It's nearly midnight. And it's just a week before Christmas, in case you hadn't noticed, and I thought I'd mention a few of my favourite things from the year past. Just the top twos (which is about the number of people that read this blog, hey mum, hey travis).
Shriek: An Afterword – Jeff Vandermeer
This is a truly superlative piece of writing. It's dark, it's funny, it's a magnificent rumination on art and family and love, and the way things fall apart - because they do, and that's what art's about if you ask me. Buy this book, and you will be rewarded, at least until you fall apart.
The Silver Road - Grace Dugan
I know Grace Dugan and I know what a wonderful writer she is, but I still wasn't expecting this. I read a lot of fantasy, and hell, I've been known to jump on the bandwagon, but I still think this is one of the strongest debuts I've ever read. Grace is a writer to watch. If you haven't bought this book yet, you simply must.
I was absolutely bowled over to be asked to launch this book in Brisbane, and totally proud, for me it was like being asked to launch "The Wizard of Earthsea".
I haven't read as much short fiction this year as I normally do, but these are my favourite two, though to be honest, I have at least another twenty that come pretty close, but it's my blog and I can be as arbitrary as I like.
When the World Was Flat – Geoffrey Maloney (from Agog! Ripping Reads)
Geoffrey is one of Australia's finest writers, period. And he's been writing some really remarkable stuff of late. He can do funny, he can do rage, and every year he seems to become more focussed. His control of his material is second to none. I'm an unabashed fan of Geoff's work, but every year he gets better, every year his work is more challenging.
Oddly enough my other favourite story was also set when the world was flat.
Penultima Thule – Chris Willrich (from Agog! Fantasy & Science Fiction)
A marvellous adventure tale, humorous and melancholy at once, this tickled the Fritz Leiber fan in me. Hunt it down if you can, I wouldn't be surprised to see it in a couple of next year's year's bests.
Shit, I can't leave it at two.
Jable Sharks – Neal Asher (from the Engineer Reconditioned)
This nautical tale of terror is a very fine piece of work indeed. I loved it. But, as I've discovered this year (having read pretty much everything he's written now) Neal Asher is one of the most consistently entertaining and energetic writers out there.
The Souls of Dead Soldiers are for Blackbirds, Not Little Boys – Ben Peek (from Agog! Ripping Reads)
Everything Ben has produced this year - that I have read, and there's still a few I have to hunt down, when I'm a little more flush - has been a corker (my, such eloquent literary criticism). He's had a great year, and deservedly so. I expect Ben to become a big time author next year, start smoking cigars and go on reading tours of the US, travelling from state to state in a big old steam train crewed by a team of vampiric, rockabilly dwarfs.
It's getting late, have to work tomorrow. Didn't get to albums, or tv, not to mention film. Maybe tomorrow.
Have yourselves a very merry week before Christmas, and buy lots of fiction.