2016 in review: Other people’s stuff

Happy New Year! I hope 2017 is treating you well so far, and that this year behaves itself better than 2016. I already did a post about what I wrote last year, but I wanted to talk about other folks’ writing that I loved last year. This isn’t all-inclusive, but rather my meager attempt to spotlight some fantastic works by good people.

Let’s start with friend, baking goddess and fantastic writer Beth Cato, whose Breath of Earth was pure joy. It’s a great, big, fun, magical steampunk adventure set in the aftermath of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake. It’s got such a fantastic heroine in Ingrid Carmichael, and the setting is imaginative and great fun.

I also enjoyed Chris Roberson’s Firewalk, a police-procedural mystery that ends up uncovering a zombie infestation in a coastal California city. Chris helped create iZombie, so you know it’s gonna deliver the goods, and it does — along with great characters and a gutsy ending that leaves you waiting for the next one.

Alyssa Wong, you guys. Holy crap, Alyssa Wong. She is, without a doubt, one of the absolute finest writers working in SF/F today, and possibly of all time.  Among other things this year, she published “A Fist of Permutations in Lightning and Wildflowers,” “Natural Skin” and my personal favorite, “You’ll Surely Drown Here If You Stay,” which is a beautiful and frightening Weird West tale. So good. And she’s a fantastic, lovely person on top of it all.

I suppose it was natural for me to read Arabella of Mars, given that it’s got sailing ships in space in the early 19th century, but David D. Levine’s take on it is far different from mine. It’s quite a lot of fun, with swashbuckling action to spare. Good stuff indeed.

Let’s also give a shout-out to Michael R. Underwood’s Genrenauts, which thanks to Kickstarter, has a full six-episode run of novellas now available in omnibus. These dimension-and-genre-hopping stories are super addictive and a blast to read. Mike does meta-narrative adventure amazingly well.

Martin Cahill — writer, raconteur and fellow beer aficionado — had a great novelette out this year in Beneath Ceaseless Skies called “A Glass Kiss for the Little Prince of Pain,” and just…whoa. How can someone pack so much emotion, action and worldbuilding into 11,000 words? It’s not even fair. Such a great story.

As self-serving as it might be — because I have a story in it — the Endless Ages anthology for Vampire: The Masquerade is so much fun. If you played Vampire, or still do, you’ll be transported back to the World of Darkness throughout its various iterations over the years. The stories are fresh and evocative, and the mood is Gothic Punk enough to make you want to shuffle through Siouxie, the Cure and Bauhaus on your iPhone.

If you’re still wanting for books and stories after all that, I’ll point you to a recent Barnes & Noble SF/Fantasy blog post, wherein many fine authors and reviewers listed some of their favorites. Yeah, MJ-12: Inception is in there, too, which was quite lovely to see. (Thanks, Paul!) So are many other excellent books. Check it out.


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