Last Books of the decade: 2019

Well it’s that time again. I am a little late this year as I haven’t actually written anything before New Years day — as a result additional commentary might not be all that well thought out. But as The Raes said back in 1978, Que sera, sera. So without further adieu, here is what I read in 2019:

Books 2019

January (10)

The Gate Thief Orson Scott Card (2013)
Mithermage Book 2 – ebook;

Gatefather Orson Scott Card (2015)
Mithermage Book 3 – ebook;

The Consuming Fire John Scazi (2018)
The Interdependency Book 2 – ebook;

Friendly Fire Dale Lucas (2018)
Fifth Ward Book 2 – ebook;

The Gap into Conflict: The Real Story Stephen R Donaldson (1990)
The Gap Cycle Book 1 – ebook; reread

The Gap into Vision: Forbidden Knowledge Stephen R Donaldson (1991)
The Gap Cycle Book 2 – ebook; reread

Stand by for Mars Carey Rockwell (1952)
Tom Corbett: Space Cadet Book 1 – ebook; reread

The Gap into Power: A Dark and Hungry God Arises Stephen R Donaldson (1992)
The Gap Cycle Book 3 – ebook; reread

The Gap into Madness: Chaos and Order Stephen R Donaldson (1994)
The Gap Cycle Book 4 – ebook; reread

Major Barbara George Bernard Shaw (1905)
– ebook; reread

February (10)

The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die Stephen R Donaldson (1996)
The Gap Cycle Book 5 – ebook; reread

Six Characters in Search of an Author Luigi Pirandello (1921)
– ebook; reread

Star Hunter Andre Norton (1961)
– ebook;

The Armored Saint Myke Cole (2018)
The Sacred Throne Book 1 – ebook;

Our American Cousin Tom Taylor (1858)
– ebook;

Firebird Jack McDevitt (2011)
Alex Benedict Book 6 – ebook;

The Queen of Crows Myke Cole (2018)
The Sacred Throne Book 2 – ebook;

Pygmalion George Bernard Shaw (1913)
– ebook;

An Ember in the Ashes Sabaa Tahir (2015)
An Ember in the Ashes Book 1 – ebook;

A Torch Against the Night Sabaa Tahir (2016)
An Ember in the Ashes Book 2 – ebook;

March (13)

A Reaper at the Gates Sabaa Tahir (2018)
An Ember in the Ashes Book 3 – ebook;

Coming Home Jack McDevitt (2014)
Alex Benedict Book 7 – ebook;

Short Fiction Ivan Bunin (1907)
– ebook;

The Second Mrs. Tanqueray Arthur Pinero (1893)
– ebook; reread

Chanur’s Venture C.J. Cherryh (1984)
Chanur Book 2 – ebook; reread

Sing the Four Quarters Tanya Huff (1994)
Quarters Book 1 – ebook;

Dr Faustus Christopher Marlowe (1604)
– ebook; reread

Under a Graveyard Sky John Ringo (2013)
Black Tide Rising Book 1 – ebook; reread

To Sail a Darkling Sea John Ringo (2014)
Black Tide Rising Book 2 – ebook; reread

Islands of Rage and Hope John Ringo (2014)
Black Tide Rising Book 3 – ebook; reread

Strands of Sorrow John Ringo (2015)
Black Tide Rising Book 4 – ebook; reread

Fifth Quarter Tanya Huff (1995)
Quarters Book 2 – ebook;

No Quarter Tanya Huff (1996)
Quarters Book 3 – ebook;

April (18)

The Alchemist Ben Jonson (1610)
– ebook; reread

Alice Payne Rides Kate Heartfield (2019)
Alice Payne Book 2 – ebook;

A Memory Called Empire Arkady Martine (2019)
Teixcalaan Book 1 – ebook;

Shards of Honor Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)
Vorkosigan Book 1 – ebook; reread

Barrayar Lois McMaster Bujold (1991)
Vorkosigan Book 2 – ebook; reread

The Warriors Apprentice Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)
Vorkosigan Book 3 – ebook; reread

Mountains of Mourning Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)
Vorkosigan Book 4 – ebook; reread

