Diving right in:
Books Completed in 2007 (fiction)
- Crucible: McCoy -- Provenance of Shadows (Star Trek) by David R. George III
- Crucible: Spock -- The Fire and the Rose (Star Trek) by David R. George III
- Crucible: Kirk -- The Star to Every Wandering (Star Trek) by David R. George III
- Shadow Patriots by Lucia St. Clair Robson
- The Android's Dream by John Scalzi
- This is the Place by Peter Rock
- Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
- Welcome to the Monkey House by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.
- Splinter of the Mind's Eye by Alan Dean Foster (*re-read*)
- Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince by J.K. Rowling
- Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling
- Operation Red Jericho by Joshua Mowll
- Operation Typhoon Shore by Joshua Mowll
- The New Adventures of the Mad Scientists' Club by Bertrand R. Brinley (*re-read*)
- The Lost Colony by John Scalzi
Not a bad year. I completed 20 fiction books, up from 16 in the previous year, and I enjoyed all of them save This is the Place, a pretentious and ultimately irritating character study set in the Utah-Nevada border town Wendover (for the out-of-towners, that's the nearest gambling outpost for Salt Lake residents and is a popular weekend getaway for many).
Scalzi's novels were both great reads and prove that he's a formidable -- and growing -- talent.
The Harry Potter books surprised me, as I frankly didn't expect to like them but found myself sucked wholeheartedly into them and crying at the end of them. Like all great literary fantasy worlds, I find myself missing Hogwart's sometimes.
Vonnegut lived up to his reputation, and it was a delight to revisit Splinter of the Mind's Eye and The Mad Scientists' Club, both a couple of childhood favorites.
The two books by Joshua Mowll are part of a trilogy called "The Guild of Specialists," and I am eagerly awaiting the publication of the third volume. They're obstensibly children's books, but they're also great adventures in the vein of the Indiana Jones movies, or perhaps the novels of Jules Verne are a better comparison. The books themselves are wonderful works of design, intended to look and feel like one character's diaries, illustrated with sketches and paintings supposedly done by the diarist's brother, and embellished with mocked-up photos, newspaper clippings, ticket stubs, and other ephemera. If I were 10 or 12, these books would be my obsession.
Finally, I have to mention the trilogy of Star Trek tie-in novels with which I began '07. I read a fair number of tie-ins, but they usually fall under the category of "guilty pleasure." At best, they're quick and easy reads that manage to feel like an episode of the source series or film. This particular trio of books, however, rises to the level of genuine literature: they are ambitious attempts to tie together all the tidbits of characterization contained in 79 television episodes and six feature films (plus, a couple of cameo appearances in the subsequent Star Trek: The Next Generation series) and create something that feels like a genuine tapestry of three intertwined lives. The challenge is to simultaneously embrace all the things we already "know" about Kirk, Spock, and Bones, while also finding something new to say about them, some new corner of their psyches and relationship that can illuminated. I'm pleased to report that the books succeed spectacularly in their mission, especially the one about McCoy, who, despite being one of the "big three" characters at the heart of Star Trek, rarely seems to get much attention from the writers. Of all the tie-ins I've read, these are the only ones that feel like "official canon."
Books Completed in 2007 (non-fiction)
- Mormon America: The Power and the Promise by Richard N. and Joan K. Ostling
- Under the Banner of Heaven: A Story of Violent Faith by Jon Krakauer
- Easy Riders, Raging Bulls: How the Rock 'n' Roll Generation Saved Hollywood by Peter Biskind
- Which Lie Did I Tell?: More Adventures in the Screen Trade by William Goldman
My non-fiction reading was way, way down this year, only four books versus last year's 13, but that's the way it goes sometimes. My overall number of titles finished was down a tick, too, only 24 versus 36 total in '06, but I think that's probably because the books themselves were longer this year. The Star Trek novels were all quite long, especially by tie-in standards, and of course J.K. Rowling's works could all be used as effective doorstops.
For the record, I thought all four non-fiction titles were worthwhile, but especially Easy Riders, Raging Bulls, a gossipy, not-always-flattering, but generally credible portrait of the generation of filmmakers that largely shaped the landscape of my imagination. The book's greatest flaw is that the author, Peter Biskind of Premiere magazine, allows his own personal tastes to show through a little more than I thought was tasteful (he makes it very clear that he's got no love for Lucas, Spielberg, their movies, or the effect they had on the film industry), but I never got the feeling he was writing a deliberate hatchet job. And the book did explain -- or at least show precedent for -- many of the recent behaviors of my heroes, George and Steve, that I find so frustrating. Lucas' tendency to keep tinkering with supposedly finished movies and his stiff-necked obstinacy were there right from the very beginning of his career, so I suppose it's hardly surprising now that he refuses to acknowledge the complaints of his own fans might have some validity. Same with Spielberg's craving for respectability, which I feel has sabotaged every movie he's made since Schindler's List.
Anyway, that's it for another year. Again, if you'd like to see the previous years' wrap-ups, click the following: