Best SF&F Books of 2010 [My Pick]

It is really hard to make a best books of the year list, there are so many good books and any rating system is subjective so I don’t even try to be objective, this is best books of 2010  from my own readings and I already know there are a number of real good books that I have not yet read this year and I will tell which I suspect they are towards the end of this post.

My main interest lies in science fiction and especially towards space opera and military scifi so take this list for what it is, the books I enjoyed most this year.

Best First Releases

These are the best of the 61 first releases I read this year (for details see the 2010 book index)

10. The Quantum Thief (The Quantum Thief book 1) [Debut]
by Hannu Rajaniemi
Published by Gollancz

The Quantum Thief is like a Finnish Tango, it got a strange rhythm to it and it takes you places you never imagined before. It is a great debut novel by Hannu Rajaniemi and probably a future classic.

9. Servants of the Underworld (Obsidian & Blood book 1) [Debut]
by Aliette de Bodard
Published by Angry Robot

Aliette have found her culture and settings in central American pre-colonization Aztec country. This is about a murder mystery investigated by Acatl, High Priest for the Dead. In many respect it reminds of traditional mystery novels but the setting is the sacred city with its priests, worshipers, warriors, pyramids, temples, cults and living gods. This is a great book if you want to try a different kind of fantasy, set as it is outside the traditional western or Japanese settings. It is a standalone novel in a series. The next book Harbinger of the Storm is already on its way in the mail.

8. Darkship Thieves (Darkship Thieves book 1)
by Sarah A. Hoyt
Published by Baen

There are many authors that try to channel Heinlein but it is Sarah A. Hoyt that comes closest this year. This is a really mesmerizing book, I started reading and after a few pages I was in the world Sarah A. Hoyt created experiencing it from the slightly disturbed mind of a captivating young woman. Athena Hera Sinistra is as much a handful as her name, but it is a handful easy to love as a reader. Book two Darkship Rebels will be out late 2011.

7. The Noise Within (The Noise Within book 1) [2nd Novel]
by Ian Whates
Published by Solaris

The Noise Within is a well cooked space opera with black ops, intelligent ships, ai-interfaces, alien mysteries and intelligent guns. Great military action just the way I like it, there is a few mysteries that awaits answers in the next book The Noise Revealed that is due in March 2011.

6. Dreadnought (Clockwork Century book 3)
by Cherrie Priest
Published by Tor

I have really discovered steampunk this year and it all started with Boneshaker. Dreadnought has it all a feisty female protagonist, airships, war machines, secret conspiracies and zombies. I had great fun reading this one.

5. Veteran (Veteran book 1) [Debut of the Year]
by Gavin Smith
Published by Gollancz

This is the debut of the year for me. Gavin G. Smith is new but he writes like a pro. Veteran is an excellent read. It got mysterious aliens, conspiracies, realistic battle scenes, fast pace, lots of wow moments and wonderful characters. I would say this is a mixture of heavy metal, cyberpunk and classic sf. It is definitely military science fiction at its best and I would recommend it to a wider audience. I can’t wait for his next book War in Heaven (coming in June 2011).

4. Oath of Fealthy (Paladin’s Legacy book 1)
by Elizabeth Moon
Published by Orbit

Elizabeth Moon is a fantastic story teller with vivid hearty characters you can’t help falling in love with, which she proves again with this one. Oath of Fealty is a mature, competent and fulfilling read. It is also a great start of a series that also works as a standalone book. Elizabeth is another author that writes characters the way I like them.

3. Mission of Honor (Honor Harrington book 12)
by David Weber
Published by Baen

This is a monumental book in the Honorverse, this ends the original storyline with Haven and starts a new darker one with the Alignment as the antagonist. I like David Weber he writes entertaining military science fiction about formidable easy to love characters.

2. Blood and Iron (Penrose book 2)
by Tony Ballantyne
Published by Tor UK

It is such a fantastic different world of robots and the story deals with a pivotal moment in its history, when the first humans return. Book one, Twisted Metal left many mysteries unanswered that are revealed in this novel.

1. The Technician (A Polity Universe book)
by Neal Asher
Published by Tor UK

I love Neal Asher’s agent Cormac novels set in the same universe as this sequel that deals with one of the great mysteries in the original series. What happened to the races that dominated the galaxy before humanity? Good fast paced fun in this thrilling adventure. Maybe I should also tell you Asher is very vivid in all the gory details of this alien ecology.

Best New-to-me Book

  1. Raft (Xeelee Sequence book 1) by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz 1991)
  2. Julian Comstock by Robert Charles Wilson (Tor 2009)
  3. Shadow of the Scorpion (Agent Cormac prequel) by Neal Asher (Tor UK 2008)
  4. The Shockwave Rider by John Brunner (Methuen 1975)
  5. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic 2008)
  • Keeping it Real (Quantum Gravity book 1) by Justina Robson (Gpllancz 2006)
  • Harmony (Harmony book 1) by C. F. Bentley (Daw 2008)
  • Sun of Suns (Virga book 1) by Karl Schroeder (Tor 2006)

Honorary Mentions

There were many good books this year. In no particular order…

  • WE by John Dickinson (David Fickling Books)
  • Absorption (Ragnarok Trilogy book 1) by John Meaney (Gollancz)
  • The Black Lung Captain (Tales of the Kitty Jay book 2) by Chris Wooding (Gollancz)
  • Guardians of Paradise (The Hidden Empire book 3) by Jaine Fenn (Gollancz)
  • CryoBurn (The Vorkosigan Saga book 12) by Lois McMaster Bujold (Baen)
  • The Orphaned Worlds (Humanity’s Fire book 2) by Michael Cobley (Orbit)
  • The Way of Kings (The Stormlight Archive book 1) by Brandon Sanderson (Tor)
  • The Machinery of Light (Autumn Rain book 3) by David J Williams  (Spectra)
  • A Mighty Fortress (Safehold 4) by David Weber (Tor)
  • Pleasure Model (Netherworld Trilogy 1) by Christopher Rowley (Tor)
  • Watch (Www book 2) by Robert J. Sawyer (Ace)
  • Up Jim River (The January Dancer book 2) by Michael Flynn (Tor/Tantor Media)
  • The Crucible of Empire (Jao Empire book 2) by Eric Flint & K. D. Wentworth (Baen)
  • Victorious (Lost Fleet book 6) by Jack Campbell  (Ace)

The Ones That Got Away

There are some books I didn’t come around to this year for different reasons but I suspect are really great. Maybe next year. I know I am probably forgetting a few.

  • Surface Detail by Ian M. Banks
  • The Evolutionary Void by Peter F. Hamilton

I will not talk about the ones that disappointed me this year, they got all the publicity they deserve in my reviews.

This was a great year. Can I have another? please.

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