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Old Tea Leaf Reviews 5: 1985 Locus Poll Best First Novel
james_nicoll
Cut for length



Best First Novel

1 The Wild Shore  Kim Stanley Robinson

        This is part one of the trilogy in which Robinson examines
three dissimilar futures for America. In this one, some unnamed agency
explodes atom-bombs at the center of about five thousand communities
in the US, notably hampering its economic development. The Soviets
are the dominant power and I believe the US has been embargoed for
some reason. To the young protagonist, the way the world is is
natural and the stories the geezers tell about the old days are
just folk tales.

        I liked this book and bear it great ill-will for leading me to
read the Mars series.

        Robinson is still a successful writer.

        This was published as part of Terry Carr's Ace Science Fiction
Specials series of the 1980s (The third such series but only the second
under Carr).


2 Neuromancer  William Gibson

        This is for many people the First Cyberpunk Novel. I remember
liking it at the time but all I remember about it now is the Rastafarian
space navy.

        Gibson is still a successful writer but his fiction is arguably
no longer SF.

        This was also an Ace Science Fiction Special.


3 Emergence  David R. Palmer

        This tells the story of a young superhuman girl and what she
did after the end of the world.

        If I was writing this a year ago, I'd say that Palmer had this
book and a second, notably inferior book and then nothing. The sequel
to EMERGENCE is being published in ANALOG so he is not a two-book wonder.


4 Green Eyes  Lucius Shepard

        I don't recall anything about this except I think there were
zombies.

        Shepard is still a successful writer.

        This was an Ace Science Fiction Special.


5 Them Bones  Howard Waldrop

        This is a rather melancholy book about an attempt alter to histor
and prevent WWIII. I remember it as well written but not entirely success

        Waldrop is still writing (although I believe he was recently
hospitalized) but at shorter lengths. This book and the extremely
atypical for Waldrop THE TEXAS/ISRAELI WAR are to my knowledge his
only novels to date.

        This was an Ace Science Fiction Special.


6 Valentina: Soul in Sapphire  Joseph H. Delaney and Marc Stiegler

        I believe this involved an AI of some sort but I don't
remember much about it.

        Delaney didn't publish many novels (and all of them in the
1980s) but his short story career continued until he died.

        Stiegler's career continued until at least the late 1990s but
I am unaware of any fiction by him after 1999.


7 The Riddle of the Wren  Charles de Lint

        If I read this, I then forget it.

        Charles de Lint is a successful fantasy author.


8 The Ceremonies  T. E. D. Klein

        I did not read this.

        I believe that he was writing short fiction at least until
the late 1990s but this was his only novel and the only other book-
length work that I am aware of was a collection.


9 Frontera  Lewis Shiner

        I know I read this but I am blanking on it.

        Shiner is still a successful authors, although I think he
might be classified as "magical realism" these days.


10 Procurator  Kirk Mitchell

        I think this is an alternate history in which Rome never fell
but I am not even sure that I read it.

        Mitchell is still getting published but I am not sure what
genres he works in.


11 Palimpsests  Carter Scholz and Glenn Harcourt

        This is another book that I know I read whose details are
lost to me just now.

        Scholz had another novel published in the early 21st
and has written a lot of short stories, the most recent as recently
as 2004.

        This is the only thing that I can find from Harcourt.

        This was an Ace Science Fiction Special.


12 The Alchemists  Geary Gravel

        I don't know anything about this book.

        Gravel seems to have been seduced by the seedy world of media
tie-in novels but I don't see anything by him after the late 1990s.


13 The Game Beyond  Melissa Scott

        I missed this. I really missed it: I thought her Silence Leigh
books were her first books.

        Scott was reasonably prolific in the 1980s and 1990s but I am
unaware of anything later than 2001.


14 Divine Endurance  Gwyneth Jones

        I did not see this. I am pretty sure that she was getting
published in the 1970s in the UK so this poll must only be for US
publication.

        Jones remains a successful author.


15 Elleander Morning  Jerry Yulsman

        This is an alternate history in which Hitler is murdered
long before his political career begins and as a result there is
no WWII.

        I have never heard of this or the author before now. He wrote
at least two novels under his own name and a number of adult novels
under pen named but he seems to be best known as a photographer.


16 Winter's Daughter  Charles Whitmore

        I am drawing a blank.


17 Demon-4  David Mace

        I did not see this.

        As I recall, Mace has more than half a dozen SF novel but his SF
career hit a snag in the early 1990s (A snag that resembles parts of A Likely Story but without the mistresses [1]). He's still around, still
being published in various media (Includng scripting LIFE ON MARS)
and has a novel in the works.


1: I guess if you are a writer and you have to recapitulate a Westlake
novel, better A Likely Story than The Hook.



Geary Gravel's The Alchemists and The Pathfinders are in my opinion excellent and are two of my favorite novels. His next two books are exceedingly light fun, and I didn't know he had written media tie-ins, but I don't imagine I'll bother looking for them.

As for Melissa Scott, I definitely hope she writes more, since I have found her work to be largely excellent.

I'm pretty sure Melissa is a regular guest at Gaylaxicon (she didn't attend when I chaired it in Toronto two years ago, but then again, we invited mostly Canadian guests), so she must be doing something to warrant attention.

Many of her works were coauthored with her partner, Lisa Barnett, who died of breast cancer in May 2006.

Many of her recent works, and most of those were fantasy. I think she writes great SF.