Wednesday, December 31, 2014

My Top Books of 2014

I made a list of my top books of the year on New Year's Eve 2013 so I figured I should do the same this year too. So here it is.

I keep track of my books over on Goodreads and according to what's there I read just 18 books this year, which I suppose isn't too bad, but it really doesn't feel like nearly enough to me.

This year I read science fiction and what I might categorize as technological non-fiction. The latter includes one astronaut biography (Falling to Earth by Apollo astronaut Al Worden), two space histories (In the Shadow of The Moon and Into That Silent Sea) and a history of electric lighting in the U.S. (The Age of Edison: Electric Light and the Invention of Modern America). None of these were published in 2014, but all were good reads.
The space books are great, but I especially recommend The Age of Edison for anyone interested in light pollution and the history (good, bad & ugly) of artificial lighting here in the U.S.
These Are the Voyages TOS Season One made my list of top books last year and I also recommend Season Two for anyone interested in the creation of the original Star Trek series. Yeah, I realize that this is non-fiction, but I didn't think it belonged with the other non-fiction titles.

Season Three has already been published and will be one of my reads for 2015. Also recently arrived to my doorstep is Return to Tomorrow, a book about the creation of Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It looks to be a great book.

Highlights from my science fiction reads include three volumes of Kevin J. Anderson's Saga of The Seven Suns series. They are pure space opera and I'm looking forward to reading the final two books in the series.

For science fiction actually published in 2014 I enjoyed Cibola Burn, the fourth novel in the Expanse series by James S.A. Corey and Coming Home by Jack McDevitt but there were two books that stood out above them.
John Scalzi made my list last year with The Human Division, but this year's book Lock In is even better. It's a unique and important work in science fiction. I wont spoil the book here, but it is a mystery that takes place in a not too distant future after a disease has left large large segments of the population literally locked into their minds (hence the title) with no ability to move or otherwise communicate. An Apollo-style project has provided a technological way for those locked in to communicate and live their lives. The book looks at how this has changed society and follows its central character who has just become an FBI agent. I can't think of any book even remotely like it.

By the way, Lock In has been optioned for a TV series, so if you are too lazy to read it . . . . nah, you should read it. 
My other pick for top science fiction novel of 2014 is The Martian by Andy Weir. Imagine being accidentally marooned on Mars, that's the story behind The Martian and it works wonderfully well.  There's a lot of science that went in to this tale as it takes a realistic, but very exciting, look at what it would take to survive on and get rescued from the Red Planet. Mars is cold, nearly airless and wants to kill you. All this makes for a very good read.

Plans are underway to make The Martian into a movie, but you should really read the novel.

I was about 2/3 of the way through The Martian when I accidentally left it in the middle of nowhere South Korea. I wasn't going to let that stop me from finishing it. I certainly can't say that for everything else that I read.

As we head into 2015 I am feeling rich. Why? Have a look at my To Read pile:
 Yeah, it looks like it will be a good year. 

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