This is a year-end wrap up for my sf/fantasy/horror experiences for 2003. These are not necessarily things that first appeared this year; they are just the things that I read or watched this year.


THE BEST

  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Phillip K. Dick ? An engrossing story and excellent vision of a stark future.

  • Blue Light by Walter Mosley – An excellent, well-told, page-turning horror/fantasy hybrid.

  • Dead Heat by Del Stone, Jr. ? Excellent near-future, post-apocalyptic zombie story with lots of graphic action sequences. Damn good fun.

  • Jumping Off the Planet, Bouncing Off The Moon and Leaping to the Stars (The Dingillinan Family Series) by David Gerrold ? Consistently absorbing trilogy with lots of science and a distinct Heinlein feel. Marketed as a juvenile series but fun for readers of all ages.

  • The Forever Machine by Mark Clifton and Frank Riley ? This 1955 Hugo winner plunges the reader into the lives of the well-formed characters and the opinion-controlled society.

  • The Golden Age and The Phoenix Exultant by John C. Wright ? Awesome sense-of-wonder, well-told and intriguing plot. This is what science fiction is meant for. Period.

  • The Golden Compass by Phillip Pullman ? This imaginative and enjoyable tale is the first in the hugely enjoyable ?His Dark Materials? series. This book has single-handedly renewed my faith in the fantasy genre.

  • The Matrix Reloaded and Matrix Revolutions directed by Andy and Larry Wachowski? Sure there were a lot of unanswered questions?but they were still fun movies.

  • Replay by Ken Grimwood ? The captivating story of a man who lives his life over and over again immerses the reader and avoids the traps of other similarly themed novels.

  • Return of the King directed by Peter Jackson? An example of fine filmmaking that does justice to Tolkien?s enjoyable tale.

  • The Space Merchants by Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth ? This 1952 satirical story about the power of advertising taken to the extreme is a great example of leanly written classic science fiction.

    Honorable Mention

  • Snow Crash by Neal Stephenson ? Superbly written, different and sprinkled with just the right amount of humor. A bit overloaded with Sumerian legend but the action sequences are way cool.

    THE BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENTS

  • Bladerunner directed by Ridley Scott? Excellent visuals but a boring to watch. For me, this was as bad as the original P. K. Dick story was good.

  • Light by M. John Harrison ? I heard a lot of buzz about this story (lyrical writing style, interesting plot) and was expecting a lot. The plot was fine. But the lyrical prose annoyed more than entertained.

  • Little, Big by John Crowley- I just couldn?t get into this story. Noting was happening and by page 120 or so, I stopped reading it.

  • Return of the Emperor and Vortex (from the Sten Series) by Chris Bunch and Allan Cole ? I loved the first Sten adventure. But the successive installments seemed to lose more and more of their appeal. By the Return of the Emperor (fifth in the series), I went into speed-reading mode. I couldn?t muster up enough will to even finish Vortex. Most annoying: somehow, with the Alex character?s thick, tough-to-read, comma-riddled Irish brogue, I kept imagining him sounding like Groundskeeper Willie.

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