Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Best Reads of 2020

2020 has been a hellish year. A year filled with stress, anxiety, huge uncertainty and immense loss. I don't know how I would've managed to stay sane if I didn't have books to escape into. While I managed to read 74 books this year most of them are lost in a murky haze. I know I read them, I know I enjoyed them at the time and that's about all I can remember. I blame my overwhelmed brain, not the books.

However there are books that stand out, books that stayed with me and manage to ignite a spark of joy or strong memory when I think about them. That's despite everything else that's happened this year.

So here, in no particular order are the best books I read in 2020.  

A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine
Cover for A Memory Called Empire

A Memory Called Empire is a remarkable, beautifully written novel exploring a myriad of themes — identity, colonialism, the persistence of memory, the power of language, the duplicity of words and how it shapes and builds society. It also examines the power of an individual, and of individual identity, and how that power can reshape the world even when pitted against the might of an entire empire 

Ancestral Night and Machine by Elizabeth Bear
Cover for Ancestral Night

Ancestral Night is a riveting space opera, filled with loads of adventure and an entertaining spin on the big dumb object trope. With homages to Iain M. Banks, fantastic use of the science behind Alcubierre drives and an absolutely compelling universe Ancestral Night was the hard sci-fi hit my brain needed.

Cover of Machine by Elizabeth Bear

Honourable mention: This might be cheating a bit, but I'm going to squeeze in Machine, the second book in the White Space series, Machine, here. While not a direct sequel to Ancestral Night it expands the White Space universe even further. I absolutely loved returning to this setting and seeing it from the angle of the universe's emergency services. A slightly unconventional angle that works surprisingly well.

Wanderers by Chuck Wendig
Cover for Wanderers by Chuck Wendig

Wanderers is a grim, prescient read that ebbs and flows with melancholy and hits far too close to home with the current Coronavirus outbreak. A great apocalyptic read in the most unsettling of ways. 

The Warship by Neal Asher
Cover for The Warship by Neal Asher

A simply awesome read filled with colossal explosions, terrifying tech and epic space battles like only Neal Asher can deliver. Pure escape in book form. Need I say more? 

A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge
Cover for A Fire Upon the Deep by Vernor Vinge

This was a re-read for me and like the first time around, A Fire Upon the Deep simply blew me away all over again. The Tines with their pack minds and the concepts behind the Zones of Thought still remain fascinating. An amazing space opera that still hits all the marks.

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