Sunday Links for December 19, 2010

The links I’ve set aside for this week’s column are intimidatingly many. You might want to get a cup of coffee, hot chocolate or even hot buttered rum before diving in, because if you’re here to read them all, you’re going to be here a while!

Looking for some free – and good – short stories to read this holiday season? Try the December Lights Project. There’s plenty here to keep you warm and toasty no matter how hard it snows.

One of my all-time favorite writers is Elizabeth Hand. “Cleopatra Brimstone,” for instance, is a story that you can’t forget; it appears in Saffron And Brimstone: Strange Stories, which I reviewed here. Chasing Ray has a lengthy and fascinating interview of Hand up for your delectation.

Do you read The Best American Short Stories volume every year? I don’t, for precisely the reasons Matt Cheney outlines. Give me genre fiction any day – fiction where something happens. I’ve read more than my share of stories about rich white people buttering their toast.

Still shopping for that special someone? If he or she is a fantasy buff, you can find something truly special on Fantasy Magazine’s list. Please, no unicorn meat for me; I’m working on converting to vegetarianism. But if you can get me a TARDIS, that would be a very special gift indeed (says the new Doctor Who fan who just started watching past episodes a few months ago).

In a more realistic vein, you can get me anything on Stomping on Yeti’s wishlist to Santa. I know advanced reading copies of Patrick Rothfuss’s The Wise Man's Fear are out there, and Jo Walton, in the first published review of the book, says it was worth waiting for. Is it really too much for this lowly blogger to wish that she rated a copy now, without having to wait until its March publication? Please? Pretty please with sugar on top? I’ve been very good this year.

But seriously, folks: if you’d like an interesting idea for a book to give to the reader on your list, Amazon’s Omnivoracious can help. I’ll take a copy of Rjurik Davidson’s Library of Forgotten Books, please. Or Weird Fiction Review: Volume 1. Either would make me very happy – which means they’d probably please the weird fiction reader on your list, too. (The “weird” there modifies “fiction,” not “reader,” you know. Or – well, maybe not.)

If you need still more help, try io9’s list of recent science fiction and fantasy books that would make good gifts. Or mystery reviewer Sarah Weinman's list of her favorite crime novels of 2010. Or Kirkus Reviews’ list of the best science fiction and fantasy of the year.

If you want to be thrifty about it, you can always give someone a book from Golden Gryphon Press; they’ve got a half-price sale going on, and their books are absolutely gorgeous. Get a Jeffrey Ford collection for someone you love – or for yourself, for that matter – Ford is brilliant, and you won’t regret a single penny you spend.

Or how about a subscription to a strange and interesting new periodical? Lobster and Canary has a list that makes my mouth water.

One of these days I’m going to get around to reading George R.R. Martin’s “Wild Cards” series. It sounds like great fun. Martin has recently blogged about where to find early volumes in the series, which is going to come in handy one of these days.

Coilhouse tells the story of Frank Herbert’s Dune. I still remember when I first read this masterpiece; I can actually see the library book in my hand if I concentrate. It was one of the first works of science fiction I ever read, and it’s one of the ones that hooked me for good. And to think it was first published by a publisher of car manuals!

Still interested in steampunk? If so, Amazon’s Omnivoracious has a goodly list of books for you to read, as well as some valuable links and commentary.
If fairy tales are your thing instead, you might like this articleabout retellings of classic tales. I found a few titles I’ve missed so far, and I’m happy to know I have some great reading ahead of me.

Oh, no, are they still predicting the demise of science fiction? Why must this genre go through the death throes every couple of years? Paul di Filippo poses the question, but I’m not sure he really answers it. At least he identifies some important books you might want to take a look at – they’re all on my list, or in my library.

Philip Athans does di Filippo one better, asking not whether science fiction is dead, but whether it’s bad for us. It’s a well-thought-out article, with a few disheartening statistics, but it comes to a conclusion that is hard to dispute.

And people continue to attack genre fiction. I’m with Maureen Johnson; these attacks are growing tiresome. But by all means, read Edward Docx’s attack on Dan Brown and Stieg Larsson before you make up your mind. Me, I think he picked at least one low-hanging fruit with the choice of those two authors; if he thinks Dan Brown is what genre fiction is all about, he doesn’t know much about genre fiction.

An open letter from Tom Hunter, Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award, seeks input into what the award should be all about. It’s good to see an award committee taking a look at what it’s been doing and what it should do in the future, and even better to see it seeking the thoughts of those who read the genre from which it selects its winner. Read the questions and tell Mr. Hunter what you think.

Did you know that there’s something out there known as “the new sentence”? Yeah, me neither. I pretty much thought a sentence was a sentence was a sentence. The Big Other discusses this hitherto unknown object to us, tracing its lineage and giving examples.

It seems to me that some books would benefit by titles that more accurately describe what’s between the covers. The blog Better Book Titles agrees. Really, shouldn’t George W. Bush’s Decision Points be titled My Bad? Get ready to laugh.

I get an odd kick out of reading about the book scouting trips taken by other bookaholics. This account of a trip that almost didn’t get off the ground, so to speak, is an essay with photos that will sound familiar to everyone who’s ever spent a day roaming around a city, county, or even country looking for every shop that might be hiding a book. Here’s part two. It all reminds me of my husband dragging me from the East Side to the West Side of Manhattan one March day in 2008, using a 1998 list of bookstores, most of which no longer existed. The fact that it was sleeting didn’t stop him for a moment. The fact that I was limping didn’t even slow him down. He was hot on the trail of anything between two covers. And yet, we’re still married. It’s a miracle, I tell you.

