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]: 1998


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Uzumaki: A town horrifically taken over by spirals

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

Junji Ito’s masterpiece is without a doubt Uzumaki. Junji Ito is a manga creator (writer and artist), and he is known for his horror graphic novels and story collections. The bulk of his work is made up of story collections such as the brilliant Shiver. Uzumaki, however, is a long six hundred-plus page single-story book. Yet, at the same time, it is still made up of discreet, individual stories. Each chapter, while featuring the same main characters, focuses on another aspect of this strange town,


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Catchman: A too-elusive serial killer

Catchman by Chris Wooding

There’s a murderer loose in the city. Catchman (1998) centers on a group of homeless teenagers and the news circling around a serial killer nearby, who has been dubbed the ‘Catchman’. As victims surface one by one, the tension grows and with it, tempers run high among the teens.

One of the greater strengths of Catchman was the intriguing set-up. I actively wanted to know what was going to happen from the beginning of the story and throughout the narrative.


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The Healer’s War: Harrowing tale of a Vietnam combat nurse

The Healer’s War by Elizabeth Ann Scarborough

This is another Nebula winner I’ve had on the shelf ever since it was published in 1998, but hadn’t got around to reading. So when I found an audio version on Audible narrated by Robin Miles, one of my favorite female narrators after listening to N.K. Jemisin’s phenomenal The Fifth Season, that was enough to pull it to the top of my TBR list. Elizabeth Ann Scarborough is mostly known as a writer of humorous fantasy novels,


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Darwinia: Europe, suddenly terraformed

Darwinia by Robert Charles Wilson

In 1912, continental Europe suddenly changed into a foreign wilderness. Where there once were European nations arming for war, there are now new ecosystems and alien creatures. There is even a baffling, new evolutionary history. Christians declare “Darwinia” a miracle — what else could explain what’s happened but Biblical precedent? America, meanwhile, declares the continent open for exploration and settlement.

Guilford Law, originally from Boston, is an ambitious photographer who travels to England with his wife and daughter. He leaves them there before traveling alone with the Finch expedition.


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This Alien Shore: Another outstanding novel by Friedman

This Alien Shore by C.S. Friedman

This Alien Shore is another outstanding science fiction novel by an author who I’ve come to respect immensely for her extraordinarily creative worlds, fascinating ideas, complex characters, and elegant prose. If there’s one flaw (from my perspective) with Friedman’s work, it’s a difficulty in actually liking many of her characters, but even if you find that it’s hard to sympathize with them, it’s also hard not to admire them, or at least to see them as superb creations.

I think many readers will,


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Battle Chasers: A groundbreaking fantasy comic book

Battle Chasers by Joe Madureira & Munier Sharrieff

Battle Chasers was a groundbreaking fantasy comic book that emerged onto the comics scene in 1998, when independent comic publishers were finally giving the big two — DC and Marvel — a run for their money. Despite the sporadic release dates of Battle Chasers’ issues, the series won the hearts of many readers, only to disappear like a shooting star when Joe Madureira went on to pursue interests in the video gaming industry. I was one of those original fans,


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Song for the Basilisk: Music can heal and destroy

Song for the Basilisk by Patricia McKillip

One of Patricia McKillip’s earlier novels, Song for the Basilisk has all the hallmarks of her fantasy fiction: unique prose, ambiguous characters, fairytale settings, court intrigue, and a love of musical instruments. Here especially McKillip calls on her appreciation for viols, flutes, harps and picochets (the one-stringed instrument on the cover), in which music plays a crucial part in the narrative.

As a child, Rook is pulled from the ashes of a fireplace and smuggled away to the isle of Luly where the bards live.


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King Rat: China Mieville’s first novel

King Rat by China Mieville

An urban fantasy set in London, China Miéville’s debut novel King Rat tells the story of Saul Garamond, the Prince of Rats. Unfortunately for London’s rats, the Pied Piper of Hamelin has recently come to town.

Saul returns home from a camping trip to find his stepfather murdered. Before he knows what’s happening, Saul meets the King of Rats and is inducted into the seedy underbelly of London — an underbelly fit for a king of rats.


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Brown Girl in the Ring: Ahead of its time

Brown Girl in the Ring by Nalo Hopkinson

Brown Girl in the Ring is a novel that may have been a little ahead of its time. When it was first published in 1998, it had “Science Fiction” stamped on the spine. Cue angry Amazon reviewers complaining that it was full of “mumbo jumbo.” If I were to wager a guess, I’d say that Brown Girl in the Ring was marketed as science fiction because of its near-future setting and heavy violence level, which were not nearly as common in late-nineties urban fantasy as they are today (see Ilona Andrews,


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Sirena: Powerful, beautiful, tragic

Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli

Now famous for her ability to take old, familiar tales and present them through new perspectives, Donna Jo Napoli tackles the subject of Greek mythology and the captivating mermaids of the oceans.

The Sirens were long thought to be deadly women, either humanoid or bird-like, who lured sailors to their deaths on the rocks with their enticing songs. But Napoli presents the Grecian Sirens as mermaids — half-women, half-fish, a hybrid creature who are just as cursed as the men they destroy. Due to a spiteful nymph’s curse,


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Next SFF Author: Ben Aaronovitch

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