This year’s reading. If I finished it, it was at least good. If it has an asterisk after it, it was great.
1. Echopraxia, by Peter Watts*
2. Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America by Gilbert King
3. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2013, edited by Tim Folger and Siddhartha Mukherjee
4. All Heads Turn when the Hunt Goes By, John Farris
- Touchstone, by Laurie R. King
- The Madonna and the Starship, by James Morrow
- Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
- Horns: A Novel, by Joe Hill*
- The Door in the Mountain, by Caitlin Sweet*
- A Taste Fur Murder, by Dixie Lyle
- The Golden Princess: A Novel of the Change, by S.M. Stirling*
- The Secret Place, by Tana French*
- The Lesser Dead, by Christopher Buehlman*
- Last Plane to Heaven by Jay Lake*
- Last Song Before Night, by Ilana C. Myer
16. N0S4A2, by Joe Hill
17. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of those who survived the Great American Dustbowl, by Timothy Egan*
18. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2014, edited by Tim Folger and Deborah Blum*
19. The Great Influenza, by John M. Barry*
20. Nobody’s Home, by Tim Powers
21. We Will All Go Down Together, by Gemma Files (As of this morning, I’m two stories away from being finished with this.)*
Plus some, but not all, of the stories
“Hard Stars,” by Brendan DuBois
“Something going Around,” by Harry Turtledove
“Solstice Cakes,” by Nina Kiriki Hoffman,
“The Faery Handbag,” by Kelly Link
“Strange Attractors” by S.B. Divya
Here’s the annual list of everything I read last year. It’s a new low, numerically–between the move and a couple other things, I wasn’t in the right headspace. I did read a fair number of short stories, but I often forgot to record them. A few made it to their own list, though, at the bottom. Of those, my favorite was the John Chu story
The best novel for me, this year, was Hild, by Nicola Griffith. You probably remember that I reviewed it, here.
1. Best American Science and Nature Writing, edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger
2. Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed
3. The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondatje
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey
5. Suspect Identities: A history of fingerprinting and criminal identification by Simon A. Cole
6. The Murder of the Century: The Gilded Age Crime that Scandalized a City and Sparked the Tabloid Wars, by Paul Collins
7. Eighty Days: Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland’s History-Making Race Around the World, by Matthew Goodman
8. The Power of Habit, by Charles Duhigg
9. Black Rubber Dress, by Lauren Henderson
10. The Given Sacrifice, by S.M. Stirling
11. The Summer of Dead Toys, by Antonio Hill
12. Hild, by Nicola Griffith
13. The Great Influenza: The Epic Story of the Deadliest Plague in History, by John M. Barry
14. The Voices In-Between, by Charlene Challenger
15. Dark Places, by Gillian Flynn
16. The Shining Girls, by Lauren Beukes
17. Wolf Hall, by Hilary Mantel
2 student novels, plus partials
“About Fairies,” Pat Murphy
“The Water that Falls on You from Nowhere,” John Chu
“Running of the Bulls” by Harry Turtledove
“Brimstone and Marmalade,” by Aaron Corwin,
“Dormanna,” by Gene Wolfe
“House of Dreams“, by Michael Swanwick
I am currently more than halfway through Suspect Identities: A History of Fingerprinting and Criminal Identification, by Simon A. Cole. The title’s pretty self-explanatory, I think.
This is research for the trilogy set on Stormwrack, the same world where “Among the Silvering Herd” takes place, and
I’ve learned a lot. I’ve learned that early uses of fingerprinting tended to center around colonizing nations trying to tell their individual subjects apart (they thought all those non-white folks they were dominating looked alike!) I also learned how much of the early development of this technology was less about gathering fingerprints–either directly from individuals or in the form of latent prints on crime scenes–and more about generating a reliable filing system so that you could match the things.
I’d been craving a good non-fiction read and this has definitely delivered.
Here’s a short quote…
J. Edgar Hoover would reminisce fondly about the days when “too many law-enforcement officers were men of low intelligence, some of low morals, and, indeed, of a low opinion for anyone who sought to make science his aid and his standby in the pursuit of a criminal.”
Other books, so far this year –
1. The Best American Science and Nature Writing 2012, edited by Dan Ariely and Tim Folger
2. Throne of the Crescent Moon, by Saladin Ahmed
3. The Cat’s Table, by Michael Ondaatje
4. The Daughter of Time, by Josephine Tey (I read this partly because of the discovery of Richard the III’s bones and partly because of the Jo Walton essay “How can this be so gripping?”
