Counting ink.

It is late, and everyone is discussing 2014. With my habit of getting bogged down in quantifiable minutiae, I am therefore posting about my reading and writing this year.

In 2014, I aimed for 80 books and finished 95, covering a total of 24421 pages.

I was also trying to aim for gender parity in my reading, and I failed. Overall the split was 38:14:43 (the numbers representing female authors:authors of non-binary or unspecified gender, or multi-authored works with a gender mix, or anthologies:male authors, respectively).

  • one was non-fiction. This low number isn’t surprising; I tend to dip in and out of non-fiction works, rather than read them end to end, and I don’t count RPG books as non-fiction. 1:0:0
  • eighteen were short standalones (stories or novellas); most were ebooks, although I did get four in print, including copies of Bob Leman’s “Instructions” and Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light. 9:1:8
  • sixteen were anthologies! Unsurprising, as anthologies are generally my favourite kind of book to pick up. 2:13:1; the first two were Two of the Deadliest and The Mammoth Book of Ghost Stories by Women, and the last one was The Cthulhu Mythos Megapack.
    (I ran across two other Mythos anthologies this year which only featured male authors, earning Mythos anthologies the distinction of being the only genre of anthology I’ve learned I need to check when I’m tracking gender in my reading, as I clearly can’t assume they’ll actually have a gender mix. A++ Nyarlathotep, carry on. You jackass.)
  • fourteen were collections of stories by a single author (including one of the graphic novels, since the Jonah Hex collection felt more episodic than any of the others). 6:0:8
  • three were RPG sourcebooks. 0:0:3
  • five were game-related fiction: two Wasteland standalones, two Deadlands Noir standalones, and one Pinebox, Texas (now… re-mastered, I guess? as East Texas University) anthology. 0:1:4
  • eight were graphic novels. 0:0:8
    Yes, really. And I thought Mythos anthologies were bad. If you count the writer and the artist as co-authors, that changes to 0:1:7, and my overall stats become 38:15:42
  • twenty-five were ebooks; I read more of these towards the end of the year, and suspect I will read more in 2015. Cheers for a tablet and a new ereader. 11:2:12
  • thirty-seven were novels. 20:0:17

Four of the books I read I five-starred on Goodreads, which is a rating a reserve for books that I think people should read even if they usually pass over that genre (The Last Unicorn, The Inheritance and Other Stories, Save Yourself, and Strong Female Protagonist). 2:0:2, or 2:1:1 if you count writer and artist as co-authors.

Four of them I two-starred, which means I did not hate them but pretty much stopped enjoying them and ground on to see if they would get better. If they had, I would have rated them higher.

And the oldest book I read this year was Naomi Mitchison’s Travel Light, first published in 1952.

I also submitted stories 34 times, and got 31 rejections (although one of those rejections came in for a story I submitted in 2013, so you can say I only got 30 2014 rejections. This does not mean I got four acceptances, but it does mean I am expecting at least four rejections next year. 😉 ) I am slightly embarrassed by how little I wrote; my yearly wordcount hit five digits, but not six.

Happy New Year! See you on the other side.

“God, I hate the apocalypse.”

The opening chords and the "Have MERCY" catchphrase are stuck in my head, and I am gleeful.
The opening chords and the “Have MERCY” catchphrase are in my head, and I am gleeful.

It’s been a frustrating sort of day, so I am accentuating the positive. (This is me, so I am doing so by discussing Z Nation.)

God, I love that show.

I’ve basically dropped The Walking Dead, which I’m sure continues to be a well-acted depiction of desperate people driven to cruelty and making harsh decisions as kindness is slowly eroded from a dying world that they have no hope of salvaging.

I don’t think Z Nation is as good, in terms of narrative consistency or pacing, as TWD. I’m okay with that. It’s cheesy in its simplistic approach; it openly says that anyone still around three years into the zombie apocalypse is some kind of pulp-action-adventure badass, and then uses that as a reason to eschew grinding subsistence-level misery and proceeds to give a group of flawed, hopeful, mostly well-intentioned and kind characters a chance to actually do something that might save the world.

