding the earth’s mainspring to avert disaster, thereby setting him off to numerous occupations, persons, and places in an astonishing and marvelous alternate nineteenth century.
Spider Star. By Mike Brotherton. 2008. Tor, $26.95 (9780765311252).
The planet Argo’s human colonizers find the long-gone original inhabitants’ technology useful—until a doomsday weapon is triggered. An ancient document indicates that the know-how to disarm the weapon lies on the Spider Star. Class-A hard sf.
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