Marramgrass

Reading Highlights 2015

I've never done the end of year lists thing here, but there are a few books I've read in 2015 that I'd like to recommend. As has happened with my reading over the last few years, they're mostly genre. That shouldn't put you off. If you like some of the same sort of things as me, you should give these a go.

Somebody on Twitter recommended the Expanse books from James SA Corey a while ago, and a series based on the first one has just started on Syfy. These have grabbed me and dragged me along without stopping. If you liked Firefly, you'll enjoy these.

I'd heard a lot of good about Elizabeth Bear, and I wasn't disappointed by her Eternal Sky trilogy. Their world is intricate and beautiful. With horses.

Witches of Lychford by Paul Cornell is quick little novella mixing predatory business practices with demonic influences in rural England. It's probably my favourite thing I read all year.

I've had good luck with recommendation emails from Amazon, too. The first one that stuck was Linesman by the writing partnership of SK Dunstall. Interesting politics and an intriguing setting (including a space-travel mechanic that's totally different to anything else I've come across) more than make up for occasionally flat characters.

The other good Amazon rec I received was for the The Fold by Peter Clines, which took me to its preceding volume, 14. Creepy mystery and monsters, Tesla, Lovecraft, bright green cockroaches and a big daft grin on my face. Just the grin, that is. The cockroaches are in the book, not on my face.

Other things I enjoyed this year were the much-celebrated Station Eleven, the pulpy but fun Origin, and the Shadow Police books and the PC Peter Grant novels—both of which satisfy my love of modern wizards doing normal(-ish) police work.

Falls.

Niagara Falls

Heimdall sees the Falls

Cubed.

Diceware

I made a terrible mistake. I read a post on Boing Boing, all about dice. Which led to a trip to Amazon. Which led to the arrival here a few days ago of a handful of honest-to-goodness, perfectly formed, razor-edged casino standard dice.

It was a predictable chain of events, I suppose. Unlike the rolls from the dice ;)

Diceware

Diceware

Diceware

Diceware

Beyond the wall.

College and University

Things have happened. Exciting and surprising things, you could say. Six weeks ago we upped sticks and left Northern Ireland for Toronto—just for a year, but still. My wife is working as a clinical research fellow in the cancer hospital here, so we've all come along for the ride!

There are worse things; so far this seems like a great place to live. There's loads to do, the boys are having a ball, and we're enjoying the big city way of life (I took the photograph at the top of this post while walking round to pick them up one evening last week). It's all made a bit easier by my employer being happy for me to work remotely for the year. Decent internet access and a laptop mean I can carry on doing my thing, so that was one less worry.

Things we've noticed north of the Wall:

There'll be more discoveries, I'm sure. We'll be back in NI next summer but, for now, We All Go To Canada.

On the exercise of my franchise.

I did some tweeting this morning. Among the flurry of words were the following snippets:

I believe strongly in the importance of voting, but there is no one on the ticket I can bring myself to vote for.

I will not vote for a NI party that views the union/border as a defining issue. That’s the politics that made NI what it is today.

In Lagan Valley, I immediately ruled out candidates from the DUP, the UUP, the TUV, the SDLP and Sinn Féin, because see above. The Alliance candidate put me right off with his abstention from the recent marriage equality vote. The independent candidate? Well. Anyone who knows me won't even ask about UKIP.

I could have voted Tory, but I have a basic belief that people are generally decent and deserve the benefit of the doubt.

I walked into the voting booth not knowing whether I would spoil my ballot or actually cast a vote for someone. Once ensconced, I decided to vote for the candidate I reckoned was the least terrible option.

I've spent today regretting that decision.

But voting is important. Really important. It matters. Even when there's no-one to vote for, showing up is essential. The best of a bad lot might be the reluctant preference, or the best might be to spoil a paper.

I just don't know.