Sunday, December 31, 2017

Books I Read in 2017

This year represents a step back for me on several fronts. I read less this year than last, my fare was less diverse, my reading more concentrated on the present decade than ever before, and I still can't seem to reach gender parity. All in all, I read 123 books this year, down from 135 last year. 150 remains an elusive dream.

You'll also note that several of the books I read this year were novella or even novelette length. I included them on the list, after some debate, rationalizing that some of the larger books I read this year could count as three or four regular-length novels, so hopefully it all evens out.

I started a new job this year, and I'm talking half-hour lunches instead of the one hour I indulged at ATCO. That's cut back on my reading time quite a bit, as did our road trip in August and some stress issues I don't want to write about here. Excuses, excuses, yes.

On to the books themselves. There's a lot of Fred Saberhagen on this list, as I had intended to read all of the Berserker books this year; I didn't make it.

There's also a bunch of Lois McMaster Bujold, because I think her stuff is great. I must say, though, that the Penric and Desdemona series isn't quite grabbing me; I don't feel like there's much jeopardy to be had. I realize that things tend to turn out fine in the end in most of her work, but even so, the stakes seem pretty low here.

I read and enjoyed two books by people I know this year: Kevin Taft's latest political book, Oil's Deep State, and my colleague Nerys Parry's novel Man & other Natural Disasters. Kevin's book is thoroughly researched, well-argued, and important reading for anyone who cares about the corruptive influence on natural resource economies on democracy; Nerys' novel is haunting, evocative, bizarre (in a good way), and has a climax I really did not see coming.

I started reading Dashiell Hammett this year, and while I enjoyed Red Harvest and The Dain Curse, The Maltese Falcon really blew me away, and not just because of nostalgia for the film(s). Sam Spade is a once-in-a-century character, and he's embroiled in one of the truly great detective stories in this one. A real treat.

Jo Walton's trilogy of novels about Greek gods who decide to try and create Plato's ideal community is ambitious, tragic and funny, but didn't move me as much as her earlier, standalone works.

Film and television tie-in novels often aren't worth commentary, but I thoroughly appreciated Mark Frost's two Twin Peaks novels this year, particularly the latter, which provides frustrated viewers of season three with, if not closure, at least some interesting material to chew on. Most of the Star Trek tie-ins I read this year were, as usual, mundane, but David Mack's Section 31: Control, a Julian Bashir story that ties up a long-running subplot from the television series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, was suspenseful and satisfying. And the comedic DS9 novellas from Paula Block and Terry Erdmann are good-natured and fun.

Connie Willis is always amazing, and I loved her latest, Crosstalk, a novel of romantic telepathy and overbearing relatives.

Here's each month's tally of books I read in 2017, followed by a genre, gender, and decade breakdown:

January: 9
Hag-Seed (Margaret Atwood, 2016)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Sacraments of Fire (David R. George III, 2015)
A Man Lies Dreaming (Lavie Tidhar, 2014)
Under the Moons of Mars (John Joseph Adams, 2012)
The Long Tomorrow (Leigh Brackett, 1955)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Ascendance (David R. George III, 2016)
The Evolution of the Iron Giant (Unknown, 2016)
Last Year (Robert Charles Wilson, 2016)
Red Harvest (Dashiell Hammett, 1929)

February: 10
The Feast of St. Dionysus (Robert Silverberg, 1975)
The Dain Curse (Dashiell Hammett, 1929)
The Maltese Falcon (Dashiell Hammett, 1930)
The Twilight Zone Companion, Second Edition (Marc Scott Zicree, 1989)
My Brother’s Keeper (Charles Sheffield, 1982)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Force and Motion (Jeffrey Lang, 2016)
Art of Atari (Tim Lapetino, 2016)
Star Trek Titan: Sight Unseen (James Swallow, 2015)
No Truce with Kings (Poul Anderson, 1963)
Ship of Shadows (Fritz Leiber, 1969)

