2014 Recommended Reading, Retrospectives, and Notes

In truth, this year’s post is much more of a retrospective than solely a slate of recommended readings. 2014 was a very full year, in multiple respects. And between freelance work, Clarion West, the runup to Clarion West, moving, editorial projects, and some financial bullshit in the last quarter or so (?) of the year, I read far less than I would in a normal year. And much of what I did read last year feels quite scattered.

So rather than doing a slate of recommendations, as I’d intended, I’m mostly just going to note the books I read, the short(er) fiction I feel like highlighting (for whatever reason), and talk about the places I read things and some of the venues kicking around. In the end maybe this is more of an overview of my reading habits in 2014 than anything else. Not that I’d be averse to compiling a list of award recommendations (I still suspect I’ll get around to nominating in at least some of the Hugo categories), but I’ve got three posts (including this one) to pull together for the blog over the next three days, ongoing work and projects to attend to, and my head is just honestly not in compiling an awards recommendations slate right now.

Which I suspect will work out fine anyway, because a lot of people did pull together recommended reading lists, and I’ve tried to list a number of those. I’ve also listed some lists people pulled together of other people’s recommendations. (At this point some of the listing I’m doing feels very meta, and decidedly like it’s just turtles all the way down….)

This is a list that will get expanded, but I’ll note that I’m doing a lot of my catching up on 2014’s fiction output now, so I might update things here, and I might not. I certainly hope to, but it’s all a bit nebulous at the moment. And I’ve only had a chance to start a number of books that I need to be in different headspace for. Still only partway through Hild, and only had a chance to start Girls at the Kingfisher Club, The Mirror Empire, and Ancillary Sword. All of which I look forward to getting back to, but I’ve really only been in the right headspace for shorter fiction and The Goblin Emperor as of late. (A fantastic book which you absolutely should pick up if you haven’t already.) Which I am also reading through slowly because I am reading everything slowly right now. Which is mostly a function of exhaustion.

I noped out of a lot of stuff last year over said exhaustion, as well as a refusal to put up with bullshit of various stripes (among other things that cropped up I quit reading for Apex last year when an internal conversation about some harassment issues came up and I, along with some other people, decided we didn’t want to continue reading for the magazine a) given what was going on and b) if Sigrid was leaving – and there’s some other stuff with different situations and places that aren’t Apex that’ll come up in later posts). And I handed off a number of the volunteer things I do to other people where possible. Incidentally, as an answer to people who keep asking me if I’m still with the Friends of the Merril Collection: yes, I’m still the Chair of that organization, I just handed off the short story contest to Charlotte Ashley (who’s done a fantastic job with it), and handed off the newsletter/newsmagazine to Alicia Freeborn (who has likewise done an excellent job running it).

In a lot of ways I’m kind of just in that place in my life where I don’t have the time or energy to keep doing things for free anymore above and beyond the little I am already doing on a volunteer or pro bono basis. And just looking over the things I need to get done this year, it’s going to be a long year. I’m still hammering away at finishing the collection so I can actually send the damn thing out (that’ll be sometime this year, though I’ve no idea when). There’s a project announcement on Tuesday. There’s ongoing work to be done with the projects already in progress. And I spent a lot of last year yelling at people online for either being harassers/abusers, or for fostering environments where that could thrive. And it looks like I’m probably going to be doing more of that this year.

Anyway, a pause in other proceedings then, to talk about books, fiction, and venues.

To begin with, other people’s recommendations (and some award eligibility posts, and just some conversations or links that I thought were worth directing people to – this is a bit of a mix of things, really, and there’s no order to the following list):

Other Notes:

Unlike last year, the books I intended to get to this year will only include a couple of entries (I’d have to port over most of last year’s list otherwise). I’m also going to give comics/graphic novels read this year a section of their own, rather than noting them in passing here (I mostly read collected TPBs, so that section will be short). Poetry’s going to get unintentional short shrift again this year. I read some amazing poetry throughout the year, much of it at Goblin Fruit and Stone Telling, and I’ve noted a couple of pieces below, but wasn’t tracking that as tightly for a couple of reasons.

Also, just going to note here that according to Amal El-Mohtar, Goblin Fruit is eligible for a Hugo Award in the Best Semiprozine category. If you take nothing else away from this post, for fuck’s sake let it be that you should vote for Goblin Fruit in the Hugos. Because that magazine is extraordinary.

Incidentally, I’m going to do the magazine discussion again this year. But as I’ve not yet more than skimmed a handful of magazines (and only had the chance to read the full 2014 runs of a couple) from last year I am including the section, but I’m not going to be filling it in when I post this. I’ll update it once I’ve had a chance to look things over more fully.

I’m sure there are things I read and enjoyed and have just forgotten to list here. In multiple categories. I’ll add them in as I remember them or stumble across them again.

Before we get going on the readings/recommendations though, I am going to note a list of people eligible for the 2015 Campbell Award who I think you should vote for. I had intended to narrow it down to five before posting this, but screw it. As I’ve not yet winnowed this list down to the five I intend to nominate, have the full ten I’m still looking at.

Recommendations for the 2015 Campbell Award

The full list of authors eligible for the 2015 Campbell Award (first year and second year) is here. My recommendations are below:

  • Emily Jiang
  • Carmen Maria Machado
  • Usman T. Malik
  • Helen Marshall
  • Sam J. Miller
  • Bogi Takács
  • Natalia Theodoridou
  • Alyssa Wong
  • JY Yang
  • Isabel Yap

Fiction/Venues Read in 2014

I’ll note that this covers fiction only right now because though I did read some long form non-fiction in 2014, much of it was not memorable, and a fair bulk of it otherwise was older work I wanted to re-read for various reasons. You are welcome to treat these lists as a basis for recommendation, though I’m listing everything I can recall reading in 2014, some of the books not necessarily having been released in 2014. And some of the books listed below are books I worked on in an editorial capacity at CZP. I note in the novels category what I dropped out of reading, and if non-novel length fiction is on the list it’s because I enjoyed it enough to finish and thought it worthy of note. (There is one piece that is a kind of exception in the short fiction category, which I will discuss there.)

