2014 in Review

December 31st, 2014

New Year’s Eve, my friends, and you know what that means?  Yes, indeed, I am 40 years old today.  You would never think I used to be young.  Truly horrifyingly, this is my 6th yearly review post. I’ll have to have a review of my best yearly review posts one of these new year’s eves…

A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – Again, in spite of all my complaints, I really can’t complain. Partly due to the ongoing success of Game of Thrones, I’m sure, The First Law books continue to chug along very, very nicely.  I had a short story in Martin and Dozois’ highly successful Rogues anthology in June.  Then Half a King came out in July and made no. 3 on the Sunday Times hardcover list, which matches the ranking of The Heroes way back in 2010 but at a much more competitive time of year.  I toured more extensively than I ever have before, with some 15 events in the UK, all of them pretty well attended, and I did a few bookshop events down the west coast of the US for the first time too and made it to Comic Con in San Diego, to Sicily, to Lucca, and a third visit to my old friends in Aviles, Spain.

A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – The heavy touring schedule through July and August got in the way somewhat, but even so it was a good year in the writing department too, if a pretty demanding one.  I wrote the last quarter of Half the World, revised and edited it, then wrote a first draft of Half a War, and gave it a fair hammering this month to produce a second draft that I’m starting to get happy with.  I’ve a few more things to do and another pass through focusing on the secondary characters to get to a decent third draft which I can hand in to my editors mid January, but the book’s mostly there.  Seems like only yesterday I was pitching this series to publishers and now it’s nearly done…

BOOKS – I really am hardly reading at all these days, it’s a disgrace.  When I finish Half a War I desperately need to take my foot off the gas and start reading again, hoover up some ideas and inspiration, catch up on the truly massive backlog I’ve got sitting in tottering heaps all around me. But two things I read this year that I’d certainly recommend are Kameron Hurley’s God’s War, and Jeff Vandermeer’s Annihilation. Neither the kind of thing I write, particularly, but then who wants to piss where they eat…?

TV and FILM – Boy, the cinema has barely registered this year.  I think the only film I reviewed was Fury, which was OK but ultimately a gritty wrapper around a rather traditional, sentimental war movie.  Guardians of the Galaxy was good fun but I was a little underwhelmed after all the nerdgasms I’d seen about it – seemed like more of the Marvel same in the end, if with a few more laughs.  Gone Girl was a very well-made film but seemed a bit hamstrung by a really odd casting choice in Ben Affleck – the guy just comes across as too much of a likeable lunkhead and I felt they needed someone much darker and more dangerous to really balance the central relationship and make us unsure what was going on.  Rather than equally evil couple of bastards reap the whirlwind they sow for each other, we got mildly unpleasant idiot is totally screwed over by his psychopathic wife, and that’s a lot less interesting in all kinds of ways.  For me the TV standout was the searing climax of Breaking Bad, which has to be one of the greatest pieces of TV I’ve ever seen, about as close as you’ll get to a single 5 season story arc with novelistic coherence of theme and character.  Highly honourable mentions to a bloody, strange and gritty second season of Vikings and the punishing 3rd and 4th seasons of The Walking Dead after its slightly limited 2nd season.  Justified continues to be elevated way above its rather banal set-up by great script and acting in which every character overflows with Elmore Leonard-y detail.  Orphan Black was good largely thanks to its brilliant central multiple performance.  Suits is entertaining if a little lightweight.  The Good Wife continues to be highly watchable and always that little bit darker than you expect.  Arrow was enjoyable enough superhero hokum but fell short of its gritty ambitions.  Black Sails was enjoyable enough pirate hokum, good when it put to sea but too often foundering on land.  The 1st season of House of Cards was very strong, with a great mood and super central performances from Kevin Spacey and Robin Wright, but I felt the 2nd season was a lot less believable.  Hell on Wheels sadly crashed off the rails for me in its 3rd season after an action-packed 2nd.

GAMES – Last year had some splendiferous stuff in the form of The Last of Us, Bioshock, Tomb Raider, Telltale’s Walking Dead etc. as developers pushed the last generation of consoles to their limits and stretched unused storytelling muscles while doing it.  This year began on a high with Dark Souls II, more ultra dark, ultra hard Japanese/Western hybrid roleplaying but with the difficulty softened just a little this time around.  Moving over to PS4, the results have been a little more pedestrian than last year.  Destiny was pretty and compelling and did give me a hell of a lot of gaming hours but ultimately was a slightly empty experience.  Diablo III I found rather by-the-yard-y.  Far Cry 4 good, but very much like Far Cry 3.  Which leaves Dragon Age: Inquisition as my personal game of the year.  One could criticise the gameplay, the voice acting, and the somewhat vanilla plot line, but the world, characters, detail and sense of immersion were top class.

