The Only Fiction I Read in 2021:
I read Ann Leckie's Imperial Radch series that takes place in a universe among a people where gender is totally not a thing and everyone is referred to in the feminine pronoun "she." Strange and intriguing plot once you get used to not trying to figure out who is male and who is female as this either does not matter with some characters, or if it does, it will get revealed through the plot eventually (maybe not in the book you happen to be reading at the moment, but the next book or the next). Maybe it never will, and you'll just have to live with that.
The story follows a soldier named Breq who is both a zombie solider and ship. Their technology is such that a consciousness can be spread throughout thousands of physical flesh and blood bodies brought back to a living state via some strange process that's not really explained to the reader after having been kept in frozen storage. These bodies are obtained via their many wars of invasion and domination on other planets and are the victims of these wars. After the artificial consciousness is installed, they become mercenary soldiers known as ancillaries, and even devices, such as ships and security computers. Even the leader of this universe has created multiple versions of herself and the story begins and progresses through a schism war when several of these bodies of the leader start a personal argument among themselves. Factions develop. You never really know who is on whose side (except for Breq and her crew and even that is dicey at times). The novels in this series are, in order: Ancillary Justice, Ancillary Sword, and Ancillary Mercy.
Research, research, and more research:
Pretty much everything else I read in 2021 is non-fiction (well,depending on whose opinion you ask about the subject matter) with the exception of Scrivener for Mac--Compiling for Export, which I read in order to get my e-books loaded to prepare for publishing.
The other three books I read were "Woo" books about UFOs, aliens, and cryptids. I read these because:
- I have a keen interest (personal and otherwise) in these subjects...
- I am going to be writing fiction projects related to these subjects...
- I fecking like these subjects and owe anyone else zero explanations why I do. It's enough to say, like my Twitter profile says, "I've seen some weird shit too, Alice".
I'm reading more Woo books now for research and will be reading even more in 2022 as I plan and research two projects ( one about the world's most famous cryptid and another on a reluctant alien contactee/abductee. The two stories are loosely related). I will write about those in a blog post titled Reading Goals for 2022.
I've read more articles and informational websites this year than any books, and those are also related to my tastes in unusual phenomenon and what I'm looking into for my research for writing projects.
If you share interests in any of these woo topics, I highly recommend reading Somewhere in the Skies, by Ryan Sprague and Chasing American Monsters, by Jason Offutt. Somewhere in the Skies is a book about UFO sightings that focuses on the witnesser's total perspective...what did they feel like, what was going through their minds when they saw it? Not too many books take this approach and, as a witnesser myself, it is refreshing. UFO sightings are human events...because there are human beings seeing these strange things in our skies. Ryan's book features one of the most interesting cases of a mass sighting in my home state. A massive black triangle UFO that was seen at a drive-in theater in Ohio, and whoever was aboard it wiped everyone's memories. To this date, as far as anyone knows, only two people have come forward to say they've gotten some of their memory of the event back.
American Monsters informs you about the different kinds of cryptids there are (some that may no longer be with us and some that may have been hoaxed) in every state in the U.S. It doesn't have all of them...indeed, new cryptids and weird creatures are being seen all over the U.S. (and world) every day, but Jason's book is a good place to start if you have an interest in illusive critters.
If you don't scare too easily or are not very prone to nightmares, give Rich Dolan's Alien Agendas a read. He is one of the more intellectual and scientific ufologists around. Take it with a grain a salt, though, like he asks you to, as he is only reporting what witnessers, abductees, contactees, and researchers have reported. Long story short, aliens have been coming here or have even been living in other dimensions on earth for a long damn time. Some of them take people, for better or for worse. We aren't really sure of some of their intentions. Some say it's for our own good, some say it's to help them by mixing our genes...and some ufologists have accused those behind the UFO and abduction phenomena of trickery and deceiving us all. Read with an open mind and a discerning critical mind as well. He does give a good run down and description of those types most reported by contactees and abductees. And yes, there are aliens who look like us out there. Strange, but true. And when you read his scientific theories for this, they kind of make some sense. Who knows what the real truth will end up being, if we ever learn it? Maybe John Keel was right and Earth really is the Disneyland of the Gods.
I recently watched the anime Kiss Him, Not Me, about an overweight high school fujoshi (a girl or woman who is a fan of manga or anime featuring gay male love stories) who becomes sick and loses a lot of weight, and when she goes back to high school, about four of her male classmates (and one female) develop crushes on her and compete to win her heart. It was so fun and silly, but there was only one season...and goddess knows when there will be more, so I started reading it. I'm almost done with the first book. I'll find out who wins her heart no matter what! I may finish Volume 1 before the year is over, so I will post it here. The mangaka, Junko, is actually a popular yaoi/BL manga artist in Japan. I've read a few of her works.
All my other books that I'm reading currently for research and whatnot I'll post in my 2022 Reading Goals post, coming soon!