And with nine books read in December, we say goodbye to a year that was somewhat disappointing in the quantity of books I read, if not the quality. Too much time spent on other interests, especially gaming, led to both reading and reviewing less. Of the eightyone books I managed to read in 2013, I’ve so far only reviewed twelve, plus three more from earlier years. It’s not doing much to reduce my backlog of to be reviewed books.
Turning to what I read in 2013, threequarters (61 books) of it was fiction: twothirds (40) fiction, with the rest made up of fantasy (19) and detectives (2). The non-fiction (20) was mostly history (6) and warfare (7). I’ve had years with more diversity in my reading.
As ever since I discovered how few female writers I read, I’ve made an conscious effort to include as many as possible, at least in fantasy and science fiction. In science fiction, of the twentythree writers I read, five were male and eighteen female, including one writing duo (Sharon Lee & Steve Miller). In fantasy there were nine writers, with only Terry Pratchett on the male side of things; there were also two trans women included, Jan Morris and Caitlín R. Kiernan, though that was coincidence rather than deliberate inclusion.
What I want to do in 2014 is to continue to include more diversity in the writers I read, read more unknown writers, as well as make a dent in the backlog of old favourites I have. I also want to read more non-fiction, but that very much does depend on what I’ll find.
Anyway, here’s the last batch of books read in 2013:
Grail — Elizabeth Bear
Third and final novel in the Chill series. After centuries of being stuck in transit, the generation ship finally reaches its destination, only to find somebody else was there first.
Voodoo Planet — Andre Norton
You know that if you read a lot of Golden Age science fiction, it becomes obvious that a lot of it is pulp adventure stories reworked to take place in space? Yeah, sometimes it’s really obvious, as with this story of a big hunt in pseudo Africa gone wrong and how
western space science has to overcome superstition manipulated by an evil medicine man. (Has there ever been a non-evil one?)
Afrofuturism — Ytasha L. Womack
Afrofuturism is an art/political movement with roots in funk, science fiction and the black experience in America. This is a somewhat breathless exploration of the movement in all its facets, one of the most interesting and innovative things to happen to science fiction in the past few decades.
Crashcourse — Wilhelmina Baird
Wilhelmina Baird is an interesting writer: wrote some short science fiction at the dawn of the New Wave (as Kathleen James), then returned in 1993 with this, a cyberpunk inspired novel with overtones of the sort of fifties satirical sf Pohl and Kornbluth wrote. She wrote three more novels, two sequels to this, then disappeared.
The Defiant Agents — Andre Norton
A sequel to Time Traders, though not the direct sequel. A group of “Red Indians” (sic) is transported to an alien planet to colonise it, after first having lived through their past lives by way of racial memory to make them more suited to frontier living. Unfortunately the real Reds are their too, with a horde of Mongols as their slaves…
Operation Northwind — Charles Whiting
A disappointing history of the last German offensive in WWII, in Alsace. Whiting is too vague in his descriptions to give a clear picture of the fighting, somewhat too involved in his story of heroic yanks, dastardly Germans and waffling French.
Moxyland — Lauren Beukes
This was her debut novel, a dystopian (what else) cyberpunk story set in a not too distant future South Africa. Chillingly plausible is I think the best way to describe this.
Neptune’s Brood — Charlie Stross
A post-human historian-accountant stumbles over a thousands years old conspiracy spanning dozens of star systems that leads her to seek sanctuary with a colony of communist uranium volcano mining squid.
Then Will the Great Ocean Wash Deep Above — Ian Sales
Third in the Apollo Quartet of alternate history Cold War space exploration; not as good as the first two, sadly.