Highlights from the first half of 2016

The Thing ItselfAs the 6th month of 2016 passes like one of Douglas Adam’s deadlines, it is time to report on my favourite books, comics and media so far. Why? Why not…

So far I’ve read 22 fiction books this year, plus 4 non-fiction, a couple of novellas and I’ve listened to 5 novels on audio too. For the full list see here. So here are my favourite 5 novels from 2016 so far, in no particular order (not including books I’ve read before):

The Thing Itself by Adam RobertsAll the birds in the sky

All the Birds in the Sky by Charlie Jane Anders

Christie Malry’s Own Double-Entry by B S Johnson

The Heart Goes Last by Margaret Atwood

Arcadia by Iain Pears.

Well, that was actually the order I read them. So a little porkie there…The most enjoyable of the bunch was Anders’ debut. Such a joy to read with some great characters. Not often do you come across the story of a witch versus a mad scientist! Arcadia was brilliantly written and fascinating. Atwoods’ was technically great and a superb concept with some bonkers ideas. Johnson’s is an older book and I came across it via the Backlisted postcast. It is an experiment in metafiction and anti-capitalist in tone, and right up my street indeed. My favourite thus far however is Robert’s magnificent look at aliens, AI, rivalry, history, religion, abuse of power and middle age.

Other reading highlights include a couple of old favourites: The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell and Sunshine by Robin McKinley. I’ve also enjoyed Joe Hill’s The Fireman and Making Wolf by Tade Thomson – which is not my normal cup of tea. I also enjoyed the bonkers Galapagos by Kurt Vonnegut. Which reminds me, I’ve almost finished my Vonnegut read. Reading (or listening to) all of his books in order. Only got Bluebeard, Hocus Pocus and Timequake to go. I’ll then write my Vonnegut reader…

Talking of future plans, I hope to embark on a Winter of Weird later this year. Reading 100 weird fiction short stories in 100 days – let’s see how that one goes.

Some comics I’m enjoying at the moment include:

Paper Girls by Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chiang

Injection by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey

The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie

MonstressI’ve just started reading William Gibson’s Archangel, Beau Smith’s Wynonna Earp, and Rob William’s Unfollow. All of which have promise and I’m looking forward to reading more. However, my absolute favourite so far is the amazing and beautiful Monstress written by Marjorie Liu with art by Sana Takeda. Seriously, check it out! I was disappointed by no new issues of Ellis’ Trees and The Dying & The Dead from Jonathan Hickman.

In the moving image world, I’ve not seen as many new films or TV shows as I’d like. Deadpool, Captain America: Civil War and The Lobster are standouts for me. On the telebox, loved the second series of Daredevil, thoroughly enjoying ploughing my way through iZombie, and quite enjoyed catching up with season 1 of The Flash. I was quite disappointed by season 3 of Arrow and I’m giving up on it. The same is true of Agents of SHEILD. Failed to grab me. My absolute favourites were season 2 of Better Call Saul and season 4 of House of Cards. Awesome TV.

I plan to have read most of the major awards shortlisted books in time for the Clarke Award winner announcement in August, but what else should I be looking out for? Let me know…


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