2015 FAVORITES

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

AuroraSecond book I’ve read by KSR, making him an instant favorite author. Bold, imaginative, well-researched, utopian – yet not naive. Uplifting, progressive writing.

 
 

The Imperial Radch trilogy – Ann Leckie

Ancillary JusticeAncillary SwordAncillary Mercy

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

A Shadow In SummerA Betrayal In WinterAn Autumn WarThe Price Of Spring

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

Luna New Moon

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

Shattered Pillars

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

Slaughterhouse 5

“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

The Three-Body Problem

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

Seveneves

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

Jonathan Strange And Mr. Norrell

A comedy of manners + necromancy. Very, very English. Recommended, but only if you have the time.

 
  
 

Power Systems – Noam Chomsky

9780805096156

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)


NON-BOOK FAVORITES

Album of 2015

Divers

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)

metal
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)

Live performances

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

Exhibitions

Late Rembrandt – Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam
James Turrell – De Pont, Tilburg

Advertisements

4 responses to “2015 FAVORITES

  1. Just a little recommendation prompted by what you write about Seveneves: Peter Watts’ novels Blindsight and Echopraxia are not just science fiction with *footnotes* (better read them before the science is rendered obsolete!), but also great reads fueled by a combination of gibsonian reluctance to exposition and eye-grabbing prose one might encounter on a great blog. Also: big ideas that were entirely novel to me at the time I read Blindsight.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. McDonald’s “Luna” was the biggest revelation of this year for me, certainly the best book I read. Abrahams “Long Price Quartet” was one of my favorite fantasy series a couple of years ago: so very different from the usual tropes of the genre and – as you correctly pointed out – very intense, emotion-wise.

    Happy New Year!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Both Luna and Aurora blew my mind in 2015. The Three Body Problem has been on my list for a while too, and I regret I couldn’t get to it this year, but it’s certainly high priority in 2016.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s