Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Incredibly Preliminary 2015 Hugo Award Nomination Ballot

Wednesday, January 21, 2015 8
After taking a year or so off, I am going to participate in the Hugo Awards again this year.  So, this post is the first of several which will allow me to publicly work through my thoughts on who I would like to nominate for a Hugo Award.  Unlike previous years I have nominated, I have been much less involved in the short fiction scene, so I'm going to actively seek out recommendations for the short fiction categories.

This is a start and is currently in no particular order.  My next post on this will start to narrow.  This is just what I am thinking about right now before doing more serious work to narrow down the categories.

City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley
The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie
Station Eleven, by Emily St. John Mandel
Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer
The Eternal Sky Trilogy, by Elizabeth Bear

Graphic Story
Saga, Vol 3
Locke and Key: Alpha and Omega

Related Work
Rocket Talk Podcast

Dramatic Presentation, Long Form
Guardians of the Galaxy
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Mockingjay: Part I
X-Men: Days of Future Past

A Dribble of Ink
Lady Business

SF Mistressworks
Chaos Horizon
The Wertzone

Fan Writer

Justin Landon
Abigail Nussbaum
Brandon Kempner
Adam Whitehead

Categories I just have no idea about yet but will do research to feel good about.
Novella / Novelette / Short Story
Dramatic Presentation, Short Form

Professional Artist (there is a great Hugo Eligible Artists blog to help me out)
Editor: Short Form / Long Form
Fan Artist
John W. Campbell Award

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Books Read: December 2014

Thursday, January 15, 2015 0
My intention was to get this post up immediately following all of my Year's Best and Looking Forward posts, which led to a good run of posting at very end of December and four posts in the first six days of January. That final post was scheduled for and posted on January 6. 

The reason we didn't get this post up on January 7 was that on January 6, my very pregnant wife's water broke in the wee hours of the morning and we spent the rest of the day in the hospital waiting for the arrival of our son.  Our first child.  Andrew decided to make an appearance at 11:49 pm.  He's doing great, and so is my wife.  But what this has meant in terms of posting is that we spent a couple of days in the hospital and then have been working on figuring this parenting thing out for the last 8 days.  By no means do we have it figured out, but I have some spare time while the rest of my family is napping. You could argue that I should be, too. 

There are no reviews to link to.

1. Grace's Guide, by Grace Helbig
2. Night Film, by Marisha Pessl
3. Prince of Dogs, by Kate Elliott
4. Hawk, by Steven Brust
5. Revival, by Stephen King
6. Allana, by Tamora Pierce
7. The Art of Asking, by Amanda Palmer
8. The Last Man, by Vince Flynn
9. Unexpected Stories, by Octavia Butler
10. The Deaths of Tao, by Wesley Chu
11. The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances, by Matthew Inman
12. Steles of the Sky, by Elizabeth Bear

Best Book of the Month: Based on how I listed stuff on my list of the Top Nine Books Published in 2014, I have to go with Hawk. This was Steven Brust in full form and completely delivering a top notch Vlad Taltos novel. 

Disappointment of the Month: You generally know what you're getting with a Vince Flynn novel (action, a touch of jingoism, and a lot of ass kicking of terrorists and those who obstruct the safety of the United States).  You get an angry Mitch Rapp, which has generally been a solid if flawed ride.  The Last Man was Vince Flynn's last published novel and it was written while he was battling the cancer which ultimately took his life. Unfortunately, it wasn't up to the standard of the rest of the series.  I have some thoughts on that, but in the end, it doesn't matter. A husband and a father lost his life, and I feel so much more for his family than I care about how this particular novel turned out. I've enjoyed Flynn's work in the past and we have a couple of his books up at the cabin if we need to quickly dive in to something.  As a side note, it was recently announced that Kyle Mills will be continuing the Mitch Rapp series. The Survivor (a book Flynn started) may come out in 2015.

Discovery of the Month: I have mentioned this elsewhere, but I really wish I had discovered Tamora Pierce when I was twelve. I liked it at 35, I would have loved it then and would have devoured everything Pierce wrote back then. Allana was fantastic.

Worth Noting: With Steles of the Sky, Elizabeth Bear concluded her superb Eternal Sky trilogy, a "silk road" fantasy with far more eastern than western influences. It is a beautiful and brutal novel and series, and it should be held up as one of the top fantasy series in recent years.