March: 13
There Will be Time (Poul Anderson, 1972)
Anywhere but Here (Jerry Oltion, 2005)
Ideas of the Year: A Celebration (Unknown, 2016)
The Embarrassments of Science Fiction (Thomas M. Disch, 1975)
Big Ideas and Dead-End Thrills: The Further Embarrassments of Science Fiction (Thomas M. Disch, 1992)
The Art of Bombshells (Marguerite Bennett, 2016)
Now Write! Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (Laurie Lamson, editor, 2014)
The Deluxe Transitive Vampire (Karen Elizabeth Gordon, 1993)
The New Well-Tempered Sentence (Karen Elizabeth Gordon, 1993)
International Financial Reporting Standards (Unknown, 2011)
MD&A: Guidance on Preparation (Unknown, 2009)
Sin and Syntax: How to Craft Wicked Prose (Constance Hale, 2013)
The Secret History of Twin Peaks (Mark Frost, 2016)

April: 18
Crosstalk (Connie Willis, 2017)
Out of the Loud Hound of Darkness (Karen Elizabeth Gordon, 1998)
Torn Wings and Faux Pas (Karen Elizabeth Gordon, 1997)
Star Trek Prey Book 1: Hell’s Heart (John Jackson Miller, 2016)
The Lady Astronaut of Mars (Mary Robinette Kowal, 2013)
Nine Lives (Ursula K. LeGuin, 1969)
The New Atlantis (Ursula K. LeGuin, 1975)
Bloodchild (Octavia E. Butler, 1985)
The Faery Handbag (Kelly Link, 2005)
Sooner or Later Everything Falls Into the Sea (Sarah Pinkser, 2016)
The Orangery (Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam, 2016)
You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay (Alyssa Wong, 2016)
The Art of Space Travel (Nina Allan, 2016)
Touring with the Alien (Carolyn Ives Gilman, 2016)
Silent Weapons for Quiet Wars (Unknown, 1979)
The Disheveled Dictionary (Karen Elizabeth Gordon, 1997)
The Collapsing Empire (John Scalzi, 2017)
Star Trek Prey Book 2: The Jackal’s Trick (John Jackson Miller, 2016)

May: 11
Blood Grains Speak Through Memories (Jason Sanford, 2016)
Breakout: How Atari 8-Bit Computers Defined a Generation (Jamie Lendino, 2017)
Gwendy’s Button Box (Stephen King and Richard Chizmar, 2017)
Old Mars (George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois, 2013)
The Last Man (Mary Shelley, 1826)
Crooked (Austin Grossman, 2015)
The Tomato Thief (Ursula Vernon, 2016)
In Sea-Salt Tears (Seanan McGuire, 2013)
It Takes Two (Nicola Griffith, 2009)
Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast (Eugie Foster, 2009)
Eros, Philia, Agape (Rachel Swirsky, 2009)

June: 10
The Monster (Stephen Crane, 1898)
The Skylark of Space (E.E. “Doc” Smith, 1928)
Skylark Three (E.E. “Doc” Smith, 1930)
Subspace Explorers (E.E. “Doc” Smith, 1965)
Berserker (Fred Saberhagen, 1967)
Brother Assassin (Fred Saberhagen, 1969)
Berserker’s Planet (Fred Saberhagen, 1975)
Flower Fables (Louisa May Alcott, 1855)
Hospital Sketches (Louisa May Alcott, 1863)
Berserker Man (Fred Saberhagen, 1979)

July: 10
Star Trek Prey Book 3: Hall of Heroes (John Jackson Miller, 2016)
The Ultimate Enemy (Fred Saberhagen, 1979)
The Berserker Wars (Fred Saberhagen, 1981)
The Sagan Diaries (John Scalzi, 2006)
Judge Sn Goes Golfing (John Scalzi, 2009)
How I Proposed to My Wife: An Alien Sex Story (John Scalzi, 2007)
Star Trek Section 31: Control (David Mack, 2017)
Star Trek The Next Generation: Headlong Flight (Dayton Ward, 2017)
Man & other Natural Disasters (Nerys Parry, 2011)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: The Long Mirage (David R. George III, 2017)

August: 8
The Berserker Throne (Fred Saberhagen, 1985)
Berserker: Blue Death (Fred Saberhagen, 1985)
Mash Up (Gardner Dozois, editor, 2016)
Star Trek: The Face of the Unknown (Christopher L. Bennett, 2017)
We Who Are About To… (Joanna Russ, 1976)
The Berserker Attack (Fred Saberhagen, 1987)
Berserker Lies (Fred Saberhagen, 1990)
Hidden Universe Travel Guide: Klingon (Dayton Ward, 2017)

