Hot damn if it isn’t New Year’s Eve once more. This means I must be 43 today. 11 and a half years since I was first published, but I still feel a little strange describing myself as a writer…
2017. Well, it’s been a gruelling year one way or another. A year of inside-outs and upside-downs and public discourse polarised as never before. Plus a year, for me, of not one but two distracting house moves as we first moved into a new house and then moved out into a rented one while we do building work. At one time these yearly reviews would be a review of the blog itself, but these days I’m not really finding the time to write at length about games or films or tv as I once did (a few lines on twitter seems to suffice) or to vent my self-important opinions about publishing as I once did (I’ve said most of what I’ve got to say and the same old topics seem often to recur) or to explain the business of writing and publishing as I once did (I’ve gone over pretty much every element of it at one time or another), so I guess this is going to be something of a truncated review, focussing mostly on my own progress over the past year.
A YEAR IN BOOKSELLING – It’s been a strange year, as it’s the first since 2013 when I didn’t publish a new book. Odder yet, there’s not going to be a new book from me next year either. My apologies for that, but anyone who’s been following my progress reports will understand the reasons, and I hope that it’ll pay off for me and the readers in the long run and I’ll be hailed as an industry-changing visionary, but it still leaves me feeling a little bit out of the game, so to speak. Still, I went to Worldcon in Helsinki, and Celsius in Aviles, and deals continue to be done internationally and books sold the world over. This is one of the good things about a writing career. It takes time and effort to get books out there, and to make the rights sales, and to build up the readership, but once the machine’s spinning it keeps going (up to a point) without you. Not that I’ve been idle…
A YEAR IN BOOK WRITING – I might not have published a new book, but, well, I did write one, and I did revise another. For anyone who hasn’t been following the blog (you poor benighted fools), I’m writing another adult trilogy set in the First Law world, some thirty years after the end of the original trilogy as the world is moving into a more industrial age, featuring a new generation of central characters while some of the many old bastard roles are filled by familiar characters from the original trilogy and standalones. When I started writing the First Law trilogy, all those many years ago (about 16 years, indeed, of you can believe that), I had no deal, no readers, no expectations of either, and I could just write at my own pace, let the plot unfold and develop the voices of the characters. By the time The Blade Itself was published I was already well over half way through Last Argument of Kings and had the luxury of revising that first book with the endings already well in mind. My feeling with this new trilogy was that to write the best, most coherent series I could, I needed to draft all three books and get to the end of the story, know what was important and what wasn’t before really tightening up that first book and getting it ready to publish. That means, of course, a long and frustrating delay for the first book, but hopefully a much more regular publication schedule thereafter and (most importantly) the best possible end result.
I finished a rough draft of the first book, which is now titled A Little Hatred, at the start of the year, smashed out a rough draft of the second, The Trouble With Peace, in the middle six months of the year (which was exceedingly fast work by my standards), did a first round of revisions to the first book again in October/November, and spent the last month or so coming up with a plan for the third book, with a view to getting underway in earnest in the new year. With any luck I will be issuing further bi-monthly progress reports as things move rapidly forward…
TV and FILM – Film-wise it’s been a pretty feeble year. A lot of marvel superhero fare which was all enjoyable but very marvel-y and quite superhero-ish. Thought the first half hour of Baby Driver was great but then it turned into a more routine caper film. Enjoyed Dunkirk but it didn’t exactly set my loins aflame. Thor: Ragnarok I liked a lot, mind you, maybe because I wasn’t expecting that much. It made me laugh, at least, and Jeff Goldblum was amazing. Logan was great at times, but for a film that sold itself as gritty it went out more than a little soft-centred in the end. Blade Runner 2049 was certainly a fascinating exercise. Amazing visuals, and some great sequences, but also some rather rambling and self-indulgent ones. It certainly worked as a kind of surreal mood piece, but as a thriller, not so much. I’m sad to say The Last Jedi I found a real disappointment after the great reviews. A weird mix of slapstick and sentiment, characters forever surprised, incompetent and overwrought as they endlessly snatch defeat from victory and victory from defeat in tiresome alternation. If I had to pick a film of the year for me it would probably be Paddington 2. It was a hoot. TV has offered more. Black Sails closed out in style: occasionally a bit mad but considering an iffy first season they really delivered something memorable over time. The Man in the High Castle has all the ingredients for something great, the concept, the actors, the styling, but somehow doesn’t deliver much actual story. The Expanse continues to show promise. Narcos continues to be pretty great. Thoroughly enjoyed Ozark as well. I generally like the Netflix/Marvel collaborations but we saw the worst and best of them this year, with the turgid and miscast Iron Fist, the flaccid and baffling Defenders, and the taut and punchy Punisher, in which John Bernthal managed to bring some real complexity to what could have been a very foursquare character. The Crown doesn’t seem like my bag on the face of it, but there was something mesmerising in its understated expense. Great performances. But I think my favourite TV of the year was Mindhunter. Psychological profiling of serial killers doesn’t seem on the face of it the most original subject matter, and I was expecting something chilly and forensic but it was full of humanity, actually, and great characters. Beautifully made.
