This year has been a good year. A hard year, but a good year.
I handed in my dissertation, on the application of situationist psychogeographical techniques to studying archaeological landscapes, and sat my final exams in April/May. That was a proper slog. As C hadn’t been able to find a proper job (seriously, someone around Glasgow must want to hire Cambridge graduates. I mean, WTF?) and so I had to work 25-35 hours a week as well as studying full time and working on my dissertation. It’s a wonder that there’s not more grey in my mane right now! 🙂
So I’m now an archaeologist. Which is to say that I’m, for the most part, underemployed and not working in archaeology… I probably could find a job in archaeology but most beginning jobs are for people to work on excavations and I have a terrible loathing for excavation and, to boot, I’m not very good at it. I’ve also got crap knees so crawling around in the muck all day scraping away layer after layer of mud isn’t really that appealing a prospect. If anyone happens to want to hire an archaeologically trained office monkey though -I’m your man. 😀
This year was also the year that I finally, thanks to finishing uni, found the time to both read a whole heap of the fiction that I’ve been building up over the course of my studies and to start actually writing some.
I’ve completed one full length story, The Sable Masque, which is currently sat in the slush pile at one of my favourite short fiction magazines awaiting rejection. It’s a short tale of a man who wakes up one morning to find that the world around him has changed dramatically, and horrifyingly, yet only he seems aware of the change. It’s also quite heavily metaphorical for the alienation of the worker under capitalism and all that jazz. Well, it seems heavily metaphorical to me.
I also won second prize in a wee flash fiction competition for a piece called The Dolly Doll which was nice.
I’ve currently got a whole host of works in progress.
I have nearly finished a King in Yellow inspired story called Scheme, which was formerly known as Schemes of Grey and Yellow, which I posted an excerpt from earlier this month. I’m also making slow but steady progress on my novella Dolorosa which I’m hoping to have finished, well -ready for redrafting, by spring.
I’m working on a small collection of King in Yellow related stories that I’m hoping to release as an ebook this summer to celebrate the anniversary of both the birth of Robert W Chambers and the publication of his King in Yellow collection. Currently there are three works in progress including Scheme. One follows a young unemployed man and his encounter with a secret institution in Glasgow that uses Lethal Chambers to allow the poor and unemployed to voluntarily cull their own ranks. The other is a letter from a prisoner awaiting trial in Barlinnie Prison following his accusation of having committed a string of murders for which he blames a certain 19th Century document…
Added to the Yellow stories are Sally’s System -a story about family tradition, holidays, and murder most foul; To the Mountain -a kickstartered expedition to an anomaly on Google Earth turns rather more interesting than the participants imagined; and Our Clouded Hills -a novelette set in near future Britain.
I’ve also become slightly more active with regards the Lovecraft Ezine public message board and even managed to catch a live show a few weeks ago. Which is a first due to my work patterns and time zones. The Sunday show doesn’t air until 11p.m. on this side of the pond and given as I work Sunday and then generally have to be up at 6a.m. the following morning I don’t really get the chance to watch live. Hopefully I’ll get more chances in future. I also really want to help out with the Ezine now that I have some free time as I think it’s a really important project. To my mind the Ezine is replacing the gap left by the clusterfuck that Weird Tales has become since the change in management.
On the home front Little Ms. X continues to impress me as she continues to grow into a fabulous young woman working out the world around her. She’s so much more clued up than I was at her age, she’s amazing and makes me so happy and proud in equal measure. Even when she’s in full blown angry teenager mode. I can’t wait to see what happens next even though it is also terrifying given the bullshit and nonsense that comes with being a teenager. I also have the growing urge to kill every teenage boy within a 20 mile radius of the village. Just to be on the safe side, you know?
As we move into 2015 I’m not going to make any new years resolutions as I always seem to break them almost immediately. There are some goals that I am going to set myself however which I may be able to achieve.
Firstly I’m going to knock smoking on the head. Again. C and I are both going to switch across to those e-fag things as a stepping stone to getting off the evil weed. I’m also going to try and put out a piece of free fiction every month with the first pieces, probably, being Sally’s System and Our Clouded Hills which will be, again hopefully, going out in January and February,
Also, hopefully, there will be a less dead end job for me to find early in the new year. Fingers crossed eh?
