Best Books of 2010: Top 10 Science Fiction and Fantasy Selections, Focus on Nos. 1--5

Amazon’s 2010 Science Fiction/Fantasy Top 10 List has just been posted:

#1 - The Golden Age by Michal Ajvaz, translated by Andrew Oakland (Dalkey Archive Press)
#2 - How to Live in a Science Fictional Universe by Charles Yu (Pantheon)
#3 - Redemption in Indigo by Karen Lord (Small Beer Press)
#4 - The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman (Tor)
#5 - The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms by N.K. Jemisin (Orbit)
#6 - The Orange Eats Creeps by Grace Krilanovich (Two Dollar Radio)
#7 - The Dream of Perpetual Motion by Dexter Palmer (St. Martin's Press)
#8 - Who Fears Death by Nnedi Okorafor (DAW)
#9 - The Fixed Stars by Brian Conn (Fiction Collective 2)
#10 - Kill the Dead by Richard Kadrey (Eos)

 You can also find the bestseller/readers list for the year here.

As the list above suggests, in 2010 several debut or relative new writers published strong sui generis novels, alongside outstanding work by a few established authors, and helped spark a mini-SF/fantasy renaissance. Most of all of these fictions are cross-genre in some way, and blend diverse influences to create exciting new innovations or renovations. For the first time since the early aughts, the field seems poised for a complete overhaul, and a raucous re-envisioning of non-realist fiction. Some of this energy comes from an explosion of multicultural and international influence. Some of it comes from the melding of experimental fiction and fantasy. Some of it has occurred because of a true blurring of the lines between the so-called “literary” and “genre”, from both “sides.” Many of the writers on this list will go on to re-define the field in future years while others will continue to act as important subversives on the fringes of genre, who by their continued presence influence other writers who themselves influence the field.

Readers who like edgy science fiction and fantasy should be happy that such a variety of material is available to them in an era of continued consolidation within large publishing companies, and much of it from those commercial houses. Independent presses, too, have continued to perform their most important role: creating space for writers who might not otherwise get published but have something valuable to say.

I also want to mention briefly three books not covered here: Michael Cisco's The Narrator, which I didn't discover until late, Lauren Beukes' Zoo City, which isn't eligible until next year but would've been a strong contender, and Hannu Rajaniemi's The Quantum Thief , not yet been published in the U.S.

For more on the #6-#10 selections, read my prior post. The top 5 are covered below. I'll also touch on other worthy SF/Fantasy novels from 2010 in a separate post next week.

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