Friday, 2 July 2010

Halfway Through 2010: The Other Half

Over the last few days, we've discussed my five favourite books, movies and video games of the year so far. Ultimately, we came up with three things to rule them all: in literature, The Passage, Justin Cronin's hugely hyped genre debut; Martin Scorsese's terrific adaptation of Dennis Lehane's Shutter Island in film; and in gaming, Grand Theft Auto in the old West, as per the sublime Red Dead Redemption.

So that's the first half of the year sorted. But what about the rest of it?

Here are a few of the things I'm most looking forward to over the weeks and months to come. Some of the books, I'll confess, I've read already, though they're not due out for a while yet - the perks of blogging till your fingers bleed. But the games and the movies and the larger part of the literature will be as new to me when I finally get my grubby paws on them as they will be everyone else.

All of the following are scheduled for release between July 1st and the end of 2010.


Let's get the no-brainers out of the way first. Thanks to the fay magic of galleys from Gollancz, I've read, and loved, both The Dervish House by Ian McDonald and Hannu Rajaniemi's hard SF debut, The Quantum Thief. Due in July and September respectively, these are the first clear-cut Arthur C. Clarke award-candidates of the season, incredible novels each in their own way: powerful, perception-bending creations that will crush your expectations to quantum dust.

I've reviews of both novels in the can already, but I'm with the publicity reps here: though early buzz is fine and dandy - every good book should have a bit of it going in - I can't quite see the point in recommending you all buy this or that book when it's still months away from publication. So.

Another couple of big-hitters here, though I'm less sure about this selection - only because I haven't read any of the authors. Well... except for Brandon Sanderson, I should say. I read the excerpt of The Way of Kings, and that's left me hungry to dig into the rest of it. Otherwise, The Black Prism should be a great place to get started with Brent Weeks - I've been looking for an opportunity to do so all year; the release of The Broken Kingdoms, meanwhile, should be a fine motivation to go back and read my copy of The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms, which I'll confess to resigning to my library after every blogger and their mother wrote about.

A couple of books from Corvus, a new genre imprint that - going from its stellar opening salvo of releases - we'll be talking about in the same breath as Tor, Voyager and Gollancz in no time at all. Initially published to little notice in 2004, The Holy Machine isn't new, per se, but from the blurb, the wide release in July is positioning it as this year's The Windup Girl. If there's even a modicum of truth to that, this is a book that should be on every speculative fiction fan's radar.

A Weird Compendium, meanwhile, is the 1000+ page opus Jeff VanderMeer has been referencing on his blog for the last while. He and Ann mean to bring together "decades of experimentation and intrepid creativity... the biggest, boldest and downright weirdest stories from the last hundred years... in this gigantic collection of strange and astounding tales." And I, for one, can't wait. This could be an anthology for the ages.

I've had a proof of The Reapers Are The Angels kicking about for a few months now, though I haven't yet had the chance to get to it. The early word, though, is that it's a hell of a book. Graeme loved it, calling Alden Bell's debut (though I understand we're talking about an established author here, writing genre fiction under a pseudonym) "the best zombie novel that you haven't read yet." I'm in.

The Silent Land, on the other hand, I haven't heard terribly much about at all, but I've enjoyed Graham Joyce's fiction in the past, and The Silent Land, which follows "a young couple... caught in an avalanche during a ski-ing holiday in the French Alps" looks set to mine one of my very favourite subjects: desolate landscapes blanketed in snow. A la The Terror. Here's to that.

