Clif's 100 in 2015

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Clif's 100 in 2015

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1clif_hiker
Redigeret: dec 23, 2015, 2:30pm

huh? I was almost sure I had started a thread here ... but either I didn't or something happened to it.

Anyway here I go ... far better late than never I suppose. My apologies for my spotty presence here and elsewhere over the last months ... life getting in the way and all.

my list of things read ... in no particular order.

Books/Graphic Novels
1. Ancillary Justice
2. 1632 Eric Flint
3. The Time Machine HG Wells
4. The Puppet Masters
5. Starship Troopers
6. Dawn Octavia Butler
7. The Cuckoo's Calling Robert Galbraith
8. Master and Commander Patrick O'Brian
9. Hard Magic Larry Correia
10. The Stars My Destination Alfred Bester
11. The Professor Robert Bailey
12. Five Days That Shocked the World Nicholas Best
13. Man in a High Castle Philip K. Dick
14. Annihilation Jeff VanderMeer
15. Rat Queens Vol. 1: Sass and Sorcery Kurtis J. Wiebe
16. Redshirts John Scalzi
17. Sex Criminals Vol 1 Matt Fraction
18. Three Body Problem Cixin Liu
19. Karen Memory Elizabeth Bear
20. Skin Game Jim Butcher
21. Mr. Mercedes Stephen King
22. The Girl With All the Gifts M.R. Carey
23. Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 G. Willow Wilson
24. The Strangler Vine M.J. Carter
25. Lock In John Scalzi
26. The Goblin Emperor Katherine Addison
27. Terms of Enlistment Marko Kloos
28. Gone Girl Gillian Flynn
29. Saga Volume 1 Brian K. Vaughn
30. Lines of Departure Marko Kloos
31. Seveneves Neal Stephenson
32. Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel
33. The Name of the Wind Patrick Rothfuss
34. The Girl on the Train Paula Hawkins
35. Doctor Sleep Stephen King
36. The Lives of Tao Wesley Chu
37. Saving Mars Cidney Swanson
38. Monster Hunter International Larry Correia
39. Robert Heinlein's Expanded Universe Robert Heinlein
40. Frontier Justice: The Survivalist #1 Arthur Bradley
41. Anarchy Rising: The Survivalist #2 Arthur Bradley
42. The Red Thumb Mark R. Austin Freeman
43. The Eye of Osiris R. Austin Freeman
44. Starman Jones Robert Heinlein
45. Citizen of the Galaxy Robert Heinlein
46. Long Road to Survival: The Prepper Series Lee Bradford
47. The Mystery Of 31 New Inn R. Austin Freeman
48. A Silent Witness R. Austin Freeman
49. The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet Becky Chambers
50. Conversations With Spirits E.O. Higgins
51. Helen Vardon's Confession R. Austin Freeman
52. The Shell Collector Hugh Howey
53. Parnassus on Wheels Christopher Morley
54. Beacon 23 Hugh Howey
55. The End of All Things John Scalzi


Not-Books, but worth mentioning
1. If You Were a Dinosaur My Love Rachel Swirsky
2. Parasite Planet Stanley G. Weinbaum
3. Unlocked John Scalzi
4. Beacon 23: Little Noises Hugh Howey
5. Beacon 23: Pet Rocks Hugh Howey
6. Beacon 23: Bounty Hugh Howey
7. Beacon 23: Company Hugh Howey

2clif_hiker
Redigeret: maj 11, 2015, 1:47pm

just finished Ancillary Justice .... well deserving of the awards it's garnered! Was very tough to get going as she throws a lot at you in the beginning and you wonder when and if it will ever all come together. But then a startling scene that shocked me with it's intensity ... and off we go!

a few questions still remain about the world/universe Ms. Leckie has created ... but am hopeful that these will be cleared up or at least expanded upon in the future installments.

Brilliant! 5 stars!

