2017 Reads - Your Best and Worst

Jo Zebedee

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#21
I have enjoyed

@HareBrain 's alter ego's Bryan Wigmore's The Goddess Project,
Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (I had no problem with the bisexual element - which it was clearly introduced as, as opposed to a gay man, imho), Luna: Wolf Moon and @Juliana 's Nightblade. My standout, however, was Peadar O'Guilin's The Call. Closely followed by Jodi Taylor's St Mary's books.

No stinkers that I can remember, but my reading time is limited so I was selective to begin with:)
 

Abernovo

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#22
My standout, however, was Peadar O'Guilin's The Call.
Oh, I didn't mention The Call, because I had it in my mind I'd read it in 2016. Obviously, one of those moments. Heartily second recommending this book. Certainly one of the best books I've read all year. So well-written, and realised, it was scary -- and that's before you get to the subject matter.
 

hitmouse

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#23
The worst is easy. Absolution Gap, the third part of Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Space trilogy. He can be a good writer, and the first two books in the trilogy were OK. However, the third was a surprise by virtue of being lazy, and just astonishingly, egregiously crap. I had the feeling that Reynolds had lost interest almost completely and was just taking the michael.
 

Dennis E. Taylor

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#24
There are a couple of books that really, really stood out for me in 2017

Ready Player One. Absolutely loved it.
Immortal by Gene Doucette was a nice surprise for an overdone trope.
Lock In By John Scalzi.

I have some stuff in my TBR that I should have read last year. Hopefully I'll get through them in 2018.
 

vanye

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#25
Did they eat hallucinogenic mushrooms in 19th Century London I wonder?
Don‘t know about mushrooms, but substance abuse was fairly common. The ones I have read about most for those times are alcohol and opium. An interesting contemporary account is for example Thomas De Quincey‘s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
 

TheDustyZebra

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#26
Oh, yes, several mentioned have rung a bell with me. Mary Renault, and Gentleman Jole and the Red Queen (same for me as Jo said there), and The Call.
 

Bick

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#27
I have always (well, since about 2013) posted my top 10, and not gone into 'worst' lists, so I'll stick to my tried and trusted format.

These are my top 10 for 2017 in calendar reading order, not order of preference:

Poul Anderson - The Broken Sword
James White - All Judgement Fled
Charles Dickens – Dombey and Son
Walter Van Tilberg Clark - The Ox-Bow Incident
Mervyn Peake - Titus Groan
H. G. Wells - The Time Machine
Hugh Walpole - Rogue Herries
Tad Williams - The Dragonbone Chair
Charles Dickens - Our Mutual Friend
Mike Resnick - Second Contact

Honourable mentions: Asimov (Robots and Empire), Ballard (Drowned World), Wyndham (The Kraken Wakes)

Some additional stats for the year, just because: Books read: 33 - low number for me, but this is doubtless because I read several 800+ pp tomes that each took me about a month.

Most read authors over the year: Ian Rankin (4), Charles Dickens (3)
 

Bick

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#28
Hey, Extollager - glad you 'liked' the post, given I read the Ox-Bow Incident and Our Mutual Friend as a direct consequence of your recommendations, so I have to thank you for that! Much appreciated. So what should I read this year ?
 

Gnrevolution

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#29
Haven't really read nearly as much as I would like to have done last year, but some of my favourites were:

Rob McLean - The Fall of Man Trilogy
M. R. Carey - The Girl with All the Gifts
James S. A. Corey - The Churn

Least favourites:

Peter F. Hamilton - The Abyss Beyond Dreams (a shame I really liked his earlier stuff but for me he's just gone completely off the boil!)
Dylan Jones - Black Book
Paul McAuley - Fairyland (Great first half, completely ruined by the second half)
 

hitmouse

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#30
Don‘t know about mushrooms, but substance abuse was fairly common. The ones I have read about most for those times are alcohol and opium. An interesting contemporary account is for example Thomas De Quincey‘s Confessions of an English Opium Eater.
Opium and hashish were available from your friendly neighbourhood pharmacies until the early 20th century (possibly raw opium was banned late 19th century) and have decent pedigree amongst the bohemian London crowd.

Magic mushrooms are indigenous to the UK ( if you know when and where to look there are fields carpeted with the things in season) and have undoubtedly been taken for much longer, though this is probably a rural thing. Mms have flown under the urban radar to the extent that they were still completely legal until a few years ago.
 

