Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Essay: Retrospective on 2008

Will be having some retrospectives in the next two days (trying to tie it all up by the New Year) so there'll be slightly more content than the usual.

Right now, the only thing that I can say is wow. Let's put it this way: before 2008, would you ever have heard of some guy named Charles Tan?

The top of my list to be grateful for is friends. Made a lot of friends this year (all without leaving the office) and I'll probably forget someone. I've corresponded with Jeffrey Ford for a few years now and he's just as cool (all those weird blog entries and contests) and humble as he ever was. It's probably no exaggeration to claim that Ellen Datlow is mostly responsible for the popularity of this blog, and that aside, she's such a kind soul that helps bind the community. J.M. McDermott gave me my start with email interviews so you can blame him for everything that's spawned after that. John Grant, Paul Tremblay, Vera Nazarian, Mike Allen, James A. Owen, Sam Henderson, Steve Berman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Ted Kosmatka, and Matthew Hughes are terribly friendly and humble in addition to being talented. There's also what I call the Jeff Vandermeer family (like Oracle or Batmite in the Batman family, or Krypto and Jimmy Olsen in the Superman family) which includes Matt Staggs, Sir Tessa, and Larry Nolen who are simply swell people. Marshall Payne for being incredibly supportive (and the official bearer of the Charles Tan Happy Birthday page). Budjette Tan and Gerry Alanguilan and Ian Rosales Casocot who act like the best friends you never had even if I've only met them a few times. Plus the Lit Critters who are no-brainers and probably the people I spend the most time with outside of work (see, I have no life...). And then there's the ever-expanding Friends list in Livejournal (hope to get to know you guys and gals better!). This fact alone makes 2008 memorable.

The RPG Podcasting Community: In 2007, much of my popularity stemmed from the RPG podcasting community and that's pretty much true this year. It's such a swell, welcoming group that's contributing a lot to that industry (Clyde and Daniel and the folks at Pulp Gamer in particular were quite open and helpful). In 2007, we had the and the Goblin Broadcasting Network while in 2008, we saw the entry of The Vorpal Network and Spooky Outhouse (well, there's also the quasi-rebranding of Pulp Gamer as a network).

Comics Village: I always wanted to be a manga reviewer and well, these guys gave me a chance. My editor Lori was infinitely generous as she mailed me some manga out of her own pockets. Definitely one of the most generous and beyond-the-call-of-duty editors that I've worked with. The only downside with all of this is that I'm currently juggling too many projects and I imagine an alternate reality Charles Tan pursuing Comics Village gung-ho and changing the face of the manga industry. As it is, my current focus is speculative fiction.

SFF Audio: The site was awesome to begin with, providing a much-needed service to the community (the aggregation of speculative fiction podcasts) and it's an honor to be a contributor to the site. That and my editor Jesse is such a swell guy, even when I'm delinquent in my posting.

The Shirley Jackson Awards: I feel like I landed a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity contributing to the Shirley Jackson Awards. The staff behind it are pioneers and I'm happy to be in service of an organization that recognizes horror/suspense/dark fantastic literature. Also got a chance to interview some literary heavyweights (I still get the shivers emailing them) and the Shirley Jackson Awards broadened my reading selection. With regards to my interviews, it was also an opportunity to focus more on quality than quantity when it comes to the questions.

The Nebula Awards Blog: Much like The Shirley Jackson Awards, this was a great opportunity for me and again, I broadened my reading horizons. Interesting anecdotes involve me requesting email interviews with people I planned on interviewing for my blog and in one instance, my request to interview them for my blog preceded my Nebula assignment. David de Beer of course has been quite patient with me.

The Philippine Speculative Fiction Sampler: Wow, I got to be an editor (or rather co-editor!). Of course, I must thank my co-editor and my staff/contributors (uh oh, I haven't yet paid all of you...) as well as everyone who plugged the site (may you acquire more good karma)--again, too many to mention.

The Blog: It's a perpetual work in progress but this is where people typically know me. I wanted to create a blog that people can visit everyday and find interesting content and hopefully I've had some success at it. The blog's actually a lot of hard work (and a time sink) but you know what, this is the type of thing I'd still be doing even if I was a millionaire (well, I was going to say "I'd work on it even if I wasn't getting paid" but I'm not really earning anything from the blog save for that $5.00 from Google...). The blog's like a dream come true: I get to interview people, talk about my interests, make new friends, etc.
  • Book Reviews: Again, still honing my book reviewing skills and thanks to everyone who's given me feedback on it. Of course the book reviews section wouldn't be possible without the talented authors/editors/publishers out there whose content I actually review, and I'd like to thank the various publishers like PS Publishing, Night Shade Books, Norilana Books, Prime Books, Soft Skull Press, and Tor who send me copies for review.
  • Interviews: Again, still working at it and conducting all my interviews via email is certainly a challenging medium to work with. By the time you're reading this, 51 interviews should be up on this blog in addition to the 32 other interviews I've conducted beyond this site. Thanks to everyone who've agreed to be interviewed by me.
  • Features/Essays: I'd like to think this is the most polished (typos and grammatical mistakes aside) of all my blog entries but there's always room for improvement.
  • Tabletop RPG Podcasts: It actually took more more than a year to nail this down and develop an efficient system, cross-posting it to various forums, but yay to me for finally establishing a system. Oh, and gamers out there should listen to gaming podcasts. =)
Personally, I'm surprised I did all that in one year. If you told me last year I'd accomplish all of this, I wouldn't believe you. One of my idols is Jeff Vandermeer who is a multitasking (and multi-talented!) titan and he probably has a lot more on his plate than me but I can always try to catch up with him. (Another is Rich Horton who simply reads a lot!) If there's anything I'm lacking in 2008, it's my fiction. On a positive note, all that reading, reviewing, and interviewing authors/editors/publishers is paying off as my fiction is improving. Unfortunately, I only managed to sell two stories and they won't see the light of day until 2009. Well, at least I know what to work on...

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