Resolution Project 2018

Last year, a handful of our writers embarked on a Speculative Chic Resolution. As with all resolutions, we started out with the best of intentions, but as 2017 progressed and wound down, well, you can see how we fared here. But the lure of a New Year is that clean slate, a chance to start over, and a chance to make new and improved resolutions! Just like in 2017, we’ll post our updates as we complete our resolutions, and at the end of the year, you get to hold us accountable.

So what did our contributors come up with for 2018? Come take a look at what we’re tackling, and feel free to offer some suggestions, as some of our contributors would love to have them!


Nicole: In 2017 one of our contributors, Lane Robins, decided to do a Silver Screen Resolution in which she resolved to watch 12 spec fic movies, one per month. As the year continued, I thought it was a great idea. A nice, solid way of ticking off movies you wanted or thought would be good idea to see. So I’m playing the part of the copycat this year because I liked the idea so much. Lane had her reasons, and I have mine. While I have been going to theaters more than ever, there are still a lot of movies I haven’t seen, and almost all of them are fairly old. They’re movies that I feel like I should have seen by now and just haven’t. Or they’re movies I’ve been meaning to see but for whatever reason never did. It’s going to be quite the eclectic mix, for sure, and though I do have a main 12-movie list, I’ve included a few backups in case I can’t get my hands on something, or in case I feel like watching one movie and not the other. There might even be a few foreign films in there. From futuristic dystopias to fantastical places to terrors in the dark, it promises to be an interesting time.


Casey: Given my newfound fascination with outer space, and the fact that “I don’t want to live on this planet anymore” is something that I have said far too often during the last twelve months, I have decided that in 2018, I will attempt to read and review at least six space opera/space-related novels and novellas. Four of them were taken from recommendations that I received on my “coming out” post as a newly minted space aficionado. They are: Catherine Asaro’s Primary Inversion, Claudia Gray’s Lost Stars (do I get a gold star for choosing a Star Wars book?), Ilona Andrews’ Clean Sweep, and Rhonda Mason’s Empress Game. Additionally, I will also be reading Ann Leckie’s Provenance and Nnedi Okorafor’s Binti.

If I complete these six, I may go for bonus points! I’m not going to commit to more than that right now. If I decide to keep going with it, however, possible “bonus points” selections include Okorafor’s other Binti novellas (Home, Night Masquerade), Leckie’s Ancillary Justice, Neptune’s Brood by Charles Stross, Catalyst (another Star Wars book!) by James Luceno, and Joseph Brassey’s Skyfarer. I reserve the right to change the bonus selections as I come across new books or receive other recommendations as the year goes by.

If I learned one thing in 2017, it’s that life frequently enjoys getting in the way of my big projects, which is why I’m keeping it relatively simple. So while I’d love to attempt something like watching all of the new Doctor Who, I know better than to try something big. I also already own several of the six primary choices and most of the bonus selections (thanks for the sale prices, Amazon!), which makes this a relatively low financial investment project. Prioritizing a space opera over another type of book shouldn’t be a hard thing to accomplish.


J.L. Gribble: I’ve been a voracious reader all my life, but my reading habits changed drastically in middle school. I spent one weekend a month hanging out in the used bookstore that my grandmother managed in New Jersey while my mom did her Air Force Reserve days. This meant sitting in a chair in the bookstore, eating delicious snacks (these visits also created my love for salty black licorice), and reading everything I could get my hands on — limited to what was available in the store. This meant I made the jump from “kid” books, like Babysitter’s Club and Boxcar Kids, to adult fiction, such as media tie-in novels for Star Trek: The Original Series, in a strange way. Because of this, I missed a lot of classic young adult speculative fiction.

Luckily, my need to read the book before I see the movie will serve me well in 2018. My resolution for this year will be to read and review A Wrinkle in Time before the film comes out, which I will also write a Sound Off! post for. Since the movie is scheduled to come out on March 9, this means no time to waste!

I’m honestly not sure why I haven’t read this book before now, even as an adult. Because, funny story, I have read Many Waters, which takes place later in the series. I’ve read it multiple times, in fact, and it was easily one of my favorite novels growing up, but I don’t think I could tell you when or where I first picked it up.

Here’s hoping that I fall in love with A Wrinkle in Time like so many others have before me, because I’d like to catch up on the whole series. Better late than never.


