Another year, another year. In 2016 I added a comic book habit which
I'm not sure will continue into 2017. I have at least one series I'd
like to continue. I may pursue the hobby primarily through graphic
novels and trades from the library.
Arabella of Mars by David Levine
This is the "fiction" entry of the semi-random selection from the
library's "new books" shelf. This appears to be Levine's debut novel,
though he has credits in the Wild Cards series among others. He
happens to be a local author (from Portland, OR), so that is cool.
Arabella of Mars was a delight to read. The premise is a genre
mash-up of science fiction and regency, with a touch of steam-punk: in
Victorian era man has discovered how to make great ships buoyant and
can thence take ships aloft and sail them to other planets, including
Mars. Yes you heard that right, you can sail to Mars. Which implies
there is no vacuum of space, just a big atmosphere throughout the
cosmos. The alternative reality works really well, I found, and I had
no trouble suspending disbelief in service to the story.
Young Arabella Ashby finds herself in need to abscond to Mars to stop
an insidious plot by her unscrupulous cousin. She does so by
presenting herself as a boy and gaining passage by working as a
deck-hand on an interstellar ship. Adventure ho!
I liked just about everything about this novel. The only issue I had
was a bit of cliche at the end which I wonder if it may be a sort of
requirement of the regency genre (I've not ready any before, so am
unsure about what to expect). But the setting, characters, story,
structure, pacing, were all great.
It is setting itself up as a possible series, so I'll be following
Censored 2017 edited by Mickey Huff and Andy Lee Roth
I had never heard of "Project Censored" when I saw this title at the
library. In the wake of the 2016 elections I had been feeling a bit
conventional in my political thinking and wanted to branch out some
more, so I grabbed this title.
The structure is this: a list of what a panel deems were the "most
censored stories of 2016", followed by a series of essays, mostly on
media criticism. I read with great interest, but ended up abandoning
the book after the first section.
A few of the stories seemed very interesting: I had not read anything
(or very little) about them, and they were quite consequential. For
example, there was a report on how many nations in the world in which
US special force had training or combat operations in 2015 (over one
hundred). Or the existence and operation of the so-called US vaccine
court, which is not widely advertized due to fear of abuse.
But many of the stories seemed to have been absent from mainstream
media coverage not because they were censored, but because they were
boring or silly. For example, the idea that "climate change will have
disproportional effects on women" turned out to be totally pointless,
because as the summary noted, this was a side-effect of existing
social structures and had absolutely nothing to do with climate
Insert a number of other boring or non-sequitur stories, and this was
not the subversive reporting I had been hoping for. Not recommended.
Life, the Universe, and Everything by Douglas Adams
"Surreal" was the word of the year for 2016 according to at least one
authority. World news, and especially politics, made everything seem
so bizarre that I could think of no finer way to end 2016 than by
reading a Hitchhiker's novel.
Life, the Universe, and Everything fulfilled everything I was
looking for. Of course it did. I heartily recommend it, of course
after you read the previous installments.
Fittingly, I seem to have logged 42 entries on my 2016 reading list
(see summarys below). As for 2017, I've decided that my theme will be
to throw myself at the ground . . . and miss.
In 2016 I read:
- 12 periodicals
- 17 books
- 13 comic books
- 7,634 pages
- or about 21 pages per day