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My list of top speculative fiction work. One of the criteria is that I have read/watched/etc and enjoy them so I'm sure many worthy are missing because of my lack of knowledge.

Phoenix (manga) by Osamu Tezuka: It's epic, spanning from early Japanese civilization to near future science fiction, dealing with the matter of life and death.

Pluto by Naoki Urasawa. It's a futuristic thriller, set in a world that robots work, marry, adopt children alongside humans. I think it's the most complete work of the author.

Ghost in the Shell: Stand Alone Comlex: I like the description of the post-modern futuristic world and the examination of the issue of transhumanism.

Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind: A post-apocalyptic classic by Hayao Miyazaki

Sailor Moon: The first to combine magic girls with sentai team. Influential to my childhood. Featuring homosexual couple and a het romance that defies gender convention.

Angel Sanctuary: When I first read it at a tender age, I was amazed by the massive world building and the use of mythology. Of course I know that it's problematic in many way, but it still has a place in my heart.

Tsubasa: Reservoir Chronicle
by Clamp: I can't not include Clamp's work, and I chose it because I have a weakness for multi-world

Gundam Franchise: Well, it's just influential in realistic robots anime/manga.

Dennō Coil: I like the thought it it in imagining a world that tradition and near future technology co-exist.

Hoshin Engi by Ryu Fujisaki: Another influential work in my childhood. The original work it's based on is dull to me, but the manga manages to create an interesting premise, thoughtful exploration of fate, loads and loads of great characters and action.

Book (single)

Journey to the West by Wu cheng en. Chinese literature classic. Characters bigger than life, imaginative world, and just great fun to read.

Strange Tales from a Chinese Studio or Liaozhai Zhiyi . Another classic. A wide world of supernatural interseded with the ordinary, sympathetic characters, and great lots.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin. My first encounter with the concept of genderqueer and fluidity of sexuality.

I Robot by Issac Asimov. Love Susan Calvin and sci-fi mystery

The Tough Guide to FantasyLand by DWJ. Scathing and funny

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez: An epic that defines magical realism.

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll: I find the world inspiring and just funny.

Un Lun Dun by China Mieville. I like the twist of the chosen one and the under city.

Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I love the hint of a bigger world and would like to see more.

Half Human by Bruce Coville: Just lovely.

Book series

Onmyouji by Baku Yumemakura. I love the description of the supernatural Japanese world. It has been adapted into movies and manga.

Kino's Journey: I love the sense of wonder, the description of the various countries Kino visits. It has been adapted into an anime.

Legends of Galactic Heroes by Dr. Yoshiki Tanaka. Epic space opera. The world view is a bit dated but is still good.

Lord of the Rings Trilogy by J. R. R. Tolkien. Yes, it's on the NPR list. Yes, it's a classic that defines a genre.

The Hitchhiker's Guide to Galaxy by Douglas Adams. It's great fun to read

Tales of the Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin. The first time I hear about it I'm told it's a series that girls are not allowed to learn magic. Not my idea of fun. But I'm glad that I give it a chance.

The Steerswomen Series by Rosemary Kirstein: I love that it deals greatly with knowledge and the pursuit of it.

Yin Yang series by Nu Heng: Paranormal romance done right.

Night Watch by Sergei Lukyanenko: I like the take of light and darkness.

Comics/Graphic novel

Hero: An amnesiac boy and a demon on a journey to cities. Poignant. Fascinating

Planetary by Warren Ellis. I like exploration and wonder and strangeness and the reference to mainstream comics.

Supergirl: Cosmic Adventures in the 8th Grade: Socially awkward girl superhero meets loyal mad scientist genius. Time travel done right.

Marvel Adventures: Avengers. The list can't be complete with more mainstream superhero comics, and MA: A is clever, fun and constantly good.

Planescape: Torment Multiverse. A world so great I can forever play in it.


Star Trek: The Original Series It's classic sci-fi TV.

Legend: Detailed historical details with fantasy elements


Unusual opinions. I was entranced by this fandom-related post, where people came out of the woodwork to declare the things they loved.

