Best of Lists Kirkus

Over at Kirkus: Best Sci Fi and Fantasy Books of 2012 (so far…)

It’s Friday, which means: it’s time for our Kirkus spot!

Earlier this week, we talked about our favourite books of the year so far (overall, all genres) and today we are back with our list of Best Sci Fi and Fantasy Books of 2012 (so far…):

Go over to Kirkus to read the complete list. What did we miss? Which awesome 2012 SFF should we be reading?

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  • Kate
    July 6, 2012 at 8:07 am

    Heh, you’ve got two of my favourites thus far this year as the images on this post! Clearly, you have excellent taste. 😉

  • Thea
    July 6, 2012 at 1:14 pm

    Likewise, Kate 😉 Thanks for commenting/reading!

  • Experiment BL626
    July 7, 2012 at 2:09 pm

    I love The Rook! Love love it! I cannot wait for the sequel! I got the Song book but haven’t read it yet. Am afraid it will be a sad story.

  • Jessica
    July 9, 2012 at 1:22 am

    OMG! I went into the book shop and they recommended The Rook to me, and my god! I was blown away by the sheer awesomeness! I just hope, hope, hope there is a sequel!!

  • Alan Skinner
    July 9, 2012 at 6:10 pm

    I am amazed by the semantic gymnastics that were necessary for The Song of Achilles to be included in a list of SFF works. Genre classification is largely a pretty silly concept, anyway, but this stretches any usefulness it may have to breaking point. I’d onestly be interested in hearing the grounds for its inclusion.

  • Ana
    July 10, 2012 at 1:36 am

    Alan, this book features centaurs and gods-walking-amongst-us. That firmly sets it within the Fantasy realm for me – regardless of how the publishers chose to categorise it.

    That said, I would honestly be interested in hearing why you think it isn’t SFF – I am assumming you’ve read the book as well?

  • Alan Skinner
    July 10, 2012 at 3:24 am

    Hi, Ana

    Yes, I have read the book and even posted a hasty review of it on Goodreads several months ago.

    One of the reasons why the habit of assigning genre exasperates me is that it is almost impossible to draw logical boundaries between one and another. As you point out, the inclusion of mythical creatures would seem to logically allow its inclusion in the fantasy genre. But first, there is a difference between myth and fantasy, although they can share obvious common elements. It is both the purpose and the role such elements play in the plot and theme that determine the genre, rather than their presence. In Miller’s story, those elements would have been impossible to omit and the story remain identifiable and credible – but those elements do not drive the point or purpose of the book. It is for the same reason that I have recently commented that Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four is not science fiction; technology is certainly present but not responsible for the theme that unfolds. War and Peace was written more than 60 years after the events of the book, which would make it historical fiction by today’s definition. But would anyone classify it as such?
    There is also reader expectation. The only use for genre labelling is a marketing one. In itself, it serves no real purpose in judging worth or value. For readers, it is a useful, if limiting tag, to allow them some safety in their choice of books.
    Finally, if one believes as Richard Dawkins does about the existence of god, you could include any story that includes any divine intervention or element as being fantasy, which would make the category so broad as to me meaningless.
    Actually, you can probably discard all of the above reasons and leave just that last one – that when the category becomes too broad it ceases to become a category and serves no one.
    Do not get me wrong in any of this. I was pleasantly surprised to see the book on your list. It’s not a brilliant book, but it is a very good one.

  • Ana
    July 10, 2012 at 4:17 am

    Alan, thanks for coming back.

    Despite not being the main focus, I rather think that the Fantasy elements (or mythical ones, if you prefer) of the novel do actually have a lot of importance to the overall story and to the character of Achilles. In truth, the fact that he is a semi-God (with semi-God expectations) is what shapes his entire arc and his relationship with basically every single character in the book. One of the main themes of the novel is also the question of free will vs destiny, all of it shaped by the idea of Gods walking amongst us (and playing Deux Ex Machina roles). Let’s also not forget that the narrative itself could be constructed around the idea that Patroclus is narrating it from beyond the grave. All of this combined sets if firmly in the Speculative Fiction category for me. This is of course, my interpretation of the book. As such I felt it deserved a place in a SFF list.

    Beyond that and from a personal point of view, I do think of any book that includes any sort of divine intervention or element (as well as mythological retellings) as being Fantasy (or at least Magic Realism). You make good points about reader expectation – but I wonder how a reader looking for Literary Fiction (which is where this book is often shelved) feels when they start reading it and come across so many fantastical elements. This story could have been told without those elements – and therefore could have fallen under the Historical Fiction umbrella – but the fact remains that it wasn’t. And I think that is important.

  • capillya
    July 17, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Man. I just need to go ahead and by The Rook, don’t I.

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