17 August 2013

A Decade of Archives 8: 2005

This is the eighth in a series of posts leading up to this blog's tenth anniversary on August 18. In each post, I look back on one year, sometimes specifically and sometimes generally. All the posts can be found here.



2005 was a big year around these here parts, as the blog was nominated for a World Fantasy Award. I went to the World Fantasy Convention and wrote up a report of that experience here. It was an exciting time.

From my perspective now, though, 2005 doesn't seem like all that great a year for actual blog posts,. There are lot of them — 2005 is second only to 2004 in the number of individual posts — but most of them are quick links, bits of news, etc. The stuff that I now will just throw on Twitter, or ignore altogether.

This is reassuring, actually, because I often look back on the number of posts in 2005 and 2004 with fondness and even a certain awe — how did I ever write so much? (My life was no less busy and crazy back then; indeed, it was busier and crazier.) I often fear the blog is lying fallow, victim of my other work. But if anything, the number of substantial, substantive posts here has increased over the years.

Getting back into the oldest of the archives brings about mixed feelings. A bit of nostalgia, certainly, occasionally a moment where I'm impressed with something I wrote, but mostly a lot of cringing. There's a youthful enthusiasm, a youthful naivete to a lot of it that just makes me want to hide under a table. I was 29 and 30 in 2005, and yet often wrote like a precocious 12-year-old. (Eight years from now, if I'm lucky I'll be able to say my writings in 2013 remind me of a precocious 20-year-old.)

I'm not going to go back and laugh at my younger self. The archives are there for you to explore and chuckle through all you want. Instead, I'd just like to note a few posts that don't seem to me entirely worth sending down into the memory hole quite yet...


  • A post about one of the most shocking movies I've ever seen, The Isle.
  • "Vitrified Catastophes and Ontological Whigmaleery" is a pretty substantial exploration of Mac Wellman's short play "The Sandalwood Box" that also serves as a sort of ars poetica.
  • A review of Holly Phillips's collection In the Palace of Repose, which contains two stories I still remember fondly, "Summer Ice" and "The Other Grace".
  • "Lenz: A Dream of Streamfulness" looks at Georg Büchner's extraordinary novella.
  • A post about Caryl Churchill's science fiction play A Number. (This post was later reprinted in the program notes of a production of the play in Canada.)
  • "The Indoctrination" is just about the only Lovecraft pastiche I've ever written.
  • "Inadequacies of Allegory" is a post inspired by an essay about J.M. Coetzee, and though I would, today, tend toward other terminologies and touchstones, overall I find myself still in agreement with it.
  • Two reviews of books that still deserve much more attention than they've gotten: 98 Reasons for Being by Claire Dudman and Natives & Exotics by Jane Alison. I've reread both books since 2005, and both deserve praise and attention.
  • A review of Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go, which at the time was a very controversial book amongst science fiction readers, who variously though Ishiguro had somehow "stolen" their beloved genre, or didn't know how to write real science fiction, or whatever. (I once used to try to engage in discussion with such people, the self-appointed Boundary Police. It's a waste of time. Better to just let them play in their sandbox and throw dirt in each other's eyes.) I continue to think Never Let Me Go is one of the great novels of the century so far. (My feelings about the movie are more complex.)
  • "If Dickens Were Alive Today, He Would Be Me" is a rare post: one I find myself still in complete agreement with.
  • "Pinter and Losey" is a nice little look at the 3 films that Harold Pinter wrote for Joseph Losey. I haven't watched those movies in a long time, and I assume my current response to them would be somewhat different, but I like the post for the overview it gives.
  • "Delany at Dartmouth: The Dirt" is just an account of a lecture by Samuel Delany that I attended, but it's a personally important post in that the lecture was what pushed me to think I should write a master's thesis on Delany's work. Little did I know when I wrote that post that Delany would soon know who I was, give me a phone call, and I would go on to write introductions to the reissue editions of some of his books. More than any other, this post makes 2005 seem like a lifetime ago.
  • My interview with Joe Hill also feels like a lifetime ago, though for different reasons. When I conducted the interview, all I knew about Joe was that he was a mysterious guy who wrote short stories I really liked. Few people had heard of him, since his collection of stories was only available in the U.K. Within months of that interview, he would be revealed to be much more than just some random guy named Joe, and his novels would all go on to be bestsellers. For a while now, I've thought mine was the first interview with Joe, but I documented here that it was not — Paula Guran beat me to it! (And for all I know, there might be one even earlier than Paula's. But I think it's unlikely.)
  • I didn't write a whole lot about Salvador Plascencia's extraordinary novel The People of Paper, but it's one of my favorite reviews. Mostly, that's because it's a review of one of my favorite books from the last ten years. There's an energy and lyricism to the review that was entirely a contagion from the novel itself. I think I also managed to stumble on an important insight: metafiction doesn't have to be unemotional.
  • The only person I've ever interviewed twice is Maria Dahvana Headley. Back in 2005, she was a memoirist. We'd known each other since college, and I knew she was delightful, so I thought I'd help her get some publicity for her marvelous book The Year of Yes. Nowadays, Maria is much better known, and I'm happy we decided to talk again in 2011 when she became a novelist.

That's actually a longer list than I expected of stuff that seems to me still worth at least a little attention. There's a lot of other stuff in between it all, some of it of value, but these are the pieces that look to be the least battered by the passage of time.

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