The Year that Almost Wouldn’t Die

Some highlights and lowlights of 2008

This year, particularly the second half, has seen a lot of people turn very pessimistic about, well, everything. Yeah, the economy’s slowing down. Yeah, people like me are scrambling just to make ends meet – when money goes slow everywhere, it hits the arts hard. And yeah, some things just sucked. But you know what? Today’s “awful” is a hell of a lot better than “great” was when my grandparents were growing up. Despite environmental problems, terrorists, crooked investment bankers, and crookeder politicians (yes, in all parties), I’m living in a time when “five-percent unemployment” is really bad. When I was a kid in the early 80s, that would have been music to everyone’s ears. Ditto for crime, poverty, war casualty, plague death, and violence figures almost everywhere on Earth (though some of us are a lot luckier than others, through no merit of our own).

So, yeah, 2008 might have been a scary year. But as I look back at the global “Big Picture” there aren’t a lot of things that are truly scary in the long run – not like there were twenty, fifty, or eighty years ago – not to mention longer ago than that.

On a personal level, it’s been a mixed year, but as I was drawing up this list I can’t help but be staggered by how far the scales tip towards the wonderful. Click on the link to read my self-indulgent recap.

The Bad or Bittersweet

In May of 2001 I started preproduction on a film I’ve spent the intervening years working on. Hunting Kestral, a science fiction action film set in the universe of Antithesis, was officially retired from the active projects list. Of all the things I’ve done in my life, this project has to be the most important so far. I met people I still work with to this day, I learned the meat of the different trades I now call my career, and the process irrevocably altered the story and universe of Antithesis. Perhaps most importantly, I spent some of the most rewarding months of my life to that point in the company of actors who taught me far more about life than I ever thought I’d learn at the age of 24. Unfortunately, I had to admit that on this one I bit off way more than I can reasonably hope to finish chewing in the foreseeable future, so the dream of doing a professional level live-action independent film is something I have to set aside for now. I’m planning on a post-show article on it sometime in January.

My first website, Blenderwars, which had for years been a vibrant hobbyist community, finally died. It was a long time coming, but last May I finally gave in to the inevitable and pulled the plug. We were online from 1999 to 2008, hitting our peak of half a million page views per month in 2002. Some of the folks I met through there have gone on to work with me on various film projects, and have proved to be excellent people all the way down the line.

A lot of death touched my life this year, both first and second degree. I’d say I could have done without it, but the truth is that I’ve lived an unusually long time without someone close to me dying – I was expecting it sooner or later. Needless to say, I’d have preferred “later.”

My nonfiction publishing momentum slowed down in the second half of the year as a result of my podcasting endeavors.

The Unfinished
Filmed and have nearly finished (finally) a short film called “Lights Out” for Project Obsidian. Early 2009 will see its completion. Better late than never.

Began writing The Auto Motive, a steampunk young-adult urban fantasy novel. It’s got a ways to go, but it’s rocking.

Sculpting God: Bedtime Stories For Adults is half done – the final half will see the light of day in mid-2009.

The Good
Saw eight friends and acquaintances get book deals.

Made my first fiction sale: My steampunk story “Cold Duty” went simultaneously to Steampod and ClonePod and did very well among fans of both podcasts.

Finished and garnered publisher interest in book one of the Antithesis series. Plotted, outlined, and roughed out the remainder of the series.

Podcasted the first 15 episodes of the 27 episode audio version of Antithesis, Book 1: Predestination and Other Games of Chance with full cast, full production sound, and an original score.

Did my first professional publicity events.

Wrote a 6 hour miniseries for Canadian TV. The deal fell through, so the script is now in the process of novelization. The resulting novel, Down From Ten, is now 25% done.

Finished Season 2 of The Polyschizmatic Reprobates Hour. Recorded Season 3, and it is now half edited.

Garnered my first cover story in a magazine.

Interviewed (either for podcast or for publication) Michael ShermerM, Cory Doctorow, Elizabeth Pisani, Tee Morris, Richard Carrier, Philippa Ballantine, J.C. Hutchins, Seth Harwood, and Mur Lafferty.

Apologia, a show I participate in, got picked up for radio distribution.

Got to hang out at the Googleplex.

Technically this and the next item both belong in “unfinished,” but they’re here because they are undeniably good. First, I had great fun doing some very satisfying photo shoots with both new models and old, and made serious progress on bringing the long term Sophi and Logos projects together.

Hit BayCon and SteamCon with my friends, and got to moderate a few panels along the way.

Discovered Twitter.

So many other memorable moments of wonderfulness I can’t even begin to enumerate them.

Final word count for the year, including novels, short stories, screenplays, articles, and non-trivial blog posts: ~350,000

Parting Thoughts for 2008

From my very limited perspective on the world, I wouldn’t trade this year for any other. 2008 saw a lot of reconnection with old friends, strengthening of connections with new friends, and meeting more fascinating and decent people than I dare to count – some of them well on the way to becoming close friends. It’s been an emotionally intense year, much moreso than I expected. This time last year I said that 2007 was my best year so far, but I think 2008 surpassed it handsomely, despite the heartbreaks and hardships which I’m sure none of you want to read about here.

For all of you who’ve touched my life this year – friends, fans, colleagues, and fellow travelers – from the bottom of my heart, thank you.

The chapter ends, and always on a cliffhanger. There is only one question:
“What happens next?”

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2 Comments

  1. It’s always difficult to acknowledge you’re not working on something anymore. I haven’t talked to anyone from BW except you in years; although I still nostalgically backup my backups of the site, db, models, and misc paraphernalia. I have Melvil’s phone number written down somewhere…

  2. Tom, welcome! How have you been? Drop me a line sometime, would love to catch up.

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