Ursula K Le Guin

15 fantasy novels I’ve bought that I probably should read

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I feel like I need to make posts like this every once in a while (see also my 2015 reading resolutions) to remind myself of all the fantastic looking books I’ve actually paid for, but which are just sitting around, waiting to be read. Revisiting reviews and plot descriptions, and remembering why I bought them in the first place, might encourage me to devote more time to reading instead of the hours of aimless internet browsing I do most days.

So I’ve spent a little time looking over my bookshelves (in reality and on Goodreads), and came up with a small list books of each genre that I really should make time to read. These lists don’t even begin to scratch the surface of the hundreds of unread books I own, but they’re a start. I don’t know whether I’ll read them this year, or the next, or later than that, but at least I’ll be able to look back at this post for some motivation.

First up, 15 intriguing looking fantasy books, listed by author. The only rule I’ve imposed on myself is to focus on books by authors I’ve never read. Some of the following are standalones, and others are the beginnings of series. There’s a theme common to many of them of non-human protagonists (probably my favourite trope in all of genre fiction). Let’s hope they’re all as good as they sound!

fantasy_etchedcityThe Etched City by KJ Bishop

I think this is the book that I’ve owned the longest on this list. I sought it out almost 10 years ago, when I was looking for other work similar to China Miéville. This book has been compared particularly to Iron Council, in that it also meshes western and New Weird genres. There’s a gunslinger, a surreal city on the edge of a wasteland, and melancholic and literary prose. Sounds pretty nifty. It’s a shame that Bishop hasn’t written a novel since.

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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!

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SF & fantasy books I can’t wait to read in 2014

I have a staggeringly huge to-read list, yet thanks to my slowish reading speed, other things competing for my attention, and the fact that I’m in the second year of a PhD, I know I won’t get through too many books this year. In the last few years I managed around 45-50 books per year. Anyway, I thought it would be fun to list off some of the SF&F fiction I can’t wait to get stuck into this year. It’s not a comprehensive list, and I’ve left off non-genre fiction and nonfiction because that’s not what this blog is about. Here are my “can’t wait to read” genre fiction titles for 2014:

NEW BOOKS

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Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer – I have, shamefully, never read a Jeff VanderMeer novel, so I intend to start with this new book before making my way through his back catalogue. He is often compared with China Miéville, and I find myself having a hankering for some New-Weirdness. This book sounds like an expedition into VanderMeer’s version of Miéville’s Cacotopic Stain: nightmarish and bizarre, and I am down for the ride!

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias – A debut novel with hard-sf, alien contact and galactic politics? I’m there! This does sound rather similar to City of Pearl by Karen Traviss, only set underwater, but I’m a sucker for first contact stories (or any stories with well-realised alien races).

The Burning Dark by Adam Christopher – I haven’t read any Adam Christopher but the synopsis of this book (creepiness and suspense on a space station) makes it sound like he wrote it specifically for me!

Echopraxia by Peter Watts – Sequel to Blindsight, one of the scariest and smartest SF books I’ve ever read. Cannot wait.

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Review: Aliens: Recent Encounters (ed. Alex Dally MacFarlane)

aliens_cover IMPORTANT NOTE: The first edition of this book (ISBN 9781607013914), at least, is missing the second half of “Seasons of the Ansarac” by Ursula Le Guin. You can read the missing part of this story here.

Aliens — realistically developed, biologically plausible, sentient species — are my absolute favourite element of science fiction. My dream anthology would be a hard-SF-only collection of stories about aliens: their biology, culture, and interactions with humans. Aliens: Recent Encounters (2013), edited by Alex Dally MacFarlane, mixes both hard and soft SF with a smattering of magical realism and mythology, so not every story was to my taste. However, it is still an excellent anthology, thematically strong, while providing lots of variety.

This is a reprint anthology containing 32 short stories, all originally published between 2000 and 2012 (hence the book’s subtitle). The editor has done a good job of representing a number of nationalities with her author choices, and the gender balance is good too, with 21 stories by women, 10 by men, and one “neutrois” (neutral-gendered) author. There are a few really big names (i.e.: all the ones on the front cover) but a whole bunch of relative unknowns as well.

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