Gender Breakdown: Of the twelve books I read last month, seven were written by women. This marks two consecutive months which I have read more books written by women than by men.  This brings my total to 62/135 for the year (45.92%), which is the greatest percentage of female authored books I have ever read in a given year as long as I have been keeping track of this sort of thing.  So, that's good, right?  It's a start.  I have a different and longer post in mind to talk about my year in reading as it relates to gender (a sequel to this one), so I won't bury it all here, but this is nothing more than a start.

Previous Months

Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Less New Books I'm Looking Forward to Maybe Reading in 2015

Tuesday, January 06, 2015 0

Inspired by Kate Elliott, I would like to consider some books published in the last several years which I would like to read. I'm putting this together with a quick scan of the Locus Forthcoming Lists.  Some of these will be later books in a series where I haven't read all of the earlier books, but they do hold some interest for me.

I am also quite certain that there are many more books than these for any given year that I'd like to read, these are just the ones jumping out at me today.

MaddAddam, by Margaret Atwood
American Elsewhere, by Robert Jackson Bennett
The Daylight War, by Peter V. Brett
The Incrementalists, by Steven Brust and Skyler White
The Bitter Kingdom, by Rae Carson
Abaddon's Gate, by James S. A. Corey
Blood of Dragons, by Robin Hobb
Without a Summer, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The Best of All Possible Worlds, by Karen Lord
Republic of Thieves, by Scott Lynch
Limits of Power, by Elizabeth Moon
A Matter of Blood, by Sarah Pinborough
Fiddlehead, by Cherie Priest
Necessary Evil, by Ian Tregillis

Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed
Iron Hearted Violet, by Kelly Barnhill
Shoggoths in Bloom, by Elizabeth Bear
Rapture, by Kameron Hurley
The Shadowed Sun, by N. K. Jemisin
Crucible of Gold, by Naomi Novik
The Serpent Sea, by Martha Wells
Worldsoul, by Liz Williams

Cold Fire, by Kate Elliott
Raising Stony Mayhall, by Daryl Gregory
Infidel, by Kameron Hurley
The Diviner, by Melanie Rawn
The Wise Man's Fear, by Patrick Rothfuss
City of Ruins, by Kristine Kathryn Rusch

And also some random books from earlier years but which are on my "read sooner rather than later list":
Stretto, by L. Timmel Duchamp
The Burning Stone, by Kate Elliott
The Temporal Void, by Peter F. Hamilton
Fool's Fate, by Robin Hobb
Darkspell, by Katherine Kerr
The Speed of Dark, by Elizabeth Moon
Surrender None, by Elizabeth Moon
Maelstrom, by Peter Watts
The Killing of Worlds, by Scott Westerfeld

Monday, January 05, 2015

14 Books I Want to Read to in 2015

Monday, January 05, 2015 0
So, I gave a quick look through the LocusForthcoming List, a quick search on stuff I have saved on Goodreads, and voila! We have list!  
As such, this isn’t exhaustive or authoritative.  This is just a list of 14 books, in presumed publication order, that I’d like to read this year.  I’m sure I missed something awesome.  Maybe many somethings awesome.

1. The Just City, by Jo Walton (Jan): I haven’t read much from Jo Walton, but after reading Among Others a couple years back, I am sold.  Doesn’t matter what this is, I want to read it.  
2. Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear (Feb): New Elizabeth Bear. Does it matter what this is about?  It does not.

3. Wastelands II: More Stories of the Apocalypse, by John Joseph Adams (editor) (Feb): I adored JJA's previous Wastelands anthology (my review), so what can possibly be wrong with Wastelands II?  Nothing, I tell you, nothing.

4. Persona, by Genevieve Valentine (Mar): Political thriller with celebrity culture. Also, written by Genevieve Valentine.  

5. The Rebirths of Tao, by Wesley Chu (Apr): Oh, Tao, how I enjoy reading about thee.  

6. The Black Wolves, by Kate Elliott (Jul): Now that I'm digging into her Crown of Stars series, I want to read all of the Kate Elliott 

7. The End of All Things, by John Scalzi (Aug): New Scalzi, set in the Old Man's War universe.  It's another linked story collection like The Human Division.  Good stuff.

8. Radiance, by Catherynne M. Valente (Aug): I'm really not sure what this means: "Radiance is a decopunk pulp SF alt-history space opera mystery set in a Hollywood—and solar system—very different from our own"
9. Fool's Quest, by Robin Hobb (Aug): I expect to finish the Tawny Man trilogy in the next couple of months, but since I know that I would then want to read the Rain Wilds books before starting this, I don't expect to hit this series until 2016 at best.  But, because I continue to be impressed by each book I read of Hobb's, this should be acknowleded.

