Damo’s best of 2008

With the new year upon us, I thought I would give all you lucky people a glimpse inside my head, or at least the parts of it that like things, and post a run down of all that was good about 2008 from my perspective. I don’t claim to be at the cutting edge of the cultural wave, but who knows, you might find one or two new and enjoyable wastes of time below.

2008 was the the year of HBO for me. Rome, Deadwood, Soprano’s, The Wire and Band of Brothers have all been on my ‘too watch’ list and this year I watched them all. HBO are busily proving that television can match novels and theatre for sophisticated, character driven storytelling. On the other hand, I was increasingly disappointed by the sci-fi shows like Lost, Heroes and Battlestar Galactica. They aren’t bad, just not as good as they could be. Its an ever growing shame that mediocre shows go into multiple seasons while the best shows (think Firefly and Farscape) are cacelled at a whim.

E-books have been at the heart of my reading journey in 2008. Both the iPod Touch and iPhone make excellent e-readers, and the addition of Stanza turns them into truly amazing portals into the world of reading. Stanza connects with dozens of sources of e-books on the internet including Project Gutenberg, Feedbooks and Fictionwise. Between them you have access to a vast selection of classic and contemporary literature at a tap of the finger. Fictionwise also carries e-editions of Asimov’s, Interzone and other short fiction magazines, so is an essential source for anyone following that area as I do.

My big find of 2008 has been Ted Chiang. His collection ‘Stories of Your Life and Others’ completely floored me. Short fiction has been taking up a lot of my reading attention, with Strange Horizons, Clarkesworld and Fantasy leading the field for the online zines, and Weird Tales, Realms of Fantasy, Electric Velocipede and Interzone being consistently strong.

I’ve been endeavouring to read more mainstream fiction, especially novels with some spec.fic elemets, but have been underwhelmed by much of it. Chabon’s Hugo and Nebula award winning ‘The Yiddish Policeman’s Union’ failed to capture my imagination. My top reads have both been solidly in genre, Neil Gaiman’s ‘Anansi Boy’s’ got me through the worst of my post-Clarion blue, and Stephen King’s classic ‘The Stand’ has barely left my hands over the holiday period. What can I say, I’m just a genre fanboy at heart.

Podcasts have completely displaced TV as my diversion of choice when I just want to chill out and switch my mind of for a time. Leo Laporte plays a far more important role in my life than any one should, but when it comes to tech news the TWIT network is unparalleled. Escape Pod continues to deliver wonderful audio fiction and everyone is eternaly grateful to Steve Eley for his efforts to keep it coming too us every week. But the stand out podcast of the year for me is Starship Sofa, which in its new Aural Delights format has become the absolute hub of all that is good in the SFsphere. If you don’t already, get onto iTunes and get listening.

2008 has been a year of change for me. The absolute highlight was my six weeks in California for the Clarion workshop. As a writer, Clarion helped me find a much deeper understanding of fiction that has been slowly percolating through my creative process ever since. As a person it helped me face up to some changes that needed to happen in my life. As I write this I’m coming to the otherside of many of those changes, but it would not be an overstatement to say that the second half of 2008 has been a maelstrom of emotion, and who knows what may be yet to come?

As a writer my resolution for 2009 is simple. I aim to finish what I start. I have a batch of very promising short stories I badly want to nurse to completion, and I have the bones of a real novel just waiting for more flesh. I also have some very exciting opportunities for more critical writing about the spec.fic genre, all of which feeds back to this blog. 2008 is was all about change, fingers crossed 2009 will bring the stability and focus to fulfill all these projects.

Happy new year to regular readers and occaisional visitors alike!


Published by Damien Walter

Writer and storyteller. Contributor to The Guardian, Independent, BBC, Wired, Buzzfeed and Aeon magazine. Special forces librarian (retired). Teaches the Rhetoric of Story to over 35,000 students worldwide.

One thought on “Damo’s best of 2008

  1. Our pianist played “Auld Lang Syne” at the end of ballet class yesterday. I might have gotten nostalgic about 2008, but was instead trying to catch my breath and hold my leg up at shoulder height. Distracting stuff, this dancing.



Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s