The Vor Game Lois McMaster Bujold (1990)
Vorkosigan Book 5 – ebook; reread

Ceteganda Lois McMaster Bujold (1995)
Vorkosigan Book 6 – ebook; reread

Borders of Infinity Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)
Vorkosigan Book 7 – ebook; reread

Brothers in Arms Lois McMaster Bujold (1989)
Vorkosigan Book 8 – ebook; reread

Ethan of Athos Lois McMaster Bujold (1986)
Vorkosigan Book 6.5 – ebook; reread

Mirror Dance Lois McMaster Bujold (1994)
Vorkosigan Book 9 – ebook; reread

Memory Lois McMaster Bujold (1996)
Vorkosigan Book 10 – ebook; reread

Komarr Lois McMaster Bujold (1998)
Vorkosigan Book 11 – ebook; reread

A Civil Campaign Lois McMaster Bujold (2000)
Vorkosigan Book 12 – ebook; reread

Winterfair Gifts Lois McMaster Bujold (2004)
Vorkosigan Book 12.5 – ebook; reread

Diplomatic Immunity Lois McMaster Bujold (2002)
Vorkosigan Book 13 – ebook; reread

May (15)

Cryoburn Lois McMaster Bujold (2010)
Vorkosigan Book 14 – ebook; reread

Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance Lois McMaster Bujold (2012)
Vorkosigan Book 15 – ebook; reread

The Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen Lois McMaster Bujold (2016)
Vorkosigan Book 16 – ebook; reread

The Flowers of Vashnoi Lois McMaster Bujold (2018)
Vorkosigan Book 16.5 – ebook; reread

A Passage of Stars Kate Elliot (1990)
Highroads Book 1 – ebook; reread

Revolution’s Shore Kate Elliot (1990)
Highroads Book 2 – ebook;

The Price of Ransom Kate Elliot (1990)
Highroads Book 3 – ebook;

Falling Free Lois McMaster Bujold (1998)
– ebook; reread

Finders Melissa Scott (2018)
Firstborn, Lastborn Series Book 1 – ebook;

The Cloud Roads Martha Wells (2011)
Raksura Book 1 – ebook; reread

The Serpent Sea Martha Wells (2012)
Raksura Book 2 – ebook; reread

The Siren Depths Martha Wells (2012)
Raksura Book 3 – ebook; reread

The Edge of Worlds Martha Wells (2016)
Raksura Book 4 – ebook;

Blackcollar Timothy Zahn (1983)
Blackcollar Book 1 – ebook; reread

Backlash Mission Timothy Zahn (1986)
Blackcollar Book 2 – ebook;

June (6)

Tarnsman of Gor John Norman (1966)
Gor Book 1 – ebook; reread

Spinning Silver Naomi Novik (2018)
– ebook;

Cold Welcome Elizabeth Moon (2017)
Vatta’s Peace Book 1 – ebook;

Into the Fire Elizabeth Moon (2018)
Vatta’s Peace Book 2 – ebook;

Ancestral Nights Elizabeth Bear (2018)
White Space Book 1 – ebook;

Starless Jacqueline Carey (2018)
– ebook;

July (10)

Madness in Solidar L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2015)
The Imager Portfolio Book 9 – ebook; reread

Treachery’s Tools L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2016)
The Imager Portfolio Book 10 – ebook; reread

Assassin’s Price L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2017)
The Imager Portfolio Book 11 – ebook; reread

Endgames L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2019)
The Imager Portfolio Book 12 – ebook;

Short Fiction Mack Reynolds (2019)
– ebook;

Imager L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2009)
The Imager Portfolio Book 1 – ebook; reread

Imager’s Challenge L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2009)
The Imager Portfolio Book 2 – ebook; reread

Imager’s Intrigue L. E. Modesitt Jr. (2010)
The Imager Portfolio Book 3 – ebook; reread

The Merry Wives of Windsor William Shakespeare (1605)
– ebook;

Terminal Uprising Jim C. Hines (2019)
Janitors of the Post-Apocalypse Book 2 – ebook;

August (10)

Octavia Gone Jack McDevitt (2019)
Alex Benedict Book 8 – ebook; reread

Henry V William Shakespeare (1599)
– ebook; reread

Merchanter’s Luck C.J. Cherryh (1982)
Alliance-Union– ebook; reread

Finity’s End C.J. Cherryh (1997)
Alliance-Union – ebook; reread

Empress of Forever Max Gladstone (2019)
– ebook;

