Tuesday, December 31, 2002

2002: The Year in Books

(You guessed it: Previously posted!)

Well, 2002 turned out to be something of a bust when it came to reading for me. While I did exceed (by one book!) 2001 in terms of numbers, I only did so by reading a number of shorter books. Also, I'll freely admit that I re-read a number of books, but in each case it had been so long since I first read the book that it felt like the first time (cheating?). I have a large pile of books that I started reading in 2002 that I did not finish for a number of reasons. Some, I just could not "get into" for one reason or another (sometimes it takes a few attempts for my attention to "catch" and then I plow on). Some turned out to be very difficult reads and I need to try again (Godel, Escher, BachAn Eternal Golden Braid is the biggest example of this). I also increased my work-related reading for much of the year, dragging endless useless stuff home and reading it there: That definately cut into the "fun" reading!

It will be interesting to see how 2003's list turns out. There's still those books I started in 2002 to finish. Then there's my greater use of "eBooks" on my Handspring Visor PDA. Will I be more productive? Less? Will the commute continue to help or hurt? Will (XXXXXXXXX) (can't be disclosed as of yet) help or hurt the reading this year?

Comments about authors read:

Lois McMaster Bujold. A. Bertram ChandlerLarry NivenDavid Weber: I'll admit to having two weaknesses when it comes to SF. I love "young adult" books and I love space opera (old or new). So, I've re-collected the "Tom Swift, Jr." books (except for four that are going for hilarious prices on eBay and other sources) and I'm starting to read them again. Truly bad writing, but I love it nonetheless. Bujold, Chandler, Niven and Weber can all be classified as space opera, but one can't be highbrow all the time!

Zenna Henderson: I've read most of the "People" stories over the years. This excellent collection (from the great folks at NESFA) puts together all of the stories to date. The editors attempt to place them in chronological order, and add a timeline with their justifications. Wonderful stuff, but I would advise you to read other authors in between chunks of stories as the plots of many are somewhat similar (i.e., similar introductory material, etc.).

James Oberg: I've got nothing but the greatest hopes for the International Space Station and our efforts to work with the Russians as partners. But this book, as well as "Dragonfly" (Bryan Burrough) make me increasingly apprehensive that we'll be able to pull it off.

Leslie Peltier: I re-read this book every year or so. It's especially helpful when I'm depressed, or when we have too many cloudy nights for me to do any observing! Wonderful stuff, no matter how much you might be interested in astronomy.

Spider Robinson: I first read the initial book in the Callahan series shortly after the contents had been published in Analog magazine (which is also where I read the stories). So, it's been a darn long time since I read these. While the later books creak from serial-itis, I still enjoy the initial stories. I re-read these as part of my self-devised therapy to try and snap me out of PTSD.

Clifford D. Simak: As with Spider Robinson, I was reading these to try and snap me out of my PTSD. Simak is a wonderful author. The stories and novels are sparse an deceptively simple. He is a great example of why short is sometimes better than long, and always better than bloated! It's a shame that so much of his stuff is currently out of print. However, that may change, NESFA has plans to come out with one or more collections, down the road.

Cordwainer Smith: Another wonderful collection from NESFA! This, plus the novel (Norstrilia) will get you through the so-called "Instrumentality of Mankind" stories. Smith was a wonderful writer on many fronts: Cleaver use of language, wonderful stories, some fantastic characters. It's too bad he also seems to be largely forgotten by "mainstream" SF readers.

Neal Stephenson: This was the second time through for Cryptonomicon for me. A few comments from this re-reading. First, although I did not make it through the two books I was reading by Douglas Hofstadter this past year, I did recognize a lot from those books in this book. Second, why is it that this is the only book by Stephenson that I can get through? I've tried to read Snow Crash and The Diamond Age on numerous occasions and have never been able to get more than a few chapters through either. I will have to try once more for both! Third, the paperback version of Cryptonomicon has a brief excerpt from the long-awaited continuation of this series. The only downer: It won't be published until at least September 2003! Man, talk about a long gap between books!

Here's the list for 2002...

01: The Marathon Photograph; Simak
02: Visions of Spaceflight; Ordway
03: Rediscovery of Man; Smith
04: High-Tech Heretic, Stoll
05: So Bright the Vision; Simak
06: Skirmish; Simak
07: Special Delivery; Simak
08: City; Simak
09: Goblin Reservation; Simak
10: Ring Around the Sun; Simak
11: Best SF Stories of C.D.S.; Simak
12: Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman!; Feynman
13: Lord Brocktree; Jacques
14: Man-Kzin I; Niven
15: Man-Kzin II; Niven
16: Man-Kzin III; Niven
17: Jack of Shadows; Zelazny
18: A Beautiful Mind; Nasar
19: Tom Swift and His Flying Lab; Appleton
20: The Pleasure of Finding Things Out; Fenyman
21: Star-Crossed Orbits; Oberg
22: Tom Swift and His Jetmarine; Appleton
23: The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a Hat; Sacks
24: To Engineer is Human; Petroski
25: What Do You Care What Other People Think?; Feynman
26: No Ordinary Genius: The Illustrated Richard Feynman; Feynman & Sykes
27: The Meaning of it All; Feynman
28: Tuva or Bust!; Leighton & Feynman
29: Ghost from Grand Banks; Clarke
30: Tuesdays With Morrie; Albom
31: The Soul of a New Machine; Kidder
32: Firehouse; Halberstam
33: Report from Ground Zero; Smith
34: Callahan's Crosstime Saloon; Robinson
35: The Road to the Rim; Chandler
36: Contacting Aliens; Brin
37: To Prime the Pump; Chandler
38: The Hard Way Up; Chandler
39: Time Travellers Strictly Cash; Robinson
40: Last Man Down; Picciotto
41: Callahan's Secret; Robinson
42: An Introduction to Visual Deep-Sky Observing; Jordan
43: Callahan's Lady; Robinson
44: The Broken Cycle; Chandler
45: On Basilisk Station; Weber
46: The Honor of the Queen; Weber
47: The Voyage of the Space Beagle; Van Vogt
48: The Bad Beginning; Snickett
49: Starlight Nights; Peltier
50: Diplomatic Immunity; Bujold
51: Ingathering; Henderson
52: User Friendly I; Frazer
53: User Friendly II; Frazer
54: User Friendly III; Frazer
55: The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring Visual Companion; Fisher
56: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers Visual Companion; Fisher
57: The Lord of the Rings: The Art of The Fellowship of the Ring; Russell
58: Journeys of Frodo; Strachey
59: Cryptonomicon; Stephenson
60: Farmer Giles of Ham; JRRT
61: User Friendly IV; Frazer
62: Full Moon; Light

(Someday I will write reviews for each of those, I promise!)

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