Booklist 2007

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  • Blindsight – Peter Watts – The finest SF book I’ve read in years, whose aliens feel alien for once, rather then the personification [xenomorphification? ugh] of a human trait. And it opened a box of philosophical questions w/r/t free will, and the value of ‘consciousness.’ Also vampires, in space.
  • Pandora’s Star – Peter F. Hamilton – Huge, hurtling space opera. 1000+ pages in 4 days can’t be wrong.
  • Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars – Daniel Pinkwater – This had been on my wishlist for a couple of years, and I have no idea where I found the recommendation. But it’s mad and lovely, and I have 4 more of his short novels to read. Hazah!
  • “Hello”, Lied the Agent – Ian Gurvitz – Brief, bitter and full of bile, along with creamy dollops of insight into the life of a TV writer in LA.
  • Hell’s Angels – Hunter S. Thompson – It’s easy to see why this book made his career, and however much swagger he displayed on his walk through life, he had the talent and the cojones to warrant it.
  • Judas Unchained – Peter F. Hamilton – Here’s the problem with 1000+ page genre epics – the culmination of the story can’t compete with the journey of reading. And having spent 2370 pages getting there, PFH conducts an intergalactic genocide in a couple of sentences. Ho-hum. Also, once you’re done reading, the plot holes start filling with the muddy waters of doubt, so it’s best just to move swiftly on to something completely different. And much, much shorter.
  • Going Under – Kathe Koja – Well, this was shorter. 1100 pages shorter, in fact. With far, far less words on each page, and some slightly sinister design tweaking of the chapter numbers. The writing was lovely, although it’s left me feeling unsettled. Though that could also be down to the cheesey fish bake thing I had for dinner. Also, my Dad came home drunk tonight. Hurrah!
  • Permanence – Karl Schroeder – I read this at the suggestion of the endnotes of Blindsight, which stated that Watts & Schroeder had been engaged in an enduring argument concerning the value of consciousness, and that both books had been written as part of that continuing dialogue. Permanence was fun, in an early Heinleinesque way, and while it explained its ideas better than Blindsight, it didn’t slam the brain with cognitive dissonance the way Watts’ book did. Apart from one bit about throwing, which made my brain spin.
  • Kafka on the Shore – Haruki Murakami – Astoundingly readable as always, but not a patch on the other books of his that I’ve read.
  • Blink – Malcolm Gladwell – This is a book about trusting and developing your instinctive responses to things. It’s kind of repetitive, but it makes its point well. So much so that while I was in Blockbuster today, eavesdropping on a gobshite manager’s phone call to some other managerial pisswit, I wanted to grab him by his oversized lapels and shake him until his ears bled, yelling “Read Blink, you incompetent motherfucker! You knew she wasn’t going to be any good, and you ignored your thin-sliced response because ‘Her paperwork was truly excellent.’” But I didn’t. I’d probably feel better now if I had done, though.
  • Jennifer Government – Max Barry – Odd one this. A few years ago I spent a bit of time playing NationStates [now defunct], which was an online nation-simulation game, written by Monsignor Barry. So when I found the book that’d been advertised around the game in a charity shop, yoinking seemed appropriate. And it’s not bad – it’s not great either, but it was a fun enough read while it lasted. The next book on this list has started wonderfully though, with a murderous pensioner and some slapstick.
  • The Fairy Gunmother – Daniel Pennac – Well, I loved this one to bits, although nothing else in the book lived up to the opening scene where a Grandmother was sent skidding across a patch of black ice by the kickback of her .357 Magnum.
  • Someone Comes to Town, Someone Leaves Town – Cory Doctorow – Another gift from Canada, but from my mum via the airport rather than mon frere via the jungle. Utterly bonkers, with a wifi-evangelism plot slathered on top of a first rate urban fantasy. Peculiar.
  • The Plot Against America – Philip Roth – Left me cold.
  • The Aquariums of Pyongyang – Kang Chol-Hwan & Pierre Rigoulot -Terrifying accounts of a North Korean gulag.
  • Glasshouse – Charlie Stross – Great, if kind of unmemorable.
  • The Fountain at the Centre of the World – Rob Newman – So his writing is really ungainly, but in an endearing way. And he has lots to say, and says it well. But it didn’t really light my fire. Sadly.
  • The Atrocity Archives &
  • The Concrete Jungle – Charlie Stross – Now these were very fine indeed. Mad, and funny, and so very very tasty.
  • The Ghost Map – Steven Johnson – I now know more about shit than I ever thought I wanted to.
  • The Lovely Bones – Alice Sebold – Had to read this one all in one big galumphing galoop. SO good, SO sad. Wow.
  • Leviathan – Paul Auster – Not nearly his best, but this one slipped down in an evening too.
  • The Peace War – Vernor Vinge – not bad at all, but merely an infodump for the simply fantastic…:
  • Marooned in Realtime – Vernor Vinge – which kicked ass.
  • Overclocked – Cory Doctorow – he’s a much better short story writer than novelist. Who’da thunk? “After The Siege” was fabulous.
  • An Opening Act of Unspeakable Evil – Jim Munroe – great title, great book about 30-something hipsters in Toronto.
  • Use of Weapons – Iain M Banks – ah, those witty Lazy Gun
  • Oblivion – David Foster Wallace – Best. Writer. Ever.
  • Night Watch – Sergei Lukyanenko
  • Shantaram – Gregory David Roberts
  • The World to Come – Dara Horn
  • Atonement – Ian McEwan
  • A Dirty Job – Christopher Moore
  • The Book Thief – Markus Zuzak
  • Suite Francaise – Irene Nemirovsky
  • The Ascent of Rum Doodle – W.E. Bowman
  • Surveillance – Jonathan Raban
  • The Language Instinct – Steven Pinker
  • How We Are Hungry – Dave Eggers
  • The Yiddish Policeman’s Ball – Michael Chabon
  • Blindness – Jose Saramago
  • The Hummingbird’s Daughter – Luis Alberto Urrea
  • JPOD – Douglas Coupland
  • The King’s Last Song – Geoff Ryman
  • The Kite Runner – Khaled Hosseini
  • Arthur & George – Julian Barnes
  • The Mysteries of Pittsburgh – Michael Chabon
  • Perfume – Patrick Suskind
  • The Meaning of Everything – Simon Westchester
  • As She Climbed Across the Table – Jonathan Lethem
  • Josiah The Great – Ben Macintyre
  • Fairyland – Paul J. McAuley

52 Books in the year – woot!

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