Skip to main content

Alive in 2016


Part of me wants to sum up this year in one or two words - it sucked! - and be done with it. I've spilled a lot of virtual ink in service of pessimism lately so maybe it's time to put paid to 2016 and be done with it.

Instead, I'd like to take a moment to remember some of the good things about this year.

This was a year of friends. I met a bunch of amazing people this year, had time to hang out with old friends, and had some of the best conversations about politics, speculative fiction, movies, and life. If you spent time with me, helped me understand this world a little bit better, filled it with life and laughter and hope, well, the least I can do is thank you. Thank you for reading my stories, putting up with my mistakes, and giving me your support. Thank you Lauren for being the best friend a person could ever hope for and congratulations for finishing your masters.

This was a year of video games. Maybe not the most consequential aspect of life but, you know what, if I'm being honest, playing games occupies a significant chunk of my time. In particular I'll stand up in defense of one of the most maligned games in recent memory. I'm still playing "No Man's Sky," and foresee continuing to do so well into the future. The basic premise of the game still fills me with a sense of peace and wonder. Finding a perfect world in the wide, wide galaxy and being able to stroll over it is somehow all I've ever wanted in a game. I feel at peace, perfectly in the moment, and if that makes it seem more like a meditation device than a traditional game, so be it.

This was a year of reading. I've already listed my favorite new works from the past year but looking over what I actually read during the course of 12 months, I'm not really sure I captured what gave this year its meaning. Around September, when things looked particularly pointless on the election front I stopped listening to the radio, cut my cable news habit way back and simply started reading as much as I could. In retrospect, I can't help but think that was a far better use for my time.

In particular, I started tracking down books in cosmic horror genre for a series of posts. That was a lot of fun and lead me to authors such as Michael Shea, Arkady and Boris Strugatsky, Kathe Koja, and Robert Aikman. The other big project was listening to the "best books of the 21st Century" which was incredibly rewarding. As you might guess from my posts, I read a lot of speculative literature and not so much of what might be termed "contemporary fiction." After having read "Gilead," and the "Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao," I'm glad I finally took steps to rectify that over-sight. My life is better for the books I've read.

This was a year of writing. Having "The Yuru-chara of Hector, NY," published in Electric Spec was a high point in my short career as a writer. As mentioned before, I think Electric Spec is a terrific magazine and I feel honored to have that story appear there. It's also enormously encouraging. I did not sell many stories this year but the one I did is recent and, in my estimation, one of my better ones. I have a crop of other stories coming down the pipe that I like as much and more.




Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Writing Horror

I'm wary offering advice to other writers. 

First of all I've got the whole imposter syndrome thing and whatever advice I give feels like a good way of revealing how little I know about anything. Second, what I've learned mostly relates to solving problems in my own writing. What advice does a dog have to offer to a duck on how to swim? 
However, for Arisia 2018, I'll be participating on a panel of doing just that - giving advice to aspiring horror writers about writing horror.

So, what truths can I impart?

Some advice feels absolutely true, if a bit self-evident.

You must read. If you're trying to write horror then you must read horror. Not just one novel. Not just one author. You should make a sincere effort to read everything by everyone. The more recent the better. The classics are always going to be there, but if you want a sense of where your stories could fit, you need to see what is being published out there.

You must write. I do not think you have to write …

Reading Response to "A Good Man is Hard to Find."

Reader Response to “A Good Man is Hard to Find” Morgan Crooks I once heard Flannery O’Connor’s work introduced as a project to describe a world denied God’s grace. This critic of O’Connor’s work meant the Christian idea that a person’s misdeeds, mistakes, and sins could be sponged away by the power of Jesus’ sacrifice at Crucifixion. The setting of her stories often seem to be monstrous distortions of the real world. These are stories where con men steal prosthetic limbs, hired labor abandons mute brides in rest stops, and bizarre, often disastrous advice is imparted.  O’Connor herself said of this reputation for writing ‘grotesque’ stories that ‘anything that comes out of the South is going to be called grotesque by the northern reader, unless it is grotesque, in which case it is going to be called realistic.’ This is both a witty observation and a piece of advice while reading O’Connor’s work. These are stories about pain and lies and ugliness. The brutality that happens to characters …

We Have Always Lived in Haunted Houses

As my final pre-Arisia post, I'd like to tackle ghosts. Metaphorically, of course, because ghosts are intangible and also don't exist. 


I don't believe in ghosts. Not the sort of ghosts, anyway, that float around decaying old mansions or scare impressionable media personalities. Physics, at least the way I've grown up understanding it, precludes the existence of energy that cannot be detected reliably. Put another way, physicist Brian Cox stated that if ghosts existed the Large Hadron Collider would have almost certainly found one by now.

So, when I say I'm a fan of ghost stories and tales of haunted houses, am I being hypocritical? Possibly, but I also think one can appreciate ghosts and haunted houses in a different way. Even though they might not exist in a 'peer-reviewed' and 'experimentally replicable' fashion, phantoms absolutely exist as a potent symbol of the past.

When we talk about ghosts what we're really talking about is that annoying…