2014 UPDATES & NEWS
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Due to zero feedback and a single-digit page view statistic, I am quite encouraged to continue this for another year. If you are unfortunate enough to stumble onto this page and want even further phrasal confabulations, the page of last year's 2013 Updates can be found here.

I am living about 100 miles away from a man, Gary Sherrill, who was arrested for allegedly chopping up his 13-year old son with an axe because he thought the teener was a demon and about to eat him. Then there's the apparent ambush/shooting/slaughtering (see photo below) in Puerto Penasco of Gonzalo "Macho Prieto" Inzunza & a half a dozen other Sinola cartel gangsters 100 miles in the other direction. In hometown Tucson on New Years Day, while a now-captured asshole was pummeling some woman, a Samariatan and his girlfriend stopped to help and the asshole ended up running over the 3 people with their own car, killing 2 of them.

Do you feel the fabric of society tearing away with ever-increasing force, or is it—like every Fogie you ever talked to when you were young—just me settling into Old Codgerism? The trick to enjoying Old is not projecting your own demise globally, and choosing one of these convenient explanations and sticking with it: has it always been like this, but exploding modern media coverage makes it seem more prodigious,or, someone sell me a missle silo 'cause it is truly time to hide and/or defend the family jewels. Or, face it loser, your paranoia is merely revealing the first rends of Dementia, and not just the party joke of "Sometimers."

I know one thing about aging, however.

 

I CAN FEEL IT IN MY BONES, and it doesn't tickle . . .

 

 

 

 

 

01/13/2014
Jim Crace
Done
01/22/2014
Stephen J. Clark
A Lister !
02/01/2014 The Skylark Peter Straub Shorted
02/19/2014
David Brin
Shorted
02/22/2014
David Brin
Short & Rant
 
03/05/2014

 

Trying to shake off the waft of Fantasy's magical enchantments, I chose some hard Science Fiction reads from the "Classic" shelf. I followed Brin with Greg Bear's Eon, c. 1985, and I wish I'd read this review beforehand. It is of that space-artifact-found variety and pretty much sums up my impressions of the read. Dead at page 144/504.

 

 
03/11/2014
John Love
Done
 
03/21/2014
Clive Barker
Shorted
03/26/2014

Rendezvous with Rama

Arthus C. Clarke
Done
03/31/2014

 

Deciding on a modern master to follow Sir Arthur, I picked up Light by M. John Harrison, circa 2002, but dropped it by page 48/320 as being way too byzantine for my present moods. Harrison is to cogitate upon, like Priest, Ballard, Wolfe, Shepard, Tiptree, Delaney; not easy reads but worth the grainy-eyed studies when you slip under the profundity blanket every now and then. I guess I'm still craving curvy spacebabes without helmets on Mars carrying ray guns. Andre Norton, here I come!

And so much for those "lost classics" like Harness' 1968 The Ring of Ritornel. Talk about a disconnect. The whole package seemed to swallow itself with teeth chips from an overly-zealous gobstopper. The prose is dry, analytical. And, didactic over the question of life as determined (Ritornel)or life as whimsy (Alea). This former patent lawyer put me to sleep in the witness chair. Dead at 108 out of 191.

 

 
04/04/2014
Nicola Griffith
Done
 
04/21/2014
Sheri S. Tepper
Done
05/05/2014
Nancy Kress
Done
05/09/2014

 

Note 2 Myself

How about a compare & contrast analysis of carnival novels? Here's what I got so far:

1946 Nightmare Alley by William Lindsay Gresham

1953 Madball by Frederic Brown

1963 Something Wicked This Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

1966 Carny Kill by Robert Edmond Alter

1989 Geek Love by Katherine Dunn

2006 The Pilo Family Circus by Will Elliott

2013 Joyland by Stephen King

No, I will not include 1987's Twilight Eyes by Dead Koontz, or Morgenstern's 2011 The Night Circus.
. Gruens' Water For Elephants is also missing but not for the same reasons. I just don't know the work, maybe I should, huh?. But, phantom audience, I am NOT asking for suggestions.