GAMES – I’ve dialled back the gaming again this year. Partly I’ve been really busy and didn’t want to break the flow. Partly there hasn’t been a lot that I massively wanted to play. Partly I’ve made a decision to just play things I really want to, rather than dabbling with things that in the end don’t interest me all that much just for the hell of it. So let’s see. I kind of liked the baffling Japanese RPG charms of Nier: Automata, but not enough to really mine the further reaches of the game, which is something I understand you’ve got to do. Destiny 2 was sorta like Destiny. But 2. The gunplay is brilliantly involving but in the end the grind gets empty and makes you feel sad inside. My game of the year would have to be Horizon: Zero Dawn. Games sold on their looks often turn out to be clunkers in the gameplay department, but this was a rare one that nailed both, as well as delivering a great world and central character and feeling (increasingly rarely in games) like something pretty original too.
THE YEAR AHEAD – It’s looking like another busy one. Got the building project starting in January and running through until at least August, which will take up a fair bit of my attention. In terms of writing the hope is to get the third book in the trilogy drafted by the end of the year and make a good start on the editing and revision of the first, with a view to getting it published maybe in summer 2019. No promises, of course, and it may be that other projects creep up and get in the way, but that’s the hope…
Happy new year, readers!
51 comments so far
What about DC’s superhero films Wonder Woman and Justice League?
“A little hatred goes a long, long way.” – Is that gonna be the opening quote? 🙂
I’d agree with you on The Crown – it’s not sci-fi Fantasy but it’s just so well made and is almost hypnotic while you’re watching it.
Don’t know if you watchd it but Stranger Things is still amazing. Along with Westworld it’s the best video content around at the momement imo.
Wonder Woman was also a lot of fun – forget the media hype about a female superhero, it was just a good fun film with a lot of heart.
Logan Lucky was great if you havn’t seen it yet, and I’m looking forward to Ladybird coming out early 2018 as the reviews are amazing.
Looking forward to the new books
Oh, yeah, forgot about Wonder Woman. I like it quite a lot. Gal Gadot was great. You have to dock a star for Ares’ moustache, though. Justice League I didn’t see. In general the weighty pomposity of the approach DC have taken is not to my taste…
Holy shit, I forgot Stranger Things! Yes, the second season was excellent. Maybe not quite as good as the first just because I found it a bit busier.
“Love turns, with a little indulgence, to indifference or disgust; hatred alone is immortal.” William Hazlitt
I found Justice League fun, but that is the best I can say about it.
On a different note, if you, ever, have any plans to come to India, please let us know in advance. You have a lot of fans in the country, and we would all love to meet and interact with you. I discovered you through First Law years ago, and since then I have not missed a publicly available single word written by you, whether it be books, blog posts, or tweets. I am a huge fan.
Can hatred be turned?
I too found the film the last Jedi disappointing
it looked like a caricature of the Avengers.
I hope to read your new book as soon as possible
I liked the saga of the first law very much.
I share your same passion for writing, but I’m never satisfied with the final result.
is there any music or environment that inspires you particularly for the creation of characters and settings?
Hey Joe, I don’t suppose you’ve seen much of Vikings recently? Thought season 4 was pretty bloody good.
Thanks, man, glad you’re enjoying it all. I will make sure and give plenty of notice if I’m coming to India at any point. Don’t know that I’ve got a publisher out there, though, which makes it more difficult…
Just the screen, and silence…
Yeah, I like Vikings a lot on the whole, I hadn’t mentioned it cause I’m still half way through season 5, but it looks like they might be making it work with a new generation of characters. Time will tell…
I don’t think I’ve seen you mention Fargo. The last season was the weakest of the three, but generally speaking, it’s great.
We thought Paddington was the film of the year too. Can’t wait for your new trilogy, I’ve recently got my dad [aged 80] hooked on your work, so don’t make him wait too long!
I agree with you about Mindhunter, not what I expected. I originally gave up after episode 2 but a friend pursuaded me to give it another go and ended up binge watching the series over a weekend. There’s a you tube video comparing the real Ed Kemper video with the Mindhunter version, it’s chilling how similar they are. Worth watching.
Have a good new year
Happy New Year, Joe. I reckon undergoing a load of building work is grimdarker than anything you’ve written.
