The Critical Journal of the British Science Fiction Association

Vector Poll: Books of 2005

Results of the annual Vector poll

Every spring, Vector conducts a poll of reviewers, BSFA committee members and various others, to determine the best books read during the previous year. The results of the poll, with commentary from those polled, are published in the Vector annual review of the year. Previous winners include River of Gods by Ian McDonald (2004), Light by M. John Harrison (2002), and American Gods by Neil Gaiman (2001).

The criteria for inclusion in the poll are deliberately wide and inclusive. The brief given was thatVector wanted to know the best five books read (as opposed to published) during 2005 and the reasons why they were the best. Preference was given to sf/fantasy/horror/etc books published during the last two years (both fiction and related non-fiction); non-genre and older books were allowed, but should be "of interest to BSFA members". Unsurprisingly, many of those polled made good use of this last clause to include a wide range of titles.

The results of the 2005 poll were compiled by the reviews editor, Paul N. Billinger, and can be found in Vector 246 (March/April 2006 cover date). However, there wasn't room in the issue to include the full range of books nominated; we do so here instead. The winner of the poll was 9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood (reviwed by Paul N. Billinger in Vector 244), and the runner-up was Accelerando by Charles Stross (reviewed by Paul Kincaid, also in Vector 244). 9Tail Fox is Grimwood's second Vector poll-winner, following Felaheen in 2001.

WINNER: 9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Gollancz, 2005)

RUNNER-UP: Accelerando by Charles Stross (Orbit, 2005)

4 votes
Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell by Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury, 2004)

3 votes
Anansi Boys by Neil Gaiman (Headline, 2005)
River of Gods by Ian McDonald (Simon & Schuster, 2004)

2 votes
The Algebraist by Iain M. Banks (Orbit, 2004)
Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land by John Crowley (Morrow, 2005)
Vellum by Hal Duncan (Macmillan, 2005)
1610: A Sundial in a Grave by Mary Gentle (Gollancz, 2004)
Judas Unchained by Peter F. Hamliton (Macmillan, 2005)
Magic for Beginners by Kelly Link (Small Beer Press, 2005)
Learning the World by Ken Macleod (Orbit, 2005)
Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (Sceptre, 2004)
Market Forces by Richard Morgan (Gollancz, 2004)
Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds (Gollancz, 2005)
Air by Geoff Ryman (Gollancz, 2005)
City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff Vandermeer (Tor UK, 2004)

