Sunday, January 1, 2006

2006: The Year in Books

(Reposted from a previous blog. Combines two separate entries, 2006: The Year in Books and 2006: The Year in Kid's Books that had been posted separately into one blog post.)

Count (as of December 31, 2006): 85 books (includes books listed in the kid's book list for the year).

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 2006.

Gregory Benford: In Alien Flesh. Matter's End.

Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski: Skylife: Space Habitats in Story and Science.

Ben Bova: Tales of the Grand Tour.

Ray Bradbury: The October Country.

John W. Campbell, Jr.: A New Dawn: The Complete Don A. Stuart Stories.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke: Astounding Days: A Science Fictional Autobiography2001 A Space OdysseyThe Lost Worlds of 2001. 2010: Odyssey Two. Indian Ocean Adventure. Imperial Earth.

Cory Doctorow: Eastern Standard Tribe and Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town.

David Drake: The Complete Hammer's Slammers, Volume One.

David Drake, Eric Flint and Jim Baen (editors): The World Turned Upside Down.

Lord Dunsany (Edward Plunkett): The Collected Jorkens, Volume One. Collected Jorkens, Volume Two.

D.C. Fontana: Vulcan's Glory.

Jane Goodall: My Life with the Chimpanzees.

David G. Hartwell and Kathryn Cramer (editors): Year's Best SF 11.

Douglas R. Hofstadter: Metamagical Themas: Questing for the Essence of Mind and Pattern (An Interlocked Collection of Literary, Scientific, and Artistic Studies).

James P. Hogan: Inherit the Stars (one half of The Two Moons).

Robert E. Howard: The Coming of Conan the Cimmerian.

Jeffrey Kluger: Journey Beyond Selene.

H.P. Lovecraft: A variety of collections and standalones, starting with Tales, but including several other relatively recently published editions with the texts corrected and restored. Six collections or standalones total.

George R. R. Martin: The Hedge Knight.

Sam Moskowitz: One by our first historian (25 entries, collection complete).

Mike Mullane: Riding Rockets.

Larry Niven: The Draco Tavern.

Patrick O'Brian: H.M.S. SurpriseThe Mauritius CommandThe Far Side of the World.

Jerry Pournelle: West of Honor (or Part I of Falkenberg's Legions or Part I of The Prince). The Mercenary (or Part II of Falkenberg's Legions or Part II of The Prince).

Terry Pratchett: The Color of MagicThe Light Fantastic.

Julie Phillips: James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon.

John Ringo: Into the Looking GlassGhost. A Hymn Before Battle.

John Ringo and Travis S. Taylor: Von Neuman's War (eARC).

Spider Robinson: The Callahan Touch. Callahan's Legacy. Callahan's Key. Callahan's Con. (What? No more Callahan books since 2004? O.K., no I'm getting annoyed...)

Charles Stross: Accelerando.

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Two Towers.

A.E. van Vogt: Voyage of the Space Beagle.

Vernor Vinge: A Deepness in the SkyRainbows End.

T.K.F. Weisskopf: Cosmic Tales: Adventures in Sol System.

Gene Wolfe: The Castle of the Otter.

2006: The Year in Kid's Books

2006 was the year that our daughter really started reading on her own. We still read to her, and she comes to us when she's reading on her own when she finds something difficult, but like father, like daughter. Last Sunday we had to take the books away from her and shoo her into bed. She did three hours of reading that night on her own!

So, given that we are still reading to her, I thought I'd mention some of the more "adult" books we've been reading together. Plus, I'll toss in any "young adult" books that I'm reading on my own. This will serve as another "master list" (like the book list, the short story list and the magazine list I've done). Hopefully I'll continue to do this every year as well!

"Victor Appleton": Tom Swift Young Inventor #1: Into the Abyss (Alladin Paperbacks, Simon & Schuster, ISBN 9-781416-915188). Victor Appleton is a pen name and this marks the latest attempt to bring this series back into the popularity it had in its first appearance or the appearance that I grew up with. The character is still Tom Swift, Jr. Some of the characters are the same as in the series I grew up, but changed (e.g., Bud Barclay is now black). Some are new (a female character name Yo). Alas, to my eye, the book is thinned in terms of length and characterization (not that the ones I've read have any great depth of character...but when you thin even that) and are "dumbed down" as well. Pretty big print. Oh well, what did I want for $1.99 (series introduction price).

Victor Appleton II: Tom Swift and His Flying LabTom Swift and His JetmarineTom Swift and His Rocketship.

Bertrand R. Brinley: The Mad Scientists' Club (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-10-4). I'm reading these myself, as since they are only "about boys", our daughter does not seem all that interested. (Boys singly don't seem to be a problem; boys in a pack don't seem to interest her!) The books are being republished by Purple House Press (see below for more on this publisher).

I first read these as a kid. This was the club that I always wanted to belong to. They may not have done anything as earth-shaking or globe-girdling as Tom Swift, but they sure had a lot of fun. Purple House republished the books I read, and has also come out with a pair of novels (one had been published, but I never read it; another is new to publication). You can learn more about the author and his characters at a website his son runs.

The first two volumes are collections of short stories, so they will be part of the 2006 Short Story Project (got to get that count up!).

Made up of: Introduction (Sheridan Brinley); The Strange Sea Monster of Strawberry LakeThe Big EggThe Secret of the Old CannonThe Unidentified Flying Man of Mammoth FallsThe Great Gas Bag RaceThe Voice in the ChimneyNight Rescue (collection completed!).

If there is one common theme to the stories in the first collection, it is variety. They range from practical jokes (Sea Monster and Chimney) to science fiction (Egg) to pure adventure (Gas Bag) to drama (Rescue). The boys are pranksters, for the most part, but do know something of science, studied hard enough to get amateur radio licenses, and are Explorer Scouts. And when their talents are needed for a serious endeavor, they can pull that off as well. A nice little collection.

