Most of the books have been read at least once, except I think for one. Some of them I read before deciding to review every single one of them, so I’ll probably have to go back through them.
In this post, I review my absolute favorite book in this list, and my absolute least favorite of the selection. I don’t usually review, and definitely do not ever post reviews of books I do not like, unless I’ve gotten paid to write the review or the review is part of some kind of exchange, and then, well, it is what it is. The reason is that I know how hard it is to write a book, get it published, and then get people to buy it. I felt here that I have to review every single book on this list because I said that I would.
The Ballad of Black Tom by Victor LaValle. I liked this book so much, I read it twice. The first time, it just kept blowing me away. The second time I could actually concentrate on what I was reading. This story grabs you from the start. Not one word too many. It’s not necessarily minimal, except when it needs to be. The writing not only pushes the narrative forward with every single word, it also directs the reader in how to read the book. To me, that’s amazing writing. False simplicity, in a way. It’s so easy to read you think it must be simplistic, but it’s not. Quite the opposite. The rhythms are on point, guiding you through the narrative and the moods of the characters, and the clarity of the words never lets you question their meaning, and so you never have to pull yourself out of the world created. You never pull away and say to yourself: This is a story I’m reading written by an author. You glide through, and into the story, without ever realizing that you have been taken in. Yes! Oh, and I like the theme. It’s an important one.
A Taste of Honey by Kai Ashante Wilson. I didn’t like this book. I really wanted to like this book, and amazingly I read most of it, though I wanted to stop reading after about ten pages, but I kept telling myself: This is going to get better, you’re going to get used to the language, you’re going to fall for one of the characters… nope, nothing. I’ve never seen a gay romance in the fantasy or SF genre, and I’m sure they’re there, however I’ve never read one before, so I really wanted to like this story. Unfortunately it fails at every aspect of storytelling. It skips the hard parts, and goes straight for the easy ones. The language is so hard to read, that sometimes, even after reading a sentence several times, I’m still not sure of its meaning, and the ending is insulting. Sorry.
The Dispatcher by John Scalzi. It’s a hard sale, but it works. Mostly. I had a hard time buying into the gimmick of the story, however I finally did, and let myself enjoy the narrative. Scalzi, as always, is an excellent storyteller, and I love letting myself fall into his worlds. I’ve read several of his books, and I kind of wished this wasn’t “just” a novella. Maybe Detective Langdon and Tony Valdez will be back? This is a bare bone detective story, and in this world murdering somebody has become a rather difficult thing, so you got to be a little bit more creative about it than you used to be. Fun story, thank you Mr. Scalzi. And thanks for letting me know about Locus Awards. It’s because of one of your Tweets that I was introduced to all these great books that I’m reviewing. (You can also follow John Scalzi on Twitter @scalzi)
The list of all ten books:
The Lost Child of Lychford, Paul Cornell (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part III
The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe, Kij Johnson (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part I
Hammers on Bone, Cassandra Khaw (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part III
The Ballad of Black Tom, Victor LaValle (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part II
Every Heart a Doorway, Seanan McGuire (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part I
This Census-taker, China Miéville (Del Rey 2017) — Part III
The Iron Tactician, Alastair Reynolds (NewCon Press 2016) — Part III
The Dispatcher, John Scalzi (Subterranean 2017) — Part II
Pirate utopia, Bruce Sterling (Tachyon Publications 2016) — Part I
A Taste of Honey, Kai Ashante Wilson (Tor.com Publishing 2016) — Part II
Peace & Love
please buy my books:
Locally, my books are available in Austin, Texas at Book People, Malvern Books
and Half Price Books (2222 & Lamar)
My books are also available in Houston, Texas at Wired Up on Dunlavy & Westheimer.