Last of all, and certainly not least, the two books I'm probably most excited about...
I can't be the only one looking forward to this year's Stephen King. I've debated a few folks on Twitter about this very thing, but the too-easy conclusion of Under the Dome left me rather cold indeed. Full Dark, No Stars, however, is a collection of four novellas in the mode of Different Seasons, certainly my favourite of King's vast back-catalogue, so I'm back to anticipating its release in November with baited breath and crossed digits.
The Company Man by Robert Jackson Bennett, on the other hand, I'm rather less nervous about. As discussed on Monday, Mr Shivers only narrowly lost out to The Passage as my book of the year (so far), and as Robert told me a few months ago, The Company Man should broaden his considerable reach still further: "loud and brassy" where Mr Shivers was "quiet and unspoken," I don't doubt it'll be a departure from the spare mythology of Robert's breathtaking first book, but this author has been my single most memorable find of the year, and to have another novel from him so soon - however different - is all I could ask.
Excuse me while I eeeeep! :)

One of the 2010 films I'm most looking forward has already been released... just, much to my frustration, nowhere near me. I've gone on about Splice on the blog before; I'll save whatever other burbling about it I have in me for when I finally get the chance to see Vincenzo Natali's latest and potentially greatest. In the interim, there's always this post.

I'll be seeing what is surely my most anticipated movie of the year on day one along with the rest of you, though. Christopher Nolan's Inception is nearly upon us. I tend to suspect Nolan's following has blown up since The Dark Knight, as well it should have, but I've been a fan of this man since Memento, and much as I love his Batman movies, I'm glad to see Nolan trolling his own imagination again. It doesn't get better than The Prestige. Except, this year, maybe it does.

Have a sneaky peeky to celebrate:

It's coming July 16th, people. Mark your damn calendars!

Also really excited to see One Hour Photo director Mark Romanek's adaptation of Kazuo Ishiguro's remarkable novel Never Let Me Go. Couldn't find a poster for it, I'm afraid, but I did embed a trailer for it last week - scroll down a bit if you missed it. This year's Children of Men, says io9. And it could well be...


On one hand, I'm thinking: oh yeah. On the other: hell no, not again.

I must have ploughed near enough 100 hours into Fallout 3 last year, DLC and all, and the thought of another city to explore, new mechanics to get to grips with, and the original developers coming onboard to play around with Bethesda's open-world engine excites me in the same breath as it brings me out into cold sweats. Do I have another 100 hours to spare? Probably not. Will I? Well, yes, without a doubt.

Thankfully, Dead Space 2 won't likely take any more than 10, and for a game that - if it follows in its predecessor's spacewalk of terror footsteps - will have me alternating between my spot on the sofa and my hiding place behind it, that's probably just as well. Probably my most anticipated game of the rest of the year. Halo: Reach and the latest Call of Duty I'll play, very likely, but next to this they're as good as old hat.


And that's us. That's the last six months well and truly recounted, and the next half a year officially anticipated. Some potential stonkers in there, right?

I'm really loving 2010. As of now, it's certainly in the running for the best year of speculative fiction ever.

Well, I suppose we'll see. In the meantime, ladies, gents, do feel free to chip in. Anything you think I've overlooked? What books, movies and games are you most looking forward to in what's left of 2010?


  1. That cover for New Vegas is beautiful. Is it the UK version, or 360, or have I completely missed something here? Whatever the case (hahaha!) may be, I'm really looking forward to this game.

    Dead Space 2 also should be wonderfully fun, though I didn't think it was scheduled for release until Spring 2011?

  2. @logan - Oh balls, neither it is. First Portal 2 ducked out of the race, and now the Dead Space sequel. Damn. Exactly what's left on the books for this year? Help me out here, man! All I can think of are the big-hitters, you know... the new Call of Duty, Halo: Reach, and I'll play them, no question, but I'm hardly excited about doing so.

    The New Vegas cover is the US version, I think - what with the big "M" for mature rating in the lower left corner. Cover matters aside, indeed, it should be awesome.

  3. The Fallout cover indeed is a rather beautiful, original design. Never having played a Fallout in full, I still got tired of its standard aesthetic after a while. This and the teaser trailers look like the developers will make it a work of passion, and because it's going to run without the basic game, I will probably play it too.

  4. Mr Shivers was one of my favourite reads this year. VERY much looking forward to Company Man.