So, in anticipation of blogging regularly through 2012, here's my year in review:
TOP 5 READS
This was harder to narrow down than I expected, but my top 5 reads (in no particular order) are:
- 11/22/63 by Stephen King (vintage King with an ending that really works)
- Ysabel by Guy Gavriel Kay (also my most pleasant surprise of the year)
- The Dinosaur Hunter by Homer H. Hickam Jr. (the man who brought us the stars brings us dinosaurs)
- The Enterprise of Death by Jesse Bullington (weird, wild, and wonderful)
- Shadowplay by Tad Williams (once Barrick began to man up, the series improved dramatically)
MOST SURPRISING READ
After a few lackluster reads (The Last Light of the Sun & Sailing to Sarantium) that strayed too far from the kind of epic fantasy that initially drew me to him, Guy Gavriel Kay absolutely amazed and delighted me with Ysabel - an urban fantasy. I only gave it a read because I was looking for something shorter than Under Heaven that I could read at doctor's appointments with my wife, but I found it one of his strongest books. Beautifully written, with strong characters, it also tied in very nicely to the Fionavar Tapestry. That subtle (but critical) tie is what made a 'good' read a 'great' one.
MOST DISAPPOINTING READ
Without a doubt, the read that most disappointed me in 2011 was Steven Erikson's final entry in the Malazan Book of the Fallen saga, The Crippled God. This is a series that constantly blew me away, challenged what I expected from epic fantasy, and shocked me with some of the twists. Erikson really knows how to tell a story, and how to build a history/mythology that rivals anything in or out of fiction. So, with all that said, why was this my most disappointing read? Well, as superb as he is at telling a story, I'm afraid Erikson did an atrocious job of ending one. The story just fell apart at the seams, abandoned it's unpredictability and edginess, and betrayed the intellectual and emotional commitment of 9 books, brining us to a conclusion that was as boring as it was incomprehensible.
Dishonourable mention goes to Last Gleaming, the final story arc of Buffy the Vampire Slayer's season 8 comic book arc. The entire season was wildly uneven, indulging too much in the limitless FX budget of a comic book, but the final arc was ridiculous and lazy.
BEST TV MOMENTS
Once Upon A Time. Yeah, the show is cheesy, and I'm not sure it can survive beyond a single season (where do you go once the fairy tales are revealed?), but as good as Robert Carlyle was in Stargate Universe, he completely steals the show here.
Terra Nova season finale. It was a total surprise, and if seeing that dino emerge from the cargo container was good, watching it eat the head off that bastard from the Phoenix Group (in a total homage to Jurrasic Park) was epic.
BEST MOVIE MOMENTS
With a pregnant wife for the first half of the year, and a newborn baby for the second half of the year, I didn't get out to the movies as often as I'm used to. Transformers: the Dark of the Moon was fun, although not nearly as good as the second movie; Contagion just bored me to tears (there wasn't a single moment where I felt the slightest bit of emotional involvement); and Paul was a great flick (Kristen Wiig's alien conversion to atheism made me laugh until I cried), although a bit of a disappointment compared to what I expect from Simon Pegg.
In the end, the one movie that made me smile and reminded me of being a kid was The Muppets. It was as close to a perfect film as I've seen in years, right from the 80s nostalgia (the movie won me over the moment 80s robot offered up Diet Tab and New Coke), to the cameos (Jim Parsons was a particularly inspired choice for 'human' Muppet), to the villain's 'maniacal laugh' (and the Muppet henchmen suddenly wondering if they're on the wrong side).
A good year, and I'm looking forward to an even better one as I begin exposing our newest addition to the joys and delights of the genre.