Everyone loves a good old end of year list so here are a couple of mine.
Books I’ve read (Not counting books for uni, obv.)
Never Again: A collection of weird fiction against fascism and racism containing a brilliant variety of the Weird.
A Season in Carcosa: Edited by the King in Yellow himself, Joseph S Pulver Sr. this is a fantastic anthology of tales inspired by Chambers’ King in Yellow series. Very highly recommended.
The Weird: I actually bought this a couple of years ago but it is a massive tome and I’ve been slowly dipping in and out of it for a long time now. This is probably the defining volume when it comes to Weird fiction.
The Red Tree: An utterly fantastic novel from Caitlin Kiernan. If you haven’t already read this you should. Now. It’s probably one of the best works of Cosmic Horror that has been produced in the last couple of decades. Absolutely brilliant.
The Wide Carnivorous Sky and Other Monstrous Geographies: John Langan’s collection of long shorts. Another wonderful collection from a master of the weird.
Celebrant: This novel by Michael Cisco is a confusing one. I don’t know whether to read it extremely closely or to just let the sumptuous text wash over in. Cisco manages to maintain a highly strange and surreal prose style throughout this novel that makes this one of the most gorgeous things I’ve ever read.
The New Uncanny: An interesting anthology looking at Freud’s notion of the uncanny. This is well worth picking up if you get the chance.
Cthulhu Cymraeg: It’s true that the Welsh language may look and sound something like Aklo but this volume is in English so that even I could read it. The few stories in this slim volume cross the spectrum of the weird including some bizarro works and more traditional, and chilling, cosmic horror.
The Dark Domain: Stefan Grabinski is a singular Polish voice. Writing at the beginning of the 20th Century his work belies an unease with the increasing speed of industrialisation and mechanisation of the world around him.
American Supernatural Tales: A brilliant collection put together by S.T. Joshi in a series curated by Guillermo Del Toro. This book features fiction that spans nearly two centuries and features some of America’s finest writers of horror fiction from Washington Irvine through H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King and on to Thomas Ligotti and Caitlin Kiernan.
The Thomas Ligotti Reader: A collection of essays looking at Ligotti, his work, and his influences. For the true cosmic horror nerd.
HP Lovecraft The Complete Fiction: A beautiful collection of HPL’s stories put out by Barnes and Noble of all people.
Films I’ve enjoyed
Dead Snow 2
Shows I’ve enjoyed
True Detective: Yeah, there was the whole shenanigans with the plagiarism of Thomas Ligotti but it was still a fantastic show. I just wish the creator was a bit more honest about his influences.
Gotham: A bit of a silly show but that emerged into a nice mob vs. the police show with some nice tips towards the Batman universe that even a non-Batfan like me can appreciate.
Constantine: A bit of a let down to be honest but I’m still hoping that it will develop into something more fitting of the name. The Welsh dude that plays Constantine is brilliant in the role so hopefully it will move away from the monster of the week pish that has defined the fist episodes.
Supernatural: Because if I want a monster of the week show I go to the Winchester boys. 🙂
American Horror Story: I didn’t really think that much of Freak Show but Little Ms. X loves it and I pissed myself laughing when she pointed out that “Murder House had ghosts, Asylum had aliens and a serial killers, Coven had witches. Freak Show has an entitled rich white boy because there’s nothing more terrifying.” 😀
The Walking Dead: Probably the most tense show on TV. Every time someone does something dangerous, like walking down the road or having a poo, I’m convinced they’re going to die a bloody death at just that moment. Proper edge of your seat horror.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.: Despite starting slow this has just grown better and better as it has gone on and I’m chomping at the bit for the next season.
The Wire: Yeah, I know. But C only just managed to get me to watch it this summer and wow! It’s one of the best bits of television ever produced.
Music I’ve listened to
Radical Dance Faction
Faith No More
Ned’s Atomic Dustbin
Star Fucking Hipsters
I hope everyone has had a great year and I hope that we have a better one over the coming 12 months.