Duck Duck Go A search engine that doesn't save your data or railroad your search results towards sites you are more likely to ideologically agree with
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Title: Joou No Hyakunen Misshitsu (God Save the Queen)
Author: Mori Hiroshi
Number of Pages: 429 pages
Book Number/Goal: 5/5 for 2010
Book jacket summary: In 2113, Michru and Roidy forcibly landed on a strange land and lost their way. One night, they followed the music Roidy heard and saw a mystical elderly man. The man told them of a city ahead. If they wanted to be admitted, they needed to tell the keeper they were guided by the god and wanted to see the queen. Therefore they went to an isolated city in the forest, where people never died in the a hundred years. Then a murder happened. The truth lay behind the history of the city, the origin of the queen and the residents and the past of Michru.
Review: I love secret, intrigue and slow reveal so I am deeply attracted by this book. The author successfuly creates an unsettling and creepy atmosphere , and the narrator knew much more than the readers. The crime itself is not complex, but the reavel still seems surprising. It encourages me to find his other books.
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Title: Kuro To Cha No Gensou  (Black & Tan Fantasy)
Author: Onda Riku
Number of Pages: 591 pages
Book Number/Goal: 4/5 for 2010
Review Four friends met again a dacade after geaduation and went for a trip. In the journey, their secret were revealed and the past mysteries came into light one by one. It was told in the point of view from each character one by one. I I really enjoy this book. The characters are engaging, their complicated relationship intriguing and the the slow reveal of mysteries surprising yet reasonable. My only complaint is that it seems to focus too much on a character.
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Title: Eye Killers
Author: A. A. Carr
Number of Pages: (optional) 344
Book Number/Goal: 3 of 5 in this year
Summary rom Not only is young Melissa Roanhorse in constant conflict with her alcoholic mother, she's also been chosen as the new bride of Falke, one of the undead who is just awaking from a long sleep in the dry New Mexican climate-a selection that does not sit well with Falke's other two consorts, Elizabeth and Hanna. After her first bite with Falke, Melissa erupts at school and then disappears. With the help of the girl's grandfather, Michael Roanhorse, her teacher, Diana Logan, sets out to find her. But if the old man is to save his granddaughter, he must also save himself by remembering the songs and ways of his people that he has long forgotten.
Review: The book is a bit low at the beginning, and it only grabs me at the middle. I begine to feel for Michael. The reimagining of vampire in Navajo mythology is fascinating, with the hint of their complicated relationship. Michael is so determined to save his granddaughter, and I love his journey to get through the mystery. My only regret is that Diana is white. It will be better if she is a native American too.
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Title: Guests

Author: Michael Dorris
Number of Pages: (optional) 119
Genre: Young Adult
Book Number/Goal: 1 of 5  to be read in a year

Review: It's a very solid coming-of-age story. Moss, frustrated by the strange guests cming to the feast, impulsively went to the forest to look for who he really is, and finds a more complicated answer than he suspected. I love the lush metaphor dscribing Moss' away time and I like Trouble very uch. The characters are very real to me.  I like how their stories are intervined in their Native American tradition.

Title: Things Fall Apart

Author: Chinua Achebe
Number of Pages: (optional) 148
Book Number/Goal: 2 of 5  to be read in this year

Review: I love the unsentimental overview of Nigerian life before colonalization. Okonkwo was a hard man, whose greatest fear is of perceived weakness. His tragedy is caused by this fault, yet compunded by the invasion of colonialism and drove him to his end. The writers manages to make Okonkwo sympathetic yet critical of him, and the story has a tone of folklore just before the white come, which fit. Achebe is a good writer and his talent already shows in his first book.

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Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo:
She is a superintendent with a devil may cry attitude and sharp intellect. He is her reluctant subordinate. Together they fight (mostly supernatural) crimes. Think Supernatural meets Sherlock Holmes, but with awesome female protagonists who kick ass.