10. The Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch (Sep): Gentleman Bastards Book 4.  I still need to read Republic of Thieves, but this is must read fantasy for me.

11. The Empire Ascendent, by Kameron Hurley (Oct): The Mirror Empire was one of my top books of 2014.  I expect The Empire Ascendent to be one of my top books of 2015.

12. Ancillary Mercy, by Ann Leckie (Oct): If you like science fiction and you're not reading Ann Leckie's novels, you're doing it wrong.

13: Mistborn: Shadows of Self, by Brandon Sanderson (Oct): More Mistborn, following up on Alloy of Law.

14. The Winds of Winter, by George R. R. Martin (???): I'm not sure I really expect this to come out in 2015, but it's the annual GRRM watch, so let's keep on hoping.

Friday, January 02, 2015

Final Catch Up with the 2014 To-Read List

Friday, January 02, 2015 1
Back in February I posted a list of 19 books I wanted to read this year, the list ordered by presumed publication date.  I ran an update to that post back in September, and now that we're into 2015 it is time to run the final update.

I have read 12 of the 19 books from the list.  This probably one of the better results from making a to-read list at the beginning of the year.  Things happen, publication dates get pushed back. Feist's King of Ashes and Lynch's Thorn of Emberlain were pushed to 2015, so I'm really at 12 of 17 books published in 2014.

If I'm being completely honest, I haven't read Symbiont yet, but I have a copy from the library and I'm going to start it this weekend.  So, it's a preemptive count.  On the other hand, I own a copy of One-Eyed Jack, but I know I'm not going to start it in the next couple of days, so I'm not counting it as read.  I'm nothing if not inconsistent. 

There is no reason why I didn't get to One-Eyed Jack or My Real Children.

I'm behind on the Glamourist Histories series from Mary Robinette Kowal, so I was never getting to Valour and Vanity this year.  Same with Cibola Burn, though I will be getting Abaddon's Gate from the library in the next week, so I'll have a chance to catch up to the series before Nemesis Games is published.

Finally, Going Gray was self published by Karen Traviss and since my book buying budget is limited these days, I don't expect to be able to purchase it anytime soon and my library may not get it.  There is a listing for the book, but I think it is back to when Going Gray had a traditional publisher and I'm not convinced the library will pull the trigger on it as a self published novel.  So, one day.  I hope Traviss has enormous success with the book, though.  Her Wess'har Wars were fantastic, and she has easily been my favorite Star Wars author when she was writing in that universe.  I haven't read her Gears of War or Halo novels, but that's entirely due to lack of universe familiarity.

12 out of 19, with two books not published.  That's not bad.

1. Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer (Feb)
2. Locke and Key: Alpha and Omega, by Joe Hill (Feb)
3. Words of Radiance, by Brandon Sanderson (Mar)
4. Steles of the Sky, by Elizabeth Bear (Apr)
5. Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal (Apr)
6. King of Ashes, by Raymond E. Feist (May)
7. Cyador’s Heirs, by L. E. Modesitt, Jr (May)
8. Defenders, by Will McIntosh (May)
9. My Real Children, by Jo Walton (May)
10. Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey (Jun)
11. Mr. Mercedes, by Stephen King (Jun)
12. The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, by Genevieve Valentine (Jun)
13. One-Eyed Jack, by Elizabeth Bear (Aug)
14. Lock In, by John Scalzi (Aug)
15. Hawk, by Steven Brust (Sep)
16. Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest (Sep)
17. The Thorn of Emberlain, by Scott Lynch (Nov)
18. Symbiont, by Mira Grant (Nov)
19. Going Gray, by Karen Traviss (Dec)

Thursday, January 01, 2015

The Missing: 2014

Thursday, January 01, 2015 0
I posted a similar list in the past, and I think it is worth posting a number of the books I didn't read in 2011.  Now, the actual list is absurdly long, but this is a decent representation of books I would have liked to have read and, for various reasons, never did.

