Thursday, December 14, 2017

Before The End Of The Year Overtakes Us

First, thanks to all the people who came to the various events where I was pushing my little anthropocene novel Austral. And apologies to anyone who wanted to come but couldn't, because they were all in London. But I will be in Glasgow, next year. And Harrogate. So there's that. I didn't write much this year, but did publish the ebook version of my career-surveying collection A Very British History, and spent much of the end of it working on a couple of Quiet War stories. And way back at the beginning of the year, the paperback of Into Everywhere was published.

Austral made two best of year lists, both good tick marks. The first was the Guardian's Best Science Fiction and Fantasy round-up; the second was the Economist's list of the best books of 2017. In the latter, Austral is right below Hari Kunzru's White Tears, which was one the best novels I read this year. What with one thing and another, I didn't make lists of books read or films watched this year, but sticking with novels, among those published in 2017 that I very much liked were Michelle Tea's Black Wave, the recent translation of Ismail Kadare's The Traitor's Niche, John Crowley's Ka (I heard him give a terrific reading of an extract at Readercon), Kim Stanley Robinson's New York 2040, and China Mieville's This Census-Taker. Also, two short-story collections, the late Susan Casper's Up The Rainbow, and M. John Harrison's You Should Come With Me Now. And for what it's worth, I spent a lot of time catching up with Martin Cruz Smith's oeuvre, and re-reading Mary Renault's novels of Ancient Greece.

As for films, I liked A Ghost Story, Baby Driver, Colossal, Get Out, The Handmaiden, Logan, The Love Witch, Okja, Raw, and War for the Planet of the Apes. I also liked the astounding aerial sequences in Dunkirk, and would have liked Blade Runner 2049  a lot more if it had dropped the plot and allowed its terrific images of the anthropocene to carry it (like almost everyone else I want cinematographer Roger Deakins to finally win the Oscar he's long deserved). Essential DVD/BluRay releases were Na Hong-jin's The Wailing (2016), in which a hapless detective teams up with a shaman to try to solve an outbreak of brutal murders, Agnieszka SmoczyƄska's The Lure (2015), in which two carnivorous mermaids find employment and temptation in a nightclub, Twin Peaks The Return (2017), Criterion's box set of all six Lone Wolf and Cub films, and (at last), Network's release of Bristolian down-at-heel detective series Shoestring. I was living in Bristol when the first season was filmed, but haven't yet glimpsed a so-much younger version of me in the background. Just as well, probably.


Blogger Brian said...

"...spent much of the end of it working on a couple of Quiet War stories." Will those be published together or in various anthologies/magazines in 2018?

December 14, 2017 7:21 pm  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Almost certainly in different places. More when I know more.

December 15, 2017 8:57 am  
Anonymous said...

I am 65 and I have never seen a movie more than twice in the cinema during first release, except for Blade Runner 2049. I saw it 5 times, and each time I saw more in it. The love scene is the best and most unusual in cinema history. The ending of BR49 is an extraordinary homage to Batty's elegiac end in the original movie.

I only wish the original 4-hour cut had been separated into two movies. There is the natural break-point at the entry to Las Vegas.

If any of you have not seen the movie twice, or thrice, I very, very strongly suggest you do. Once the plot is out of the way, you can immerse yourself into the extraordinary visuals and camera, acting and music. The best film I have every seen.

December 15, 2017 12:36 pm  
Blogger Francis Spufford said...

I thought Austral was strikingly good. I gave it as homework to one of my students who is visiting the Antarctic Peninsular this month, and am waiting to hear from her what Esperanza looks like with its skyscrapers not yet built...

December 21, 2017 10:49 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

Hi Francis, very pleased that you liked Austral - thanks for the kind words. Am envious of yr student; so far, I know only the unbuilt bustling metropolis.

December 24, 2017 9:16 am  
Blogger Francis Spufford said...

Surely a case for this:

Wrong side of the continent, I know, but the British Antarctic Survey seems to have stopped doing their version. Maybe Austral requires a sequel focused on the Ross Sea?

December 28, 2017 12:46 am  
Blogger Paul McAuley said...

I did look into it for Austral, but since I currently lack a US publisher I don't quite fall inside the guidelines. If only the UK would expand its presence, or there could be some kind of collaboration between the Society of Authors and BAS... Or maybe a gig on a cruise ship - they often stop in at Deception Island.

December 28, 2017 3:46 pm  

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