2015 Year in Review

The 1440 books project began with a projection of how many books I had left to read in my life.  This was based on an average of about 44 books a year.  This last year put a real dent in that plan, as my reading rate plunged to 25 books.  Still, I’ll stay optimistic and hope that somewhere in the future, I’ll make up for lost ground.

In the interim, I thought it would be a good time to look back at what I read in 2015.  I posted about a number of them, but there are a few that I didn’t post about that are worth mentioning–and worth your time.

The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi is the best cyberpunk novel I’ve read in years.  Just replace “cyber” with “water.”  Set in the southwestern United States in a depressingly-near future, The Water Knife tells about savage fights for water rights between barely-united states.  Full of politics, technology, and predictions of our bleak future, at its heart, the novel is a rocket-paced thriller with well-crafted characters that builds to a satisyfing conclusion.

In his blurb for The Builders by Daniel Polansky, Myke Cole says “The Builders is Redwall meets Unforgiven, combining the endearing wit of Disney’s Robin Hood with all the grit and violence of a spaghetti western.”  If that appeals, just buy it now.  Trust me.  If it doesn’t, then you’re going to miss out on a gem.  I’d call this novella delightful if it weren’t so dark, but one can’t help but enjoy language like this:

The two old friends stood silently in the fading light, though you wouldn’t have known it to look at them.  That they were old friends, I mean.  Anyone could see it was getting dark.

The Shadow of the Ship by Robert Wilfred Franson and Lords of the Starship by Mark S. Geston were both “forgotten” classics of SF that I learned about at a conference many years ago and finally got around to reading.  Both delivered concepts and stories that would never sell today, but that I found deeply engaging.  Franson’s vision of subspace travel on roads of color and the quest for a ship that can go “off road” is a psychedelic odyssey in the vein of M. John Harrison’s science fiction.  Geston’s Lords of the Starship is less a novel than a work of imaginary history that rolls along nicely before suddenly, surprisingly, becoming a totally different novel at the end–in a way not everyone will appreciate, but I enjoyed.

Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin is exactly what it claims to be, but Goodwin makes vast swathes of time go down easily with evocative prose:

As rough country people whose women went unveiled, they preferred holy men who knew how to keep up to the supple intellectuals of the old cities. Tramps and wanderers they liked, fierce talk and wild habits; madmen with their plausible but unexpected utterances, whose ravings were the scorching words of God, direct and necessarily hard to understand.

For the curious, the full list of books for 2015 is:

  1. Batman: Year 100 by Paul Pope
  2. Faded Steel Heat (Garrett P.I., #9) by Glen Cook
  3. World War One: A Narrative by Philip Warner
  4. In the Light of What We Know by Zia Haider Rahman
  5. Wildwood (Wildwood Chronicles, #1) by Colin Meloy
  6. The Golden Age Hawkman Archives, Vol. 1 by Gardner F. Fox
  7. The Whispering Swarm (Sanctuary of the White Friars, #1) by Michael Moorcock
  8. Nation by Terry Pratchett
  9. A Red Herring Without Mustard (Flavia de Luce, #3) by Alan Bradley
  10. Angry Lead Skies (Garrett P.I., #10) by Glen Cook
  11. The End of the Story by Clark Ashton Smith
  12. Climbers by M. John Harrison
  13. The Shadow of the Ship by Robert Wilfred Franson
  14. Dune by Frank Herbert
  15. Speaking from Among the Bones (Flavia de Luce, #5 ) by Alan Bradley
  16. Isle of the Dead by Roger Zelazny
  17. Night of Knives (Malazan Empire, #1) by Ian C. Esslemont
  18. The Getaway Man by Andrew Vachss
  19. Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance
  20. Ramayana: Divine Loophole by Sanjay Patel
  21. Lords of the Horizons: A History of the Ottoman Empire by Jason Goodwin
  22. Lords Of The Starship by Mark S. Geston
  23. The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
  24. The Builders by Daniel Polansky
  25. Moving Target: A Princess Leia Adventure by Cecil Castellucci

Look forward to new books in 2016 and, hopefully, a few updates on my own writing.

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