Mar. 11th, 2017

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The Coming, Joe Haldeman
Dial M for Merde, Stephen Clarke
The Drawing of the Dark, Tim Powers
The Finishing School series, Gail Carriger
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Lois McMasters Bujold
I, Iago, Nicole Galland
Jam, Yahtzee Croshaw
The Last Defender of Camelot, Roger Zelazny
Lock In, John Scalzi
The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers
Mogworld, Yahtzee Croshaw
Seveneves, Neal Stephenson
Those Who Hunt The Night, Barbara Hambly
The Worlds Trilogy, Joe Haldeman

Most of these books did not release in 2016, and I’m specifically including re-reads. Again, in alphabetical order.

The Coming, Joe Haldeman. Interesting take on the alien invasion/humans from the future motif. His depiction of a future USA badly affected by climate change and environmental ruin is not a pretty picture.

Dial M for Merde, Stephen Clarke I went in to a book store looking for Clarke’s books, they looked them up on the computer and we learned they were in the travel section. WTF?! Some of his books are indeed travel-related, but they should probably be under general fiction. I finally got the first book of his Merde series. I’ve been side-tracked and haven’t made much progress on it of late, but off-hand, I’d say Dial M is better.

The Drawing of the Dark, Tim Powers. I’m not much of a fantasy guy, much less historic fantasy, but Tim Powers does an amazing job with this book. This may well become a regular re-read.

The Finishing School series, Gail Carriger is definitely among the best that I read this year. Very fun romp of a YA series.

Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen, Lois McMasters Bujold. While I will (very briefly) hesitate to say that pretty much anythng by Bujold is deserving a Best nod, this is a great book in the Vorkosigan series.

I, Iago, Nicole Galland. Excellent alternative take on Othello. Shakespeare’s characters, by the nature of the plays that they’re in, are kind of shallow when it comes to knowing their motivations. You may know more about the historic characters that are often used, but not always. This is one heck of a study of Othello that doesn’t excuse what Iago does and doesn’t change the play, but it does give a lot more depth to the setting of the play.

The Last Defender of Camelot, Roger Zelazny. While most of what I read was fairly recent, and no others were short story collections, Last Defender is a heck of a collection of short stories from an excellent master of times past. The title story is one of my favorite short stories of all time.

Lock In, John Scalzi. Lock-In Syndrome is a real thing and doctors have figured out ways to communicate with locked-in victims. But in this case a new virus causes a huge explosion in the number of lock-in patients, and technology rises to the occasion and develops technology that allows communications and telepresence mobility for them, all spurred by government incentives and public pressure after the President’s wife falls to the illness. I don’t know if Scalzi is planning on more novels in this line, I think they could be good if he takes his time releasing them.

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, Becky Chambers. This is, I think, definitely one of the best books that I read last year. It’s a really amazing debut novel that at times feels like Firefly, at other times more like Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. I really like her work and look forward to reading more of it.

Mogworld and Jam, Yahtzee Croshaw. Yahtzee is, as demonstrated by his work, really weird. One might say he’s an Australian Douglas Adams, but with a better work ethic. If I were to rank my Best Of list, these two would trend towards the bottom, but they’re still remarkable stories.

Seveneves, Neal Stephenson is another definite Best, but that goes for all of the Stephenson books that I’ve read. I hope to read more of his work soon.

Those Who Hunt The Night, Barbara Hambly. I’m not a huge fan of supernatural horror, but I loved the concept that vampires are being murdered and only a human can help them. The fact that he’s a former British agent who is now a college professor made me all the more intrigued.

The Worlds Trilogy, Joe Haldeman. My wife had a teacher (or possibly friend, I don’t remember) comment that you can’t trust a writer to write believable aliens if they can’t write believable women. This is always a problem that I’ve had with Heinlein. It might be a product of the times that he grew up in, or perhaps it’s just my taste and observation. Be that as it may, I think this trilogy out-Heinlein’s Heinlein. The female protagonist is resourceful, powerful, and feels a lot more real than RAH’s heroines. I’ll still re-read RAH occasionally, but I’ll be thinking of Maureen O’Hara when his women appear.
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Arrival
Central Intelligence
Florence Foster Jenkins
Hail, Caesar!
Moana
Race
Snowden
The Accountant
The Danish Girl
Where To Invade Next
Zootopia

In alphabetical order, not by preference.

Arrival was nice thinkie sci fi. We don’t have much thinkie in SF these days.

Central Intelligence was a nice fun romp, but also had some good character growth and ‘reflection on how far we’ve come’.

Florence Foster Jenkins: amazing cast, touching story about a woman driven by her desire to sing, but who absolutely cannot.

Hail, Caesar! I love me some Coen Brothers, and it’s great seeing George Clooney playing a bit of an idiot.

Moana. A bit of a departure for Disney, amazing songs and music. Nice not seeing ‘man saves the day’ and especially not seeing ‘white man saves the day’. And an Asian-Pacific cast!

Race. Jesse Owens was a pretty amazing person, and to do what he did in Nazi Berlin at the Olympics was amazing. I also love seeing, in film, places that I have been to and photographed.

Snowden. What a story. How many people have the guts to give up their life to expose something they see as wrong.

The Accountant. Heck of an action movie with an interesting story, compared to far too many action movies that you really have to stretch to find a story at all.

The Danish Girl. Amazing, beatiful, and sad film.

Where To Invade Next. Again, a thinkie movie. If other countries can do amazing things, and frequently for less money, then why can’t it be done in the USA?

Zootopia. While some of the plot elements were straight ‘rookie cop proving himself’, the specifics and the settings were so amazing that I can’t ding them for trope re-use.

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