It has dark humour. It’s fun. It’s hopeful, in the game grim way apocalyptic settings can be if you give the characters an actual chance to achieve something. And there are moments–when Murphy leaves the door open–when I am actually shocked and horrified by the bad things people do. I like that. I appreciate the hell out of a post-apocalyptic story that can still make cruel things upsetting instead of allowing them to fade into a background slurry of mean-desperate-selfish-mean. Continue reading ““God, I hate the apocalypse.””

Walking Dead: No Going Back

(Yes, well, it’s the holidays. I can’t use the mouse too much, but games which are heavily or primarily keyboard-accessible? I am all over those.)

So, I finished Walking Dead: Season 2–the story game, not the TV show, definitely not the Walking Dead™: Survival Instinct game which from what I’ve heard is absolutely terrible–and it was good. (I generally find the Telltale Games stuff to be really good; the only work of theirs I haven’t picked up is the Game of Thrones one, and if they ever do a 100 Bullets game I will probably go missing for several hours at regularly spaced intervals. I find they don’t branch as much as the Choice of Games narrative fiction, but they are very good at inspiring an emotional connection with the characters.)

Anyway, the game’s been out for a year or for four months (depending on whether you count from the first or last episode), but I realize some people may not have played it yet, so I’m putting the rest behind a cut. Continue reading “Walking Dead: No Going Back”

Yellow and blue.

Look, happy polygons!
Look, happy polygons!

There’s a nifty post going around, The Parable of the Polygons. It’s a study of how small preferences within a society end up producing larger divisive trends within a society, explained through cute little flash games with yellow triangles and blue squares. They’re nice triangles and squares! And you drag them and drop them and move them around, until they’re happy or at least not unhappy. (They can end up “meh”, too.)

What gets me particularly is about the eighth game (anything with a “reset” button under it can be played; it’s just the larger boards, with the dark backgrounds, that look most like games. So: the eighth game, or the fourth big game) is that it shows what happens when you get people without bias in an already segregated society.

What happens? Nothing.

See what doesn’t happen? No change. No mixing back together. In a world where bias ever existed, being unbiased isn’t enough! We’re gonna need active measures.

I am trying to remember this. Because this is not a world with zero bias, and it is useful to remember that correction of existing divisions is not something that happens just because you aren’t actively bad.

You need to be good. You need– I need to be better. I need to actively work to put stuff I’m not used to seeing in the tiny slice of the world that I have curated for placement in front of my nose.

Because it isn’t going to happen by itself.

Weather

Next to the Caribbean, it was sugar sand; softer than sugar, actually, if you pressed the individual grains against your skin. A kind of powder of shells, too large to be dust and too soft to be grit.

Now that we are home, it’s salt snow. The wind is running it across the streets and windowsills with a sound like a saltshaker spilt across a table. It’s very clearly something built up from frozen water, not something ground down by liquid water. (This morning it hadn’t actually built all the way up to being snowflakes, it was just little bits of icy grit.)

In other news, good grief I miss the warm weather.

Monday was productive, Tuesday was less so. Hoping to make today more of a Monday than a Tuesday. Onwards!

Sunburn

Sunburn is actually a really interesting feeling, I think. Not a pleasant one, but there’s that tingling, faintly sparky undertone to it that you don’t get with other burns. Probably because it’s hard to get a burn as mild as a sunburn can be.

In other news: the Caribbean is salty as a mouthful of homemade disinfectant. Rougher than the bit of the Mediterranean I went to once; I got pulled technically-past-the-barriers twice. There was also a pelican diving unconcernedly amidst the tourists, some silvery-pale fish with shading as dark as a speckled gull, many-many gulls, and a lot of sun.

I don’t miss having an internet connection when I’m at the beach.

Light of my life and I had dinner at the Brazilian steakhouse last night, and afterwards we went and sat on the beach. (They mow the beach after dark, you know. Line up all the chairs and run something past on the sand to put neat straight lines in the sand.) It’s very calming to remember that the world is still big, sometimes. Every place I might want to get to is measured in hours, and I can send messages instantly, and talk to people anywhere with an internet connection, and…

And the sea, the sea in the darkness rolls, and it does not care.

It makes it easier to sleep.