Saturday, December 31, 2016

2016 in Review - I Really Need to Read More

Although I never managed to reach the productivity of the early stages of this blog, 2015 was a relatively good year for reviewing. In 2016 I haven't managed to equal that. Mostly because I simply read less and put more time in other activities. I haven't reviewed everything I read either, missing two novels. A total of 47 entries appeared on Random Comments this year. I also contributed 9 articles to, one of which is a review I didn't also write in English. All in all it is not bad but not quite what I had in mind in January either.


I read 34  novels, 4 collections, 3 novellas, 1 anthology and 11 pieces of short fiction this year. A total of 53. Of these I reviewed 51. All but two of these reviews appeared on Random Comments, the exception being the novel The Wan by Bo Balder, and the collection Stories of Your Life and Others by Ted Chiang. I reviewed Chiang's collection on this blog in 2011 already. The Hebban edition is some 3,500 words long and quite different from the Random Comments edition. My reading amounts to roughly 15,000 pages of material, markedly down from last year. In fact, it is probably the lowest total since I started the blog. Next year's target of beating 2016's total should be easily achievable.

I managed to read an equal number of works by men and women this year, 26 each, with the anthology containing work by both men and women. I didn't consciously aim for an exact balance but it is nice to see that is how it turned out. As usual most of my reading was in English. I read only three translations this year. One from Chinese to English, one from English to Dutch and one from Swedish to Dutch. Three books were read and originally written in Dutch. That leaves 47 read and originally written in English. Although this year's crop is pretty varied as far as the background of the author is concerned, I did not manage to read many translations. Another thing to keep an eye on next year.

Lana contributed one review in 2016. The Stand by Stephen King.

Best of 2016

I read a lot of decent books this year but not that many that really stood out. In that respect, 2015 was a better year as well. There are a few that I do want to mention though, in no particular order. As always, these are drawn from what I read this year, they are not necessarily published in 2016.
  1. Central Station by Lavie Tidhar. Everything about this book is strange. It's is something between a collection and a novel but not quite a fixup either. The setting is unusual and the meandering plot is perhaps even more so. It is firmly grounded in science fiction though, with lots and lots of references to the classics in the genre. I would not be surprised to see this one end up on the Nebula shortlist.
  2. Planetfall by Emma Newman. A science fiction novel dealing with mental illness. It includes some interesting science fiction elements but the character building is what really attracted me to this novel. The sequel was published in November. I have to remember to order a copy of that.
  3. American Gods by Neill Gaiman. I came late to this novel and in hindsight I should have read it sooner. Apparently it is a love it or hate it novel. I loved it, and if you haven't already, you should read it too.
  4. Fair Rebel by Steph Swainston. A triumphant return to the world of Castle. Fans of this series will want to read it. It's a book that, despite the fantastic setting, very much deals with the problems of of our present world.
  5. Ninefox Gambit by Yoon Ha Lee. First book in a space opera trilogy. It is one of the most exciting books in that particular subgenre I have read in ages. Again, this one might end up on an award shortlist or two.
Books that almost made the list are Slaap zacht, Johnny Idaho by Auke Hulst, Cyberabad Days by Ian McDonald and The City & The City by China MiƩville.


Traffic is once again down, which is not surprising given the fact that I produced less content this year. More troubling is the fact that about 10% of it comes from a location in Russia specializing in link spam. They have been very active in trying to get me to vote for Trump (even after the election was done), buying a particular kind of blue pill and other nonsense like that in the past few months. If I weed out all the spam these are the most visited articles.
  1. The Valley of Horses - Jean M. Auel
  2. Hex - Thomas Olde Heuvelt
  3. Sarum - Edward Rutherfurd
  4. The Lucky Strike - Kim Stanley Robinson
  5. The Wind's Twelve Quarters - Ursula K. Le Guin
  6. Death's End - Cixin Liu
  7. The Clan of the Cave Bear - Jean M. Auel
  8. Ninefox Gambit - Yoon Ha Lee
  9. Interview: Steph Swainston on The Wheel of Fortune
  10. The Jesus Incident - Frank Herbert and Bill Ransom
Three 2016 articles, which is better than last year. Hex rating high is also understandable. I reviewed the Dutch language edition of the novel in 2014 but the English edition appeared this year. My very first author interview made it to the list as well. I'm very pleased with that. The rest are older articles that just keep going. Most of them have been on this list in previous years as well.


Nothing really drastic. I am considering adding some of my writings in Dutch to the blog. I have enough of those now that it would make a nice addition. It would mean tweaking the site a bit and I don't think I will have the time for that in the next few months however. Maybe a bit later in the year. I also want to review more short fiction. Collections and anthologies tend to dwell on the to read stack too long. Which is a shame. A lot of interesting stuff is published in the short form. To make a start with this I am going to change my approach to reading short fiction a bit an review more individual pieces. I don't have that many unread novels on the to read stack at the moment so January will be short fiction month on Random Comments. I'll try to read and review as many as I can next month.

An that concludes another year on Random Comments. I wish you all a happy and prosperous 2017 and hope to see you all around on the blog again.



  1. Funnily enough it was a google search on The Valley of Horses that brought me here. I think your website is brilliant.

    1. For some reason that one does very well. You'd think there would be plenty of hits on that book but google keeps directing them my way.