Happy 3rd Birthday to the Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy!

ARAGEmblemToday I celebrate the third Anniversary of this blog![1]  This year saw a continued increase in readership, and as with last year, I thought I’d do a quick breakdown of the most popular posts.

First, however, I thought it only appropriate to note a change to the format of the blog.

For three years now I have posted an article, mostly book reviews, every single week, and that is beginning to take its toll.  I’m busy writing my next novel and I just don’t have the time to continue reviewing a book every week. Yet, I love this blog and the community it has opened up to me.[2]  As a result, I will switch to posting every other week.

I didn’t take this decision lightly, but my need to get the next book out has to take priority over the need to review other people’s novels.  Soooo….

That being said, and a great year behind me, let’s get to the fun and examine the most read articles of the past year.

The Top Ten Posts of Archaeologists’ Guide to the Galaxy’s Third Year (June 2012 to June 2013):[3]

 #1 Double Blind: Battletech No. 31, Loren L. Coleman (Roc, 1997 {Defiance Audio(Listen & Live), 2002 Narrator: Christopher Grabill)

Really, if you're going to write a book about stuff that's cool enough that someone builds one instead of improving their house, don't you think you should describe it in the book?

Really, if you’re going to write a book about stuff that’s cool enough that someone builds one instead of improving their house, don’t you think you should describe it in the book?

Double Blind: Battletech 31 by Loren L. Coleman is a mediocre MilFic book that serves as a tie-in to the Battletech game system.  It has a poor start that it nearly got the rare Ζ – How did this get published rating.  It eventually picked up, however, and becomes a reasonable story that could have had a great deal of potential, if only it had been handled better.

It remains the number one hit on my site, no doubt because of the image shown to the side here, but is in reality an outlier… so I’ll put an alternate #10 at the end of this list.

#2 100th Post: A Total review of The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy and The Restaurant at the End of the Universe including the book, audiobook, radio programs, TV programs and movies associated with them!!! by Douglas Adams

Hitchhikers-Guide-to-the--OriginalCoverWritten in celebration of my 100th post, I reviewed the first part of the classic of Science Fiction series from which this blog’s name was inspired: The Hitchhikers’ Guide to the Galaxy.  It reviewed the first two books, the first two audiobooks, the first two radio series, the original TV series, and the gawdaweful movie.  I love this book still, even though bits of it have been stolen and/or redone that they have lost the humor of their origin, most of it remains as funny now as when it was first aired… and yes, it was aired as a radio drama before it was ever a book.

#3 The Time Traveler’s Wife http://wp.me/pWa2h-mY

the-time-travelers-wifeMovieThe Time Traveler’s Wife by Audrey Niffenegger is a wonderful piece of interstitial fiction about a man and a woman brought together and torn apart by time. Told in two perspectives, that of the time traveler and his wife, its dual first person narratives weave together a complicated story of a relationship shared across fractured times. I highly recommend this piece to fans of any genre, but note that one should set aside expectations of what the story will be about and the form it will take.

#4 The Fall of Hyperion, Dan Simmons (Doubleday, 1990)

FallOfHyperionThe Fall of Hyperion is the mediocre second volume in Dan Simmons‘ Hyperion series (serial).  While it does conclude the cliffhanger end of Hyperion it also reduces the value that book by showing that the themes and stylistic meanderings of the first volume were little more than intellectual games, and that the overall plot was a rather pedestrian messiah story.

This book could equally serve as a writer’s guide to how to destroy an otherwise brilliant series.

#5 Grendel, John Gardner (Ballantine Books, 1971)

Grendel003Grendel is John Gardner‘s 1971 retelling of the classic Beowulf tale from the monster’s point of view.  Engaging in its ability to turn the oldest surviving piece of English literature on its head, it tells the story of a man-monster torn by its compulsive attraction to humanity and its isolation from it.  Well written and darkly enthralling, I highly recommend this book.

If nothing else, it has a major impact on fantasy literature as that it really paved the way to the post-modern showing of the monster’s view. Beyond that, however, it is a good book in its own right.

#6 The Wee Free Men: A Story of Discworld, Terry Pratchett (HarperCollins, 2003) {HarpurAudio, Narrator: Stephen Briggs)

weefreemenI can’t tell you how happy I was to see The Wee Free Men: A Story of Discworld in the top ten.  It is the extremely amusing and engaging first volume of the Tiffany Aching Series by Terry Pratchett.  Set in his ever-amusing Discworld (about which there are so many books one cannot keep up), this Mid-grade to Young Adult[1] novel chronicles the adventures of Tiffany Aching, a young girl (approximately nine years old) from the Chaulk.  It is funny, engaging and wonderfully enjoyable.

#7 Off Armageddon Reef: Safehold Series Book 1, David Weber (Tor, 2007 {McMillan Audio, Narrator: Oliver Wyman})

Off Armageddon Reef by David Weber is a good enough read if you enjoy Military Science Fiction, but is likely to prove un-engaging if you do not already care for the genre. Taking its basic premise from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court, it is the tale of an android loaded with a young woman’s memories who is tasked with introducing technology into a secret space colony governed by a technophobic theocracy.

Weber has given it an overly long backstory and the text suffers from many of the complaints of MilFic in general, but also has very interesting twists and shows that as ever, Weber is anything but a simplistic author.

