Tag Archives: 2016

Dreamers of dreams

Dreamers of Dreams

The late Gene Wilder quoted the first two lines of Arthur O’Shaughnessy’s poem Ode in Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory. Google happened to use that line in the audio for their Year In Search 2016 video (see below and bring a tissue.) Inspired, I decided to share the full poem. It’s fitting for the ending of a tumultuous year and anticipation that always builds with the beginning of the new.


✷ Ode ✷


We are the music-makers,
And we are the dreamers of dreams,
Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
And sitting by desolate streams;
World-losers and world-forsakers,
On whom the pale moon gleams:
Yet we are the movers and shakers
Of the world for ever, it seems.

With wonderful deathless ditties
We build up the world’s great cities,
And out of a fabulous story
We fashion an empire’s glory:
One man with a dream, at pleasure,
Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
And three with a new song’s measure
Can trample an empire down.

We, in the ages lying
In the buried past of the earth,
Built Nineveh with our sighing,
And Babel itself with our mirth;
And o’erthrew them with prophesying
To the old of the new world’s worth;
For each age is a dream that is dying,
Or one that is coming to birth.


And as promised, the video…

So here we are, one year ends and another begins. Keep loving. Keep fighting. Keep dreaming. And above all keep creating. The world needs your voice.

Have a safe and happy New Year.

My Reading List for 2016

We’re nearing the end of the year, and as tradition dictates now is the time when I compile a list of the books I have read (to see previous years: 2013, 2014, 2015). I’m not the fastest of readers, but I try to remain consistent. This usually correlates alongside my Goodreads reading challenge. The books in this list are books I read for pleasure; I don’t count research material. Likewise, graphic novels and short stories get counted separately in their own list.

This year I was offered up another challenge, this time by my friend and fellow author Steve Toutonghi. He challenged me to read more classics than anything else this year, and I accepted. By the time I had finished, over two-thirds of the novels I had read where from the classic or modern classic category. Not bad!

Since this list tends to be long, I forgo reviews, but you’re welcome to follow me on Goodreads where I do occasionally review books. At the end of each list, I will call out some of my favorites of the year. As before, all links will go to Amazon as a default, but if one of these books sound interesting to you, then I would encourage you to visit your local independent bookstore and purchase through them. It’s important for your local economy to buy local whenever you’re able.


Novels:

  1. Join
    by Steve Toutonghi
  2. Partials (Partials Sequence, #1)
    by Dan Wells
  3. The Great Gatsby
    by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  4. Slaughterhouse-Five …again.
    by Kurt Vonnegut
  5. Wise Blood
    by Flannery O’Connor
  6. Brave New World
    by Aldous Huxley
  7. The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires #1)
    by Jim Butcher
  8. Leviathan Wakes (The Expanse #1)
    by James S.A. Corey
  9. The Old Man and the Sea
    by Ernest Hemingway
  10. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  11. Life on the Mississippi …again.
    by Mark Twain
  12. Beta Reading
    by REDACTED
  13. Dracula …again.
    by Bram Stoker
  14. This Census-Taker
    by China Miéville
  15. Prince of Thorns (The Broken Empire #1)
    by Mark Lawrence
  16. Labyrinths: Selected Stories and Other Writings
    by Jorge Luis Borges,
  17. The Illustrated Man
    by Ray Bradbury
  18. Great Expectations
    by Charles Dickens
  19. Iron Council (New Crobuzon #3)
    by China Miéville
  20. The Scar (New Crobuzon #2) …again.
    by China Miéville
  21. Hondo
    by Louis L’Amour
  22. The Hell Bent Kid: A Novel
    by Charles O. Locke
  23. Ravencroft Springs
    by Logan L. Masterson
  24. Perdido Street Station (New Crobuzon #1) …again.
    by China Miéville
  25. Dark Matter
    by Blake Crouch
  26. True Grit
    by Charles Portis
  27. Animal Farm …again.
    by George Orwell
  28. Lord of the Flies …again.
    by William Golding
  29. The Handmaid’s Tale
    by Margaret Atwood
  30. Kindred
    by Octavia E. Butler
  31. The Gunslinger …again.
    by Stephen King
  32. To Kill a Mockingbird …again.
    by Harper Lee
  33. Call of the Wild …again.
    by Jack London
  34. 1984 …again.
    by George Orwell
  35. Wuthering Heights
    by Emily Brontë

