* = Re-read
Check out past years: 2012, 2013 (skipped), 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, and 2020.
Follow Oliver on Goodreads to get these reviews as they happen.
1) Extreme Cities: Climate Chaos and the Urban Future by Ashley Dawson
I found the first half of the book was a lot of “IT BAD” when what I was looking for was more of the back half, an exploration of why some solutions fail and others are more the way to go. I think as time goes forward we really need books that are entirely about solutions because good lord most of us understand IT BAD.
2) Phoenix in Obsidian by Michael Moorcock
Aka The Silver Warriors
3) The Deep by Rivers Solomon
A+ premise, but the execution didn’t really grab me? Perhaps a case of something just not being for me (a white guy with no ancestral trauma or lack of access to his people’s history).
4) The Eyes of the Overworld by Jack Vance
If you only like reading books about nice people who change, this is not for you. Cugel is a sonnuvabitch who learns nothing, ever…but once you accept this, the book is a tremendous amount of fun as you follow his forever trying to get ahead in a fantastic, colorful world. Piles of inspiration for your RPG sessions, too.
5) The Ministry Of The Future by Kim Stanley Robinson
6) I Want To Be Where the Normal People Are by Rachel Bloom
7) Laziness Does Not Exist by Devon Price
A great book if you want to learn greater empathy for yourself and others.
8) Adulthood Rites by Octavia Butler
9) No One Is Talking About This by Patricia Lockwood
10) The Weird of the White Wolf by Michael Moorcock
11) Flawless: Inside the Largest Diamond Heist in History by Scott Andrew Selby, Greg Campbell
12) Imago by Octavia Butler
13) Tales from the Magician’s Skull #5, Edited by Howard Andrew Jones
14) Remote Control by Nnedi Okorafor
15) Dolly Parton, Songteller: My Life in Lyrics by Dolly Parton, Robert K. Oermann
Aside from a handful of them, I find Dolly herself a lot more interesting than her songs and I still got a great deal from reading this book.
16) The Bane of the Black Sword by Michael Moorcock
You want some more Elric? Sure, here’s some more Elric. It’s all good, but nothing truly stood out to me except the “Epilogue”, which was a slightly-edited-into-continuity story of Rackhir the Red that had been lifted from THE SINGING CITADEL. It features a great take on the plane of Law and is great RPG fodder.
17) Death in Her Hands by Ottessa Moshfegh
18) Cugel’s Saga by Jack Vance
Basically part two of a story begun nearly twenty years earlier with Eyes Of The Overworld, it’s almost entirely a sequence of variations on the same thing: Cugel arrives at, or is passing through, the next stage of his journey and has to earn money &/or passage. This involves bullshitting and general scoundrel behavior, as well as perhaps learning a trade. Things end poorly, usually leaving Cugel broke but sometimes in possession of a thing he needs for the next bit, rinse-wash-repeat.
And then it scares the living hell out of you for the last seven pages or so.
And you’re laughing pretty frequently, or at least I was, in the long run-up to those seven pages, laughing and/or marveling at the fun in the world-building.
Heckuva read! Definitely read Eyes Of The Overworld first!
19) Rhialto the Marvellous by Jack Vance
While Rhialto is indeed the protagonist, this triad of stories is really about the most wonderful and awful members-only club imaginable. A strong contrast to the preceding Cugel mega-saga, it’s definitely worth a read.
20) The Red Man and Others by Angeline B. Adams, Remco van Straten
In short, it’s great. A longer, more thoughtful review I wrote can be found over on Sword & Sorcery Magazine.
20) The Mask of Cthulhu by August Derleth
I actually discussed this book, and many related topics, on the Appendix N Podcast!
21) The Living Mountain by Nan Shepherd
22) The Art of Noticing by Rob Walker
23) The Oppenheimer Alternative by Robert J. Sawyer
24) Alaric the Goth: An Outsider’s History of the Fall of Rome by Douglas Boin
25) Hummingbird Salamander by Jeff VanderMeer
26) Terminal Boredom: Stories by Izumi Suzuki
27) No Police = Know Future: Stories of Alternative Futures of Alternative Justice, Edited by James Beamon
28) The Great Derangement: Climate Change and the Unthinkable by Amitav Ghosh
*29) The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin
30) The Religion by Tim Willocks
31) Imaro by Charles Saunders
32) Future Feeling by Joss Lake
33) Once Upon a Time in Hollywood by Quentin Tarantino
A curious artifact, which couldn’t have more clearly been written by someone whose whole writing career thus far has been screenplays, and which supplies a much sweeter ending, one I kinda wish they’d used in the film instead of what was there.
34) Great Short Novels of Adult Fantasy #1 by Lin Carter
It’s four novellas collected together with genuinely enjoyable historically grounded introductions by a very different Lin Carter than you encounter in the Conan paperbacks. Hard to sum up, but I will say it’s worth it if only for The Maker of Moons by Robert Chambers, a direct influence on Lovecraft, and the overall opportunity to read some fantasy fiction you’re unlikely to just trip over anywhere else.
35) Turn This World Inside Out: The Emergence of Nurturance Culture
by Nora Samaran
36) Piranesi by Susanna Clarke
37) Rogues in the House: Volume 1 by L.D. Whitney , Matthew John, Alexander James
38) Three Against the Witch World by Andre Norton
39) Bloodstone by Karl Edward Wagner
40) Sword and Sorceress IV Edited by Marion Zimmer Bradley
41) The Score by Richard Stark
42) Fledgling by Octavia E. Butler
Good stuff, for sure! Interesting to read this after having finished the Xenogensis trilogy earlier in the year. Octavia definitely had a knack for quickly setting something up that makes you deeply uncomfortable yet also compelled to keep reading, a rare and difficult move. I enjoyed it, and wonder if it would have gone on to be a series if she hadn’t tragically died not too long after publication.
43) On Downtime and Demesnes by Courtney C. Campbell
44) Artifices, Deceptions, & Dilemmas by Courtney C. Campbell
45) The Wet and the Dry: A Drinker’s Journey by Lawrence Osborne
46) Dark Crusade by Karl Edward Wagner
47) Tales from the Magician’s Skull #6 Edited by Howard Andrew Jones
48) The Blade Itself by Joe Abercrombie
49) Castle Bash: A Record of the Most Unfortunate Doings at Castle Bash – As Told by an Unnamed Poet who was Never Seen Again by Julian Bernick, David M. Persinger (Illustrator)
I interviewed Julian about his book, and a great deal more, over on my podcast.
50) Darkness Weaves by Karl Edward Wagner
51) Before They Are Hanged by Joe Abercrombie
52) Last Argument of Kings by Joe Abercrombie
*53) A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin
54) All Systems Red by Martha Wells
55) Beautiful Animals by Lawrence Osborne
56) The Lamb Will Slaughter the Lion by Margaret Killjoy
57) Craft in the Real World: Rethinking Fiction Writing and Workshopping
by Matthew Salesses
A great work for helping you reconsider even the most basic terms of craft, and how we teach it.
58) Furta Sacra: Thefts of Relics in the Central Middle Ages by Patrick J. Geary
Exactly what it says on the tin, a highly readable text on relic theft in the central middle ages. It finds that sweet spot between “informative but inscrutable”, and “easy to read but not much substance”.
59) The Adventures of Alyx by Joanna Russ
Overall I really enjoyed this highly unique read, but my review has some spoilers so I’ll link to it here.
60) Blood Child by Octavia Butler
Poetry Collections: 1
Comic Trades: 0
Wrote Myself: 0