I very rarely read new books, because I can’t afford to buy them, and the throngs senior-citizen library groupies have them checked out for months. So here are the 10 best books from any year that I read in 2013.
The Player of Games
by Iain M. Banks
The great irony of speculative fiction about futuristic societies is that it dates itself way before the future actually gets here. Technology outruns imagination, or at least outmaneuvers it, making an author’s visions of tomorrow seem quaint before he’s even dead. Which makes it so impressive that I had to keep reminding myself that The Player of Games was written 25 years ago, before most people had ever used a mobile phone or anything resembling email or the Internet, and when cloud-based computing, digital imaging, genetic engineering, and nanotechnology were all dreams. All of those and their offspring play crucial roles in Banks’s novel, yet his versions never seem like archaic extrapolations of 1980s technology. If the publisher had changed the date on the The Player of Games’s copyright page to 2013, I would’ve believed that Banks had conceived it this year. That’s an amazing testament to his vision and his skill, in a story that’s a flat-out blast to read. It was my first dip into the Culture series, and knowing that eight more novels are waiting out there for me is like having found a pile of unopened Christmas presents.
The Bloom County Library, Vol. 4: 1986-1987
by Berkeley Breathed
The very first strip in this collection reminded me of Berkeley Breathed’s most brilliant idea in Bloom County: that Opus, Milo, Steve, and all the others are actors performing in a scripted production, like a sitcom that that we view through the windows of the panels, but that those actors are playing themselves living their real lives in the world of Bloom County, which only exists for our benefit.
Alas, this also made me realize that I subconsciously stole that idea whole cloth for a pilot I wrote in 2010. It’s flattery, Berke.
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