Shiver Me Timbers! A Second Tally of the 2015 John W. Campbell Award Finalists

Ahoy there mateys!  Me noggin’ has a lot to keep track of like pillaging, plunder, and booty!  But it’s that time again.  So back in 2015 I was mesmerized by the John W. Campbell award finalists and was determined to read them all.  Why that year versus any other year?  I have no idea.  But since that time me determination has not waivered.  Getting copies of the novels and the time to read them were more of the problem.  Then in 2018, I finally made it to the half-way point and made an official tally so the information be in one place.  So where be I two years later?  Currently 11/16.

Books Plundered in 2019 – book titles link to Goodreads

  1. the bees (Laline Paull) – a 19 in 2019 book, it’s been described as both “The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Hunger Games” and “Charlotte’s Web meets the Game of Thrones.”  I didn’t think it was either of those descriptions and it bee (ha!) it’s own very odd thing.  I rather liked it and want to read more of the author’s work.  For me review click here.
  2. wolves (Simon Ings) – this is about augmented reality and I have to admit that it didn’t sound super appealing.  This was gonna be one of me 19 in 2019 books but the library didn’t have a copy.  So then I was gonna read his book hot head instead but when I went to get it, the library had unloaded this book from their catalogue!  Not a good sign.  I ended up downloading an Amazon sample to see if I liked it.  No.  In fact I disliked it so much that I abandoned that book and I am gonna abandon this one too.  The writing is just not for me.

Books Plundered Prior to 2019 – book titles link to Goodreads

  1. the race (Nina Allan) – I absolutely loved this book and it marked what I thought was the half-way point.  It be a hard one to explain.  For me review – click here.  I am not sure if I want to read her 2019 novel but I would like to read some of her novellas.
  2. defenders (Will McIntosh) – this was a fun book from one of me favourite authors that deals with machines that humans create to defeat aliens.  But then the machines begin to fight humans!  I have reviewed five of Matey McIntosh’s novels here in me log but have read seven of them altogether.  In the last two years, I have still not read his two 2017 novels or any of his novellas.  I should work on that.  To see me reviews of his work to date – click here and head to the letter “M is for Marooned!”
  3. afterparty (Daryl Gregory) – this be one of the earliest titles logged here.  Though I thought the topic would not be to me taste, the excellent writing and fun plot made this a very good read.  For me review – click here.  I also have read and reviewed spoonbenders (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi), raising stony mayhall (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi), and pandemonium (Walk the Plank – Fantasy).  I really need to read more of his backlist.
  4. the three-body problem (Liu Cixin, Ken Liu: translator) – this be sad to admit but I abandoned ship on this novel about 2/3 of the way through. The beginning was wonderful.  But then it was so slow and bogged down with what I think was the hard science fiction part.  I wish I could have finished it but didn’t feel intelligent enough to do so.  Weird.
  5. station eleven (Emily St. John Mandel) – one of the best post-apocalyptic books I have ever read.  Period.  I was so sad that I didn’t have a log post of me impressions of the first time I read it that I re-read it and posted me Second Reflections.  The audio book was great.  I have since read the singer’s gun (Off the Charts – Murder Mystery) and mr. thursday (Captain’s Log – Sci-Fi novella).  Her newest novel the glass hotel comes out on 3/24/2020.
  6. lock in (John Scalzi) – I have read most of Scalzi’s work and featured him in me Broadside No. 5.  This is was just an okay read for me and not one of me favourites by him.  To see me reviews of his work to date – click here and head to the letter “S is for Starboard!”
  7. the martian (Andy Weir) – this was an absolutely fantastic book about a man who gets stranded on Mars.  It is funny and dramatic.  It had a surprisingly good movie adaptation too.  Though I do think the book is leaps and bounds better.
  8. area x – the southern reach trilogy (Jeff VanderMeer) – I tried this book and got to the lighthouse section in part one before bailing in despair.  This book has been described as “New Weird.”  I describe it as “No Plot.”  It has an interesting premise and some cool ideas and then does nothing useful with them.  Just confusion.  With more confusion in how they could possibly be making this into a movie.  Ugh.  I was extremely happy to abandon ship.  The first mate spoiled the rest of the series for me and I be so glad I stopped when I did.
  9. a darkling sea (James L. Cambias) – okay so I apparently have read this one and promptly forgotten all about it.  I did enjoy it, at least so says me Goodreads rating.  A perusal of other crew members’ reviews did remind me of most of the plot and politics.  But forgetting about it completely afterwards doesn’t truly bode well for it.  Ugh.  On the upside that means that I read another of the sixteen books so I am further along then I thought.  Arrrr!

