Time sped up in 2015.
Everything moved faster.
Books came out faster — there was SO MUCH to read in 2015, it was fantastic. The glut of amazing television shows continued. My work-year slid past me in a blur. My kids have become adolescent. Social and political changes are rolling like a juggernaut, and the cultural backlash is immediate and vicious each time.
Everything was faster, in 2015.
Books I Read
I actually kept track of all the books I read this year on Goodreads. This is the very first year that I have managed that. I’m pretty pleased with myself! Part of how I did it was creating a new “shelf” called Gave Up. This let me mark down books I started and then quit reading, instead of hiding from my Goodreads page because I hadn’t finished a book.
There was a lot to like in 2015. A lot.
Fiction I Enjoyed
Karen Memory, by Elizabeth Bear. Rollicking. That’s what I call this story. A rollicking tale of adventure and spycraft, except with all the normally invisible people of the world made center stage. Women, queers, and people of color save the day.
Castle Hangnail, by Ursula Vernon. This book is an all-ages delight. My kids loved it, I loved it, my spouse loved it. What I love *the absolute most* about all of Ursula’s work is the blunt practicality of her protagonists. These are people who actually inhabit a world I recognize, one with weeds and dirty laundry and mud that gets tracked into the house.
The Only Ones, by Carola Dibbell. What a strange, difficult, rewarding book. Not for the faint of heart, this is a long meditation on parenting failures and successes. The victory condition of being a parent is to put forth into the world a competent adult. All else is negotiable.
14, by Peter Clines. Wow. Seanan McGuire recommended the work of Peter Clines to me, and she was NOT wrong. I’ve read nearly all his books now. This novel, 14, is the sort of “what is REALLY happening” plot that I tend to find tiresome. (See: Lost, X-Files, most modern tv dramas.) But Clines made it work. He delivered real answers at the end. Moreover, I found the characters engaging.
Uprooted, by Naomi Novik. One of my contenders for Hugos this year. Every time I thought the story was going to end, there was more of it, and it got weirder and more complicated. Yet, every twist and turn made sense and followed largely from who the characters were.
An Infamous Army, by Georgette Heyer
Captain Vorpatril’s Alliance, by Lois McMaster Bujold
The Martian, by Andy Weir. My goodness, I just loved this book! Just a flat-out fun adventure novel.
The Traitor Baru Cormorant, by Seth Dickinson. Heavy, heavy novel. Deep and complicated and depressing as hell. But, then, a story about collaborating with one’s oppressors isn’t going to be a frolic, I expect. Another contender for the Hugos.
Non-Fiction I Enjoyed
No Idle Hands: The Social History of American Knitting, by Anne Macdonald
This Republic of Suffering: Death and the American Civil War, by Drew Gilpin Faust
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander. This book has genuinely altered how I see the world. I can’t stop seeing the racial injustices of the United States, now. Black Lives Matter. Ferguson. Justice for Jamar.
Dancing Into Battle: A Social History of the Battle of Waterloo, by Nick Foulkes
Accidental Saints: Finding God in all the Wrong People, by Nadia Bolz-Weber
Furiously Happy, A Funny Book About Horrible Things, by Jenny Lawson.
Great War Fashion:Tales from the History Wardrobe, by Lucy Adlington
The Witches: Salem 1692, by Stacy Schiff. The thing that most comforts me about history is that we humans have always, always and forever, been as petty, venal, scared, and vindictive as we are now. We are no worse now than we have ever been. So all the mighty accomplishments of our kind — works of creation and discovery, moments of compassion and kindness — all these things have been done even though we are selfish little bastards who kill each other.
Books I Read Because Everyone Was Talking About Them So Highly But I Just Did Not Like Them, Really
The Girl With All the Gifts. I do not know what my problem with this book was. EVERYONE LOVES IT. I tried four time to read it. I got halfway through on my final and best attempt.
The Girl in the Road. I finished this one, at least.
The Magicians. I did NOT like this book which is funny, because I read the entire trilogy. /o\ The things was, I just didn’t like QUENTIN. I liked everyone else. So as the trilogy progressed and we had less Quentin and more of everyone else, I enjoyed the series a lot more.
Constellation Games. What a pile of steaming self-indulgent claptrap.
Dead Mountaineer’s Inn. I’m sure this book has an audience of lovely, intelligent, creative people who really dig the fact that this entire novel is unreliable. Unreliable narrator, setting, dialog, plot ….
The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up. I already do most of the things in this book that keep houses tidy. Reading this only made me want to throw away all the possessions of the people I live with, so their stuff would not be cluttering the common space. Since I endeavor to not be an asshole to my family, I stopped reading the book.
Media Series I Made a Point to Keep Up With
The Librarians. This show just feels good. It’s serious but optimistic. It’s like the love child of Global Frequency, Leverage, and X-Files. It’s a show about … Huh. Fundamentally, it’s about a bunch of people figuring out that they are paladins.
Brooklyn Nine-Nine. Another show that just feels good. And I usually detest sitcoms. But I love this show and these characters. The writing is unexpected and clever, yet honest and kind. It’s a sitcom that is fundamentally kind, that genuinely like humans. I love this.
Jessica Jones. I watched it all in one weekend. I think this show is incredibly important. It both widens the world of “superhero” to include all manner of people not seen in the Avengers movies, and it talks with frank and open complexity about rape and sexual violence. And it’s a canonical part of the MCU — NO TAKEBACKS. So it’s going to be a gamechanger for superhero media.
