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2014 has been a pretty good year for me. Personally, I’m damn impressed with how many of these books were actually published in 2014. As a bonus, there’s even a few novellas and short stories in here. In no particular order, here are my favorite reads of 2014!
City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett (2014) – that this book is on my list should surprise no one. And if you haven’t read it yet, seriously, get with the program. This is one of those amazing books that defies genre categorization, it just *is*. To give you a big picture without spoiling anything, it’s about watching your worldview dissolve before your eyes, and understanding that games can be played with many sets of rules. Also? it’s simply fucking amazing.
Gemsigns by Stephanie Saulter (2014) – This is probably the most important book I read in 2014. Remember when Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother took high school government classes by storm? I wish the same for this book. Gemsigns touches on enforced marginalization, building (and breaking down) cultures of racism and classism and fear, and religiously and politically promoted hatred, and handles it in a blunt and emotional way. Also? fucking awesome. And for what it’s worth, I cried at the end.
Annihilation by Jeff Vandermeer (2014) – I’ve been a Vandermeer fan for a long, long time (yet somehow I can still eat mushrooms). Annihilation was strange, surreal, and seemed to be magnetically attuned to me. The words in the tunnel rang for me like a tuning fork. And there was just something about characters who don’t have names. I am a jerk, however, because I own but haven’t yet read the third book in the series.
Today I’m thrilled to be talking with Stephen Gee, who recently released his debut novel Wage Slave Rebellion. I’ve known about Stephen for a while, I just didn’t realize I knew him. Lemme ‘splain. My husband watches a lot of anime, reads a lot of anime reviews online, and talks about those reviewers whose reviews he follows and opinions he respects. The name “Stilts” kept coming up over and over again. So I started following Stilts on twitter, and we’d tweet back and forth from time to time (my anime preferences seem to be begin and end with Hiromu Arakawa, but whatever).
I eventually got a very nice e-mail from Stilts, and we chatted some more. Turns out his name is Stephen, he’s really cool, and he’s got a novel out!
Wage Slave Rebellion is Stephen Gee‘s debut novel, and you can head over to Random Curiosity for the big reveal party. Head over there, check it out, then come on back here for my interview with Stephen.
Ready? Let’s go!
Little Red Reviewer: Congratulations on your debut novel Wage Slave Rebellion! What’s the quick elevator pitch for the book?
Stephen Gee: Here’s what I’ve been telling people: “Wage Slave Rebellion is an urban fantasy adventure set in a sword & sorcery world. It’s about three friends who hate their crappy jobs, so they decide to become monster-slaying adventurers instead. It’s like Terry Pratchett spliced with a badass action anime.”
It’s sort of an old-meets-new, a medieval-style fantasy setting (swords, spells, monsters, etc), but with modern themes such as job dissatisfaction, refusing to accept mediocrity, and living life to the fullest that many people grapple with today. Add in explosive action and plenty of funny banter, and it’s a lot of fun!
LRR: Who is your favorite character in the book? Who was the hardest to write?
I’ve been looking for a new job lately. no worries, it’s cool. I’ve had some really good interviews, gone to some great networking events, and read about a bazillion websites on how to make your resume fricken’ awesome. After looking through a bunch of sample resumes of different styles, I starting wondering what fictional characters’ resumes might look like. What would they highlight as their accomplishments? How would they make their mundane jobs look awesome? How would they “brand” themselves? What kind of e-mail address would they have? How much information about themselves would they put on their resumes? Might I be competing against some of these people at my next interview?
I ended up making resumes for Paul Atreides, Miriam Black, and Locke Lamora. Much fun and silliness was had. Observe!
Proven track record of excellent leadership abilities by completing complex projects by bringing multiple parties and departments together. Fostered team atmosphere that promoted diversity and respected environmental concerns.
– Relocated Imperial Capitol to Arrakis
– Exposed inefficiencies in outgoing leadership.
– Organized the tribes towards a uniting goal
– Developed and implemented new system of power and currency
Duke’s Son (heir)
This position included extensive training in Mentat capabilities, weaponry, music, and diplomacy.
– Completed challenging training modules
– Promoted a self starting and enthusiastic attitude with associates
– Conscientiously observed Duke Leto to best understand the Landsraad
Homeschooled, privately educated.
