1. Anathem by Neal Stephenson
What Noah said. An astonishing and virtuostic masterpiece of science fiction, Anathem is filled with compelling, likable characters in a rollicking narrative wrapped in dense layers of philosophy, history, science, and mathematics. Just read it! It is amazing.
2. Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World) by Neal Stephenson
Spanning the history of science and economics in the West, this glorious 2600-page epic celebrates reason and ideas and how they impacted the “system of the world.” It is a staggering work and an incredible journey.
3. Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke
I picked this up after Neil Gaiman called it “the finest English novel of the fantasticke to appear in the past 70 years.” Indeed, it is fantastic – finely textured with rich Tolstoy-esque characterizations, moral ambiguity, and fascinating depictions of magic. This is a dizzying, powerful invention.
4. The Windup Girl by Paolo Bacigalupi
This stunning, beautiful, yet brutal debut is set in a bleak future Thailand grappling with famine, global warming, and genetically modified bio-plagues. Bacigalupi masterfully weaves together dimensional characters with one of the most compelling geopolitical backdrops I’ve seen in science-fiction, in any medium.
5. Brasyl by Ian McDonald
This is cyberpunk Brazil wrapped in a quantum computational view of cosmology. McDonald takes what he started in his brilliant River of Gods even further, and the results are spectacularly mindblowing.
6. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
7. Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link
8. River of Gods Ian McDonald
9. Takeshi Kovacs (Altered Carbon / Broken Angels / Woken Furies) by Richard K. Morgan
10. Stamping Butterflies / End of the World Blues by Jon Courtenay Grimwood
11. Veniss Underground by Jeff Vandermeer
12. Spin by Robert Charles Wilson
13. Accelerando by Charles Stross
14. Spin State / Spin Control by Chris Moriarty
15. Thirteen by Richard K. Morgan
16. Light by M John Harrison
17. Shriek by Jeff Vandermeer
18. Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald
19. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway