Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 In "Awwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwwww!"

We've all already been inundated with end-of-year lists, but I think you can find room for one more. OMG, TEH KUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUTE!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Bourgeois Book Club

A Talent For War, Polaris, Seeker, The Devil's Eye, Echo, and Firebird by Jack McDevitt

Lost ships, missing colonies, dreadful secrets, assassination attempts: it's all in a day's work for antiquities dealers Alex Benedict and Chase Kolpath. And in a galaxy thousands of years into the future where humanity has spread far into the stars and countless civilizations have risen and fallen, there are plenty of secrets to uncover.

Only three niggles beset me: One, McDevitt uses the "sabotaged aircar" as a plot device way too much. Second, the technology do not always seem convincingly "futuristic." But this universe was originally established in 1989 with A Talent for War, so some "retroism" to its "future" might not be wholly unexpected. Third, the gender politics seem too contemporary, even retrograde. But perhaps the latter two details are not accidental at all. One of the themes of the books is that history is contingent and ultimately mysterious. There are thousands of years of Golden Ages, Dark Ages, and blank spots in their history, and the galaxy they inhabit is in no way a straight line of progress from our time. Just because they have faster-than-light travel doesn't mean they're all that much more "advanced" than us.

But those are really just niggles. Compulsively readable, this series is a tasty genre-melange of science-fiction, mystery, and adventure. Recommended for anyone who likes a nice bit of intrigue and investigation.

Winning Mars by Jason Stoddard

Jere Gutierrez built a network from a YouTube channel. But in a near-future where currencies from virtual reality games are stronger than the dollar and risk-assessment algorithms rule business decisions, "linear entertainment" is waning. So when an Old Hollywood (70s-00s) producer pitches Gutierrez a reality show, a reality show about going to Mars, Gutierrez is first aghast, then intrigued, then hooked. Money woes, technical challenges, and government interference all must be overcome to get eleven contestants of widely different motivations to Mars, where they'll race for fifty million dollars... and their lives.

As I've mentioned before, I'm totally over dystopias. Thankfully, then, despite worries at the beginning, the world of Winning Mars isn't really dystopic. It seems like a real world, with both good and bad aspects to it. IMHO, it is a plausible extrapolation, for the most part, at least from our current vantage point (though undoubtedly in ten years it'll seem completely off-base).

What I enjoyed most about it was its hopefulness and optimism about humanity. Ultimately, it pleads the need for the human imagination and the drive to go forth, making space for adventure and crazy-eyed idealism, taking chances, exploring, pushing, growing. As a child of Trek, this speaks to my very soul.

The Folded World by Catherynne M. Valente

Sequel to last year's Habitation of the Blessed, this is the tale of Prester John's daughters, of the war that brought doom to his kingdom, and the beginning of the end of magical things.

As in Habitation of the Blessed, this is a metafiction more than fiction, a story about stories, about the transmission of stories, and "history." What is fiction, what is history, what is myth, but lies? Can lies be true? It's also about love and war and parenting and religious fanaticism and hatred and death and Apocalypse.

"Beautiful" is the best word to describe it. The language is achingly beautiful. Lovely and haunting, full of melancholy and wistfulness, this is an utterly enthralling and enchanting tale of loss change.

The Unexpected Miss Bennet by Patrice Sarath

Poor Mary Bennet. The middle sister, the "ugly" sister, the dull sister, with none of the vivacity of her younger sisters, or the beauty and sense of her older sisters, the one always overlooked and unappreciated by anyone. Everyone just takes for granted that she's happy with her sermons and her piano practice and her moral superiority. But if that's not all she wants for herself? What if she wants to be heard and seen and appreciated? What if she wants to fall in love?

Some time away from home, an unexpected friendship, and the absence of her overshadowing sisters brings Mary out of her shell and allows her to finally find herself. And even more unexpectedly, along comes a suitor and the most unlikely of the Bennet sisters just might find love after all.

