2010 - Best and Worst
The year has come and all but gone with extraordinary rapidity. Before it fleets away, I thought I'd encapsulate the artistic highlights of the year (which, to be fully appreciated, must be counterpointed by the lowlights).
Best Writing Achievement
The publication by Editions Andreas Irle of the German edition of Dragonchaser. Serendip may not be setting the publishing world alight, but it's always good to have a new book out.
Worst Writing Achievement
The stalling of current WIP The Fall of the Fireduke at the 20,000 word-mark. Re-reading bits of it last night, it's not quite as bad as I thought, but there's still plenty of work to do. Big decisions need to be made on whether to continue with this project.
Best Film Seen
The Town, Ben Affleck's slick heist movie. It does nothing original, but does it all brilliantly. An honourable mention for Christopher Nolan's Inception, a far more ambitious picture which with a more ruthless editor might have touched greatness.
Worst Film Seen
2012. A film to make me despair at the state of the movie industry. Everybody involved should feel an abiding shame. Awful on every conceivable level, a monstrous misuse of time, money and creativity. Makes The Poseidon Adventure look like Citizen Kane. At least I didn't pay to see it at the cinema.
Best Book Read
Now this one's difficult. David Remnick's biography of Muhammad Ali, King of the World, was spectacular, RJ Ellory's A Quiet Vendetta maintained his exemplary standards and Ian Mortimer's The Time-Traveller's Guide to Medieval England was a wonderfully fresh and accessible take on a well-worn subject. I was delighted too that Sharon Penman proved with Here Be Dragons that The Sunne in Splendour was not a one-off. To avoid chosing among them, I'll note that I re-read Jack Vance's Lyonesse trilogy, and that trumped the lot.
Worst Book Read
These days I'm much more ruthless at abandoning early books I don't enjoy. Of those I finished, I ended up weary of Hilary Mantel's Wolf Hall, although I admired the craftsmanship (and Beyond Black was a contender for Best Book); the wooden spoon must therefore go to Ken Follett's truly appalling World Without End, which managed to be boring, leaden and offensive.
I've greatly enjoyed Nevets.QST, and not just because Nevets gave The Dog of the North a glowing review. Nevets charts his progress as a writer with clarity and sometimes lacerating honesty--as well as a lot of generosity
::Acquired Taste. Hands up here; we've been bloody feeble this year...
But let's finish on a positive note with a look ahead to 2011. Three standout titles are on the horizon: award-winning Ryan David Jahn's The Dispatcher; L.C. Tyler latest Ethelred and Elsie mystery, The Herring on the Nile, and Joe Abercrombie's The Heroes, which looks set to be another gritty deconstruction of the sanitised fantasy tropes.
Best wishes to all visitors for Christmas and the New Year!