My 2015 SF/F reading resolutions

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It’s not too early to post a New Year’s resolutions post, is it? Oh, it is? Well, I’m going to do one anyway, because currently I’m neck-deep in books that will take me until the end of this year to finish — so whenever I think of books I want to read in the future, I know I’ll be starting them in January 2015 at the earliest.

2014 hasn’t been a very bookish year for me. I’ve been busy with (or just distracted by) quite a lot of other things, and my reading has fallen by the wayside. In previous years I’ve read anywhere from 40 to 52 books (that perfect one-per-week goal, sigh) but this year I’ve finished just 23; and I know for a fact that I won’t hit 30 by the end of December. So it’s been pretty slow year.

Next year I want to aim high again. I don’t know if I’ll reach 52, but I’m going to do my best, hopefully by limiting distractions from Youtube and other places! Of course, when other things arise that are actually worthy of my attention (most notably my university studies) I will probably have to sacrifice reading time.

Here’s a list of some of the books I want to read next year. I’ve talked a little about each one and why I want to read it. I’ve excluded non-genre and non-fiction works because they’re not the focus of this blog, but I intend to read a smattering of those as well (particularly some books about history). Most of the following I already have in my possession, but some won’t be released until 2015. Of course, there will be some not-yet-announced 2015 releases that I’ll want to read as well, and I may discover new obsessions that will rocket other titles to the top of my reading list. All added together, here’s hoping I can reach 52 books next year!

SCIENCE FICTION

Judas Unchained by Peter F Hamilton

I’m halfway through Pandora’s Star at the moment and loving it. It’s such a wide story, with a universe that feels boundless. There are so many sprawling plotlines, such great characters, and fascinating worldbuilding. Since I’ve heard the book ends on a bit of a cliffhanger, I’ll have to jump right into the sequel next year. Possibly even in January as my first SF book of 2015.

A Darkling Sea by James L Cambias

This was actually on my list for 2014, and I’m still keen to get to it ASAP. It’s a first-contact story on an alien planet, with multiple alien races and interspecies diplomacy. Sounds right up my alley!

Cibola Burn by James SA Corey

I’m still curious as to where this series is going, but to be honest, the fact that it was stretched out from three to six, and then to nine books has disheartened me. I feel like this middle set of books is just going to be spinning the wheels. Since I’ve already bought this one (book four of the series) I’m going to read it, but I’ll hold off on the next few books to see what the reviews are like. Number two, Caliban’s War, was my favourite of the first three, by the way.

Echopraxia by Peter Watts

I loved Blindsight, mainly because it terrified the hell out of me! I’ve heard rather mixed responses to this sequel, but I’m still curious because I know Peter Watts will blow my mind in some new way. It’s just not extremely high in my reading priorities, compared to some of the other SF titles listed here.

Excession by Iain M Banks

I’m making my way slowly through the Culture series, trying to space them out because I know there won’t be any more beyond these ten. I’ve read the first four (Consider Phlebas, The Player of Games, Use of Weapons, and the collection The State of the Art) and this is next up! I’m really thrilled to learn more about the Minds.

Another book by Iain M Banks

I’ll probably read another “M” book in 2015 as well, although I’m not sure if I’ll read the next Culture book after ExcessionInversions, or if I’ll mix up the order and go straight for Surface Detail, which I’ve been curious about for a while since I heard a rough plot synopsis. Or maybe I’ll check out one of the non-Culture “M” books, such as The Algebraist. I’ll see what I feel like when I get to it! (I also plan to finally check out Banks’ “non-M” works, such as The Wasp Factory.)

Downbelow Station by CJ Cherryh

I have been meaning for a long time to dive into the works of CJ Cherryh, but I keep going back and forth on where to start. This book seems like the most logical place to begin, being a standalone book pretty early on in her universe’s timeline — although I also have The Pride of Chanur and a few other titles lying around. I’ve heard great things about almost all of her books, which makes it hard.

Brightness Reef by David Brin

I read and adored the first Uplift trilogy (Startide Rising rather more than the other two books, but they were all good) so I’m really keen to get into this book! I’m looking forward to the brilliant alien characters Brin always provides, as well as a continuation of the main mystery behind the first trilogy.

Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds

I’ve nearly finished working my way through the back catalogue of Reynolds, who is pretty much my favourite hard-SF author. Once this book is done, I’ll only have Century Rain and Harvest of Time (the Doctor Who novel) to read — plus of course all the new stuff he puts out.

Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds

Speaking of new stuff, I’m listing this upcoming novella because it’s getting a standalone release. If it’s available on Kindle I’ll probably just go for that, and wait for the novella to be collected in a potential future collection before I get a physical version.

The third Poseidon’s Children book by Alastair Reynolds

And of course I’ll need to read this, providing it comes out next year that is. The first two books in this series were pretty good, although nowhere near the quality of Reynolds’ Revelation Space series. Honestly I thought the second book (On the Steel Breeze) was weaker than the first (Blue Remembered Earth) but since this new one will wrap up the trilogy and solve all the mysteries, I’m still hyped as hell.

EDIT: The title of this book will be Poseidon’s Wake!

Stealing Light by Gary Gibson

I predict this will be my next SF series addiction. I have the whole Shoal trilogy waiting to go, and I’ve been putting it off until I’ve gotten through some other series. Well, I think next year is as good as any to start reading this interesting looing space opera.

The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K Le Guin

Another female author I’ve been meaning to read for a long time, along with CJ Cherryh. This book gets so much recognition for being one of the all-time classics, and I can’t justify still not having read it. I have a number of other Le Guin books on my shelves too, such as the Earthsea series, which I also need to get around to. But I’ve decided that this will be my first Le Guin novel experience.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K Dick

I figured I should read some Philip K Dick at some point in my life, and because I love the movie Blade Runner I’m really curious to see the similarities and differences in the original source text. It’s short too, which means I can probably squeeze it in between two chunkier tomes.

The Ghost Brigades by John Scalzi

This is a series I’ve been meaning to get back to for a long time — I read Old Man’s War back in 2011! I honestly can’t remember a lot about the characters or the plot, but Wikipedia will help there. Plus, I’m pretty sure this book follows different characters anyway.

FANTASY & HORROR

The Black Lung Captain by Chris Wooding

I’m a bit dubious of the whole steampunk craze, but the first book in this series (Retribution Falls) seemed to set itself slightly outside of that mold, avoiding the Victorian aesthetic and instead going for a grimier, wilder feel that read like a mix of Firefly and China Miéville. I enjoyed the hell out of that book, and so I’m sure this too will be a fun piece of escapism.

A number of Discworld titles by Terry Pratchett

My reading order of the Discworld series has been a bit all over the place. I started with just the Watch books, then I started mixing in some Death ones, and then some Witches ones, and some of the standalone titles as well. So now I’m bouncing all over Pratchett’s catalogue — but it’s immensely rewarding nonetheless. They’re so funny and full of so much heart, so they give me a warm fuzzy feeling every time I sink into one.

The next titles on my list are Witches Abroad and Monstrous Regiment, then back to The Colour of Magic and The Light Fantastic… and then I might tackle the Moist von Lipwig series beginning with Going Postal! Five or so Discworld books in an otherwise packed year of reading seems to be a good number to aim for. At that point, I’ll be just over halfway done with the 40-book series!

The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

I have this as a huge hardcover, looking down on my from a groaning shelf, demanding that I make time for it. I keep forgetting about it for a while, then hearing more praise from a friend or finding another shining review online, and it reminds me all over again that I need to read it. I like the idea of the world, which is covered by never-ending storms, and all the wildlife has evolved to deal with such a climate. I also like the presentation of the book, which is crammed with maps and illustrations throughout — not just the prerequisite map at the front.

Perdido Street Station by China Miéville

I’m trying to limit my re-reads these days, but I make exceptions for my very favourite authors, and it’s been several years since I last read the first Bas-Lag novel. I think it’s about time to give it another whirl. I really don’t think I have the fortitude to keep up a chapter-by-chapter analysis of this book on my blog, but I might make a couple of posts here and there about my thoughts and questions as I read it.

