It is early evening on January 8th, 2018 and, having gathered the requisite statistics (and my thoughts, besides), it is time to wrap up the strange, beautiful, horrible year in a post. As I did last year, I’ll go over my stats and favorite reads of the year, but before diving into that, a bit of housekeeping and personal reflection.
The two-thousand-seventeenth year of the common era was a doozy. Sociopolitical upheaval without and myriad changes within put something of a damper on what I’d hoped would be a year of voracious reading and reviewing, owing largely to my ingenious plan to make my way as a freelance writer.
I started 2017 as a full-time writer at a startup in San Francisco, from which I shifted to an editorial stint at UC Berkeley’s Lawrence Hall of Science. I had made plans to attend the Writing Excuses Cruise and, upon my return, kick my freelance career into overdrive. I had clients, financials planned, and my eyes on the prize, so to speak.
What is it they say about the best-laid plans?
I ended up (quite unexpectedly) interviewing for and getting a job with a tech company based in Cupertino. My title there is Writer, and it is a surreal thing. I started that job a few days after returning from Europe, and while I’m grateful for the work, and happy to be there, it’s much more demanding on my time than I’d estimated. You may have noticed the result, dear reader. I only managed four posts in the final quarter of the year. And while The Warbler is a work of love and, therefore, not subject to any kind of grueling content calendar, I must acknowledge that I felt its absence. I love reading these crazy books. I’ve love writing about them. And for some reason, there is a non-zero number of people out there who like to read these posts.
And so I will promise, once again, that this year I will post weekly. My goal is (again) to read 52 books this year. It would be an honor to have you swing by the blog now and again to see what’s up at Warbler way. Who knows? You may even come across a surprise or two!
- 45 Books Read (of 52 Goal) – 3.75 books per month
- 10,238 Pages Read – 830 pages per month
- 30 posts – 2.5 per month
- 3231 views by 1821 visitors
- Total words – 21,036
The year’s best:
Too Like the Lightning – Ada Palmer
I haven’t reviewed this book on the site yet, but I will. The writing was extraordinary; truly far-out science fiction written in the style of, say, Daniel Defoe. Ada Palmer is a singular talent, and no mistake.
The Three Body Problem – Cixin Liu
– I will review this soon, but oh MAN did I sleep on this. People have been talking about it for ages, and I felt like something of a lout when I was hanging out with Ken Liu, the translator, on the cruise without having read his work. This is magnificent.
Honorable Mention: This Immortal
I had picked this book up by complete happenstance when I was living in Seattle, as part of a pulp-fiction sale at a cool bookstore near my house. It didn’t even register that the author was Zelazny, a prolific and decorated author who was a contemporary of Frank Herbert. Imagine my shock at learning that This Immortal shared the hugo with Dune. I resolved to read it while I was out and about in Europe, hugo-adjacent and surrounded by delightful nerds. I’ll review the book as a whole later, but suffice it to say that it was an exceptional read.
The Jewel and Her Lapidary — Fran Wilde
Fran Wilde brings every ounce of her poetic ability and vivid worldbuilding to this novella. It is a gorgeous read
Best Short Story:
A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers
An amazing, surreal, beautiful story about loss and identity by Alyssa Wong.
The Game We Played During the War
Something about this story really stood out to me. Carrie Vaughn explores telepathy, chess, and the horrors of war.
The City Born Great
N. K. Jemisin plays with the idea that cities are their people in a resonant and higly visual short.
The Princess Diarist
Carrie Fisher’s account of her time as Princess Leia was fascinating, sad, and uplifting. I recommend the audiobook read by Fisher.
The Demon-Haunted World: Science as a Candle in the Dark
Carl Sagan, ever the extaticist (I just made up that word), seems out of character in this book, harshly critical as it is of non-scientific belief systems. He has salient points throughout, but it was a surprising read. Truth be told, it sends my all-too-willing mind down the conspiracy rabbit hole. Was Sagan threatened by the government, which caused a shift in his tone?
That’s it for the best-ofs, but 2017 was an incredible year for me. Here are just a few of the other things I did with my time, if you’re curious:
- Writing Excuses Cruise – Traveled to Europe, attended a week-long writing intensive, leading to my attending Worldcon 75 in Helsinki, Finland.
- Mary Robinette Kowal’s Short Story Intensive
- Night of Writing Dangerously
- Saw and chatted with Kim Stanley Robinson, Robin Sloane, and Nnedi Okorafor at Apple. One of the unreal perks of the new job.
So that’s 2017. Here’s hoping for a 2018 filled with indictments and inspiration.
Also published on Medium.