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2015 was a year of growth for me. I got a new job and overcame a lot of personal difficulties. I wrote less than I did in 2014, but I did so with more direction, in a less frantic manner and with more structure. I learned to outline, and I read more novels than I have since I was a teenager.

So let’s look back on the reading list. 🙂

The Year of the Weird

In 2014, I read a lot of urban fantasy.

2015 was the Year of the Weird–organic technology, incomplete futures, and strange worlds.

I began a reread of Kameron Hurley’s The Mirror Empire, but only got up to chapter 10 due to health and technical reasons. (I’ve resolved to finish it in 2016.)

I read Hurley’s Bel Dame Apocrypha trilogy and reviewed it here, here, and here and her new book Empire Ascendant here.

2015 was the year of second-in-trilogy books. I got my hands on audiobooks for Fiona Skye’s Riley O’Rourke urban fantasy series. Interesting twist on the genre (Book 1 Taming Shadows review here).

At the end of the year, I binged on Pierce Brown’s Red Rising series (Red Rising and Golden Son), an awesome take on human colonization in the solar system.

Best Books — 2015

Now for my top book s of 2015. For the first time in a long time, I read enough new books to stick just to books published in the current year.

These are in no particular order. I loved each of these for their own reasons.

Empire Ascendant (Worldbreaker Trilogy #2) by Kameron Hurley — I binged The Mirror Empire when it came out in 2014, and this one was no different, but it was never more of the same. A great book for learning how to write the second book in a series, Empire recasts things, making the first book’s shadowy antagonists into (in my opinion) full characters whose motivations and scars come into full view. The final book in the series, The Broken Heavens, is due out in 2016.

Lightless by C. A. Higgins — Lightless is well worth a look if hard SF, unreliable narrators, and mysteries appeal to you. The mostly self-contained world of Ananke was at first a startling contrast to the sweeping landscapes and enormous casts that seem to dominate science fiction and fantasy stories at present. I recommend it as well if you like small casts of well-drawn characters who must solve big problems. In the end the book reminds me of Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein meets Firefly (in particular the last episode, “Objects in Space”). I look forward to a sequel, if that’s in the cards.

Golden Son (Red Rising #2) by Pierce Brown — I gave Red Rising five stars for Brown’s command of plot and characterization. What I liked about the first book is there in the second, even more so. I read the whole thing in one sitting, and there never was a dull moment. Brown never fails to entertain, to keep the plot going, twisting his characters’ fates, then reversing them.

Planetfall by Emma Newman — I recommend Planetfall if you are interested in human colonization outside the solar system and how such a colony might operate in an ecologically sustainable way. Newman makes a good case for humans adapting to new environments rather than the other way around. I also recommend this novel to anyone who is suffering from anxiety and related mental conditions or who wants to better understand it.

Silver Shackles (Revelations Trilogy #2) by Fiona Skye — I love a good urban fantasy. Skye’s second book is notable for complex female protagonist whose arc takes her through personal trauma grounded in how the first book was resolved. The supporting characters were well developed, each with their motivations and stakes in the story problem.

Short Fiction

Hard to narrow down a list, but here (again in no particular order) are some of my favorites for 2015. I wanted to list some stories that just stuck with me.

Wendy N. Wagner, “Three Small Slices of Pumpkin Pie” — In this story, every woman has a pumpkin growing out of her navel. Wagner uses this weird approach to discuss male-female relationships.

Caroline Yoachim published a lot of stories in 2015 (23 according to her website), but her last one was my favorite. “Birthday Child” is weird and beautiful and inspiring. The protagonist finds a way to solve her problem though not exactly in the way she had planned. Interesting technology and (for me at least) happy tears at the end.

Alyssa Wong wrote a lovely, horrifying tale in “Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers.”  Jen finds dates using the “Tindr” app, and then eats their words. The more evil her victim, the better. She reaches a crisis point as she struggles with the relationships in her life. In the end, she must use the power she inherited from her mother to save someone close to her. Wong brings out some important questions about identity and the space between generations.

Rachael K. Jones is one of my favorite new short fiction writers. Hard to pick one favorite among her recent publications, but “The Law of Conservation of Hair” tops the list. This story is a good mix of weird and down-to-earth details, told in second person, and uses repetition effectively. It is the story of a love held together with mutual agreement that ends when something incredible happens.

Looking Forward to 2016

Lots of great science fiction and fantasy books coming out in 2016 (a lot like 2015). I’ll be here reviewing them. Thank you everyone for stopping by. I had over 1500 hits in 2015, and I hope you’ll come back to see what I’m up to next year. I wish all of you a happy and productive new year!

 

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