The Best and the Worst of 2014

Each year I try to sort through what just happened.

Honestly, that seems the best way to put it.

So, for the sake of tidiness, here is a list of things from the past year.

FAVORITE NOVEL

My favorite novels of 2014 are City of Stairs, by Robert Jackson Bennett, and Symbiote, by Mira Grant.

Symbiote is a sequel to Grant’s Parasite. I really like this series. I like then narrator, I like the stakes, I like the way that things unfold in messy, complicated, very human ways.

City of Stairs is … dramatically imaginative. It challenges many, many conventions of SF/F, it felt like a breath of fresh air and new ideas. Or, rather, not new ideas, but old ideas dusted off and updated in barely-recognizable ways. It was fantastic.

OTHER GREAT NOVELS OF 2014

The Goblin Emperor, by Katherine Addison
Maplecroft: The Borden Dispatches, by Cherie M. Priest
Murder and Mendelssohn, by Kerry Greenwood
The Severed Streets, by Paul Cornell
Steles of the Sky, by Elizabeth Bear
Bravo, by Greg Rucka

WORST MOMENT OF 2014

Personally, the worst moment of 2014 was being told I had throat cancer. That was in February.

BEST MOMENT OF 2014

Eight days later, I was told I did not have throat cancer.

So, yeah. That was kind of a thing.

FAVORITE NON-FICTION BOOKS

My faaaaaaavorite non-fiction work I read this year is Trials of Intimacy: Love and Loss in the Beecher-Tilton Scandal. Which was not published in 2014.

Other non-fiction I read and enjoyed this year included:

The Gift of Fear, by Gavin de Becker
The Story of England, by Michael Wood
The King in the North, by Max Adams
Writing on the Wall: Social Media, the First 2000 Years, by Tom Standage
The New Jim Crow, by Michelle Alexander
What If?, by Randall Munroe

FAVORITE FANFIC

My faaaaaavorite fic of 2014 is your blue-eyed boys, by Feather (lalaietha). This is Steve/Bucky, post The Winter Solider, and I just adore the characterizations of everyone.

FAVORITE FANVID

Level Up, a Pacific Rim fanvid, by Wingstar929.

FAVORITE VIDEO AND FAVORITE SONG

Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off.”

IMAGE OF THE YEAR

police-shooting-missouri

Edward Crawford, of Ferguson, MO, throws a tear gas canister back at the police who had fired it into the crowd of protesters.

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FAVORITE PROFESSIONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

2014 was … really interesting for me, professionally. I saw the year’s worth of Apex Magazine that I put together go into the world. The actual work of this was done from September 2013 to October 2014. Because magazines are put together months in advance. At the end of 2014, Apex’s publisher let me know that he was transitioning to full-time work on Apex. I was pleased for him, and disheartened for me, as it was work I enjoy.

Nevertheless, I am deeply pleased with and proud of the work we did. I love the stories we published. I found the work creative and challenging. I kinda wish I could play favorites or tell you the behind the scenes stuff, but that would be unprofessional! But I really liked it. I am still, months later, sad to no longer be a part of Apex.

Queers Dig Time Lords, co-edited by Michael D. Thomas and myself, was Hugo-nominated in Best Related Work. We didn’t win, of course. It was a genuine pleasure to lose to Kameron Hurley, I promise you. But that makes me twice-nominated for a Hugo Award, and I ASSURE you, I never in my wildest imagination thought THAT would EVER be a thing I could say about my life.

But there you have it.

In my other job, air traffic control, I must admit I sort of mentally checked-out during all the health things in the first part of the year. I kept missing work due to my inability to talk, and it just got more and more stressful. But this fall, I re-discovered that I really enjoy training new air traffic controllers. I’ve volunteered to do more of that, and it’s rekindled my engagement with work overall. This is good, as I have nine more years until I am eligible to retire!

FAVORITE PERSONAL ACCOMPLISHMENT

Not having cancer.

Okay, that’s not really an accomplishment.

I’ve blogged more in 2014 than I did in 2013. I stayed in touch with people even when it was challenging to find the mental energy to do so. I am learning to knit. I bought myself an archery lesson, and loved it. I’ve been swimming every two or three weeks, despite hating swimming.

I’ve tried to behave in the ways I think a good person would behave. Sometimes I manage it, other times I don’t.

After thinking about it a bit, I think my actual favorite personal accomplishment of 2014, the thing I did that I am most proud of, is being honest with my family and friends about my life and how I was feeling. I spent a great deal of the last year scared, and frustrated, and feeling physically like shit, feeling depressed and anxious about my health and my job, feeling all sorts of unpleasant things. And I didn’t withdraw, or hide it, or take it out on them too much. (I think.) And that … was not easy. But here it is, the end of the year, and I have a family I love, and a girlfriend I love, and friends around me.

Life is pretty good. I’m still a medical mystery, but life is pretty good.

FAVORITE SHORT STORY

Full disclosure: I bought Jackalope Wives from Ursula Vernon for the January 2014 issue of Apex Magazine.

Funny thing — she said, when I asked, that she didn’t really WRITE short stories. I said, yes you do, I read your LiveJournal, you write short stories all the TIME. She blinked. She allowed as how she could maybe come up with something, no promises, don’t get your hopes up. Less than three days later she turned in “Jackalope Wives,” and it was perfect, and I cackled like a damn lunatic when I finished reading it.

Since then Ursula has put out a collection of short stories, and I am so incredibly smugly pleased with this turn of events, you just have no idea.

FAVORITE TV SHOW RECAPS

Genevieve Valentine’s REIGN recaps are my favorite bit of tv-coverage in 2014.

FAVORITE PODCAST

When I heard about Rachel and Miles XPlain the X-Men I winced and stayed away. Because I have X-MEN OPINIONS, and I like Rachel Edidin, and I didn’t want to hear if she had WRONG X-MEN OPINIONS. But Caroline told me that I would probably enjoy the podcast, and she knows all about my crazy fan issues. And she was correct. I love this podcast. Rachel and Miles are funny and wry and the clearly love the absolute hell out of X-Men comics. At the same time, they hold the creators accountable for some of the incredibly dodgy things that were portrayed. It’s a lovely mix of fond joy and critical examination.

But, mostly? They just explain the X-Men. Just like it says. I love it.

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There you have it. 2014, some highs and lows.

Welcome, 2015. Let’s see what the new year brings.

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