Thursday, December 31, 2009

My 365 SF Short Story Challenge Is Done!

It may not look like it on the list on the left side of the screen (that will be updated shortly to include the most recently-read titles), but I've finally finished my 365 SF Short Story Challenge for 2009! - Good thing too, because I had only about an hour and 40 minutes left in the year when I finished the 365th short story this evening!

The last story of the tally: Oliver Morton's "The Albian Message" in Futures from Nature, edited by Henry Gee.

I've said it before, and I'll say it again: FFN was my ace in the hole when time was getting tight (meaning just a day or two left). If you're taking on a 365 challenge yourself and the clock is running out, make sure you have this collection of 3 page stories as your backup. Lots of submissions in it from heavy-hitters like Arthur C Clarke, Ray Bradbury and Robert Charles Wilson make for some good reading. Sure those gems are balanced out by a fair number of dry submissions that made me wonder why they would run 1 page, let alone 3, but on the balance it's a solid collection.

FFN was one of the few anthologies I'd read before that I included in this year's challenge (the holiday collections Christmas Stars, edited by David G Hartwell, And there were a couple of one-off stories that I re-read along the way to help write some piece or other. But the rest were new - or, new to me, at least. The Hugo Awards were helpful, making the nominated stories available to voters online, there was my quarterly subscription to On Spec (which I need to renew - d'oh!), and a ton of anthologies I've picked up this year and previously along the way.

Some of my favourite anthologies of the year's challenge included Ray Bradbury's We'll Always Have Paris - admittedly not Bradbury's best collection, but hey, it's Bradbury, so on the balance it was a treat to read. Peter S Beagle's We Never Talk About My Brother was also enjoyable. And I was really glad I picked up the Wildcards series from George RR Martin et al again with Inside Straight, which picked things up a year or two ago after a hiatus of more than a decade, I think. Lots of fun to see how they brought that world forward. Nick Gevers' steampunk compilation Extraordinary Engines was cool. But probably the anthology that'll stand out most in my mind from this year was The Oxford Book of Fantasy Stories from Tom Shippey. I was going through it round about the time of Anticipation, the World Con in Montreal this summer. I remember reading Larry Niven's brilliant "Not Long Before the End" one morning before heading over to the con, then seeing the man himself a few seats away from me in the back of a room where a panel was discussing...something (can't remember on what). I thought about asking him for his autograph on his story, but decided not to - he was sleeping through the session and I didn't want to wake him.

Anyhow, it's New Year's Eve and while I'm still not feeling very well (lucky me, I caught bronchitus while on vacation in Hawaii over Christmas), it's a time for celebrating, not blogging.

Thanks to all of you for being with me in 2009, and all the best to all of you in 2010 - The Year We Make Contact (I'll bet ya Peter Hyams has been waiting years for that joke to ripen).

Monday, December 14, 2009

In the Home Stretch

With just a couple of weeks left in 2009 - just 17 days to go in my 365 SF Short Story Challenge, today I've entered the home stretch. Arthur C. Clarke's "The Star" puts me at 266. That means I've only got 99 to go!


But can I clear 99 stories in so little time? Well, I think I've got a good shot at it.

The two anthologies I like to read around the holidays, Christmas Stars and Christmas Ghosts will be good for a couple of dozen to get a good pace going.

After that, it's a choice of whether to dive into a new anthology or two, or make the safe bet and read a few old anthologies that I know contain stories that are fairly short. Seeing as how some of the older collections like Asimov & Greenberg's "The Great SF Stories" series are ones that I haven't read (at least not cover-to-cover) in 10 to 25 years, I don't fee guilty about including them in the challenge over a newer book or two. Nothing wrong at all with getting reacquainted with old friends.

Then there's the travel time that'll work in my favour. We'll be out of town for a week over the holidays, and while airtravel these days is lacking in so very many ways, one of the benefits it does offer is plenty of time for reading. There's nothing like a 5-hour flight to chew through a book. Sure I won't get much reading done when we're actually at our destination, but the flights will more than make up for it.

And when we get home, I've got another week off of work, which should give me enough time to finish things off.

I hope.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Awesome Space Promo - What Not to Get a Star Wars Badguy for Christmas

It's not often that I have something nice to say about SPACE, Canada's SF specialty TV channel. In fact, over the last 4 years, I can count the number of times I've said anything remotely positive about the station on one hand - and have fingers to spare. But that's another story.

There is one thing I will openly admit that SPACE excels at - promos. They may be making all the wrong moves in programming these days, but ever since the station's inception back in the 90's - right from the start - SPACE has done station ID's and special programming event promos that are smart, guaranteed to grab the attention of any geek, and will have you falling on your ass laughing.

Their latest work of genius: the promo for SPACE-mas - the channel's holiday-season 12-day marathon of movie marathons (Trek movies one day, the Star Wars franchise another, you get the drift). The theme for this nerdtacular presentation: what not to get a Star Wars badguy for Christmas.

I will say this one time only: Bravo, ladies and gentlemen of SPACE. Bravo.