Friday, December 31, 2010

Looking back on 2010

I've seen a number of these posts go up already on other blogs. As usual I was still busy reviewing. I really wanted to get the review of Harbinger of the Storm by Aliette de Bodard done before the end of the year. That book brings the total number of works I've read in 2010 to 91. Which is actually 2 less than in 2009. I reviewed 90 of them however, which is 11 more than last year. Of these, 88 can be found on this blog, the other 2 were written in Dutch for Fantasy Realm. Not a bad total but I'm still not quite living up to my ambition to average two reviews a week. There's definitely a challenge there for next year.

Of the 91 works 66 were written by men, 19 by women and 6 contained the work of both men and women. Still a bit of gender bias there I suppose. There were 76 novels on the list, 7 collections/anthologies, 7 pieces of short fiction and one non-fiction work. According to Goodreads my reading in 2010 totalled 35,213 pages, or about 96 pages a day. I don't have a reliable total for 2009 but I am pretty sure the 2010 total would be lower if I bothered with a thorough count. Of the 91 works 31 were published in 2010, one will be released in 2011 and the rest is older, sometimes considerably older.

So what are the best books I've read this year? As always a difficult question. I won't limit myself to the book released this year. This are 10 novels that stood out among what I've read. They are listed in the order I read them in.

Platinum Pohl (2005) by Frederik Pohl. A wonderful collection of short fiction spanning much of Pohl's long career in science fiction.
The Prefect (2007) by Alastair Reynolds. The most recent novel in the Revelation Space setting. Combines noir with space opera.
Under Heaven (2010) by Guy Gavriel Kay. Historical Fantasy based on Tang dynasty China right before the An Shi rebellion. Kay is worth reading for the prose alone but the rest of the novel is outstanding too.
Ship Breaker (2010) by Paolo Bacigalupi. His first attempt as YA fiction is a resounding success.
Alien Earth (1992) by Megan Lindholm. Takes a bit to get going but turns into a surprisingly good Science Fiction novel by the author also known as Robin Hobb.
The Dervish House (2010) by Ian McDonald. Wonderfully complex SF novel set in near future Istanbul.
The Radio Magician and Other Stories (2010) by James van Pelt. He produces some of the best short fiction is SF today.
Soul Catcher (1972) by Frank Herbert. His only mainstream work. Somebody please bring this back in print.
The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet (2010) by David Mitchell. I'm totally biased by the choice of topic of this novel.
The Dispossessed (1974) by Ursula K. Le Guin. Classic Science Fiction, I don't think it gets much better than this. I really ought to read more of her work.

Traffic has been inching upwards during the year. It's still not a whole lot but I seem to have a nice group of regulars. Hopefully it'll continue to increase next year. The ten most popular review in 2010 were:
  1. Roadside Picnic by Arkady and Boris Strugatsky
  2. Towers of Midnight by Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Clan of the Cave Bear by Jean M. Auel
  4. Reaper's Gale by Steven Erikson
  5. Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay
  6. The Dervish House by Ian McDonald
  7. The Lucky Strike by Kim Stanley Robinson
  8. Rise of the Terran Empire by Poul Anderson
  9. The Dragon Reborn by Robert Jordan
  10. The Left Hand of God by Paul Hoffman
The top book is certainly surprising. I had never heard of Roadside Picnic until it was suggested to me. Apparently there are not that many review s of this book online, Random Comments does very well in Google searches for this title. Towers of Midnight will most likely overtake it in the future but it fished the year at the top of the list by a fair margin. The other title on this list that surprises me is The Lucky Strike. I suspect someone is using this book in a history or literature class somewhere because I keep getting hits from people looking for a summary (it's a forty page text, shame on you!) or trying to Google the answer for what look like textbook questions. Last year I had some Dutch language titles in the top ten. This year the first, Ziel van de Duivel by Adrian Stone can be found at the 20th spot.

My plans for next year are a bit vague. I hope to review a few books more than this year. I also want to finish a couple of long running project. Beginning with finish reviewing the collection of Poul Anderson's Technic Civilization being published by Baen at the moment. There are two volumes left. I ought to be able to tackle those next year. I also want to continue my reviewing of Frank Herbert's non-Dune books. There's quite a few left. I don't think I will be able to fit all of those in 2011. My project to reread Kim Stanley Robinson's work seems to have stalled a bit. I hope to continue that next year as well. Quite a few books left there as well. There's a few other series I want to continue and a whole lot of books I look forward to in 2011. Too many to list and most likely too many to read. I mean to finish Elizabeth Bear's Edda of Burdons, finish the original Foundation trilogy by Isaac Asimov, read some more Erikson and tackle another of Edward Rutherfurd's monsters among other things. We'll see how things go.

Hope to see you all around here next year. Best wishes for 2011!

Rob

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