Warhorse Timothy Zahn (1990)
– ebook; reread

Pawn Timothy Zahn (2018)
Sibyl’s War Book 1 – ebook;

The Orphans of Raspay Lois McMaster Bujold (2019)
Penric and Desdemona Book 7 – ebook;

Red Sister Mark Lawrence (2017)
Book of the Ancestors Book 1 – ebook;

Grey Sister Mark Lawrence (2018)
Book of the Ancestors Book 2 – ebook;

September (7)

Rimrunners C.J. Cherryh (1989)
Alliance-Union – ebook;

Nevernight Jay Kristoff (2016)
The Nevernight Chronicle Book 1 – ebook; reread

Godsgrave Jay Kristoff (2017)
The Nevernight Chronicle Book 2 – ebook; reread

The Jeeves Stories P.G. Wodehouse (1920)
– ebook;

DarkDawn Jay Kristoff (2019)
The Nevernight Chronicle Book 3 – ebook;

Good Company Dale Lucas (2019)
Fifth Ward Book 3 – ebook;

Holy Sister Mark Lawrence (2019)
Book of the Ancestors Book 3 – ebook;

October (6)

Through Fiery Trials David Weber (2019)
Safehold Book 12 – ebook;

Hammered Elizabeth Bear (2005)
Jenny Casey Book 1 – ebook; reread

Scardown Elizabeth Bear (2005)
Jenny Casey Book 2 – ebook; reread

Worldwired Elizabeth Bear (2005)
Jenny Casey Book 3 – ebook; reread

Denver is Missing D. F. Jones (1971)
– ebook; reread

On the Beach Neville Shute (1957)
– ebook; reread

November (11)

The End of the Matter Alan Dean Foster (1977)
Pip and Flinx Book 4 – ebook; reread

Flinx in Flux Alan Dean Foster (1988)
Pip and Flinx Book 5 – ebook; reread

Mid-Flinx Alan Dean Foster (1995)
Pip and Flinx Book 6 – ebook; reread

Reunion Alan Dean Foster (2001)
Pip and Flinx Book 7 – ebook;

Flinx’s Folly Alan Dean Foster (2001)
Pip and Flinx Book 8 – ebook;

Sliding Scales Alan Dean Foster (2004)
Pip and Flinx Book 9 – ebook;

Crystal Singer Anne McCaffrey (1982)
Crystal Singer Book 1 – ebook;

Killashandra Anne McCaffrey (1985)
Crystal Singer Book 2 – ebook; reread

Crystal Line Anne McCaffrey (1992)
Crystal Singer Book 3 – ebook;

Running from the Diety Alan Dean Foster (2005)
Pip and Flinx Book 10 – ebook;

The Ruins of Gorlan John Flanagan (year)
Ranger’s Apprentice Book 1 – ebook;

December (7)

Bloodhype Alan Dean Foster (1973)
Pip and Flinx Book 11 – ebook;

Trouble Magnet Alan Dean Foster (2006)
Pip and Flinx Book 12 – ebook;

Knight Timothy Zahn (2019)
Sibyl’s War Book 2 – ebook;

Velocity Weapon Megan E. O’Keefe (2019)
The Protectorate Book 1 – ebook;

The Harbors of the Sun Martha Wells (2017)
Raksura Book 5 – ebook;

Patrimony Alan Dean Foster (2007)
Pip and Flinx Book 13 – ebook;

Flinx Transcendant Alan Dean Foster (2008)
Pip and Flinx Book 14 – ebook;

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The Stats

123 books
64 rereads
0 audiobooks
10.25/month, .337/day

My ebook library now sits at 735 books.

This is significant because for the first time in my entire life I have a backlog of unread books to get through. Frankly I am a bit ashamed: 87 unread books! Now granted, around 31 are ebook copies of paper books I have previously read, and a further 16 are classic fiction, emergency books (like Around the World in 80 Days or Middlemarch) that I downloaded many years ago “just in case,” but that still leaves a whopping 40 titles I need to get through to establish some equilibrium. Time to cut down on the rereads I guess…

What I Read

As usual it was primarily SF and Fantasy.  Due to my work in the Standard ebook project I did add a bit of variety including 9 plays and 4 non-sf/f titles which included a massive collection of depressing, yet fascinating Russian short stories and  a bunch of the original Jeeves stories. I commend both to your attention.

