Alfvaen's Top & Bottom Ten Books of 1993

Okay--here's my Top Ten Books of 1993.

Some notes, first: This includes books I, personally, have read this year, not books published this year or anything so silly. (There may be a few of the latter, but I can virtually guarantee you that they are library books.) Also, all value judgements in here("good", "bad", "totally awesome", etc.)are my opinion alone.

There was one runner-up to the top ten that I will mention briefly here despite a)it being non-fiction, and b)my having finished it in 1994. That book is 13th Gen by Neil Howe & Bill Strauss, a very insightful examination of the generation of Americans born between 1961 and 1981. It's changed the way I look at a lot of things, and if you ever wondered just how these people's minds work(even if you're one of us)I highly recommend it.

Now, the list proper:

#10--Pat Cadigan:Synners. I probably wouldn't have read this had Pat not come up to Calgary for NonCon, and obviously I'm glad I did. If I'd read it closer to 13th Gen, I think my brain would have exploded. (Obviously Pat doesn't need to read that book.) The fact that there were plot points I never did quite understand didn't detract from my enjoyment much at all...

#9--Robert Anton Wilson:The Earth Will Shake. After reading the Illuminatus! and Schrodinger's Cat trilogies, this book caught me totally off guard. It's almost sensitive in many ways, as it examines the youth of Sigismundo Celine (whether any relation to Hagbard, I have no idea). Now I suppose I should try to find the rest of the series...

#8--Mary Renault:The Mask of Apollo. A great book. Pamela Dean recommended her to me after I raved about Karen Wehrstein(see #2), and I enjoyed this one immensely. A historical set in ancient Greece(and Sicily), which really conveys the flavour of the society.

#7--Joan D. Vinge:World's End. This book, which comes between The Snow Queen(see #3)and The Summer Queen, was not especially recommended to me. I believe I was told that it didn't measure up to its predecessor. Well, I guess I have to disagree(mostly--if it was equally as good, it should be tied with it, right? ). True, the story shows unmistakeable signs of being a chunk of The Summer Queen that turned into something long enough to be published separately, and it's not the same kind of story as The Snow Queen, but the story it tells is equally good.

#6--C.J. Cherryh:Chanur's Legacy. I'm a Cherryh fan and a definite sucker for Chanur, so I read this one when I saw it in the library. A worthy successor to the earlier books in the series--sort of a "Chanur: The Next Generation"... It doesn't depend on the previous books, but it does take a couple of unresolved plot-threads from them, and allows us an in-depth look at yet another of the Compact alien races that Cherryh does so well...

#5--Spider Robinson:Lady Slings The Booze. I'm a Spider partisan, so YMMV, but I liked this book just as well as its predecessors. What can I say, I just like the way this man writes.

#4--Charles de Lint:The Little Country. Four years after hearing him read from it at ConText '89, I finally got to read the silly book. It's a story-within-a-story, and surprising in that the "real-world" storyline is more engrossing than the inner story. I think it's his best so far, but hey, I haven't read Moonheart yet... [At least I hadn't when I wrote this review...]

#3--Joan D. Vinge:The Snow Queen. A wonderful book, epic in scope and all that. Very memorable characters, lots of exciting scenes...aw, hell, what can you say. A great book.

#2--Karen Wehrstein:Lion's Soul. The only reason its predecessor, Lion's Heart, isn't on here is that I read it in '92. This one is equally as good, though it probably wouldn't stand alone. Wehrstein's chronicle of the life of Fourth Chevenga in the world of the Fifth Millennium is beautiful on many levels, and always seems to pull one more surprise out.

#1--Guy Gavriel Kay:Tigana. Possible the best fantasy novel I've ever read(possibly the best novel period); has some very moving and memorable scenes, lots of great characters...yeah, just like The Snow Queen. Read this book. Now.

Okay, you got the good news, now the bad news. It's...

Alfvaen's Bottom Ten of 1993

See above for disclaimers, et al. Further, I wish to state that the primary factor in my putting a book on this list is disappointment. If I wasn't expecting much and didn't get much, I'd be more likely to put it here than if I expected much and got little.

Honourable Mention here goes to The Wabeno Feast by Wayland Drew, which suffers from nothing more than being CanLit when I expected SF...

#10--Keith Laumer: Bolo. I tried one of the Retief books a few years ago, and discovered I really didn't like it. As in, I really disliked it. But after reading Five Fates, I decided to give Laumer another try. Well, this was it. One Retief story(whom I still don't like)and two or three stories with essentially the same plot. I guess I don't need Laumer cluttering up my queue anymore...

#9--Robert A. Heinlein: The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress. Yes, I know, sacrilege, but as a book that I've heard widely considered Heinlein's best, I didn't like this one nearly as much as I Will Fear No Evil. I guess this puts me solidly as a late-Heinlein fan, from the samples I've read so far...

#8--John Brunner: Interstellar Empire. Little wrong with this one, but it's old Brunner and far too space-opera for my tastes.

#7--James Blish: Titan's Daughter. Blish isn't in my favourite authors anyway, and this is certainly one of his weakest. I can see why I've never heard it mentioned when people recommend his work.

#6--Barbara Hambly: Song of Orpheus. I guess with this book, I was expecting some Hambly writing; what I got was a collection of three Beauty & The Beast episodes, with all the blatant telegraphing of TV scripts.

#5--Sondra Marshak & Myrna Culbreath: The Prometheus Design. Well, Pamela Dean warned me... Truly does take some Star Trek cliches to their logical conclusion, but it was lacking something that distinguished their Phoenix books.

#4--Michael Moorcock: The Blood Red Game. Ew. Very early Moorcock, if I'm any judge, and full of just plain bad writing. Some mildly interesting ideas, though.

#3--Piers Anthony: The Colour of Her Panties. I swore at first that I would never read it, with that title. Then I gave in and read a library copy. I don't think I'll ever buy it. His writing at its worst. (Unfortunately, my current read, Firefly, is almost as bad. I may yet give up on it.)

#2--R.A. MacAvoy: The Book of Kells. I'm not sure what I expect of MacAvoy, and I will concede that from what I've read of hers she's pretty uneven, but this was a definite low ebb. Much too meandering plotwise.

#1--John Myers Myers: The Moon's Fire-Eating Daughter. The book I gave up on. A sequel to Silverlock written(or at least published)several decades later, and should have stayed unpublished. I don't even care what it was about--something about Babylon and poetry, full of horribly overdone writing. I'll still give The Harp And The Blade a try, just out of morbid curiosity...

And that's it. Click here to go back to my review page, or here to go back to the Den.

The Den of Ubiquity / Aaron V. Humphrey / alfvaen@gmail.com