Tuesday, January 01, 2013

This Was the Year in Hornswoggling: 2012

Anything done for at least two years in a row becomes an unbreakable tradition -- ask any four-year-old -- and so it's time once again for the first and last sentences of the past twelve months, linked to the posts in which they appeared.

(This was a meme, five or six years ago. I would lay serious money that no one else is still doing it, since it doesn't make a lot of sense. But it amuses me, so it lives on here.)

Since a lot of Antick Musings these days is my standard posts (yes, I know; it's a rut, and I've been thinking, now and then, about how to pull myself out of it), I've ignored those, when necessary, so that the following is mildly more interesting:

I have no illusions about my reviews; they're read by an audience of dozens -- sometimes rising into the low hundreds -- and might help to push an additional ten or so copies of something if I'm lucky.

Just in case it's unclear to some of my newer readers, I am being so sarcastic with this phrase that I am surprised the entire Internet does not burst into flames.  

The NY Times has the standard story on the results, announced yesterday, and the consequent stock price slippage and analyst beard-stroking.

Maybe it's just my cynicism talking, but that sounds suspiciously like the slow clap of literature -- you're not all that good, got it? you're just mildly better than some other things. 

I'm interested in theme parks, and I'm interested in design (in a vague, general way, related to some books I've worked on at my day-job and reading Henry Petroski -- on that level). And so I thought The Hidden Magic of Walt Disney World would be interesting, since it's a guide to the "secret" (here meaning "minor" or "background") details of Disney's Florida theme parks.

But Liew's lovely watercolor art is the real draw here: I'd love to see him illustrate a new edition of the Alice books, or adapt them directly to comics, using his own designs.

You probably have heard by now that Christopher Priest was unhappy with this year's Clarke Award shortlist, going so far as to say that the panel should be disbanded, the award skip 2012 entirely, and that all the fields of Carthage be sown with salt so that nothing will grow there ever again.

This time, Gift of Fire brings the mythical Prometheus to the modern world, while Head of a Pin deals with a company making utterly realistic animation to allow new movies with long-dead actors that discovers an entity lurking in their software. It hits stores May 8th. 

I'm more than normally concerned with the idea of good graphic novels for teens and tweens, for two very selfish reasons: my sons, aged eleven and fourteen, are reading piles of manga and graphic novels these days (not so much traditional Western-style superhero comics, though, in common with most of their generation), and I want them to have good stuff.

You could even buy a print, were you so inclined.

Haruki Murakami Bingo, from the inimitable Incidental Comics.

The next blog entry should be from a real computer, back in my home, and, with any luck, it will also have more substance than this one. 

It is simply impossible to declare a novel "not funny."

Feiffer was one of the first to sketch the reality of modern life, and one of the best as well.

I discovered Erickson's first two novels -- Days Between Stations and Rubicon Beach, both mid-'80s Vintage Contemporaries, with that over-designed look that signaled Smart and Literate to so many of us in those days -- as remainders not too long after publication, right next to each other on a table in a mall bookstore that's probably been gone for two decades.

And he did: My Friend Dahmer isn't impressive simply because Backderf knew and grew up with Dahmer, but because he's spent these last twenty years trying to figure out how he became Dahmer -- and if there was any way that could have been stopped. 

Words can have very specific meanings within particular contexts -- for example, in the title Fodor's Disneyland & Southern California with Kids, the word "kids" means particularly small children: definitely those under the age of ten, and mostly those up to the age of six or seven.

But it's yet another tool to poke through things that look like data, which I suppose is moderately useful, at the very least as a way to waste time. 

TenNapel is a successful and accomplished maker of cartoon images -- he created Earthworm Jim, and has spent the last decade or so making excellent graphic novels like Ghostopolis (see my review) and Bad Island (also see my review) -- who I never see discussed among the usual comics circles.

Says the man who plans to both read "Who Could That Be at This Hour?" and re-read The Basic Eight on his upcoming vacation.

If I'd read this closer to Gibson's Distrust That Particular Flavor (see my post last month), I'd have combined them into one post, since they're very much the same kind of thing: complete (or nearly so) collections of the occasional nonfiction by major writers who started off solidly in the SF camp but have since drifted in somewhat different directions, but remained solidly in favor of SF and regularly define what they do as SF.

Oh, and if this drives you to think of buying something-or-other from that particular retail behemoth, here is a handy link to allow you to do so.

It's time once again for the Bad Sex in Fiction Award, one of those wonderful literary awards that only the Brits could create and administer with anything like a straight face.

Hope you all liked it.

Coming in 2013: more posts! (I could hardly have fewer than 2012, I think.) Possibly even a few that aren't belated reviews of books, too!

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