3clif_hiker
maj 11, 2015, 1:51pm

1632 Eric Flint; normally I would have fought shy of this story ... being as it's published by Baen books and every time I look over there at their stuff I run into John Ringo et.al. But then I read some commentary from Flint about the current puppygate mess and thought... why not give him a try ... and this book was free!! so there's that.

anyhow ... the story was terrific, once you get past the suspension of disbelief and the rah rah America's the best stuff (which to be fair isn't all that obnoxious). I DID kind of think that those 1600's era peasants sure did pick up modern warfare tools and gadgets awfully quickly ... but still fun!

4clif_hiker
maj 11, 2015, 1:56pm

some rereads ... things I hadn't read in a good while

two by Heinlein ... Starship Troopers which I still love! and The Puppet Masters ... eh not as much as I used to ... the boy-girl relationship was particularly galling this time around (perhaps revealing something about my growth as an individual human being .. who knows?)

Master and Commander yes my all time favorite not science fiction book series! Is due for a reread! And just as wonderful as I remember!

5clif_hiker
maj 11, 2015, 2:19pm

I became increasingly aware of the whole Hugo situation about two months ago. I came across Larry Correia's name and thought hmmm don't I have something by him buried in the recesses of my kindle? Went looking and sure enough out popped Hard Magic.

Went in prepared to dislike it ... prepared to say it wasn't worth the effort and perpetuated all sorts of stereotypes etc etc.

But I can't do it. I liked it. It's not GREAT .. it's not Hugo-worthy. But ... I liked it and want to read more.

which is the thing that I really hate about this current culture war in SFF ... that I can't just read things that I like .. I now have to wonder which side of the divide the author is coming from and just how big a jerk are they about it, etc etc. And to be honest I think Correia is a jerk ... at least the bit I get from his online persona. So I probably won't be buying any more of his stuff ... I'll just use the library!

6clif_hiker
maj 11, 2015, 2:36pm

also related to the Hugo flap ... I pulled up Dawn by Octavia Butler. I'm going to embarrass myself when I say that I had no idea the she was black. I've long been aware of Butler as an author, and have probably read some stuff by her in the past ... but she wasn't interesting enough to me to really investigate her work. A passing remark about her as a black female author sort of startled me into checking out this book (which again was buried on my kindle).

and again .. I liked it. A lot. But other than that the protagonist was female ... I couldn't really see the female influence on the story. I must be blind to that sort of stuff ...

true story ... I don't know when I first read and reread Starship Troopers ... probably as middle teen (early 70's) ... but I never ever wondered about Johnny (Juan) Rico's nationality or race. Not until years and years later when I saw it discussed by others as an example of Heinlein's literary color-blindness. When I first read the book ... it made NO difference to me at all what color he was.

The same thing with Octavia Butler's protagonist. Her name is Lilith Iyapo ... it would never have occurred to me that she was black or Nigerian or whatever had I read this book twenty years ago. As I look back on my reading .. especially in science fiction, I must have thought that regional names and descriptions weren't really regional but just a result of planet Earth being multi-cultural in the future ...

I'm sure I've expressed myself badly here ... and it's getting overly long ... so I'll leave it for now.

7clif_hiker
maj 11, 2015, 3:16pm

The Cuckoo's Calling Robert Galbraith (JK Rowling) ... Ms. Rowling is one talented writer! Terrific mystery,setting, characters ... and no sign of Harry Potter et.al. anywhere. It's like she's a different author altogether ... something that seems somewhat uncommon... to be able to write such disparate types of fiction. Anyway highly recommended ...

8wookiebender
maj 13, 2015, 5:13am

Hello, and welcome back! I'm about 1/3 of the way into Ancillary Justice and it's great, glad you liked it too.

I've only briefly looked into "puppygate". These things usually just make me read more books by women, or GLBTI authors, or authors of colour, etc. Every time some idiot complains about non-white-straight-men doing well AND they point at a particular author, it increases the size of my wishlist. :)

So thank you to all the idiots out there for introducing me to Cherie Priest, Mary Robinette Kowal, Saladin Ahmed, G. Willow Wilson, and for reminding me about Lois McMaster Bujold!