Cut to see the overview )
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I heard good things about The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox so I borrowed the first book. The mystery is interesting and I like the protagonist, but the China just doesn't feel authentic enough to me. The world building is not convincing enough. For example, why does the [Big bad 1] allow [Big Bad 2] to exist, practically challenging [Big Bad 1] 's authority, cosidering [Big Bad 1] 's status? The female characters are either sterotyptically bad or damsel in distress. There is [spoiler] issue of consent, which makes me very uncomfortable. Maybe the series will improve but I am too lazy to hunt down the next books.
Oct. 1st, 2010 07:11 pm

Book Review

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Junot Diaz - The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Oscar Wao wants to be a Dominican Tolkien, but more than that he wants love. Unfourtunately there are a lot of obstacles, not least including a family curse. It is story about a Dominican family, of history, love, obsession, and tragedy. It is sometimes sad, but never without a sense of wry humour.

Set in the Heian period, a time when "humans, ghosts and demons dwelt in the same city, sometimes even under the same roof", it chronicles the exploits of Abe no Seimei, the Onmyoji and his friend Minamoto no Hiromasa. The atmosphere is mesmerising, and I really love the mysterious Seimei and sincere Hiromasa.

"Secret Identities: The Asian American Superhero Anthology" is an exploration of Asian American history and identity through the medium of superhero comics, of both interests me. It finally arrived at the public library system. I can't wait to get my hands on it.
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The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, by N. K. Jemisin
I found the book through TFV 's rec, and it is as amazing as she said. There is a amazing pantheon, who are petty, dangerous and alien. There is a strong interesting female protagonist who must fight for her people 's survival while still mourning her mother 's murder. As an outcast, she strikes a tentative allience and tender relationship with the enslaved gods. There are political intrigue, mystery, deadly love and great world building. I squeed when I knew that it is only the first of the trilogy.

Effluent Engine by N. K. Jemisin
A short story written for Haiti charity auction, It has espionage, science and lesbian women of colour in love. It is everything I want in a steampunk story.
You can see the whole text here.
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Yakushiji Ryōko no Kaiki Jikenbo aka The Strange Case Files of Ryōko Yakushiji
Junichirō Izumida only wanted to be a good police detective, but he was assigned to Ryōko Yakushiji, the deadliest woman of the police force. Ryōko is pretty, intelligent, and rich. More than that she butts into strange crimes that can't be explained by science and solves them with style. I really like that she is a magnificent bastard and enjoys it. The novels pack action comedy, supernatural investigation and social satire. A surprisingly light read for the writer.

Kino's Journey
I love stories of exploration and dicovery, and Kino 's Journey doesn't disappoint me. The world building is fascinating, with the sometimes cutting social commentery.

The Story of Saiunkoku
I love the China-inspired fantasy, and the hint that there is a world of history just beyond the readers ' reader. I love the protagonist. She is smart, strong-willed and very believable. The politics intrigues me greatly and I can't wait to see how it develops.

Ikebukuro West Gate Park
I love hard boiled mystery novels, and this series vividly draws the life of a group of marginalized teenagers in Japan. The world is bleak, and people often give up more than what is worth to survive, but there is warmth and hope too.

Vampire Hunter D
I really love the combination of sci-fi and vampire, in creating a very original setting of how vampire comes in rule and declines, and the classical gothic atmosphere. The vampires are deadly, and the combat is fast paced, and I really like how mysterious D is.

Legend of the Galactic Heroes
It is epic, not only in its length, but also in the scope of history and wars it covers. It manages to present a very intriguing discussion of themerit and limit of democracy, varied war strategy and loads of fascinating characters. It chronicles the rise and end of an age. Not a light read.
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Charlie Chan Is Dead: An Anthology of Contemporary Asian American Fiction
I have longed to find this book since I have heard about it, and finally I found it in a public library. The title is a response to the racist yellow-facing stereotyping in Charlie Chan films, and I think it does a great job. The characters are so real. They are not some gentle souls, but rather people with real concern. It truly expresses the pain, joy confusion and struggle in Asian American life. Very good read.

