Tuesday, December 31, 2013

A Year In Review: 2013

So 2013 rolls to a close and it seems traditional to do some sort of summation of the year. I'm always hesitant with these sorts of things, especially the largely artificial process of comparing X to Y to see which one "wins", so I've settled for a "In No Particular Order, Top Three" for entertainment which I have consumed this year. Its also traditional to point out things you are pleased about, so I'll do that too! 

A full list of everything I've been up to is here

Movies (Cinema)
Pacific Rim: Most of this years blockbusters have come with caveats; tying themselves into knots with nonsensical plots or strange tonal swings, but Pacific Rim was just a joy, and doesn't pretend to be anything else. Take it for what it is, and love it. 
Rush: Ron Howard remains a hugely entertaining filmmaker, especially when he heads off for historical character drama. For someone with little interest in motorsport, Rush remains accessible and exciting, as well as an absorbing character piece. 
Gravity: With the Gravity backlash in full swing, I'm going to stand by my assessement that in the moment this is a nerve-shredding and brutally efficient thriller. Will it stand up to five viewings on someones iPhone? Is it all a confidence trick built on dazzling 3D effects? Perhaps, what a trick it was. 

Movies (DVD/BRD)
Berberian Sound Studios: A film which didn't seem to get as much attention as it should, this is a showcase of Toby Jones and the art of sound editing. Set in the murky world of exploitation cinema, its gut churning without showing you any horror, and hypnotic to watch. 
Argo: Yes, Argo got all the plaudits at the end of last year but we only managed to see it in the spring. And yes, it's as good as they say. 
Zero Dark Thirty: So this list is starting to look like last years Oscars nominations, but thats being behind the times for you. ZDT starts slowly and starkly but builds up to a magnificent portrayal of events that were playing out as the film was being made. Its got a creditable neutral tone, which seems to have upset people on both sides of the political divide, which can only be a good thing. 

TV Series
Fringe: Its a long time ago, but lets not forget that this is the year that we said goodbye to Fringe, a show that took its time a'courting but eventually won (and broke) my heart. Farewell, Fringe, I shall miss you. 
30 Rock: We've seen 6 seasons of this show this year. Six. Good God, Lemon. 
Breaking Bad: Because it seems to be compulsory. We've only seen the first two seasons so far, but yes, this really is something else. 

Existance (David Brin): For a Science Fiction Geek I've been pretty jaded on the genre for a while, but Existance's sprawling view of a future we just sort of stagger, combined with a mediation of the Fermi Paradox, really re-fired my interest. It sags towards the end, but is still a thoughful, absorbing read.
The Air War (Adrian Tchaikovsky): The Shadows of the Apt series remains my favorite Fantasy series, combining epic heroics with a pretty unique world. The Air War is the series kicking back into high gear, as technology marches on again, and Total War engulfs the Lowlands. Absolute proof that Fantasy doesn't need to be stuck in the middle-ages for its inspirations.
Devil In the White City (Erik Larson): My most "Dissecting World-est" read of the year counterpoints the building of the Columbian Worlds Fair in 1893 with the exploits of one of America's earliest recorded Serial Killers. A glimpse into the dawn of the modern age, and a tale of obsession and achievement.

Saga: Buy this, read this.
Knight and Dragon: From the Small Press world this is a comic I totally fell for, and bought for peoples Xmas presents. Its a great example of what you can do with the comics format, and on top of that it's just...lovely.
Hawkeye: The comic that got me subscribed to comixology, so I need to thank it for that. Witty, clever, and experimental, the exploits of HawkGuy and Lady HawkGuy have been something I've consistently looked forward to. 

X-Wing Miniatures: We bought this for Ewan last Xmas and have steadily expanded our fleets through the year. Its got a great system, nice figures and its really, really good fun. 
Bioshock Infinite: Another recipient of "trendy backlash of the year" I loved Bioshock Infinite, both for its swashbuckling gameplay and attempt to use a fairly restrictive FPS framework to take a stab at talking about violence, oppression and free will. 
Guild Wars 2: May not be one of the best games I've played, but became a shared adventure with Z and I and took up a lot of hours in the process. Like a lot of recent MMORPGs it seems to be reaching for the next evolution without quite having the courage to leap for it, but nevertheless was a refreshing experience. 

So thats about it. In other news I remain fiercely proud of the work we do at Dissecting Worlds Towers and equally remain guilty I don't get as much time and energy to put into it as I would sometimes like. I've kept writing, and adding to my folder of rejection letters, although some projects look like actually happening so maybe I'll have something to announce in 2014. And I've kept this blog going, which is nice! 

So, Happy New Year everyone, hope you all have a good 2014.