The Best Books of 2011!

This year has been all about genre - science fiction, fantasy and horror are on the rise everywhere we look, in cinema, in fashion and in popular culture. From supernatural detectives to the zombie apocalypse, from Steampunk to alternate realities, it all starts on the printed page!

Below are our favourite 25 books of this year, all stuff we've read and loved, and we're throwing this list out there for your feedback and opinion.

If we've missed something - or if we've committed a howler - it's up to you to let us know. So bring it on!


[Book 1: Rise Of The Governor]

25. The Walking Dead: Book 1: Rise Of The Governor

2011 has been all about the Zombies.

Based on The Walking Dead graphic novels and set in the world created by Robert Kirkman, this is fast and brutal story - all about the lengths some men will go to, to survive.

Featuring new characters and storylines, but the same attention to detail and in-depth insight, this is THE book about the 2011 Zompoc!

[Book 13: Ghost Story (Hardcover)]

24. Dresden Files: Book 13: Ghost Story (Hardcover)

Harry Dresden is Chicago's only Wizard PI - but magic is a dangerous business and it can get a guy killed.

He's trapped in a realm that's not quite here, not quite there; his loved ones are in danger and his crystal ball doesn't work. He can't interact with the physical world and he's invisible to all but a select magical few. He's also got some old enemies who are looking for payback.

Harry Dresden is going to have a Very Bad Day.

[Leviathan Wakes]

23. Leviathan Wakes

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship they find themselves in possession of a secret. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. When the trail leads him to Holden, he realises that this girl may be the key he's looking for.

Holden and Miller must resolve the puzzle, and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe.

[Son Of Heaven (Hardcover)]

22. Son Of Heaven (Hardcover)

The year is 2085, two decades after the great economic collapse that destroyed Western civilization. With its power broken and its cities ruined, life in the West continues in scattered communities.

In rural Dorset Jake Reed lives with his 14-year-old son and memories of the great collapse. For 22 years he has lived in fear of the future, and finally it is coming - Chinese airships are in the skies and a strange, glacial structure has begun to dominate the horizon.

Under the rule of the mighty Tsao Ch'un, a resurgent China is seeking to abolish the past and bring about world peace through rigidly enforced order. But a civil war looms, and Jake will find himself at the heart of the struggle for the future.

[Book 2: The Curious Case Of The Clockwork Man]

21. Burton Swinburne: Book 2: The Curious Case Of The Clockwork Man

A clockwork man is abandoned in Trafalgar Square. A ghost displays a craving for diamonds.

A lost aristocrat returns ten years after being lost at sea and instigates riots in London. The Rakes are indulging in seances. The Technologists are growing giant insects and transforming them into steam-driven vehicles. The British Empire's capital is in chaos, and in the midst of it all, Sir Richard Francis Burton and his wayward assistant, Algernon Swinburne, are beginning to suspect that someone, somewhere, is up to no good!

[Book 10: The Crippled God (Hardcover)]

20. Malazan Book Of The Fallen: Book 10: The Crippled God (Hardcover)

The final and cataclysmic chapter of the 'The Malazan Book of the Fallen'.

The Bonehunters march towards and unknown fate, the fianl arbitoers of humanity draw upon an alien power to annihalate civilisation and begin again, and the three Elder Gods release the Dragon. The Eleint is coming...

[Snuff (Hardcover)]

19. Snuff (Hardcover)

Commander Sam Vimes of the Ankh-Morpork City Watch is on holiday in the pleasant and innocent countryside - where there are many, many bodies and an ancient crime more terrible than murder.

He is out of his jurisdiction, out of his depth, out of bacon sandwiches, and occasionally snookered and out of his mind, but never out of guile. Where there is a crime there must be a finding, there must be a chase and there must be a punishment.

[Among Others (Hardcover)]

18. Among Others (Hardcover)

Startling, unusual, and yet irresistibly readable, Among Others is at once the compelling story of a young woman struggling to escape a troubled childhood, a brilliant diary of first encounters with the great novels of modern fantasy and SF, and a spellbinding tale of escape from ancient enchantment.

[Prince Of Thorns (Hardcover)]

17. Prince Of Thorns (Hardcover)

From being a privileged royal child, raised by a loving mother, Jorg Ancrath has become the Prince of Thorns, a charming, immoral boy leading a grim band of outlaws in a series of raids and atrocities.

The world is in chaos: violence is rife, nightmares everywhere. Jorg has the ability to master the living and the dead, but there is still one thing that puts a chill in him. Returning to his father's castle Jorg must confront horrors from his childhood and carve himself a future with all hands turned against him.

