lavaturtle's 2015 reads
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I mostly read science fiction and fantasy. I love dystopias (so excited that they're popular now!), time travel, cyborgs and androids, and books that explore "how would this tech/magic/disaster change society?"
Dirk Gently's Holistic Detective Agency by Douglas Adams
Orc's Opal by Piers Anthony and Robert E. Margroff
The Collected Stories of Greg Bear (Greg Bear)
The Collected Stories of Arthur C. Clarke
The Nine Billion Names of God by Arthur C. Clarke
Cup of Clay by Carole Nelson Douglas
Baudolino by Umberto Eco
Then We Came to the End by Joshua Ferris
Sophie's World by Jostein Gaarder
The Sandman: Preludes & Nocturnes by Neil Gaiman
The Ghatti's Tale by Gayle Greeno
The Samarkand Solution by Gary Gygax
Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
Orsinian Tales by Ursula K. Le Guin
The Day Before Tomorrow by Gerard Klein
Winnie Ille Pu by A. A. Milne (translated by Alexander Lenard)
The Stepford Wives by Ira Levin
The Call of Cthulhu and Other Weird Stories by H.P. Lovecraft
Orion Arm by Julian May
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore and David Lloyd
The Man-Kzin Wars by Larry Niven
Neutron Star by Larry Niven
A Princess of Roumania by Paul Park
Rootabaga Stories by Carl Sandburg
Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson
Quicksilver by Neal Stephenson
A Way Home by Theodore Sturgeon
The Book of Lost Tales, Vol. 2 by J.R.R. Tolkien
The Silmarillion by J.R.R. Tolkien
Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien
DMZ, Vol. 1: On the Ground by Brian Wood and Riccardo Burchielli
Full Spectrum 2
Isaac Asimov's Science Fiction Treasury
The Magic Goes Away Collection
Nine Centuries of Spanish Literature
Time Probe: The Sciences in Science Fiction
(This list also posted at https://www.librarything.com/topic/185547)
01. Not Less Than Gods by Kage Baker
I loved the Company series, so I was excited to learn that there was another book written in that world. This book doesn't have as strong a plot arc as the rest of them, but it's still a fun romp around 19th-century Europe with the Company in the background.
Aside from the time travel element, this book skips around in time a lot, between the narrator's past and present, and it takes work to understand what's going on. But IMO it's worth it. Piercy has written both a chilling tale about a person trapped in an abusive institution, and a lovely utopia that I wish really existed.
It's been a while since I read the previous volume, and I found this one hard to follow until about halfway through. Not a lot happens, but it's interesting enough that I'll probably keep reading this series.
I picked this book up from the library after realizing I owned its sequel, Catspaw. Psion tells the story of how Cat, a boy from the slums, learns of his telepathic powers and struggles to make his own way in a world where everyone wants to use him.
I really liked this one. The world has cyberpunk elements, but also a morally complex history. The characters are well-drawn and sympathetic. The ending was not predictable. I'm looking forward to finding out what happens next!
Cat has a little more control over his life in this sequel -- but he's up against some very powerful people.
The worldbuilding got even better in this one. The supporting characters were larger than life without being one-dimensional.
My reading experience suffered a bit from reading this in short chunks over a couple of weeks. I suspect it would have been better read in a couple nights like the previous one.
This is the first audiobook I've tried. And it was a challenge: 12 and a half hours of a very meandering story that only very gradually advances the main plot. The story's interesting, though, and the characters are quite well developed with extensive backstories. The main character's voice is very strong; how much you like the narration style will probably depend on how much you like the classic noir jaded/alcoholic hardboiled P.I.
I've enjoyed a lot of Connie Willis's other work, so I was excited to pick this one up.
Some of my favorite pieces from this collection were ones I'd read before: Inside Job and Fire Watch. I also quite liked "Even the Queen", "At the Rialto", and "Death on the Nile". "All Seated on the Ground" was cute.
I read a lot of this book during one airplane ride, and occasionally the characters in all the stories blur together -- the irritating friend, the relative who won't listen to the main character, the dog. But overall it's a fun assortment. Also, the afterwards and forwards and introductions, etc. are definitely worth reading.
Another excellent installment in the Saga series. Some new characters are introduced, and they're as compelling and well-drawn as the main characters. Hazel is a little older, and the family has a new set of problems. Meanwhile, interesting things happen in the Robot kingdom.