Just finishing up “Best Served Cold..” for the fourth or fifth time. Always find something I didn`t catch before. Great stand alone. Guess I’ll flip through Red Country, maybe pick up something I missed, first time. Will try to wait patiently for 2019. Probably catch Monza again towards the end of the year. Keep writing, the world depends on you!!! Happy New Year from California.
Very much enjoy your books and your characters. Can’t wait to find out what the various Magi have been up to in 30 years!
Tend to agree with much of your review of the year but I also really enjoyed Mr Robot the third series was very strong after a slightly weaker second. Enjoy your birthday!
Excited that you are going back to the First Law and the way you’re writing it makes a lot of sense to my distinctly unprofessional perspective. Also love that my favourite author loved my favourite game of 2017 as well. As a father of 3 daughters, Aloy was an inspiration…great that my girls can see another strong woman running around shooting robot dinosaurs. Keep up the good work Joe.
Please don’t pull a Rothfuss…
I very much enjoyed Mindhunter as well. As for the Marvel shows, I really enjoyed Joe Bernthal as The Punisher. I texted a friend of mine with his name and the comment that he’d make a great Logan Ninefingers if a movie was ever made of the First Law trilogy.
My Birthday also falls in the hinterland that lies between Christmas,and New Year. I just turned 44.So happy Birthday Joe! I’m not going to complain about any waiting I must endure for the next books,as I know quality is much more important than quantity. Your complex characters and the world they reside in is my absolute favorite place to visit,although some of them make me nervous and others frustrate me I feel at home with even the darkest of minds in that world. And what a world it is! Wonderfully gritty,mad,dark,and beautiful. Thank you for inviting in to experience it. All the best to you and yours this year.
Have you seen Darkest Hour yet? I thought it was quite good!
Does this building project perhaps involve a pool shaped like a magic sword?
Have you watched Quacks, Joe? History and humour, can’t go wrong with that! 🙂
Happy Birthday, Joe!
Wish you luck during your travels at the bottomless Sea Of Words!
And Happy New Year!
Thank you for what you said about the Star Wars movie. I absolutely agree with you and could not find a better way to say it.
Looking forward to reading your next few books,
I was strangely let down by BABY DRIVER as well. And I’ve loved everything Edgar Wright has done so far.
No thoughts on Game of Thrones?
Happy birthday Andoencombi! Keep up the good work next year
Happy Birthday Joe
I’m curious, is there anyone you know of (celebriry or otherwise) that has the voice to body ratio of bremer? Mike Tyson is the closest I can think of.
Firstly Happy birthday
I am eagerly awaiting these new books…another year?? how am I gonna survive, I moved over to your books after years of being a Bernard Cornwall fan and feel that the first law series was faultless, touched all the right buttons as a book in my mind and I cant wait for more. half a world series was great, not gonna go over old topics but glad that those have pushed you to this new way of doing your books and hope they are gonna be worth the wait.
film wise, wonder woman I managed to see some of the sets of this, was fantastic, disappointed with the new aliens until I watched it a second time….why does that happen…seem to have to watch more and more films twice before I enjoy them…and star wars last Jedi frustrating and a little overacted by Mr Skywalker.
all the best for the new year, and thank you for the hours of entertainment I get from listening to your books in my work van
In terms of coming game you have to check out “Frostpunk”. looks amazing and it’s from the creators of “this war of mine” (also check that out if you haven’t already) so you know it’s going to be great!
Happy new year Joe, have a great year. I’m really looking forward to your coming trilogy.
Always good to read your posts and I’m so so excited for the next trilogy in The First Law world! <3 Happy New Year to you, Sir x
Any 2017 whisky discoveries?
Am listening to ‘Raw Spirit’ at the moment, which sounds like the best writing gig anyone could ever get. I have a list as a consequence, and a desire to book a month off with a camper van and a couple of chums, and go see for myself.
A very happy new year to you.
Hey Joe – big fan of your work, have read all your books and I think you might be my favorite author (so congrats I guess? :p).
You probably have mentioned this topic in a previous post but I haven’t been lurking on your forum long enough: any screen adaptations in the works? (movie/series etc)
If there isn’t a ton of traction from producers I don’t understand this world.
Nier: Automata is something you really should dig deeper into because it’s a game that not only rewards that, but is willing to punish it as well. It’s a very smart (deceivingly so) if you’ve never played a Yoko Taro game before.
Also 2B and 9S are just such strong characters. Their while romance story line is just great and twisted.
Joe, any thoughts on Altered Carbon? Can TV do it justice?
I’m so excited to read your new trilogy. Please hurry. I’ve been bored af for years waiting for a good book.
