Reinstating what I intend to be a monthly summary of everything I’ve read, since I’m not reviewing every single book or story the way I used to try to do on Livejournal. Here’s what I read in January of 2018:
To keep my numbers consistent with what I have listed on Goodreads, I count completed magazine issues and stand-alone short stories in ebook format as “books.” I read or listened to 14 books in January: 11 in print, 2 in audio, and 1 in ebook format. They were:
1. Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 issue), edited by John Joseph Adams. The usual fine assortment of sf and fantasy short stories and novellas. This month’s favorites for me were Catherynne M. Valente’s “Golabush, Or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy,” Sarah Pinsker’s “The Court Magician,” and José Pablo Iriarte’s “The Substance of My Lives, The Accident of Our Birth.”
2. Aristotle and Dante Discover The Secrets of the Universe, by Benjamin Alire Saenz. A wonderful first-person gay coming-of-age story about two Latino boys in the Southwest in the 80s, endearingly read on audio by Lin-Manuel Miranda. I didn’t quite get the sense that Ari was as angry as the cover-copy made him out to be (conflicted yes, over-the-top angry not so much).
3. Wonder Woman ’77 Meets the Bionic Woman, by Andy Mangels, Judit Tondora and others. Fun, fun, fun team-up between two of my favorite 70s TV icons. Mangels skillfully melds bad-guys from both shows into a formidable menace, and there are lots of great nods to both shows’ supporting casts (especially the female members). But there’s also an sub-plot that’s never resolved, indicating Mangels expected there to be a sequel mini-series/trade paperback. And Judit Tondora’s art is just wonderful to look at.
4. Beneath The Sugar Sky (Wayward Children #3), by Seanan McGuire. The story of the portal-children at Eleanor West’s Home for Wayward Children continue, this time with a quest into a Wonderland-like candy world that could have dire consequences for several members of the cast. What I love about these novellas is that you don’t have to have read the previous installments at all: McGuire tells you everything you need to know in each installment. But of course, reading them (in or out of order) gives you a much bigger picture to absorb.
5. Sherlock Holmes and the Green Lama: Heir Apparent, by Adam Lance Garcia. Love Holmes pastiches, love the “modern pulp movement.” Not overly familiar with the pulp history of The Green Lama, but that didn’t affect my enjoyment of this crossover which draws on both the Lama’s and Holme’s overlapping experiences in Tibet. The tension is well-spooled-out, the action sequences well-done. I’m sure I missed some of the nods towards other pulp characters and settings.
6. The Squirrel on the Train (Oberon’s Meaty Mysteries #2), by Kevin Hearne. Another fun novella in the Iron Druid Chronicles narrated by everyone’s favorite Irish wolfhound, Oberon. The IDC novels and short stories told from the human characters’ perspectives are fun and exciting, but the voice Hearne gives Oberon is more endearing and intimate and just plain joyful.
7. Binti: The Night Masquerage (Binti #3), by Nnedi Okorafor. The Binti trilogy of novellas concludes as solidly as it started: with amazing poetic prose, beautiful descriptions of people and places, action propelled by characterization, and at least one story twist I personally did not see coming. Folks whose first exposure to Afrofuturism was the Marvel movie Black Panther really need to check out this series.
8. Lumberjanes Vol. 7: A Bird’s Eye View, by Shannon Watters, Kat Leyh, Carey Pietsch, Ayme Sotuyo, Maarta Laiho. After a couple of volumes where I felt the story had slowed or the art wasn’t quite up to the standard of the first few, I feel like Volume 7 is both a return to form and a departure, with several new interesting supporting characters introduced and other supporting characters returning and being given more depth – all without shirking development for the core cast. I hear there might me a television version in development, and I hope none of the spark and strength of these girls is lost in adaptation.
9. Ironcastle, by Philip Jose Farmer, adapting J.H. Rosny Aine. It’s taken me way too long to get around to reading this Farmer classic. I enjoyed it. There will be a longer review sometime next week, since this is one of the books I read to meet this year’s To Be Read Challenge, which requires an individual review to be posted.
10. Superman: The Phantom Zone, by Steve Gerber, Gene Colan, Tony DeZuniga, Rick Veitch, Bob Smith and others. I loved this four-issue mini-series when it was published in the early 80s, before DC’s Crisis on Infinite Earths, as goofy as the story is. Gerber told a great story (although the follow-up story in DC Comics Presents was a bit more convoluted upon re-reading than I remembered). Colan’s art here is not necessarily his best compared to Tomb of Dracula, or even the Silverblade and Nathaniel Dusk minis he was drawing for DC around the same time, but it’s still fun. The man was a master of shadow and fluidity of movement.
11. Kiss Me Like A Stranger, by Gene Wilder. I can’t believe I haven’t read Wilder’s memoir before now. It’s become my habit to listen to, rather than read, memoirs if they’re read by the author, and I feel like I got a better sense of what Gene was trying to say (and what he was shying away from saying) by listening to him. I think, especially when it comes to the estrangement from his adopted daughter, he had blinders on as to what the problem actually was, but then again it’s very easy to judge from the outside things that aren’t as obvious when you’re in the middle. And his love for Gilda as well as the woman he married after her passing are very very strong and clear.