This is the first volume in a powerful new epic fantasy trilogy, original, absorbing and challenging.

[Ready Player One]

16. Ready Player One

A jaw-droppingly cinematic, genre-busting debut that's part virtual space opera, part classic coming-of-age story, part brilliant pop-culture mash-up!

[Winter (Hardcover)]

15. The Demi Monde: Winter (Hardcover)

The Demi-Monde is the most advanced computer simulation ever devised. Created to prepare soldiers for the nightmarish reality of urban warfare, it is a virtual world locked in eternal civil war.

But something has gone badly wrong, and the US President's daughter has become trapped in this terrible world. It falls to eighteen-year-old Ella Thomas to rescue her, yet Ella finds that everything is not as it seems, that the cyber-walls are struggling to contain the evil within and that the Real World is in more danger than anyone realises.

[Book 1: Songs Of The Earth (Hardcover)]

14. The Wild Hunt: Book 1: Songs Of The Earth (Hardcover)

Gair is under a death sentence. He can hear music - music with power - and in the Holy City that means only one thing: he's a witch, and he's going to be burnt at the stake.

If Gair can escape, if he can master his own growing, dangerous abilities, if he can find the Guardians of the Veil, then maybe he will be safe. Or maybe he'll discover that his fight has only just begun. Compared to 'The Name of the Wind', this is beautifully told and engaging from the very first word.

[The Children Of The Sky (Hardcover)]

13. The Children Of The Sky (Hardcover)

in 'Children of the Sky, Vernor Vinge has created a powerful novel of adventure and discovery that will entrance the many readers of 'A Fire Upon the Deep'.

Ten years have passed on Tines World, where Ravna Bergnsdot and a number of human children ended up after a disaster that nearly obliterated humankind throughout the galaxy.

Ravna and the pack animals for which the planet is named have survived a war, and Ravna has saved more than one hundred children who were in cold-sleep aboard the vessel that brought them. While there is peace among the Tines, there are those among them - and among the humans - who seek power...and no matter the cost, these malcontents are determined to overturn the fledgling civilization that has taken root since the humans landed.

[Anno Dracula]

12. Anno Dracula

It is 1888 and Queen Victoria has remarried, taking as her new consort Vlad Tepes, the Wallachian Prince infamously known as Count Dracula.

Peppered with familiar characters from Victorian history and fiction, the novel tells the story of vampire Genevieve Dieudonne and Charles Beauregard of the Diogenes Club as they strive to solve the mystery of the Ripper murders.

[Book 2: Wise Mans Fear (Hardcover)]

11. The Kingkiller Chronicle: Book 2: Wise Mans Fear (Hardcover)

For nearly four years, we've been been eagerly awaiting this second volume in Patrick Rothfuss' 'Kingkiller Chronicles'.

The first volume, 'The Name of the Wind', won the prestigious Quill Award and Terry Brooks praised it as 'deep and intricate and wondrous'. In this lynchpin book of the trilogy, Kyothe continues his perilous search for answers about the death of his parents even as he grapples with more pressing dangers.

[Heroes (Hardcover)]

10. Heroes (Hardcover)

They say Black Dow's killed more men than winter, and clawed his way to the throne of the North up a hill of skulls.

The King of the Union is not about to stand smiling by while he claws his way any higher. The orders have been given and thousands of men are converging on a forgotten ring of stones, and they've brought a lot of sharpened metal with them.

Among them are Bremer dan Gorst, disgraced master swordsman, Prince Calder, using any lie, lie, any trick, any betrayal, to get power, and Curnden Craw, the last honest man in the North.

Over three bloody days of battle, the fate of the North will be decided. But with both sides riddled by intrigues, follies, feuds and petty jealousies, it is unlikely to be the noblest hearts that prevail. Three men. One battle. No Heroes.

[Blackout (Hardcover)]

9. Blackout (Hardcover)

Blackout is the opening movement of a vast, absorbing two-volume novel that may well prove to be Connie Willis' masterpiece.

Like her multi-award winning The Doomsday Book, this stunning new work marries the intricate mechanics of time travel to the gritty - and dangerous - realities of human history.

Blackout is an ingeniously constructed time travel novel and a grand entertainment. More than that, it is a moving, exquisitely detailed portrait of a world under siege, a world dominated by chaos, uncertainty, and the threat of imminent extinction. It is the rare sort of book that transcends the limits of genre, offering pleasure, insight, and illumination on virtually every page.

