Begun, this Summer Reading List has.
The core of my summer reading list should look pretty familiar. There are new Lost Fleet and The Expanse novels, earlier volumes of which have been on my list for years. There are also new novels by some of my favorite authors — Neal Stephenson, Alastair Reynolds, Ernest Cline — that I’m eager to read.
I have eight print novels and four audio novels on this summer’s list for a total of 12 books, plus five graphic novels. That’s down from last year’s 15 novels, but this summer isn’t like last. Typically each summer my family and I take a week and visit our friends on an island on Lake Champlain, but a major project at work is delaying that trip. That island vacation is when I read a huge chunk of my summer list — typically about four books on the island, and one audio book heading there and back — and it gets me supercharged for the rest of the summer.
With that trip not happening any time soon, I find myself a little gun shy about this summer’s list. Of course, the list itself is aspirational — these are the books I want to read, not the books I have to read — but at the same time they are the key to downshifting my brain. I need to read these books in order to burn off stress and stay sane, and that’s even more important with the aforementioned major project looming large.
My solution to this is to take a few “reading days” in June and July. I intend to hangout on the back porch with a few Leinenkugel’s Summer Shandys or spread a beach blanket down at Easton’s Eddyside Pool and work on the list. If all goes as planned, I may even add a few books as the summer rolls on. If you have any suggestions that you think should be on the list, I’d love to hear them. Post a comment below or email me directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can track my progress by stopping back at Nuketown for the occasional “Off the Bookshelf” update or by following my reading list on Goodreads.
Marque and Reprisal (Book 2 of Vatta’s War) by Elizabeth Moon: (Amazon/Goodreads) — The second volume in Moon’s “Vatta’s War” series starts a hell of a lot faster than Book 1. It picks up about where Book 1 left off — young Kylara Vatta, kicked out of the Slotter Key Spaceforce Academy, is now captain of one of her merchant family’s spaceships. The book opens with a clandestine war being waged against Vatta’s holdings and Ky reeling from the consequences. I read the first book in this series as part of my 2013 reading list in the hopes that it would scratch my military SF itch. It didn’t — that book was all setup, with little in the way of naval space battles, but this one is has kicked up the space war factor considerably.
Leviathan (Book 5 of The Lost Fleet: Beyond the Frontier) by Jack Campbell (Amazon/Goodreads) — Admiral “Black Jack” Geary’s back for the penultimate (or perhaps ultimate, I’m not sure) fight of the Lost Fleet series. This time Geary’s up against an artificially intelligent space fleet constructed by his political enemies. I’m expecting more of the same — well-thought out space battles on an epic scale, with Geary miraculously finding some way to win against middling odds (impossible odds for anyone but Geary … but hey, this is Black Jack we’re talking about. This is Number 3 in my island reading list.
Seveneves by Neal Stephenson (Amazon/Goodreads) — The Moon exploded, and Earth is doomed; humanity bands together to escape the calamity. Five thousand years later, the survivors return to their lost homeworld to explore what was left after the cataclysm. I’ll admit it took me longer than I would have liked to get through Stephenson’s last book, REAMDE, but this sounds like exactly the sort of futuristic world building that I enjoy, and Stephenson at this worst is still pretty damn good.
Nemesis Games by James S.A. Corey (Amazon/Goodreads; Release date: June 2, 2015) — The latest book in the Expanse series, which has been a staple of my reading lists for the last four years, is set to debut as a SySy television series sometime this year. The book has very Firefly-ish vibe to it, with a ragtag band of heroes doing their best to make a living and reveal the truth in a hostile solar system. This is Number 1 on my island reading list.
Slow Bullets by Alastair Reynolds (Amazon/Goodreads; Release date: June 9, 2015) — The author of Revelation Space and House of Suns has a new novel involving a galaxy-wide war. The novel revolves around a character named Scur as she awakens aboard a prison transport ship and finds herself in a battle in which bullets have memories embedded in them. I have no idea what that means, but I’m intrigued.
Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson (Amazon/Goodreads; Release date: July 7, 2015) — I haven’t read a Robinson novel since Red/Green/Blue Mars but this story of a generational starship arriving at its destination looks worthy of the summer reading list.
Armada by Ernest Cline Amazon/Goodreads; Release date: July 14, 2015 — I loved Ready Player One. I can’t say that it was a great novel, but it pushed all the right nostalgia buttons for me, gleefully transporting 1980s pop culture references to a mid-21st century dystopia. Cline’s follow-up novel looks to be just a pop-culture drenched as its predecessor, only this time instead of cyberpunk we get a The Last Starfighter vibe. It’s Number 2 on my island reading list.
The End of All Things (Old Man’s War) by John Scalzi (Amazon/Goodreads; Release date: August 11, 2015) — The follow-up to The Human Division and the latest novel in Scalzi’s Old Man’s War space opera series. It’s the sixth book in the series, and like it’s immediate predecessor it will be released as serialized fiction on the Tor.com website this summer before being published as a complete novel. I’m assuming the 8/11 release date is for the complete novel).
Ancillary Justice (Imperial Radch Book 1) by Ann Leckie (Amazon/Goodreads) — Justice of Toren was a starship and troop transport serving the Imperial Radch, a human empire built to protect the core of its intellectual and physical space: a massive Dyson’s sphere. It was comprised of an artificially intelligent core that manifested itself through ancillaries, human beings who’s higher brain functions had been replaced by a sliver of the IA. The book is about one of these ancillaries — the sole survivor of the destruction of the Justice of Toren — and its quest for revenge. It’s a holdover from my spring reading, but since I entered Memorial Day weekend with a third of the book unread, I decided to add it to the list.
Gardens of the Moon (The Malazan Book of the Fallen, Book 1) by Steven Erikson (Amazon/Goodreads) — I started reading this one in print years ago but gave it up. I’ve had a lot of look reading epic fantasies as audio books (see The Wheel of Time and A Song of Fire and Ice) and I’m hoping I’ll enjoy revisiting the book now when I’m older, wiser, and need something to listen to during my morning runs. I’m also intrigued because the series was based in part on Erikson’s GURPS fantasy campaign, which is an angle I only recently learned about.
The Yellow Admiral (Aubrey/Maturin Series, Book 18) by Patrick O’Brian (Amazon/Goodreads) — I return to my old friends Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, knowing that the historical naval series is reaching its inevitable, unfinished, end. This time around Aubrey is back in shore, feuding with a neighbor, dealing with an infuriated wife, and fretting what to do when peace breaks out in 1814.
I have a long tradition of reading Hellboy and BPRD books on the island. Reading ghost stories (or cosmic horror stories) by campfire light never gets old. Naturally all of these are “island books”, and have the special restriction that they can only be read at or after twilight, preferably by campfire or flashlight.
Hellboy, Vol. 2: Wake the Devil (Amazon/Goodreads) — I read all of the original Hellboy graphic novels years ago, but I borrowed them from a friend. I purchased a number of the later Hellboynovels but never got around to buying the earlier ones; this starts to remedy that.
B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth: I started the second cycle of B.P.R.D. (the government agency tasked with targeting supernatural threats in Hellboy’s universe) last summer. I’m continuing it this summer with Volumes 4-6.
- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 4: The Devil’s Engine & The Long Death (Amazon/Goodreads
- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 5: The Pickens County Horror and Others (Amazon/Goodreads)
- B.P.R.D. Hell on Earth Volume 6: The Return of the Master (Amazon/Goodreads)
Abe Sapien Volume 2: The Devil Does Not Jest (Amazon/Goodreads) — Abe Sapien Volume 1: The Drowning was the scariest book I read last summer. In it the book’s namesake amphibian B.P.R.D. agent investigates a haunted island, complete with underwater horrors eager to drown the unaware. Try reading this and then going swimming in a northern lake that you can’t easily see the bottom of, and tell me you wouldn’t be a little creeped out.