Best of 2007 – Book

Here’s a recap of the full nominee list:

  • World War Z, Max Brooks
  • Pattern Recognition, William Gibson
  • Halting State, Charles Stross
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
  • I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert
  • Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, J.K. Rowling

Each of these is worth a read. I was tempted to give the award to Harry Potter, if only for the massive societal upheaval and hoopla that the book’s release caused. I have never before stood in line to buy a book at midnight, and expect that I never will again. Pattern Recognition, while not a new release, connected with me on a fundamental level. I relate to the characters and the lifestyles they lead more than any other book I can remember reading. World War Z is pure fun, with fictional interviews of survivors of the first great zombie war. Alternately horrifying and thought provoking. The Invention of Hugo Cabret swapped back and forth between traditional text and large page blocks of gorgeous illustrations telling some segments of the story. The end result is a book that reads surprisingly fast for 544 pages, and inspired me to do some research into the history of film when I finished. I Am America made the list simply because Stephen Colbert makes me laugh so much. But, in the end one book just blew my mind:

Halting State, by Charles Stross

Set in a near future Scotland, the novel opens with a bank robbery inside an online game, and from there eventually spins into high level international intrigue and espionage. The entire book is written in the second person (“You enter the room…”, etc.), which while jarring at first is ultimately a perfect choice for a book so focused on gaming and its impact on our culture. All plot aside, Stross’ world building is extremely thought provoking. ‘Overlays’ on goggles provide constant streams of data to anybody who wants it, gaming is seamless with everyday life, pseudo-VR interfaces are ubiquitous, etc.
Halting State even manages to pull off a standard Big Dumb Action Movie cliche plot element, and make it seem semi-realistic and plausible. I won’t go into specifics for the sake of avoiding spoilers, but I was more than able to suspend my disbelief around it.

If you are at all interested in how gaming will develop in the next few years, and the effect that might have on our culture, read this book.


Something exploded in my site’s layout overnight… not really sure what happened, since I made no changes at all. But I’ve reverted to an old theme for now, hopefully I’ll have time to fix it up in the near future.

Update: and, the issue magically fixed itself! Please leave a comment if you see any irregularities. I suppose this is a sign that it’s time to do a WordPress upgrade.

Best of 2007 – Music

The nominees are:

  • Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist
  • Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace
  • Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

Keep in mind that I’m not claiming these are the absolute best albums of the year. They’re simply my favorites out of what I listened to.

The winner is:

Drumroll please…

Nine Inch Nails – Year Zero

This album blew me away, I really don’t know how I forgot to include it in my preliminary nominations. Year Zero is a concept album, telling the story of a near-future USA which is run by a totalitarian theocracy. The songs come from different points of view, from people on all sides. The album has something for everyone – radio friendly hit singles like Survivalism stand next to a number of quirkier pieces. Trent Reznor and the band are at the top of their games here, delivering an album that plays great from start to end. There’s not one dud on the entire thing.

On a meta-level, Nine Inch Nails did some fascinating things with their promotional campaign. The current issue of Wired has a feature about the related Alternate Reality Game here. I played along a little bit, and the associated websites (which can still be accessed) do a great job of fleshing out the album’s story. In addition, there’s a new remix album of the Year Zero (somewhat clumsily titled ‘Y34RZ3R0RMIX3D’), which includes the raw tracks for each song on a DVD, preformated for audio editing programs like Garage Band. Fans are encouraged to create their own remixes and upload them to an official website for sharing.

I feel like Year Zero is an important album. Not just for the message, but also for what it heralds about the future of interactive participatory marketing in general.

Best of 2007 – Nominations and Awards

(now updated with links to the posts announcing winners)

Pretty soon it’ll be time again for me to write about things I liked this year. Books, movies, music, and games are up for grabs. In an effort to revive my somewhat flagging rate of posting lately, I’ll break each category out into its own post once I decide on the winners. I haven’t quite made those decisions yet, but here’s the nominees:


  • World War Z, Max Brooks
  • Pattern Recognition, William Gibson
  • Halting State, Charles Stross
  • The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick
  • I Am America (And So Can You!), Stephen Colbert


  • 300
  • Stardust
  • TMNT
  • Hot Fuzz
  • Ratatouille
  • Transformers
  • Stranger Than Fiction

(I didn’t listen to a lot of whole new full albums this year, so the list is a bit limited..)

  • Smashing Pumpkins – Zeitgeist
  • Foo Fighters – Echoes, Silence, Patience & Grace

Video Games:
(This will probably be the most hotly contested category)

  • Super Mario Galaxy
  • Portal
  • Halo 3
  • Rock Band
  • Picross
  • Bioshock

You might notice that not everything in these lists was originally released in 2007. I like to make lists on everything I took in over the year, not just what’s new.

Can you feel the excitement building? I know I can 😛

I’ll be posting the winners gradually as December winds itself up. See anything I left off the lists?

(Update) Links to the posts identifying winners:

Video Games