Friday, December 31, 2021

Books I Read in 2021


In 2021 I read 58 books, a personal all-time low. As you'll see from the list below, I didn't attempt to tackle anything particularly challenging. The stress of 21st-century existence leaves me with diminished capacity; escaping into film taxes me far less than slipping into a book these days, a truth that profoundly saddens me, but one I can no longer deny. Silver lining: for the first time, I read as many books by women as by men. 

In 2021 I sought out escapist fare, often re-reading old favourites that took me back to comfortable alternate realities and in some sense to a more vital past self. Somewhere between a quarter and a third of the books I read are non-fiction, mainly covering topics in popular culture. 

A couple of novels stand out. Severance, by Ling Ma, uncannily anticipates the COVID-19 catastrophe and, like the real disaster, reveals the silliness and futility of the ways we live and work in the modern world, how the systems we've built serve only a select few. Come Closer, by Sara Gran, is one of the scariest novels I've ever read, and one of the most heartbreaking. It's the internal monologue of a woman who is either going insane or is genuinely being slowly and methodically possessed by a demon, and Gran's touch is so deft and sure that the moments of terror come out of nowhere, seeming to slip between the sentences so that by the time you realize what's happening to you and the protagonist, it's too late to brace yourself for the abyss. 

Martha Wells continues to impress with her Murderbot diaries, and I'm still enjoying my journeys through the works of Jo Walton. I indulged in a couple of near-legendary works of dreadful fan fiction: Jim Theis' The Eye of Argon and Tara Gilesbie's My Immortal. Anyone who enjoys art gone wrong will love these. 

Thanks to Leslie, I learned that I'd fallen behind on Lois McMaster Bujold's Penric series. Catching up was like going on a short trip with an old friend, carefree and pleasant. Bujold remains a favourite, and I hope she keeps writing for a long time. 

Finally, I was delighted to discover that Ulrich Haarburste released his cycle of Roy Orbison in clingfilm stories, expanded to novel length. If you don't feel like buying the book, sample some of the stories

Here's the list of what I read this year: 

January: 10
Or What You Will
(Jo Walton, 2020) 
Star Trek Adventures Quickstart Guide (Modiphius, 2017) 
Axiom’s End (Lindsay Ellis, 2020) 
The Vanished Seas (Catherine Asaro, 2020)
Lightning Strike, Book One (Catherine Asaro, 2014) 
Lightning Strike, Book Two (Catherine Asaro, 2020) 
Carrie (Stephen King, 1974) 
Way Station (Clifford D. Simak, 1963) 
The Wounded Sky (Diane Duane, 1983) 
My Enemy, My Ally (Diane Duane, 1984) 

February: 7
The Lightest Object in the Universe
(Kimi Eisele, 2019) 
DC Comics Covers (Nick Jones, 2020) 
DC Comics Supervillains: The Complete Visual History (Daniel Wallace, 2014) 
Art of Star Wars: The Mandalorian (Phil Szostak, 2020) 
The Big Lie (Julie Mayhew, 2015) 
Passage (Connie Willis, 2001) 
The Romulan Way (Diane Duane and Peter Morwood, 1987) 

March: 6
The Eye of Argon
(Jim Theis, 1970) 
My Immortal (Tara Gilesbie, 2006) 
Later (Stephen King, 2021) 
Star Wars Complete Vehicles New Edition (Kerrie Dougherty, 2020) 
To Lose the Earth (Kristen Beyer, 2020) 
Severance (Ling Ma, 2018) 

April: 3
The World of Cyberpunk 2077 (Marcin Batylda, 2020) 
Classics Illustrated: A Cultural History, with Illustrations (William B. Jones Jr., 2001) 
Seduction of the Innocent: The Influence of Comic Books on Today’s Youth (Fredric Wertham, 1954)
 
May: 3
The Ten Thousand Doors of January (Alix E. Harrow, 2019)
Home: Habitat, Range, Niche, Territory (Martha Wells, 2020) 
Fugitive Telemetry (Martha Wells, 2021) 

June: 2
Ulrich Haarburste’s Novel of Roy Orbison in Clingfilm: Plus additional stories (Ulrich Haarburste, 2019) 
Forbidden Knowledge: 101 Things No One Should Know How to Do (Owen Brooks, 2019) 

July: 3
Critical Failures (Robert Bevan, 2012) 
Living Memory (Christopher L. Bennett, 2021) 
Come Closer (Sara Gran, 2003) 

August: 5
The Physicians of Vilnoc (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2020) 
Masquerade in Lodi (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2020)
The Assassins of Thasalon (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2021)
Billy Summers (Stephen King, 2021) 
The Princess Saves Herself in This One (Amanda Lovelace, 2016)

September: 2
Then Everything Changed (Jeff Greenfield, 2011) 
The Stand (Stephen King, 1980) 

October: 2
Available Light (Dayton Ward, 2019) 
Knot of Shadows (Lois McMaster Bujold, 2021) 