Vertigo

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#32
Haven't really read nearly as much as I would like to have done last year, but some of my favourites were:

Rob McLean - The Fall of Man Trilogy
M. R. Carey - The Girl with All the Gifts
James S. A. Corey - The Churn

Least favourites:

Peter F. Hamilton - The Abyss Beyond Dreams (a shame I really liked his earlier stuff but for me he's just gone completely off the boil!)
Dylan Jones - Black Book
Paul McAuley - Fairyland (Great first half, completely ruined by the second half)
I would tend to agree with your assessment of The Abyss Beyond Dreams but the sequel - Night Without Stars - is, I think, excellent and is Hamilton right back on form.
 

Vertigo

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#33
Mms have flown under the urban radar to the extent that they were still completely legal until a few years ago.
I'm not sure that last is entirely true. In fresh form, yes, but even back in the seventies if you dried them they were then considered to have been processed and were illegal. Not that I'd know anything about that...:D
 

PeteMC

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#34
My top two of the year were Blackwing by Ed McDonald and The Court of Broken Knives by Anna Smith Spark.

I also really enjoyed Godblind by Anna Stephens, Kings of the Wylde by Nicholas Eames, Age of Assassins by RJ Barker and (only loosely fantasy, I'll grant you) Behind Her Eyes by Sarah Pinborough. Also in SF, which I don't read much of, The Bastard Legion by Gavin Smith.
 

Gnrevolution

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#35
I would tend to agree with your assessment of The Abyss Beyond Dreams but the sequel - Night Without Stars - is, I think, excellent and is Hamilton right back on form.
I did read the second book and I remember it being better, but I don't remember much about it so I don't think I could've thought it was that good! Or maybe my memory is deserting me in my old age...
 

hitmouse

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#36
I'm not sure that last is entirely true. In fresh form, yes, but even back in the seventies if you dried them they were then considered to have been processed and were illegal. Not that I'd know anything about that...:D
Correct. If you dried them then they became illegal, but if fresh then they were completely pucker until converted to class A about 5 years ago.
Back to the subject in hand.
 

Connavar

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#37
I barely read 30 books in 2017, the fewest number for me since 2006 so im not sure if i can even have a strong top 10 list like other years. I have to think more, worst is hard too because since i was so busy with work, master degree in Uni i mostly read books i was sure on by fav authors.
 

Randy M.

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#38
I finished 25 books this year, ten mysteries including one non-fiction survey of (mostly) British mysteries, and two books of essays, articles and journalism. Two of the mysteries, The Three Coffins (a.k.a. The Hollow Man) by John Dickson Carr and The Whitechappel Horrors by Edward B. Hanna were less than satisfying, though neither was terrible; the former cumbered with some clunky exposition, the latter perhaps 50 pages too long. Fritz Leiber's The Night of the Long Knives was also slightly disappointing, not quite as well worked out as it could have been, while The Dealings of Daniel Kesserich, though not on par with Conjure Wife or Our Lady of Darkness, was an entertaining and enjoyable story that moved from the Lovecraftian to the Wellsian.

The Alienist by Caleb Carr. Excellent historical mystery, recently filmed and soon to be a mini-series on a U.S. network. While Theodore Roosevelt is Police Commissioner of New York City the mutilated bodies of young boys are being found in the city and the police, mired in corruption, seem unable to catch the killer. Roosevelt secretly gathers several people, a reporter, a police liaison, two somewhat unconventional detectives and the title character, who is a precursor to psychologists, into a team to track and apprehend the killer. Part of the enjoyment is a bit of New York City history massaged into the narrative.

Still Life and Dead Cold (a.k.a. A Fatal Grace) by Louise Penny. First two books in her series of Canadian police procedurals following Inspector Armand Gamache and his team. Penny is a fine writer and an empathetic guide to the people of the (fictional) town of Three Pines. Think Agatha Christie's St. Mary's Mead but actually explored, its population portrayed as people rather than as puzzle pieces. Might be a good read for anyone who likes mysteries who also likes Edgar Pangborn or the softer side of Sturgeon.

The Yiddish Policeman's Union by Michael Chabon. Technically a mystery, a mash-up of alternative history, s.f., maybe a touch of fantasy, noir detective story leavened by a sneaky sense of humor. Probably the best written, most rounded and fully-realized novel I read this year.

The Burning Court by John Dickson Car. Also, technically a mystery, with a supernatural underpinning that is never quite explained away. Very enjoyable.

The Bone Key by Sarah Monette. A reread and, um, okay, somewhat less technically a mystery, a story collection featuring Kyle Murchison Booth who must face down supernatural threats, or at least come to understand them. Really a terrific book. I hope Monette puts out another collection of Booth's adventures in future.

