Between the natural and economic disasters of the past year, it has not been a very good one for a very large number of people. It gives those of us who have had a productive year a moment to pause, take on our responsibility to do what we can to care for those who have not and to recount with gratitude our own blessings. For myself and for Voyages Extraordinaires, 2011 has been a very good year.
I won't get into advancements in my personal and professional life, but I can and will talk about this fair weblog. Our readership has steadily increased and we now enjoy 245 followers on Google and over 400 members of our Facebook group. Our giveaway contests continue unabated, with many more to come. I started working with Network Awesome to write articles, and I finally got around to updating the look of the site to better reflect the feel I've sought with its content, juxtaposing the wonder and beauty of nature with the aesthetics of the Victorian-Edwardian Era.
For the content, I feel that this weblog has been finally hitting its real stride. I was pleased to feature modern Canadian artist Jeff de Boer, early Spanish filmmaker Segundo de Chomón, Mark Hodder's second book in the Burton and Swinburne series, and the marvellous Alien Voices (who have since brought their catalogue online). I was also able to revisit a pair of my favourite filmmakers: Karel Zeman's Baron Munchausen and the complete works of Georges Méliès, courtesy of Flicker Alley.
An additional favourite of mine is Hayao Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli, to whom I devoted the whole month of March, including a review of both the anime and manga versions of Nausicaä of the Valley of the Wind. April's Japan-themed month focused on railways, including a look at Japan's Vintage Railways and the most famous novel by one of my most loved authors, Kenji Miyazawa's A Night on the Galactic Railroad.
We went to the Weird West in May, with looks at a number of games and stories, including two classic short stories: The Huge Hunter, or the Steam Man of the Prairies and The Monster of Lake LaMetrie. Edward Erdelac also sent along review copies of the delightful first two books in his Merkabah Rider series, Tales of a High Planes Drifter and The Mensch with No Name. Slightly north of the Old West, we visited my homeland of Canada. One of our most famous products is Anne of Green Gables, but even Jules Verne found enough romance in the Truth North Strong and Free to set a novel here. We do have our own, slight, tradition of novels, but an even grander one of lake monsters.
I wrapped up a tour of Disney's 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea attractions with a look at the extinct exhibition from Disneyland, and launched a foolhardy defense of Tomorrowland's 1998 refurbishment (along with some glorious photos). I also could not resist jumping on the bandwagon of hatred over Disney's deal with James Cameron to bring Avatar to Walt Disney World. Over the way at the other studio, returned to the crypts of the Universal Studios Monsters in October with a look at The Black Cat, The Raven and the effective end of the series, Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
My annual anniversary pep-talk was on Religion and Romanticism, leading into a month of looking at more modern French Scientific Romances, including Dionysos' La Mécanique du Coeur in music and print and the cult-classic City of Lost Children. It also bled over into a December spent with the deity of French animation, Paul Grimault, from his short films up to one of my most favourite movies, The King and the Mockingbird.
I'm very excited about next year's line-up. 2012, besides being the supposed end of the world, is also a year of some substantive centennials to which we will be paying heed. Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World turns 100, as does Edgar Rice Burroughs' Tarzan of the Apes and A Princess of Mars, which Disney will be adapting into a feature film. It will also be the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the Titanic. Supplementing that will be the championship bout: Jules Verne vs. H.G. Wells! There will be more giveaways, more Doctor Who, more Méliès, and I hope more and better of those things that have kept you all as supporters of Voyages Extraordinaires: Scientific Romances in a Bygone Age.
Thank you all from the bottom of my heart and have a Happy New Year!