I remember the crazy early days of blogging. I know, I know - Grandpa Rickards remembering things! Ha! Yes, I know what you children are saying. Don’t know you’re born, with your Snapchats and your electronic-books and your Face Book. I used to blog every day. Twice, some days, if I was bored or drunk enough. And people used to read things on the internet back then. You had to make your own entertainment, see…

Seriously, it’s been a year since I’ve both remembered the blog exists and had a moment to type something. Must get better.

Part of the problem is I’ve been very busy with freelance editing work - I think I’m on four novels done (copyedits or critiques) so far this year, with I think a couple of dozen short stories thrown in for good measure. I tend to try to hide from words when I’m not working so typing blog posts for no one’s amusement but my own… no.

(Part of the problem is also: it gets harder to remember how each time since it’s such a peculiarly Byzantine system the site runs on. Smart Focused John set it up cleverly five years ago, but Modern Tired John only barely remembers how and there are numerous hoops through which to jump.)

Anyway. A lighter couple of weeks beckons and my god I need to look less like I’ve died. So, welcome to Stuff I’d Recommend From The Past 12 Months Or So! In no particular order:

  • Wonderbook, 2018 edition (Jeff VanderMeer): I’m an unashamed fan of VanderMeer and I enjoy a good storycrafting book, so this was a no-brainer. It’s different, looking more at the ideas side of the process than all that structural stuff that’s in every other storycrafting book (though there’s some here). Big, bright, colorful, and a thumping brick of a thing to actually try to hold and read - great. Thoroughly recommended.
  • Invisible Planets (Ken Liu, ed): A collection of 13 Chinese SF shorts. A couple didn’t quite hit the mark with me, but some are very good, and that’s the joy of collections like this; if one entry doesn’t float your boat, there’s always more.
  • Three Moments Of An Explosion (China Miéville): Speaking of collections, there’s this. Again, some stronger than others, but some are very good indeed.
  • Angels With Dirty Faces (Jonathan Wilson): There was a World Cup last year, and I ended up reading a bunch of history-of-football-related stuff, of which this, the footballing history of Argentina, was the pick of the pack. Fascinating, especially in the interweaving of the social and cultural context.
  • Most Of The Early Discworld Books (Terry Pratchett): Teenage nostalgia kick, from Pyramids onwards (I think - #4, right?), but I’d forgotten just how good - and how short - they were.
  • The Thing Itself (Adam Roberts): Weird meditation-on-divinity meandering SF(?)-a-thon. Good, though I think it was at its strongest in the opening stages, but whaaaaaat.
  • Normal (Warren Ellis): Fun novella, a locked-room mystery about a psychologically-damaged cultural trend analyst exploding into bugs.
  • The Victorian Underworld (Kellow Chesney): Research for a thing, but surprisingly interesting and engaging.
  • Junkie Love (Joe Clifford): Joe’s a nice guy (in digital form, certainly), and you need that wry humor because holy shit what a hole to climb out of when he was younger.
  • Annihilation: The film, that is. Not a slavish adaptation of the book (which is very introspective, and probably impossible to turn into a film), but a superb capturing of its spirit and themes. Beautiful, and also horrible.
  • Return Of The Obra Dinn: It’s a game, and one that topped just about every decent ‘best of 2018’ list in December for good reason. Not only is it a brilliantly-crafted, and beautifully presented, whodunnwhat covering the individual fates of the 60-odd (mostly missing, some skeletonized) crew of an early 1800s merchant vessel, it also makes you feel like an absolute Holmes-level genius when, through what feels like your own mental efforts, you correctly identify a man purely from the type of cravat he wears. My only regret about playing it through is that I’ll now have to wait until I’ve forgotten who everyone was and what happened to them all before I can play it again.

There’s probably more (and there’s loads I wanted to read over the past year - even now, Max Booth III’s The Nightly Disease is staring at me from the shelf - but haven’t because I also read a lot less when I’m working more), but the RSI is creeping up on me and it’s getting late.

tl;dr: Not dead, just busy.