MONTHLY ROUNDUP: November 2021

November has been a fairly quiet month for me. Aside from work I’ve had no real commitments to stick to, which has resulted in more reading and blogging than anticipated. I hope you don’t hold that against me, and that you enjoy this breakdown of the month just gone.

Book Haul

As the Christmas season draws closer, so my own book buying slows down. But while my wishlist has been handed off to the family, there are still some newer releases I’m taking care of myself.

Grim Repast is Marc Collins’ debut Black Library novel, and the latest full-length novel in the Warhammer Crime range. I love this little corner of the grim, dark future, and each book raises my hopes for the next. I’ve read some of Collins’ short fiction, so I know I’m in good hands with this one.

The Lady of Caladan, is the second volume of Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson’s Caladan trilogy, set in the year leading up the events of the original Dune. It’s also the first WordFire Press hardback I’ve purchased, and the quality is significantly higher than their paperbacks, which are frustratingly floppy.

The Veiled Throne marks the penultimate book in Ken Liu’s genre-shifting Dandelion Dynasty. Epic fantasy with a technological revolution at its heart, this is a mammoth book that I’m not quite confident of finishing before the end of the year, even if I start it fairly soon.

The Ashes of Tomorrow is James Swallow’s middle act of the multi author Star Trek: Coda trilogy. I’m glad this one turned up as the release dates keep getting shifted around for a number of reasons. I’ve also pre-ordered David Mack’s conclusion to the series, Oblivion’s Gate, which could arrive any time in the next two months.

Reading Progress

It may have been slow for book buying, but November was a great month for book reading. Free of my epic readalong responsibilities, I cleaned up my TBR tower considerably. However, not every book I read was as good as I’d hoped. As promised, I started the month by getting up my reviews of the last two books I finished in October, Pierce Brown’s Dark Age and David Mack’s Titan: Fortune of War. After that, it was all hands on deck for new books.

A lot of my focus this month was on classics. Both H.G. Wells’ The War in the Air and Larry Niven’s Ringworld were stuffed with good ideas, but the writing was a sticking point for both books. Ray Bradbury’s The Martian Chronicles has held up a lot better, however, while Vernor Vinge’s A Fire Upon the Deep was truly mind-boggling, though not necessarily in an enjoyable way.

I also spent a lot of time reading anthologies, which was a change of pace for me. Lavie Tidhar’s The Best of World SF: Volume 1, held a few gems, but most of the stories weren’t well suited to my tastes. Far more consistent were the trio of Warhammer Crime anthologies. No Good Men, Broken City, and Sanction & Sin all had a lot to offer, and are a great entry point for anyone looking to get into Black Library.

I stayed away from longer series this month, and read a bunch of standalone novels. John Appel’s Assassin’s Orbit didn’t work for me, but Rogue Elements (John Jackson Miller’s Star Trek: Picard novel) was a lot stronger, and a lot of fun. Then there was Cixin Liu’s Of Ants and Dinosaurs and Chris Hadfield’s The Apollo Murders, both of which are up there with the best books I’ve read this year.

I wrapped up the month with a return to the grim, dark future with Nate Crowley’s The Twice Dead King: Ruin, and quickly followed that with Marc Collins’ Grim Repast. I hope to get reviews up of both books in the next week, but my thoughts are largely positive.

On the non-SF front, I started two new fantasy series with Steven Erikson’s The God is Not Willing, and Peter V. Brett’s The Desert Prince. Both of them continue existing universes, and I’ll be continuing both series.

Audio Frequencies

My audiobook listening has essentially dropped to zero this month. Partly due to a lack of time, but also because what time I do have is dedicated to catching up on Lore, the podcast of folklore and chilling true stories. I’m only a hundred episodes behind, so maybe there’ll be more audiobooks next month.

On a musical note, I have discovered that Katzenjammer actually had a third album that I did not know about before. Between that and Little Violet’s debut album ‘Code Red,’ my metal-heavy listening has been suitably jazzed up with some lighter fare.

On Screen

The big story this month was the international release of Star Trek: Discovery’s fourth season, which was assumed to be coming to Netflix, was pulled with very little warning, and has now been sent to Pluto TV (at least in the UK) following a fan outrage. Though it’s too early to see where this season is going, the signs are good that it will continue its year-on-year improvement.

Fear the Walking Dead continues to be an unbalanced mix of great scenes and terrible pacing, while Walking Dead: World Beyond is proving to be the sleeper hit of the franchise. It’s solidly entertaining, more consistent than its siblings, and is actually going somewhere with its plot. A slight shame that this second season is the final one, but I reckon that being a limited series has done wonders for this show.

Back in catch-up territory, I’m three seasons into 24 and already tuning out. It’s a classic example of how constantly ramping up the tension leads to audience fatigue, and some of the subplots are simply unbelievable. Still, it gives me time to read while the family are watching. I’m slightly more engaged with my rewatch of Defiance, although the Irzu plotline doesn’t grip me anywhere near as much as the Tarr familial squabbling.

This month I also posted my reviews of the brilliant Space: Above & Beyond, and the second season of Star Trek: Lower Decks.

Articles

As planned, I put out a fair bit of Star Trek content this month, all of it relating to my Crew Builder project. I’ve taken a look at crew morale, engineers, and security officers. I’ve still got a few more to go, and hope to get them done by the end of the year. These posts aren’t very popular with readers, it would seem, but they are fun to write.

SPSFC

At the start of the month, I posted the team’s fifth and final batch of cuts, and then the big announcement of our quarterfinalists. these are the eleven books we’ll be reading and reviewing before the end of January. It’s been a bit quieter since then, as we’re all busy reading, but December should see the next eliminations posted. I’m only a few books in myself, but so far they’ve been strong, though nothing has made me stop and say ‘wow’ yet.

Writing

November has been another infuriating month as far as writing is concerned. I hopped aboard the NaNoWriMo wagon in the hopes of getting some short fiction written, but after only two shorts and around 8000 words by the halfway point, I was already well behind schedule. I’m still trying to work out where to go with my next long project, and really hope to be back on some sort of schedule before the new year.

Wrap-Up

November was a really good month for At Boundary’s Edge. I passed 2000 views in a single month for the first time, and received my 1000th like since I started three years ago. Some of my Black Library reviews also got shared by the authors, which is always a nice surprise. As we reach the end of the year, I’m starting to think of plans for 2022, and I’ll let you know what I decide to do.

Published by Alex Hormann

I'm a writer, reader, and farmer, with an interest in all things speculative.

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