Best of the Year 2013 – Adam Christopher
Today we have the third in our traditional guest series of Best of the Year posts which we do each year, running some of the favourite comics, books, TV and movies from a different guest every single day through December (see here to check out the other BoY 2013 posts so far). Today’s guest is Kiwi-born, Brit-based comics scribe and award-winning novelist Adam Christopher, whose books I have flagged up here several times before as fabulous reads, and indeed the first of his books, Empire State, I picked up after Paul Cornell featured it in a previous Best of the Year series, and loved it. This year saw a sequel, The Age Atomic, and I heartily recommend both to anyone looking for interesting new science fiction writing. Let’s see what Adam was enjoying over the last twelve months:
FPI: Can you pick three comics/webcomics/graphic novels which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Adam: This year I read a lot of comics from Monkeybrain – High Crimes, by Christopher Sebela and Ibrahim Moustafa is my favourite comic, hands-down. Espionage and deceit and the frozen bodies of those who tried – and failed – to climb Mount Everest. Also from Monkeybrain is Bandette, by Paul Tobin and Colleen Coover, charting the adventures of the title character, a young costumed thief who leads a group of fellow urchins. It’s beautiful and the most fun.
Finally this year I’ve been delving into the Marvel NOW! reboot-without-a-reboot, an initiative that makes it much easier for new readers like myself to jump into their universe, without throwing away the rich history and backstory of the characters. Paul Cornell’s Wolverine is my pick – accessible, interesting, and very clever. Pretty much what you would expect from Paul!
FPI: Can you pick three books which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Adam: The last several years have been a real treat for fiction, and 2013 was no exception. My three picks for this year are actually up there among my favourite books:
American Elsewhere by Robert Jackson Bennet (Orbit). Ex-cop Mona Bright inherits her mother’s house in the very tiny and very, very quiet town of Wink, New Mexico, and discovers the inhabitants are keeping a big secret – one connected to the ruins of the research base up on the neighbouring mesa, where America’s best scientists of the 1950s probed the boundaries between this universe and… somewhere else. Clocking in at a whopping 688 pages, American Elsewhere is simply stunning.
Vicious by VE Scwab (Tor). A tale of two college friends, Victor and Eli, who discover the secret to superpowers and, in research project gone awry, become ExtraOrdinary themselves. Ten years later, Victor has escaped prison while Eli has been on the loose, hunting down other EOs. And Victor has just one thing on his mind – revenge! This is a hell of a lot of fun, a real leftfield take on superheroes. It’s also beautifully written and carefully structured. The UK edition is out from Titan in January 2014.
The Shambling Guide to New York City by Mur Lafferty (Orbit), in which the heroine Zoe finds herself with a new job – writing travel guides for the world’s secret population of coterie, a collection of supernatural beings straight out of myth and legend. Plunged headlong into this bizarre world of monsters and gods, Zoe discovers something rather unpleasant lurking beneath New York City. This is a witty and delightful urban fantasy, and the first of a series – and I can’t wait for The Ghost Train to New Orleans, which is out next year.
FPI: Can you pick three TV shows and/or movies which you especially enjoyed over the last twelve months and tell us why you singled them out?
Adam: Film took a bit of a backseat for me this year – there was lots of promise from several releases, but none of them really did it for me. Which is a shame, as I was looking forward to a couple rather eagerly. But the best writing around these days is in television anyway.
My favourite TV show is Person of Interest, which continues to be the best thing on television for years. It’s basically Batman with guns, and while the cast and characters are uniformly excellent, it features the strongest female characters on screen, whether it’s TV or film, in the form of Carter, Shaw, Zoe and Root. Perfectly balanced, brilliantly scripted, it’s as close to faultless as a television series can get.
I’m also a huge fan of Elementary, the American re-imagining of Sherlock Holmes. I’m a huge Holmes fan, and I utterly adore this take on the character. Interestingly, it’s actually fairly far removed from Sherlock Holmes, and is instead best considered a quirky detective series. But it’s all the stronger because of this, and when they do mine the Holmes canon, the results are frequently surprising – their interpretation of Irene Adler and Moriarty, for example, was breathtakingly original.
