Tag Archives: Jonathan Strahan

Books Reviewed 2015

Here is  housekeeping post, collecting all the books reviewed here in 2015.

Looking back at this list, I see that this year saw Terry Pratchette’s last book (a wrenching experience), and new novels by old favorites Stross, Perry, Macguire, Holt, Gaiman, among others. I also read older but still good histories by Goodwin and Graeber. I read several books about banking, Papal and otherwise, and overlapping works about Italy, fictional and (supposedly) real.

Over the year, I reviewed a sampling of important books about contemporary digital life, including cryptocurrency, the “sharing economy”, social media, and “mind change”.   These works covered a spectrum from enthusiasm to dark worry, giving us much to think about. There are many more I did not have time or energy for. (I will say more on this topic in another post)

Throughout 2015 I continued my ongoing investigation of the question, “what is coworking?”, including reviews of two recent (self published) books about coworking by practitioners. (More on coworking in another post.)

Shall I name some “Best Books” out of my list? Why not?

Fiction:

There were so many to pick from. I mean, with Neil Gaiman in the list, how can I choose? But let me mention two that are especially memorable

Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Very imaginative and well written, and, for once, not so horribly dark. This book lodged in my memory more than others that are probably equally good.

Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
Published a few years ago, but I didn’t read it until this year. A wonderful, intricate story. The flight of the parrot is still in my memory.

Nonfiction:

There were many important works about digital life, and I shall try to comment on them in another post. But three books that really hit me are:

Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
From several years ago, but I didn’t read it until this year. Highly influential on the ‘occupy’ and other left-ish thinking. This is an astonishingly good book, and long form anthropology, to boot. Wow!

Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-Changing In-Home Coworking Space by Lori Kane
An exlectic little self-published book about “home coworking”, which I didn’t know was a thing. Kane walked the walk, and made me think in new ways about community and coworking.

Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
Unexpected amounts of fun reading this short book. It does an old, graying nerd no end of good to see that at least some of the kids are OK. Really, really, OK.

List of books reviewed in 2015

Fiction

A Darkling Sea by James L. Cambias
After Alice by Gregory Maguire
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Bats of the Republic by Zachary Thomas Dodson
Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen
Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick
Candy Apple Red by Nancy Bush
Chicks and Balances edited by Esther Friesner and John Helfers
Corsair by James L. Cambias
Count to a Trillion by John C. Wright
Diaspora by Greg Egan
Distress by Greg Egan
Electric Blue by Nancy Bush
Forty Thieves by Thomas Perry
Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits by David Wong
Get In Trouble by Kelly Link
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman
Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear
Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea
Luna: New Moon by Ian McDonald
Mort(e) by Robert Repino
Numero Zero by Umberto Eco
Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente
Rebirths of Tao by Wesley Chu
Redeployment by Phil Klay
Satin Island by Tom McCarthy
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson
Shark Skin Suite by Tim Dorsey
String of Beads by Thomas Perry
Telegraph Avenue by Michael Chabon
The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine ed. by Jonathan Strahan
The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro
The Enchantment Emporium by Tanya Huff
The First Bad Man by Miranda July
The Fortress in Orion by Mike Resnick
The Future Falls by Tanya Huff
The Good, the Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt
The Mark and the Void by Paul Murray
The Relic Master by Christopher Buckley
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley
The Shepherd’s Crown by Terry Pratchett
The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu
The Unfortunate Decisions of Dahlia Moss by Max Wirestone
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
The Wild Ways by Tanya Huff
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis
Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances by Neil Gaiman
Ultraviolet by Nancy Bush
We Are Pirates by Daniel Handler
Witches Be Crazy by Logan J. Hunder
Zer0es by Chuck Wendig

Non Fiction

Arrival of the Fittest by Andreas Wagner
Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols
Debt: The First 5,000 Years by David Graeber
Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper
Fangirl’s Guide to the Galaxy by Sam Maggs
God’s Bankers by Gerald Posner
LaFayette in the Somewhat United States by Sarah Vowell
Let’s Be Less Stupid by Patricia Marx
Live Right and Find Happiness by Dave Barry
Merchants in the Temple by Gianluigi Nuzzi
Mind Change by Susan Greenfield
Mindsharing by Lior Zoref
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
No More Sink Full of Mugs by Tony Bacigalupo
Not Impossible by Mick Ebeling
Pax Technica by Phillip N. Howard
Peers, Inc by Robin Chase
Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-Changing In-Home Coworking Space by Lori Kane
Speculative Everything by Anthony Dunne and Fiona Raby
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin
The Age of Cryptocurrency by Paul Vigna and Michael J. Casey
The Art of Forgery by Noah Charney
The Next Species by Michael Tennesen
The Reputation Economy by Michael Fertik and David C. Thompson
The Social Labs Revolution by Zaid Hassan
The Ugly Renaissance by Alexander Lee
Twentyfirst Century Robot by Brian David Johnson
Women of Will:  Following the Feminine in Shakespeare’s Plays by Tina Packer

 

Book Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books Reviewed Third Quarter

Books Reviewed Third Quarter

A bit of housekeeping:  here is a list of all the book reviews that appeared in this blog in Q3 2015.  Mostly new or recent releases, with a few old but good thrown in.