First of all, a belated Happy Birthday to you 🙂 I’m a fan having read/listened to all your books so far and actually liked them all (which doesn’t happen very often as far as I’m concerned).
Very happy to hear more about the next trilogy and your endeavours are highly appreciated.
After 5 years of trying I’ve finally managed to get a San Diego Comic-Con badge for 2018. Any chance you will be attending this year?
I agree re H:ZD being the game of the year, I finally got around to playing Witcher 3 and it’s expansions last year which I thought was fantastic too. Looking forward to Red Dead Redemption 2 and The Last of Us 2 this year and hope they bring the same level of storytelling that the originals did.
Hi Joe ! Please, can you say something about Altered Carbon ? Netflix just announced it starting next month. As the name reveals it is on Richard K. Morgan SciFi Trilogy.
The way I see it Both you and him share the throne of best writer so far, you for fantasy and SciFi for Morgan.
My country (Czech republic) is finally getting translation of one of your new books. Sharp Ends. 2018 will be a good year again thanks to it. But we are still waiting for translation of Shattered Sea trilogy.
And I really like the tease at the end of this blogpost because it can mean only one thing. TV show from your world is at work.
Hi there Joe,
Huge fan here. The truly annoying kind, that continues to quote your characters at regular intervals. Have done so since 2012 or so, same as my older bro.
Like, if we accidentally bust a window or drop a beer bottle, or the dog takes a huge crap on the rug, usually one of us will say “All the achievements of Juvens are laid waste. But the works of the Master Maker are undiminished”, or something like that.
You get the idea.
Both of us were crushed, at the time, with the ending of the Last Argument of Kings, but I’ve since come around to appreciate it (my brother hasn’t). Reading these updates does us both a world of good, we’re sure it’ll be amazing and truly cannot wait.
In any case, if you’re shopping for some good Netflix shows, I highly recommend watching “Dark”. It’s a mix between Stranger Things, IT, and Black Mirror. Think Stranger Things on steroids basically. Only downside is, there’s only one season out so far.
Good luck this year!
There’s a rumour on Reddit and on some podcasts that The Blade itself is being made into a tv series / movie.
Is this True?! Is it happening?!
In regards to gaming, I know I’ve asked this before, but you ever get around to trying Witcher 3?
It’s dark, gloomy, beautiful and adult – best game I’ve ever played, The Wire of gaming IMO, goes from games into “work of art”.
I was glad to read your yearly review, if only because I was growing impatient for another adult novel release from you. Reading that you are working on a new set of stories gives me heart. I think that is a rational approach; squaring the ending away before the first book is released. I wish other authors would have adopted the same approach (Justin Cronin I’m looking at you…) It doesn’t make much sense to drag out a trilogy in such away that by the time the last book is published you’ve pretty much forgotten the first two and just don’t give a damn anymore. Fool proof way to disenfranchise your reader base.
On the game’s front, I couldn’t agree more? There are no compelling games because there are no compelling stories. The big development houses have ditched single player story driven games, for multiplayer cash grabs. I sometimes sadly ponder that I may never play a set of games as fun and engaging as the 3 Bioshock entries again… Would you kindly do something about that Joe?
Will we be seeing more of the Shanka and the Eaters, especially Shenkt, in the forthcoming trilogy?
Have you had a chance to see Altered Carbon on Netflix?
Sony studios in Culver city is storyboarding The Blade Itself for tv! Can you say anything Joe? Even a simple nod of your head would be great.
Hi Joe, Paddington 2 was excellent.
Apologies, I have read everything , It has been a long time is all , I am looking forward to revisiting the World starting from the beginning , thank you for the influential writing that my Son and I have enjoyed, I also give you as many plugs as I can on Facebook to everyone who has not read you and is suffering from GOT withdrawal , I have read everything , thank you for bringing a style to the Fantasy writing World that is unparalleled , my last post was an epic fail.. you work is a refreshing break from it all.
This is my last post for a while , I wanted to ask if you would think about offering Signed copies of “The Blade Itself” I would like one personalized to my Son as a gift for him getting into MIT as I am so proud of him , I do not want to buy one from someone else where the Money does not go directly to you as this is not a request for profit but a gift to my boy who also loves your work. I think Logan and Shivers are his favorite as he often mentions Shivers and we are both intrigued by Shenkt .. the part with Monza Murcatto.. “Not Alone”.. we both cheered when we read it .. classic … if there is a way please e-mail me or let me know if there is anyway we can make this happen , we live in the USA so going to England is not on the Menu at the moment , I cant think of a better gift for him as most of the Authors he reads are deceased .. he just finished “The Prince” , I love when he told me that Bayaz made him feel so betrayed, lmao. I hope this message reaches you , I would much rather the Money go directly to you sir.