 

 

 
 

THE SUMMER READS

 

 

I bookended this year's summer road trip with 2 12-hour drives. First, out of Tucson at 7am, arriving in Sequoia National Park at 7 that evening. Then, homeward, I woke up at the base of Tioga Pass in the Sierra at 6am and was back into Tucson by 6pm. In between in Missoula, Terry and I sold our rental on Connell and bought a bungalow on Gerald about 7 blocks away. The Gerald house is much smaller, but it's pretty much turnkey; however, it did celebrate the arrival of the new ownersusby felling an apple tree during high winds into the house 3 days into our tenure. And while we were up at The Keep celebrating our 30th anniversary! Needless to say, we spent the summer moving in and making this house our own.

 

 

The trips up and down were reasonably uneventful but fun. After the Sequoias and visiting old California friends, I stopped by Mr. Rainier before hitting Missoula. On the way back, more time was spent exploring Mt. St. Helens lava tubes, then down to Lava Beds on the backside of Mt. Shasta. I gotta say out of all the mountain ranges I've explored in the West, the Cascades are my favorite. Well, it's really the Olympics, but they are too hard to get to and too hard to stay in any length of time in camping/hiking mode. But the Cascades, ahhhhh. I mean, at any moment I expect Gandalf to step out of the ferns and hand me a ring or something. Plus, they've got real volcanoes, dude!

 

Sparky had a tough time of it this summer. The 6-month old puppy collapsed on the floor, and, come to find out, he needed to re-establish a blood supply to his liver. Specialist vet in Spokane performed the surgery for a liver shunt and all's well. Special thanks to Missoula's Dr. Z (Zirbel). He wouldn't be alive if it weren't for her care, knowledge, and attention.

 

 

09/06/2014
Alan Peter Ryan
Done
 
09/10/2014
Carolyn Ives Gilman
Shorted
09/15/2014
Alan Ryan
Done
09/19/2014
Alan Ryan
Done
09/25/2014
Emily St. John Mandel
Shorted
10/09/2014

 

Hollywood hits on two dates: Summer and the year-end Sugar Season reigning from thanksgiving to new year's. So, we're half-way through movie season, and what a bore. There's only Gone Girlobviously a pack leaderDawn of the Planet of the Apesmost impressive 2nd installment of a trilogy since The Empire Strikes BackThe Dropa fitting bookend for Gandolfini's presence in Killing Them SoftlyEdge of Tomorrow and Maleficentcontenders but not stars. I haven't seen Snowpiercer or The Grand Budapest Hotel. Then there's Interstellar. I can't fault the reachthis makes epic category like 2001: A Space Oddessy—but, like most of Nolan, there's pesky deus ex machinas strewn throughout, but the syleOMGwith its sense of space and hero-reluctant characterization is elegant and enthralling. The message is certainly timelyall exploration needs encouragement or wees gonna upend. It makes second viewing mandatory.

Now the countdown begins toward calories, sugar, football, and toys. And, as our waistlines begin seasonal expansion, up pops the Best Film of the Year SoFar, Birdman, viewed on 12/3. A fantasy/reality mix in similar territory with Black Swan, feeling like it's directed by the Coen Bros., but swathed in an originality all its own. It's about being legitimate in reality, as oppossed to living in dream castles moated by defense mechanisms most of us construct.

 

10/10/2014
Thomas Tessier
Done
10/15/2014
Joan Samson
No Review
10/18/2014
Chuck Wendig
Shorted
10/25/2014
Adam Nevill
Done
11/20/2014
Jeff VanderMeer
Shelved
11/29/2014
Nick Cutter
Done
12/14/2014
Brian James Freeman
Done
12/16/2014
Brian James Freeman
Shorted
12/18/2014
Michael Koryta
Shorted
12/21/2014
Dennis Lehane
Shorted
12/27/2014
Joseph Boyden
Done
       
   
       
       

 

GOODBYE 2014

Before anything, I'd like to pay homage to four of my favorite authors who died this year:

Lucius Shepard (1947-2014)

Graham Joyce (1954-2014)

Peter Matthiessen (1927-2014)

Gabriel Garcia Marquez (1927-2014)

No more from you great storytellers is a grievous loss, but what you left in the dirt for all of us leaves your immortality unquestioned. Thanks, guys, for your heart. You will be missed.

