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Showing posts from December, 2015

2015, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year

I read 44 books in 2015, about the same as last year and still not where I'd like to be (I'm still working on what might yet be number 45, but I doubt I'll make it in the three hours and change I have left).  About a third of the books I read were science fiction, a much higher proportion than usual due to Hugo reading and some other writing projects I'm working on.  Though I've found some great new discoveries, it's not a ratio I'd like to maintain.  In 2016, I'd like to get back to reading more mainstream fiction, not to mention fantasy.  I also read quite a few short story collections (and an even larger number of uncollected short stories during my search for Hugo nominees early in the year), which I find more pleasing--I used to be a great lover of the short story collection, and I seem to have fallen out of the habit in recent years.  It's good to get back to it.

Highlights of the reading year include going back to The Lord of the Rings for th…

Star Wars: The Force Awakens

A few weeks ago, someone on my twitter feed joked that soon, we'd be inundated with a million reviews and thinkpieces about The Force Awakens all starting the same way--with a recitation of the author's personal connection to Star Wars, how they first encountered the movies, what their emotional reaction to the prequels was, and what place the franchise holds in their heart.  This threw me, because it made me realize that I honestly have no idea how I feel about Star Wars.  I don't love it.  I don't hate it.  I can't be indifferent to it--no person who comments on pop culture, and particularly geek culture, can do that.  When I searched my heart for the feelings about Star Wars that were uniquely and untouchably my own, all I found was a big question mark.

So I went back--for the first time in at least a few years--and rewatched the original films (I didn't bother with the prequels, because I know perfectly well how I feel about them--they're awful, and poi…

Show Me a Hero: Thoughts on Jessica Jones

2015 has been an interesting year for Marvel Studios and the MCU.  The ever-expanding franchise's movie wing struggled this year, closing out the otherwise excellent Phase II with the overstuffed Avengers: Age of Ultron and the underbaked Ant-Man, two very different movies whose single shared trait is how definitively they demonstrate that Marvel isn't interested in--is, in fact, terrified of--letting women take center stage in its movies.  The TV arm, meanwhile, premiered three very interesting--if, ultimately, imperfect--projects, all of whom gave more space to women and people of color than the movies seemingly ever will.  Agent Carter finally gave one the MCU's most magnetic characters (and performers) her own platform, though the show struggled to find something to do with its protagonist, or, with one important exception, to surround her with equally interesting supporting characters.  Daredevil is easily the most experimental--visually and structurally--thing that M…

Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie

When coming so late to a novel that has been as rapturously received as Ann Leckie's debut (it is the winner of--deep breath, now--the Hugo, Nebula, Clarke, BSFA, Locus, and Kitschie awards, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award, and noted in the Tiptree award honor roll) there's a temptation to focus one's critical thoughts on the obvious question: why this book?  What is it about Ancillary Justice that made it the science fiction novel of 2013?  This is, clearly, an unanswerable question, especially when coming to the novel so long after its debut, when the things that set it apart have been so thoroughly chewed over, celebrated, discussed, reevaluated, and taken for granted that the distance between you and the people who read the novel cold is basically unbridgeable.  But I think that probably the best compliment I can pay Ancillary Justice is to say that very shortly after starting to read it, I stopped trying to work out the answer to the question of its popular…