Well that was a year!
So, we bid 2017 a farewell. Globally a year where the bad decision making of 2016 came back to haunt us as I had feared but as I’m always the optimist I also saw signs that those in power have found that some people are still prepared to stand and say No and resist on many fronts. My gut feeling is that 2018 will see this continue and grow; it may take time, but I think we will hear them crash to the ground one day… hey I like SF and Fantasy I’m used to these things taking volumes.
On a personal level 2017 was a relatively good year. My big aim was to start focusing more and doing a few things I’ve been putting off for a long time. I’m really pleased my diabetes is in a better place than it was 12 months ago; at work I did a project like one I attempted six years that beat me and this time I took it by the scruff of the neck and won; although the last three months have been a killer – hence a lot of radio silence; and then finally this blog has appeared. I started ad hoc reviewing for the now ended GeekPlanetOnline a few years ago and if you know me I love books so as that site started to go quiet I thought time to try out on my own. I will always be grateful for Dave Probert for giving me the opportunity to start reviews and I would totally recommend you read his new blog at http://theprobertreport.wordpress.com for great commentary on the genre. For me Dave was the heart and centre of GPO managing the bloggers and finding time to create some great podcasts.
Less than a year of my own blog and the one thing I now know is it requires dedication and I know for next year I intend to aim for a bit more regular content. To be fair the last few months of 2017 were just plain hard work; but reading and talking about it gives me something I don’t have elsewhere in my life so be prepared for January to be seeing quite a few updates on what I read on those delayed late trains getting home this winter ! Good news I broadly loved them! Sharing what I have found is one of my greatest joys so that is definitely one of my aims for 2018 (it is a sacred womble oath). There will be a companion piece to this tomorrow talking a bit more about what I want 2018 to be on here and a bit more widely
So that leaves….my faves of 2017!! I’m finishing on 105 books (thank you train companies for so much reading time when you’re late) and I think a pretty good year for books; the number I didn’t get on with was surprisingly small. If I reviewed it on here I enjoyed it (I’m not sure I will ever review or finish a truly bad book as they stop me from reading better ones and life is too short) so a few shout outs.
Why by Great Uncle Bulgaria Have I Not Read This Earlier?
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood
Still got to catch up on the TV series but I finally read this and firstly it is an amazingly sharp look at how women can be treated. Haunting and tense and will stick in your memory for years. The scariest thing – it feels a lot more contemporary than you would think…
Novellas Have I told you Lately How Much I Love You?
One of the recent joys (and here I do credit e-books) is we are seeing authors able to tell tales that are not a multi-volume epic of never ending build-up. Some that again stayed with me are
Arrival of the Missives by Aliya Whitely – one of the smartest stories I’ve read that confounded expectations. Go in cold but trust me you’ll love this. (Reviewed on the blog)
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle – a tale of racism that is applicable now as to when it was then. Hits you like a gale force wind; tackles Lovecraft’s racism and reminds the reader we are still living in a very flawed world.
It’s The End of the Series as We Know It
2017 has reminded me I have a lot of series to now finish so this is a theme to develop but three to mention so far are: -
The Split Worlds by Emma Newman (also reviewed on the blog) what appears to be a simple tale of a parallel world d and their dealing with the fae over five books becomes a searing takedown of patriarchal society and the need for equality. I was so happy to see this series finish so strongly
The Broken Earth by N K Jemisin – (I’m trying to work on a review to give this justice) this may be my new favourite fantasy trilogy for the decade. Yes, it’s that good! A tale of people battling an apocalypse has been done before but in this case, it combines that with discussions on race, sex and asks the question if you believe your society cannot be fixed what should you do? Amazingly inventive and just as important takes you on an emotional journey.
Discworld by Terry Pratchett – On twitter I’ve started a daily account @discworldreads looking at a discworld book each month (workdays allowing!) and it’s fascinating to watch the evolution of a writer. The early books feel like rough sketches but now after Wyrd Sisters and Guards Guards I’m spotting a writer prepared to take risks, develop characters and quite frankly become the writer of some of my later faves. A reminder that debuts are great but watching how authors develop over several boos can also be satisfying (something for 2018 to watch)
Let Me Be Your Fantasy!
These three already reviewed on the blog but a reminder
The Ninth Rain by Jen Williams – This time after the Sword and Sorcery of The Copper Cat Trilogy comes a look at Epic Fantasy and I think it looks to be a fantastic story. Does something new and may also contain spaceships….
Age of Assassins by RJ Barker – now the other great tale of an Assassin’s Apprentice that does a mystery novel in a fantasy environment. Fascinating world, great characters and a sense of humour – one to watch
Under the Pendulum Sky by Jeannette Ng - subversive, eerie and not afraid to tackle theology this tale is well worth your time as Victorian Missionaries try to convert the Fae. A book the more you think about the more you realise how smart it is
Together in Electric Dreams
My Favourite for 2017 - The one book I read in January that stayed with me throughout the year and I’ve been pushing onto as many people as I can……
The Power by Naomi Alderman – A story that explores how society would react if women developed the power to fire electricity. While it tackles gender inequalities it also really explores how humans react to those with power – we fear it, love it and want it. The worldbuilding is amazing, the use of character to explain ideas is spot on and the science fiction of the idea and its consequences is done very cleverly. If you’ve not read it…off, you go…right now….
So, I leave you on the last day of the year with the words of a fine Doctor with some advice for 2018
“Never be cruel, never be cowardly. And, never ever eat pears! Remember – hate is always foolish…and love, is always wise. Always try to be nice and never fail to be kind…. Laugh Hard. Run Fast. Be Kind”
May there always be cake