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2010 in Books

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 Hunger Games and Catching Fire – Suzanne Collins. My first daughter-recommended science fiction reads. Proud parenting moment.

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.

PvP Levels Up – Scott Kurtz. Bought from the man himself at PAX East, signed & Scratch Fury-ed.

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

Quixote: A Novel – Bryan J.L. Glass. Adam introduced me to Bryan at the Pittsburgh Comicon in April. ‘Cause I’m a sucker for tilting at windmills and all.

Dungeons & Dragons 4th Edition Player’s Handbook – Rob Heinsoo, Andy Collins, James Wyatt

The Specific Gravity of Grief – Jay Lake. Reviewed this one for GeekDad, though I would have read it regardless.

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

Scenting the Dark and Other Stories – Mary Robinette Kowal. The only thing I didn’t like about this book? Too damned short. And I wish it could have included “Evil Robot Monkey”.

Red Hood’s Revenge – Jim C. Hines. The subject of another GeekDad review, and my favorite in his Princess series so far.

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

Clementine – Cherie Priest. Both of these are set in the world Priest created for Boneshaker, though neither is really a sequel in the strict sense. I like this universe.

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.

Little Fuzzy – H. Beam Piper. A classic of which I had no knowledge until Scalzi announced his upcoming take on the book.

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.

Silly Rhymes for Belligerent Children – Trace Beaulieu (Illustrated by Len Peralta)

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.

December 22, 2010 Posted by | Books, Fiction, geek, Ohio, science fiction, Travel | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Pittsburgh Comicon Road Trip

Saturday’s road trip with Adam to the Pittsburgh Comicon made for a long day that left me both physically exhausted and mentally worn out from a kind of roller-coaster day.

I’ll get the low point out of the way first: I didn’t sell a single copy of Collect All 21, which is a first since I’ve started actively attending conventions and promoting the book, and this really bummed me out, especially since this was the biggest convention I’ve been a part of so far. I absolutely love doing readings and going to cons anyway, so I was really excited at JediCon WV last August when I met Christine from the Science Fiction Alliance of Pittsburgh and she invited me to give a presentation at this spring’s show. And as the date drew nearer and I saw the scope of Star Wars-related guests and the impressive slate of comic creators who’d be on hand, I just got even more psyched.

I also have to admit it was neat seeing my name in the program book and a description of the panel along with a logo of the book’s title. And I was glad to see Christine again and meet some people from the group who I’d only met online.

About a dozen people showed up for my reading – I spent a good 10 minutes before 1 p.m. talking Star Wars with a very nice couple in the front row – and that number was absolutely fine with me, seeing as how, through no one’s fault, I was scheduled at the same time as the Legends of the Marvel Heyday panel, meaning guys like Roy Thomas and Joe Sinnot were right next door. I made sure to thank everyone who came, and though things got off to a rough start when the video clips I had prepared wouldn’t play, I felt like I was hitting some of the right chords in the right places as I read different excerpts from the book and moved through the saga.

I gave away a copy of the book as a door prize afterward, and I was glad that the recipient was one of the audience members who had seemed to be enjoying the reading the most, judging from smiles and laughter and nods of recognition or shared experiences. That was the only copy of the book which left that room in hands other than mine, though.

After a short break, Adam and I sat on a panel (again, thanks to the Sci-Fi Pittsburgh folks!) where we talked about our thoughts on and experiences with self-publishing.

Don’t get me wrong: It was fantastic to be invited and to take part, and I remain very grateful for the opportunity. And I know that from a logical standpoint, my presentation didn’t reach nearly as many people as if I’d had a table, but failing through my reading to convince a single person to buy my book really did hit me hard.

The thing is: I still had an absolutely frakking great day. We got there around 10:30 a.m. and within about 20 minutesof our arrival, I met and chatted with Roy Thomas, whose Star Wars comics work absolutely enthralled me when I was little. He was incredibly polite and generous with his time, and when I mentioned I had been much more into Star Wars than comics, he launched into a few minutes about what it was like working on the original movie adaptation and then being among the first writers to work in what has since been labeled “expanded universe” territory.

