Today’s word for Wednesday is the noun flummadiddle, which means something worthless or foolish, a bauble. It used to be the name of a bread-and-pork-fat based pudding with sweet spices like cinnamon and allspice (that doesn’t sound worthless). It might come from the word “flummery,” also a kind of dessert, which is believed to be of Welsh origin.

You will see this word again later in the column. 

Gift Recommendations and Giveaway:

I’m always amazed and impressed by the knowledge base of our readers, so I’m turning part of the column over to you today. Since it’s that time of year, please go to the comments and tell us all your best gift-book recommendation. If you are a writer, it might be your own book (if indie published, please provide the purchase details.) It does not have to have come out in 2016. Just share with us your go-to “gift book,” or the book you wish someone would give you.

One random commenter with a USA or Canadian address will get a trade paperback copy of 2016 Best American Science Fiction and Fantasy, edited by Karen Joy Fowler. If you don’t want it yourself, it’s suitable for re-gifting.

And this site is offering free downloadable art prints (card-sized.) Today’s art came from their site.

Awards:

Sarah Perry’s novel The Essex Serpent won this year’s Waterstone’s book of the year award. The Guardian was surprised that Perry beat out the playscript of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.

Michael Miller, who wrote the unusual and smart superhero series Cleverman has won the John Hine Award for Science Fiction from the Australian Writer’s Guild.

SFWA has awarded Jane Yolen the 33rd Damon Knight Grand Master award.

Workshops:

Taos Toolbox is currently open for applications.

[caption id=”attachment_83403″ align=”alignleft” style=”height: 350px; width: auto;” /> Bells by Edmund DuLac

Books and Writing:

Today is the last day to win a George R.R. Martin Limited Edition Box, which will include a collectible copy of A Game of Thrones, and other assorted goodies. Go to Tor’s website; the sweepstakes ends today as 12:00.
Audible Range has an article from John Scalzi on writing for an audio book, and, “The first thing that has to go are dialogue tags,” he said.

As a bonus there is a passage from The Dispatcher, read by Zachary Quinto.

Penguin Random House has an essay site called Filaments of Fiction. (First of all, is that a great name, or what?) These are delightful. Here is a charming and suitably askew memoir from Robert Jackson Bennett, on how Jonathan Strange and Mister Norell helped him propose to his wife.  We’ll see if you laugh out loud; I did.

Book Smugglers reprinted this essay from Kate Elliott on the question of whether fantasy is gendered.

Pierce Brown provides a “Last Minute Book Report” on Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, a book he has not read. He is surprisingly accurate if you think Wuthering Heights is a lot like a certain ginormous pop-cultural phenomenon that first appeared 130 years after Bronte’s book was published.

The Awl shares an essay by Bryan Washington on people of color writing speculative fiction. He includes some passages about his youth and his experience discovering Babel 17.

Pat Cadigan writes about living with cancer in a way that’s honest, brave and often hilarious, and her column here struck a chord with me. “Every day is a party.” You, go, girl.

Barnes and Noble has reanimated the Mind Meld, and this one asks readers, reviewers and writers about their favorite characters. I would have read it just for that, but as a bonus, Jana Nyman is one of the participants.

This week’s James Tiptree Conference, held at the University of Oregon, featured Ursula K. LeGuin on Thursday. The conference’s title this year was, “A celebration of Ursula K LeGuin.” File 770 provided the schedule of guests and speakers.  (This is a PDF so you might get a warning dialogue box.)

Games:

If any of you watch the CW’s DC-based masked-hero shows last week, you could not escape news of the release of Final Fantasy XV, no matter how hard you tried. Here is a collection of reviews: from Polygon, from Kotaku and AV Club.

TV and Movies:

Imagine Dragons wrote a song for the upcoming SF movie Passengers. Here is the music video for it, which also looks startlingly like the Passengers trailer. The movies stars Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Pratt and opens on December 21.

Aaannnd… there is a reboot of The Mummy. It stars Tom Cruise. By now you have probably seen the trailer, but there is a trailer for the trailer.

Internet:

Scientists who are still studying the artifacts from the Sutton Hoo Anglo-Saxon burial site have identified lumps of black matter as bitumen from Syria. This discovery shows that the Saxons’ trade routes were more extensive than previously believed.

“Dull, but not boring.” The Dull Men’s Club doesn’t accept dull women (although they do allow women who appreciate dull men), and that’s too bad, because these guys are right up my alley. If you like eccentrics and collectors, and eccentric collectors, go to NatGeo and watched this 15-minute movie. Post boxes? Roundabouts? I am so there!

As Merriam-Webster searches for its word of the year… “flummadiddle” and “puppies” desperately race into the home stretch. No, not the puppies we’re thinking of. Enjoy this humorous explanation of how the site chooses its word of the year.

Tech:

I was actually looking for tech gifts, but Ars Technica had this really interesting article on the history of wire recording.

Space:

Jack Clemons explains our options if a “killer asteroid” was on a collision course with earth, and none of them involve Bruce Willis and Ben Affleck. I’m just letting you know.

Earth:
 

Havana, Cuba, is not filled with graffiti, so Yulier Rodriguez’s street art stands out. These “gray” alien characters look kind of wistful.

Today’s art is by Edmund Dulac, from the Art Passions website, where you can also buy prints and get gift certificates.