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2008: A Year in Review [John’s Take]

Continuing my annual tradition of listing the year’s best, this is a summary of my personal sf, fantasy and horror experiences for 2008.


Here are the best of 2008. These are not necessarily things that first appeared this year, they are just the things that I read, watched or listened to this year, excluding personal reading projects.

The best books I read in 2008 were:

The best anthologies & collections were:

The best films I watched were:

Read on for the longer version…



  1. Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse edited by John Joseph Adams
  2. Half the Blood of Brooklyn by Charlie Huston
  3. Debatable Space by Philip Palmer
  4. Three Shadows by Cyril Pedrosa
  5. The Dreaming Void by Peter F. Hamilton
  6. Rollback by Robert J. Sawyer
  7. Jumper by Steven Gould
  8. Griffin’s Story by Steven Gould
  9. Jim Baen’s Universe #11
  10. Hunter’s Run by George R.R. Martin, Gardener Dozois, & Daniel Abraham
  11. Galactic Empires edited by Gardner Dozois
  12. Blue War by Jeffrey Thomas
  13. Laika by Nick Abadzis
  14. [Various] 2007 Nebula Award Short Fiction Nominees
  15. Spectrum 14 edited by Cathy and Arnie Fenner
  16. Space Vulture by Gary K. Wolf and Archbishop John J. Meyers
  17. Pump Six and Other Stories by Paolo Bacigalupi
  18. The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula K. LeGuin
  19. The Solaris Book of New Science Fiction, Volume 2 edited by George Mann
  20. Majestrum by Matthew Hughes
  21. Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
  22. [Various] 2008 Hugo Award Short Fiction Nominees
  23. The Digital Plague by Jeff Somers
  24. Little Vampire by Joann Sfar
  25. Jim Baen’s Universe #12
  26. The Crystal Cosmos by Rhys Hughes
  27. [Various] Chris Roberson’s Celestial Empire Stories (Part 1)
  28. The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year Volume 2 edited by Jonathan Strahan
  29. Sly Mongoose by Tobias S. Buckell
  30. The Affinity Bridge by George Mann
  31. Plague Year
  32. Seeds of Change edited by John Joseph Adams
  33. Stalking the Unicorn by Mike Resnick
  34. Galactic North by Alastair Reynolds
  35. Mini-Masterpieces of Science Fiction edited by Allan Kaster
  36. The Year’s Best Science Fiction #25 edited by Gardner Dozois
  37. Zoe’s Tale by John Scalzi
  38. Pirate Sun by Karl Schroeder
  39. Every Last Drop by Charlie Huston
  40. Sideways in Crime edited by Lou Anders
  41. Necroscope by Brian Lumley
  42. Beyond Apollo by Barry Malzberg
  43. Stalking the Vampire by Mike Resnick
  44. The Living Dead edited by John Joseph Adams
  45. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle
  46. Sunborn by Jeffrey A. Carver
  47. Hater by David Moody
  48. Iron Jaw and Hummingbird by Chris Roberson
  49. Extraordinary Engines edited by Nick Gevers
  50. Fast Forward 2 edited by Lou Anders
  51. The Watchmen by Alan Moore


  1. Cloverfield – Take away the gimmicky shaky camera and you have a mediocre monster flick.
  2. Spider-Man 3 – Lots of good elements but sadly not put together well.
  3. Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull – Yeah, totally incredulaous, but still a high nostalgic quotient.
  4. Iron Man – A well-done superhero flick? What could possibly be better? Maybe…
  5. The Dark Knight – Not just a good superhero flick, but also a great film.
  6. Wall-E – When I hear people who didn’t get it, I tell them “What? It’s a biting social commentary on modern cosumerism and eco-negligence. What’s not to love?”
  7. Light and the Sufferer – A near-identical translation of the source material, with the same problems, too.
  8. Planet of the Apes (1968) – An excellent science fiction film whose social commentary still stands up today.
  9. The X-Files: I Want to Believe – Felt like a decent epsiode of the TV series.
  10. Transformers – Dumb fun.
  11. Timecrimes – A tightly-plotted, intelligent time travel thriller.


There’s not much to report on the television front. This was the year I gave up on Heroes and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Clone Wars never held my attention for more than 3 episodes.

I’ve been enjoying Eureka, Doctor Who, The Sarah Jane Adventures, and especially the new X-Files clone Fringe. Oh, and Doctor Horrible was exactly the opposite.


I had a very good reading year! Compared with last year, I did a much better job choosing material that suited my tastes. Some of the worst reading experiences were with short stories. I read fewer books than last year, I think because time has been at a premium. I therefore augmented my reading time with graphic novels and shorter works. I still managed to get in 51 book-related reviews done, though, which is more than I thought I’d do.

Anyway, that’s my year!

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

11 Comments on 2008: A Year in Review [John’s Take]

  1. John, I enjoy your reviews, but I’d like to ask how old you are? It seems you enjoy books which seem made for younger readers, so I’d like to know.