I’m immune to the charms of Twitter, but if you’re not, here’s a guide to SF/F/H writers who tweet. You don’t have to miss a single word of wisdom from your favorite author!

Want to know the secret to being a published fiction writer? Jeff VanderMeer tells all. Oddly, it’s pretty much the same thing my husband tells me. And every writing teacher I’ve ever had. And Marta Randall, the leader of my writing group. And every book about writing. Hmm. Maybe they’re all onto something.

If you’d like a bit more concrete writing advice, you might consider watching some of these free videos from the Superstars Writing Seminar. Just don’t spend all your time watching; do some actual writing!

With all this great stuff to read, are you starting to suffer from a surfeit of riches? Cory Doctorow, one of the pioneers of e-publishing, writes about what to do when you have too many choices.

I’ll be in Chicago around Christmas, and I think I’m going to have to search out the ongoing production of “A Christmas Carol” in the original Klingon. No, really, according to io9, at the Greenhouse Theater in Lincoln Park they’re performing “A Christmas Carol” in Klingon with English subtitles. It sounds amazing to me. The Wall Street Journal seems to agree.

A big discovery: 17 lost minutes of the classic science fiction film, 2001 - A Space Odyssey. I’m longing to know what’s in those minutes. I hope we’ll have a chance to find out.

There are some wonderful end of the year articles and picture galleries about science available on the web. The most amazing science images of 2010 are available on PopSci; you’ll spend a wonderful couple of hours gazing at these amazing pictures. Discover Magazine has posted the 100 top science stories of the year in an even more fascinating collection. Sometimes it’s hard to tell the science from the science fiction these days.

And if you’re tired of reading about what happened in 2010, take heart: early 2011 will see the return of The Tournament of Books! Prepare yourself: here’s the long list of books being considered for the boxing ring. That should keep you occupied for the next two weeks, when Sunday Links will return!

Indulge my tangent

I know this is a book blog but, I've never heard of "Hot Buttered Rum" before. And here I've thought I knew the ins and outs of that drink, what to mix it with and what the outcome would be...
I can't quite wrap my head around what that would end up tasting like; which only arouses my curiosity further and gives me more reason to try it out.

Your new suggested title for George Bush's book, "My Bad?" is gonna make me smile all week!

Finally, I'm continually amazed that you have as much time to read all the internet stuff you do in addition to your regular fiction reading.

Hot buttered rum

Sure proof that you've lived your life in the South, Chad. In Chicago, we definitely knew from hot buttered rum, I assure you. I haven't made it in years, but to the best of my recollection, the recipe required a stick of butter, a box of brown sugar and a few other spices (surely including cinnamon, but I don't remember fully) all mixed up together for the base of the drink. You'd take a heaping tablespoon of this mix, add a shot of rum, and then fill up the rest of the mug with boiling water, stir well and drink.

I used to love this, and drank it regularly. I need to get in touch with the friend who gave me the recipe and who still lives in the Chicago area -- I'll bet she still makes it! (But wait: she came from Atlanta. How come she knew about hot buttered rum and you don't?!)

I appreciate your compliment about finding so many weird links, but I really owe much to many other bloggers who themselves post links to sites I don't visit regularly. I don't post the original source of the link, and I find about as many links by directly visiting the sites I link to, but folks like Charles Tan of Bibliophile Stalker make my job a lot easier.

So much drinking to do...

I have lived eight years in Champaign-Urbana, although I was only drinking two of those eight. In that time there were multiple trips to Chicago (February is a excellent reason to not live there) but I never encountered this drink. I think the reason is graduate school drinking doesn't encompass this beverage...

My initial impression is, "This sounds terrible," yet I can't wait to try it! I plan on extensive R&D on the matter later this week. I bet your friend in Chicago knows about tea and whisky--among other things--and she probably agrees with me about February as well...

As to your links, I don't think they are weird at all! You save me a lot of time by finding all the interwebs cool things for me.

Born and raised in Illinois

Chad, I grew up in Crystal Lake, Illinois, a northern exurb of Chicago; went to college in Rock Island, Illinois, at Augustana College; attended Northwestern University Law School in downtown Chicago; and lived and worked in Chicago from 1981 until 1993. That's a lot of Februaries, and you're right, they're a very good reason not to ever move back.

I do miss Chicago a lot, though. I loved living in a big city, right smack in the middle of things (in Streeterville during law school, New Town for 10 years thereafter, and Greek Town for the last few years). I hate living in the suburbs, as I do now, and I'm not much of a fan of small cities like Omaha and Sacramento, in each of which I spent a number of years (and I'll be returning to Sacto next year -- it's a good, cheap place to live, and the Bay Area, where I am now, is just too expensive).

Try hot buttered rum at a restaurant -- most of them have it if they have any hot alcoholic beverages at this time of year. Then ask for their recipe; it'll probably be better than my half-remembered one! And as to tea and whiskey -- give me an Irish coffee instead, please.

All the Above.

I was born and raised in Illinois as well; small world indeed. Unfortunately, that accounts for my slightly affected southern accent (only when I want--or need--to 'turn it on. I usually speak like a regular person.)

It's funny you bring up Northwestern. I applied to graduate school there just because it's a great school, not because I have any expectation of getting in.

Finally, if you plan on moving I think there will be a book purge of some sorts... You've got too many to take with you. Call me if you need some help lessening the load.

I will be experimenting with this butter and rum concept soon.

No book purge planned

Just lots and lots of boxes of books, and really pissed off movers.

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