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2022: A Year’s Reading in the Rearview Mirror

2022: I did a lot of reading in 2022, for a number of reasons, not the least of which is that it’s my favorite hobby/recreational activity. My Book Database says that I read 64 books; this includes novella entries published as books. Looking at my short speculative fiction tracking spreadsheet, I read 1,026 stories, many but not all of which appeared in one or more of the books I read. These numbers both included books and stories that I started but could not bring myself to finish, or “Did Not Finish” or DNF.

The 64 books included:

  1. 20 SF anthologies
  2. 18 SF novels/novellas
  3. 8 SF/ Fantasy anthologies
  4. 7 Fantasy novels/novellas
  5. 7 SF/Fantasy collections
  6. One non-fiction book, Richard White’s “Who Killed Jane Stanford?: A Gilded Age Tale of Murder, Deceit, Spirits and the Birth of A University” (a bit academic, but it resonated with a family story for me, of a great-grandfather who taught at Stanford between 1900 and 1910 and was fired for activism)
  7. One SF-Fantasy novel, Xiran Jay Zhao’s “Iron Widow
  8. One SF/Mystery anthology
  9. One perhaps SF novel

Here is a link to my Google Sheets file for both the books and the stories I read in 2022.

The 28 novels and novellas included a number read for either the Hugo Awards or 2022 Chicon 8 panels, with only a few read just because I wanted to read them. My favorite new novel read last year was the 2022 debut SF novel by Ray Nayler, “The Mountain in the Sea“. I had this as “superlative”, and will be nominating it for the Hugo Awards. I was also very pleased to reread the 1946 Mervyn Peake novel, “Titus Groan“, and was very pleased to find it still a classic, with unremembered humor. See my discussion, “Titus Groan and Chicon 8“.

Other great novels and novellas included:

  1. A Desolation Called Peace“, Martine, Arkady, 2021 Tor
  2. Eversion“, Alastair Reynolds, Gollancz/Orbit 2022 (another probable Hugo nomination for me)
  3. Upgrade“, Blake Crouch, 2022 Macmillan UK/Ballantine

With my decided focus on short speculative fiction, I read a lot of great anthologies and collections.

Two superlative SF anthologies were “The Best of the Best Vol 2: 20 Years of the Best Short SF Novels“, Gardner Dozois, 2007 St. Martin’s Press, and “The Future is Female! 25 Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, from Pulp Pioneers to Ursula K. Le Guin”, Lisa Yaszek, 2018 The Library of America. These were both a reread for me, but still as great as the first time and fun to get reacquainted with the stories. Other great SF anthologies were:

  1. Tomorrow’s Children“, Isaac Asimov, 1966 Doubleday
  2. The Great Science Fiction Stories Volume 8, 1946“, Isaac Asimov & Martin H. Greenberg, 1982 DAW Books
  3. The World Turned Upside Down“, Jim Baen, David Drake & Eric Flint, 2005 Baen Books, see my post.
  4. The Best Science Fiction of the Year #6“, Terry Carr, 1977 Holt Rinehart & Winston/Del Rey/Ballantine
  5. Best Science Fiction Stories of the Year: Sixth Annual Collection“, Gardner Dozois, 1977 E. P. Dutton
  6. The Arbor House Treasury of Modern Science Fiction“, Martin H. Greenberg & Robert Silverberg, 1980 Arbor House/Priam, see my post
  7. Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts“, Heather Masri, 2008 Bedford Books of St. Martin’s Press, see my post on this and other comparable works
  8. The Year’s Best Science Fiction, Volume 2“, Jonathan Strahan, 2021 Saga Press
  9. The Future Is Female! More Classic Science Fiction Stories by Women, Volume Two: The 1970s“, Lisa Yaszek, 2022, see my post

I read one superlative” science fiction and fantasy anthology, “Hugo and Nebula Award Winners from Asimov’s Science Fiction“, Sheila Williams, 1995 Wings Books. Other great SF and fantasy anthologies were:

  1. Some of the Best from Tor.com: 2012 Edition“, Liz Gorinsky, David G. Hartwell & Patrick Nielsen Hayden, Tor 2012
  2. Yesterday’s Tomorrows (Favorite Stories from 40 Years as a Science-Fiction Editor)”, Frederik R. Pohl, 1982 Berkley Books, see my post

I reread one superlative collection, Ted Chiang’s “Stories of Your Life and Others“, 2002 Tor/St. Martin’s Press. Not every story is a classic, but this is an amazing collection. I read two great collections, both on Subterranean Press:

  1. John Kessel’s “The Dark Ride: The Best Short Fiction of John Kessel“, 2022, see my post
  2. The Best Of Nancy Kress” by Nancy Kress, 2015

I read a number of stories that I know I’ve read before but sometimes not for decades. My favorites of those included:

  1. The Nine Billion Names of God“, a short story by Arthur C. Clarke, “Star Science Fiction Stories”, Frederik Pohl editor, Ballantine Books 1953
  2. Day Million“, a short story by Frederik Pohl, Rogue Feb-March 1966
  3. The Ballad of Lost C’mell“, a novelette by Cordwainer Smith, Galaxy October 1962
  4. There Will Come Soft Rains“, a short story by Ray Bradbury, “The Martian Chronicles”, 1950 Doubleday
  5. A Planet Named Shayol“, a novelette by Cordwainer Smith, Galaxy October 1961
  6. Pathways“, a novelette by Nancy Kress, “Twelve Tomorrows”, Stephen Cass editor, 2013 MIT Technology Review
  7. Press Enter ▮?“, a 1984 novella by John Varley, Asimov’s May 1984
  8. The Lottery“, a short story by Shirley Jackson, The New Yorker, June 26 1948
  9. A Saucer of Loneliness“, a short story by Theodore Sturgeon, Galaxy February 1953
  10. Ender’s Game“, a novelette by Orson Scott Card, Analog August 1977
  11. Even the Queen“, a 1992 short story by Connie Willis, Asimov’s April 1992

I also read and enjoyed many stories new to me. Favorites of those included:

  1. The Last of the Winnebagos“, a novella by Connie Willis, Asimov’s July 1988
  2. The Million Year Picnic“, a Martian Chronicles short story by Ray Bradbury, Planet Stories Summer 1946
  3. Strangers”, a novella by Gardner Dozois, “New Dimensions IV” Robert Silverberg editor, 1974 Signet/New American Library
  4. Colors of the Immortal Palette“, a novelette by Caroline M. Yoachim, Uncanny Magazine March-April 2021
  5. Hardfought“, a novella by Greg Bear, Asimov’s February 1983
  6. L’Esprit de L’Escalier“, a novella by Catherynne M. Valente, 2021 Tor.com
  7. Open House on Haunted Hill“, a short story by John Wiswell, Diabolical Plots June 2020
  8. Pride and Prometheus“, a novelette by John Kessel, F&SF January 2008
  9. Remaking History“, a short story by Kim Stanley Robinson, “Other Edens II”, Christopher & Robert Holdstock editors, 1988 Unwin Paperback

Finally, I started writing a blog on speculative fiction and other things in January 2022, “A Deep Look by Dave Hook” at WordPress. I wrote 37 blog posts last year on reading, speculative fiction and related subjects, and one that has nothing to do with any of those things. One of those posts was the May 4 “My Imaginary Reading Plan, and Yours?“. Let’s revisit how I did against that imaginary reading plan:

  1. Best Science Fiction and Fantasy Short Fiction (BSFFSF) group reads (ongoing, typically one story each day). Done, and more!
  2. Not the Retro Hugo’s 1946 reading (in progress) for possible ChiCon 8 panels in September. Done. Read over 100 stories and novels, although I did bail out of the Stanislaw Lem panel and never finished reading the 2021 Lem collection based on new translations, “The Truth and Other Stories“, which I was really enjoying. I also had fun reading for the Chicon 8 panel on epistolary speculative fiction, see my post. I was definitely well prepared for my Chicon 8 panels.
  3. 2022 Award Hugo Nominations that I have not read yet (waiting for the voter packet). Done.
  4. BSFFSF Recommended Reading List entries I have not read yet (in progress). Made some progress, but more needed.
  5. Rich Horton’s Best of the Last 20 Years List entries I have not read yet. Read a few, but need to get back to this.
  6. “The Norton Book of Science Fiction: North American Science Fiction, 1960-1990”, edited by Brian Attebery and Ursula K. Le Guin (requested from the library). Done, see my post.
  7. “Science Fiction: Stories and Contexts”, edited by Heather Masri. This is the last of the 6 door-stop surveys of the 20th century (and 19th and 21st for some) SF I plan to read, compare and discuss later this year. Done. Here is a link to my essay that discusses the 6 giant 20th century survey anthologies, “A Ton of Science Fiction!
  8. Other collections, anthologies, stories, novels and non-fiction books that come to my attention, especially from our BSFFSF members. I have made a good faith effort on this. I’m not sure I am reading faster than my TBR (To Be Read) list is expanding.
  9. Miscellaneous comfort rereads of books and stories that I feel like rereading when I need it. Yep. I had a mild (not death threatening but definitely symptoms) of COVID this fall, with about a week where fatigue and other symptoms kept me from anything but comfort reads. I reread the first four volumes of the Raymond Feist “Riftwar Universe” series, which definitely hits the “comfort read” spot for me, entertaining yet not challenging and easy to follow.
  10. I am not yet signed up, but I am reading enough short fiction that I am going to get subscriptions (e-book, not paper) for one or two SF(F) magazines. My thoughts are currently Clarkesworld and Asimov’s. Done. I signed up for Asimov’s, and I’ve read two issues. I am enjoying this.

Others who have written about their reading in 2022:

Mark R. Kelly

Austin Beeman

James Wallace Harris (my thanks to Mark R. Kelly for the reminder)

2023: I’m not ready to prepare a 2023 Reading Plan yet, imaginary or otherwise. However, I am reading and enjoying the “Twenty-First Century Science Fiction” anthology, David G. Hartwell & Patrick Nielsen Hayden editors, 2013 Robinson/Tor, and “The Collected Stories of Greg Bear“, 2002 Tor (Rest in peace, Greg). I’m sure I’ll write about both of them when I’m done. Also sitting on my headboard from the library is “Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction“, Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald, Zelda Knight and Sheree Renée Thomas editors, 2022 Tor.com, which I am looking forward to.

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