Best I Read in 2012

Best I Read in 2012

If my records are accurate, I read just over 80 books during 2012. Only a few of these were published this year, so rather than make a Best of 2012 post, I just listed all of them here. Of the remaining 70 or so I wrote down the titles that jumped out the most when I looked over them, compiling these into my Best of 2012 Not Published in 2012 list. I didn’t really plan on a certain number, but ended up with twelve. Titles are listed in reverse chronological reading order.

Spook Country – William Gibson
Gibson delivers, reminding me once again that he has to be one of the most important writers we have.

The Magic of Recluce – L.E. Modesitt Jr.
This book is still demanding a lengthy post, but it got bumped by urgent, end of the year type articles. Easily one of my favorite fantasy novels in quite some time.

Spin – Robert Charles Wilson
This was not at all what I expected, and probably better for it. As it is one of the major books of the 2000s, I should really get a post up about it soon.

The Ware Tetralogy – Rudy Rucker
Weird, weird cyberpunk. Probably not for everyone, but a must read for anyone trying to fully grasp cyberpunk as a movement.

House of Chains – Steven Erikson
I don’t even know where to start on a Malazan post. I’m still not half way through the series yet, let alone anywhere close to figuring out what’s going on and what Erikson will eventually accomplish. Still, if I’m going to read fantasy, I might as well go all the way, since Erikson seems intent on turning it up to eleven.

Warchild – Karin Lowachee
Seething, intense debut novel that is not for the faint of heart. I remain surprised that Lowachee went straight into something this harrowing for her first book.

Terminal World – Alastair Reynolds
I mentioned Mr. Reynolds in the same sentence as Steely Dan in this review, which garnered a happy tweet from him, which in turn led to the Two Dudes single day hits record. I would recommend this book anyway though.

City of Pearl – Karen Traviss
I was surprised to find a novel of this complexity from someone who primarily writes Star Wars and Halo tie-ins, though apparently those are fairly dark and complicated as well. I’ll have to try the Halo books once I get further into the games.

Ten Billion Days and One Hundred Billion Nights – Mitsuse Ryu
I can’t say that this is my favorite book, but I’m glad that I read it. Often listed as one of the top two or three SF novels of all time in Japan, I’m ecstatic that Haikasoru got it into English.

The Quantum Thief – Hannu Rajaniemi
There is a widening divide between SF focused primarily on engineering and physics, and SF focusing on information and computing. Rajaniemi is writing what cyberpunk might have been if the 1980s had our current information technology.

Embassytown – China Mieville
I’m genuinely surprised that this got shut out of the major awards for 2011. This probably has something to do with him winning a bunch in the past, though I don’t begrudge the year’s winners. Mieville’s foray into straight up SF was my pick of 2011, though I am woefully under-read for the year.

Lord of Light – Roger Zelazny
A classic from days of yore, still pioneering and relevant.

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3 thoughts on “Best I Read in 2012

  1. I also enjoyed Gibson’s Spook Country and the Blue Ant trilogy this year. Gibson is one of my man’s favorite authors and I can certainly see why.

    Just wait til you read the other two books in Lowachee’s Warchild Universe. Definitely worthy.

  2. When I was running Book City, I recommended Modesitt’s Magic of Recluse series, but people to whom I offered that recommendation told me the books were awful. Perhaps beauty really is in the eye of the beholder.
    Now that I’m hunting books for on-line sales, I notice Karen Traviss’ paperbacks (the non-Halo/Star Wars tie-ins) sell briskly and for a premium. She’s received favorable press from Kevin J. Anderson and James Alan Gardner–not that this means anything but is shows she’s not toiling in obscurity somewhere.

    • I enjoyed the first Recluce book a lot, though a review remains on the horizon. I actually gave my copy to mom when she was here, since she was looking for a fantasy to read. I have noticed that Modesitt really irritates a sector of fandom though, so while he’s fairly popular, there is that group that just gets hives when they read him. Not sure why – I find him utterly middle of the road, if a bit heavy on political economy. Not bad, just not quirky in any way.

      As for Traviss, she appears to just have the Wess’har books outside of the tie-ins. They don’t seem to get a lot of air time on the channels I follow, but that could just be the channels. Unsure.

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