[Rule 34]

8. Rule 34

DI Liz Kavanaugh: You realise policing internet porn is your life and your career went down the pan five years ago. But when a fetishist dies on your watch, the Rule 34 Squad moves from low priority to worryingly high profile.

Anwar: As an ex-con, you'd like to think your identity fraud days are over. Especially as you've landed a legit job (through a shady mate). Although now that you're Consul for a shiny new Eastern European Republic, you've no idea what comes next.

The Toymaker: Your meds are wearing off and people are stalking you through Edinburgh's undergrowth. But that's ok, because as a distraction, you're project manager of a sophisticated criminal operation. But who's killing off potential recruits?

So how do bizarre domestic fatalities, dodgy downloads and a European spamming network fit together? The more DI Kavanaugh learns, the less she wants to find out.

[Embassytown (Hardcover)]

7. Embassytown (Hardcover)

Embassytown: a city of contradictions on the outskirts of the universe.

Avice is an immerser, a traveller on the immer, the sea of space and time below the everyday, now returned to her birth planet. Here, she has a rare bond with the natives, the enigmatic 'Hosts'.

Only a tiny cadre of unique human Ambassadors connect the two communities. But a new arrival has come to Embassytown - and when this Ambassador speaks, everything changes.

Catastrophe looms. Avice knows the only hope is to speak directly to the alien Hosts. And that is impossible.

[Recollection]

6. Recollection

When his brother disappears into a bizarre gateway on a London Underground escalator, failed artist Ed Rico and his brother's wife Alice have to put aside their feelings for each other to go and find him.

Their quest through the 'arches' will send them hurtling through time, to new and terrifying alien worlds. Hard choices lie ahead as lives and centuries clash and, in the unforgiving depths of space, an ancient evil stirs...

[The Straight Razor Cure (Hardcover)]

5. Low Town: The Straight Razor Cure (Hardcover)

The criminal is king. The streets are filled with the screeching of fish hags, the cries of swindled merchants, the murmurs of working girls.

Warden is an ex-soldier, now a narcotics dealer with a bloody past and a way of inviting danger. When a missing child, murdered and horribly mutilated, is discovered in an alley, he's the only man with a hope of finding the killer.

If the killer doesn't find him first.

[Book 5: A Dance With Dragons (Hardcover)]

4. A Song Of Ice And Fire: Book 5: A Dance With Dragons (Hardcover)

'Game of Thrones' has arguably been the defining fantasy of the year - 'Dance With Dragons' offers us the aftermath of a colossal battle, and the future of the Seven Kingdoms hanging in the balance once again - and beset by newly emerging threats from every direction...

From all corners, bitter conflicts reignite, intimate betrayals are perpetrated, and a grand cast of outlaws and priests, soldiers and skinchangers, nobles and slaves, face seemingly insurmountable obstacles. Some will fail, others will grow in the strength of darkness. But in a time of rising restlessness, the tides of destiny and politics will lead inevitably to the greatest dance of all. . . .

[Rivers Of London (Hardcover)]

3. Rivers Of London (Hardcover)

Peter Grant used to be a member of the London Met.

Now, he's a Detective Constable and a trainee wizard, the first apprentice in fifty years, and his world is rather complicated: nests of vampires in Purley, negotiating a truce between the warring god and goddess of the Thames, and digging up graves in Covent Garden...

But there's omething festering at the heart of the city he loves, a malicious vengeful spirit that takes ordinary Londoners and twists them into grotesque mannequins to act out its drama of violence and despair. The spirit of riot and rebellion has awakened in the city, and it's falling to him to bring order out of chaos - or die trying.

[Reamde (Hardcover)]

2. Reamde (Hardcover)

Across the globe, millions of computer screens flicker with the artfully coded world of T'Rain - an addictive internet role-playing game of fantasy and adventure.

But backstreet hackers in China have just unleashed a contagious virus called Reamde, and as it rampages through the gaming world, the computer of one powerful and dangerous man is infected, causing the carefully mediated violence of the on-line world to spill over into reality.

An inimitable and compelling thriller that careers from British Columbia to Southwest China via Russia and the fantasy world of T'Rain, Reamde is an irresistible epic from the unique imagination of one of today's most individual writers.

[Kings Of Eternity]

1. Kings Of Eternity

As the 20th century draws to a close, a troubled novelist tries to hide from the past on a remote Greek island.

But when he falls in love it threatens to unleash the horrors that haunt him. Meanwhile, more than 60 years in the past and hundreds of miles away, two writers are called by their friend to investigate strange goings-on in Hopton Wood. Their discovery – a strange alien creature – will bring their world, and that of the reclusive novelist in the future, into a gripping and unexpected collision.

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