An utterly charming and wonderful confection, highly recommended for those who love Austen or even just sweet historical stories.

2012: The Pandapocalypse

Bamboo just doesn't cut it anymore; the Pandas have found a taste for flesh! This is just what the Maya predicted! First, they'll hypnotize us with cuteness, and then they'll eat our faces off!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Once Again, I Ask, "Where Are The Green Dancing BOYS?"

Forget Roswell, there are aliens in Vegas. Alien hookers! Set phasers to "boooooing," straight nerds!Link

Sunday, December 25, 2011

Thursday, December 22, 2011

50 Secrets of the Literary World

A selection of secrets:Link

12. Amazon is not "evil" (J Daunt).

15. You don't have to read every book you buy, and you certainly don't have to finish the book you've started.

17. Narrative (aka storytelling) is in our DNA. It's called gossip.

20. Literary fiction is like sci-fi. It's a genre.

23. Two writers, alone in a room, will talk about royalties not art.

38. Ebooks are not the end of the world.

(Via The Hairpin)

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Merry Christmas, Whores!

This holiday season, remember that reading is fundamental, hunties!

Thursday, December 15, 2011


The wonders of Clue are many and varied and if you don't "get" it, I don't want to know you!

To Boldly Go Where No Reindeer Has Gone Before...

Santa's sci-fi ride.


Fear Is The Mind-Killer, Fear Is The Little Death...

What keeps nerds up at night? These things. Number seven practically makes me faint just considering it. WON'T SOMEONE THINK OF THE CHILDREN?!!!?


It's A Snowball! It's A White Balloon! It's A...

Flying Snowman!

I have to admit, I'm with Mr. Scalzi on this one. I'm much more forgiving of fantasy than science fiction with suspension of disbelief. (I mean, the density of lava in Lord of the Rings? We're really going to quibble that Gollum sunk into lava in a moment that had much more to do with the artistic and dramatic themes Jackson had been playing with Gollum the whole trilogy?)

But even with science fiction, I can forgive a lot. Faster-than-light travel? Sure! (In fact, I dislike "hard" science fiction that goes out of its way to not have FTL. Boring!) Teleportation? Sure! Sound in space? Sure! Even there, though, there's a limit. The "red matter" and "supernova threatening the galaxy" thing in the latest Star Trek movie bothered me tremendously. IT DOESN'T WORK THAT WAY! We all have our lines.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011


There are only four days left to hit the fundraising target for Seed Money. If they don't raise $25,000, then all the donations are void. I can't bear to see that happen! This is a story that needs to be told, and a group of filmmakers who deserve to see their vision come to fruition. Please consider donating, as generously as you can! I know this is a time of year when money can be tight, there are a lot of demands on time and funds, and many worthy causes that need funds. This is not a tax write-off or a charitable contribution, but it's still a good deed.

Walking Brains

Tiny spiders have brains in their legs!

Monday, December 12, 2011

More Than You Ever Wanted To Know About Bird Genitalia

So, apparently ostriches and emus and such have penises! And not just any penises, but penises that use lymph instead of blood to erect!

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Friday, December 09, 2011

And the Color of the New Year Is...

...Tangerine Tango! I like it. I can sort of taste tart fruit juice just looking at it.

(Via The Hairpin)

Thursday, December 08, 2011

Edinburgh Surprise

It seems Santa has a little sister who is both a bookworm and a highly talented artist, leaving incredible book sculptures around the libraries and literary places of Edinburgh. Amazing.


Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Now Exiting The Solar System...

So is this where Voyager falls into a wormhole and becomes V'Ger? Maybe!

Monday, December 05, 2011

On The Care and Feeding of Libraries

I know I have some (sexxxxxxxxy) librarians in the audience, so here's a Q&A about weeding and collection management with one of the fantabulous Awful Library Books ladies.

Justice Delayed

Alan Turing's story is a tragedy, one that was finally apologized for in 2009. But his conviction still stands, and it's time for a full pardon.