by John Berlyne
Column ISBN/ITEM#: 0501UKBOOK
Date: January 1, 2005 /
It seems to me that 2004 was not the most auspicious year I can remember for SF & Fantasy. There were some super highlights and some books I really enjoyed, but there were also some disappointments in terms of stuff simply not living up to the hype.
It's possible that my view is coloured somewhat by changes I've had to make in my reading habits. A new job has taken up much of my time this last year and I've found myself unable to devour books at the rate I'm used to. It is interesting then to note that with such limited time to devote to my reading of late, certain books have taken me weeks to plough through. My criteria for judging the best books of 2004 therefore mainly relates to how quickly I managed to read them - and this can be interpreted simply in terms of how much a title grabbed me and held my attention. So, my top book of 2004 was without doubt Susannah Clarke's wonderful Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell - yes, it's a massive and heavy tome, but its a swift and pleasurable read and a welcome and wonderful piece of escapism.
2005 promises some great reading, some of which I've already had the privilege of looking at in uncorrected proof. Look forward to Neal Asher?s superb Brass Man due in April; Ian R. MacLeod brings us The House of Storms a sequel to his extraordinary (and disgracefully overlooked) novel The Light Ages; and there will be new fiction from James Barclay, Peter F. Hamilton, Rob Grant, Richard Morgan, Graham Joyce, Steph Swainston, Chris Wooding and may more besides.
So don't touch that dial as I look forward to bringing you news and reviews of the very best of British genre writing in the months to come.
Happy new year and happy reading!