Saturday, January 7, 2017

Metapost: 2016

Ah, 2016! To be known to future historians as the Year from Hell. You know what I mean.

On the positive side, 2016 saw the release of my novelette "Salt and Sorcery," which takes place in a salt pan and appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, in August, as well as my novel The King of Nightspore's Crown, the second installment in my Enoch series (reviewed here), which also came out in August. I wrote several other stories, one of which is to appear next month, and am at work on the third Enoch novel.

I also wrote quite a bit on my blog, whose name changed from Alone with Alone to Cosmic Antipodes. Some of my favorite posts from 2016 include:
These aren't necessarily the most popular posts as measured by clicks, but they're the ones I like the best. I also wrote a really nifty glossary, some form of which will accompany future editions of my Enoch books.

Now, most importantly (for me, at any rate), the list of stuff I read in 2016, arranged in reverse chronological order:
There are sixty-four entries in all. Some came in the form of audiobooks, which I listen to while painting, as it relieves the extreme anxiety I typically experience while working on art. But I rarely listen to an audiobook if I haven't already read the book in print -- it's too easy to miss important details. Right now I'm listening to the Parallel Lives of Plutarch, which will probably carry me through a corner of my current painting project. Maybe two corners.

True "literary" novelists on my list include Austen, Conrad, Dickens, and Dostoevsky. Nothing new there! I read quite a few ghost/horror stories, by the likes of Sheridan le Fanu, Oliver Onions, Rudyard Kipling, Henry James, Edith Wharton, M. R. James, Bram Stoker, Shirley Jackson, and Stephen King. I also read a number of books having to do with the Soviet Union and the Cold War, including several spy novels by John le Carré and the first two parts of The Gulag Archipelago.

Several entries were read as research for a cycle of sword-and-sorcery stories set in an alternate sixteenth-century Texas and New Mexico. I've completed two, the first of which is due to appear in Heroic Fantasy Quarterly next month, with an illustration by yours truly. Charles Saunders' Imaro stories are a big inspiration for these, as are Robert E. Howard's tales of Solomon Kane. I'm currently in the planning stages of a third, which will be set in the Santa Fe area.

A number of the entries on my list were read-alouds to my kids, currently aged six and eight, including A Wind in the Door, Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH, My Side of the Mountain, The Hobbit, Five Children and It, The Last Unicorn, The Book of Three, and A Princess of Mars. When asked to select their top three, they both included A Princess of Mars and The Hobbit, naturally. (I should mention that I sometimes "translated" Burroughs' sentences as I read; being a bit of a hack, he never uses a short Saxon word when a convoluted phrase full of polysyllabic Latin words will do. In contrast, Tolkien, who was a master linguist, writes simply and directly. Reading to kids has made me a lot more sensitive to this.) We also read numerous selections from Andrew Lang's collections of many colors, The Arabian Nights Entertainments, and Tales of King Arthur and the Round Table, as well as Edith Hamilton's Mythology and the Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark series.

2016 also saw our first cautious forays into the world of RPGs. We began by (slowly) playing through Final Fantasy IV together. (We're still not done yet, but we've gotten to the Lunar Subterrane at last.) My kids liked it so much that I decided to start moving toward Dungeons and Dragons, Pathfinder, or something along those lines. We began with Dungeon!, an extremely cool, simple-enough-for-young-kids board-game dungeon crawl that first came out in 1975. Now we've moved up to Wrath of Ashardalon, which is considerably more challenging. However, we successfully completed our first quest together last week. I'll blog about it once we play a bit more.

I also read a few comic books graphic novels in 2016, including:
  • Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind
  • The Dark Knight Returns
  • Batman: Year One
  • Batman: The Killing Joke
  • Batman: The Long Halloween
  • Batman: Hush
  • Superman: Birthright 
The first entry is the long-running manga by Hayao Miyazaki, the first parts of which became the animated film of the same name. I'll come right out and say that finding Nausicaä this year was a major event in the life of my imagination. I'll most likely blog about it once I've had a chance to reread the manga. I got a few more Superman comics with Christmas money, so those are next on my list. This is something of a departure from my usual reading habits. Before 2016, the last comic book graphic novel I'd looked into was The Death of Superman, which I read soon after it came out in, um, 1992.

So there's my 2016 in stories and pictures. All in all, not a bad year. Here's to an even better 2017.


  1. Mr. Ordóñez, as a virtual christmas gift, that can be useful for your new sword-and-sorcery project, I tell you that the spanish explorers of your area called the buffalos "vacas corcovadas"