Also, where less than novel length fiction is concerned, I still have a list of things I want to actually finish reading. Which is why certain names are absent from the lists below. I will likely be adding various things in as I finish them.

I will also note the following: DNF means “did not finish” and RR indicates a “reread.”

Long Form (Novels, Collections, Anthologies, Non-Fiction)

  • Ben Aaronovitch – Broken Homes
  • (DNF) Megan Abbott – Fever
  • (RR) Mike Allen (ed.) – Clockwork Phoenix 4
  • Nancy Baker – Cold Hillside (ARC)
  • Nancy Baker  – The Night Inside
  • (DNF) Robert Jackson Bennett – City of Stairs
  • (DNF) Holly Black – The Darkest Part of the Forest (ARC)
  • (DNF) Sara Rees Brennan – Untold
  • Angela Carter – Burning Your Boats: The Collected Short Stories
  • Janie Chang – Three Souls
  • Deborah Coates – Strange Country (ARC)
  • Peter Darbyshire (writing as Peter Roman) – Dead Hamlets (ARC)
  • Ellen Datlow (ed.) – Fearful Symmetries (ARC)
  • A.M. Dellamonica – Child of a Hidden Sea (ARC)
  • Gemma Files – We Will All Go Down Together (ARC)
  • Jeffrey Ford – The Drowned Life
  • (DNF) Daryl Gregory – Afterparty
  • Nicola Griffith – Ammonite
  • Nicola Griffith – The Blue Place
  • Kenneth Mark Hoover – Haxan (ARC)
  • (DNF) Jonathan L. Howard – Johannes Cabal: The Fear Institute
  • (DNF) Emmi Itäranta – Memory of Water
  • Shirley Jackson – The Sundial
  • Matthew Johnson – Irregular Verbs and Other Stories
  • Michael Kelly (ed.) – Shadows & Tall Trees 2014
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Alabaster: Pale Horse
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan (writing as Kathleen Tierney) – Red Delicious
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan – Two Worlds and In Between, Vol. 1
  • Lesley Livingston – Now and For Never
  • (DNF) Edan Lupecki – California
  • (RR) Maureen F. McHugh – China Mountain Zhang
  • (DNF) Josh Malerman – Bird Box
  • Helen Marshall – Gifts for the One Who Comes After
  • (DNF) Christine Miscione – Auxiliary Skins
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia (ed.) – Fractured: Tales of the Canadian Post-Apocalypse – Disclosure: I have a story in this one
  • Silvia Moreno-Garcia – Love and Other Poisons
  • David Nickle – Knife Fight and Other Struggles
  • Nnedi Okorafor – Kabu Kabu
  • Jonathan Oliver (ed.) – Fearsome Magics
  • Helen Oyeyemi – White is for Witching
  • (DNF) Paul Park – Those Vanished Engines (ARC)
  • Ursula Pflug (ed.) – They Have to Take You In – Disclosure: I also have a story in this one
  • Sofia Samatar – A Stranger in Olondria
  • Karl Schroeder – Lockstep
  • Robert Shearman – They Do The Same Things Different There
  • Peter Straub (ed.) – Poe’s Children
  • Simon Strantzas – Nightingale Songs
  • (RR) Caitlin Sweet – A Telling of Stars
  • Caitlin Sweet – Door in the Mountain
  • Ayelet Tsabari – The Best Place on Earth
  • Jeff VanderMeer – Authority (ARC)
  • Jeff VanderMeer – Acceptance (ARC)
  • Jo Walton – The Just City (ARC)
  • (DNF) Andy Weir – The Martian
  • Robert Charles Wilson – Burning Paradise

Comics (TPBs) & Graphic Novels

  • BPRD: The Universal Machine (Mike Mignola and John Arcudi)
  • Fables: Cubs in Toyland (Bill Willingham and Mark Buckingham)
  • Legal Drug: Vol. 1-3, Collected Edition (Clamp)
  • Ms. Marvel Vol. 1: No Normal (G. Willow Wilson and Adrian Alphona)
  • Who is AC? (Hope Larson and Tintin Pantoja)
  • The Wicked + The Divine: The Faust Act (Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie)

Novellas

Though I’m sure I read some this year, couldn’t find any in my notes that I wanted to highlight. Might still run across some that I want to later though. And will add them when I do.

Novelettes

Short Stories

There is a noticeable absence of stories from several venues below (principally places like Clarkesworld and The Dark) because I’ve not had time to read much of their fiction from last year. As with the rest of this list, I’ll add things in as I come across them.

Poetry

I read a great deal of gorgeous poetry this year, but most of that while trying to find time away from other things, so I wasn’t taking notes for much of that. Still, several things immediately come to mind while compiling this list. (And at some point I’ll go back and add in things from Goblin Fruit‘s 2014 run and possibly elsewhere as well.)

Magazines

Will be filling this in at a later point. I’d need to go back and actually look through way more of 2014’s venues than I’ve had a chance to at this point in order to do this section properly.

Things Started in 2014 That I Want to Finish in 2015

  • Katherine Addison – The Goblin Emperor
  • Rin Chupeco – The Girl from the Well
  • Kameron Hurley – The Mirror Empire
  • Catherine Lacey – Nobody is Ever Missing
  • Ann Leckie – Ancillary Sword
  • Genevieve Valentine – The Girls at the Kingfisher Club

-2014

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