(I've read one Octavia Butler, and I feel like I'm letting down a lot of people when I say it didn't do much for me.)

9clif_hiker
Redigeret: maj 25, 2015, 7:01am

I think my kindle said 48% before Ancillary Justice really took off for me. Up til then I was slogging through because I just *knew* it was going to get better! But I'm glad I persisted!

the puppygate thing is great entertainment! And yes, it has opened up a lot of new (and not so new but never read i.e. Octavia Butler) authors to me. So that's good! Mike Glyer at File770 has been more or less acting as a nexus for all puppygate related news. One of the best parody sites is Alexandra Erin's blog wherein she writes scathing book reviews from a puppy's perspective.

oops edited to fix the link to Alexandra Erin's blog ... sorry bout that

10clif_hiker
maj 13, 2015, 9:36am

I confess that as a young reader I never really got into Philip K. Dick. And I still struggle to read him although I know he's one of the leading lights of SF. But the impending release of the Man in a High Castle television show pushed me to read a book that I know I should have read years ago ... so I did.

Man in a High Castle by Philip K. Dick. What can I say? This isn't rocket ships and ray guns science fiction ... but I guess that wasn't really ever Dick's style (which is probably why I never really *got* him). But it is quite good as a portrayal of what might have been ...

11wookiebender
maj 13, 2015, 11:21pm

Dammit, I just got lost reading far too much about PuppyGate...

I think I'm at the 48% mark for Ancillary Justice too, I was enjoying it very much intellectually, but now I'm suddenly gripped. Had to hop off the tram this morning and spend a couple of minutes on the platform so I could finish the chapter.

I didn't like Philip K. Dick as a teenager, but not sure if I want to retry him just yet.

12clif_hiker
Redigeret: maj 26, 2015, 3:06pm

Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer; I confess to not quite getting what was so attractive and great about this story. It's almost a horror story and the setting is broody and psychological etc etc. But nothing really happens ... I guess I have to read the rest of the trilogy to get anywhere or get some answers ... but frankly I'm not really that curious at the moment.

Rat Queens Vol. 1 Kurtis Wiebe; graphic novel so of course it's sexy and vulgar and well ... graphic. Good stuff! Read as part of the Hugo packet; the first in the graphic novel category so, at this point, I have no idea if it's the best ... or the worst of the bunch. Also I can claim very little experience or expertise in graphic novels ... so ..

13wookiebender
maj 26, 2015, 6:51am

I love the Rat Queens. :)

14clif_hiker
maj 28, 2015, 8:05am

not really counting this as a book read ... If You Were a Dinosaur My Love by Rachel Swirsky. Here's the link. Read it ... it's short.

15clif_hiker
maj 28, 2015, 7:29pm

Redshirts by John Scalzi; great fun ... but not his best work. IMO the codas were the best parts of the story.

16clif_hiker
Redigeret: maj 29, 2015, 11:59am

Sex Criminals Vol. 1: One Weird Trick by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky; oh um well ... pretty raunchy and funny ... more Hugo nominees ... yeah *that's* it!

17clif_hiker
Redigeret: maj 29, 2015, 2:50pm

The Three Body Problem by Cixin Liu; wow! Very different and very good. I hardly know how to describe this story ...

18clif_hiker
jun 3, 2015, 10:03am

Karen Memory by Elizabeth Bear; a rollicking steampunk tale reminding me a lot of the Bloody Jack stories. Very good and satisfying!

19wookiebender
jun 4, 2015, 9:06am

Damn, I need to find a copy of Karen Memory...

20clif_hiker
jun 5, 2015, 7:39am

ok ok I didn't actually finish Skin Game by Jim Butcher ... but I'm pretty sure I've read it before ... a couple of times. After about 100 pages I realized that it was more or less the exact same setup, plot, and characters as several of the earlier books in the series. Harry Dresden gets extorted into doing a job he doesn't want to do against horrifyingly more powerful evil people, he drags several innocent (and sometimes not so innocent) beautiful babes along for the ride, he gets shot, burned, electrocuted, banged around etc etc etc before he rescues the fair maiden(s) and somehow defeats the omnipotent god-like adversary etc etc etc yawn yawn yawn.