The Travelling Grave by L. P. Hartley. A sterling ghost story collection; "The Visitor from Down Under" alone worth the price of admission.

Agents of Dreamland by Caitlin Kiernan. Excellent, Lovecraftian novella. Kiernan packs a lot into less than 100 pages.

The Land of Laughs by Jonathan Carroll. A reread, and a long time favorite. A blend of mystery (there it is again), fantasy, horror, and character study, I know of nothing else quite like it.

The Man in the Picture by Susan Hill. An engrossing ghost story. For me, not her best -- The Woman in Black still holds that distinction -- but readable and entertaining.

Harrison Squared by Daryl Gregory
Lovecraft Country by Matt Ruff
The Fisherman by John Langan -- all three are variations on Lovecraftian fiction, all quite different in tone and texture, though the Gregory and Ruff do share that they approach the material with a sense of humor. The Langan is particularly powerful. The Gregory and more so the Ruff face down some of Lovecraft's less admirable tendencies.

Talking about Detective Fiction by P. D. James. Pleasant stroll through the British literature of crime, murder and mayhem.

A Slip of the Keyboard by Terry Pratchett. Enjoyable and occasionally funny, this book of essays and assorted journalism is somewhat weighted down by knowledge and discussion of his disease and death. Still, makes me want to get into his fiction, something I've so far somehow avoided.

A View from the Cheap Seats by Neil Gaiman. Another collection of essays and assorted journalism, more wide-ranging than the Pratchett and perhaps because of that more satisfying. Another book away from which I came with a sense of the author's vast stores of empathy.

IT by Stephen King. Long, perhaps longer than necessary, perhaps not quite under the author's control, but involving and ultimately one I'm happy I finally read. The first of two movies based on it does not do the book justice.

I also read American Gods by Neil Gaiman this year. I'm glad I did, but I'm also somewhat ambivalent. It has impressive breadth and a fine, logical progression of events as well as well-realized characters, but it didn't light a spark in me as a reader. Maybe I expected too much based on its reputation and my reading of other Gaiman works (for me he's strongest in the short story form), but where Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norell and The Land of Laughs and LOTR lifted me up and carried me along almost unconscious I was reading as opposed to viewing events, I was never that immersed in A.G. Maybe it was timing, and I do wonder if it is a book that might have a greater impact on rereading.

Randy M.
 
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#40
First, although this is a different thread, I guess it's the spiritual descendant of @Fried Egg 's annual "top 10" threads so, to preserve continuity, last year's thread was Top Ten reads this year (2016) and the links go back to 2009 (though you have to convert them to the new url system for 2012 and earlier cuz Brian keeps breaking the links ;)).

It's convenient that this thread doesn't ask for a "top 10." Last year, I said, "Quantitatively, this was definitely one of the worst reading years of my life. (Seems like every year I hope it will get better and every year it gets worse.)" That held true in 2017, too, in terms of books. I read so much magazine short fiction in such an inefficient way that I read almost no books. Since I and some others usually listed some top stories in the Top 10 threads in addition to books, here's a link to my top 100 webzine story reads and, since that's too many, here's the best of the best science fiction and fantasy stories.

For the handful of books, my best reads were:

Isaac Asimov - The Solar System and Back (1970)
Isaac Asimov - Science, Numbers, and I (1968)
Katherine MacLean - The Trouble with You Earth People (1980)

The first two are collections of science essays the Good Doctor did for F&SF and both were superb. (I give the edge to Solar System just because it has more essays on space.) I reviewed Katherine MacLean's very good short fiction collection and rank it below her earlier collection, The Diploids (1962), but that's still quite high.

Lesser but still satisfactory reads were:

Doc Smith - Spacehounds of IPC (1931) (review)
Jack Campbell - The Lost Stars: Shattered Spear (2016)
Groff Conklin - Great Science Fiction by Scientists (1962) (review)

That's one old and one new space opera novel and an anthology of people who, with some exceptions, were more scientists than authors. It wasn't a great anthology, but it had good stuff in it.

I also read Benford & Niven's Bowl of Heaven (2012) but it's only half a novel, so I can't say what I think of it yet. It was good enough for me to get the second half (Shipstar), anyway.

I'm with the people who don't like talking about the bad stuff but, since this is mixed with good, I'll include it.

My only bad read actually came from December 2016 but after I'd posted in the last thread.

Alan Dean Foster - The I Inside (1984) (Chrons post)

It's weird, because a couple of Foster novels (The Man Who Used the Universe and Nor Crystal Tears) and collections (With Friends Like These... and ...Who Needs Enemies) that I'd read just before that were quite good, but that one didn't work for me at all.
 

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