 

I paged through about 45 books this year, with my major foothold beinggee, whowoulda thoughtHorror. My photography instincts continued to grow fainter as my physical activity became more entropic. Summer was a major meltdown with selling/buying houses and Sparky's non-functioning liver. Consolation was sought in Netflix and HBO, not so much in literature.

Weird Fiction seems to be a designation that came up with China Mieville back before 911 made the world look like weird fiction. But in the Horror genre it aims at that unsettling glimpse of something—always sinistaer and foreboding—scurrying around the peripheral and just out of sight. Most of the time it is given to you in deconstructed prose or deliberate, withheld solutions that force conclusions from educated guesses, blogging other confused readers, personal & idiosyncrapic soap boxes, or deeply-embedded dysfunctions from psycho/social/sexual twistings masquerading as personality quirks. I finally acknowledge this as my genre of choice. The god of these slippery slopes is Arthur Machen. The major pit crew is that Aickman-Ligotti-Barron team everyone talks about; however, intrepid explorers can be found in all class designations, like Alan and Caitlin and Algernon, to name a few.

But before we get to the major awards, a new recognition has been set forth:

 

THE CRAWFORD CONFERRALS

(a simple salute for simple-minded readers like myself)

 

Best read novel of the Year: In Delirium's Circle by Steven J. Clark

Best read surprise of the Year: The Orenda by Joseph Boyden

 

Honored Mentionables: Faith by John Love

Amazonas by Alan Ryan

Finishing Touches by Thomas Tessier

Last Days by Adam Nevill

The Dry Salvages by Caitlin R. Kiernan

Ammonite by Nicola Griffith

 

A discovered dead Author of the Year: Alan Ryan (1943-2011)

A discovered live Author of the Year: Jeff Vandermeer (1968-)

 

Summarizing 2014 with regards to fantasist literature is probably best illustrated by the major award winners for best novel.

The Nebula was won by Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice.

The Hugo was won by Ann Leckie for Ancillary Justice .

The World Fantasy Award by Sofia Samatar for A Stranger in Olondria.

The International Horror Guild Award was discontinued in 2008, but we still have the Stoker, which was staked out by Stephen King for Doctor Sleep, and Rena Mason's The Evolutionist for 1st Novel Award.

Across the pond, The British Fantasy award now splits in two for the novel category, with The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes winning the August Derleth (horror) award and A Stranger in Olondria by Sofia Samatar taking the Robert Holdstock (fantasy) award. Ann Leckie with Ancillary Justice and Gareth L. Powell with Ack-Ack Macaque broke the summit stick in half to share the British Science Fiction award while Nina Allan booted into Short Fiction with Spin. The Arthur C. Clarke award went to Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. The John W. Campbell crown fell on Marcel Theroux this year for Strange Bodies. PBOs were distinguished with a win for Countdown City by Ben H. Winters for the Philip K. Dick Award, with special citation to Self-Reference Engine by Toh EnJoe. The James Tiptree Jr. award sat down with N. A. Sulway for Rupetta. Okay, there's also the Shirley Jackson Award which went to Robert Jackson Bennett for American Elsewhere, this year's novel choice.

And lastly, The Locus Awards passed out plaques for Best SciFi Novel to James S. A. Corey's Abaddon's Gate, Best Fantasy Novel to The Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman, and Best 1st Novel to, yep, you guessed it: Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie.

Massive kudos to Ann Leckie for finding the key to the Writer's Nirvana Lounge on first outing. Five of the top awards and she's already serializing! An amazing career start I'll hafta check in on.

 

HELLO TO 2015 !!

 

 

© copyright 2010 by Larry Crawford

updated 01/02/2014