Saturday, January 1, 2005

2005: The Year in Books

This posting is intended as a "marker" and a tally. It'll mark the short story collections that I've posted reviews about and it will show you a running tally of how many short stories and essays I read in 2005.

This is the second year that I've done this, based on a posting on SF Signal and carried out previously here.

As I did last year, I'll be following a variant on the program that SF Signal did. First, I don't differentiate between stories of various lengths (one story = one entry). Second, I'll be reading a lot of short non-fiction as well and will count these various collected articles as individual entries.

On to the count and the entries!

Count (as of December 30, 2005): 72 books (assuming my count is accurate).

Best Books of 2005: Two categories this year, fiction and non-fiction.

In fiction, historical novels were the clear winners for me as well as books with grand themes and larger-than-life characters. Tied for first place were the works several works of historical fiction, a tale set in the world after an atomic holocaust, and a space opera.

In the historical novel arena are the tales of Patrick O'Brian and the works I read by Neal Stephenson. Between O'Brian's sea stories and Stephenson's massive Baroque Cycle, I feel like I'll need to spend much of 2006 reading hard SF just to get out of the pre-technological ages! Seriously though, both authors have produced massive amounts of well-written historical fiction. Both have produced many interesting characters, a wealth of detail, amazing plots and fantastic writing. I highly recommend anything by O'Brian (I read Master & Commander and Post Captain this year) as well as The Baroque Cycle by Stephenson (made up of the individual volumes QuicksilverThe Confusion and The System of the World). Great reading awaits!

Nova (Samuel R. Delany): An amazing mix of space opera, the Grail myths and Tarot, along with power struggles and larger-than-life characters. Still probably my favorite book by Delany.

A Canticle for Leibowitz (Walter M. Miller, Jr.) is not only a good science fiction book, but a moving tale of how humans perservere in the face of adversity and a darn fine story of religious faith. A strange combination, perhaps, but Miller does one fine job here.

Last Call (Tim Powers) is a great combination of the Grail Quest, cards, gangsters and more. Read my review (below). Powers is one of my favorite fantasy authors and I wish he'd get more recognition for his work!

In non-fiction, also a tie. On the one hand, we have the most moving book I read all year: 102 Minutes, by Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn. Stories from the inside of the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.

The other favorite non-fiction book for the year was Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet (Steve Squyres). In reading this book, you'll be amazed that Spirit and Opportunity made it to Mars and are still operating. There are so many points in the book that it seemed like Squyres was going to fail in this quest: design issues, budget issues, political issues, etc. It is also a great story of what we are learning from Mars through these two rovers. And the book is only the start of the tale, let's hope that Squyres follows up when he finally has time to digest the reams of data that these two rovers have been sending back.

Worst Book of 2005Rocket Man: Robert H. Goddard and the Birth of the Space Age by David A. Clary.

Stephen Baxter: Ages in ChaosTitan.

Greg Bear: Dinosaur Summer.

Ben Bova: The Star ConquerorsKinsman.

Ray Bradbury: Dinosaur Tales.

Edgar Rice Burroughs: At the Earth's CoreTarzan of the Apes.

John W. Campbell, Jr.: Islands of Space.

Arthur C. Clarke: The Ghost from Grand Banks; The Hammer of God; Rendezvous with Rama; The Songs of Distant Earth; The Wind from the Sun.

David A. Clary: Rocket Man.

Michael Crichton: Jurassic Park and Lost World.

Walter Cunningham: The All-American Boys.

Samuel R. Delany: The Motion of Light in Water (yes, again!). Nova.

Damon DiMarco (editor): Tower Stories.

Lowell Dingus: Hell Creek, Montana: America's Key to the Prehistoric Past.

Jim Dwyer and Kevin Flynn: 102 Minutes.

Neil Gaiman: American Gods; The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish; Neverwhere.

David Gerrold: The Voyage of the Star Wolf and The Middle of Nowhere.

Stephen Jay Gould: Ever Since Darwin.

Robert A. Heinlein: Expanded Universe.

Robert E. Howard: The Savage Tales of Solomon Kane.

Mark Kurlansky: Salt.

C.S. Lewis: The Magician's Nephew and The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe.

Neil McAleer: Arthur C. Clarke: The Authorized Biography.

Walter M. Miller, Jr.: A Canticle for Leibowitz.

Leonard Mlodinow: Feynman's Rainbow.

Patrick O'Brian: Master & Commander; Post Captain.

Jerry Pournelle: Exiles to Glory.

Tim Powers: The Last Call.

Perry Rhodan (various authors): Enterprise Stardust and The Radiant Dome.

Spider Robinson: Off the Wall at Callahan's; Callahan's Crosstime Saloon; Time Travelers Strictly Cash; Callahan's Secret; Callahan's Lady; Lady Slings the Booze.

J.K. Rowling: Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone; Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets; Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban; Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire; Harry Potter and The Order of the Phoenix; Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince.

Charles Sheffield: The Compleat McAndrew.

Clifford D. Simak: A Heritage of Stars.

Steve Squyres: Roving Mars: Spirit, Opportunity, and the Exploration of the Red Planet.

Neal Stephenson: The Baroque Cycle (Quicksilver, The Confusion, The System of the World).

Travis S. Taylor: Warp Speed and The Quantum Connection.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Hobbit and The Fellowship of the Ring.

David Weber: On Basilisk Station; The Honor of the Queen; The Short Victorious War; Field of Dishonor; Flag in Exile; Honor Among Enemies.

H.G. Wells: The Croquet Player.

Robert Anton Wilson:The Universe Next Door (Schrodinger's Cat #1).

Robert Zimmerman: Leaving Earth.

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