When selecting my favorites, I decided to disregard any books I had previously read from the running. (Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, Miéville’s The Scar, and King’s The Gunslinger are some of my favorite books of all time and it’s really not fair to compete with those.) I read so many good books this year it made picking my faves tough. While there were many I enjoyed, I settled on three. All were new to me, and they all not only challenged me but lingered in my mind long after I had finished.

Favorite Novel of 2016:

Kindred by Octavia ButlerKindred
by Octavia E. Butler

This book is stunning. Bulter is one of the preeminent science fiction writers of our time. Her prose is sharp, her plot intense, the portrayal of the slave/master relationships in antebellum South shook me. I found myself dwelling on Kindred weeks after I finished it.

Favorite Novel Runners-up of 2016:

The Handmaids TaleThe Handmaid’s Tale
by Margaret Atwood

There is an art to writing a book so captivating and yet so simple. The regressive dystopia of Gilead is terrifying in its believability. It’s strange to think this book was written in ’85 yet its criticisms of gender relations, religion, and power are still as poignant as ever.

Join by Steve ToutonghiJoin
by Steve Toutonghi

My friend Steve’s debut novel, like the others, stuck with me long after I had finished. His examinations on individualism, mortality, gender, and consciousness were thought-provoking, engaging, and whip-smart. I knew when I finished that Join would end up here.


Short Stories:

  1. Last Boy in Aster
    by Drew Gerken
  2. Binti (Binti #1)
    by Nnedi Okorafor
  3. Ravencroft Springs: The Feast of ’69
    by Logan L. Masterson
  4. A Study in Emerald (Currently available in Fragile Things) …again.
    by Neil Gaiman

Four isn’t enough to rank favorites, but Drew Gerken’s story stood out. It lingered with me more than the other three and I continued to think about Kacee, Fin, and Aster long after I had finished. Seek it out. It’s very much worth your time.


Graphic Novels:

  1. Prophet Volume 2: Brothers
    by Brandon Graham (Author & Illustrator), Simon Roy (Author & Illustrator), Farel Dalrymple (Illustrator), Giannis Milonogiannis (Illustrator),
  2. Black River
    by Josh Simmons (Author & Illustrator)
  3. Wytches, Vol. 1
    by Scott Snyder (Author) and Jock (Illustrator)
  4. Bitch Planet, Vol. 1: Extraordinary Machine
    by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Valentine De Landro (Artist)
  5. Saga Volume 6
    by Brian K. Vaughan (Author), Fiona Staples (Illustrator)
  6. Penultimate Quest Vol. 1
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  7. Penultimate Quest Vol. 2
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  8. Penultimate Quest Vol. 3
    by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)
  9. Catbeard Vol. 2
    by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)

Favorite Graphic Novel of 2016:

Bitch PlanetBitch Planet
by Kelly Sue DeConnick (Author), Valentine De Landro (Artist)

From the get-go, Bitch Planet sets out to be subversive, and it’s not apologetic. Playing off the women-in-prison exploitation films the comic twists the genre to be a smart satire about modern culture, feminism, and humanity.

Favorite Graphic Novel Runners-up of 2016:


Penultimate Quest Vol. 1Penultimate Quest
by Lars Brown (Author & Illustrator)

See! I don’t always read serious/dark comics. Occasionally, I step outside of my comfort zone and read something lighter. Lars Brown’s writing is witty and fun, and the characters are memorable. A must for role-playing game fans and people who like jokes.

 

catbeardbook2

Catbeard Vol. 2
by Matt Nelson (Author & Illustrator)

Yep, it’s back! I picked up and thoroughly enjoyed the second Catbeard book. Attentive readers remember that the first book was one of my favorite graphic novels from last year and Vol. 2 was even better than the first.


