A few days late, but here’s my obligatory summation of the past year at PC Bushi.
We picked up a lot of momentum this year, as we gained a bit of direction and became more engaged on social media and within the nerdy blogosphere.
For 2016, we reached 7,540 views, 3,845 visitors, and 139 posts. Not huge numbers, but an enormous amount of growth.
Direction and developments:
For my part, 2016 brought a major epiphany. I’ve mentioned before how the discovery and exploration of the Cirsova and Jeffro blogs turned me on to Appendix N, and beyond that catalyzed a general awakening to the body of quality scifi/fantasy that have become obscured over time. Since then I’ve generated a Grand List of such works. My foot was already in the door thanks to my familiarity with Tolkien and Herbert and Asimov and the like, but by the saints, I had no idea how much greatness I was missing. I also owe Kaiju for getting me into Conan.
I’ve gotten through some of the foundational stuff this year, which I’ll briefly talk about a little further on. There’s a lot more to get to, which I suspect will provide much blogging material.
Kaiju has been working on a writing project of his, which I’m told is progressing. Otherwise he pops in sporadically to muse about the end times and such.
The other big item is that we picked up another contributor recently – Gitabushi, who’s been tearing it up with guitar porn and posts about things like politics, philosophy, and his military experience.
This year I’ve gotten to the following:
Poul Anderson – The High Crusade was an amazing execution of knights versus aliens, and managed to toe the line between humorous and silly without slipping into the latter field. I also read Three Hearts and Three Lions, which probably has had a greater impact on gaming. Three Hearts contains the seeds of many iconic fantasy RPG elements of today – the paladin and his steed, dwarves with Scottish accents, trolls weak to fire. This year I’ll get to his other seminal work, the Broken Sword.
Leigh Brackett – just one of her short stories; not enough to form an opinion yet. In 2017 I’ll be digging deeper.
Edgar Rice Burroughs – the first three Mars stories. Man, these rocked, especially the first two. I’d like to work on Tarzan and one or two of his other properties this year.
Gordon R Dickson – A reread of the Dragon and the George, and it was still an awesome book. Mission to Universe was mediocre, but had some cool ideas.
Robert E Howard – I continued to read through the Conan stories and also got some Kull and Solomon Kane in. I just can’t say enough how great Howard’s characters are and how masterfully he shaped them.
Fritz Leiber – I keep hearing how fun and iconic Fafhrd and the Gray Mouser are; I should have started with them, and this year I’ll be checking out their tales. Gather, Darkness! turned out to be a disappointment.
Madeleine L’Engle – I reread the first two Wrinkle in Time books for the first time since I was a kid. Some creepy, awe-inspiring notes and an underutilized flavor of the scifi-fantasy blend. This series reminds me of Lewis’ Space Trilogy.
Michael Moorcock – Elric of Melnibone – I’m not quite sure what to say here. I’m glad to have become acquainted with the character and with Moorcock’s Eternal Champion universe. Elric himself is kind of insufferable. But he provides a valuable insight into the genesis of characters like Salvatore’s Drizzt, and perhaps influences upon the likes of Geralt of Rivia. In 2017 I’d like to check out the Hawkmoon books.
Offutt – My Lord Barbarian turned out to be a rather lackluster affair, with a great setup, interesting world, and serviceable characters. The story itself felt rushed and underdeveloped.
Pournelle – I’m just finishing up King David’s Spaceship as of this posting, so my opinion on it may not be 100% fully formed yet. That said, I was a little hard on the book early on, as it hit upon some irksome, all-too-common fantasy tropes. It’s really sucked me in, though, and unless it ends in a terrifically unsatisfying manner, I’ll be giving it high marks. What I’d expect from the co-author of the Mote in God’s Eye.
Fred Saberhagen – If Berserker is the least of the series, I’m really looking forward to delving into his works. I’d heard this first installment was nothing to write home over, and it’s always pleasant to have your expectations are surpassed. The tales of humanity pitted against the titular world-killing sentient machines were highly enjoyable.
Jack Vance – One of my favorite discoveries, most definitely. The Grey Prince started off a bit dryly, but was such a great tale of the failure of an extreme focus on “social justice” and the dangers of growing soft and naive. Star King left me drooling for more Vance. This year I’m hoping to get to a lot more of his stuff, starting with the Dying Earth stories. Also Vance was a supreme troll, which is awesome.
Roger Zelazny – Despite devouring the first five Amber books, I’m still not quite sure what to make of Zelazny. The Amber stories as a whole were among my favorites of the year, though as individual books I’m not sure they hold up quite as well. At his best, Zelazny weaves together intrigue, magic, and action, along with engrossing character interactions, in a way that leaves you wanting more. At worst, his writing gets trippy and disjointed. Maybe this year I’ll check out Lord of Light and see how it compares to Amber.
Various authors – I also read some viking sagas, some Dunsany, and other assorted short stories from classic scifi/fantasy authors. Lots of neat stuff. One of my favorite short stories was The Man Who Lived Backwards, by Charles F. Hall. Some really great ideas and imagery there. I also read Frankenstein, but there’s some debate as to whether that counts as scifi!
I’ve got a lot lined up for this year. Aside from what I noted above, I want to get to more Dunsany, some Clark Ashton Smith, Anne McCaffrey, Larry Niven, Piper, de Camp, Doc Smith, Eddison, Pratt, Norton, and a few others.
I’m working in an industry that I (mostly) like, and last year I locked down my woman. I suspect there’ll be kids in the picture sometime this year or next. Often things fail to work out how or when we want them, but we’re not privy to the Plan. God is good. May He bless us with a happy and successful 2017.