We are marching towards the end of a year of tumult and turbulence, and I am going to retreat from it and instead talk books at you. Specifically, I have read a metric crapton of books this year, and mostly I have blogged about them previous to this, so I will let those posts speak to me, vis:

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covershadowsSo here I extol the virtues of House of Binding Thorns (de Bodard), Who Killed Sherlock Holmes (Cornell), City of Blades (Bennett), Walkaway (Doctorow), Semiosis (Burke), A Man of Shadows (Noon), Brother’s Ruin (Newman E) and Azanian Bridges (Wood), and blimey that was a big old bottleneck of books.

coverrailroadcoverafteratlasThen came the Clarke shortlist, which I particularly enjoyed this year. Here I go over A Closed and Common Orbit (Chambers) and Central Station (Tidhar); here Underground Railroad (Whitehead, the eventual winner) and After Atlas (Newman E), and here Occupy Me (Sullivan) and Ninefox Gambit (Lee).

cover chalkcover the switchAfter that I got right back on the bike with All Good Things (Newman E again, I have been blessed with a lot of Emma’s work to chew on this year!), Chalk (Cornell) and then my first bite of the *(possibly fictional) “next generation” of fantasy writers with Kings of the Wyld (Eames), Age of Assassins (Barker) and The Court of Broken Knives (Smith Spark) and then, a bit later, Godblind (Stephens) and Blackwing (McDonald) along with Raven Stratagem (Lee again), The Seven (Newman P), The Death and Life of Schneider Wrack (Crowley), The Switch (Robson) and Zones of Thought (Vinge).

cover pendulumcover bastardAnd finally (and I think I may have recc’d more books this year than ever before to be honest) Embers of War (Powell), The Bastard Legion (Smith), City of Lies (Hawke), Under the Pendulum Sun (Ng), Ada King (Faulds), Origamy (Armstrong) and A Time of Dread (Gwynne). Which makes for a packed year – but wait, there’s more!

Because I don’t seem to have talked about the Newcon Press novella line – last year I read four SF novellas from Simon Morden, Anne Charnock, Neil Williamson and none other than Alastair Reynolds, and this year I caught their rather spectacular horror set, most of which have that kind of strong psychological “is it or isn’t it real?” sort of feature that always works for me. In this set we have Simon Clark’s Case of the Bedevilled Poet (a Sherlock Holmes – or is it – mystery), Sarah Lotz’ Body in the Woods (a very tight and nasty psychological thriller), Jay Caselberg’s The Wind (which is the most unambiguous of them in the sense of the Nasty is pretty much impossible to obfuscate, but no less good for all that), and my personal favourite, Alison Littlewood’s Cottingley, which gives a very nice (in the sense of vicious) spin on the titular fairy business.

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I also had an advance copy of Blackfish City by Sam J Miller turn up, which is an intriguing near future post-collapse book about an arctic city of all sorts of graft, grime and cultural cross-contamination, and the remarkable woman who turns up, for purposes unknown, accompanied by an orca and a polar bear, perhaps the last vengeful scion of an animal-bonded people who were hunted to extinction (or not) by reactionary mobs. This is an intriguing novel with that take on the future – on the balance between the grimly plausible and the speculative – that I’ve tried for myself in Dogs of War and Ironclads.

cover NC body cover blackfish daughter of edenFinally, and very belatedly, I have finished off Chris Beckett’s Eden trilogy with Daughter of Eden. This remains one of my all-time favourite SF works, with an uncompromising look at how societies form (and malform), split and clash, and all without ever taking sides or demonising any one point of view. Beckett remains one of the best modern SF voices all round.

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