First and foremost, let me start with a big thank you to all who read, liked, shared or commented since I started this whole thing in October. My best wishes for 2016!
I’ve read 52 books this year, and reviewed 50. Below are the 10ish best. Click on the covers for the review.
Aurora – Kim Stanley Robinson
The Imperial Radch trilogy – Ann Leckie
Much acclaimed, and rightfully so. It’s worth nothing that these 3 books are highly diverse. I think the second one is my favorite.
The Long Price quartet – Daniel Abraham
The most emotional story I’ve read this year. Spans 4 books, all self-contained, and exceptional as a whole. Real characters. Subdued, understated use of a great, original and even poetic idea for a magic system.
Luna: New Moon – Ian McDonald
Grim and gritty near-future Shakespearian in your face first part of duology. It features familiars. Can’t wait for the next part.
Shattered Pillars – Elizabeth Bear
Another poetic fantasy novel set in non-stereotypical world. Depending on who’s ruling a territory, the skies change. Blood magic. Steppes. Immortal horses. I’m going to postpone reading the last book of the trilogy just to savour the moment.
Slaughterhouse-Five – Kurt Vonnegut
“He didn’t look like a soldier at all. He looked like a filthy flamingo.” One of the best book’s I’ve ever read, period. “A violet light and a hum.”
The Three-Body Problem – Cixin Liu
Even as it is the first in a trilogy, it’s still a great book on its own. At first more about China than about aliens. The atmosphere’s creepy, the ideas big. The way it is told feels like a breath of fresh air.
Seveneves – Neal Stephenson
Possibly the hardest SF book I’ve ever read. Takes info dump and exposition to a whole new level. Stephenson is a visionary, but your mileage may vary.
Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell – Susanna Clarke
A comedy of manners + necromancy. Very, very English. Recommended, but only if you have the time.
Power Systems – Noam Chomsky
Convincing interviews and short essays on Western imperialism by one of the biggest intellectual giants of our day. Anyone interested in the structural causes of the present day unrest should read this.
My vote for best book released in 2015 goes to Aurora, with Luna: New Moon on second place.
But, I haven’t read The Dark Forest, The Grace of Kings, The House Of Shattered Wings, The Traitor Baru Cormorant, The Water Knife, A Borrowed Man, Dark Orbit, The Fifth Season, Green Earth and Twelve Kings In Sharakhai yet, all of which I hope I’ll like a lot. I’ll try to read them all in 2016, so expect my thoughts on those on this blog somewhere in the future.
UPDATE: I’ve read all of the above except A Borrowed Man. Most of those were disappointments, except The Dark Forest, The Water Knife and Green Earth. Aurora remains firmly in place as the best book of 2015. Luna: New Moon and Seveneves complete my top three. Also C.S.E. Cooney’s 2015 short story collection Bone Swans deserves a special mention here.
Biggest letdowns I read this year were 3 classics, a sequel that didn’t turn out to be what I hoped for and the latest novella of an author that impressed me a lot with his debut trilogy. More details in the reviews.
Fahrenheit 451 – Ray Bradburry (review)
Ringworld – Larry Niven (review)
Caves of Steel – Isaac Asimov (review)
Before they are hanged – Joe Abercrombie (review)
Slow Bullets – Alastair Reynolds (review)
Album of 2015
Joanna Newsom – Divers (Drag City)
It took Newsom over 5 years to finish the successor to the sublime Have One On Me. Just beautiful & mature. Stunning arrangements. Probably her best yet. Again recorded by Steve Albini.
Other great albums
improvisation, experimental & adventurous composition
Greg Stuart & Ryoko Akama – Kotoba Koukan (Lengua De Lava)
Keith Rowe/John Tilbury – Enough Still Not To Know (Sofa)
Michael Pisaro – Melody, Silence (for solo guitar) (performed by Cristián Alvear) (Potlatch Records)
Michael Pisaro – A mist is a collection of points (New World Records)
Eric La Casa & Taku Unami – Parazoan Mapping (Erstwhile Records)
Jeph Jerman & Tim Barnes – Matterings (Erstwhile Records)
Lucio Capece – Epoché (Hideous Replica)
Jason Lescalleet – This is what I do volume 13 (Glistening Examples)
Krallice – Ygg Huur (self released)
Kaeck – Stormkult (Folter Records)
Order From Chaos – Frozen in Steel (5cd reissue of their full discography on Nuclear War Now! Productions)
Intergalactic Lovers @ Rivierenhof, Deurne, 29th of August 2015
Sidi Larbi Cherkaoui & Eastman – ‘Fractus V’ @ De Singel, Antwerp, September 2015
Tino Sehgal – ‘This is progress’ @ Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam, November 2015
Late Rembrandt – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
James Turrell – De Pont, Tilburg