This week’s word for Wednesday is pasquinade, a noun of Italian origin, meaning a lampoon, joke or satire, usually posted in public (like on the internet, maybe?) The term came into use in the 1580s, allegedly springing from a nickname given to a Roman statue. Local wags named the statue “Pasquino” and regularly plastered it with joke poetry.


Peter Dickinson passed away on December 16, 2015. The prolific writer was best known for his work in YA, alone and with his wife Robin McKinley. Here is our Peter Dickinson page. Dickinson will be missed, but his books and stories live on.

George Clayton Johnson, best known as the author of Logan’s Run, passed away on December 25, 2015. (Both items courtesy of Locus.)

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

2015 Fireworks, the Millennium Eye and Big Ben, from the UK Telegraph

Books and Writing

Just in time for the new year, shares some very bad news for new writers. Courtesy of Locus.

IO9 explains why Rey from Star Wars; The Force Awakens is not a Mary Sue. Along the way they give a nice explanation about what a Mary Sue originally was. This articles discusses things Rey does in the movie. If you haven’t seen it you may want to skip this item to avoid any potential spoilers.

Peter Beagle is involved in a lawsuit against a former publisher and business partner, Connor Cochran. Cochran formed Conlan Press specifically to publish and promote Beagle’s work. Beagle is now in his late 70s. Bleeding Cool offers information on the counter-suit by Connor Cochran and Beagle’s three children.

Bookworm Blues published its Best Of column a few weeks ago, but it’s never too late to find out about more great books.

I complain a lot that publishers are collapsing onto one another, “fewer and fewer books are being sold,” that there is less inventory in my local independent bookstore, and so on. A bookseller in Japan has taken that concept to a delightful extreme; the store offers only one book at a time. Yes, only one book at a time. When you read the article, you see that the shop actually “features” the book, with related objects, author visits and other themed events. Somehow this seems… well, uniquely Japanese to me.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

2015 New Year’s fireworks at the Brandenberg Gate, Berlin, from the UK Telegraph

Movies and TV

CW’s new show Legends of Tomorrow starts in January. Gleaning heroes and former villains from both Arrow and Flash, this series will move around in time as the protagonists try to take out 4,000 year old bad-guy Vandal Savage. The Daily Mail gives us a summary and some nice illustrations.

BBC America drops some hints about Season Four of its innovative breakout hit Orphan Black. And here is a very, very short trailer courtesy of Youtube.

Syfy gives us the date of the final episodes of Lost Girl. Bo still has to rescue Kenzie from the underworld, and deal with her daddy-issues.

TNT’s fantasy-comedy-adventure series The Librarians, which showed its season finale on Sunday, has been renewed for a third season. Did anybody notice that in the finale, Cassandra made not one but two references to time travel, “The long way around?” Who knew magi-mathgirl was a Doctor Who fan!

From Entertainment Weekly, here are some cool photos of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange! I wonder why the Chamber of Relics looks a little bit like Tony Stark’s bachelor-pad workshop. This article from the same issue teases us about Rachel McAdams’s role. (Hat tip to Ryan.)

IO9 reviews MTV’s adaptation of the Terry Brooks fantasy series THE SHANNARRA CHRONICLES.


Critical Distance shared a link to an interesting Pew study about video games. Although nearly as many women as men have played video games (the question is posed as “ever played a game”) men are more likely than women to identify themselves as “gamers.” And that’s only the first question.

Keith Stuart provides a long and thoughtful article at Eurogamer, about the violence in crime fiction, violence in video games, and how they differ. (Link courtesy of Critical Distance.)


A children’s buyer in an independent bookstore explains emphatically why she does not stock The Elf on the Shelf.  (Thanks to Terry.)

Yuko Watanabe is a professional shakahuchi (bamboo flute) player. With two accompanists, one on the koto (the long instrument with the tall white bridges) and one playing the junanagen, they perform a hit from the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Here is “Smooth Criminal” as you have not heard it before. (Courtesy of Jana.)

Did you get a mug for Christmas? The training staff at The Unemployed Philosophers Guild want to be sure you know how to use one correctly, so they’ve created this handy training film. It’s really an ad for their great mugs, but it’s funny! Enjoy.


Northern Coastal California got a Christmas gift this year when an adult wild sea otter came into the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s great tide pool and gave birth. Aquarium employees had been worried that the otter was sick, since healthy ones don’t stay in the tide pool area, but soon all was revealed. Employees, volunteers and tourists have racked up bazillions of hours of footage, so it’s only fair that I share some with you. The photos throughout the article are stills; scroll down for the Cute10 footage.


Haven’t we always wanted a flower garden in space? On the International Space Station, they have started growing zinnias.  Elsewhere, the Chandra observation station provides footage of a glorious ribbon of energy unfurling. (Both items courtesy of NASA.)

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2015 New Year’s Fireworks in Munich, from the UK Telegraph


The following giveaway is still active: Happy Holidays! No, really, that’s the name of the column.


The fireworks photos are from the UK Telegraph’s photo essay of New Year’s celebrations around the world in 2015. Visit their site to see all the photos.  Have a great, safe and happy New Year’s!


  • Marion Deeds

    Marion Deeds, with us since March, 2011, is the author of the fantasy novella ALUMINUM LEAVES. Her short fiction has appeared in the anthologies BEYOND THE STARS, THE WAND THAT ROCKS THE CRADLE, STRANGE CALIFORNIA, and in Podcastle, The Noyo River Review, Daily Science Fiction and Flash Fiction Online. She’s retired from 35 years in county government, and spends some of her free time volunteering at a second-hand bookstore in her home town.