Sunday Links for January 23, 2011

BookBalloon is a wonderful site for readers, fostering discussions in all genres and about all aspects of reading. It’s full of great, interesting people who have almost nothing in common except that they love the written word, which leads to lots of differing opinions and intelligent discussions. Now BookBalloon has published its survey of its participants as to the best books read in 2010. This is one of the more eclectic lists you’ll find anywhere on the web.

The finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award have been announced. I’m embarrassed to say that I’ve read none of these books yet. Time to get busy!

E-books. The very word makes me shudder. I’ve said before that I always find myself reaching for a real book instead of my Kindle, and that remains the case despite the fact that I have upwards of 100 books on the Kindle right now, including many I received for free. I’m very eager to read Catherynne Valente’s Ventriloquism, so perhaps that will finally break the e-book barrier for me. Even as I hesitate, though, the world moves forward. Michael Hyatt sets out his ideas about e-book trends for 2011.

An up-and-comer on the fantasy scene, with several new books published in the past couple of years to considerable acclaim, James Enge is interviewed by Civilian Reader here. I’m longing to get the time to read Blood of Ambrose, more since reading this interview.

John H. Stevens has an interesting piece up on SFSignal about the epic and the anti-epic. I’m going to be watching for this fellow’s weekly columns, because he has some very interesting things to say about the genre.

Douglas Cohen, one of the editors for Realms of Fantasy, gives his thoughts on where the magazine is now, after its second resurrection from the dead. I reviewed the December issue of the magazine at Fantasy Literature last week, and my feeling is that the magazine is doing all the right things. That really ought to guarantee it a market. Why doesn’t life actually work like that?

Aspiring novelist and slush pile reader Mercedes Yardley gives some advice on how to break out of the slush pile. I have a piece in a slush pile somewhere myself right now, and I’m going to have to remember to take Yardley’s advice if and when my piece is rejected. But it won’t be. Right? Right? (Hope springs eternal.)

Slush is apparently a great teaching tool, because Christie Yant of Inkpunks has a column on the topic, too. More good advice.

More advice for the would-be writer: agent Jill Corcoran explains how to submit queries and manuscripts. Lots of nice, basic stuff that isn’t necessarily obvious, such as proper formatting for a submission and even how to title your cover email.

If all that advice doesn’t help, you can always try this.

I’ve never, ever, been tempted to steal a book online. Perhaps it’s because I want to publish my own books some day; perhaps it’s because my husband has published ten of them so far. Or maybe, just maybe, it’s because I’m an honest person. Really, how can anyone justify stealing from an author this way? Read this piece and, if you’ve done it, you’ll never do it again.

Have you ever noticed how important hallways seem to be to science fictions films and television shows? What would Alien have been without those endless corridors? How could they possibly have filmed Star Trek Next Generation without the hallways of the Enterprise? (And just how much hallway did they have to serve as a set? I’ve always wondered.) Motherboard TV has a tribute to the SF hallway.

It’s going to be a long, long time before the episode airs, but Neil Gaiman is going to make an “appearance” on The Simpsons. He’ll be only the last in quite a long line of authors who’ve donated their voices and appearances to the show. My very favorite was famously reclusive Thomas Pynchon, whose cartoon character wore a bag over his head so as to avoid identification.

Don’t you hate it when someone bothers you while you’re trying to read? So does Julian Smith.

Anyone looking to buy me a gift ought to think seriously about gallium. It’s one of eleven cheap gifts to impress science geeks, and really, you could do a lot worse for the budding chemist, biologist or physicist among the children in your life than to get them one or two of these really cool items.

And finally, because we all could use just a little bit of cute in our lives, here are the top ten cute animal photographs of 2010. Try not to get a cute overload.