Best SF of the Noughties

Sarah Crown over at The Guardian book blog today asks readers for their top books of the noughties. Unsurprisingly my picks are quite speculative in nature, and there are so many that I eventually gave up trying to list them all. It was also complicated by the fact that many of my favourite books read this decade were not published this decade. So here goes my top 10…the first 9 in no particular order (and not all SF!).

  • Perdido Street Station by China Mieville – a book with many great parts and more than a few awful ones, but done with such ambition that it has to be applauded.
  • Look to Windward by Iain M Banks – the last of the real Culture novels and for my money Bank’s best, especially if read with Consider Phlebas.
  • Pattern Recognition by William Gibson – this book had an incredibly profound effect on me. Probably the only book I’ve read that captured the detached nature of being twenty something in the twenty first century.
  • Hey Nostradamus by Douglas Coupland – a read this in a night then had to take a sickie from work because I spent all day crying. Darn you Douglas Coupland.
  • Light by M. John Harrison – this is the book I give people who don’t think SF can be literary. Or just when I want to deeply, deeply disturb them.
  • Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link – if you don’t like Kelly Link then I question your membership of the human race. So there!
  • Shriek by Jeff Vandermeer – I just love this.
  • Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang – if you don’t like Ted Chiang I question your status as a sentient entity of any kind.
  • Micah by Laurel K Hamilton – for personal reasons this will always be in my Top 10 Books of All Time.

I’ve probably left many of my favourites out and will have to revise the list tomorrow when I remember them. And my Number 1? Well it probably comes as little surprise that Neil Gaiman snags that spot for American Gods. I’ve read it three times, and listened to the audiobook twice, so what else was it going to be? It also wins in terms of influence. Contemporary fantasy would be a very different genre today without this book.

A couple of slightly interesting links…

The Everything is Nice blog link to my post on bookshops. I appreciate the detail they have gone to in their response, but don’t agree with their points.

Geoff Ryman edits an anthology of real science fiction, using real scientists and everything!


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

2 thoughts on “Best SF of the Noughties

  1. I think any list of the best SF/F books, and really the best books in general, of the first decade of this century is going to be considered lacking if it doesn’t include Susanna Clarke’s JONATHAN STRANGE & MR. NORRELL.


    1. I really debated whether to put Strange on, but in the end ai wasn’t personaly passionate enough about it to include it. But you are right, an objective top 10 would have to include it.



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