Stories of Your Life: and Others by Ted Chiang
Ted Chiang is a slow sci-fi writer but it is worth the wait. I will review the stories I am most impressed with.

"Tower of Babylon" (1990) A very interesting take of the tale of Babel Tower. It explores the psychology of people who would like to ascent to Heaven and gives a twist to the tales of miners' ascent to the Heaven.

"Understand" (1991) A thriller about enhanced human intelligence,. high paced and exciting.

"Division by Zero" (1991) What would be like when you find that the fundamental principle of your world view is void? The math is beyond me, but I really feel the horror here.

"Story of Your Life" (1998) A linguist tries to decipher alien communication. The story is told in a non-linear fashion and it serves the purpose. I have a weakness for aliens which are truly beyond comprehension and the thoughtful reflective voice.

"Seventy-Two Letters" (2000) The writer imagines an alternative Victorian world that runs on golems and the power of words. The science is well thought out, and it doesn't hesitate to expose the darker side of the Victorians.

"Hell is the Absence of God" (2001) An alternative world where you can see angels and demons in day light, and Hell and Heaven can be seen by naked eyes. The relationship with God here is clearly abusive, but not listed  as such. I have reservation about the story because I am never sure it is intended to be ironic.

"Liking What You See: A Documentary" (2002) As an Amazon commenter states, "A story about beauty and its perception and influence." I am very interested in the neural modification applied here.
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I really enjoy Gentlemen of the Road. It has swashbuckling adventure, people who have issue but learn to compartmentalize, unlikely friendship, and political intrigue. What is it not to like?

Yiddish Police Union is an alternative history that Israel falls and Jews are settled in Alaska. When the time was running up, a disgraced police detective is about to wrap up his last case, unexpected that it will lead him to intrigue, lie and hope. Truth does not bring peace, and everything may come to an end. However, it is strangely hopeful.

Michael Chabon is kind of an hit-and miss writer to me.I can't finish The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, and have reservation about Summerland. However, I really enjoy both books.
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I discovered Amitav Ghosh through Yuletide. He is a very talented Indian-Bengali writer who writes mainly history and colonalism.

Amitav Ghosh - Sea of Poppies
Synopsis: Sea of Poppies is the first part of Ibis Trilogy. It tells a story of a 19th Century ship journey across Indiana Ocean, and people aboard came from different walk of life, thrown together by fate. I really like how it tackles colonisim and imperialism. The characters all try to find a new life despite the huge obstacle and I enjoy reading about their complex relationship. . However, I can't finish it because it deals with the Opium War, which is too painful for me to read. For those who want to see the ugly side of the Age of Sail, characters you wuld care and cheer for, it is a very good book.

Amitav Ghosh -The Glass Palace
The story spans a century from British colonization of Burma, through the Second World War to modern times. It follows a three generation family, whose fate intervines with the national fate. It is epic in the scope, but it never forgets the humanity in it. If you want to know about Burma modern history, or to see how history shapes invidual fate, it is a must-read.

Amitav Ghosh -The Hungry Tide
Sundarbans is a labyrinth of tiny islands, a place of danger and strange beauty, and it links the fate of three people together. An Indian American marine biologist in search of an endangered dolphin is rescued by a quiet fisherman. They are strangely drawn to each other despite,or perhaps because of the language barrier. She hired a young successful merchant as translator, who returned to discover a story of politics, love and tragedy. It is a story of language, identity and beauty.

Bonus rec:
Cindy Pon – Silver Phoenix
I hesitated to read it at first because I was scared it did not live up to my expectation, but the worry was rootless. The China-inspired fantasy is very refreshing and feels authentic. There is a culturally appropriate strong female protagonist with secret power, and she started a quest to save her father. I love her quiet strength and determination. There is tender romance plot, but it is secondary to the saving the world plot. I read that there is a sequel coming and I really look forward to it. Warning though: (Highlight to see spoiler) - There's an attempted rape scene


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