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The Sinister Sixth Annual Tropism Awards
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Look! Opinions!

(Note: I do not limit myself to films, books, music, etc. released last year, though I do try to limit myself to works I encountered for the first time last year. These are in no meaningful order.)

Best Novella: "Inclination" by William Shunn. (Also liked Paul Melko's "The Walls of the Universe", as I'm a sucker for parallel universe stuff.)

Best Novelette: "Lessons with Miss Grey" by Theodora Goss.

Best Story: "How to Talk to Girls at Parties" by Neil Gaiman. (I feel sorta, I dunno, trendy picking one of Neil's stories, but it's a great piece of work. His prose just gets better and better and better.)

Best Story I Had A Hand In Publishing: I loved them all, or I wouldn't have published them, but I was especially proud of the work we did with original chapbooks last year, and so must mention Greg van Eekhout's "Far As You Can Go" and the three original stories Jenn Reese did for her chapbook: "Carp," Owl," and "Mantis."

Best New Kitten: Freybug, our tiny kitten, adopted on impulse from the local feral cat organization. She doesn't know how to be good, and she's a tiny force for destruction, but she's also adorable, sweet, and outgoing, so we love her.

Best Television Show: Oh, Veronica Mars, no doubt. We got into it last year, and watched the first couple seasons, and are now eager for season 3 to resume.

Most Ambitious Television Show: The Wire. That show is amazing. I don't have as much fun watching it as I do watching Veronica Mars -- the characters win me over more there -- but it's a staggering achievement.

Best Television Show With, Like, Speculative Elements: After a slowish start, Heroes really grew on me. The first couple seasons of the new Doctor Who were a lot of fun too.

Best Television Show, Fan Service Category: We've been watching Alias, and saw the first season and part of the second last year. I have some problems with the show, though it's mostly quite enjoyable, but I'll say this: they cater to their fans. So far they've dressed Jennifer Garner in bikinis, lingerie, a schoolgirl outfit, assorted skimpy dresses, ridiculous boots, and even a very fetishy collar. It's so completely shameless, you almost have to admire it.

Best Animated Television Show: Metalocalypse. I cannot believe how much I love this show. I was extremely dubious -- who cares about the adventures of a death metal band? -- but I'll watch anything on Adult Swim at least once, and I was hooked from the first episode. It's funny, it's gory, it's bizarre, and I even like the music.

Best Movie: We didn't see enough movies in the theater, and didn't watch all that many at home, either, as we've been watching more and more long-form audiovisual narrative in the form of TV-shows-with-arcs. I liked Casino Royale and The Departed and Stranger than Fiction, but, eh, mostly for a lack of other options. I hope to see more movies this year.

Best Workshop: The Blue Heaven novel workshop on Kelleys Island. That was an amazing experience.

Foulest Beer: Gherkinbrau, from the brewery on the island.

Greasiest Wings: Those served at The Village Pump, our bar of choice (and necessity) on the island.

Rock-Fetchingest Dog: Sela, the amazing rock-fetching dog from the workshop.

Best Long Weekend: My anniversary trip with my beautiful wife Heather to the Jenner Inn in Sonoma. Great food, great views, lots of wine, lots of cool sea birds, and total immersion in wedded bliss. Good times.

Best Meal: Our immense multi-course feast at River's End in Jenner. The meal was great, but the ambience made it extraordinary: the restaurant is perched right where the Russian River meets the sea, and the sunset was incredible.

Best Graphic Novel: Fable: Homelands. They made Little Boy Blue into an unstoppable badass. It rocks.

Best Magazine: Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet is the one I'm most excited about getting -- especially since now I have a chocolate subscription! (But, really, it's for the stories and stuff.)

Best Non-fiction: Assassination Vacation by Sarah Vowell, which gave me the idea of having the revivified mummy of John Wilkes Booth as a villain in one of my future Marla Mason novels. Though Manhunt by James L. Swanson was good, too (the account of the hunt for Booth after he killed Lincoln).

Best Non-fiction Not About Dead Presidents or Their Killers: Robert Schenk's The Immortal Game made me remember why I loved chess.

Best E-Mail: When my agent wrote to tell me we'd sold two books in my new fantasy series to Bantam.

Best Impromptu Celebration: My fellow Blue Heaveners tracking down the closest thing to champagne they could find at the Village Pump and helping me celebrate said novel sales.

Best Beverage: It's been the year of the white russian.

Best New Couch: Our new couch, which took forever to arrive, but changed our life for the better once it did. It's long. It's got big cushions. It's soft and wonderful. It has a chaise on one side. Mmm.

Favorite Way To Spend An Evening: On the new couch, with my wife, chatting and watching TV and generally unwinding after a long day at work.

Best First Novel: Jade Tiger by Jenn Reese! No question! (I also liked Grey by Jon Armstrong, which is really stylish as hell, and a lot of fun.)

Best Novel in an Ongoing Series: Soul Kitchen by Poppy Z. Brite. I read it on my anniversary weekend. I hope she keeps writing those books for a long time.

Best Novel in an Ongoing Fantasy Series: The Blood Knight by Greg Keyes was long-awaited and very, very cool. I look forward to seeing how the series ends.

