First things first. There is no best of from me this year. No lists of particular books you should buy. This year I’m going to write about people. Those amazing people that have inspired me to pick up a book and sink in to another world. It is not a complete list and is based solely on those people that have impacted me personally.
First off I’m going to start with Colin F. Barnes. One particularly bad day at work I typed in to Amazon “Killing My Boss”. I didn’t really expect to find anything. What I got was the most cathartic book I have ever read. I posted my review and I got a thank you from the author. I didn’t know it at the time but Colin recently told me that was the first review he’d ever had (excluding all those beta readers and editors of course). Since then I’ve been lucky enough to receive quite a few advance copies of his work. I’m a huge fan. I would like to see a follow-up to Killing My Boss called Killing My Ex though. That would be awesome. I don’t know if I prefer Colin’s cyberpunk or horror stories. At the moment I’d probably say his Techxorcist series, but he does have a new horror story called Dead Five’s Pass being published by Darkfuse soon.
Next I’m going to talk about Ian Sales. In twenty or thirty years people are going to look back and wonder why people were more interested in sparkly vampires than thoughtful and well written science fiction. When they do I’m pretty sure he will be one of the authors being lauded. I regularly read his blog and am constantly amazed by both the depth and breadth of his reading and literary knowledge. I have also been really impressed with his reaction to SF Masterworks. It was really eye-opening to read the sfmistressworks site and see just how many little known high quality female science fiction authors there are out there. Ian’s Apollo quartet is well worth reading and I for one am eagerly awaiting the fourth part.
After praising Ian Sales and his drive towards gender equality I am going to mention a woman next. Not an author this time though. Adele Wearing is the owner and driving force behind Fox Spirit. I’ve met Adele and I can confirm she is just as lovely as she seems online. There is a certain enthusiasm and excitement to everything she does and that is reflected in the books she produces. I particularly like the idea of the Fox Pocket anthologies. These are the perfect size to fit in a pair of cargo pants or a handbag (man bag in my case). The covers are fantastically vibrant and easy to spot in a pile too. If you are looking for quirky speculative fiction by excellent and often little known authors you really should check them out.
The final person I’m going to mention is David Cranmer from Beat To A Pulp (BTAP). I owe a lot to David. He changed my reading habits more than anybody has for many years. I barely had a clue what crime noir was let alone hardboiled before I started reading BTAP. Without David I would not have enjoyed reading amazing stories by authors such as Patricia Abbott and Thomas Pluck. Probably the biggest surprise for me though was how much I have enjoyed reading stories set in the old west. Westerns are dead in modern fiction, right? It turns out that I was wrong. From David’s Marshal Cash Larmie to Heath Lowrence’s dark and weird western fiction there is a wealth of great stories out there. It was because of this that I decided that every so often I’ll read something completely out of my comfort zone. Which is why I read an erotic fiction story by K.A.Laity called Chastity Flame. I literally blushed whilst reading it.
As you can probably see I like it when I’m made to think about different things on occasion and all of the above do that. In my mind great art should be beautiful but also challenge the audience. Each of the people mentioned above are worth spending a few hours and a couple of quid on (more than that but you get my gist). There are plenty more people I could have mentioned but these are the ones who have impacted on my way of thinking the most this year.
I am already looking forward to reading loads more emotive and insightful stories next year.
Have fun one and all.