So there is my list for 2016, a lot of amazing books and some fantastic short stories and graphic novels. For the next year, I’m returning to my roots and focusing on primarily science fiction and fantasy. In particular, books I’ve passed by in my stack on my quest to read classics. I could use a little escapism right now, and it’d be therapeutic to get lost in another narrative for a time.

Are you looking for a good book? Want to see my reading lists from previous years? Check any of the links below and see what I was reading in bygone days.

 2013 • 2014 • 2015 

Next year, why not join me? Goodreads does a reading challenge every year, and I am an active participant. First, follow me on Goodreads (leave me a review while you’re there), and once the New Year arrives, participate in the Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2017.

Joyeux Noël

Joyeux Noël

Today is Christmastide, and I wanted to take a moment to extend holiday greetings to my readers. I hope you’re having a splendid day with your friends, family, pets, or the hushed whispers emanating from your closet. I want to thank you for supporting me and my work, for buying, reading, and reviewing The Bell Forging Cycle, and helping spread the word. I’m hard at work making more stories for you to enjoy, it’s going to be an interesting 2017.

Les Edwards - Christmas For Cthulhu

The artwork above was created by Les Edwards in 2007 and is entitled Christmas for Cthulhu. While the original artwork has sold, you can still buy prints from his site. He’s a fantastic artist and has an enormous quantity of work, see more pieces at lesedwards.com.

New Stickers for 2016

New 2016 Stickers

I ran out of stickers (and buttons, actually) at Norwescon, which is great. I love that people love my swag, it’s why I make it. Plus, it allows me to expand the world of The Bell Forging Cycle beyond the page.

However, I felt a few of the stickers were looking a little dated. They just weren’t as cool as the others, so since I ran out, I used this opportunity to refresh a few of the sticker designs. For those who aren’t familiar, stickers are available in my free swag packs, or you can get them by purchasing any book from my store, and of course all are available for free at conventions (along with a bunch of other stuff) as long as my stock holds out.

Let’s take a look at the new designs!

The Stars Were Right Sticker Set

The Stars Were Right Stickers

There have been two new updates with The Stars Were Right set, the St. Olmstead sticker has been completely redone and now includes the logo’s lockup. I’ve also added a new skeletal maero hand, taken from the mysterious Fig. 12. It’s very metal.


Old Broken Road Sticker Set

Old Broken Road Stickers - Click here to purchase a signed paperback copy!

The Old Broken Road sticker set got a pair of updates as well. This is the first time everyone is getting to see the City of Syringa seal. As with Lovat, Syringa is built upon the site of another city and there’s a reference to it in their seal. I’ve also included The City of Lovat Caravan Authority badge, the same mark that officially recognizes the Bell Caravan patches. Since Old Broken Road is about caravans I felt it was fitting.


Red Litten World Sticker SetRed Litten World Stickers - Click here to purchase a signed paperback copy!

The Red Litten World sticker set is only six months old, so it doesn’t have any updates for 2016. But I love it, and its awesomeness is a big reason why I felt like I needed to update the previous sets. Plus I wanted to include it in this post so you can see all sets side by side.


That’s the update for the stickers this year. The outdated images on my store should be updated sometime this weekend. Remember, I give away these stickers and more in my free swag packs, just hit the Free Stuff page and learn how you can get your hands on ’em. (All I ask is you pay for shipping.)

Thoughts? Judgments? Hatred? Why not leave a comment below and tell me what you think?

Happy New Year

Happy New Year

It’s January 1st. The new year is finally upon us! Here’s wishing a fantastic upcoming year to you and yours. As I said at Christmas, thanks for all your support. I can’t wait to see what this fresh year brings, new travels, new books, new conventions… there’s a lot to look forward to in 2016.

For your enjoyment, here’s a postcard from the Victorian era featuring a potato wearing a hat and boots holding an umbrella and wishing everyone a Happy New Year. What a jaunty and thoughful fellow!

New Year Potato

You’re welcome.

Now, if that didn’t quite satisfy your new year helping of strange, feel free to check out these other postcards. Featuring a picture of a cat with glasses in a bonnet, a floating dog head delivering greetings, or a bug using a telescope to look at the moon. You know, seasonally appropriate festive stuff.

The Victorians were a weird people.