Jim Carchidi sent me to the Troniverse for Christmas:
When I went through my journal to log this year’s books, I learned I’d been a bit lazy and had completely failed to record five of this year’s reads. Fixed.
So, here’s what I read in 2010:
The God Engines – John Scalzi. Dark. Bizarre. Innards-tangling. Not for the faint of heart, and a real deviation from Scalzi’s usual writing paths. I liked it.
Sailing to Byzantium – Robert Silverberg. I’ve liked Silverberg since I read Revolt on Alpha C as a kid, and when Kelsey was little, we read Lost Race of Mars together. This collection’s much more for the grown-up science fiction fan, and his take on Joseph Conrad’s The Secret Sharer is fantastic.
Zoe’s Tale – John Scalzi (re-read)
Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows – J.K. Rowling (re-read)
The Gone-Away World – Nick Harkaway. The 100 Stories for Haiti anthology reminded me that I had been meaning to read this, and I loved it. Post-apocalyptic and mind-bendy and still human. Plus it has both Pirates AND Ninjas.
Math, Science and Unix Underpants – Bill Amend
Mainspring – Jay Lake
Cleveland’s Greatest Disasters – John Stark Bellamy II
The Sagan Diary – John Scalzi. Listened to this one on the drive back from Providence in March.
Fantasy Freaks & Gaming Geeks – Ethan Gilsdorf. Couldn’t put this one down: gaming and nostalgia and adventures and explorations galore.
The City & The City – China Mieville. For me, this was 2010’s equivalent to last year’s Anathem by Neal Stephenson. It’s a mental workout to read, especially in the beginning, but absolutely worth the effort.
FoxTrot: The Works – Bill Amend
Wildly FoxTrot – Bill Amend
Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook – Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt
Goblin Quest – Jim C. Hines
Daemons Are Forever – Simon R. Green. This is the second book in a series – it was a freebie from the author’s lit agency – so I started a bit behind the curve, but it was so unlike just about anything I’ve read that I got hooked pretty quickly. And James Bond references tend to go over well with me.
Found – Margaret Peterson Haddix
Locke & Key: Vol. I, Welcome to Lovecraft – Joe Hill and Gabriel Rodriguez
My Best Friend Is A Wookiee – Tony Pacitti. A Star Wars memoir from a younger fan’s perspective, growing up when the originals could only be seen on TV or videotape, and coming of age in the prequel era.
Mockingjay – Suzanne Collins. The kick-ass conclusion to the Hunger Games trilogy. Reviewing it for GeekDad earned me some serious bonus parenting points because it meant my daughter had it waiting for her when she got home from school on release day.
Dreadnought – Cherie Priest
The Odious Ogre – Norton Juster. With illustrations by Jules Feiffer, this reunited the Phantom Tollbooth words-and-pictures team for the first time in almost 50 years.
Oddball Ohio: A Guide to Some Really Strange Places – Jerome Pohlen
A Western Journal – Thomas Wolfe. Inspiring me to revisit my cross-country road trip in journal form.
Brody’s Ghost, Book 1 – Mark Crilley
Armor – John Steakley. A different, brain-cramping (in a good way) angle on the space-trooper genre tale.
Bloom County: The Complete Library Vol. 3 1984-1986 – Berkeley Breathed
Dungeons & Dragons Essentials – Dungeon Master’s Book – James Wyatt. As someone who only recently returned to D&D, I hadn’t really begun to think about taking on the DM’s role yet. This book, though, made for a great and encouraging read in that vein – thanks Kato and Wendy! – but I also got an awful lot out of it as a new player still kind of learning the finer points of the game mechanics and structure.
From an upstairs window this morning, I noticed a single set of animal tracks tracing a dotted line across our backyard snow. They seemed to go straight from the woods to our back door, which I found odd, since all our cats were inside all night.
A closer look solved that minor mystery:
I didn’t capture it very well, but the visitor – I assume it’s a black cat that wanders the neighborhood – apparently crept around the edge of the house, put a pair of paws on the doorstep, then turned and walked across the yard.
There were a few clear prints in the snow on the porch:
And this, of course, caught my eye:
Here’s the thing: That’s the ONLY print we saw which had that sixth toe imprint, but it looks too clear to have been the result of lifting and re-planting the paw.
For some reason, I kind of like the thought of a six-toed cat running around.
Two decades ago tonight:
It was my sophomore year at Bowling Green.
So, Tobi showed me around her hometown, and after dark, we drove out to this place she called Five Mile Bridge and waited for a train to come rushing beneath while we stood there and leaned on the railing.
For some reason, that night mattered to me. Maybe because I was barely 20 and everything like that mattered to me. Maybe because it was a strange sort of fluxing time in my life, when my closest friends had moved away and I felt oddly on my own. It grew to matter even more when Tobi died a few years later.
By that time, you couldn’t drive across Five Mile Bridge anymore.
Here’s how it looked when Jenn and I visited in June 1996:
I’ve been there four times in all, but not since a couple weeks before Christmas 1999, and never again after dark. I don’t even know if the bridge is still standing.
A few weeks after my last visit, I started writing the first draft of what grew into Crossing Decembers, which, while a work of fiction, has very real roots out there in the vast fields of Northwest Ohio.
For the sake of sharing, I serialized the entire book online this spring and summer. With winter a week away, and the 20th anniversary of two goofy college kids standing on a cold bridge in the middle of nowhere upon me, it seemed the right time to collect all the chapter links together.
It’s snowy and windy today, and I’ll be listening for train whistles.
Click here for information on ordering the book in paperback or electronic editions through Amazon or Lulu.
A couple days after I wrote this post on turning 40, the result of several months’ worth of conspiracy came to fruition in a surprise party at my mom’s house. (I was expecting a smallish family get-together – turned out to be a hugely awesome gathering of amazing friends old and new and wholly unexpected visitors, from people I’ve known since I wearing plaid pants and watching Sesame Street to others I’ve just come to know in the past few years.)
For my 40th birthday, I received two photos. (Three if you count the baby picture on the birthday cake.)
This was a gift from my brother & sister-in-law. Ever since my youngest brother and I started running one race a summer, we’ve always been amused by the usually less-than-flattering photo results, from the lower-lip mid-bounce freeze-frame to the eyes-half-closed unintentional pout to the “I’m trying to throw a double-thumbs up and a wink toward the camera but they snapped it too early and I look like an idiot” that my brother has mastered.
I was stunned, then, to find this among the shots of me participating in the relay in this year’s Akron Marathon, because it makes me look, you know, like I’m running, as opposed to simply trying not to keel over.
Just to keep me from feeling almost cool, though, here’s the second picture I got for my 40th birthday:
September, 1981: I’m 10 years old. Apparently the neighborhood dare-of-the-day was to kiss this tomato worm found in our neighbor’s garden. I’ll pass, thanks. I mean, with my ink-stained stripey shirt and my +2 Plastic Rimmed Glasses of NerdVision, I’m already pushing the boundaries of TOO AWESOME TO CARE, so why risk sucking all of southern Lake Township into a black hole of nonchalance by showing off and smooching a Manduca quinquemaculata?