Fun stuff ... and I *did* greatly enjoy some of Butchers earlier versions of this story. And then I got tired ...

the puppies are banging the drum HARD for this story to win the Hugo this year. I'm not sure if it's actually for *this* book in particular, but rather they think that Butcher deserves a Hugo for the series in general, and this is that opportunity. But for me it ranks nowhere close to Three Body Problem as worthy of a Hugo. And I haven't read Ann Leckie's entry yet ...

21clif_hiker
jun 6, 2015, 5:03pm

Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King; excellent as always ... not really horror or supernatural at all, more of a police procedural/thriller ala Harlan Coban or James Patterson ... except better.

22clif_hiker
Redigeret: jun 8, 2015, 3:11pm

The Girl With All the Gifts by M.R. Carey; must of missed the discussion of this terrific zombie apocalypse story ... but ... WOW! Creepy and sad and awful and I was unable to stop reading.

23clif_hiker
jun 11, 2015, 10:58am

Ms. Marvel Vol. 1 by G. Willow Wilson; working my through the Hugo-nominated graphics ... liked this one a lot! No sex or graphic violence ... and a very relatable protagonist. I've had girls like Kamala in class many times ...

24clif_hiker
jun 15, 2015, 6:10pm

The Strangler Vine by M.J. Carter; historical fiction set in 1837 India. I enjoyed this story very much! A bit too much dialogue at times, but the settings and the characterizations are excellent! Highly recommended.

25jfetting
jun 15, 2015, 7:38pm

I enjoyed The Man in the High Castle too, but mainly for the overall idea of what-if-Germany-won? The characters seemed more like robots to me.

26clif_hiker
jun 17, 2015, 8:31pm

Lock In by John Scalzi; I enjoyed this story more than I did Redshirts and feel it is more *Hugo-Worthy*. However, I can also see the argument about the *checklist* ... Scalzi hits all the points with a black protagonist, several gay couples, women-bashing, etc etc. And it's almost like he had a real-life villain on which to base his fictional villain ... hmmm

27clif_hiker
Redigeret: jun 19, 2015, 11:37am

The Goblin Emperor by Katherine Addison; exquisite!! Not for everyone we suspect, but well worth the effort of penetrating the nomenclature and customs of the Elflands. Maia is an astonishingly sympathetic character .. and perhaps our one quibble (if it can be called that) is that, outside of the naming conventions, we can't really distinguish him as a goblin at all. It could be a human boy thrust just as easily into the same circumstances.

In other words ... We very much enjoyed this book and we highly recommend it!

......

I've read three of the five Hugo noms for best novel. My ranks so far ...

1. The Goblin Emperor
2. Three Body Problem ... these two are very close

3. Skin Game ... a distant third at this point, but not a No-Award

I have left Ancillary Sword which may easily beat out one of the top two ... and The Dark Between the Stars which frankly, I'm not expecting much from ... which I consider extremely unfortunate.

28clif_hiker
jun 24, 2015, 1:11pm

Terms of Enlistment and Lines of Departure by Marko Kloos; decent milSF/Space Opera ... a few quibbles here and there ... mainly in the nature of Cope's Rule for the aliens ... and the unrealistic take on military leadership. I'll not say more since .. spoilers ...

the second book Lines of Departure was nominated by the puppy slate for Hugo best novel but Kloos took himself off of the nom list ... and was replaced by Three Body Problem which is, IMO, far superior in quality. So yay! for that.

29clif_hiker
jul 8, 2015, 10:28am

Seveneves by Neal Stephenson; Wow. This is a monumental work ... which I, as a physics and space science geek, absolutely loved! Yes it could have been divided into two books, and yes perhaps it should have been ... but it did not detract at all from my enjoyment and admiration of Stephenson's effort. Neil deGrasse Tyson, Jeff Bezos both make appearances as characters ... and interestingly enough so does, depending on your politics, Hillary Clinton/Sarah Palin (who of course gets to play the villain throughout).

