…I apparently read a lot of outstanding books over the course of the year and simply could not pick a top ten list! More than twenty of the 56 that Goodreads tells me I read (my goal was 50,) I gave a rating of five stars to. And choosing which ones stayed with me the most between them was frankly impossible. So instead, I’ve decided to show you the summary from Goodreads, and cover a few significant highlights. Among them:
- Reading challenges and book clubs are a great way to expand your horizons. Because we’re all monkeys, we read more if we offer ourselves little (meaningless, personal) rewards for doing so. And if our challenges are well-chosen, we read things we otherwise would never have read, often discovering brilliant work in the process.
- When you take a bunch of stuff that nobody ever does and mix it all together, it often works really well. We need more novels like this. (Examples: Orlando, Babel-17, Voyager in Night, The Rediscovery of Man, Brown Girl in the Ring.)
- It’s not a trope if you invented it, so people need to stop dissing Burroughs, Norton, and Heinlein.
- Margaret Atwood is one of the best writers I’ve ever read. Her science fiction is amazingly well written. I’m glad she finally admitted that it’s science fiction.
- Every space opera that has ever existed owes its existence to Joseph Conrad, C.S. Forester, or Patrick O’Brian. Everyone who has ever loved a space opera should read Patrick O’Brian. And David Weber wants to be Patrick O’Brian when he grows up.
- C.J. Cherryh, Andre Norton, and Anne McCaffrey are the forgotten triumvirate of Queens of Speculative Fiction. Nobody born after 1990 has a clue who Anne McCaffrey is; no one born after 1980 knows who Andre Norton is; and no one I know (except my partner, who is, if anything, more of a sci-fi nerd than I am) has a clue who C.J. Cherryh is. Listen; you guys are missing out! All three of these women are SFWA Grand Masters of Science Fiction, and only C.J. Cherryh is still with us, and you can’t find her books anywhere. Why aren’t they all in upteenthousandth printing by now?
- WHY IN THE ACTUAL FUCK has nobody read Alfred Bester? Listen; this man left us exactly two (brilliantly written, action-packed, page-turning) novels, and they’re amazing. Not only that, but I can trace the roots of just about every science fiction movie that wasn’t a space opera that has ever been made to those two books. Maybe if Hollywood had a look at Bester’s work, they would get over their obsession with Philip K.’s . . . Dick.
I was spurred on by the Science Fiction Masterworks Book Club, and by several Roll-Your-Own-Reading-Challenges at WorldsWithoutEnd.com, which is a speculative fiction fan and review site with extended forums. You can design your own challenges there if you want to. I’ve designed a few and they’re listed in the sidebar if you want to join any of them!
My reading goals for 2017:
- Read the entirety of A Song of Ice and Fire (and a few other great fantasy books too!)
- Continue working through the SF Masterworks titles, one per month, in publication order. That will mean completing the SF Masterworks Challenge by the end of the year as well.
- Read 12 books in each of the following Challenges: LGBTQ Speculative Fiction Challenge, The Second Best Challenge, Women of Genre Fiction Challenge, High Fantasy Challenge, and the Space Opera Challenge, in addition to the SF Masterworks Challenge.
- Read the Mad Max/Furiosa level (18 books) in the Apocalypse Now! Challenge,
- Read the Master level of books (27 total) in the 12 Awards in 12 Months Challenge.
- Join the Books Read This Year 2017 Challenge with a goal of reading and reviewing 50 speculative fiction books on the Worlds Without End site.
- Make two new Challenges called the Hard Core Sci-Fi Challenge (because I want to read more hard sci-fi this year) and the Military Spec-Fic Challenge; the goal will be 12 books in those ones also.
- Read a few more non-fiction books this year.
- Read a total of 60 books over the course of the year.
- Footnote: I’ve decided to create a new challenge which overlaps others that I’m already doing, which is the Grand Mistresses of Genre Fiction Challenge; and I’ve also joined the Giants of Genre: A Long Book Challenge because I read a lot of fat paperbacks (not that I’m pointing any fingers, David Weber) and the Collections! Challenge because I happen to have a lot of those on my list this year (but I only signed up to six in this one so far; we’ll see.)
Happy New Year, everyone!