September: 10
This Shared Dream (Kathleen Ann Goonan, 2011)
Metropolis (Thea von Harbou, 1925)
Clash of the Geeks (John Scalzi, editor, 2010)
Berserkers: The Beginning (Fred Saberhagen, 1998)
Hearts in Suspension (Stephen King, 2016)
Mighty Protectors (Jeff Dee, 2017)
The Female Man (Joanna Russ, 1975)
The Just City (Jo Walton 2014)
The Falling Woman (Pat Murphy, 1986)
Children of the Dust (Catherine Asaro, 2017)

October: 6
The Philosopher Kings (Jo Walton, 2015)
Oil’s Deep State (Kevin Taft, 2017)
Necessity (Jo Walton, 2016)
Star Trek The Next Generation: Hearts and Minds (Dayton Ward, 2017)
Star Trek Deep Space Nine: Enigma Tales (Una McCormack, 2017)
Twin Peaks: The Final Dossier (Mark Frost, 2017)

November: 3
The Memoirs of Wild Bill Hickok (Richard Matheson, 1996)
Career of Evil (J.K. Rowling writing as Robert Galbraith, 2015)
Shield of the Gods (Christopher L. Bennett, 2017)

December: 15
The Diviners (Margaret Laurence, 1974)
Sleeping Beauties (Stephen King and Owen King, 2017)
Proto Zoa (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2011)
Penric’s Demon (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2015)
Penric and the Shaman (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2016)
Penric’s Fox (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2017)
Penric’s Mission (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2017)
Mira’s Last Dance (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2017)
The Prisoner of Limnos (Lois McMater Bujold, 2017)
Rules of Accusation (Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, 2016)
Lust’s Latinum Lost (and Found) (Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, 2014)
I, the Constable (Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, 2017)
Hogwarts: An Incomplete and Unreliable Guide (J.K. Rowling, 2016)
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Heroism, Hardship, and Dangerous Hobbies (J.K. Rowling, 2016)
Short Stories from Hogwarts of Power, Politics, and Pesky Poltergeists (J.K. Rowling, 2016)

Nonfiction: 20
Fiction: 103

Genre
Fantasy: 23
Mainstream: 14
Science Fiction: 48
Star Trek: 18

Top Authors
Fred Saberhagen: 11

Lois McMaster Bujold: 7

Karen Elizabeth Gordon: 5
John Scalzi: 5
Unknown: 5

J.K. Rowling: 4

Paula M. Block: 3
Terry J. Erdmann: 3
David R. George III: 3
Dashiell Hammett: 3
Stephen King: 3
John Jackson Miller: 3
E.E. “Doc” Smith: 3
Dayton Ward: 3
Jo Walton: 3

Louisa May Alcott: 2
Poul Anderson: 2
Christopher L. Bennett: 2
Thomas M. Disch: 2
Gardner Dozois: 2
Mark Frost: 2
Ursula K. LeGuin: 2
Joanna Russ: 2

Books by Women: 59
Books by Men: 64

Books by Decade
1820s: 1
1850s: 1
1860s: 1
1890s: 1
1920s: 4
1930s: 2
1950s: 1
1960s: 6
1970s: 11
1980s: 8
1990s: 9
2000s: 9
2010s: 69

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

E-Waterloo

A couple of weeks ago, I finally gave in an ordered an e-reader, which arrived on the Friday before Christmas. I resisted for many reasons, some of which still bother me:


  • You don't own e-books, you licence them, which means you can't resell, loan, or give them away without breaking the terms of your licence
  • They don't smell right (or at all)
  • You can't fill shelves with them
  • The reading experience is sterile
  • How much electronic waste are millions of generations of e-readers going to generate over the next couple of decades? 
I finally gave in because something I feared eventually happened: some of my favourite authors are no longer publishing traditional books in the physical world. Unless I resort to piracy, I can't read their stuff. 

It was Lois McMaster Bujold who broke me. She's written several new books set in the same fantasy universe as The Curse of Chalion, The Hallowed Hunt, etc., and you can't buy print copies because they don't exist. 

Hence my surrender. To ease the pain, Sylvia bought me a very generous Amazon gift card, which I've used to fill my new Kindle with electronic books. 

I knew it would happen eventually; I just didn't expect it to be this soon. E-books, how does it feel now you've won the war? 

Friday, December 22, 2017

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Monday, December 18, 2017

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday, December 10, 2017

Friday, December 08, 2017

Wednesday, December 06, 2017