So it's a chance for a quick round up of 2006...
Four continents and four months away from home, taking us to all four corners of the USA (and some stops in the middle), to the beauties of New Zealand, to the bustling streets of Hong Kong, and the depths underneath Switzerland. Cities visited included Hong Kong, Seattle, New York, San Francisco, Dallas, Fort Lauderdale, San Jose, Campbell, San Diego, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Wellington, Christchurch, Geneva, and Munich.
We drove the whale-watching twists and turns of Highway One from San Francisco to LA, went to Death Valley in the rain, sat in our own hot springs on Hot Water Beach, and watched dolphins swim up the coast of the Coramandel Peninsula. It is a wonderful world.
Best read of the year was by far Sean Williams' "Books of the Cataclysm" series, which wrapped his earlier "Books of the Change" YA series in a set of adult novels that expanded on the earlier themes, to unfold one of the more innovative fantasies of the last twenty years. If fantasy is inherently conservative, the final volume The Devoured Earth turned that meme soundly on its head, with characters who not only thought about the choices they were making, but used the time carefully to find a true alternative path that offered progress and growth. Wonderful stuff that needs a wider audience beyond the southern Australian landscapes that inspired so much of the story. Yes, Pyr is publishing the series in the US, but their version will miss the crucial three "Books of the Change" - which I luckily found on our first trip to the side of the world.
Other good reads included finishing Elizabeth Bear's Jenny Casey trilogy, being encouraged by marypcb to try Kerry Greenwood's detective fiction, Chris Roberson's post-modern planetary-romance Paragea, and the final part of Nancy Kress' Quaker military space opera duology Crucible.
Slip F8 at the Baia Mar marina in Fort Lauderdale. Travis is long gone, and there are no Rolls Royce pickup truck or house boat to be seen...
The highlight here was finally seeing Thomas Dolby live, at one of the warm up gigs for his tour in San Francisco, and at an enthusiastic homecoming at the Scala here in London. With more tours to come, and new music, I suspect I'll be seeing him playing again somewhere soon. Other gigs included seeing regular favourite Billy Bragg and a blast from the past with the original line up of prog rock supergroup Asia.
Two baseball games - watching the Cubs shut out Barry Bonds as he tried for Babe Ruth's record, and seeing the Mariners run in a grand slam against the Orioles.
One football match - the opening of the World Cup in Munich. The massed oompah bad was most peculiar...
CERN took us to the largest physics experiment we've seen, and to the first web server. Closer to home we've been writing for more magazines and web sites, including our regular tech blog at IT Pro, where you'll find my tech round-up of 2006.