Significant among the rereads were Stephen R Donaldson’s Gap Cycle which, while I was among the legion of Thomas Covenant fanboys back in the day,  seem to me to be a much better work and certainly more able to stand the test of time. I also revisited Elizabeth Bear’s first published books, the Jenny Casey series which were still great though they bore the rough edges of a new writer. I say this only because she has gone on to become probably my most revered author of the modern age—man that woman can spin a good story… again and again… and again. I also reread the entire Bujold Miles Vorkosigan tale, all 16 books with associated side stories and novels, and John Ringo’s Black Tide Rising zombie apocalypse trilogy — both of which were as enjoyable as ever.

I did reread and then finish off two series: the first was Martha Wells’ Rakusa where I reread the first three books and finished off the last two. I have to say it was ok, but paled in comparison to much more excellent Murderbot series of novellas. Part of that is that the Rakusa novels had a very clunky, episodic feel—I admit to being a bit nervous about the forthcoming Murderbot novel…maybe her forté is shorter fiction? Speaking of test of time, the second series I finished off definitely suffered, although I don’t know if that was me or the books. I first encountered Alan Dean Foster’s Flinx and his sidekick minidrag Pip back in the late 70s. It was certainly some of the earliest SF I ever read. I faithfully read along as he published new novels until about 1995 (Book 6) and then sort of dropped the ball for almost 25 years. As of today I have one more to read (Strange Music, Book 15, published in 2017) and then I assume he is done. What started as  a sort of advanced YA morphed into a more adult-oriented series but I  am not sure the style suited it. Suffice it to say I was not as enamoured of the later books and even the early ones reread a bit less than my expectations/memories.

Another eye opener was my decision to reread the Tarnsman of Gor which was the first in the Gor series written by John Norman. Written in the style of Burroughs’ Barsoom books, they are definitely not recommended for any reader that can’t situate themselves in a 50s or 60s mindset. Seriously. They would probably cause a brain aneurism for most younger, modern readers. And while the first one isn’t that bad, I seem to remember that by Book 8 or 9 he started to spend whole chapters talking about the natural servility of women and other pretty ridiculous theologies. It was good to remind myself of the past, but I find myself pretty settled in the future now, thank-you very much.

One last word on the past. I edited a collection of Mack Reynolds stories for Standard Ebooks. Written in the 50s mostly for SF rags, they are a pretty amazing look into the future of human political systems and technology. I was truly impressed about how much he got right. An underrated author if you ask me.

Modern SF

One last bit on the theme. It occurred to me this year that modern Science fiction and Fantasy these days (let’s say the last 15 or so years) is a lot tighter and better written than the older stuff. I am too lazy to seriously look at what that means or why it is (I left that all behind with my English degree) but overall the craftsmanship is way up. I am sure a lot of that is the people in the trade these days—both writers and editors— are standing on the shoulders of giants, and that the freeing of the publishing world from the oppressive yoke of traditional publishing has contributed to greater exposure for authors. (Note: I am being extremely sarcastic about the oppressive yoke bit, but not about the potential contribution. See Hugh Howey and Andy Weir.)

Whatever the reasons, I have found a new interest in fantasy, an interest which had almost died out with the never-ending, multi-book, soap opera-like series that had dominated the market that last bunch of years, and I was delighted several times this past year with authors like Sabaa Tahir, Mark Lawrence and Jay Kristoff. Even the now venerable Jacqueline Carey stretched her wings with a most excellent stand-alone novel: Starless

And the SF has  kicked it up a notch too; check out some truly “novel” and exciting stuff by people like Arkady Martine and Megan E. O’Keefe.

All this to say, I am enjoying the new crop of my chosen genre’s publishing efforts. Congratulations to each every one of you that has contributed to what I will deign to call a resurgence 😉


C’est tout. As I said I am behind times so hopefully you can already catch Leslie’s 2019 book & music list here and the one, the only, the original Earl’s list here.

Links to previous years book posts:

 

 

 

 

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