On Monday, the long-awaited Locus Recommended Reading list hit the digital cosmos, and everyone gathered ’round to see if their favorites made the cut. Locus coverage often feels a little stale to me, but the publication of this list is exciting because it essentially kicks off SF book award season. I have learned to anticipate its release during my short history of SF book award voyeurism.
The 2015 Locus List is pleasing in some ways, perplexing in others, but short-reaching and predictable in almost all the ways. It’s a good place to start, but the Locus list is the beaten path, and not the place to go for discovery if you’ve been paying attention to buzz all year. Along with great reading recommendation responsibility comes great book lover criticism– that’s how the saying goes, right?– so I’m sure there’s been plenty of “but what about–?” omission nods from fellow readers. I saw a few surprising omissions I’d like to acknowledge, as well as some other recommended reading lists that venture away from the generic and routine.
Sleeping Embers of an Ordinary Mind by Anne Charnock
I just read this! I suspect Charnock was overlooked because of the late December publication date of this novel, which was probably AFTER the submission deadline for the Locus list editors. I’ll cover it later, but here’s a great review by Jesse at Speculiction.
A Planet for Rent by Yoss
Yes, just Yoss. Popped up on my radar thanks to The Nation, which has a wonderful Books & Arts section where I occasionally spot an SF gem. (It was once the home of Vonnegut and Doctorow, you know.) I’ve toyed with the idea of reading it in Spanish, but given the popularity of non-AmeriBrit fiction in the Hugos last year, I thought this translated collection by a Cuban SF writer would catch fire.
All That Outer Space Allows (Apollo Quartet 4) by Ian Sales
Ian’s work at SF Mistressworks gets Related Work attention, but I’m also interested in this set of alt-history astronaut novellas he wrote, the first of which won the BSFA Award.
Dark Star by Oliver Langmead
It’s also surprising that this sci-fi-noir-novella-poem that pleased both Bookpunks and Speculiction didn’t get a mention. It’ll be queuing up on my 2015-to-read list soon.
The Apex Book of World SF 4, edited by Lavie Tidhar and Mahvesh Murad
I might dive into this series this summer. Again, given the popularity of world SF in the Hugos this year, as well as Murad’s rise in recognition due to her new podcast, Midnight in Karachi, and the popularity of contributors like Zen Cho, Usman T. Malik, and Thomas Olde Heuvelt, the absence of this anthology on a recommended reading list is conspicuous.
The Harlequin by Nina Allan
My review here. It’s unfortunate this already award-winning, psychologically chilling tale about a war medic’s experience returning home after WWI didn’t get a mention. I’m not sure where this novella belongs in the land of genre, but maybe the Locus just ain’t that sophisticated.
… and I guess nobody at Locus likes Salman Rushdie. Eh, he’ll be fine.
BEST OF THE BEST OF LISTS
RECOMMENDED RECOMMENDED READING LISTS
I’ve been offline a lot this year, but I’ve tried to keep track of interesting reading lists as they come, but sometimes I get distracted and forget to take notes. This list of lists can’t possibly include everything out there, and I’m sure I forgot to record a few lists I really liked, but here are some lists that grabbed my attention for their varied and off-the-beaten-track reading styles:
Mike Harrison’s “this is late but i’m not apologizing” at the M John Harrison Blog
“Jeff VanderMeer’s Epic List of Favorite Books Read in 2015” at Electric Lit
Anton’s “Behold My 2015 Book List” at GenreBending
“Best Books of 2015” at Unsung Stories, which includes almost no 2015 stories, haha, but psst, look at that Yuri Herrera novel. I want to read that Yuri Herrera novel real bad…
And finally, to bang on the Speculiction drum again, Jesse did a huge round up of 2015 reading (and blamed it on me). I couldn’t keep up this year, but, you know, I’ve got so much amazing NivPourn to read…
SO WHAT’S NEXT?