The Best SF I Read This Year

I was asked for my year’s-best list today, which I normally postpone because, ahem, the year is not over and, ahem, I am still reading, in fact, I do my best reading during that between-holiday vacuum of the last two weeks of the year… although, let’s be honest, I’m not really reading lately, and I’m definitely not reading SF.

But that’s another matter, and I’m hoping it will straighten itself out in time and I’ll soon be back to reading all the Silverbergs (yay) and Heinleins (ugh) and everything in between.

I love year’s-best book lists, but nothing rankles me more than year’s-best lists being published too early, without even a nod to the poor, neglected books that get stuck with December publication dates. If I remember correctly, two of 2015’s most outstanding novels, Sleeping Embers of the Ordinary Mind and The Thing Itselfweren’t even released until well into December last year. It was sad.

That’s one good reason to always read a year behind: They made it on this list. Let’s give them top billing today.

Without further ado, here’s my year’s-best-(so-far…) list, because Holly’s friends and family just don’t know what to get her, and commercial media ain’t no help at all. Continue reading

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We barely put away the pumpkins and the post-election tissues and they’re already decorating for list-making season

Hey friends: How ya doin? How you holding up? Still breathing? British friends: Did we cause some retrauma over there? Some secondhand trauma? I’d give you all a nice one-armed side hug with a shoulder squeeze if I could.

I, thank the granfalloon, was busy most of last night, and by the time I got home it already wasn’t looking good. I had a minor moment of obsessive electoral count refreshing, but when Florida went all red, I went to bed. It was done. I’ve been through this before.

Some good news from this election: Continue reading

Recommended Recommended Reading Lists, plus Locus List Addendum

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.

SURPRISING OMISSIONS
Continue reading

Introducing the 2014 BSFA Best Novel Shortlist Review Series

BSFA-logo-with-Celebration-slice_v2_2An American WereReader in CyberLondon

Uck, horrible. No.

*****

Putting a temporary hold on my normal vintage review fare to share my thoughts on the rich and varied 2014 British Science Fiction Association shortlist. Over the next couple of weeks, as we count down to Eastercon and the BSFA ceremony in April, I’ll be posting a series of infobyte-style reviews of the novels on the 2014 BSFA shortlist.

Why infobyte reviews? Because eight books, the BSFA. Eight.

europeinautumntheracecuckoosongTheMoonKing

lagoonancillarySwordTheFirstFifteenLivesofHarryAugustwolves1

 (Now you know why I’ve been so quiet lately.)

Above is the order in which I will be posting these reviews, probably Monday through Thursday for the next two weeks.

Did I love them all? Nope! So my concerns about sounding too squee-happy were unfounded, thank goodness. BUT, there is something for everyone on this diverse list of undeniably progressive and intelligent speculative fiction. I strongly encourage all readers to sample something.

See you tomorrow, when we will begin with David Hutchinson’s Europe in Autumn!

Reading Regrets? The 2014 Locus Recommended Reading List

lagoontheracewolves1

Locus Online published their annual Recommended Reading List today.

As usual, I’ve only read a few on the list, but I think I chose well, seeing as there aren’t many on the Locus list that I regret skipping. If I had time to add some new selections, I might look into Park’s All Those Vanished Engines and Winter’s The Last Policeman series (the final installment, World of Trouble, is listed), and Harkaway’s Tigerman keeps popping up enough to intrigue me, although the blurb doesn’t really appeal to me.

As for fantasy, I regret not reading Higgins’ Wolfhound Century series (the sequel, Truth and Fear, is listed), Paul’s The Bees seems mighty interesting, and I’ve read good things about Rickert’s The Memory Garden.

And Bête and A Man Lies Dreaming are not yet available in the U.S. Grrr.

My 2014 reading rundown has been updated to include my final thoughts on Okorafor’s Lagoon, which I ended up really enjoying. I will also add my thoughts on my current read, Claire North’s The First Fifteen Lives of Harry August, which is surprisingly absent from the Locus list.

We should be getting the shortlists for The Kitschies and the British Science Fiction Association awards any day now…

 

 

Of the 2014 Books I Read, I Read, I Read…

People have already started posting their nominations for the BSFAs. I’m not nominating, but I’ve been working on this 2014 blurb monster for a while now, so here it goes…

Around mid-December, we were all ambushed by a bunch of “Best of 2014” lists. I was mostly taken by the Coode Street Podcast year-end special, Adam Roberts’ Best Science Fiction of 2014 list in (shudder) The Guardian, and a few author blogs here and there. So I caught the buzzies again.

Here’s my summary of books everybody is talking about and where I think they belong in the grand scheme of things:

The Underbuzzed Continue reading

My Recommendations for Future Gollancz SF Masterworks Selections

sfmasterworks wwendThanks to Joachim at Science Fiction and Other Suspect Ruminations for asking me to participate in his Gollancz SF Masterworks recommendation efforts!

I’ve spent the past couple of years reading more vintage SF, with an especially concentrated effort since last December. Dabbling with a few awards lists here and there, I’ve had more consistent pleasure sampling from the Gollancz SF Masterworks list, so I was thrilled when Joachim asked me to post some of my own recommendations for future SF Masterworks. Some of my suggestions might be obvious if you follow this blog regularly, but I surprised myself a few times!

I am of two minds when it comes to SF Masterworks potential, so I’ve divided my selections into two categories. For both categories, I made up the following criteria: Continue reading