WHISKY – Lack of time meant my planned Whisky Deathmatch: Islay Bloodfeud never happened.  Well, it happened in the sense that I drunk the whisky, I just didn’t get round to writing about it. In brief, though, bottles I’ve particularly enjoyed this year: Lagavulin 12yo cask strength (smashed in the face with a sack of burned lemons), Ardbeg Supernova 2014 (Ardbeg, only more so, and with a touch of sweetness to it), Laphroaig Triple Wood (salty medicinal goodness with a sherry-wood softening), Amrut Fusion (awesome whisky distilled in India from Scottish and Himalayan barley), Talisker 30yo cask strength (full fathom five thy father lies).

CONTROVERSIES – I noted last year that after 7 or 8 years in the business I’m getting less and less interested in the cyclical nature of genre commentary.  I’ve already expressed my opinion one way or another on most issues of note, and when they come up again, I find a world weary sigh gets across most of what I feel, an attitude reflected in my post on this year’s controversial Hugo Awards.  That’s part of the reason for the greatly reduced blog presence of late, though that’s also a function of the sheer amount of stuff I’ve got going on.  I’m finding twitter (@LordGrimdark) a better medium for general conversation, and I’m tending to use the blog only for more considerable announcements and reviews.  This relatively thin level of posting may well continue next year, because…

THE YEAR AHEAD – My, oh, my, but 2015 is shaping up to be a busy one. I’ve already got visits confirmed to Detroit in Jan, Australia in Feb, Dubai in March and St. Petersburg in April. I’ve got not one but TWO books coming out: Half the World in February and Half a War in July, the first time I’ve done a publishing schedule anything like so densely packed.  Since I toured in the UK and US only a few months back there probably won’t be a lot of events for Half the World, but expect another full-on tour in July for Half a War.  Writing-wise, I’m going to be kept fully busy until the end of February with edits and revision on Half a War, then I’ve got a few short stories to write to complete a collection which will hopefully come out some time in 2016.  It’s looking as if the main part of next year may be given over to some exciting non-book projects, of which more in due course, but I also need to lay the groundwork and do some thinking for another trilogy in the First Law world, although the publication of that looks like it will be some way off…

Happy new year, readers!

Posted in announcements, appearances, film and tv, games, news, reading, reviews, whisky deathmatch by Joe Abercrombie on December 31st, 2014.

36 comments so far

  • Steve MC says:

    Happy birthday! I’ve found my forties as good as my thirties, but you do need to stretch more often.

    Wishing you and yours a great year.

  • Dani says:

    Happy new year and happy birthday Joe!!

  • Mia says:

    Happy birthday, I’m so glad you’ve been busy, since your books enrich my life!

    I love it when you write about your writing process, its a great help and inspiration in my own writing struggles. This is a damn lonely profession.

    How about a trip to Copenhagen? We had Scott Lynch and Elizabeth Bear come by Fantask this year, which was awesome and I’m sure all of Danish geekdom would be deliriously happy to see you too!

  • Richard Burr says:

    Happy birthday Joe. Good round up of the year. Jealous of all the whiskey and gaming. Have an excellent 2015!

  • Indigo Blue says:

    Wishing you a very happy birthday, Joe. I am looking forward to the Half a World’s publication – the first book was fab!

    Happy new year to you too.

  • Sword1001 says:

    “non-book projects” . . . hmmmmmm

  • dominic adler says:

    Well done Joe, HNY etc.

    And double congrats on getting a publisher to release two books in a year (gasp). We all want more than one book a year, as readers, and it’s refreshing to see a publisher waking up to it.

  • Michael says:

    i tried that whole turning forty last year. It’s not all it’s cracked up to be. Good luck with it anyway.

  • Joe Abercrombie says:

    Most publishers seem pretty keen on the idea of rapid releases these days, at least for an ongoing series, if the writer can produce them fast enough. Difficult to do that with chunkier epic fantasies, of course.

    I was in Copenhagen this year, though I didn’t do any events, but I was at Fantask maybe two years ago? No immediate plans to go back but I’m sure I’ll visit again sooner or later…

  • Georgia says:

    Happy Birthday to you Joe, and of course to my other favourite Dark Lord: Voldemort.

    I can’t wait to read Half a War! I feel spoiled getting two books in half a year (ahaha), so thank you!!

  • Jan Foley says:

    Ach, you’re just a baby. 40? Pffff….many many more years of great books ahead of you. You sound like you know how to pace yourself, and to enjoy what you’ve already achieved. All the best for 2015.

