Sci-Fi/Fantasy 2017

About a month ago, I did a post about the non-fiction I read in 2017, and said that I would follow it up with a post of the fiction. Well, flu and other things intervened, so am I just now getting to it.

In fact, I’m not really getting to all of it yet. It will probably not come as a shock to those who know me that I read more sci-fi/fantasy last year (31 out of 63 total) than any other category. I will do another post on the other fiction I read last year, in the hopes of making a truly boring triptych of posts, but in this post I’ll just cover sick-fick/fantasy.

The full list is at the bottom, but here are some of the call-outs:

The two Natasha Pulley books – The Watchmaker of Filigree Street, and The Bedlam Stacks were, I thought, nicely done, pulling off very believable Victorian settings with good stories (although I thought that Watchmaker was the stronger of the two).

Neil Stephenson is one of my favorite writers (The Baroque Cycle is probably my favorite set of books), and so I always look forward to his stuff. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O. is centered around witchcraft and time travel–both naturally based strongly on quantum theory. One of the reasons that I like Stephenson is that, even when he is getting way out there, his research is impeccable. This book is also a lot of fun.

Paolo Bacigalupi is another one of my favorite writers (and one I know personally a little bit), largely due to his beautiful prose. Tool of War is solid, although not as good as some of his earlier works. Annoyingly, he wrote the first draft in 10 days! More annoyingly, he is a really sweet guy, so it is harder to hate him for being able to do that.

James Van Pelt is also an author I know somewhat, and in the “reasons to hate him” category is the fact that, in 2016, he managed to write a short story a week for an entire year, most of which he sold. The Experience Arcade is a collection from that year. I can’t be too mad at him, though, since his advice on procrastination is what got me back into writing fiction.

Marie Brennan’s Dragon series (technically Memoirs of Lady Trent) is fun, and really well-thought out. Her background is in anthropology and folklore, and she builds a really believable world along with very plausible dragons.

Votan by John James is an oldie, written in the 60s. It follows a 2nd century Roman who is a bit of a con man, and ends up being mistaken for a Norse god. It is interesting that, on-line, people pretty much either love it or hate it. It jibed with my sense-of-humor, so I enjoyed it and the other novels (following the same character) in the collection. Your mileage may vary.

Carrie Vaughn is a frequent guest at our local literary convention, but most of her stuff is not really my sort of thing. After The Golden Age was a stand-alone, so I figured I’d give it a try, and I ended up reading it in a single sitting! The story follows the un-super daughter of two superheroes, and she is pretty sick of getting kidnapped by the city’s supervillains.

I was a bit nervous about Artemis by Andy Weir, because I was such as fan of The Martian, and so many authors who have a first big hit never manage to follow it up. While Artemis is not quite as good as The Martian, it is still very good. It follows a two-bit hustler (who happens to be female and Muslim) who is a resident of a lunar colony (Artemis). Being Andy Weir, all of the lunar tech and the politics and economics of the colony are very well thought through.

Ian Tregillis finished his Alchemy Wars series with The Liberation. The premise of the trilogy is that, in the 17th century, Christiaan Huygens invented the technology for clockwork automatons, which led the Dutch empire to take over the world, with a rearguard action being fought by the remnants of the French empire in the backwaters of the Americas. Much of the story is told from the perspective of one of the automatons, who are aware but little more than slaves. My description doesn’t do it justice—it is well thought out and well written, and one of the better alternate histories I’ve read recently.

The Doomed City was written in the 70s by the Strugatsky brothers, but was only released in the late 80s after perestroika. The Strugaskys are considered to be the best Russian sci-fi writers, but this book is so obviously anti-communist, that they hid the manuscript for years. It is dark—like Aldous Huxley and George Orwell on a bender dark, but is powerful and disturbing.

Here is the full list:

  • Dirk Gently’s Holistic Detective Agency – Adams, Douglas
  • Long Dark Tea Time of the Soul, The – Adams, Douglas
  • Tool of War – Bacigalupi, Paolo
  • Natural History of Dragons, A – Brennan, Marie
  • Trpic of Serpents, The – Brennan, Marie
  • Voyage of the Basilisk – Brennan, Marie
  • Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, A – Chambers, Becky
  • Walkaway – Doctorow, Cory
  • Phantaxis – 2017/6 – Feldman, Arlen (and others 🙂
  • Legends of the Dragon Cowboys – Givens, Laura
  • Steeplejack – Hartley, A. J.
  • Besieged – Hearne, Kevin
  • Votan and Other Novels – James, John
  • Ocean of Storms – Mari, Christopher
  • Empress of Eternity – Modesitt, L.E.
  • Sleeping Giants – Neuvel, Sylvain
  • Witch’s Vacuum Cleaner, The – Pratchett, Terry
  • Watchmaker of Filigree Street, The – Pulley, Natasha
  • Bedlam Stacks, The – Pulley, Natasha
  • Book of Dust, The – Pullman, Philip
  • Lord Valentine’s Castle – Silverberg, Robert
  • Majipoor Chronicels – Silverberg, Robert
  • Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O., The – Stephenson, Neil & Galland, Nicole
  • Doomed City, The – Strugatsky, Arkady & Boris
  • Liberation, The – Tregillis, Ian
  • Experience Arcade, The – Van Pelt, James
  • Slow Apocalypse – Varley, John
  • After The Golden Age – Vaughn, Carrie
  • Martians Abroad – Vaughn, Carrie
  • Artemis – Weir, Andy
  • Asimov’s 30th Anniversary Anthology – Williams, Sheila

I am cheating a bit by including Phantaxis, which is technically a magazine, but since they were nice enough to print one of my stories, they make the list :-).

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