It's a commitment and an effort, but I cannot recommend the story highly enough!

30clif_hiker
jul 12, 2015, 10:47am

Station Eleven Emily St. John Mandel; took me a while to get this book read. I'm not generally a fan of books that jump around in time and space as much as this book did ... none-the-less I DID enjoy this book quite a lot. I think I will reread sometime in the near future because I'm sure I missed some things the first time.

31wookiebender
jul 13, 2015, 2:56am

Oh, I just read Station Eleven too! I thought it was excellent. (And I just saw Seveneves at the bookshop, but I haven't read his last one... or two... or more... yet, so had to resist buying it.)

32clif_hiker
jul 15, 2015, 7:27am

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins; bleh. Felt like slapping every single character in this story. And the ending was pretty predictable. Not sure what the hype was about.

33wookiebender
jul 15, 2015, 11:40pm

Bother, I have that one on order at the library... (We seem to be reading in tandem, this week. :)

34jfetting
jul 16, 2015, 9:20am

You are the second person this week who has described The Girl on the Train as bleh. I'm still on the waitlist at the library, but I'm not too optimistic now that I'll like it.

35clif_hiker
Redigeret: jul 16, 2015, 4:05pm

Doctor Sleep by Stephen King; sequel to what may be one of the scariest books ever The Shining ... this story is creepy in a lot of ways, but nowhere near as scary as the first one (I'm not sure who I'm kidding ... I stopped reading when it got dark ... so there's that).

It's little wonder that King has had his struggles with drugs and alcohol ... with stories like that in your head, you'd want something to block them out.

36clif_hiker
jul 20, 2015, 5:45pm

The Lives of Tao by Wesley Chu; interesting idea ... but the characters ... yuck! Probably won't pick up the sequels ...

37clif_hiker
Redigeret: aug 20, 2015, 7:47am

Monster Hunter International by Larry Correia; I hardly know where to begin with this ... first of all, it was free for the kindle. Whew I'm glad I didn't pay for it! And if you subtract half of the gun/ammo descriptions, make the main character less of an obvious Mary Sue, and drop the political barbs ... you might have a pretty good story. In a pulpy, action flick, kind of way. Although Jim Butcher has already mostly done it (and better) with his Harry Dresden series ...

sadly the gun porn, Mary Sue-isms, obvious political message ... never goes away, and knowing now what I know about the author ... well ... I'll pass on future installments. His writing may get better, but the message is still the same.

38jfetting
aug 22, 2015, 9:19am

At least it was free.

39clif_hiker
Redigeret: nov 9, 2015, 6:33pm

The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet by Becky Chambers; a compelling and fun first novel. Reminded me of the old James White Sector General stories. I hope that we see more from this author and these characters.

40clif_hiker
nov 14, 2015, 6:27am

Conversations With Spirits by E.O. Higgins; What an interesting little story! Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is mostly known as the creator of Sherlock Holmes ... but this story explores his other well known aspect ... his fascination with spiritualism. Was a pretty easy read but I have to admit, the story is depressing in many ways ...

41clif_hiker
Redigeret: dec 26, 2015, 8:49am

well looks like I'm going to wrap up 2015 having read between 50 & 60 books (in actuality I've read many more but they were just common rereads ... I find that I'm becoming more like my mother as I age ... she would read and reread favorite books over and over).

My last couple of the year are 2015 publications ... The End of All Things by John Scalzi ... excellent Scalzi as always but I wish he'd let some things go ... the inevitable potshots at the culture wars for example. Also I'm working through The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu; sequel to The Three Body Problem ... and should easily finish by the end of the year.

see you all on the other side and have a happy/great/festive New Year!

42jfetting
dec 29, 2015, 12:01pm

Happy New Year!