“About Fairies,” Pat Murphy
Here’s all the books and many of the short stories I read in 2012
1. The Swerve: How the World Became Modern, by Stephen Greenblatt
2. Among Others, by Jo Walton
3. Atlantic: Great Sea Battles, Heroic Discoveries, Titanic Storms, and a Vast Ocean of a Million Stories, by Simon Winchester
4. Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter
5. Kat, Incorrigible (Unladylike Adventures of Kat Stephenson), by Stephanie Burgis
6. Remote, by Donn Cortez
7.The Pattern Scars by Caitlin Sweet
8. one awesome draft novel by a dear friend
9. Property of a Lady, by Sarah Rayne
10. Hark a Vagrant by Kate Beaton
11. Black Blade Blues, by J.A. Pitt
12. Redshirts, by John Scalzi
13. Broken Harbour, by Tana French
14. Sharp Objects, by Gillian Flynn
15. Are you My Mother? By Alison Bechdel
16. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
17. Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins
18. Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
19. On Conan Doyle or The Whole Art of Storytelling, by Michael Dirda
20. Falling Angel, by William Hjortsberg
21. Between two Fires, by Christopher Buehlman
22. Black Diamonds; The Rise and Fall of an English Dynasty, by Catherine Bailey
23. The Warlock’s Curse, by M.K. Hobson
24. Little Star, by John Ajvide Lindqvist
25. Gone Girl, by Gillian Flynn
26. The Keeper of Lost Causes, by Jussi Adler-Olsen
27. The Sin Eater, by Sarah Rayne
28. How to Archer, by Sterling Archer
Short Stories (there were others; I’m just getting into this habit).
“Men Who Would Drown,” by Elizabeth Fama
“Six Months, Three Days,” by Charlie Jane Anders
“Nell,” by Karen Hesse (http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/09/nell)
“How to Make a Triffid” by Kelly Lagor (http://www.tor.com/stories/2012/11/how-to-make-a-triffid)
“Your Final Apocalypse,” Sandra McDonald, Clarksworld
“A Scandal in Bohemia,” Arthur Conan Doyle
Faithful Place, by Tana French
Into Thin Air, by Jon Krakauer
Broken Harbour, by Tana French
So, finally, The Warlock’s Curse!
Here’s the very pretty cover:
But what’s inside? I reviewed M.K. Hobson’s second novel, The Hidden Goddess, for Tor.com back when it came out. And I have been eagerly awaiting the sequel ever since.
The thing about this book is: what do I say? I am a spoilerphobe and I try to write spoiler-free book write-ups; this is sooper-hooper tricky in the case of M.K. Hobson’s Veneficas Americana series, because The Warlock’s Curse is intimately tied to the events of the preceding two books. This means a discussion of this third novel requires tapdancing around the revelations from three full books.
But here goes: TWC is mostly the story of William Edwards, a sweet and remarkably gifted farmboy with a talent for Otherwhere engineering. Will’s not quite eighteen, he’s a tad dyslexic and he’s been accepted as a fellow at the Telsa Institute in Detroit. Sadly, his parents have categorically forbidden him to go.
Will is a good-hearted kid–a sweet one, really–but he’s in a huge power struggle with his father and this has made him snarky and more than a little desperate. Then a chance arises for him to run off by accepting some help from someone in a similar situation, his childhood pal Scuff, otherwise known as Jenny.
Jenny, like Will, has a streak of genius and parent troubles. Being a girl, she’s expected to sort out her issues, tighten her bustle and quietly enter into fruitful matrimony with some San Francisco society gentleman to be chosen later. Instead, she and Will embark on a partnership–they flee together to Detroit, where the Telsa folks are located, and pursue their separate agendas.
The only hitch? They have to get married to pull it off. Soon our teen heroes are on the run with a barely legitimate marriage certificate and more money than sense. Everyone is after them, and there’s also another problem they can’t appreciate: nearly everyone around Will has told him a lie or two over the years, Jenny included. And hidden behind his parents’ lies is a secret so awful it might destroy the two of them and a decent amount of U.S. real estate if things go awry.
It’s a novel. Things go awry.
TWC plays out against a backdrop of magic, politics, and plague. An evangelist preacher is taking steps to try eliminating all magical ability from the U.S. population. He has already managed to inoculate most of the younger generations, but he’s trying to wipe out the abilities of the privileged elder generation who grew up with magic.
It’s tricky, at times, that this book is so intimately tied to its precedessors. I can’t imagine reading it without having read The Native Star and The Hidden Goddess. A certain amount of the pleasure I derived from reading it came from knowing all the things William doesn’t. And as a second complaint, I will say it ends on a whopper of a suspenseful situation. Being obliged to put it down without having the next book ready and waiting was very sad. See how sad?
As for the novel itself: it has the usual grandeur of Hobson’s writing, the delightful characters and hilarious dialog, and the no-punches pulled savagery of a bare-knuckles brawl. In marrying and running off from people determined to protect them from everything including the truth, Will and Jenny dress themselves for the slaughter. And I do not use that word lightly. The little bit of responsibility they bear for getting themselves into trouble hardly rates against what happens to them.
Is Hobson saying we should meekly accept lying by authority figures for our own good? No, obviously not. But TWC is very much about displaced pride, the inability to ask for help and the inability of one person, however talented, to stand against massive corrupt organizations, be they political, corporate, or sorcerous in nature.