Favorite Books of 2002

15:54 Sun 23 Aug 2009
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Yet again it’s taken me more than a year since the last collection of book favorites. Part of the reason for this delay is that I’ve made abortive efforts to improve the display of book information on this blog, but none of those have reached a point where I think they’re usable. So, basic text lists it is.

2002 was another year where I didn’t read that many books, 46. Looking over the list I feel as if it wasn’t a particularly great year of reading.

David Zindell’s Neverness was good, and I’ve learned that there are sequels, so I might re-read it and then read those. It’s far-future science fiction that presented a rather alien universe quite well.

The best book in the science fiction genre I read that year, however, was definitely Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep, which was fantastic. The core idea, “zones of thought” in the galaxy where different physical laws apply and where certain technical advances are possible in some but not others, is extremely interesting, and the civilizations that inhabit this fictional galaxy are done well. I felt as though there were strong similarities with some aspects of the setting for Iain M. Banks’ Culture novels, in a good way.

I find it hard to believe that I didn’t read the Principia Discordia until 2002, but that’s what my notes say. I feel that I should read it again and see how I feel about how it’s aged.

I think I might have read some of Ursula Le Guin’s Earthsea series when younger, but could be wrong. It was a strong series and is definitely worth reading, but somehow didn’t compel me to devour all related materials in the way that some series do—I’ve had the fifth and sixth books around for a while and haven’t gotten to them.

60 Stories is a good collection, but it’s hard for me to recommend it over 40 Stories; really, if you like Barthelme, or you like quirky and vaguely postmodernist short stories, you should read both anthologies.

Mother Nature was a fascinating study of motherhood, and I would recomend it quite highly if you have even a passing interest in the subject.

2002 was the year I encountered George R. R. Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire series, and it drew me in immediately. Political realism, grit, intricate plot, a strong setting, willingness to kill off just about any character—lots of things to attract me to it. I still consider it one of the best fantasy series of the last few decades, even though it’s not finished and the remaining volumes are coming very slowly.

The full list of what I read in 2002:

  1. Deadhouse Gates; Steven Erikson 03/01/2002
  2. Neverness; David Zindell 08/01/2002
  3. The Falls; Ian Rankin; 08/01/2002
  4. Resurrection Men; Ian Rankin 08/01/2002
  5. Groucho; Stefan Kanfer 15/01/2002
  6. A Fire Upon the Deep; Vernor Vinge 18/01/2002
  7. The Big Sleep; Raymond Chandler (again) 02/2002
  8. Into Thin Air; Jon Krakauer 14/03/2002
  9. Riding the Rap; Elmore Leonard 20/03/2002
  10. The Brethren; John Grisham 30/03/2002
  11. Sandman: The Dream Hunters; Neil Gaiman (illustrated by Yoshitaka Amano) 31/03/2002
  12. Ishmael; Daniel Quinn 03/05/2002
  13. Beyond Civilization; Daniel Quinn 05/2002
  14. Principia Discordia; Greg Hill and Kerry Thornley 04/06/2002
  15. The History Student; Graham Jones 08/06/2002
  16. Darkness at Noon; Arthur Koestler 10/06/2002
  17. Strip Jack; Ian Rankin (In The St. Leonard’s Years) 20/06/2002
  18. The Black Book; Ian Rankin (In The St. Leonard’s Years) 21/06/2002
  19. Faster; James Gleick 24/06/2002
  20. A Wizard of Earthsea; Ursula Le Guin 24/06/2002
  21. The Tombs of Atuan; Ursula Le Guin 24/06/2002
  22. The Farthest Shore; Ursula Le Guin 24/06/2002
  23. Tehanu; Ursula Le Guin 25/06/2002
  24. Tales of Soldiers and Civilians; Ambrose Bierce 06/2002
  25. American Gods; Neil Gaiman 07/2002
  26. The Third Reich: A New History; Michael Burleigh 18/07/2002
  27. 60 Stories; Donald Barthelme 20/07/2002
  28. Smoke and Mirrors; Neil Gaiman 20/07/2002
  29. The Oxford Book of American Short Stories; Joyce Carol Oates ed. 21/07/2002
  30. Holy Blood Holy Grail; Michael Baigent, Richard Leigh and Henry Lincoln 22/07/2002
  31. Society Against the State; Pierre Clastres 26/07/2002
  32. A Deepness in the Sky; Vernor Vinge 27/07/2002
  33. Fudge 44; Graham Jones and Garret Sexton (unpublished script) 21/08/2002
  34. Mother Nature; Sarah Blaffer Hrdy 29/08/2002
  35. The Difference Engine; Bruce Sterling, and William Gibson; 04/09/2002
  36. A Game of Thrones; George R R Martin 10/09/2002
  37. A Clash of Kings; George R R Martin 15/09/2002
  38. Angel Tech; Antero Alli 14/10/2002
  39. A Storm of Swords; George R. R. Martin; 25/10/2002
  40. Undoing Yourself; Christopher Hyatt 17/12/2002
  41. A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius; David Eggers 21/12/2002
  42. Slaughterhouse 5; Kurt Vonnegut 22/12/2002
  43. River of Time; David Brin 24/12/2002
  44. Cosmonaut Keep; Ken Macleod 25/12/2002
  45. A Thousand Acres; Jane Smiley 26/12/2002
  46. The Marquise of O— and other stories; Heinrich von Kleist, trans. Luke, David and Reeves, Nigel 29/12/2002

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