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"A Trump Christmas Carol," by Roz Kaveney, Laurie Penny, John Scalzi and Jo Walton; Uncanny, December 25, 2016
http://uncannymagazine.com/article/trump-christmas-carol/

A brilliant piece of political fiction, a solid reworking of the ideas of Dickens' classic as the ghosts of 2016 teach the President-elect the true meaning and proper use of political power.



"The Orangery," Bonnie Jo Stufflebeam; Beneath Ceasless Skies, Issue #214, December 8, 2016
http://www.beneath-ceaseless-skies.com/stories/the-orangery/

Using the myths of Apollo and Daphne and Apollo and Dryope as central images, Stufflebeam gives us a powerful look at the responses evoked in women when confronted with men's desire and sense of entitlement to women's labour, bodies and love. When confronted with all the women, including Daphne and Dryope, who have chosen transformation into trees, Apollo asks “Why do you women fear men so much that you would rather be tree than give a kiss?” It's a question answered by this novelette, though perhaps not in any way that one who must ask can understand.



"The Evaluators: To Trade with Aliens, You Must Adapt," N. K. Jemisin; Wired, December 13, 2016
https://www.wired.com/2016/12/nk-jemisin-the-evaluators/

A brilliant and truly terrifying cautionary tale told in modern epistolary style (excerpts from emails, reports and other documents) about the dangers of making assumptions and rushing first contact.



"Welcome to the Medical Clinic at the Interplanetary Relay Station | Hours Since the Last Patient Death: 0," Caroline M. Yoachim; Lightspeed, March 2016
http://www.lightspeedmagazine.com/fiction/welcome-to-the-medical-clinic-at-the-interplanetary-relay-station/

Having spent way too much time dealing with medical personnel and institutions lately, this grim little story about the futility of getting any real healthcare from a bureaucratic and underfunded system hit close to home.



"My Grandmother's Bones," S. L. Huang; Daily Science Fiction, August 22, 2016
http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/religious/s-l-huang/my-grandmothers-bones

A short and moving story about generational relationships and cultural changes, seen through a series of funerary behaviours.


"17 Amazing Plot Elements... When You See #11, You'll Be Astounded!," James Beamon; Daily Science Fiction, May 3, 2016
http://dailysciencefiction.com/fantasy/religious/james-beamon/17-amazing-plot-elements-when-you-see-11-youll-be-astounded

An interesting approach to the retelling of a very old tale. Short, but worth reading for the way it's told.



"The Right Sort of Monsters," Kelly Sandoval; Strange Horizons, April 4, 2016
http://strangehorizons.com/fiction/the-right-sort-of-monsters/
Powerful story about need, sacrifice and how humans deal with difference. A strange and alien grove - the Godswalk - appears mysteriously beside a village, leaving most of the inhabitants unable to have children of their own. In the forest are the blood trees, whose flowers produce children in return for human blood, children that are not quite human, but human enough. But when Viette enters the forest to seek a child to fill the void left by a series of miscarriages, she learns that the Godswalk hides deeper secrets than she realised.

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John Scalzi, Agent to the Stars

OK, this is just plain hilarious. It's high concept to the core - What if the first aliens to visit our planet are so unpalatable that they need to high a high-powered agent to "sell" them to Earthfolk? And where it goes from there is pretty much non-stop funny of all shades from some simple farce and slapstick to some profound satire on the entertainment business and on human nature.

Note that I said "pretty much non-stop" - because there are also some moments of tragedy and some very important ethical considerations that ground the novel and make it much more than what it at first appears to be.

Worth reading, and also at times worth thinking about. I have some quibbles with the ultimate unveiling strategy - there's something about it that doesn't sit quite right with me, and I think it has to do with - how do I say this without spoiling the scene? - stealing focus from a legitimate celebration of exemplary work and thus robbing other people of well-deserved recognition. Even if the reason is an important one. Just didn't quite seem fair.

But it's a small quibble, and one I can live with.

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I read some science fiction novels that weren't re-reads in 2010, too, and found all of them quite enjoyable. New (to me) authors Sarah Zettel, John Scalzi, and Helen S. Wright were all discoveries to be savoured - Wright's book A Matter of Oaths in particular, as it is the only book she has published, and is a very good read, with an original setting,strong worldbuilding, and interesting characters. I have heard rumours that she is working on a new book - I hope it's true.

The most eagerly anticipated SF novels I read in 2010 were Jo Walton'sHalf a Crown - the excellent ending to a brilliant and chilling examination of how easily a people can be led into embracing a fascist and hate-mongering state - and Lois McMaster Bujold's Cryoburn, the latest volume in the highly entertaining saga of Miles Vokosigan.

Rounding out the year's new reading in science fiction were a collection of short stories by Elizabeth Moon, a John Wyndham novel I had somehow missed before now, another of Todd McCaffrey's books expanding on the world and history of Pern created by his mother, the late and sadly missed Anne McCaffrey, and one of Sharon Shinn's Samaria novels.



Elizabeth Moon, Moon Flights

John Wyndham, Web

Todd McCaffey, Dragonheart

Jo Walton, Half a Crown

Sharon Shinn, The Alleluia Files

Sarah Zettel, Fools’ War

John Scalzi, Old Man’s War
John Scalzi, The Ghost Brigades
John Scalzi, The Last Colony

Lois McMaster Bujold, Cyroburn

Helen S. Wright, A Matter of Oaths


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