2010 Novels: The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year So Far?

 As the SF/Fantasy awards season for 2009 winds down--the Hugo Awards were just announced this past week--it’s time to take a look at 2010. This year, thus far, has been very different. A kind of sea-change has occurred, with the majority of the best work coming from relatively new voices rather than established writers. This insurgency hasn’t been in the service of a movement or a particular subgenre, and perhaps it’s more powerful because of being non-denominational. In a year with four good months still to go, some astonishingly talented writers have published wonderful and worthy work. Will this new energy be reflected come next year’s award season? One can only hope.

Here, then, in no particular order other than the alphabetical, is a list of my personal "best of 2010," to date. No fewer than six are first novels, and not all of them are without flaws, but they represent the most exciting and interesting SF/F I’ve read so far—admittedly, with a fair amount of reading left to go.

The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz – Earlier this year, in the preamble to an interview with Ajvaz, I wrote that the novel was a “a modern-day Gulliver's encounter with a civilization on a tiny island in the Atlantic. At the center of the islanders' culture is the Book, a handwritten, collective novel "filled with feuding royal families, murderous sorcerers, and narrow escapes." Because anyone can write in it and annotate it and cross passages out, the Book has lost most of the linear tendencies that rule the pages of normal (but mere) books. The result is a text of stories within stories and a destabilization of narrative that's as playful as it is fascinating.”

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