Yes, once more it is that time of year for the annual ‘alternative’ best picks in SF reading, selected from the books that were almost, but not quite, published this year. As ever, this is a work of fictional lampooning. pastiching; any resemblance to authors and their novels, living, dead or extra dimensional is purely coincidental (besides I only do it because I love their books so much). And I enjoy any excuse to use the word ‘lampoon’ whenever possible. Come to think of it, doesn’t lampoon sound like a cross between a lampost and a balloon? Wouldn’t that be cool – small streetlights dangling from balloons on our street?

Pity of Faints and Lardmen by Stef Van Der Valk

A fascinating and engrossing series of novellas and fictional non fiction set in the city of Tripe (named for the most precious part of the offal) in a land that could be the North of England or somewhere else entirely. Marvellous post-modernist scenes confuse the line between reality and the imaginary and the high cholesterol and the low cholesterol as Tripe’s lard producing and eating folk swoon – but do they swoon because of high cholesterol through lard consumption or swoon because They Can’t Believe Its Not Lard? Features the award-winning tale of the artist who found fame after a dream about headless pigs lead him to sculpt and paint purely in lard in the Transformation of Emerson Lake. No Evil Monkeys were harmed in the making of this book.

Smellum: the Book of All Odours by Sal Hunkman

Again we have a clash of the imaginary and reality and a Glasgow University student who sleeps in the library to avoid having to pay to heat his student flat finds the lost Book Of All Odours, which reveals that certain perfumes are more than mere scents but are a way of unlocking entrances to undreamt of vistas of creation. He is soon pursued by the ghost of Coco Channel who turns out to be an angel and encounters multiple versions of his friends, who all wear different colognes in each reality; what happens if he brings all these scents together?

Code Fworrrr! By Merry-Ann de Brighton Pier

Merry-Ann’s top action heroine is back in business, drawing lustful looks from men and women everywhere as she kicks ass while showing off her own pert ass in very tight leather pants and proving that a supergal doesn’t really need a man when she has a damned big gun.

9Sale Box by Spon Blortney Glowertree

Top Brit SF author Spon takes us into the mythical realms between life and death as his Jewish cop in San Fernando investigates his own murder, on the way finding out that the old stories his grandpa told him about the mythical 9Sale Box are true and that he must complete nine transactions on mysterious items in the box before he can settle his affairs in this life and move on to the next.

A Nancy Boy, by Steel Gagman

A return to humour from the award-winning author, his first comedy since his collaboration with Jerry Hatchett on Good Vibrations. Here he mines the rich seam of comedy that is family life, following the trials and tribulations of the effeminate Fat Larry (the titular Nancy Boy) as he finds a brother he didn’t know he had in the wake of his father’s death and discovers that perhaps he isn’t such a nancy after all.

Rudarse Unchained by Dieter S Porkington

The concealed alien agent (the Rudarse) has now infected many humans in key positions in the government and military, turning them all into addicts of S&M sex with a particular predilection for being bound up and bum-whipped. As a vast alien invasion of human space begins, the chains come off and our S&M addicts face the enemy using some very big whips.

The Dave Langford Quizbook

This quiz book covers all aspects of Lanfordania, from his many columns through his short tales, novels and non-fiction work as well as the recent comics hit series Crisis of Infinite Langfords, where all of the Dave Langfords from every parallel Earth come together at the same time and their collective haul of Hugo Awards threaten to collapse under their own mass and create a massive singularity that Charlie Stross will write about.