Roy Thomas, Marvel Comics legend

Roy Thomas, original writer & editor of Marvel Star Wars.

Adam introduced me to Dave Wachter, who did the cover of Deus Ex Comica, and I bought a long-overdue convention preview edition of The Guns of Shadow Valleywhich, by the way, is a-freaking-mazing and wholly deserving of its 2010 Eisner Awards nomination. And Dave put this nice sketch on the back, too:

Go read The Guns of Shadow Valley.

Normally, I'd say his guns ain't for hire.

Walking past one of the tables, my 1980s video-gaming eye was caught by this piece –

I got all the patterns down, up until the ninth key.

Scott Derby's "Inky"

– and of course I had to stop, which is how I met Scott Derby. This is actually one of a three-piece series, and I had a blast talking to Scott about this sort of pop-culture stuff, and we got on the topic of original-era Star Wars because a) I was wearing my Kenner shirt, and b) he was sharing a table with Dave Perillo, whose retro-advertising-look pieces included this one –

Dave Perillo's Wretched Hive

Dave Perillo - "Mos Eisley Cantina"

– about which, naturally, I was also crazy. (He also had this Sgt. Pepper’s print, which, given Jenn’s reaction to the Star Wars art above, pretty much makes my next gift buy for her a no-brainer.)

Since I was still lugging around copies of my book after Adam and I did our panels, I went back to Dave and Scott’s table and we talked a bit more, and both of them were receptive to my books-for-signed-prints trade proposal, which was very much appreciated – they seemed exactly like the kind of readers who’ll enjoy it, and I sincerely hope they do. (Both of them were also familiar with Kirk Demarais‘ work from a couple Gallery 1988 shows, so it was cool to be able to share the book cover – and they picked up on one of my favorite bits: The slightly offset color register of the proof-of-purchase-inspired title logo.)

We paid a visit to Bryan J.L. Glass – yet another super-nice guy – whom Adam had gotten to know at the first Screaming Tiki Con. The three of us chatted for awhile and I bought a copy of his collaborated take on Quixote.

My only other purchase was a hardcover edition of Locke & Key: Welcome to Lovecraft, which I picked up because it was cheap, and I’ve heard good things about Joe Hill’s writing.

We left at about 5:30 or so, I think, and Adam had a craving for Red Robin, so we found one in the general direction we were headed and had dinner in Homestead, Pa. (Which I just learned was the home of the Grays, whom I know because my brother gave me a great book a few years back about Josh Gibson). The place was packed, but there were plenty of open seats in the bar, so we enjoyed a few burgers and then headed west again.

Driving through Pittsburgh and toward eastern Ohio, Adam and I got into this great debate over the use of 3-D in movies – unnecessary gimmick or the next logical evolution in cinema? – that lasted us awhile. It was one of those really fun, engrossing, being-adamant-but-not-an-asshole conversations with well-stated points and nicely-supported counterpoints and analogies and examples, and it carried us for at least the better part of an hour – and it ended up on a note about boobies. So, win.

We kept talking the whole way back about all sorts of stuff, and it really reminded me of our junior and senior years of high school, when we regularly would just get together on Sunday nights after dinner and just hang out and BS, and it was something Adam and I haven’t done in a long time. I mean, if we had planned something like this – you know, a “Hey, the wives are out of town, let’s grab some beer and shoot the shit,” it would have somehow had a different feel than this trip did. Or as Adam put it, when we’ve taken road trips to Bowling Green, we have had similar lengthy conversations, but those, by nature of the trip, have always come with an expectation of back-in-the-day talk.

By the time we were back home, the low points of the day seemed a long way behind me.

April 25, 2010 Posted by | 1980s, Books, eighties, Fiction, Film, geek, science fiction, Travel, writing | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

   

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