Best of 2004, Part 2: Books

Here we are….12 hours later, and ready for the next part of my year-end collection of things nifty and neat-o.


I read far less than I wanted to this year–I never got around to it as often as I’d intended. I would love to put Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell on this list, but, shamefully, I have not yet read it. I had gotten a few chapters in when my schedule went kerflooey. It’s at the top of the list of things to read in 2005. The other problem is that a lot of what I read this year wasn’t released in 2004. I read reprints of pulp stories from the 1930s (like The Spider, for example), and various books for research (like The Reckoning: The Murder of Christopher Marlowe), all of which had been published earlier than 2004.

Now–on to a couple of books that I actually did read from this year:

Iron Council, by China MiĆ©ville: It’s a no-brainer: when China releases a new book, it appears on my years-best list. Not just because I know the guy, but because his work is flat-out the most imaginative fiction I’ve read in years, defying genre limitations. Simultaneously existing within the realms of fantasy, horror, SF and more, Iron Council is the third novel in his Bas-lag series, but like the others can be read as a stand-alone. It’s a very political work (Socialist, specifically–China once ran for MP as a Socialist candidate), and tells the tale of The Perpetual Train: a Collective living on a train that is always on the move–pulling their tracks up behind them, and laying them down in front. The creatures and landscapes described in this book are brilliant–I would cheapen the experience by trying to sum up. Read this book (and the other two: Perdido Street Station and The Scar) NOW.

The DC Comics Encyclopedia: When I was a little sprout, I devoured The Official Handbook to the Marvel Universe and Who’s Who in the DC Universe, encyclopedic collections detailing every character those comic-book universes. Now, DC has done it again, in hardcover–this book collects over 1,000 characters from the DC universe, with great artwork, write-ups on history, and more.

There ya go. Films/TV and Games are still forthcoming.

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