This post is limited to the handful of books I read in 2014 (which isn't to say they were all written this year) that rose beyond "useful" and even "memorable" to "I remember this fondly and can well imagine rereading at a future date."
The Baroque Cycle is a rollicking tale of natural philosophers (whom nowadays we call scientists) and alchemists; vagabonds and kings; odalisques and countesses; soldiers, pirates, and galley slaves; and many more -- with more than a few characters taking more than one role from that list. It's a tale of revolutions and restorations, religious strife, philosophical conflicts, professional rivalries, the rise of capitalism, and wars and colonialism and slavery.
The story unfolds across Europe (in London more than anywhere), the Barbary Coast, Egypt, India, Japan, New England, and New Spain. It's variously a secret history (with events running from roughly 1660 to 1714), an alternate history, a bawdy tale, a stirring adventure, and, from end to end, erudite and witty. It's chockablock with names you know from history (Newton, Leibniz, Louis XIV, various kings and pretenders of England, the Duke of Marlborough, Peter the Great -- and countless others so well described you'll be endlessly checking Wikipedia to ascertain who's real and who's fictional. It ... well, words fail me (as they evidently never do Neal Stephenson). The best analogy I can draw, and it's high praise indeed, is to John Barth's The Sot-Weed Factor.
If you find this description intriguing, check out The Baroque Cycle: Quicksilver, The Confusion, and The System of the World.
But wait! There's more! Even after The Baroque Cycle I (somehow) found time to do other reading.
|A brilliant debut|
|One of his best|
Lock In is about transhumanism. And it's a murder mystery. A conspiracy novel. A police procedural. Hard SF, to be sure. And cyber-punk. It contains more than a dash of David Brin's Kiln People (another fine, highly original, SF novel). As in anything Scalzi writes, the text just flows.
Check out the earlier post for more.
|Curses! Foiled again :-)|
What were a few of your favorites this year?