The Silmarillion by JRR Tolkien

I love the Tolkien mythos, and now that I’ve read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings several times each in my life, I’ve decided it’s time to delve deeper into the background of Middle Earth. I actually like the long, rambling poems in The Lord of the Rings so I’m not put off by this book, which promises to have an even more archaic tone. I’ve found a number of blogs and podcasts that form a sort of reader’s companion, which I plan to use while I read this volume.

The World of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin and collaborators

This has been sitting on a table in my house since I got it in the mail last month, and I want to get at it so badly. It’s a positively gorgeous book and it seems so dense with worldbuilding about one of my favourite fantasy series. It should tide me over until The Winds of Winter, I think.

A book or two by Stephen King

I thought for a while I might attempt a re-read of The Dark Tower series (last time, 10 years ago almost, I stopped after Wizard and Glass). But considering the tons of other series I have going, I might go for something a bit more standalone by King. Perhaps it’ll be his new book, Revival. Or maybe The Talisman, which I’ve wanted to read for a long time. I’ve also still never finished It. There are so many choices…

The Jennifer Morgue by Charles Stross

I’ve read the first Laundry novel and several of the novellas, and it’s probably my favourite thing by Stross that I’ve read. I love the humorous blend of wearying bureaucracy and pants-shitting terror that Bob, the protagonist, lives through. The writing is always clever, and Stross really delivers the cosmic horror. This, the second novel, is a homage to the James Bond series as well as a Lovecraftian horror story. I need more of that in my life!

The Deep by Nick Cutter

The Abyss meets The Shining” is how the official synopsis describes this upcoming horror novel. The ocean floor is my second favourite horror/thriller setting after deep space, so I’m very excited for this. Hopefully it’s as eerie and claustrophobic as works like Michael Crichton’s Sphere and Peter Watts’ Starfish.

COLLECTIONS

Three Moments of an Explosion: Stories by China Miéville

Of course I plan to read this new collection. What else do I need to say? It’s been my number one most-wanted book since the very first inkling of its existence.

Luminous by Greg Egan

Reading Egan’s first collection, Axiomatic, was non-stop bombardment with amazing hard-SF ideas about technology and the future of humanity. I read it in 2011, and I can’t believe I’ve put off trying another Egan collection for this long. Along with Ted Chiang, I think Egan writes the most amazing SF short stories today.

Dreamsongs by George RR Martin

This collection is daunting because it’s so enormous, but I keep looking at the contents (as well as reading many reviews) and being amazed at the sheer variety of the stories within. I know for a fact that Martin is an impeccable writer, so (only having read his A Song of Ice and Fire books) I’m rearing to find out how he tackles science fiction, horror, and so on. I know I won’t be bored.

One side note: I do plan to skip the two Tuf stories as well as The Hedge Knight when I read Dreamsongs, because I have the Tuf Voyaging collection somewhere, and I plan to get the upcoming Knight of the Seven Kingdoms collection. I’d rather read those stories in their respective contexts… if that makes any sense.

Adam Robots by Adam Roberts

This looks like it will be another excellent SF collection, and I was impressed by the one Roberts book I’ve read, Jack Glass. I also quite enjoy Roberts’ blog, Sibilant Fricative. I’m excited!

Kaiju Rising edited by Tim Marquitz

The new Godzilla movie goddamn rocked, and reinvigorated my love of giant monsters (whereas Pacific Rim failed to enthuse me whatsoever); and I like the idea of multiple authors exploring the possibilities of kaiju fiction as a genre. I have dozens of anthologies to choose from on my over-stuffed shelves, but this one just promises tons more fun!

* * * * *

I’m pretty happy with that list. It’s not a complete list of the books I want to read, but a good first sweep of the ones I’ve wanted to get to for a while. It leaves room for plenty of other things, too, because I never really know what book I want to pick up next until I’ve finished a book and I’m standing and staring voraciously at my bookshelves for the next fix.

And now, back to Pandora’s Star!

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2 comments

  1. That’s a pretty cool reading list. I agree about Greg Egan and Ted Chiang. Also, I’d like to add one more voice to the masses guilting you into reading The Way of Kings! It’s a great book. The Stormlight Archive is probably going to be the Harry Potter of my adult life, books I can just read over and over and over . . . .

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