Annual Writerly Recap: 2016 Edition

I end the year not having achieved exactly what I set out to do, but accomplishing quite a bit regardless.

I did not reach my thirty-two book goal, but I did hit thirty (counting Serdar Yegulalp's Flight of the Vajra for two book slots, because, well, check out its word count).

  1. Not on Fire But Burning by Greg Hrbek

  2. Dr. Bloodmoney by Philip K. Dick

  3. The Jewel-Hinged Jaw by Samuel R. Delaney

  4. We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson

  5. Better Living Through Criticism by A.O. Scott

  6. A Year Owed by Ryan Link

  7. Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel

  8. The Master and Margarita by Mikhail Bulgakov

  9. Iron Council by China Miéville

  10. Art and Idea in the Novels of China Miéville by Carl Freedman

  11. The Half-Made World by Felix Gilman

  12. Flight of the Vajra by Serdar Yegulalp

  13. Twenty-Thousand Leagues Under the Sea by Jules Verne

  14. The Game-Players of Titan by Philip K. Dick

  15. Radiance by Catherynne M. Valente

  16. Planet of Exile by Ursula K. Le Guin

  17. The Simulacra by Philip K. Dick

  18. Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

  19. Journey to the Center of the Earth by Jules Verne

  20. The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells

  21. Foundation by Isaac Asimov

  22. Hyperion by Dan Simmons

  23. The Cyberiad by Stanislaw Lem

  24. The Crack in Space by Philip K. Dick

  25. City of Illusions by Ursula K. Le Guin

  26. The Form of the Book by Jan Tschichold

  27. Kraken by China Miéville

  28. The Elements of Typographic Style by Robert Bringhurst

  29. The Cultural Contradictions of Capitalism by Daniel Bell

I am currently in the middle of The Last Man by Mary Shelley, but that novel will have to count for 2017.

Numbers 3-8, 10, 26, 28, and 29 on that list were all last minute additions that usurped the slots of other titles I intended to read. And about three months of time sits between slots eight and nine. There are a couple of reasons for that.

The first was a bizarre experience I had while reading Iron Council. I was somewhere around page eighty or so, barely before anything in the novel had started to come together and make sense, when ideas for a new story of my own started forming in my head. I put down Iron Council and promptly began writing the draft that would eventually become Adventurers of Opytt.

Secondly, after I finished my final draft of Opytt, personal issues kept me away from writing and reading for a number of months. I returned to Iron Council in the summer and picked up where I left off.

My favorite "contemporary" novel (defined as being published in the current decade) of the year was Radiance, while The Cyberiad wins out as my favorite from previous decades. The War of the Worlds is a close second.

In terms of writing, I also accomplished a lot. I wrote a short story, Revelation, which will appear in print next year. I also wrote two novellas, the aforementioned Adventurers of Opytt and Our Algorithm Who Art Perfection. This time last year, I thought that my project for the year would be Dessyit, but that project is now indefinitely suspended.

My writing projects currently are a novel called A Year in a Day and a yet untitled project that I think will be novella-length. I won't bother with any pretense that those projects are destined to arrive at completion. Who knows, I could return to Dessyit.

Despite not achieving exactly what I set out to, I accomplished a lot. I also think that I made structural changes to my life and attitudinal changes to my outlook that will help me accomplish even more going forward.