1. This Census-Taker by China Miéville – The first of his books that I’ve read since Embassytown, this short novel is a bit of a departure. It’s a study in voice and character that resists plot resolution in favor of mounting tonal stresses. Somewhat similar to Jeff VanderMeer’s Adaptation in that regard. And like that book, one I found pleasant enough while reading, but didn’t overly impress. I liked seeing a stylistic departure, though, even if it wasn’t my favorite thing of his I’ve read.
  2. Beasts & Children by Amy Parker – Amy is a friend from grad school, and her debut is a collection of linked short stories that look at caretaking as understood by children from their parents, parents toward their children, and humans toward animals. Each of these stories is strong on it’s own, but there’s a delightful momentum as you watch the main characters grow into adults, meet each other, face old problems from new angles with the weight of personal history behind them. The book gets better and better as it goes along.
  3. Private Citizens by Tony Tulathimutte – Another debut from a grad school friend. Tony’s novel has been getting deservedly glowing reviews all over the place, for its hyperliterate prose, its blistering satirical edge, and its photorealistic capturing of a familiar millennial mood. I read this straight through in less than a day, and then went back and re-read chapters that had lodged especially deeply.
  4. Sandman: Overture by Neil Gaiman, J. H. Williams III, Dave Stewart – Probably my favorite thing I’ve read by Neil Gaiman since The Graveyard Book, with typically astonishing art from J. H. Williams III. Made me want to go back and reread all of Sandman.
  5. Odd John by Olaf Stapeldon – I’m continually impressed with the breadth of Stapledon’s imagination, and how many of his ideas have since been reinvented and made cliche in ways he could never have anticipated. Odd John is the story of the birth, rearing, and death of a superhuman, perhaps an early member of one of the species of humanity described in Last and First Men. I found this book completely enjoyable right up until chapter 16, where there’s a huge knot of anthropological racism: a superhuman from Africa is characterized in ways that read to the modern eye as buffoonish stereotypes. The volume on such caricatures is turned down thereafter, but never quite goes to zero. It’s a shame, because the book is otherwise wonderful.