Fiction

Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson
Book of Numbers by Joshua Cohen
Chasing the Phoenix by Michael Swanwick
Chicks and Balances edited by Esther Friesner and John Helfers
Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman 
Koko the Mighty by Kieran Shea
Secondhand Souls by Christopher Moore  
The Annihilation Score by Charles Stross
The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine ed. by Jonathan Strahan
The Good, the Bad, and The Smug by Tom Holt
The Rook by Daniel O’Malley 
The Water Knife by Paolo Bacigalupi
Time Salvager by Wesley Chu 
To Say Nothing of the Dog by Connie Willis 

Non fiction

Reimagination Station: Creating a Game-Changing In-Home Coworking Space by Lori Kane
Digital Gold by Nathaniel Popper
Let’s Be Less Stupid by Patricia Marx
Mind Change by Susan Greenfield 
Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari
Peers, Inc by Robin Chase
Team of Rivals by Doris Kearns Goodwin 
The Art of Forgery by Noah Charney
The Next Species by Michael Tennesen 

 

Book Review: “The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year” ed. by Jonathan Strahan

The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine ed. by Jonathan Strahan

As the title suggests, this is the current edition of an annual collection of recent short stories. This volume has quite a few big names and some very good stories.

Being a collection of reprints, everything in the collection appeared elsewhere in 2014 so you may have already read them. (I had read four of the stories in the original publications.)

Overall, this is a worthy group of works. There are a few that I can’t identify as science fiction or fantasy, and a couple of ghost stories that are pretty far from my own tastes.

But there are also some really fine pieces in both ‘science fiction’ and ‘fantasy’ modes, along with some interesting anthropological fantasies and other odd things.

To name a few favorites::

Tough Times All Over by Joe Abercromie

A light little story, with little point and lot’s of character that literally goes nowhere. You want to hear more about these people.

Cimmereria: from the Journal of Imaginary Anthropolgy by Thodore Gass

A little bit of a send up of academic anthropology along with comically realistic contemporary politics.

Caligo Lane by Ellen Klages

Beautiful and charming. A remarkable amount of story in a small package. How well she does it!

THE LONG HAUL from THE ANNALS OF TRANSPRTATION,by Ken Liu

As a closet Helium head, I had no trouble grokking the point of this alternate history.

In the interest of niceness, I’ll not dwell on the ones I didn’t like so much.

In general, Strahan has put together a good collection, though it seems rather inbred containing quite a few stories from his own collections.


  1. Strahan, Jonathan, ed. The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year Volume Nine. Solaris: Oxford, 2015.

 

Sunday Book Reviews

June Fiction II

Some summer reading.

Dark Eden by Chris Beckett (Random House, 2012)

An interesting story about a group of castaways on a very alien planet, who have, of necessity, established a small culture of their own.

The planet and its ecology are described in beautiful detail. Apparently lacking a visible sun, the planet is dark and frozen. But the interior is very hot, and life developed and has emerged in places. These surface colonies feature plants that emit light, and a complete ecology of animals with interesting adaptations.

The humans live in one tiny enclave, which is inbred and culturally static. The story involves events that break this stasis and lead to unprecedented changes and discoveries.

The Alchemist by Paul Coleho (HarperCollins, 2014)

Reprinted for the twenty fifth anniversary of the first publication, I had never read anything by Coelho, so this was new to me.

And it’s great—how did I miss this for so long? And he’s written a dozen books since.

The story is about a young man who, though contented to be a shepherd in Andalusia, decides to follow his Personal Legend. He is informed that his treasure will be found at the Pyramids.

As he travels, he is remarkably present; calm and observant, and learns about people and the desert and love and everything.

He meets The Alchemist, and they travel the last leg together, and learns that he already knows “alchemy”, for it is present in the world at all times.

The story is well told, and conveys the sense of deep, observant calm that permeates the boy’s approach to the world.

Reach for Infinity edited by Jonathan Strahan (Solaris, 2014)

A super collection of “Hard” Science Fiction stories, generally on the theme of humans at the forward edge of expansion into space. The contributors are an awesome gang of today’s best writers, so it’s no wonder the stories are top notch.

I was going to discuss some of the highlights, but a) the stories are quite diverse and b) there are too many highlights.

Let me just say:  mind blowing stuff, space colonization, interstellar travel, nanotech, bioengineering, and everything. Humans (to a certain value of “human”) live here, struggle here, love here, and die here.

A great collection, highly recommended.

I gather this is the third “Infinity” collection by Strahan.  I haven’t read the first two, but based on this one I expect they are excellent.