…like a malfunctioning time machine.
2015 was the year of new and shiny shortlist reading and a bit of classic subversive fantasy reading.
For new SF, I finally found my genre comfort zone, which is situated somewhere between the British Science Fiction Association, the Clarke Award, and the Tiptree Award. All three put out fantastic shortlists in 2015, and (although I’m not especially encouraged by the majority of 2015’s output) I’m curious to see what they recognize in 2016. Let’s see what gets unearthed by those small groups of interesting readers.
In the fantasy realm, treasures like Peake and Harrison, and the magic realism of García Márquez and Rushdie, two writers I have always wanted to read, have studded my year. I wish I had picked up these books when I was nineteen and reading the 36th Shannara book with my eyes closed.
In the vintage camp, my attraction toward more incendiary authors like Joanna Russ, John Brunner, and Olaf Stapledon should be no surprise. I also wish I had known about them when I was nineteen and raging against the machine… and listening to them, too.
2015 Books Read
Goodreads says I read 88 fiction books in 2015 (including two books I will finish tonight), which is one book short of my 2014 total. That number is suspect, however, because it includes little inconsistencies like counting Vance’s Tales of the Dying Earth as four separate books and Harrison’s Viriconium as one.
Page numbers are more informative: I read nearly 31,000 pages in 2015, compared to just under 24,000 pages in 2014, which included quite a few novelettes and novellas. Still, my goal has always been to read one fiction book per week. I have no idea how I manage to fit in more than 52, and I’m always amazed by the end of the year to see I’ve nearly doubled my goal.
In terms of chronology, I’m still bouncing all over the past 70 years, which I will continue in 2016, but with emphasis on the 1960s and 1970s. More on that below.
The Best Books Read in 2015
I read so many good books, I can’t bring myself to sacrifice any to a top ten list. I updated My Favorite SF Novels list, instead.
2015 Readsolutions: Did I achieve them?
- Read more women SF authors ✓
I beat the Worlds Without End Women of Genre Fiction Reading Challenge by reading 24 women SF authors, vintage and current. I’ll be finishing up two more before midnight.
- Read the shortlist for the Kitschies and/or the BSFAs ✓
I went with my gut and read all 8 of the BSFA nominees for this year. Of course, it helped that I had already read 5 of them before the shortlist was even announced.
- Read Spanish-language SF… en ESPAÑOL ✓
I picked up Cien años de soledad in Spain last year, which I read this summer.
- Read and review all of the Hugo ‘5s (except for 2015, ha ha)✓
I did. Oh, you Hugos…
New Readsolutions for 2016
I’m moving forward with basically the same goals:
- Read more women of SF
- Read the shortlist for the Kitschies, the BSFAs, the Clarkes, and/or the Tiptree Award
- Read more Spanish-language SF – My husband just told me “You are going to be gringa forever” after I asked him if he wanted more “red salsa.” So… I better get to it.
- Read the Hugo ‘6s (except for 2016, probably)– mostly done with this already
Adding some new goals:
- Complete the PKD Exegesis Support Group challenge at BookPunks
- Read more authors from backgrounds traditionally neglected and ignored by the commercial publishing industry.
…but here’s the big one:
- Read the Nebula ‘6s. Specifically ’66 and ’76
I don’t know the history here, but what the hell is going on with the ’66 and ’76 “short”lists? (It’s especially weird because the ’67 list has only 3 nominees.) Anyway, not only is this a list-lover’s dream, but it includes some really intriguing, classic SF that I have been attracted to for a long time.
32 total books! Whether through short fiction or novels, I’m not new to most of these authors. I’ve already read Dune, The Female Man, and, ugh, The Mote, don’t remind me. Authors I’m really looking forward to reading again: Silverberg, Bester, Wilhelm, Delany, Simak, Bishop, and Zimmer Bradley (I know about the thing, but Mists of Avalon is a big part of my SF foundation and one of the few lucky stumbleupons in my teenage years). Authors I’ve been wanting to try for ages: Calvino, Doctorow, MacLean, Lee, Davidson, McIntyre, and Disch.
I’m very excited about this list! Anyone who wants to is welcome to join me!
On the Event Horizon: January 2016
Before I begin to make progress on those goals, there are few books I keep thinking I’ll squeeze into my regular reading list, but newer releases keep winning my spare time. January will be devoted to those poor, neglected classics:
- Star Maker (1937) by Olaf Stapledon
- Solaris (1961) by Stanislaw Lem
- Gormenghast (1950) by Mervyn Peake
- Titus Alone (1959) by Mervyn Peake
It’s about time! you say. I know, I know, I know…
Plus, the first 75 pages of Exegesis along with Ubik (1969) for the PKD
book club support group I linked to above.
And, of course, I’ll be trying to work in some of the 2015 releases that catch my eye as Best of 2015 reading lists continue to roll out. But I’ll revisit that later… probably when Locus publicizes their Recommended Reading list.
My blog was hopping with a bunch of new posts in December, so I’m probably going to go quiet for a week or so. (I’ll still respond to comments.) See you next time with Star Maker! And happy new year!