Another year has flown by. You know you're getting old when you say that every year. So it's time for me to look back over the last twelve months and think about what I read and watched and played and listened to and wrote.
Here's the list of books that I read this year:
My favourite novels from this list were The Islanders, Ship Breaker, In The Mouth Of The Whale, New Model Army and By Light Alone. My absolute favourite was By Light Alone, closely followed by New Model Army. Adam Roberts is currently writing the best Science Fiction of anyone at the moment. His books are unsettling, thought provoking, often uncomfortable but truly brilliant. Exactly the sort of SF I want to read. I can't wait to read his newest novel Jack Glass.
Short Fiction and Non-Fiction
Arc Magazine launched this year and provided issues full of fascinating non-fiction and great short fiction, some of which by really big names in the SF field. It was a thoroughly refreshing mix and I hope the magazine continues to thrive. Also I finally read Shine. When the anthology was launched I added it to my Christmas list (my traditional way to acquire books) but it sold out, so there was a lag in me getting it, then the usual lag due to the to-read pile. Anyway, finally read it, liked it, near-future optimistic Science fiction as promised. The stand out stories for me were Summer Ice by Holly Phillips and Ishin by Madeleine Ashby.
As usual I didn't get to go to the cinema that often, however it's definitely feels like an upwards trend on last year which has to be good. The films I saw showed the best and worst of Hollywood film making. Christopher Nolan showed us exactly how to create a film of a comic book superhero with the conclusion to his wonderful Batman trilogy The Dark Knight Rises
, including epic narrative arc not only within that film but also across the trilogy. It was spectacular and fun. Also a success was the conversion of Judge Dredd to film with Dredd
. Finally the film every Judge Dredd has been waiting for, a true example of what that character is all about, I hope they make more. On the other end of the scale The Amazing Spider-Man
started well but fell into cliché and the end result was lacklustre and then Ridley Scott showed us exactly how not to start a trilogy with the fan pandering, confused and weak Prometheus
. As did Peter Jackson, turning a slim volume into three films, The Hobbit
An Unexpected Journey being the first. It's not too much to ask for SF films of the quality that Nolan makes is it? Also converted from another media, this time novel, was the excellent The Hunger Games
. I haven't read the books but loved the film. I have a feeling that the source material is so strong it would have taken a huge error to mess it up, but still they pulled it off with a great sense of dread and style. Looper
was I suppose at least an attempt to do something a bit different with a SF film, but only half of it was good and the time travel didn't work for me. Everything time travel still lies in the shadow of Primer. I also enjoyed Liberal Arts
, about as far from the blockbuster SFX laden films as you could get, indie sensibility, thoughtful, touching and made me think.
I started the year catching up on Fringe. Unfortunately season four wasn't really that great with a seemingly pointless reboot. When Lost did this it always worked, but after the amazing highs of season two and three, Fringe seemed to lose its way. It's recovered slightly with a leap into the future with season five but it's past its best. Doctor Who was missed at Easter, appeared briefly in September and then left again. Five episodes wasn't anywhere near enough and none of them linger as stand out stories, in fact without checking I can't even remember three of them. Revolution
started with a promising idea, electricity stops working, appeared to be cliché ridden and cheesy but still managed to become fantastically entertaining, and with a back story that is quite intriguing and character driven. Plus it has lots of sword fighting. The television of the year however had to be The Walking Dead
which at times was simply stunning. I don't really like horror but the series has, presumably like the comic which I haven't read, started to focus on how society is rebuilt after the apocalypse and that's something I really like. Each of the characters has changed and grown and been on a real journey. No one is safe. The tension is at times unbearable. Brilliant, can't wait for more.
I've, as usual, listened to a lot of music this year, whether it's on Spotify or BBC 6 Music but there is one stand out song of the year for me: We Are Young by Fun, forever welded to memories of hot, sunny days in Croatia. Here's an incomplete list of music I listened to.
Nothing serious played, just a few games on the XBox of Fifa 12 and Portal 2, which I never got around to finishing, but absolutely loved. Never had a video game give me vertigo before.
My story Extended Periods Of Absence was published in Kaleidotrope. And that was it from the publishing point of view. I did however write just over a handful of stories, quite a few of them set in a novel that I wrote and am thinking of returning to. I quite like some of them, now I just need to find an editor who likes them too.