Tuesday, December 6, 2016

35 in review

35 has been interesting.

My plans for this year didn't quite pan out - but let's review, for completeness:

1 - PhD, finishing chapter 2. Nope. Work made it so that my PhD was basically stalled since about May.

2 - Publication of a philosophy paper - yep, it happened! Score! (more below).

3 - Learn a new programming language ... well, kinda.... I spent a lot of time this year playing with Processing and p5.js. So I guess that counts?

4 - 60K on my current WIP. Not quite, but I think what I ended up doing was a little better .... see below.

5 - FOSS contribution. Big fail.

Favourite technical books discovered

Sandi Metz' "Practical Object Oriented Design in Ruby" is just a fantastic book on OOD. I enjoyed everything about it and learned a ton. Highly recommended.

Dan Shiffman's "The Nature of Code" which is all about simulating natural phenomena using Processing. This book was extremely enjoyable - Dan is fun and smart and great at explaining things, which is a killer combination. The book is free to read online, but support him if you're able. 
I can't wait to see what he does next.

Favourite fiction

I did a lot better at reading more fiction this year, and I read some brilliant stuff. 

My two favourite books, though, were short story collections from my two favourite contemporary SFF writers.

Ken Liu's "The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories" was just top drawer stuff. The standout for me was "The Man Who Ended History" (read here - pdf) which I'd not read before, but which blew me away.

My other standout book was Kelly Link's "Get in Trouble". What can I say, really. It's Kelly Link, you can't argue with that.

Philosophy


Well, since my work has mostly come to a screaming halt, there's not much to say here.
But, one bit of good news was that I had my first publication with David Spurrett - our "Robots in Casinos" came out in the first half of the year - you can read the abstract here.


Work/Programming/Hacking

Work is going well - I've learned a lot of Laravel, shipped some ASP.Net apps, and am generally just trying to writer cleaner code. Happy.
I also had a lot of fun with Processing and p5.js. That's about the extent of it.

Writing

Well, this has been ... more successful than I could have hoped. Early on in the year I decided I should just focus on writing and submitting short fiction, a strategy that has really paid off.

I started the year off with my story "Revision Theory" being published in Nature (yes, that Nature).
This was a story with a lot of firsts for me. It was my first professional publication, the first publication of mine to be illustrated, and the first to be recorded (the good folks at Nature read it on their podcast). 

I then had my story "After the Reception" reprinted at the Sub-Saharan Magazine. Very, very cool.

My short story "Return to the Source" was published at Zetetic, which is a semi-pro venue I really love (the piece was written with them in mind).

My second pro publication was my story "Ndakusuwa" at Fantastic Stories of the Imagination, which is a publication I really love. They've put out some of my favourite contemporary writers, and I am honoured to have something there. 

Finally, my short story "Diaspora Electronica" has been shortlisted for the Short Story Day Africa 2016 prize. This was really unexpected and hugely humbling -- I'm listed with some great writers. It's more than I could have wished for. I'm truly honoured.
This story will appear early next year in the anthology "Migrations: New Short Fiction from Africa". I'll blog about it further then.

Plans for 36

There are some big personal upheavals on the horizon for me. I'll write about them later too. But given the chaos that 36 looks like it's going to be, I'm trying to not make too many plans.

I'm going to commit to two things.

First, to write and submit at least one story a month. Ideally, it would be two, but sending off one a month--if I'm happy with the final product--is fine.

Second, to continue to push myself professionally. I've been working really hard to become the kind of engineer I want to be. I've made a lot of progress, but there is still a lot to get done.

Here's to 2017.






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