We’re out and may not be blogging at midnight, so have a wonderful New Year’s Eve and a safe, successful and altogether brilliant 2009!
Terry Pratchett has been knighted in the Queen’s New Year’s Honours List. I find myself disproportionately pleased by this news.
Rick Kleffel talks about Eclipse Two over at The Agony Column today. He also is podcasting a lengthy interview with my pal and publisher, Jeremy Lassen, where they talk about the book in some detail. I was fascinated listening to the podcast, if only because it gave someone else’s perspective on a project that I spent a lot of 2008 working on, thinking about and dealing with. I’m delighted the book’s out, very pleased with the reception it’s receiving, and interested to see things like this podcast happening.
Listening to the podcast does prompt me to ponder Eclipse Three a little. It’s very likely to be the final volume in the series, though that’s by no means certain. It’s probably going to be more like Eclipse One than Two, though that remains to be seen. I hope it’ll be a smoother ride than Two, but I think it’ll be at least as good a book as its two predecessors.
I’ve been watching cricket for so long that I don’t remember when I saw my first game. I played the game as a schoolboy, I went down to the WACA and watched games, and I spent long hot summers watching Australia play. I remember Kerry Packer’s pyjama cricket, the Supertests, the white ball, the aluminium bat. I was thrilled to meet Dennis Lillee’s mum and dad when my dad took me out to their house to get some memorabilia they were selling, and I watched through the long, lean years: the post-Ian Chappell Years; the Kim Hughes Years; sitting up late at night watching dismal team performances beamed from the UK as the Ashes were lost again, or seeing our batsman struggle with brutal West Indian pace attacks throughout the 80s.
I’ll confess that I felt no sympathy whatsoever for the opposition teams during the enormous victories Australia achieved over the past 10 years. I thrilled to see the levels of skill on show, the hunger to play, and the sheer domination of the game. I knew that had to end, and when Martyn, Langer, McGrath, Warne, and Gilchrist all retired it was inevitable it would end. This past few weeks has proven that’s the case. The batting line-up is brittle, with Hayden on his last legs and the remainder either too old or too inconsistent. The bowling attack was worse: Brett Lee had never been more than a first change bowler, and replacements just weren’t really available. That’s not to say there aren’t positives, though. Ponting himself is a lousy captain, but a great player. Haddin is developing into a fine player, as is Mitchell Johnson. I don’t see a future for Krezja, but some of the other guys are promising. If the selectors can be brave and opt for youth, rather than hoping for the recovering of the over-33 brigade, there’s a chance we could field a credible team for the Ashes.
Regardless of that, though, congratulations to South Africa who do look like the best side in the world right now. India is probably second, on balance. And Australia is a close third. The difference between now and the past ten years, though, is that the gap between the teams isn’t enormous. Australia can regain a dominant place in world cricket if it’s smart and tough. Oh, and the Sydney test is looking pretty crucial.
I’ve been thinking about working over the Christmas/New Year period. Every year for the past decade I’ve been busy, more or less, working on essays, editing, copyedits and so on. It’s important and I’ve been happy to do it, but I’ve noticed this past week I’ve been getting a lot of emails telling me that people associated with the publishing business are closed from 23 December to January 5. This sounds like an eminently sensible thing to do. There should be a time of the year when you can sit back and relax. What I’ve also noticed is that some of the publishers send out copyedits etc just before 23 December and then expecting back by January 5. I can see why. Anyhow, I’m considering following publishing’s lead and, next Christmas, closing Jonathan Strahan Publications on 23 December 2009 and not reopening till 5 January 2010. I’d not blog, not answer emails, and not do anything to do with any kind of work. Just spend time with the family. If I can get columns edited by the 23rd, it should be doable, and it does sound attractive.
Anyhow, with New Year’s Eve almost upon us I’m reviewing copyedits for one book, editing columns for Locus, and I’ve just started writing my year in review essay for the magazine. It’s about half done, so I should get it in by the weekend. A little late, but two weeks earlier than 2008, which is some kind of improvement.