#8 The Problem with Military Science Fiction: Part 1The Problem with Military Science Fiction Part 2, & Polyanna Was a Space Marine: Why Military Science Fiction Characters Are Too Good to be True

285_Quad_In_Action-1-1These are really three different posts, but as that they are the continuation of a common idea, I clustered them together.  Effectively, as most of you know, they are an apologist’s continuing critical examination of the Military Science Fiction subgenre, focusing on the problems it faces and why it often gets such a bad wrap.  The idea behind them is to examine what we can do to change the reputation and whether doing so would kill what’s great about the genre.  In other words, it’s me pontificating about a genre I love…

#9 Beowulf: A New Translation (a.k.a. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation), Unknown, Translation by Seamus Heaney (Faber and Faber, 1999)

250px-Beowulf_firstpageI will say that I was most surprised to see this review getting such a high rating, particularly when Gardner’s Grendle was also on the list.  I suspect I’m hitting the homework crowd in both of them, but it matters not.  They are great tales that reflect the origins and re-imagined origins of the genre and I am delighted to help people examine and/or read them… particularly Heaney’s version, which is an action adventure poem to match any Ripping Yarn…

Academically speaking, Seamus Heaney‘sBeowulf: A New Translation is not the best translation I have seen.  It is, however, the most readable version I have ever seen. In a wonderful display of talent and skill, Heaney turns the grandfather of all English language speculative literature (indeed, one could very well argue all English Language Literature) into a rip roaring, easy to read adventure tale… IN VERSE!  If you’ve ever had trouble making through Beowulf, or think that poetry is dull, try Beowulf: A New Translation (a.k.a. Beowulf: A New Verse Translation).

#10 Foucault’s Pendulum, Umberto Eco (Ballantine Books, 1990 (First published Gruppo Editoriale Fabbri Bompiani, 1988) {Translated from Italian by William Weaver}

FoucaultsPendulumOnce again Foucault’s Pendulum makes the list and once again I am delighted and surprised to see it.  One of my favorite tales, Foucault’s Pendulum is the thinking man’s answer to the Da Vinci Code.  It is the ultimate conspiracy/mystery novel. It is one of my favorite books of all time, but one must be aware that many people find it is a very dense and difficult read.  It is crammed with history and well crafted pseudo-history that many readers find it impenetrable, but if one lets some of the admittedly byzantine labyrinth of slide by, the end is well worth it.

Alternate #10 – because the #1 is really just there because of a funny cover…

ShadowOfHegemonShadow of the Hegemon by Orson Scott Card is the sequel to Ender’s Shadow, which by itself is as sequel of sorts to Ender’s Game.  While it is an entertaining enough read that answers some of the questions of what happened on Earth after the war with the Formics, aka the Buggers (yes I giggle every time), it does not live up to the level of its predecessor and comes no where near the greatness that is the first book in the series.

Long and preachy, it sadly detracts from both Ender’s Game and Ender’s Shadow, belittling the accomplishments of the protagonist by wallowing in the problems of his past we thought he had already overcome… twice.

And then there is my own favorite post of the year…. not surprisingly it is

Strings on a Shadow Puppet, T. L. Evans (SKP/TLE, 2013)

The post that announced the official release of my own book.  Well, what else did you expect?  Of course I’m happy about that!  And just to show how much I am happy about it…

So there it is, the most popularly viewed posts of my third year in business and an announcement that I’ve been contemplating for some time.  I love writing this post, but if I am ever going to get my second book out, I’ve got to dedicate more time to it.  So, see you in two weeks and thank you for following my blog!

[1] Well, actually it was over the weekend, but I post on a Thursday and I thought I’d post after rather than before.

[2] Yet there too, I have been remiss.  I almost never get a chance to comment on the pages of other bloggers, and barely get a chance to read them.  Those are important parts of being part of the book review community.

[3] Technically, the last week of May 2012 to the last week of May 2013, but whose counting right?


About Thomas Evans

I'm a writer of mysteries, espionage, and speculative fiction. In my previous incarnation I was an archaeologist specializing in gender and identity in Iron and Bronze Age Europe. Mostly, however, I was known for my works with the use of geomatics, multiscalular spatial analysis and landscape theory within archaeology.
This entry was posted in Alien Object, Alternate History, Anthology/Collection, audio book, Chronicle, Classic Literature, Classic Sci Fi, Comedy, Conspiracy, Conspiracy Novel, Crime Thriller, Cultural Contact, Cyberpunk, Cycle, Dystopian, Espionage, Far Future, Future History, Generation Ship, Hard SciFi, Identity, Military Science Fiction, Music, Mystery, Near Future fic, New Space Opera, Non-Fiction, Opinion Piece, Original Fiction, Part of A Series but can be Read without reading previous volumes, Place-Out-Of-Time, Planetary Romance, Political Drama, Post Colonial, Post Modern, Post-Apocolyptic, Present Day Sci Fi, Ripping Yarn, Romance, Saga, Science Fantasy, Science Fantasy, Science Fiction, Serial, Series, Space Exploration, Space Opera, Spy Thriller, Stand Alone Novel, Steampunk, Strong Characters, Supernatural, Thoughtful Espionage Tale, Thriller, Time Travel Story, Title, Titles, Trilogy, Ultratech, Uncategorized, Unique or Imaginative World, Urban Fantasy, World, YA and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

7 Responses to Happy 3rd Birthday to the Archaeologist’s Guide to the Galaxy!

  1. Joachim Boaz says:

    Thanks for many years of reviews… Although, the classic sci-fi doesn’t receive much attention anymore — haha 😦

  2. William says:

    Glad to hear the book is on its way! I’ve been slacking with my posting myself, for much the same reason. Finally finished what I hope to be the final draft of my manuscript. Now, it’s off to the agents. Though I may save up for an editor first. Anyway, love your site and reviews. Interesting stuff. I’ve been meaning to check out Foucault’s Pendulum and Grendel!

  3. diannread says:

    Congratulations on three years! Many, many more to come!

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