Bertrand R. Brinley: The New Adventures of The Mad Scientists' Club (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-11-2). Made up of: Introduction (Sheridan Brinley); The Telltale TransmitterThe Cool CavernBig Chief RainmakerThe Flying SorcererThe Great Confrontation.

They're mad! They're made, I tell you! The Mad Scientists' return in five more adventures, ranging from making rain to sparring with their rivals to pulling more practical jokes (this time, the big joke involves UFOs). I'll need to get the two novels and continue the adventure!

Oliver Butterworth: The Enormous Egg (Little, Brown, ISBN 0-316-11920-2). I first read this as a kid and was curious to see how it would hold up both in terms of what we've learned about dinosaurs since 1956 and how our daughter would like it. Two thumbs up, way up! One of the chickens at Nate Twitchell's farm in New Hampshire starts acting funny. It lays an egg, an enormous egg. Nate helps the chicken hatch the egg out, and it turns out that it laid a dinosaur, a triceratops, to be precise! Nate enlists the help of a visiting paleontologist (who is certainly happy to have the live version to study) in bringing up baby (so to speak). Eventually he gives the dinosaur to the museum in Washington, D.C. as the New Hampshire winter would be too much (I guess all the hot air in Washington will keep that region warm enough for dinosaurs!). When "Uncle Beazley" (as the triceratops is named) is involved in an auto accident, Congress gets involved. Hilarity ensues as a sequence worthy of something like "Mr. Smith Goes to Washington" occurs and Uncle Beazley is saved by the citizens of his native land. Our daughter was enchanted with the story and I have a feeling we'll be reading it again during vacation. And the science? Hmmm...dinosaurs hatching from chicken eggs? There are actually some pretty good statements about the more than probable links between birds and dinosaurs made. Good stuff!

Evelyn Sibley Lampman:  The Shy Stegosaurus of Cricket Creek (Purple House Press, ISBN 1-930900-09-0). Another favorite from my childhood, and a favorite author. Along with this, two books by Lampman that I recall fondly are The Shy Stegosaurus of Indian Springs and The City Under the Back Steps. The "also by" page of the book mentions one called Rusty's Space Ship, but I can't recall if I read it or not. The book was republished by Purple House Press. Alas, they don't seem to have plans to bring out either Indian Springs or Back Steps, which is a darn shame given the quality of this book.

So did our daughter like this one? You bet! A bit harder to get through, due to both length and the vocabulary (but we always ask when we come across a new word if she understands it and explain it if needed); however, we raced through this one almost as quickly as The Enormous Egg. Twins living on a ranch befriend a lonely stegosaurus who has managed to survive the demise of all the other dinosaurs by munching on sagebrush for a few tens of millions of years. The twins are trying to help their border (a paleontologist, they do get around, don't they!) find enough fossils to keep him at their ranch (and have his money coming in). Toss in a few plot twists and you've got a tale to keep a seven-year-old hopping for several days. More good stuff!

Indian Springs continues the adventures of the stegosaurus named George. Back Steps was entirely different and featured adventures in an ant colony. Maybe somebody will bring them into print again (or I'll be haunting those second-hand shops!).

Robert McClosky: Homer Price (ISBN 0-670-37729-5, Viking). Made up of: The Case of the Sensational ScentThe Case of the Cosmic ComicThe DoughnutsMystery YarnNothing New Under the Sun (Hardly)Wheels of Progress. (Counts as six entries in the 2006 Short Story Project.)

Robert McCloskey: Centerberg Tales: More Adventures of Homer Price (ISBN 0-14-031072-X, Puffin Books). Made up of: Grandpa Hercules: 1. The Hide-a-ride; 2. Sparrow Courthouse; 3. Looking for Gold; 4. The Gravitty-BittiesExperiment 13Ever So Much More SoPie and Punch and You-Know-Whats. (Counts as seven entries in the 2006 Short Story Project.)

This pair of short story collections is by a author who produced many classic children's books. You (especially if you're a parent) have probably come across Burt Dow, Deep Water Man or Make Way for Ducklings or the duo of Blueberries for Sal or One Morning in Maine. The first of this pair (Homer Price) was published in 1943; Centerburg Tales followed in 1951. Both were greatly enjoyed by our daughter and I read the entire set to her in about a week. No deep earth-shaking concepts here, just some funny stories about automatic doughnut machines, skunks, balls of yarn and the like. Very enchanting stuff!

George Selden: The Cricket in Times SquareHarry Kitten and Tucker MouseChester Cricket's New HomeTucker's Countryside.

I bought these a while back thinking that our daughter would like them. We absolutely could not get her interested, so I had written it off as a bad investment. Then after we got her interested in some of the other books listed here, we tried again.

Success, sort of. She would not read The Cricket in Times Square. But, she seemed interested in Harry Kitten and Tucker Mouse. So, we started with that one. Then we worked our way through the other books (there are a few others that we have not yet bought), and ended up reading the book that started it all (The Cricket in Times Square) while on vacation. Heck, we read a couple of these through a second time, thanks to Tropical Storm Ernesto. They were a hit (finally)!

E.B. White: Stuart Little. I haven't posted to this in a while as our daughter has moved from having us read to here most of the time, to reading for her very rarely. She is doing most of her reading on her own, sometimes as much as an hour a day! I did read her this one, as she seems to think she can't handle "chapter books" (but she has, so she can!). A lot different from the movie! This was, in parts, a pretty grim tale for a "kid's book"!

Addendum (September 11, 2006): Well, what do you know. I've inspired somebody to search for a memory. (2019 Update: Link no longer valid.)

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