Announcing the Fall 2003 Book Sense 76 Science Fiction and Fantasy Top Ten

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Here are booksellers' picks for the top ten science fiction and fantasy titles for the fall. Pads will be in the August white box mailing and a downloadable PDF file will be available at next week. This Web page also includes links to all past Book Sense 76s.

1. ALTERED CARBON, by Richard K. Morgan, (Del Rey, $13.95 paper, 0345457684) "Philip K. Dick meets Raymond Chandler in a noirish 25th century San Francisco in this stunning debut. The ability to store one's consciousness makes death a minor inconvenience -- one is merely 're-sleeved' into another body. This brings up a host of philosophical musings on aging, race, body image, and gender. Morgan offers plenty of action and a smartly resolved mystery." -- Judith Chandler, Third Place Books, Lake Forest Park, WA

2. SWORDS FOR HIRE, by Will Allen, (Centerpunch Press, $6.95 paper, 0972488200) "Swords for Hire has everything a good fantasy needs and, still, remains unpredictable. Hate the bad guy, love the good guys, cheer for the rescues against all odds.... How much more fun can you ask for?" -- Eric Robbins, Apple Valley Books, Winthrop, ME

3. THE LIGHT AGES, by Ian R. MacLeod, (Ace, $23.95, 0441010555) "The Light Ages is a beautifully written, wonderfully lyrical and evocative story of an alternate 19th century London, where aether -- or magic -- is mined along with coal. It's so well done that it transcends its particular genre. I'm mesmerized!" -- Lois Powers, The Toadstool Bookshop, Milford, NH

4. ILIUM, by Dan Simmons, (Eos, $25.95, 0380978938) "This is one of the best hard science fiction novels I have read in years. First, there is the plot, well, actually three plot lines running at the same time: the battle of Troy (in real time) as viewed by a reincarnated Iliad scholar, the epic journey of two cyborgs to discover and stop the source of unstable temporal rifts in the solar system, and visits to a future-day earth following a band of genetically altered Eloi-like humans as they begin to test the limits of their earth, an artificial paradise. This is the first book in a planned trilogy, and the only down side for the reader is waiting for the next books." -- Karen Pennington, Kepler's Books & Magazines, Menlo Park, CA

5. BITTER WATERS, by Wen Spencer, (Roc, $6.99 paper, 0451459229) "This is the third in an ongoing series about Ukiah Oregon -- half alien/half human, who was raised by wolves, nurtured by two women, and trained as a tracker by a private investigator. And it gets even better! Fast paced, with solid characters you'd actually want to meet, and a cult called the Temple of New Reason, Bitter Waters offers an explosive mix of intrigue, suspense, wonder, and an all-around good-fun read of a contemporary science fiction novel." -- Maria Perry, Flights of Fantasy, Loudonville, NY

6. THE GUIN SAGA: Book One -- The Leopard Mask, by Kaoru Kurimoto, (Vertical, $22.95, 1932234519) "The first book of 86 in a series by one of Japan's top fantasy writers, this is classic fantasy at its best. Guin, a magnificent warrior, awakens in a dangerous wilderness with little knowledge of his past and suffering from immense thirst and hunger, only to discover that a head mask of a leopard has been firmly affixed to his body. As he comes to the aid of royal fraternal twins, the action and suspense are nonstop, with each chapter's and scene's ending drawing the reader on. In Japan, the series has sold a total of 25 million copies. There is a reason why this series is so popular in Japan: It's good." -- Bob Spear, The Book Barn, Leavenworth, KS

7. HADES' DAUGHTER: Book One of the Troy Game, by Sara Douglass, (Tor, $7.99 paper, 0765344424) "Sara Douglass (The Wayfarer Redemption Series) brings life to the old Greek myths with warring gods, political intrigue, adventure, lots of sex, and a subplot that gives one a look at London in 1939. The author has won two Aurealis Awards, and one can understand why. I eagerly await the next two books." -- Emery Pinter, Chapter 11, Atlanta, GA

8. E. GODZ, by Robert Asprin and Esther Friesner, (Baen, $17, 0743436059) "Two of science fiction and fantasy's most consistently humorous authors team up to bring you this brilliantly lighthearted story of magic, familial tension, and corporate politics. Edwina Godz contemplates which of her two children will succeed her as CEO of the multi-million dollar family corporation. The E. Godz Corporation deals in magic, and watch the spells -- I mean sparks -- fly as sibling rivalry puts this brother and sister at each other's throats, both literally and figuratively. Imagine Neil Gaiman's American Gods done as a fast-paced financial parody with occasional detours deep into vaudeville slapstick." -- Scott Werbin, The Tudor Bookshop and Café, Kingston, PA

9. THE GATHERING DARK, by Christopher Golden, (Ace, $6.99 paper, 0441010814) "Former vampire Peter Octavian emerges from the conflicts of earlier books in this series as a powerful mage, but, even with his allies, he may not be able to stop the force that is sucking the Earth into Hell, town by town. Filled with Golden's signature creepy crawlies, complex mayhem, and observations on what makes a monster, The Gathering Dark is a welcome addition to the Shadow Saga." -- Maryelizabeth Hart, Mysterious Galaxy Books, San Diego, CA

10. THE BRIAR KING, by Greg Keyes, (Del Rey, $24.95, 0345440668) "I was entirely captivated by this, the beginning of a proposed four-book series. Very loosely spinning her tale around the story of the vanished Roanoke settlers, Keyes creates a world that's ancient and filled with mystery, majesty, and, of course, plenty of magic. This is tight storytelling -- as you follow the adventures of a knight, a princess, a priest, and the king's holter, you'll hardly have time to catch your breath." -- Mary Kooyman, Scott's Bookstore, Mount Vernon, WA