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Dec 08 2016

The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson

Reviewed by Daniel Hawkins, University Library Technician, NCSU Libraries

The best book I read for the first time this year was The Man Who Bridged the Mist by Kij Johnson (available as a standalone novella or as part of the excellent story/novella collection At the Mouth of the River of Bees). This has elements of Lovecraft and David McCullough’s feats of engineering books (The Great BridgeThe Path Between the Seas) but weaves these disparate strands into a masterpiece of concise worldbuilding, believable character development and an deep sense of awe. An engineer must build a bridge across the river of mist, at the bottom of which swim ancient beings while navigating his burgeoning relationship with a woman who ferries people across the mist by raft and will be put out of business by his handiwork.

Runners up: The Plague by Albert Camus, Medusa’s Web by Tim Powers, At the Existentialist Cafe by Sarah Bakewell, Live by Night by Dennis Lehane, Osama by Lavie Tidhar, The Sellout by Paul Beatty and Mislaid by Nell Zink.