Best Standalone Novel: Daughter of Hounds by Caitlín R. Kiernan. If I can make my ass-kicking contemporary fantasy novels one-third as cool as this, I'll consider myself accomplished.

Best YA: Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett was awesome, and very much my kind of book.

Best Anthology: Twenty Epics by David Moles and Susan Groppi, and who cares if I'm in it! It's a genius idea for an anthology, and it's an awesome book.

Best Fantasy Novel That Doesn't Actually Have Magic In It: Privilege of the Sword by Ellen Kushner. It would've been my favorite of the year if Daughter of Hounds hadn't blown the top of my head off with its awesomeness late in the year.

Best Story Suite/Mosaic Novel: Alabaster by Caitlín R. Kiernan.

Best Collection: Map of Dreams by Mary Rickert. The more I read of her work, the more impressed I am. And a nod should also go to Last Week's Apocalypse by Douglas Lain.

Novel I Was Most Surprised To Love: Blood and Iron by Elizabeth Bear. I like Bear a lot, but I couldn't get into her Jenny Casey books -- I could see what others loved about them, but they just weren't to my taste. I figured she was a writer whose work I would respect but not necessarily enjoy. Then I read Blood and Iron, which pushed exactly all my right buttons. Awesome book, and I'm glad there are more Promethean Age books to come.

Best Chapbook: Well, see, that's a tie: Tales of the Chinese Zodiac by Jenn Reese and Show and Tell and Other Stories by Greg van Eekhout. It was an honor and a joy to publish both.

Best Music to Write By: Okkervil River is nice, and so is The Mountain Goats, but I think Jenny Lewis and the Watson Twins have to win. Their album, Rabbit Fur Coat, is glorious.

Successes By Other People That Made Me Most Happy: Where to begin? Heather had her first Year's Best reprint with "Single White Farmhouse" (two of them, in fact!). Barzak sold his amazing first novel, One for Sorrow to my editor at Bantam. David J. Schwartz sold his first novel (which I've not read, but can safely assume is amazing) Superpowers to Three Rivers Press (which is the kind of big mainstream sale it does your heart good to see). Jenn Reese's first novel Jade Tiger came out. Mike Jasper sold his Wannoshay novel. I could go on and on. People I like, respect, admire, and consider my peers are beginning to have more and more success. I feel I'm part of a wonderful new generation of writers. It's amazing.

Best Webcomic:The Perry Bible Fellowship. Good, clean, demented fun.

Best New Crack: Oh, god, this has never been easier to decide: Cheddar Beer chips. Holy mother of divine space lizards, that's some good stuff. Heather and I only allow ourselves to buy one small bag, very occasionally, because if we had more in the house? We would eat it most constantly.

Best Three-Dimensional Art: The sculpture garden we visited in Indiana was amazing.

Best Old Stuff: Visiting the King Tut exhibit at the Field Museum in Chicago was a really cool experience. Canopic jars!

Best Backyard Barbecue: A tie! Heather and I hosted a couple of backyard gatherings. One weekend with Scott & Lynne, and one with Greg and Lisa. Both featured buffalo steaks, and the company of my nephew and sister-in-law. Good stuff!

Best Video Game: This one's tough, since I got a lot of games for Xmas -- and got a Playstation 2! -- and haven't had a chance to play all the games much yet. But so far the contenders are certainly Katamari Damacy and Splinter Cell: Double Agent. Gun is an awesome Western Game, and Final Fantasy X rocks (as the rest of you knew back in 2002 or whatever when it came out!). I could have multiple categories and multiple bests, but let's just call it a big crazy embarrassment of video game-related riches.

Best Party: You'd think it'd be a party at one of those conventions, wouldn't you? I went to Wiscon and Worldcon, after all. But, no: it was Susan's New Year's party, when I got to hang out with her and Matt and David Moles and other good people. That was a great party. I stayed until 3 a.m. I never stay at parties that late. So you know it was awesome.

Best Party At A Convention: The Eos cocktail party by the pool at Worldcon, even if I was woefully underdressed. I got to hang out with Paul Melko, Bill Shunn, his wonderful Laura, and lots more cool people, including Tim Powers, who I hadn't seen in a long time.

Best Breakfast Joint: The Coffee Mill over on Grand. Heather and I have a wonderful Saturday tradition: we get up, amble over there for a big cheap yummy breakfast, then hit the farmer's market. It's really wonderful. Some of the consistently best days of my life.

Best Technological Geegaw: Our external hard drive. Or maybe our new zippy laser printer. It's been a good year for shiny tech.

Best [Redacted Because Our Parents Read This Journal Sometimes]: That one night. That time. With the [redacted] and the [redacted] when we [redacted]. Yeah. Heather knows what I'm talking about. Totally awesome.

Best Porn Movie: See, I review porn now, so this seems natural, which is maybe kind of distressing. But, seriously: Girls Lie. It's good porn and it's a good movie. It's a porn movie with themes. It's like a typical pretty good interlocking-vignette indie flick about grungy LA subcultures, only you get to see the cute pierced girls actually have sex.

Wow, this reminded me how freakin' great last year actually was. More like that one, please!

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