Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

Order [book in series=yearoffirstbook.book# (eg 2014.01), stand-alone or one-author collection=3333.pubyear, multi-author anthology=5555.pubyear, SFM/MM=5000, interview=1111]: 1994


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The Last Light of the Sun: Another lovely historical fantasy by GGK

The Last Light of the Sun by Guy Gavriel Kay

The Last Light of the Sun is another of Guy Gavriel Kay’s lovely historical fantasies. This one blends Norse, Celtic, and Anglo-Saxon histories with a bit of faerie mythos. We follow a few main characters from each of these societies as they interact with each other to shape their land and destinies. As usual in a Guy Gavriel Kay novel, we see the struggles from each perspective, so there’s no single “hero” or “villain.” We understand what motivates each of the characters and their culture and we can admire their strengths and recognize their weaknesses.


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Feersum Endjinn: An eclectic far-future science fantasy

Feersum Endjinn by Iain M. Banks

Sometimes a book has so many incredible elements that it defies easy summary. Compound that with the fact that it shares themes with some of your favorite genre classics, and that it is written by the incredibly-talented Iain M. Banks, and you have the recipe for a very unique reading experience. As I read the story, I was forcibly reminded of some classic books in the genre, particularly Arthur C. Clarke’s The City and the Stars,


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The Secret of Platform 13: Delightful, fantastical fun

The Secret of Platform 13 by Eva Ibbotson

Eva Ibbotson is a well-loved children’s author, and it is books like The Secret of Platform 13 that make me glad that I have no qualms about reading beyond the confines of suggested age groups. In fact, I find the experience particularly indulgent.

As a quick prologue, I note that some people have made much of the similarity between Ibbotson’s Platform 13 at Kings Cross Station and the one used by J.K. Rowling,


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Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls: Deserves more attention

Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls by Jane Lindskold

Originally released in 1994, Brother to Dragons, Companion to Owls is Jane Lindskold‘s first published novel. She is perhaps better known for her Firekeeper books and her collaboration with Roger Zelazny, and her more recent work is considered (urban) fantasy, but this book strikes me as more of a near future science fiction novel. As in a lot of her novels, there is a strong connection between animals and people, although not quite in the way the title seems to suggest.


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Footsteps in the Sky: a multi-layered, rewarding read

Footsteps in the Sky by Greg Keyes

Footsteps in the Sky, by Greg Keyes, is on one level a wholly enjoyable science fiction action story that offers up a whole bunch of fun surface action involving laser rifles, fusion-powered seedships, augmented humans, AIs, rebellious space colonies, and the like. You can read it for those elements alone and have yourself a good time. But the novel offers much more, as Keyes builds onto the surface elements an evocative, deeply felt exploration of identity,


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Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone: A fascinating pilgrimage

Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone by Ian McDonald

Scissors Cut Paper Wrap Stone is a fascinating short novel by Ian McDonald. At the beginning of the story we meet Ethan Ring, who’s feeling conspicuously tall and red-headed as he chants in a Buddhist temple. Ethan and his friend, a famous Japanese manga artist, are on a bicycle pilgrimage in Japan. Neither of them knows what kind of demons the other is struggling with, and neither does the reader at first, but as they journey on, their stories come out and even though each man’s tale is different,


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Terminal Café: An existential examination of nanotechnology

Terminal Café (Necroville in the UK) by Ian McDonald

“’Am I a ghost in a meat machine, am I God’s little seed stored in heaven for all eternity and glued one day on to a blastocyst in Mama Columbar’s womb; has this me been recycled through countless previous bodies, previous worlds, universes?’ He pressed his finger between Trinidad’s eyes… ‘This is the final frontier. Here. This curve of bone is the edge of the universe.’”

Existentialism is a main theme of Ian Mcdonald’s brilliant 1994 Terminal Café (published in the UK as Necroville).


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Marvels: A masterpiece

Marvels by Kurt Busiek (writer) & Alex Ross (artist)

Kurt Busiek and Alex Ross have produced a masterpiece in Marvels. It is simply one of the best superhero comics ever written. As far as I’m concerned, people who say they don’t like superhero comics haven’t earned the right to that claim unless they’ve read this comic. And even if their tastes remain unchanged, I can’t imagine anyone arguing that the book doesn’t have great literary and artistic merit. Marvels itself is a Marvel.


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Noctuary: A horror collection

Noctuary by Thomas Ligotti

“For we are the specters of a madness that surpasses ourselves and hides in mystery. And though we search for sense throughout endless rooms, all we may find is a voice whispering from a mirror in a house that belongs to no one.”

Thomas Ligotti is a master of madness. He writes short stories in the horror vein. Subterranean Press has collected eight of them, along with twenty vignettes or “flash fiction,” not more than 750 words, in the anthology Noctuary (originally published in 1994).


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Dark Visions: If you like Edward, you’ll love Gabriel

Dark Visions by L.J. Smith

“If You’ve Got Darkness in Your Nature, You Might as Well Enjoy It…”

One of the beneficial side effects of the sudden surge in paranormal teen romance is that Lisa Jane Smith’s novels have been republished. They were essential reading material in my adolescence and getting the chance to reread them in my twenty-something-hood has been lots of fun. Supernatural creatures, love triangles, empowered heroines, a solid story, and clear narrative with just a hint of purple prose are the staple ingredients in any L.J.


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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