A Look Back at 2022
For much of 2022, it felt was though I was writing science fiction in a vacuum. Hollywood seemed to have abandoned the genre altogether, apart from Avatar: The Way of Water (a visual treat) right at the year’s end. So there was little (new) external stimulus to stoke my imagination. And TV seems to be leaning heavily into fantasy these days, with predictably mixed results. While House of the Dragon hit the spot, Rings of Power missed it by a shockingly wide mark. All in all, I found it disappointing how uninspired genre entertainment was in 2022. After two dreary years of on-off lockdown, I was expecting more of a creative explosion. Instead, it barely fizzled.
So I relied on the old stalwarts to see me through. I re-read Dune, and finally got round to trying the sequels. For years I’d been hesitant; mixed reviews, warnings of excessive darkness, weirdness, the author disappearing up his own wormhole. Well, all I can say is never underestimate Frank Herbert. Dune Messiah is an intimate chamber piece compared to the epic scope of the original, but it’s also flat-out brilliant. Dark, yes, and doom-laden, but mind-bending, too, in the ways it explores fate, heredity and sacrifice.
Children of Dune is just as good, while God Emperor of Dune features the most audacious protagonist I think I’ve ever come across. I seriously can’t wait for Denis Villeneuve’s movie sequel, Dune: Part 2, in late 2023. I’ll have finished reading the series by then, so it’ll be fascinating to see how he lays the groundwork for potential further films (if Part 2 is a hit, and I’ve every confidence it’ll be huge).
I also re-read The Lord of the Rings as an antidote to the poison pill that was Rings of Power. Tolkien’s genius remains undimmed.
I carved out a lot more time for reading this year, and made it my mission to seek out books by independent authors in genres I don’t normally read. Was it worth it? You betcha. Sure, I came across some duds, but there’s value even in those: they teach you how NOT to tell a story. They also highlight the qualities of those books that do work. Here are some of the very best indies I read this year:
The Ferryman and the Sea Witch by D. Wallace Peach
Rainer Razes Cain by Gregory R. Marshall
Felgrim by E.M. Duffield-Fuller
GoldenEars: The Whispering Mountain by Jane H. Wood
It’s great to find fresh voices that I find riveting on a storytelling level. I can usually tell within a page or two whether or not an author is on my wavelength. As I’m sure other readers can recognize whether my style is to their taste or not within a few short passages.
Short? Hmm. Star Bound, the sequel to Star Binder, clocked in at 119,000 words, the same length as book 1. I didn’t intend it being that long, but I’ve found that this series really needs room to breathe. They’re big adventures, and a large part of the magic is found in the group dynamics. If Star Bound finds its audience like its predecessor did, I’ll definitely write a book 3.
Taking a chilly detour from sci-fi, I published Wild Horizon in May 2022, a wilderness survival adventure set in Alaska. It garnered excellent reviews from fellow authors as well as readers. Because it’s a genre I don’t usually write in, though, I’ve had to put more effort into the marketing. That, in turn, has opened up channels/possibilities for further disaster/survival adventures. I had a great time writing Wild Horizon, and the appeal of that type of story is clearly evergreen. Stay tuned for future announcements.
For 2023, I’m spoiled for choice. Another Alien Safari? One of four separate sci-fi novels I’ve outlined? A historical novel? A thriller? Another survival adventure? You tell me, either in the comments or you can email me at email@example.com
Happy reading, and have a great New Year!