Nancy: So here’s a confession. I have a problem when it comes to finishing series, includes ones that I really enjoy. My shelves are filled with sweeping sagas where I never made it past book one, or lengthy serials where I eagerly looked forward to each additional volume as they were released, and then promptly forgot about them one day. Every now and then I’ll look up at my bookshelves and go “hey, aren’t I about four books behind on that now? What was even going on when I left off?”

And well, here’s another confession. I’m also really bad when it comes to looooong books. And that has a lot to do with the time commitment attached to it. Show me an 800-1000 page door stopper, and I will begin mentally calculating out how many regular sized book (say 300-400 pages) I could consume in that same time period. Again, this is despite the fact that I’ve enjoyed longer books in the past. Susanna Clarke’s Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell is one of my all-time favorites, and I too have made my way through all five Game of Thrones behemoths (although I’m kind of regretting that last one).

So you can see why, given these two issues listed above, I might be a little dubious about the likelihood of finishing Brandon Sanderson’s Oathbringer.

Oathbringer is the third book in the Stormlight Archive, a series that features pretty much anything you could want in an epic fantasy novel. A sprawling cast of complex characters! A rich, well developed world! Giant-sized pulse-pounding action sequences! An intricate magic system! And stakes so high that you can only reach them from a low orbit in space. While reading books one and two (The Way of Kings, and Words of Radiance) I found myself easily swept up in this amazing fantasy tale, gasping at all the right moments, and really rooting for Kaladin, Shallan, Syl and the rest of the cast. When it comes to the recently released Oathbringer, I know I should be eager to devour every last one of its pages.

Which brings us to the problem. There just happens to 1,248 of those pages.

Or (for those of you doing the math) three or four regular-sized books.

But I’m not going to let the deter me! I’ve decided that I’m going to make it my resolution, here and now, to read every last one of those 1,248 pages during 2018. And to prove that I’ve read it, I will post a review sometime during the year on Speculative Chic. And I’m going to aim to do it sooner rather then later, because I’ve learned that the longer you put off reading the next book in a series, the harder it is to pick it up.

Let’s see how that goes.


Sherry: Unlike most people in the world (or so it seems), I have yet to read or watch Game of Thrones, sort of. I read the first half of the first book a number of years ago, long before it became a TV series. A couple of years after the TV show began, I got my hands on a copy of the first season on Blu-ray. Well, it was a friend’s copy, and we decided to watch it that weekend. We finished episode six, and it was enough. I tried again about a year ago, and reached the same place, the end of episode six. I was interested in continuing, but then life got in the way, and I didn’t feel a pressing need to get back to it. And then this summer I was visiting my bestie in Calgary, and she is a huge Game of Thrones fan. The third to last episode of season seven was on. I said I would watch it with her. She was a bit aghast. I hadn’t watched the other seasons, she didn’t want to spoil anything for me. It would be painful, but she could wait to watch it. I assured her it wouldn’t spoil anything, I wasn’t likely to watch any of it anyway, and I wasn’t going to make her suffer and fear spoilers over the next 24 hours on Facebook. We watched it, and it was good. It wasn’t the constant violence and rape that had seemed to be ever-present in the first six episodes of the first season. It piqued my curiosity. I need to know everything that happened since season one episode six. But I also want to know how the TV series compares to the books. I am well aware that seasons six and seven aren’t based on the books, and I am quite content with there being differences. Therefore, 2018 is going to be A YEAR OF THRONES! Each month I’m going to offer my thoughts on the TV series and the books. I’m not going to call them reviews, but more or less my reactions to what is happening, the story-telling, the characters, etc. This is your chance to experience Game of Thrones for the first time, all over again.


Lane: Last year I resolved to see 12 spec-fic movies because I rarely take the time to watch movies, and surprisingly, I succeeded.

Flush with triumph, I decided to dip my toes into a spec-fic area I barely even acknowledge exists — podcasts. For 2018’s resolution I plan to listen to twelve spec-fic oriented podcasts, one podcast per month with a minimum of five episodes per podcast before I either give up or keep on listening.

This may be much less of a triumph. It may in fact be doomed to failure.

I am not good at paying attention to audio. I am very bad at listening to people telling me things. Yes, this made school fun, let me tell you. But maybe you don’t need me to tell you. Maybe you don’t like hearing people talk at you either.

But I just don’t have dealings with spoken word audio entertainment. Music, sure. Bring it on; I love it (as long as it’s not live — don’t ask, it’s a thing.).