  2. Interesting assessment.  How did you arrive at it?  I count only three books specifically aimed at young adult readers…

    At any rate, I’m old enough to have seen Star Wars when it was originally released at my local drive-in and tell my kids “I remember when…”  🙂

  3. Hi John, Well, it wasn’t meant to be demeaning, and I see you didn’t take it that way. I notice you seem to have chosen some graphic novelsand I always thought these were for younger readers.Apparently I am wrong as I just noticed on Scalzi’s site that he is looking forward to seeing Watchmen( I guess it’s being made into a movie?) Upon those recommendations I will check out this book. Also since you’d reviewed older books( nothing wrong with that, in fact it is very welcome) like Planet of the Apes, I merely guessed you were in your 30s or so. Sometimes generational differences can play important parts in choosing one’s reading material. Keep up the good work

  4. Thanks, Jerry.  I think it’s wise for readers of reviews to take note of a reviewer’s likes and dislikes if so inclined…that way they can decide if that reviewer’s tastes match their own.  

    And yes, Watchmen is definitely *not* aimed at young adult readers.  I wasn’t too excited about film, so I read the graphic novel to see what the hubbub was about.  It’s certainly an eye-opener if you thought graphic novels are meant for younger adults.  And now I definitely want to see the film.

  5. A very nice year in review, John.  I was hoping you would do one.  I have already noted several books that I want to read after checking out the links to your reviews, including the the Alastair Reynolds short story collection.  I am a big fan of the medium and am always looking for new collections to read.  I think I’ll check out Chasm City first though based on your review to give me at leas some background of the world first.

    I thought you did a particularly nice job of reviewing Zoe’s Tale considering that you rated it much lower than I did.  You really hit on the strengths and gave legitimate reasons for downgrading your rating without putting others off reading it.  Very well done, I learned a lot from that review.

    I also really want to pick up and read Pump Six by Paolo Bacigalupi at some point this year.  I enjoyed The People of Sand and Slag in the Wastelands collection last year and have read so many good things about him that I do want to check that collection out.

    I look forward to seeing what you read/review in 2009.  Happy New Year John and thanks for all you do to make SFSignal a wonderful place to visit.




  6. Jeff Legg // January 2, 2009 at 10:34 am //

    I was surprised we’d only read three books in common, all collections–the Reynolds and Dozois anthologies.  I’d have given the Dozois sets higher ranks, but I’m nuts for his tastes–his anthologies have let me sample shorter works by authors now among my favorites.  Speaking of such, I missed the review of Galatic North somehow, and just read it last month.  I was surprised you didn’t mention the sadistically Bierce-ian horror aspect of three stories–I quite loved seeing Reynolds pull that off!  And his tales in the Dozois anthologies show how he’s capable of much more beyond his Revelation Space setting . . .

    (Oh Carl, I’d avoid Chasm City for a bit–I find it the least of his books, and it reads more like a first novel.  There’s a lot of cyberpunk pastiche, and a lot of what I term “I’ve got the gun!” “Aha, no, now I’ve got the gun!” plotting.  Galactic North is a better introduction to his linked space opera novels . . .)

    From this list, I’m most intrigued by the new Anders collection, I’ve heard nothing but good things.  And I was surprised by the omission of Swanwick’s Dragon’s of Babylon, surely on most award short lists.  And the lack of Hellboy II–but I’m more fond than most of Del Toro, to say nothing of Selma Blair in tight leather pants–but it’s not my list!

  7. Carl,
    Thanks for the kind words. 🙂  And I would definitely recommend Pump Six if you are at all interested.  That one is already lauded by many as one of the Best collections of the year.

    I can only comment on what I’ve consumed.  I haven’t read the Swanwick (though heard good things about it) and I haven’t seen Hellboy II yet as much as I wanted to (though I heard mixed things on that one).  And I have to respectfully disagree, I think the standalone Chasm City is an excellent introduction to Reynolds.  But I also agree: Galactic North is another great Reynolds introduction and there is a Revelation Space story, so…either or.  (Ooh!  And also Diamond Dogs and Turquoise Days!)

  8. Jerry, did you know that the Golden Age of SF is eleven? John is just young at heart.


    So, what was the grand total on individual short stories (not anthologies)? I broke my previous record…

  9. I gave up counting a couple of years ago.  I guess I’m just an underachiever.  You, on the other hand, are a Maniac.  A maniac! 🙂

  10. John and Jeff.  I split the difference and ordered both from my library.  I try to read short stories on the weekends mostly so the reality is that I may be reading some of the stories from Galactic North while I’m reading Chasm City, but since I read about this first here I’ll opt for starting Chasm City first.  I appreciate the advice from you both though. 

    As for Hellboy II, I’m with Jeff on that one.  I’m a big del Toro fan and possibly look at the film through fan-colored glasses, but I really enjoyed it.  The only thing that annoys me is that there are extras on the blueray that I want and I do not have the money to do blueray and HD tv at this point so I opted to not buy either copy of the dvd at this point.  Someday…

  11. 51, Thats alot more than I thought you had read.  And honestly, I have neaver rememmber hearing you say “I rememmber when…. ” with regards to star wars.   I won’t say how old you are, but I will say tommorrow you are a year older.

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