Justified rounds out my top three, based on the characters of the late Elmore Leonard. Again, the standout here is the quality of the writing – some episodes are so well crafted, I could quote whole stretches of dialogue. Television writing of this calibre used to be such a rarity, but we’re really living in a new golden age – especially of American television, which continues to be original, surprising, and beautifully made.
FPI: How did 2013 go for you as a creator? Are you happy with the way you got your work out this year?
Adam: For the first time, I only had one novel out this year – The Age Atomic, which was published by Angry Robot in April – but 2013 was my actually biggest year yet, which is great. I spent the first nine months editing three novels back-to-back, then started a new novel, and wrote a novelette (a rather peculiar category of fiction that spans anything from 7,500 words to 17,500 words) which will be out in early 2014. In the midst of all that my forthcoming space opera series was sold in the UK (see below!). I’ve also been working on some secret comic projects and a couple of other things for 2014/15. So while it looks a little quiet from the outside, behind the scenes a heck of a lot of things got moving. So overall, 2013 was immensely satisfying. Here’s to an even better 2014!
FPI: What can we look forward to from you in 2014?
Adam: I have two novels out in 2014. The first is an urban fantasy called Hang Wire, out from Angry Robot in February. It’s set in San Francisco, which is being terrorized by the Hang Wire Killer, a vicious murderer who strings his victims up with steel cable. News blogger Ted Hall is trying to keep an eye on developments, but ever since a fortune cookie exploded in his face in a Chinatown restaurant, he’s been experiencing blackouts and lost time, and is dogged by the eerie feeling that he is not alone. Meanwhile, the circus has come to town, but the Celtic dancers are taking their pagan act a little too seriously, the manager of the fairground rides has started talking to his vintage machines, and while the new acrobat is wowing the crowds, his frequent absences are causing tension among the performers. Elsewhere in the city, two immortals are searching for an ancient power which has been unleashed as something else stirs far below – a primal evil coiled around the very fabric of San Francisco which, if not stopped, will destroy the entire world.
Out in March 2014 from Titan in the UK and Tor in North America is The Burning Dark, a “haunted” space opera, and the first in a series loosely dubbed “The Spider Wars”. The first book deals with Captain Abraham Idaho Cleveland, a war hero who led the Fleet into battle against an implacable machine intelligence – the Spiders – a but after saving a planet, finds himself relegated to overseeing the decommissioning of a distant and semi-deserted space station well past its use-by date. Things are a little awry about the station – the Commandant is nowhere to be seen, the hostile crew have no clue who Cleveland is, persistent malfunctions plague the station’s systems while interference from a toxic purple star makes even ordinary communications problematic. Alien shadows and whispers seem to haunt the lonely corridors and airlocks, fraying the nerves of everyone aboard. Isolated and friendless, Cleveland reaches out to the universe via an old-fashioned subspace radio, only to tune into a strange, enigmatic signal – a woman’s voice that seems to echo across a thousand light-years of space. But is the transmission just a random bit of static from the past—or a warning of an undying menace beyond mortal comprehension?
“The Spider Wars” series continues with The Jovian Conspiracy in 2015, and The Stars Below in 2016.
I’ve got some more information about Hang Wire and The Burning Dark – as well as some pre-order links – up on my site here for those who want to learn more.
I’ve also got some comic work up my sleeve, which will hopefully be revealed soon. But until then, my lips must remain sealed… [yes, we will ask Adam about that later on! – Joe]
FPI: Anyone you think is a name we should be watching out for next year?
Adam: There’s some good stuff coming in 2014, but if you like fantasy, you need to look for Jen Williams. Her debut novel, The Copper Promise, is out in February from Headline, and is a modern take on the classic dungeon crawler – “epic sword and sorcery”, if you like. It’s also very, very good. In fact, even if you don’t like fantasy, I can’t recommend this book enough. It’s also the first of a trilogy – Williams is an author to watch.