Audio books? I admire the art, recognize that really good narrators can make a book even more amazing but… it’s not for me. I want to read the books myself. I read faster than people can talk anyway. So podcasts are terra incognita and a little scary. A whole new entertainment medium!

Will I be bored? Will I be rapt? Will I get freaked out until I turn the podcast off in self-defense? (Many of the podcast speculative fiction choices seem to slip easily into horror. I’m thinking particularly of Alice isn’t Dead, whose first episode I did listen to and found disturbing.)

I have listened to Welcome to Night Vale, along with most of the English-speaking world, but not very much of it, and I wasn’t that absorbed. While I liked Cecil and his world, I really disliked the musical interludes. In the end, WtNV became kind of a twenty-minute timer that I listened to only vaguely while I did other things.

But when I asked for podcast recommendations, they came fast and furious, so podcasts are obviously something people enjoy. I want to be one of them.

Failing that, it would be nice to have something engrossing to listen to while on the treadmill.

I’ll be starting my line up with The Bright Sessions, and after that, in no particular order:

  • Lore
  • Alice isn’t Dead
  • EOS 10
  • Wolf 359
  • Rabbits
  • Tanis
  • The Black Tapes
  • Liberty
  • LimeTown
  • Steal the Stars
  • Girl in Space

I’m still open to recommendations, so if you see one that I missed and absolutely should give a try, let me know!


Merrin: For a long time now, I’ve been aware of N.K. Jemisin and her amazing books. I see her on “Best of” lists, I see her winning awards, I see the excitement surrounding her book releases. And for reasons that I’ve never quite been able to pin down, I’ve just never actually gotten around to reading anything longer than the short story I read for my Hugos post. This, despite the fact that I actually purchased The Inheritance Trilogy in a kindle bundle in June of 2016. I actually went and checked that with Amazon, it was June 28, 2016. And I still haven’t read it! I started it once, but then a library book came in, and I read that instead. I’m really distractible, it’s one of my biggest faults.

And now that you know my fatal flaw, this is my resolution. In 2018, I will not only read the Inheritance Trilogy, I will make up for my years of neglect by reading everything N.K. Jemisin has ever published. This includes the Mass Effect Andromeda novelization that was just recently released, though I remain inherently skeptical about how good this novelization could possibly be. This also includes as many of her short stories as I am able to lay hands on, except for “The City Born Great,” since that’s the one I read. And it includes Geek Wisdom: The Sacred Teachings of Nerd Culture which I’m really excited to read anyway because that’s a subject matter near and dear to this nerd’s heart.

My current plan is to post about each series or collection as I read them, spread out over the year. I’ll start with Mass Effect: Initiation because honestly I’m really really curious if a quality writer like Jemisin can make me appreciate Cora more. The series will each be their own post, and depending on how many of the short stories I can get my hands on, they’ll be one post.


Kendra: I’ve wanted to read more classic science fiction and fantasy for a while now. Everything from Jules Verne and T.H. White to Philip K. Dick and Katherine Kurtz. Mostly I want to read some of these because they’re classics for a reason and should be great reads, but also because I want to be better informed about my genre and its history. I have a whole list of things that could be included, but I think six science fiction and six fantasy (making that one a month) will be a good start. I’ve been waffling over the definition of “classic” and it turns out a lot of things I considered “classic” were actually published in the last 15 years or so. And since that can’t possibly count I decided to set some rules for what I can put on the list (this could be very open ended otherwise):

  1. The book has to have been published before 1980. That date is pretty arbitrary, but I wanted a good sampling of the genre’s history, and the 1970s seems to be the beginning of the heyday of science fiction and fantasy.
  2. I can’t have read anything by the author before. That unfortunately leaves out people like J.R.R. Tolkien and Terry Pratchett, but I’m trying to expose myself to new things here.
  3. I have to actually want to read the book. I know myself well enough to know that if I try to force myself to read something I feel like I should read, we’ll be here till 2028.
So twelve books, twelve months, twelve different authors. Here’s the list as it is now, although I reserve the right to waffle.
Science Fiction:
  • Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea (1870) by Jules Verne
  • The Time Machine (1895) by H.G. Wells
  • A Princess of Mars (1912) by Edgar Rice Burroughs
  • Foundation (1951) by Isaac Asimov
  • Stranger in a Strange Land (1961) by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? (1968) by Philip K. Dick
 Fantasy:
  • The Call of Cthulu (1928) and an assortment of other short stories by  H.P. Lovecraft
  • The Sword in the Stone (1938) by T.H. White
  • Titus Groan (1946) by Mervyn Peak
  • The Jewel in the Skull (1967) by Michael Moorcock
  • Deryni Rising (1970) by Katherine Kurtz
  • The Riddle Master of Hed (1976) Patricia K. McKillip
 I will post which book I’m reading next in case anyone wants to follow along. And we might as well start at the beginning so January will be Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea!

