2018: A Novel Reader’s Year in Review

Statue of a guy just chilling from the Vatican

As this year draws to a close and I finish reading my 75th book and somethingdy somethingth short story, it seems like an appropriate time to drop a whole pile of reading recommendations. In this post I’ll cover books. Short stories will come soon. #SFWApro

If you’re interested in seeing what I’ve been up to this year, check out the 2018 Publishing Year in Review.

I can honestly say that my to-be-read pile increased faster than my already-read pile this year.

Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett

Robert Jackson Bennett’s Foundryside was one of my favorites this year. Incredible worldbuilding, brilliant action, and just generally a good read. Bennett crafts an incredible, dynamic world where magic has been industrialized. This magic system speaks to the programmer in me, especially when it gets into those willing to hack the systems.

I’m excited to read more in this world. 

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik

Naomi Novik is writing some of the best Fantasy out there. Spinning Silver follows three young women in three different economic situations in three different settings. Their stories weave together in intricate, unexpected ways, both echoing traditional fairy tales and covering new ground. It’s a rich, well-realized world and an absolute pleasure to read.

The Sea Dreams it is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs

The Sea Dreams it is the Sky by John Hornor Jacobs is cosmic horror that may have broken my brain. In this book, the pain of genocide and exile bring a suffering so powerful it warps time and reality itself.

This book succeeds on the depth of its characters. Isabel and Avendano are fascinating in their own right, and when they step into the miasma, they pull you right in with them.

Space Opera by Catherynne Valente

It isn’t often that a science fiction comedy really grabs me. There’s a fine line between “too silly” and “not silly enough,” but Catherynne Valente’s Space Opera nails it.

The survival of the human race depends on one band’s success in a galactic music contest. Bad enough, but the band that goes is a washed up ruin of a pop band. So much of the humor works in this story, but hidden under all that is a powerful character story, and by the end of the book, you’ll laugh harder because you’ll care so goddamn much about the people.

Semiosis by Sue Burke

You know I can’t resist botany-based science fiction. In Sue Burke’s Semiosis, sentient plants are front and center. What’s fascinating about this is the absolute strangeness in how the plant interacts with humans, with the world, and with other plants.

It’s the story of settlers integrating with their new environment, and the environment adapting to their influence. Every step in the process is fascinating.

Thanks for joining me today. Let me know what you’ve been reading this year in the comments. It’s nominations season, so I’m always on the lookout for excellent stories.

Of course, if you’re interested in more recommendations, go ahead and join my mailing list. I don’t send something out every month, but when I do I tend to make some noise about whatever stories are exciting out in the world.

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