12. Iceman Volume 1: Thawing Out, by Sina Grace, Alessandro Vitti, Edgar Salazer, and others. I really intend to write a longer blog-post about this eventually. As I said on Twitter, I felt like Grace really captures the act of coming out “later in life” (a subjective term, to be sure, but I think Bobby Drake coming out as gay in his late 20s, after having “come out” as a mutant in his teens, qualifies), and the different pressures and roadblocks that come with it. Bobby’s journey in these few issues very much matches my own coming out in my late twenties after years of trying to convince myself I was straight and having lots of failed relationships with otherwise wonderful women, many of whom are still good friends.
13. Cry Your Way Home, by Damien Angelica Walters. A wonderful short story collection by one of my favorite authors, about which I don’t want to say too much here because my full review will be forthcoming at Strange Horizons in about a month.
14. The Ship of the Dead (Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard, Book 3), by Rick Riordan. I have not been as captivated by the Magnus Chase books as I have by the Percy Jackson and Kane Chronicles series, but this concluding volume of the first trilogy (which features a short guest spot by everyone’s favorite son of Poseidon as well as Magnus’ cousin Annabeth) grabbed me. A slightly slow start gives way to a fast-paced adventure that resolves all of the extant main and sub-plots and gives us more depth to the supporting cast of Magnus’ hotel-mates.
So fourteen books in January, which Goodreads told me was a few ahead of goal for the month/year. Ironcastle is the first book read for the 2018 To Be Read Challenge. Four graphic novels meets my “one graphic novel per week” reading challenge, while nothing I read in January helped meet any of the “Complete the Series” challenges, nor the “Bustle Reading Challenge.” Those Reading Challenges were described HERE.
I have a goal of reading 365 short stories (1 per day, essentially, although it doesn’t always work out that way) each year. Here’s what I did read and where you can find them if you’re interested in reading them too (with some short notes for stories that really stood out to me). If no source is noted, the story is from the same magazine or book as the story(ies) that precede(s) it:
1. “The Streets of Babel” by Adam-Troy Castro, from Lightspeed Magazine #92 (January 2018 issued), edited by John Joseph Adams.
2. “Golabush, or Wine-Blood-War-Elegy” by Catherynne M. Valente
3. “The Eyes of the Flood” by Susan Jane Bigelow
4. “Someday” by James Patrick Kelly
5. “Auburn” by Joanna Ruocco
6. “The Substance of My Lives, the Accident of Our Births” by Jose Pablo Iriarte
7. “Divine Madness” by Roger Zelazny
8. “The Court Magician” by Sarah Pinsker
9. “A Thousand Nights Till Morning” by Will McIntosh
10. “Written in Water” by Seanan McGuire, a Patrick-and-Dianda story, on the author’s Patreon page.
11. “Guerilla Marketing” by Sanjay Agnihotri, from One Story #236, edited by Will Allison
12. “Our New Lives” by Helen Coats, from One Teen Story #53, edited by Patrick Ryan
13. “Trouble Comes” by Neal Bailey, stand-alone ebook available on Kindle
14. “Tooth, Tongue and Claw” by Damien Angelica Walters, from her collection Cry Your Way Home, edited by Leslie Connor.
15. “Deep Within the Marrow, Hidden In My Smile” by Damien Angelica Walters
16. “On The Other Side of The Door, Everything Changes” by Damien Angelica Walters
17. “This Is The Way I Die” by Damien Angelica Walters
18. “The Hands That Hold, The Lies That Bind” by Damien Angelica Walters
19. “Not My Circus, Not My Monkeys: The Elephant’s Tale” by Damien Angelica Walters
20. “The Judas Child” by Damien Angelica Walters
21. “S Is For Soliloquy” by Damien Angelica Walters
22. “The Floating Girls: A Documentary” by Damien Angelica Walters
23. “Take A Walk In The Night, My Love” by Damien Angelica Walters
24. “Falling Under, Through the Dark” by Damien Angelica Walters
25. “The Serial Killer’s Astronaut Daughter” by Damien Angelica Walters
26. “Umbilicus” by Damien Angelica Walters
27. “A Lie You Give, And Thus I Take” by Damien Angelica Walters
28. “Little Girl Blue, Come Cry Your Way Home” by Damien Angelica Walters
29. “Sugar and Spice and Everything Nice” by Damien Angelica Walters
30. “In The Spaces Where You Lived” by Damien Angelica Walters
31. “How The Marquis Got His Coat Back” by Neil Gaiman, the full-cast BBC Audio production available on Audible.
32. “The Way Home” by Seanan McGuire, an Alice Healey /Tom Price “Incryptid” story, on the author’s website
33. “The Lay of The Land” by Seanan McGuire
34. “Target Practice” by Seanan McGuire
So that’s 34 short stories in January, more than one per day, putting me exactly on schedule for the year so far.