Good: Story was fun. Worldbuilding was pretty great: Stirling has taken the classic pulp sci-fi ideas of what Venus is like, and thought through what all the implications are.
Not so good:
* Most of the story is one giant White Savior trope. (i.e. "Our white American hero meets some natives, seduces their most important woman, becomes their leader, and solves all their problems!")
* There were only three named women characters; two of them were love interests for the narrator, and the other one only entered the story because of her husband. None of them got very much character development.
* The ending was abrupt and unsatisfying.
Continuing the Hugo nominee readthrough with novelettes. This one has an interesting world, but we don't get to explore it much. The story ends at a seemingly random point, weirdly emphasizing the specifics (which seem neither plot-important nor shocking) of a character's death.
I was intruiged by the world and the various mysteries the story sets up. Unfortunately, the story didn't feel complete. (The blurb at the end saying "Read more about this plot in these other stories!" doesn't help that feeling.) I wish someone had taken the time to finish writing it!
Such mixed feelings about this one. On one hand, it employs the lovely device of telling us about a huge global disaster by focusing on a single character's personal tragedy. And it's got a cool magical-realism feel to it. On the other hand, the narrator is a selfish asshole and I can't stand him.
Ugh. This was so un-compelling and irritating. It took me several tries just to force my way through the first half-page. Eventually finished it, but it wasn't worth even the small amount of time needed to read it.
This was definitely better than that last one. Reasonably well-told, and the main plot actually felt complete at the end.
This was also super fun. The world felt like a D&D-inspired place, to the point of all the mercenaries being organized into groups of four people of assorted species who go on quests. It's silly and it's exciting and I want to read the next one.
Rounding out the Graphic Story nominees is this odd little piece. Not something I normally would have picked up, but it's a fun story with an original premise. Lots of fun details in the background art, too. Unfortunately, this first volume is mostly backstory and so the plot doesn't really advance at all by the end.
This was a disappointment. Decent overall plot, but everything else about the writing left much to be desired. Did not live up to the three books I'd read in this series before.
Overall I liked this book. With the system of mining the past for resources, Chu manages to do something new with the time travel genre. The characters are morally complex. And the future technology is really neat. I just wish the ending had actually resolved anything.
This book was really interesting because it was full of big ideas - utopic city! ancient philosophy! set up by gods! - but didn't shrink from exploring how those big ideas affected actual, realistic people. Nothing is sacred, no one is infallible, and the human experiences of marginalized people are at least as important as the whims of gods or the plans of philosophers and city planners.
I loved the first part of this book. It's nonstop action, it's a crazy what-if scenario and how humanity deals with it, it's how a handful of well-drawn characters cope with the end of the world.
The second part... eh. The plot never quite comes together or goes anywhere. It feels like Stephenson is too distracted by all the cool future tech he invented, or perhaps the suspense has just fallen out the bottom of the story. I kind of wished the book had just ended before jumping 5000 years into the future.
I really enjoyed this book. It has a diverse set of well-drawn characters. I like what it does with steampunk -- enough for an interesting setting, but not so much as to overwhelm the story with "and here's another zany steampunk contraption!!". The plot keeps moving, and I didn't know how it would end.
Short story about war between angels. Hints at terrible things in the universe. Interesting and sad.
Interesting modern/aztec setting in the already interesting world of the Craft sequence. Several interesting characters: Teo, Mal, Temoc, the King In Red. Unfortunately, the protagonist Caleb, despite an interesting backstory, is the least interesting person in his world.
I liked this book a lot more than the previous one, primarily because the main characters were way more interesting. The setting was also cool.
A haunting short story about two teenagers and a historical reenactment that is more than it seems. I loved the slowly building tension in this story, which left the right number of questions unanswered.
The Gerentate, mentioned in passing in the Ancillary series, gets a bunch more worldbuilding and development here. It's fascinating to see the differences and similarities between the culture of the Gerentate, Ghaon, and the Radchaai. The main character is compelling and the story is an emotional roller coaster. Excellent.
Decided to get more seriously into the X-Men comics. This was a good place to start, with a handful of easily recognized characters and few ongoing plot arcs -- and it jumps right in with the crises and mutant-human relations.
Went back and read the annual I'd missed. Introduces Domino and the U-Men.
Liked seeing more of the relationship between Emma Frost and Jean Grey here. And some tantalizing hints about what's going on with Prof. X...
We're sort of thrown into the Shi'ar story with no context, but all soon becomes clear. The idea of installing new powers on the fly is neat.