WWWednesday: December 7, 2016

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. 

Dreamer of Dreams by Edmund DuLac Woman with two polar bears.

Dreamer of Dreams by Edmund DuLac

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.


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.


Taos Toolbox is currently open for applications.

Bells by Edmund DuLac, three angels with a full moon in the background.

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.)


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.


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.


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


gerda and the reindeer by Edmund DuLac

Gerda and the Reindeer by Edmund Dulac

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.


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.


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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. You can read her blog at deedsandwords.com, and follow her on Twitter: @mariond_d.

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  1. I wish some people producing audiobooks today paid attention to Scalzi and left out the dialog tags. I’ve had issues with that in some books. I tend to yell at the audio – ‘I know, I can hear her saying it…’ or the like.

    As a lifelong book lover, I try not to gift books. The main reason is I have no way of knowing, short of asking the person right out, whether they have already read it or not. Sure it can be returned or exchanged but I don’t want my giftees to have to work for their gift. So if books is the final answer, I end up giving them something related to books or their favorite author.

    • One group of writer friends has begun reading work out loud, just to hear how the prose sounds, and I find I’m really away of “saids.” I think if I’m doing a reading of my own work, I’m going to leave them out (and I write a LOT of dialogue!)

      Yes, for some booklover-folks, that gift card is just soooo handy!

  2. sandy ferber /

    Interesting article on that Havana street art. I was just in Miami around Thanksgiving and went to the Wynward Walls, which features block after block of similar street art, like this: https://thumbs.dreamstime.com/z/wynwood-walls-miami-usa-may-miami-neighborhood-several-galleries-contemporary-art-strong-presence-street-art-57004617.jpg

  3. Alix e. Harrow /

    My go to list looks like this:
    Nonfiction/non nerd: Devil in the White City
    Fiction/ non nerd: We are All Completely Beside Ourselves
    Fiction/nerd: Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell

  4. Kevin Ramirez /

    Go to choice for a gift book would be Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler. A must have.

  5. Well, my own book to reco is SUPERPOSITION, by David Walton. It’s a quantum physics murder mystery, which just about covers it as descriptions go.

    If you prefer fantasy, though, I recommend Among Others, by Jo Walton (no relation), especially if you’re buying for a girl who loves books.

  6. For the friend who loves romantic fantasy, I recommend either or both of Stephanie Burgis’s adult novels, MASKS AND SHADOWS and CONGRESS OF SECRETS.



    For your night-life-loving friends or those who like a different take on urban fantasy, how about LAST CALL AT THE NIGHTSHADE LOUNGE?


    If you click on our image to order them at Amazon, the site gets a few cents per sale. If you order them from your local independent bookstore, though, I won’t be unhappy.

  7. thanks for all this Marion!

    As for book gift recommendations, far too many (and here we should plug our best of 2016 coming soon1). But for this year’s books and sticking to stand-alones, I’d go with
    The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead
    Children of Earth and Sky by Guy Gabriel Kay for novels and
    Ken Liu’s The Paper Menagerie and Other Stories for short story collection.

    Nothing stick out in memory for YA this year, so my favorite of the past few years remains Icefall by Matthew Kirby (also a stand-alone)

  8. Kevin R, if you live in the USA, you win a copy of BEST AMERICAN SCIENCE FICTION AND FANTASY 2016!
    Please contact me (Marion) with your US address and I’ll have the book sent right away. Happy reading!

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