Well, we’re already a month deep into 2016 and so far so… uh… good? I mean, overlooking that whole David Bowie, Alan Rickman thing… Too soon? Yeah, too soon.
To take my mind off all the tragic losses 2016 has thus far slung our way, I dove into my reading list pretty deep. As of today I’ve read 19 books in January. Truth be told, some of them were nothing more than short stories, but a good bunch of them were 600-700 page Chihuahua crushers. Curious as to which ones I found most fabulous? Well, keep reading, dear reader, and I shall tell you.
Best Books of January 2016!!!
Blindsight – Peter Watts (For fans of cyberpunk/posthuman space operas with an almost unhealthy diet of technobabble)
I LOVED Blindsight. There, I said it. This book isn’t for everybody. It’s heavy like some extra-super-duper whipped cream on the technobabble, which can be off-putting if you’re not into that particular brand of sci-fi. But, if you can get past that, you’re in for a story of ideas unlike anything I’ve read since Charlie Stross’ Accelerando. This story is told from the point of view of a highly autistic individual with significant cybernetic augmentations. This gives the story a cold, almost clinical, feel at times, but it works beautifully because it’s perfectly within keeping of that main-characters baseline emotional output.
Still not convinced? Well, here’s the trump card: Vampires in space. Yeah, that’s right. Blindsight has the most fantastically awesome setup for vampires that I have ever read. But Watts didn’t stop there. Nope. He didn’t just bring vampires back, he launched them into space. Needless to say, this is one of the most original vampire/scifi mashups I’ve ever encountered.
Kingpin – Kevin Poulson
This is one of those “Stranger than Fiction” type books based on the real life events of the super hacker Max Baylor. Interestingly, I didn’t know this was non-fiction when I started the book. By the third chapter I thought, this story is a little too crazy, this author needs to work on telling a more believable story. Then I went to the Google machine only to realize that the story was in fact ALL TRUE. My mind was blown as Kevin Poulson takes us on a wild ride through the seedy underbelly of internet crime.
Kingpin ranks right up there alongside Kevin Mitnick’s Ghost in the Wire as one of the best books on the history of computer crime/hacking. Highly recommend this, though beware, you’ll never look at the internet the same way again.
Stone and Iris – Jonathan Ballagh
Ballagh is the new kid on the Indie block and he’s got the chops to last. Stone and Iris is the first short story I’ve read from him, but it probably won’t be the last. Ballagh employs a depth of prose that is downright beautiful in places. Stone and Iris shows alot of the tell-tale signs of a new author in terms of plot and structure, but Ballagh’s raw talent shines through. This guy could definitely be one to watch in the coming years.
Lagoon – Nnedi Okorafor
This was easily the most ambitious bit of storytelling I encountered this month. Okorafor shows of her mastery of prose and storytelling by weaving seamlessly between multiple POV’s like it’s nothing. She begins the story in pulled out 3rd person, then does some deft head-hopping (of the likes I haven’t seen executed so well since Dune), before transitioning into a couple crazy chapters of 1st person. With such a complex narrative type, there were plenty of opportunities for Okorafor to stumble. Surprisingly, she never really did. What follows is an imaginative first contact story unlike anything I’ve ever read before. If there was anything to gripe about in this story, it might be that it’s perhaps a bit too meta at times. Then again, that’s a huge part of its charm.
So now what about you, dear reader? What’s tickled your literary pickle this month? Read anything good? Stop into the comments and let me know. I’m always on the lookout for great new reads. Don’t disappoint me!