Hello, everyone. I’m Richard Lee Byers, a newcomer to the Night Bazaar, here because Night Shade Books has just released Blind God’s Bluff: A Billy Fox Novel. It’s an urban fantasy, and I hope you’ll check it out. (Okay, there’s the plug out of the way.)
It’s been suggested that I give you my list of outstanding genre entertainments from 2012. I feel sheepish because it’s going to be kind of a short list. One of the paradoxes of being a writer is that you get into the profession because you love to read. Then you find out the time and mental energy you have to devote to reading are considerably diminished.
Or at least that’s the case with me. I wasn’t able to read all that many books in 2012, and when I did, I was often catching up with stuff a couple years old, not checking out new releases.
Still, partly because I’m writing the stuff myself now, I did make a point of sampling some urban fantasy. I’m a fan of Simon R. Green, and while Ghost of a Dream isn’t one of his very best novels, it has the fast pace, humor, and freewheeling imagination that grace all his books. Cold Days is a strong new installment of Jim Butcher’s “Dresden Files” series. The series (I thought) lost a little steam as the conflict with the Red Court ran on, but starting with Changes, it got really good again, and the new book keeps up the momentum. My favorite urban fantasy, though, was The Dirty Streets of Heaven, by Tad Williams. Williams is one of my favorite writers, and his first foray into urban fantasy is engaging, suspenseful, and full of fresh ideas.
I also made a point of reading some Cthulhu Mythos stories simply because I’ve been into Lovecraft’s creation ever since I was a teenager. And the best Mythos stories by other hands demonstrate HPL’s ideas are rich enough that another writer can use them to create something genuinely new. They aren’t mere pastiches any more than I Am Legend is a pastiche of Dracula.
Anyway, of those I read in 2012, two were especially good. The Apocalypse Codex, by Charles Stross, is the latest installment in “The Laundry Files.” These novels combine horror, humor, a science-fictional perspective, and spy-novel shtick to brilliant effect, and the new one is no exception. The Croning, by Laird Barron, is similarly innovative in its plotting and use of language and chilling throughout, a true evocation of cosmic fear.
Although I don’t read as many novels as I used to, I still blast through a good many comics, mainly the new adventures of the same superheroes I loved as a kid. DC grabbed my attention with the current Batman story featuring the Joker. If it ends as well as it started, it’s going to be great. At Marvel, the “kid Loki” saga in Journey into Mystery wrapped up a brilliant run, and then the publisher launched Hawkeye, its new best book. But the coolest thing currently in comics is Dark Horse’s Hellboy in Hell. Ever since the character began, fans have been waiting for this story, and now that it’s finally arrived, Mike Mignola is drawing as well as writing it, just like in the old days. You can’t get better than that.
Since I am a superhero fan, my favorite movie was The Avengers, which I thought was fantastic from start to finish. I also loved Cabin in the Woods for playing with horror-movie tropes to clever and often hilarious effect. So, thank you, Joss Whedon!
On television, Game of Thrones continued to demonstrate that by God, there can be an absorbing, high-quality epic-fantasy show. I never would have believed it. Nor did I expect I’d ever see a horror series as wild and crazy as American Horror Story, as gritty as The Walking Dead, or as clever and subversive as Supernatural. To me, the latter is particularly impressive because let’s face it, the story probably should have ended when Sam and Dean prevented the Apocalypse. But that was a few seasons back, and the show’s still imaginative and entertaining.
And with that, onward into the new year! I’ve got a hunch Hansel and Gretel will not make my list of the Best of 2013, but you never know until you park your ass in the theater seat or crack open that new novel. That’s part of the joy of being in the audience.Read More...