Books To Be Plundered –

books listed by priority and the titles link to Goodreads

  1. europe in autumn (Dave Hutchinson) – this is a spy thriller in the future described as “a thriller of espionage and the future which reads like the love child of John le Carré and Franz Kafka.”  I’m in and I own this one now.
  2. the first fifteen lives of henry august (Claire North) – okay I own this one and have tried to read it twice.  I made it partway through once and something distracted me and I had to put the book down.  Lots of time passed before I could get back to it and by then me mood had changed.  But I genuinely believe that I will like this book once I fully read it.  I was introduced to her through the book touch which I enjoyed.  I have at least five of her novels on me ports for plunder list.
  3. peripheral (William Gibson) – A game or a murder?  Yup that still sounds like fun.
  4. echopraxia (Peter Watts) – this is book two of a series.  I do own book one called blindsight and hope that I like it enough to read this one.  I will not however read this one just to cross it off the list if book one turns out to not float me boat.  But I have high hopes.
  5.  bete (Adam Roberts) – the blurb about animal intelligence makes me not want to read this book.  It sounds not to me taste.  But me crew seems to like it and it’s on the list so I will give it a try.  I did read an odd book of his called jack glass which I enjoyed and was super odd.  Hopefully this novel will be more of the same.

Arrrrr me scads!  And there be the list.  Always remember:

Pillage first, then burn!

x The Captain

11 thoughts on “Shiver Me Timbers! A Second Tally of the 2015 John W. Campbell Award Finalists

  1. Oh wow! What an incredible list of books — no wonder you picked that year! Of you TBR books The 15 Lives of Henry August is the only one on my list, though I’d heard of all the others. I’m sorry that you had some weird times reading it. I hope that this time you’re able to push through easily. I’ve heard wonderful things!

    Hmm. The Three Body Problem is on my TBR. I don’t know if I want to dig into it now, though… Hard sci-fi isn’t my thing. Can you elaborate a bit more on it?

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  2. What a cool challenge! The only thing like this I’ve tried to do is read all the Hugo winners.

    The Bees looks like one I’d like, shame to hear about The Three Body problem- I’ve been wanting to read it for ages.

    As for The Martian… IT IS THE BEST BOOK EVER and no one can change my mind. And I liked the movie, too!

    Audible has a new narration with my fav narrator, Wil Wheaton, and I’m pretty sure my next credit will go toward it.

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  3. I really need to cut back on me grog drinkin’ and read Station eleven, since I’ve wanted to since it came out and just haven’t gotten to yet. Glad to hear it passes muster!

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  4. It’s a fascinating list, Cap! I’ve read The First Fifteen Lives and loved it, ditto The Martian and completely agree with your comment about the book being a LOT better than the film. I got on better with Area X and Lock In (which I loved) than you did – Adam Roberts is an interesting author and I need to get hold of more of his books. Clearly super talented with a very quirky take on the world:)). Thank you for your insights into an interesting and meaningful spread of books.

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    1. Adam Roberts is so odd and I am glad to hear ye enjoy his work too. Which ones have ye read? I know his book is on the bottom of me list but that doesn’t mean that I am bound to hate it. I am very behind on reading this year due to life changes. I haven’t read any of me 20 in 2020 books yet. I am hoping that by the end of March life will calm down though time be in limited supply these days. Sorry to hear ye have been under the weather. Spring needs to spring.
      x The Captain

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      1. I haven’t read enough of his work – Yellow Blue Tibia, which is a wonderfully clever and awesome piece of writing. And The Real-Town Murders, which is a sci-fi murder mystery story, a combination I absolutely love:). I have waiting on my TBR pile the sequel – By The Pricking Of Her Thumb, which I’m hoping to get to before the end of the month:)).

        I’m sorry you are behind with your reading – but Life has a habit of bouncing us, hasn’t it? I hope it calms down so you can dive back into your books – I know they are important to you!

        Thank you for your kind sympathy, Cap – the weather certainly hasn’t helped. Thankfully I am now feeling better:).

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  5. Definitely pillage first. Precious gems might survive a burning, but the books won’t!

    I have read two of these — The Martian and The Three Body Problem — but most of the rest aren’t on my radar. (Station Eleven is the exception; it’s still on my TBR.) Three Body I think has the dual issue for American readers of being very involved sci-fi and being a translated work. Some of what gave me issues with it was the difference in pacing that seems to be a cultural thing. I finished it in part because of the narrator (Luke Daniels, one of my favorites) but I don’t know that I actually understood even two thirds of the book.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aye, good point about the books! Ye be a solid addition to the crew with yer noggin on straight.

      I do think yer points about the translation and cultural pacing are true. I have tried to read a couple of bestselling Chinese fantasy and sci-fi books and the pacing is rough. Plus the narrator is sometimes key. There are books I give second shots via audiobook and the narrator makes them shine.

      I do hope ye try station eleven in either audiobook or paper. Both are lovely.
      x The Captain

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