Best of the Decade: Science Fiction and Fantasy Novels

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So this was way less pleasant than I expected. I mean, we all know top 10 lists are exercises in bogus click-whoring, so standard caveats apply, blah blah blah. But still: painful. (And this is probably the tenth top-10 list I’ve written this month. Some of these books I’ve already summarized three or four times in the past two weeks. My summarizing finger is all tuckered out.)

And I’m making it worse by lumping together fantasy and science fiction, which are intimately related but still fundamentally distinct genres, into one list. Why would you do that, Lev? Why?

What, did you miss the part about click-whoring?

Doing this made me realize two things. One, it forced me to confront how little I’ve actually read. For example, I haven’t read Ilium. I haven’t read Old Man’s War. Or Altered Carbon, or a single word by Charles Stross. I know, I know, I know. The deeper I went, the more I wanted to turn back. But I kept going. Because the Internet needs another top 10 list.

Two, I realized what an incredibly great decade it’s been for fantasy. Seismic: Tons of new and newish voices putting out amazing, innovative books that are blowing out the walls of the genre on all sides. Six of the books on this list are straight fantasy, and two more are borderline, leaving only two “straight” SF titles. One of which is by Kazuo Ishiguro.

But listen, all caveats aside, I totally stand by these picks as great books that will endure.

And that goes double for my number one.

By the way, sorry about the very terse summaries that go with each item. I was limited to maxi-tweets of 300 characters. The things we had to do to WordPress to make it display these lists at all were unspeakably horrible. Seriously. China Miéville could write a novel about it.