Sunday Links for September 11, 2011

Neil Gaiman is out to start a new tradition: a holiday on which we all exchange books with one another. Why don’t we have a holiday like that already? Gaiman calls it the All Hallows Read, and the tradition dates all the way back to last year. Gaiman suggests that you don’t give it out in lieu of candy, but still: as you hand a child a book or a comic book, “We recommend looking the child in the eye and saying, ‘Take it. Read it. Trust me… around here… a book can be… safer than candy.’ Then chuckling to yourself, as if remembering something unfortunate that happened to some of the local children only last year.” With luck, that won’t get you arrested! Tor Books is participating in a variety of ways, including giveaways. Sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

As readers of my Magazine Monday columns over at Fantasy Literature know, I’m a big fan of short science fiction. Lately I seem to be accumulating anthologies at an amazing rate, on top of magazine subscriptions; Creatures: Thirty Years of Monsters arrived this week, as did Ghosts by Gaslight: Stories of Steampunk and Supernatural Suspense and The Year's Best Dark Fantasy & Horror, 2011 Edition, as well as Peter Beagle’s collection, Sleight of Hand (so many riches, so little time). So this column about the joys of short fiction struck home. I wish that, like the author of that piece, I used the inspiration from reading short stories to write my own, but instead they seem to inspire reviews or criticism or both instead. Maybe someday….

Sword and sorcery seems to be undergoing a renaissance in recent years. Why is it so popular?

What happens when superheroes get old? Andres Englund has drawn a few pictures so we can see. Not for the faint of heart!

And speaking of superheroes, is anyone else following DC Comics’ relaunching of every single one of their series with a new #1? Here’s a listing what you should read first. I’m sorely tempted to start buying them all; gosh, wouldn’t that be fun? But I’d settle for Swamp Thing.

I’ve always liked SFSignal’s mind melds. This one asks authors what they’d like to read for the first time -- if they could wipe out their memory and start fresh with it. It makes me think of books I know I loved but have largely forgotten and really should revisit sometime soon. Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle in Time, anyone?

It always saddens me to read a news story about how ebooks seem to be squeezing paper books (there’s a retronym for you!) out of the market and, indeed, out of the entire publishing industry. Even that, though, doesn’t make me as sad as reading about a publisher punishing an author for making her out-of-print material available through e-publication. The worst of the latter is that the author had attempted to publish the material through the very publisher who now wants to break its contract with her for different material. Read the comments, and you’ll find that the author has a lawyer now, and the matter appears headed for some sort of legal action. If the contract didn’t say the author couldn’t e-publish material she owned, it seems likely to me that the publisher is in deep doo-doo on this one. Are there facts we don’t know? There almost always are, but really, how can this publisher think it’s going to get away with this? And does the publisher really think that this type of tactic will improve matters any?

Hand-in-hand with news of a flustered publishing industry comes yet more news that bookstores are closing. This time the victim is Serendipity Books in Berkeley. I’ve been there several times, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen so many books in a single building, barring university libraries (and not even all of those). It was also the most chaotic collection of books I’ve ever seen. You can get a flavor for it from the bookstore’s own website, which states that the store and/or collection are for sale. It’s currently open only Thursday through Saturday from 9 to 5, but if you should happen to be in the East Bay on one of those days, it’s definitely worth a stop.

What did President Obama read this summer? Now you know.

Sara Gran has some advice for young writers. It’s business advice, not writing advice, and it’s a bit sad to read “Trust No One” as one of the tips, but hey, it’s business, and there isn’t a business on the planet that isn’t cutthroat at some level. Is there?

Some scientists think we could learn a lot about extraterrestrial intelligence by studying terrestrial intelligence – or, perhaps more accurately, aquatic intelligence. Dolphins are a prime example.

My husband and I just recently finished watching all three seasons of the original Star Trek. Even if it’s terribly cheesy in places (and it really is), there is so much good stuff there. It was a joy, then, to come across this article about the underappreciated aspects of TOS (“The Original Series”), as it’s fondly known to us Trekkers. Was it really 45 years ago that we first explored strange new worlds, seeking out new life and new civilizations?

Hmmm....

A very interesting comment made by Elizabeth Bear, on the "What authors would like to read for the first time" post. If you take out the analogy,

"I guess I see reading a book for the first time as sort of... overrated and over-mythologized, when long-term acquaintance is so much more rewarding."

I'm sure of it now; that doesn't make much sense.

So much has been made of what Obama is reading, and so much more of what he's not.

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