December 2009 Archive

Best Of…

Happy Birthday to Me. Happy Birthday to Me. Happy Birthday dear me-eeeee…

Yes indeed, another year of dry humour, wet nappies, sleepless nights, wonderful reviews, shitty reviews, and storming success drags to a close. So long 2009! Nice knowing you. A busy year, for me. I had a baby. I moved from London to Bath. I sold a flat and bought one. I even published another book! With all these good things to celebrate, one wonders why I still feel slightly anxious all the time. It’s the modern condition, people!

An end, as well, to another year of blogging. Shall we look back to some of the highlights…?

Most Commented On Blog Post
Storming up the charts with 80 comments was my response to my favourite review of the year “People suck, war is bad, and the world is a bottomless shithole,” which included, alongside the trademark apparently self-deprecating while actually being self-glorifying wit, some thoughtful introspection on the subject of ragged and unhappy endings. It even managed to beat last year’s 60 comment winner. Proof positive, as if any were needed, that thought-provoking consideration of genre issues CAN be more interesting than being hit over the head with a piece of wood. A score for the intelligentsia. Runners up were an opportunity for you all to bitch about my US cover (always popular), with 55 comments, and my musings on my neighbour’s teenage son never having heard of Dungeons & Dragons, with 42. Perhaps if I can think of more worthwhile and thoughtful posts to make I can break the 100 mark next year. No. I don’t think so either…

Best Foreign Trip
I might have felt strangely sick the whole time I was there for no apparent reason, but Sweden/Norway your streets is clean, your trains is reasonable yet punctual, your people is friendly and above averagely good-looking, and your sf&f specialist bookstores is excellent. I also remain a committed fan of your modernist minimal design, unassuming royal families, and efficient education, health, and welfare systems.

Best Authorial Bitch-Fight involving me
Was definitely the no-holds-barred grudge match between me and Brent Weeks at the Borders Book Blog wich I totally won. Ask anyone. There’s even some talk that we’ll be taking this show on the road next year…

Best Authorial Love-In involving me
My thoughtful yet hilarious interview with Patrick Rothfuss on the occasion of his recent charity drive.

Best Authorial Blurb about my Works
Has to be the George RR Martin. I still feel deeply smug about that one.

Best “Best SF&F of 2009” list of 2009
Werthead demonstrates his impeccable good taste by selecting Best Served Cold as his best book of 2009, saying, “a tale of revenge, murder, assassination, war and generally pleasant stuff, with Abercrombie somehow outstripping the first trilogy in terms of mayhem.” Graeme demonstrated an equal level of discernment – “It delivered on all fronts and just kept delivering.” The redoubtable Dave Bradley, editor of SFX, has also declared Best Served Cold his best book of 2009 calling it a “brilliantly brutal tale of revenge”. I note in passing he also had Dragon Age up there. Nice call, Dave. Rob Grant’s taste at Sci-Fi London would have been as good if it weren’t for that pesky Jesse Bullington and his bleak medieval european stylings…

Best Served Cold has popped up on a few other lists too. Fantasy Book Critic’s, Joe Sherry’s , even the editor’s picks for sf&f at, where I stand proudly among such notables as Terry Pratchett, Jane Austen, and Stephanie Meyer. It’s a varied crowd over there…

But lest we over-sugar the pudding, Best Served Cold also made Western author Iain Parnam’s most disappointing books of 2009. He thought, “everyone is repellent, the story is dreary, nothing matters much, and the wit is missing.” I shrug me a river. It’s all subjective, people.

I know what you’re thinking – who the hell reads books any more? But this year I managed to get through a few, and some of them weren’t even written by me. Non-fiction highlight would probably be CV Wedgewood’s Thirty Years War. A classic of narrative history. Fiction highlight? Despite some tough competition from the likes of Fritz Leiber, Junot Diaz and Jeff Vandermeer, you’d have to walk a very long way through a post-apocaplyptic wasteland to beat Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Searingly stark and bleak, but somehow still life-affirming. Like a visit to Brooks Nightclub in Lancaster used to be.

Well I must say my socks were quite blown off by Avatar, it may well have been the most jaw-dropping cinema experience for me since Fellowship of the Ring, way back in 1904 when I didn’t have kids, but along somewhat more traditional lines District 9 and No Country for Old Men were certainly memorable too. Watchmen … not so much.

Battlestar Galactica ended more with a whimper than a bang, which left the final season of The Shield as my TV Highlight. That certainly ended with a bang. IN YOUR FACE. Michael Chiklis also stalks off with my coveted “Most Loathsome yet Strangely Sympathetic Bald Character” award. Mad Men continued to be great, second series of Dexter was good but, for my money, not as good as the last. Other things that have variously titillated, intrigued and amused included 30 Rock, True Blood, and, of course, Strictly Come Dancing. What am I going to DO with my Sunday mornings now it’s over?

Good year, good year. Despite tough competition from the old-school roleplaying of Dragon Age and the Medici-stabbing thrills of Assassin’s Creed II, it has to be the smooth-as-velvet next-generation adventure charms of Uncharted II t
hat gave my boat the most float this year. The importance of PC games seems to be very much dwindling for me, as console games gradually invade the rpg and srategy territory that was traditionally theirs. Medieval:Total War is possibly my favourite game of all time, so I found Empire to be a tad disappointing. I haven’t played it a lot since I lack a PC powerful enough to run it well, but the AI seems kind of rubbish to me. It usually takes them a year or two to get those games properly balanced, though, so who knows. Perhaps a future classic…

And there we have it. Let rip the party poppers. Roll on 2010…

Read more | 25 comments | Posted in film and tv, games, interviews, reading, reviews


Holy smokes, I thought this was mind-blowing. Say what you like about James Cameron, the man hits what he aims at. With Avatar I think it’s safe to say he was aiming at big, big, big screen sci-fi action spectacular, and for me he fairly hit the bullseye. You could say that the big blue […]

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God Bless Us, Every One

‘Tis the season of joy, and a merry christmas unto you all. I look out of my window at a winter wonderland, which looks lovely until I contemplate a four hour drive tomorrow morning. Brrrrrr. But christmas is not only the season of good cheer, smiling kiddies and presents under the tree. It is also […]

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My 200th post. Who ever would have predicted that I wouldn’t have got bored and given up by now? But no, here I am, still avoiding doing real work. Perhaps it was kind of predictable after all… But Christmas is coming, and what better time to recommend things that none of you will be able […]

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Dragon Age

Oooooh, I liked this a lot. Right up my boulevard. Bioware have been making great RPGs for a long time. I was a huge lover of Baldur’s Gate and its sequel when they came out three hundred years ago, and played the arse out of both of them. Neverwinter Nights was good but seemed more […]

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Rothfuss and Abercrombie – in Conversation

Have you ever wanted to see your very favouritest new-ish epic fantasy author interviewed by, say, your second favouritest? Well now could be your chance… For over at his blog, you can witness the transcript of a conversation between award-winning, New York Times bestselling, widely highly thought of author of Name of the Wind Patrick […]

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Progress Report

Posting has been erratic lately due to the necessity of playing Dragon Age until the small hours of the night. It’s a dirty job, but someone has to take the fight to those pesky darkspawn. You all are lucky to have me and my plucky band of heroes out there fighting the good fight on […]

Read more | 17 comments | Posted in news, progress