For the sake of keeping this list manageable, I limited it to genre books.  If I browsed through listings of LitFic and Nonfiction, well, the list would be absurd. Even strictly genre, I could probably grow triple this list with ease.  Let's just say that reading 135 books in a year doesn't get you as far as you might think, even if all you read were books published that year (which I didn't)

Half a King, by Joe Abercrombie
The Widow's House, by Daniel Abraham
Dead Man's Hand, by John Joseph Adams
One-Eyed Jack, by Elizabeth Bear
City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett
Cibola Burn, by James S. A. Corey
Afterparty, by Daryl Gregory
We Are All Completely Fine, by Daryl Gregory
The Magician's Land, by Lev Grossman
Fool's Assassin, by Robin Hobb
Valour and Vanity, by Mary Robinette Kowal
The King's Deryni, by Katherine Kurtz
Prince of Fools, by Mark Lawrence
The Three-Body Problem, by Cixin Liu
The Galaxy Game, by Karen Lord
The Three, by Sarah Lotz
Station Eleven, by Emily Mandel
Crown of Renewal, by Elizabeth Moon
The Adjacent, by Christopher Priest
The Causal Angel, by Hannu Rajaniemi
On the Steel Breeze, by Alastair Reynolds
The Memory Garden, by Mary Rickert
The Emperor's Blades, by Brian Staveley
Fish Tales, by Sheri Tepper
My Real Children, by Jo Walton
Echopraxia, by Peter Watts
The Martian, by Andy Weir

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

The Nine Best Reads of 2014

Wednesday, December 31, 2014 0
As I've mentioned elsewhere: Some people do a top ten list, others do a top eleven, yet others may only do five. My list is 9 books long. Why? Partly to be a little bit different and partly because I want the tenth spot on my list to be reserved for that really great book which I simply did not get the chance to read during 2014. That really great book may also be something I have only heard whispers about and I may not discover for several more years. Whatever that tenth great book is, I’m holding a spot for it on my list.

Unlike my list of the top books published in 2014, this list is for the top books I read in 2014, no matter when the book was published. I'm also going to cheat a little and where a book overlaps with the previous list, I'm going to use most of the same text.  Because I'm lazy.

1. Ancillary Justice / Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie: Ancillary Justice won pretty much all the awards it could possibly win, and after all that, still managed to live up to the massive hype it inspired.  Ancillary Sword was a sequel that couldn't possibly live up to the first novel, yet, it did.  This is top notch science fiction and was, collectively, my favorite reads of 2014.  Bring on Ancillary Mercy!!

2. The Eternal Sky, by Elizabeth Bear: The Eternal Sky is comprised of Range of Ghosts, The Shattered Pillars, and Steles of the Sky.  It is epic fantasy that we don't see every day, with a very middle eastern and eastern flavor, but don't read this because it's good for you.  Read this because it's just friggin good.  Elizabeth Bear doesn't write bad books, and this is Bear at the top of her game. 

3. The Golem and the Jinni, by Helene Wecker: A beautiful and moving debut in turn of the century New York City, where the city feels almost as much of a character as the immigrant experience and the varied titular creatures also attempting to find both themselves and their way in a world very foreign from what they knew.  I'm not sure I can adequately capture just how good this book is.  It demands to be read.

4. Annihilation, by Jeff VanderMeer: The Southern Reach trilogy as a whole is strong, but Annihilation's introduction to Area X was what unnerved me the most and set the table for a meal I simply had to come back for. 

5. The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, by Rebecca Skloot: The powerful and moving true story of a woman whose genetic information and her cells taken without her understanding did the world a lot of good, but Skloot explores the intersection of scientific advancement and personal consent by tracking the story of Henrietta Lacks.

6. The Mirror Empire, by Kameron Hurley: Alternate "mirror" worlds, blood magic, and just insane worldbuilding.  The Mirror Empire is a kick in the balls of epic fantasy and it's friggin outstanding.  Easily one of my favorite reads of the year and one which has me damn near salivating at the thought of reading the second book next year. 

7. Hild, by Nicola Griffith: Griffith takes what little is known of the early life of St Hilda of Whitby and extrapolates one possible story of how a young "heathen" girl could become an abbess and adviser to bishops and kings.  Spectacular.

8. Sheepfarmer's Daughter, by Elizabeth Moon: I briefly considered having this spot be for the full Deed of Pasksenarrion trilogy, but I'm only 40 some pages into Oath of Gold and I don't see myself making sufficient enough progress in that third book to feel confident enough that it will live up to my expectations.  I think it will, but here Sheepfarmer's Daughter will do.  It is the opening novel in the trilogy and is very much the story of a young soldier just beginning her career - and how her being a young woman plays into it.  This is top notch fantasy, and easily worth discovering if you have not already done so.

9. The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison: My only complaint about this book is that it is a standalone novel, which is something that I both appreciate and am frustrated by, because I very much want more of it.  On the other hand, a quality standalone fantasy novel is worth the price of admission.

Previous Best Reads
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