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Looking Back, Looking Forward: 2015


Being a contrary sort, I’m going to look back from 2015 over my blogging in 2014, rather than look forward to 2015 from 2014; so let’s start with some statistics.

Excluding single-issue comics, I reviewed 130 works of fiction, plus 2 audiobooks (one an audiodrama) and a film, as well as publishing four reviews of nonfiction volumes, three on feminism and one of Byzantine history. Of those 130 works, the vast majority were novels, but there was also poetry, short fiction and anthologies. More importantly, the breakdown by gender of single or few-author works of fiction (hence, excluding anthologies) was 76 works by women, 48 by men, and 2 by authors who identify as nonbinary; I had thought I had done rather better than that but these statistics make it clear that this is not the case! To what extent this is influenced by books I did not review, such as Dark Currents by Jacqueline Carey or various books by Tanya Huff, and to what extent it is influenced by the problem of perception, I don’t know; but I had intended to attempt to review twice as many women as men, and clearly failed to do so.

I also wrote a number of essays, including on my experiences at conventions, on representations of trans women in The Bone Palace, on a deleted scene from Nnedi Okorafor’s Lagoon, and on the Hugo Award winners and the nominees, and perhaps most importantly on the (now-ruled-illegal) banning of sending books to prisoners; as well as publishing essays by luminaries in the field, including Kameron Hurley (twice!), Stephanie Saulter, Katherine Addison/Sarah Monette and Liz Bourke. I’m satisfied with the variety I covered here.

So, what were my top books I read in 2014 (which aren’t necessarily books published in 2014)?
1. Ancillary Sword by Ann Leckie
2. Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley
3. Spirits Abroad by Zen Cho
4. Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone
5. The Shadow Throne by Django Wexler
6. A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar
7. City of Stairs by Robert Jackson Bennett
8. Area X by Jeff VanderMeer
9. The Three-Body Problem by Liu Cixin (trans. Ken Liu)
10. De Secretis Mulierum by L. Timmel Duchamp

All excellent books, some of which I fully expect to see on awards lists next year; Ancillary Sword especially, given how strong a follow-up it is to the award-sweeping Ancillary Justice.

Looking forward to this year, I’m intending to attend both EasterCon and Nineworlds again after having had great experiences in 2014; both cons were fantastic, and while I’d also love to attend WorldCon again, it is prohibitively expensive given that it would involve travel to the United States. I’m looking forward to reading a number of books, including follow-ups to some of my top books from last year, new series by Zen Cho and Aliette de Bodard, and one-shot novels like Elizabeth Bear’s Karen Memory; and to seeing how genre continues to deal with its historic, and present, issues of exclusion, systemic racism and (cis-)sexism, and Anglocentrism.

I also intend to do the following:
1. Review more books by authors from marginalised groups – women, PoC, queers, nonbinary people, non-Anglophone authors.
2. Provide a platform for more of the people from the groups mentioned above, and listen better to what they’re telling me.
3. Get better at reviewing, and at discussing texts in a less formulaic way.
4. Start reviewing ore discussing more films, TV shows, and comics – basically, a wider variety of media.
5. Get better at being called out; it’s only happened a couple of times this year, but I haven’t deal well with it.
A tentative 6. Submit some work to paying venues –, Strange Horizons, etc?

So that’s my 2015. What about yours?

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