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.
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.
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.