Showing posts from December, 2023

2023, A Year in Reading: Best Books of the Year

I read 166 books in 2023. For those of you keeping track, that's easily twice what I read in most years. I have no explanation. There are no major lifestyle changes that suddenly freed up my time, no trick to easy reading that I've discovered. Sometimes you just find yourself in a reading zone for a while, and for me this has lasted an entire year. Maybe it will continue into next year, and maybe not. It's traditional, when disclosing such a gargantuan reading accomplishment, to offer a bit of false modesty: oh, but I don't think I enjoyed them as much as I would if I'd read fewer books. I'm here to say that this is not the case. I enjoyed my reading this year a great deal, and I feel like I got a lot out of the books I read, even if not every one has proven to be very memorable (spoiler: this is true of most books in most years). Another way of putting is that I didn't read 166 books this year because I was trying to break a record. I did it because it was

Recent Reading: The Terraformers by Annalee Newitz

If nothing else, points for truth in advertising. Newitz's third and most ambitious novel is, as its title lets on right from the start, an entry in the subgenre that is perhaps most closely associated with Kim Stanley Robinson's Mars trilogy. The tale of transforming a world, full to the bursting with ideas, stretching into deep time, peopled by nerdy scientists and engineers earnestly debating the best way to turn an inhospitable landscape into a place where humans can live and thrive. Fittingly for a novel coming to us from well into the twenty-first  century, however, Newitz adds a wrinkle to this plot that Robinson and others have tended to leave out: the impact of capitalism, and corporatism, on how new worlds are shaped, and who gets to live in them. The setting is the year 59,000, in a post-human society bound together by the Great Bargain—the uplifting of various animal species, including moose, cows, cats and many others, alongside the creation of sentient AIs and