I stopped kickboxing some time in February, and seem to have spent all of the extra time reading.
Here's the list; thoughts follow after.
- The Instrumentality of Mankind, Cordwainer Smith
- Ancillary Justice, Ann Leckie
- The Hydrogen Sonata, Iain M. Banks
- The Hundred Days, Patrick O'Brian
- World War Z, Max Brooks
- The Yellow Admiral, Patrick O'Brian
- Sailing to Sarantium, Guy Gavriel Kay
- Lord of Emperors, Guy Gavriel Kay
- Dancers at the End of Time, Michael Moorcock
- The Magicians, Lev Grossman
- An Evil Guest, Gene Wolfe (reread)
- The Magician King, Lev Grossman
- Pirate Cinema, Cory Doctorow
- Cibola Burn, James S. A. Corey
- Watching the English, Kate Fox
- Innovator's Dilemna, Clayton M. Christensen
- Wonder Woman: Volume 1, Blood, Brian Azzarello, Cliff Chiang, Tony Akins
- Deadpool Omnibus by Joe Kelly, Joe Kelly, Ed McGuinness, Bernard Chang, Shannon Denton, Pete Woods, Walter McDaniel, David Brewer
- Fables: Mean Seasons, Bill Willingham, Mark Buckingham, Steve Leialoha, Tony Akins, Jimmy Palmiotti
- Batman: The Long Halloween, Jeph Loeb, Tim Sale
- The Astonishing X-Men: Unstoppable, Joss Whedon, John Cassaday
Sixteen (16) this quarter, not counting the comics.
Of the comics, the obvious pick is The Long Halloween. In it, Batman chases down a mysterious serial killer who strikes on major national holidays. Although it's mostly set in the more 'realistic' world of organized crime (there's hardly a page without a Godfather reference), all of Batman's usual foes get a moment in the spotlight.
In non-fiction, Kate Fox's anthropological observations of the English easily trumps the tedious Innovator's Dilmena. Watching the English takes a tour of the various aspects of English life and tries to discover some deep, underlying principles that explain things as varied as queueing and playing darts in pubs. Worth a read, particularly if you're actually living in England.
With fiction, it is genuinely difficult to pick a highlight, as almost all of these books have delighted me in their own way. For ease of argument, we can discard books by O'Brian, Kay, Corey, and Wolfe. I've talked about other books by these authors, and the ones I've read recently are not different enough to remark on.
Instrumentality is an anthology of the older school, richly infused with post-War politics. Cerebral without being dry, dark without being grim.
Ancillary Justice won the Nebula, and deserved to do so. Although people compare it to Iain M. Banks (presumably for being a space opera), and to Ursula Le Guin (presumably for being conscious about gender), it reminded me most of Gene Wolfe. Probably because its told by an unreliable first-person narrator.
I read The Magicians and The Magician King over the course of three days. I think they count as YA fiction, but I personally wouldn't want anyone under sixteen to read them. Highly engrossing and lots of fun. The best way to describe them is that it's like Harry Potter, except college-level, and all the magicians are obsessive, over-achieving, emotionally stunted geniuses. The books are driven not by a threat from some dark lord, but rather by the characters' deep flaws. Well, that and a few school fiction tropes.
And now all the also-rans are eliminated, the winner is obvious: Dancers at the End of Time, Michael Moorcock's delightful homage to the fin de siècle. It froths with wit and innocence, debauchery and wisdom. It tells of "a story of Jherek Carnelian, who did not know the meaning of morality, and Mrs. Amelia Underwood, who knew everything about it". One of the few books that brought both Joliette & I to laughter.
But this does not detract from all the other books, which really are great (except for Pirate Cinema, which is tolerable).