I feel some sort of retrospective summary of the year is in order. This'll be much easier next year, when I can expect to have 12 fully documented months of blogging to refer to. This year I'll actually have to rely on my memory, which was shot to hell in 'Nam. Easy stuff first.
Best listen of the year
Without a doubt, Cantus Buranus by Corvus Corax, the German hard rock setting of the "Carmina Burana". Damn, I still haven't watched the DVD on that. Something for January, perhaps.
Best TV viddy
The Girl in the Fireplace, this year's Moffat episode of Doctor Who. He's mighty good! Can Paul Cornell's two-parter unseat him next year?
(Competition in this category was more numerous than in previous years, but not actually much better - I've just been watching more BBC2 quiz shows, and Robin Hood. And The Daily Show, the best TV discovery of the year, although I'd be hard pushed to proclaim any single edition of it my best TV experience of the year. Apart, possibly, from last week's "Goodbye, Donald Rumsfeld" edition, which was very, very good. Points to BBC4 for their science fiction season, although this kind of fizzled down from a full evening's programming to a half-hour repeat on alternating evenings.)
Best film viddy
Probably Mirrormask. I seem to recall this didn't hit Bristol's smallest independent cinema until early this year. Since no other films more than a month old have left an impression on my memory, I must assume they were all as dust before it. Recent viddy The Prestige is a very close second. Pan's Labyrinth looks like the sort of thing that might appeal, but we haven't had the chance to see it and probably won't now until the DVD release.
Best read (comic book)
Uuuuuuuuuuuuuuh, well, I'm going to have to say Grant Morrison's Doom Patrol, some of which was printed in trade paperback form (and all of which I discovered) this year, even though it's more than a decade old. As for comics that are still clinically alive, probably Ex Machina. Oi, Warren Ellis, why haven't I seen a new TPB of Planetary in nearly two years? Oi, Alan Moore, where's the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: Black Dossier? (I know this last one: it's been delayed until February owing to problems with some of the novelty items the book's meant to include. Shame, but it does mean other comics had a chance this year.)
Best read (sans pictures)
This one I'm probably going to have to come back and edit owing to memory failure. It may be Barry Hughart's Bridge of Birds, which I bought second-hand on the basis that it was recommended in one of David Langford's old SFX columns. (It's true, I buy what David Langford tells me to buy. Hey, he was right about Kai Lung.) It may be one of the anthologies of Jeffrey Ford's short fiction. In fact, it may be Jeffrey Ford's The Girl in the Glass. It may be the short story about transient roads in China Mieville's Looking For Jake (did he get it from Doom Patrol, or did they both get it from Borges?). Basically I'm going to have to get home, stare at the bookshelves and remind myself.
EDIT: Of course, I forgot about Jon Courtenay Grimwood's End of the World Blues. And Adam Roberts' Gradisil, although... it's not his best. Nor really the best of the year. I think in the end I'd have to go for End of the World Blues (long form) and the China Mieville short story, "Reports of Certain Events in London" (short form).
I'm not going to have to ponder this one! Naturally, this category will exclude all review books, because I deliberately ask Mr Keith "the Guvnor" Brooke to send me small-press books, print-on-demand books and anything vaguely intriguing to review, in the hope of stumbling across fantastic works of literature not yet discovered by the broader public. The upshot of this is that I end up with stacks of very bad books (and plain old mediocre books too) as well as the occasional gem. If I took this lot into consideration for worst read of the year, I'd never reach a decision.
So, the worst proper, serious book I've read this year was Pushing Ice by Alastair Reynolds. I'd heard it was derivative, but in fact it turned out to be Greg Bear's Eon reheated with wafer-thin characters, bugger all dramatic tension and a very rushed ending. Did he use two books' worth of mojo on Century Rain and come to this one empty? One suspects it may be so.