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The last couple books I was assigned for the Endeavour Award were good ones...

The Alchemist's Apprentice by Dave Duncan: I'm beginning to think this guy has never written a bad or even a mediocre story in his life. This one is a murder mystery set in Renaissance Venice, with touches of the supernatural.

Mainspring by Jay Lake: Lake is one of these authors I've seen so much hype for that I approached it all prepared to discover it was terrible. And I was deeply wrong. It's original, beautifully realized, and a good story to boot.

So, overall: I still think The Book of Joby is the best one I got to read this year, with Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer a very close second. Tied for third would be both of the above plus Bad Monkeys and Mother of Lies. (Keep in mind, though, that I still didn't get to read every book submitted, and of my top three last year, only #3 actually made it onto the nominee list.) The judges who decide between the nominees are going to have some great stuff to read.

Well, back to my own picks, then...

Prince Caspian by C. S. Lewis: Forgot to mention last time that I read this to jog my memory. The edition I picked up calls it book #5, asserting that the bookss were renumbered to go in chronological order in accordance with the author's wishes. So not only is Walden Media screwing up the stories, it's screwing them up in the wrong order.

Martian Successor Nadesico DVD set: Well, I'm pretty sure that when this was voted "Best Anime Series of All Time", it had a lot of help from the number of characters who are otaku. On the other hand, it's solid, and an absolute don't-miss if you want a story that truly surprises you--it turns serious when you expect silly, wacky when you expect solemnity, whipsaws from diversion to absolute tragedy in a moment, and pulls out the biggest "What the hell??" mid-season cliffhanger I have ever seen.

Pandora's Star and Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamilton: If you had told me, less than a year ago, right after I finished reading the entire Night's Dawn Trilogy back-to-back, that I would have recovered and be ready to tackle more of Hamilton's work by now, I would never have believed it. But here I am, and I liked these two. Sure, they're four or five times the length of a typical novel, but they stay interesting by being four or five novels happening at the same time, rather than one single plot that just goes on and on and on forever. I am going to wait until he finishes the current trilogy before I start on that one, though.

Hancock: Chris can have his own opinion, but I think it's the best superhero movie I've ever seen.

Final Diagnosis by James White: Finally got around to reading a Sector General novel. The wee thinky bits are really good, but in between there's a sense that the author is getting tired of having to explain the setting and main characters over and over again (this is book 10 of the series).

The Crucible of Time by John Brunner: One of the best overall sf book I have ever read. I'm not too surprised to discover it's from the same time period as A Maze of Stars, my current favorite Brunner book.

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