Kelly: After my abysmal failure to complete my 2017 resolution (reading J.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings), I contemplated not making an official 2018 resolution. I had a hard time coming up with anything. I don’t play video games, I rarely go to the movies, and my favorite speculative TV show, Rick and Morty, is on a long hiatus. Any resolution I made would have to somehow involve reading. Then I remembered seeing articles on the Internet from people who read only read books by women or people of color for a year. I went back over my 2017 reading list and out of the 116 books that I read this year, sixty-three of them were written by women. But only fourteen books were authored by people of color, three books addressed gay, lesbian, or transgender concerns in some manner, and just two books dealt with disability. My resolution is to read more diverse books next year. By diverse, I mean books written by people of color and books featuring disabled characters or characters who are gay, bisexual, or transgender. Not all of the books will be speculative. For the purpose of my resolution, I’m not going to count books with non-white characters written by white people. I’m not objecting to that but I think it is important for people from marginalized communities to be able to tell their own stories. As much as possible, I want the authors and characters both to be diverse, although that may not be feasible with disabilities. My goal is to read at least 25 diverse books. Since I started keeping track of the number of books I read in a year in 2008, the fewest number of books was 65 and the highest number was 116. Either way, 25 books will be a significant chunk of my overall list.

Writing for Speculative Chic and participating in the POPSUGAR Reading Challenges has expanded my book horizons, and my reading life is better for it. I’m hoping that this resolution will produce similar results. Unfortunately for me, most of the diverse readings lists I’ve seen are for children. Therefore, I really need your help, especially when it comes to suggestions for books that are both diverse and speculative.


Ronya: Last year I read Cixin Liu’s Remembrance of Earth’s Past trilogy and was blown away by its epic scope. So I started wondering, what the hell else have I been missing? I read Yegevny Zamyatin’s We a couple of years ago and wanted more, but besides The Neverending Story (which Carey is rediscovering), Astrid Lindgren’s Pippi Longstocking, and, of course, Ronia the Robber’s Daughter, also by Astrid Lindgren, I really haven’t read a lot of translated adult fiction. As delightful as those children’s books are, somehow I didn’t make the leap to reading any translated adult science fiction or fantasy. Years ago, I was so proficient in Spanish that I read Laura Esquivel’s Como agua para chocolate (Like Water for Chocolate), and I absolutely loved it. These days I’d definitely have to stick to works translated into English, but again, I need to know what else is out there. And I’m sure there’s a lot.

It’s difficult for me to keep up “just” with North American or British science fiction publishing. For most of my early SF reading life, I was stuck in the Golden Age of SF — Bradbury, Heinlein, Sturgeon, Pohl, and Lieber, augmented by horror from King, Barker, Koontz, Poe, et al. You can already see a problem with that list; I didn’t read LeGuin, Butler, Cherryh, or even Norton until college. So why go after translated SF when there are so many authors out of the entire U.S. canon that I have not read? There isn’t anything wrong with reading Bradbury, Heinlein, etc, but I don’t want to read them exclusively. I believe the word “canon” is overused, especially when it comes to science fiction and fantasy. I’d really like to see what kinds of global science fiction or fantasy writing is on offer.

Even though I’m taking up this challenge, my time is limited, so I decided on six books. Six is a drop in the bucket compared to all the SF that is published every year around the globe, and there are other people out there reading translated/international SF consistently (Bogi Reads The World, for example). But six books is all I could commit to in a year that will be filled with grad school and 40-hour work weeks. I did a little bit of research and identified these six books to read this year:

  • Eden, Stanislaw Lem (Russia)
  • Amatka, Karin Tidbeck (Sweden)
  • Dendera, Yuya Sato (Japan)
  • Iraq + 100,  edited by Hassan Blasim (Iraq)
  • I Remember You, Yrsa Sigurdardottir (Iceland)
  • Three Messages and A Warning, edited by Chris N. Brown  (Mexico)

I tried to go for a cross-section of foundational, contemporary, and blossoming; for example, Mexico is well-known for its cinematic and magical realism traditions, but has experienced an upsurge in science fiction writing. I look forward to reading them and incorporating more translated SF into my ongoing reading lists.