Other titles nominated
The Golden Age of Science Fiction edited by Kingsley Amis (Hutchinson, 1981)
The Blind Assassin by Margaret Atwood (Bloomsbury, 2000)
Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen (Penguin, 1813)
Recursion by Tony Ballantyne (Gollancz, 2004)
Interviews by JG Ballard (Re/Search Publications, 2005)
Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker (HarperCollins, 2004)
Transcendent by Stephen Baxter (Gollancz, 2005)
Blood Music by Greg Bear (Arbor House, 1985)
The Forge of God by Greg Bear (Tor, 1987)
Birds Without Wings by Louis de Bernieres (Vintage, 2004)
The Sheep Look Up by John Brunner (Quartet Books, 1977)
Christopher Priest: The Interaction edited by Andrew M. Butler (Science Fiction Foundation, 2005)
Childhood's End by Arthur C. Clarke (Sidgwick & Jackson, 1954)
End Zone by Don Delillo (Houghton Mifflin, 1972)
The Cup of the World by John Dickinson (David Fickling Books, 2004)
The Runes of the Earth by Stephen Donaldson (Gollancz, 2005)
The Year's Best Science Fiction: 22nd Annual Collection edited by Gardner Dozois (St Martin's Press, 2005)
Chronicles: Volume One by Bob Dylan (Pocket Books, 2004)
Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson (Simon & Schuster US, 2005)
The Carpet Makers by Andreas Eschbach (Tor, 2005)
The Fantasy Writer's Assistant by Jeffrey Ford (Golden Gryphon, 2002)
The Girl in the Glass by Jeffrey Ford (HarperCollins US, 2005)
The James Tiptree Jnr Award Anthology 1 edited by Karen Joy Fowler, Pat Murphy, Debbie Notkin and Jeffrey D. Smith (Tachyon, 2004)
The Magus by John Fowles (Jonathan Cape, 1965)
The Hungry Tide by Amitav Ghosh (HarperCollins, 2004)
The Traveller by John Twelve Hawks (Bantam, 2005)
Nobody True by James Herbert (Pan, 2003)
The Possibility of an Island by Michel Houellebecq (Weidenfeld & Nicholson, 2005)
Band of Gypsys by Gwyneth Jones (Gollancz, 2005)
The Book of Lost Books by Stuart Kelly (Viking, 2005)
The Rainbow Opera by Elizabeth Knox (Faber & Faber, 2005)
Exiles Valor by Mercedes Lackey (Daw, 2003)
Black Juice by Margo Lanagan (Eos, 2005)
Grief by Ed Lark (Osiris Press, 2005)
The Fortress of Solitude by Jonathan Lethem (Faber & Faber, 2005)
The Summer Isles by Ian R. Macleod (Aio Publishing, 2005)
The House of Storms by Ian R. Macleod (Simon & Schuster, 2005)
Useful Idiots by Jan Mark (David Fickling, 2005)
A Feast For Crows by George R.R. Martin (HarperCollins, 2005)
Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez (Tor, 2005)
Acorna's Search by Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough (Corgi, 2001)
Dragonsblood by Todd McCaffrey (Bantam, 2005)
The Rough Guide to Conspiracy Theories by James McConnachie and Robin Tudge (Rough Guide, 2005)
Looking for Jake by China Mieville (Del Rey, 2005)
Explorers of the New Century by Magnus Mills (Bloomsbury, 2005)
The Other Side of Silence by Natasha Mostert (Hodder & Stoughton, 2001)
The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle by Haruki Murakami (Harvill Press, 1998)
Fruits Basket by Takaya Natsuki (Tokyopop Press, 2004)
The Time-Traveler's Wife by Audrey Niffenegger (Vintage, 2005)
Firebirds edited by Sharyn November (Firebird, 2003)
Temeraire by Naomi Novik (HarperCollins, 2006 [!])
Scott Pilgrim: Precious Little Life by Bryan Lee O'Malley (Oni Press, 2004)
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park
A Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett (Doubleday, 2004)
Infernal Devices by Philiip Reeve (Scholastic, 2005)
Fifty Degrees Below by Kim Stanley Robinson (HarperCollins, 2005)
Living Next-Door to the God of Love by Justina Robson (Macmillan, 2005)
The Men Who Stare at Goats by Jon Ronson (Picador, 2005)
A Thread of Grace by Mary Doria Russell (Doubleday, 2005)
Moondust by Andrew Smith (Bloomsbury, 2005)
The Art of Murder by Jose Carlos Somoza (Abacus, 2005)
Perfect Circle by Sean Stewart (Small Beer Press, 2004)
Dies The Fire by S.M. Stirling (Roc, 2005)
The Man Who Lost The Sea by Theodore Sturgeon (North Atlantic Books, 2005)
Maximum City by Suketu Mehta (Headline Review, 2005)
Double Vision by Tricia Sullivan (Orbit, 2005)
The Year of Our War by Steph Swainston (Gollancz, 2004)
The Iron Dragon's Daughter by Michael Swanwick (Millennium, 1993)
The Periodic Table of Science Fiction by Michael Swanwick (PS Publishing, 2005)
Paris in the Twentieth Century by Jules Verne (Random House, 1997)
Banner of Souls by Liz Williams (Tor UK, 2005)
Nine Layers of Sky by Liz Williams (Tor UK, 2004)
Nova Scotia edited by Neil Willliamson and Andrew J. Wilson (Crescent Books, 2005)
Old School by Tobias Wolff (Bloomsbury, 2004)

In addition to the poll, throughout the year Vector awards 'recommended reads'. The recommended reads for 2005 are listed below, along with the issue in which they were reviewed.

Brass Man by Neal Asher (Vector 241, Tor UK, 2005)
The Warrior-Prophet by R. Scott Bakker (Vector 243, Orbit, 2005)
Days of Magic, Nights of War by Clive Barker (Vector 240, HarperCollins, 2004)
Gaudeamus by John Barnes (Vector 240, Tor, 2004)
Exultant by Stephen Baxter (Vector 240, Gollancz, 2004)
The Last Battle by Chris Bunch (Vector 239, Orbit, 2004)
Success ... and how to avoid it by Mat Coward (Vector 241, TTA Press, 2004)
Heat of Fusion and Other Stories by John M. Ford (Vector 239, Tor, 2004)
9Tail Fox by Jon Courtenay Grimwood (Vector 244, Gollancz, 2005)
The Last Light of the Sun (Vector 244, Pocket Books, 2005)
Magic for Beginners (Vector 243, Small Beer Press, 2005)
Provender Gleed by James Lovegrove (Vector 244, Gollancz, 2005)
The House of Storms by Ian R. Macleod (Vector 241, Simon & Schuster, 2005)
Gil's All Fright Diner by A. Lee Martinez (Vector 243, Tor, 2005)
Little Machines by Paul McAuley (Vector 242, PS Publishing, 2005)
Mind's Eye by Paul McAuley (Vector 243, Simon & Schuster, 2005)
Brilliant Things by Simon Morden (Vector 239, Subway Writers' Group, 2004)
Banquet for the Damned by Adam L.G. Nevill (Vector 239, PS Publishing, 2004)
Air by Geoff Ryman (Vector 242, St Martin's Press, 2004)
Trujillo by Lucius Shepard (Vector 239, PS Publishing, 2004)
Iron Sunrise by Charles Stross (Vector 242, Orbit, 2005)
The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, Dr Jeff Vandermeer and Dr Mark Roberts (eds.) (Vector 240, Macmillan, 2004)
The Book of Ballads by Charles Vess (Vector 240, Tor, 2004)

This article first appeared in Vector 246. Back issues of Vector are available from