Thursday 20 December 2018

2018: Science Fiction Odyssey, Too

Oh good grief would you look at the time. I mean date. I mean... whatever: Christmas and New Year's are fast approaching, and I am seized by an inexplicable urge to blog about the books I bought and read in 2018 – this despite having barely posted anything all year and consequently squandered whatever remaining sliver of readership Existential Ennui yet retained. Still, when have I ever let widespread disinterest stop me from wittering on at extreme length?

2018, then. A year that, much like 2017 – which, you'll recall (or at least you would if there were anyone left to read this rubbish in order to recall anything) was characterised by an extended science fiction book-collecting-and-reading odyssey – has been characterised by an extended science fiction book-collecting-and-reading odyssey... albeit arguably a less frenzied one. Even so, there have been sizeable scores this year, not least a haul of paperbacks (plus one hardback – a first of Larry Niven and Steven Barnes' Dream Park) I secured over successive visits to Lewes' own Bow Windows Bookshop, who had bought in a huge collection of softcover SF – piles and piles of the bloody stuff – towards the end of the year. (There's still a fair bit left if you're passing.) My spoils mostly comprised space opera by Stephen Baxter, Frederik Pohl (including a couple of entries in the Heechee Saga), Larry Niven, Elizabeth Moon, Charles Stross, Orson Scott Card and others, plus some Philip K. Dick, Terry Pratchett, Bruce Sterling, Joe Haldeman and so on.

Other notable SF scores this year included a stack of Stephen Baxter, Alastair Reynolds and Peter F. Hamilton first editions (notably Reynolds' entire Poseidon's Children trilogy, and a signed first of Hamilton's Misspent Youth plus his ensuing Commonwealth Saga) from two of Brighton's charity bookshops on the same day:

A smaller pile of SF from one of the same shops (including Joe Haldeman's sequel to The Forever War, Forever Free, which I'd been wanting to read):

A return visit to Camilla's Bookshop in Eastbourne (which saw me completing my collection of firsts of Hamilton's Void Trilogy, the sequel to the aforementioned Commonwealth Saga):

And returns visits too to Leigh Gallery Books in Leigh-on-Sea (who had a half-price sale on) and the Stables Bookshop at Hylands House, plus closer to home a mooch round the charity shops of Uckfield:

There were also some (relatively slim) pickings from the Paperback & Pulp Book Fair:

And of course the Lewes Book Fair:

Then there was the stack of Analog science fiction magazines, secured in Brighton's Snooper's Paradise (including the first appearance of Orson Scott Card's Ender's Game):

And a smaller selection of SF magazines, bought in London's Quinto Bookshop, and containing P. M. Hubbard's three earliest short stories, a Joe Haldeman Forever War novella (not included in the first edition I own), and Jerry Pournelle's three-part A Spaceship for the King, alias King David's Spaceship (there was also an epic Westlake/Stark score on the same visit, but that's a story for another time):

Lastly, there were the signed paperbacks I picked up online for a song:

Besides all those, there were other books acquired here and there, but I think I've given the general gist of the year's collecting. What was that about 2018's odyssey being less frenzied than 2017's...?

As for actually reading any of the bloody things... allow me to present my traditional big long list of the books I read this year, in the order in which I read them. In previous years I've also tended to detail the comics I read, and sometimes even offered some commentary on my reading, but it's been a long year and I really can't be arsed. I have, however, deigned to include links to whatever I've previously written about some of the books (however brief). You're welcome. Merry Christmas.

Raft by Stephen Baxter
The Diary of a Bookseller by Shaun Bythell
Absolution Gap by Alastair Reynolds
An Entity Observes All Things by Box Brown
Tales from the Hyperverse by William Cardini
Across the Sea of Suns by Gregory Benford
Starship Troopers by Robert A. Heinlein
Forever Free by Joe Haldeman
The Forge of God by Greg Bear
Anvil of Stars by Greg Bear
A World Out of Time by Larry Niven
Tales of Known Space by Larry Niven
The Long ARM of Gil Hamilton by Larry Niven
Protector by Larry Niven
A Gift from Earth by Larry Niven
Neutron Star by Larry Niven
Spock Must Die! by James Blish (see Star Trek Magazine #69, out now, for my review)
Ringworld by Larry Niven
The Mercenary by Jerry Pournelle
He Fell into a Dark Hole (in Analog) by Jerry Pournelle
Planet of Judgment by Joe Haldeman (see Star Trek Magazine #70 for my review)
The Mote in God's Eye by Larry Niven and Jerry Pournelle, plus prologue in A Step Farther Out, and and missing first chapter in Infinite Stars.
Timelike Infinity by Stephen Baxter
The five Shaper/Mechanist stories in Ascendancies by Bruce Sterling
Es*Ef by Phil Elliott, Darryl Cunningham, Glenn Dakin, Paul Duncan and David Thorpe
Kingdom by Jon McNaught
XTC69 by Jessica Campbell
DC Nuclear Winter Special by various
Gateway by Frederik Pohl (still reading)