2014 was, for the most part, a rather underwhelming year.. There were some good books and there were some great books but I felt it was mostly treading water. I’m writing this on January 8th and already I have a massive list of books I’ve read and loved or are anticipating that it puts all of 2014 to shame. These are just a few of them:
The Just City by Jo Walton (January 13th)
I have to admit to being a little late to the party on Jo Walton, this being my first book of hers. But, Hell’s Bells! what a great book to start with! A Hugo and Nebula award-winning author, Walton tackles the idea of consent and volition in The Just City. When the goddess Athene selects scholars from across time to create a real world example of Plato’s Republic, questions arise about the place and role of women in society, what constitutes consent in sexual
relationships, and the very nature and notion of slavery. Even though it’s only January, I already consider this novel a strong contender for book of the year. (I have now also read Among Others which is FANTASTIC except for an ill-advised foray into high fantasy in the closing chapter. I am definitely on the Jo Walton wagon now.)
The Deep by Nick Cutter (January 13th)
I’ve been hearing good things about Nick Cutter’s novel The Troop for a while now but I’ve put off reading it so as to have it fresh in my mind when my horror/dark fantasy book club, THE NIGHTMARE FACTORY, gets around to it. But with all that praise hanging over him, I leapt at the chance to read his follow-up book, The Deep. Like Stephen King rewriting Event Horizon and setting it at the bottom of the ocean, it is filled with exquisite Lovecraftian dread and Cronenbergian body horror all wrapped around the still beating heart of humanity. Not since I read Adam Nevill’s Last Days have I had such a sense of creeping doom as I read alone in my house. Whilst not quite a masterpiece, it definitely cements Mr. Cutter’s place on the list of horror writers to keep your eyes on. I already can’t wait for the next one.
The Whispering Swarm by Michael Moorcock (January 13th)
I’m still in the middle if this book so I’ll keep it brief The memoirs of Michael Moorcock, one of the greatest science fiction/fantasy authors of the last hundred years and, gosh darn it!, one of my favorite writers of all-time, tricked out and disguised as fantasy fiction, The Whispering Swarm is the first book in an autobiographical trilogy of epic fantasy. Come for the swords and magic, stay for the appearances by J. G. Ballard and other real-life figures.
Michael Moorcock will be appearing at our store for a reading and signing on Friday, January 23rd. Be there.
Did you know that the word Pagan basically means “peasant” or “mountain-dwell”? That there was no such thing as a Pagan as we know it until 6th century Christianity needed it to exist? James O’Donnell’s book is a fascinating look at how pre-Christian Romans lived and worshiped and how it all changed and got redefined by the rise of Christianity. Not a course corrective but still a good critical look at the received stories and ideas that have passed for history all these years. His re-evaluation of Emperor Julian and his brief “heretical” reign is among my favorite parts of the book
Originally published in 1992, this year marks the first English translation of Alejandro Jodorowsky’s autobiographical novel, Where The Bird Sings Best. Telling the mythic story of the Jodorowsky’s immigration from the Ukraine to Chile right around the turn of the 20th century and beyond, this is an amazing novel that should be mentioned in the same breath as all the other greats of Latin American magical realism. Surreal, violent, sexual, heart-wrenching and more, this is everything you expect from the director of such surreal cult films as El Topo and Holy Mountain. A psychedelic Fiddler On The Roof, this is one the other main contenders for book of the year.
Uprooted by Naomi Novik (May 19th)
Imagine Frozen crossed with The Evil Dead and animated by the studio behind the Rankin-Bass adaptation of The Last Unicorn and you’ve got Uprooted, the 2015 stand alone novel by Naomi Novik, author of the bestselling Temeraire series. Inspired by the fairy and folk tales of Poland and the rest of Eastern Europe, it’s a fantastic story rooted in high fantasy and even a tinge of horror. If you loved Neil Gaiman’s Stardust, you’ll love this book. It’s another contender for book of the year.
Cold Iron by Stina Leicht (June 23rd)
Former BookPeople employee made good, Stina is an author that I get way too excited about when I find she’s got a new book coming out. Her first two novels, Of Blood and Honey and And Blue Skies From Pain were fantastic novels set during the Irish Troubles of the 70s that married the Fey to the morally ambiguous issues of those times. This novel is a brand new tale and all I know is that I AM VERY EXCITED ABOUT THIS BOOK! SOMEBODY GIVE ME A COPY OF THIS RIGHT NOW!!!!!!!!!
So here you are. As of today, these are the books that are most kicking me in the behind. Believe me, there are at least 10 more books I could have added to this list (Anger Is An Energy by John Lydon and Words Without Music by Philip Glass are the first that come to mind.) So start making your lists now ’cause 2015 is going to be one heck of a good year for readers
– Joe Johnston Turner