  • Oni_Ita says:

    “but I also need to lay the groundwork and do some thinking for another trilogy in the First Law world..”

    *Drools all over*

    Happy new year and happy birthday from a fellow capricorn! (late January tho)

  • Olof says:

    I love your work and your spirit, don’t forget to take a break if you need too!

    Happy birthday and happy happy new year, best wishes and good luck!

    Will read all your new books in due time.

  • Shannon says:

    Happy Birthday and happy new year. I can’t believe I have been reading this blog for 6 years! Tempus Fugit! Best wishes for a superb 2015.

  • Kreso+Dokaza says:

    Happy New Year and all the best in 2015!

    Two books in a year will be awesome (for you and for us). 😀

    (still nothing new on the First Law comic book series, I presume?)

  • Hey Joe – when/where in Oz?

  • SwindonNick says:

    Happy Birthday! Enjoyed the summary, but you left out the graphic novel which I thought looked stunning. I hope that it is a project you will return to!

  • Adam says:

    I’m a newer fan, having just completed the 6 books of First Law (liked them all, but heroes is a masterpiece). Will be waiting for all three books of the new series to be out before I begin. Glad it’s soon. Thank you for your stories. They’ve meant a lit to me over the past 18 months.

  • Mafalib says:

    Happy birthday!!
    40 is a good number and a good time in live.
    See you in Avilés in 2015, and “brindaremos” with Lagavullin 😉
    Happy 2015 for you and your familiy!

  • Richard Melito says:

    A new trilogy set in the world of The First Law?!


  • Martin Jackson says:

    Happy Birthday ,

  • Happy Birthday, Joe!

    You had me at First Law. I would be ecstatic to see more in that world.

  • Sierra says:

    Happy brith day!! Can’t wait for more in the first law!!

  • Hass says:

    Happy new year!

    Please more first law I’d love to find out about all the magi especially khalul

    Can’t wait to start shattered sea!

  • Phil.I.P. says:

    Wishing you a happy, healthy and productive 2015!

    Like a good whisky, your writing improves with every passing year and I thank you for it.

  • Marvelous, what a webpage it is! This website gives valuable information to us, keep it up.

  • Mr. Producer says:

    “It’s looking as if the main part of next year may be given over to some exciting non-book projects…”

    Has HBO come a knocking???

  • Alejandro says:

    All the best to you and your Family!

    40 is the new 30 (or the new 25 – I do not remember). Beside that men are like single malts – Age means class.

    There will be some great games out in 2015 (The Witcher 3, Bloodborne etc.) so I expect some nice Reviews from your side.
    I have to say you have become my favorite reviewer of Videogames during the last years.

  • Peter says:

    All the best Joe!

    Ardbeg Supernova……….. that’s a serious choice of whisky! Any good?

  • Like someone’s already said, this blog is 24 carat gold. Keeps the reader/fan informed as per the future releases and the progression of the work. I think there are authors out there – whoose name I won’t mention – who could learn a thing or two from you. Kudos a ton, Joe. You’re… err… good value for money.

  • Utopia says:

    Joe you need to watch utopia. Its an amazing british show that does things on tv that i never thought was possible. Its absoutly amazing

  • CraigAsh says:

    Hope your non book related project is to do with converting first law trilogy to TV – it’s made for TV and would be great to have in the pipeline for after GoT

  • Darren says:

    Looking forward to more in the First Law world, not that i havent enjoyed half a king and im sure I will love the next two, but all six books in the First Law had me hook line and sinker from the first page till the last.

    Looking forward to seeing what happens with characters still in the land of the living…

  • ENGRY says:

    Seriously, youre bookes constintanally brake shonrahs and convenshanal (snigger. bums) archetropes. So insteed of wriding a book I want to reed you right a booke aobut something I dont expact.

    Thats’ why I buy yore bookes. Evy coffe in the shelvf. So udders dont not have to read youre storeys. Rubitch, tota rubitch. Yeh, that one I spelt on purplose. You itch my balls, Joe. They itch bad.

    Next kmnok on your door? It’s the bloody-nine. he ain’t hagpy.


  • AntMac says:

    Happy birthday Joe. Sorry to be tardy wishing that, been at the beach for two weeks, catching fish and sunshine. I really hope you have another wonderful 40 years, twice as productive of excellent books. ( opps, does that come across as selfish of me?. lol )

  • Kat says:

    Hi Joe!

    Just wondering if you are coming to Melbourne? (Cause Melbourne is awesome…) I know a few writers and readers down here would love to meet you!


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