Licensed on Ornithopters and Carryalls of most makes and models (VFR and IFR)
Highly proficient with crysknife and lasgun
My bookshelves are overfull and sagging. I’ve resorted to stacking books on top of the bookshelves, and against the wall in the bedroom. Here’s one such group of stacks:
If you look closely, you can see there are stacks behind this stack. I’ve read maybe half of these books. My reward for getting through my reading plans* for November will be that I can start making progress on the unread books in this stack (highest priority is the Bear and the Watts).
As it’s SciFi November, I’ll be focusing on science fiction reviews and interviews this month, although we all know I’ll sneak in some fantasy, and probably some other random stuff too. My November reading plans look like this:
Regeneration by Julie Czerneda and Hawk by Steven Brust (I’m reviewing Hawk for SFSignal)
Unseaming by Mike Allen (did you see his guest post?), Heretics of Dune (dust jacket was lost a long time ago) and Burning Paradise by Robert Charles Wilson
And on the kindle I’ve got an eArc of The Genome, the newest novel from Sergei Lukyanenko.
*for those of you who don’t know me, “reading plans” usually go out the window as soon as I see something shiny. That Sergei Lukyanenko eARC is a perfect example of Shiny.
what are your plans for this month? do they get upended by something shiny as easily as mine do?
A few days ago I started reading Let The Right One In, by John Ajvide Lindqvist. I’ve seen the both the Swedish and American film versions, so I already know the “twist”. But even so, this is a disturbingly creepy book!
Are you reading anything creepy this week?
Mike Allen is editor of the speculative poetry and short fiction magazine Mythic Delirium and the acclaimed Clockwork Phoenix anthology series, and author of The Black Fire Concerto and his newest short fiction collection Unseaming. All around super talented guy and lover of all things creepy and scary, Mike was at the top of my list when I was looking for someone to guest post about the joys of reading scary books at Halloween time. Luckily, he wasn’t offended when I said “hey, you wanna write about creepy stuff?”. That’s how you KNOW this guy loves horror.
Continue reading, if you dare!
Building My Own Haunted House
by Mike Allen
At my house, every day is Halloween.
Little Red asked me to wax a bit about the pleasures of reading scary stories on All Hallow’s Eve — something I realized I couldn’t truly do, because I read scary stories all year around. And write them, too.
Anita, my wife, is often creating art in a similarly opened vein. My home office is full of skulls and plush monsters. (As well as piles of papers and books.) Halloween is simply when Anita makes the exterior decor of our house match the interior. We’re well matched that way.
published: this volume was published in 2012, but the webcomic has been going since 2005.
where I got it: purchased new
When I peruse the graphic novel section of my local comic shop, I’m not interested in 99% of what I see. I walk by, and very little of it catches my eye. No offense superheroes and dark noir, but you’re just not my thing. Could be that local comic book owner guy is really into superhero stuff, and not so much into other stuff. Different strokes for different folks.
Lucky for me, I ran into a copy of Ursula Vernon’s Digger Vol 1 at a Half Price Books store. Having no idea what the story was about, and not quite sure what the critter on the front cover was (She’s a wombat, by the way), I bought the graphic novel because Ursula Vernon’s name was on it.
A few quick items of business before I getting into the nitty gritty: It won the Hugo (and multiple other awards) for a reason, and I really gotta introduce local comic shop owner guy to this series. Graphic novels that don’t look that interesting got you down? Digger is the cure.
First off, Digger isn’t a what, Digger is a she. She’s a wombat, and she does what wombats naturally do: She digs and burrows and explores. She’s also intensely pragmatic and practical. When a pocket of bad air causes her to tunnel through someone’s floor and into a space that is decidedly not home, she decided to explore. Because how else is she going to find her way home? Perhaps whoever she meets can help her find her way home. She quickly meets a Statue of Ganesh who can talk, a Hyena like creature whose name has been eaten, a shadowchild who doesn’t know what he/she is, a helpful librarian, the Ganesh statue’s overly enthusiastic guard, and a prophetic snail. The story almost has an Alice in Wonderland feeling, except this Alice is a practical, no-nonsense engineer Wombat.