10 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier January 1, 2018 at 8:13 am

    So many worthy goals this year! Although I think my favorite has to be Merrin’s. I’ve read all of Jemisin’s novels save for the Mass Effect one (which I will be reading, despite never having picked up the games) and I’ve found all of them to be worth getting excited over. I’m almost jealous that you’ll get to experience them for the first time!

    Reply
    • Merrin January 1, 2018 at 1:58 pm

      I’ve already finished the Mass Effect one and really loved it. I’m not sure if it’s gonna make sense if you haven’t played the games but if you need anything explained I’m here for you 🙂

      Reply
  • Shara White January 1, 2018 at 9:13 am

    I love all of these resolutions, and I can’t wait to see how they all turn out!

    Reply
  • kendrame January 1, 2018 at 4:02 pm

    Kelly, I can definitely give you a few titles for disabled characters. You’re right that it’s harder to find authors with disabilities writing about disabilities, although they are out there.

    Glokta in Joe Abercrombie’s The First Law trilogy is a great character. I’ve only read the first book so take that with a grain of salt. Breath by Donna Jo Napoli is fantastic, though it is technically middle grade or maybe young adult. There are two great disabled characters in World War Z if you haven’t read that one yet. And you should definitely check out Miserere by Teresa Frohock.

    I know I found a blog once that focused on disabled/diverse books written by disabled/diverse authors, but I can’t think of it off the top of my head. I’ll see if I can find it for you.

    Reply
    • Kelly McCarty January 1, 2018 at 6:31 pm

      Thanks! I have read World War Z before, but I have never even heard of the other titles.

      Reply
  • Casey Price January 1, 2018 at 7:51 pm

    Kelly, ROLLING IN THE DEEP and INTO THE DROWNING DEEP (Mira Grant) have characters who deal with different disabilities (emotional and physical). Mishell Baker’s heroine in BORDERLINE and PHANTOM PAINS has Borderline Personality Disorder and is a double amputee. Both writers also have characters who are non-heterosexual. Ruthanna Emrys’ WINTER TIDE is very diverse and deals with racial issues with a Lovecraftian twist (read THE LITANY OF EARTH first). All three authors are non-heterosexual as well.

    Reply
    • Shara White January 1, 2018 at 9:44 pm

      Oh, BORDERLINE for the win! I forgot about that one!

      Reply
    • Kelly McCarty January 2, 2018 at 3:41 pm

      Thanks! I know I like Mira Grant but I haven’t gotten started in the Deep Series yet and I have been interested in Winter Tide since I read your review but I haven’t gotten around to it yet.

      Reply
  • Shara White January 1, 2018 at 10:37 pm

    Kelly: as far as recommendations, some authors of color to recommend: Octavia Butler (have you read Kindred?), N.K. Jemisin (you may want to follow along with Merrin’s resolution to figure out which book will tickle your fancy), the three authors that we voted on for February’s book club: Nalo Hopkinson, Karen Lord (I do recommend Redemption in Indigo), and Nnedi Okorafor (she’s got great stuff: Who Fears Death is compelling).

    There’s also David Anthony Durham’s Acadia, which drew a lot of comparisons to George R.R. Martin’s series at the time (this was before the show came out, too), which you might find interested. I can’t remember if it’s the first of a trilogy or not, but Acadia stands on its own well enough.

    I’m going to list some titles without explanation, because it’s been ages since I read them. You can look them up and decide if they’re for you or not:

    Kelly Eskridge: Solitaire
    Alison Godman: Eon
    Nicola Griffith: Ammonite and/or Slow River
    Justine Larbalestier: Liar
    Ken Liu: The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories
    Sofia Samatar: A Stranger in Olondria
    Megan Whalen Turner: start with The Thief, and then after you read the next book, The Queen of Attolia you’ll see why I recommended it, then The King of Attolia, and The Conspiracy of Kings. I haven’t yet read the latest yet, which came out earlier this year.

    That’s all I’ve got for now, but if I think of any more, I’ll let you know!

    Reply
    • Kelly McCarty January 2, 2018 at 3:47 pm

      Thanks! I have read Kindred and Who Fears Death before, but I didn’t really love either book. I do plan to read Dawn for the book club and I definitely want to read N.K. Jemisin because I have heard so many good things.

      Reply

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