Supergirl. Supergirl is the golden retriever to Jessica Jones’s yorkshire terrier soul. … If you are not a dog person, that might not make sense to you. ANYWAY. Moving on. I love that both of these shows are on at the same time. The world is big enough, wide enough, to support both series. Now all we need is a Kamela-Ms.-Marvel show.
Star Wars: Rebels. “It’s a kids show,” they said. “It’s a Disney cartoon,” they said. It’s a series about a terrorist insurgency against a brutally repressive dictatorial regime, complete with massacres, torture, and PTSD. It’s also really good. I highly recommend it.
Doctor Who. This was the first series of Doctor Who I liked in quite some time. :shrugs: Your mileage may vary.
Steven Universe. I kept current on this show because I know SO MANY PEOPLE who love it. Also, because I genuinely support what it is doing and saying. (“Tell me what representation looks like!” “THIS IS WHAT REPRESENTATION LOOKS LIKE!” Anyway.) Yet, I think, on some level, this show just ain’t for me. I’m not looking for my place in the world. I’m not searching for answers about my identity. I don’t have questions about the nature of family. That said, if the next season is all about guilt and past mistakes and how you move on after fucking everything up, I AM SO ON-BOARD FOR THAT.
UnREAL. I didn’t watch this as it aired, but watched the entire season in a weekend. This is grim, and bitter, and every character on this show is horrid. But I liked that. I like shows in which terrible things happen because people are human beings who make ghastly decisions. I do not like shows in which bad things happen randomly — that just makes me feel besieged and scared all the time. But if bad things happen to bad people because they are trash-people with no moral compass? Sign me up!
Outlander. I watched this show for the clothes and the set dressing. It was sooooooo pretty. I got genuinely angry at one point when one character rips another character’s shirt.
The 100. Man, this show has SO grown on me. I really enjoy the complex interactions and relationships everyone has. Over two seasons all the characters have gotten a chance to learn and change, or not change. I find everyone’s motivations and decisions to be comprehensible, and I love the way the motivations shift. Also, the sets and costume design are REALLY good. As good as Outlander, in a different way.
Quantico. FBI ACADEMY FOR THE WIN. I love all the parts with the recruits at the academy, in school, doing stuff and bonding. I pretty much don’t care about the plot. However! This is a show about the best and brightest in U.S. law enforcement, and it is a genuinely diverse and representative bunch of people. I mean, other than the fact that they are all *stunningly goregous*. This is, still, television.
Podcasts I Liked
Serial. Yep, I loved season one, and I am enjoying season two. Rachel and Miles XPlain the X-Men. Stuff You Missed in History. Kevin and Ursula Eat Cheap. The Hidden Almanac. Worst Bestsellers. The Mystery Show, though that one is now on hiatus.
Knitting I Completed
I finished SO MUCH STUFF, y’all! Here’s my Ravelry page. It turns out, I really like knitting socks.
Writing and Editing Projects
I’m editing volume two of Pretty Deadly. The creative team on this is … amazing. Just, watching them work is a privilege. Seeing creative people bringing their A-game, week in and week out, is a joy to behold.
I volunteered this year to do more work with CONvergence, my local big convention. I’m working in the Invited Participant department, in collaboration with Programming and the Guest of Honor folks. That’s really taking up the “big project” slot in my time and attention this year.
That said, I worked on Queers Destroy Science Fiction as the flash fiction editor, and I have an essay in Queers Destroy Horror. Let me just say that if you ever have the chance to work with John Joseph Adams, I HIGHLY recommend it. A consummate professional.
Goals I Met
I got my head and heart back into work, after all the medical absences of last year. I am active on the training team, and am shepherding a couple of trainees through the air traffic control process.
I gave a lot of money to charity, both through traditional methods and through Patreon and Kickstarter.
I worked hard to be an active listener for my kids. To be a parent who is present and engaged. Also, to be a present and engaged spouse, to participate fully in my family.
I got my trap shooting average up over 19 for the season, with a personal best score of 23.
I did *not* meet my cooking goal of learning to put two dishes on the table at the same time. Mostly because I didn’t work on it, at all, ever. I did, however, work on cooking with the CSA foods, and I learned what to do with celeriac. Also, I spent more time teaching M to cook.
I bought a new-to-me car that makes me happy. I remembered to put aside money for the property tax ahead of time. I got new glasses, bifocals for the first time.
I have curated my Twitter feed to be about 15% cute animals, which makes me really happy. And I engage in active muting and unmuting of people I like and respect who occasionally go on rants about depressing and infuriating things. (I love y’all, don’t change, I hope you do the same with me when I go on a rant.) This basically means I really like Twitter.
I find the bigoted reactions to the fact that the world is changing and starting to include more of, you know, *the world*, to be mostly amusing. Death rattles of folks who cannot continue to get everything they want in the world. :shrugs: I find the fact that this leads some straight white cis men to pick up guns and murder people to be frightening and blind-rage-inducing. I look forward to this moment passing into history as the vast bulk of humanity leaves those bigots to rot. That said, I will continue to actively work for change in the communities I inhabit, namely SF/F and comics conventions and publishing. I am … not furious, but simply tired of covering up for people who refuse to learn to behave.
The musical Hamilton has a fantastic Original Cast Recording, which has been stuck in my head for months.
I loved all of the Star Wars comics that came out in advance of the movie this December.
I’m sure I’ve forgotten things, things I meant to include, which are important to me. :looks around: Nope, can’t think of anything right now.
It was a good year, 2015. Went really, really quick. I’m looking forward to what 2016 will bring.
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