November: 7
The Apollo Murders (Chris Hadfield, 2021)
Visiting Friends: Or, What I Did on My Summer Vacation (Jo Walton, 2021) 
Project Hail Mary (Andy Weir, 2021)
2034 (Elliot Ackerman and Admiral James Stavridis, 2021) 
Untold Horror (Dave Alexander, 2021) 
The History of Science Fiction: A Graphic Novel Adventure (Xavier Dollo, 2021) 
Forever and a Day (Anthony Horowitz, 2018) 

December: 7
The Steranko History of Comics, Volume One (Jim Steranko, 1970) 
The Steranko History of Comics, Volume Two (Jim Steranko, 1972)
All in Color for a Dime (Richard A. Lupoff and Don Thompson, 1970) 
Comix: A History of Comic Books in America ( Les Daniels, 1971) 
The Psychology of Time Travel (Kate Mascarenhas, 2018) 
The Grownup (Gillian Flynn, 2014) 
Hench (Natalie Zina Walschots, 2020) 

Fiction: 42
Nonfiction: 15
Poetry: 1

Genre
Fantasy: 8
Horror: 3
Mainstream: 11
Science Fiction: 14
Star Trek: 6

Top Authors
Lois McMaster Bujold: 4
Stephen King: 4
Catherine Asaro: 3
Diane Duane: 3
Jim Steranko: 2
Jo Walton: 2
Martha Wells: 2


Books by Women: 29
Books by Men: 29

Books by Decade
1950s: 1
1960s: 1
1970s: 6
1980s: 4
2000s: 4
2010s: 16
2020s: 25 

Thursday, December 30, 2021

Kyle's

I bought this 3D-printed post-apocalyptic food shack from a store on Etsy and painted it in Vault-Tec blue and yellow, along with several metallics. I dubbed the place "Kyle's" with a weathering pencil and glued a Nuka-Cola pin and a cartoon ghoul head from a Fallout-themed paper clip to the sign. So the place serves ice-cold Nuka-Cola and it's run by Kyle, a non-feral ghoul. That's him on the sign! 

Pretty happy with this new building for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. It'll be a good place for encounters and loot exchange. After all, I'm sure Kyle serves more than just Nuka-Cola...
 

Wednesday, December 29, 2021

Doomsday Garage with Garage

My original shipment of this terrain set was missing the carport (right). I've now painted said carport and added it to the Doomsday Garage. 


I quite like the badly-scrawled "CLOSED" graffiti. 

I'm also glad I took the time to come up with a consistent colour scheme/branding for the sacks. What do they contain? Grains? Zorball? Road salt? 

Tuesday, December 28, 2021

Wonder Woman vs the Sea Monsters

I didn't intend for the human miniature to look like a casually-garbed version of Wonder Woman, but, well, I painted the jeans blue, randomly chose red for the top, and thought yellow would look good for the belt and . . . there you are. She's actually supposed to be a character from Fallout 4, and she'll still serve as such. Incidentally, she also represents one of my better paint jobs of a human figure. 
 

Monday, December 27, 2021

Fog Crawler

A few weeks ago, I painted this fog crawler for Fallout: Wasteland Warfare. It bugs me that I'm consistently better at painting creatures than people. 

Here's a shot of the base. I tried to make it look like a sandbar with water on each side. 

Here's a shot of the fog crawler's backside, showing off its colourful tail. 

Another forward angle just to show off the texture. As with the mirelurks, I painted this model while it was still in pieces to avoid getting the wrong paint on the wrong parts. 

Sunday, December 26, 2021

Mirelurks

I'm quite happy with this pair of mirelurks. This time I painted the shell, body, legs, and bases separately, which helps me a lot with my "painting outside the lines" problems. Moreover, I feel like the shading and textures give the models a touch of realism. 

Here they are from the back. 

 

Saturday, December 25, 2021

Xmas Hosts 2021

 
Sean cooked a delicious Christmas meal for Mom, Sylvia, and me, but in so doing he also badly injured his thumb while slicing potatoes on his mandolin. Thankfully he has a beautiful and loyal cat to console him while he heals, which will, I hope, be soon. The scalloped potatoes that caused the injury were utterly delicious, but I'd gladly forsake them if I could go back in time and prevent the accident. 

Friday, December 24, 2021

Lego Advent Calendar Haiku 2021 Day 24

Santa and Mando
Snatch Infinity Gauntlet
And top to save day:


Christmas stars align
The Mandalorian finds
His Baby Yoda

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Tuesday, December 21, 2021

Sunday, December 19, 2021

Saturday, December 18, 2021

Friday, December 17, 2021

Thursday, December 16, 2021

Wednesday, December 15, 2021

Tuesday, December 14, 2021

Saturday, December 11, 2021

Friday, December 10, 2021

Thursday, December 09, 2021

Wednesday, December 08, 2021

Tuesday, December 07, 2021

Monday, December 06, 2021

Sunday, December 05, 2021

Saturday, December 04, 2021

Friday, December 03, 2021

Thursday, December 02, 2021

Wednesday, December 01, 2021

Lego Advent Calendar Haiku 2021 Day 1

Silent as a scream
Disaster on Privet Drive
Where is Iron Man?