Shasta Daisy Developed by Luther Burbank

Shasta Daisy Developed by Luther Burbank

This week’s word for Wednesday is burbank, a verb, to improve by selecting good features or adding features. The word, drawn from horticulturalist Luther Burbank, made it into the dictionary for about two years in the 1940s. Later, due to paper reductions, some words were removed and “burbank” was one of them.


Joe Sherry takes a look at the Locus Award finalists in some depth. Locus’s categories allow it to bestow awards on three novels; best SF, best Fantasy and Best First Novel, which is a big difference from the Hugo and to some extent addresses the competition between fantasy and SF (although books can look like fantasy and be science fiction; historically, Russell Hoban’s Riddley Walker, and currently, N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season). Sherry mentions the YA category and cites Saga Press editor Navah Wolfe’s Twitter observation. This list overlooks several of the excellent YA novels that came out this year, and as other have pointed out, these are all written by authors better known for their adult works. It’s possible (probable?) that Locus readers generally don’t read as much YA as others of us.

Books and Writing

Kai Ashante Wilson’s novella “Sorcerer of the Wildeeps” is nominated for a Locus award, and Tor is offering a free excerpt of it here.

On Monday we posted my review of Louise Erdrich’s World Fantasy Award winning book The Antelope Wife. Here is an interview with Erdrich (who also runs a bookstore!) the day before the release of her latest novel, LaRose.

I buy books all the time. I buy books without thinking about it. Once in a while, something happens to remind me how good I have it, and this article was one of those things.

Men have book clubs too. This New York Times article about men’s book clubs stirred up a lot of interest and discussion, and some mild ridicule. Full disclosure, I laughed out loud at the Marin County men’s group, where they read no books by women or about women, and love to “eat spicy foods.” Those are some real men, gosh darn it. Oh, but wait… does it say nothing over 500 pages? I take it all back. You guys are wimps. (Thanks to and Kate Lechler for this one.)

Sunvault is open for submissions of positive hopeful environmental fiction. The window closes on June 4, 2016. They coined the term “solarpunk” for their stories, which should feature an energy source or style of living that is sustainable and clean.

Here is one great, long article about a panel discussion with Nnedi Okorafor, N.K. Jemisin and Ibi Zoboi, from Tor. This is a very deep article. I loved Jemisin’s story of her father marking a place on a map in New York city, giving her subway money and sending her out to find her way there; an interesting take on the old sport of “orienteering.” The entire article, which talks about masquerade and initiation, can be said to be about how these artists “orient” themselves to their art. (Thanks to File 770.)


Evil Hat has launched a Kickstarter for a Dresden Files card game. Here is the video; the artwork looks great! Jim Butcher must have approved this because one of the stretch goal prizes is a chapter from an upcoming Dresden work.


In really sad news, SF Signal is shutting down. I will miss their columns and reviews and especially their MindMeld column.

Speaking of Mind Meld, From SF Signal, the May 4 column has people talking about their favorite SFF weapon.

With the shuttering of Sf Signal, here are words of hope (and a great resource list) from S. C. Flynn.

This looks like an interesting project from a former Sf Signal columnist and one of our guest reviewers, Sarah Chorn. She is starting a read-along/book club blog called Our Words. The first book has been chosen and the schedule is published in the first post, but it’s not too late to get started. This looks like a rich, exciting site with lots of potential for good discussion.

Poster for Captain America; Civil War.

“Do you even get me?”

TV and Movies

Captain America; Civil War opened last weekend. The New York Times reviewer liked it, even if the review does read as if the reviewer is stifling yawns. There’s a comparison to the TV show Cheers. Seriously. Salon found a way to deliver a political commentary.

Last week the Metropolitan Museum of Art held its annual Gala. The theme was Manus et Machina; Fashion in an Age of Technology. The incomparable Genevieve Valentine, who wrote Persona and The Girls at the Kingfisher Club, reported on it for Tor. This event benefits the Costume Institute because of course there is a Costume Institute. The theme of the gala matches the current year’s exhibit, and celebrities are expected to dress according to that theme. Anna Wintour, the editor-in-chief of Vogue Magazine and who is nothing at all like the Meryl Streep character in The Devil Wears Prada, is the chair of the event and has been since 1995.

DC Comics gives us a new look at Supergirl, Superboy and Green Arrow as part oftheir launch of “Rebirth.”

Claudia Kim joins the cast of The Dark Tower. You may remember her from Age of Ultron.

From File 770, here is a link to a fine short film called The Device.

Claire Dane's fiber optic dress lights up

Claire Danes’s Fiber optic dress lights up


Mercury transited the sun this week, and NASA got some great pictures.


Pompeii is practically a metaphor for a devastating disaster. With advances in 3D rendering, scientists were able to create this powerful (and chilling) animation of the day of the eruption of Vesuvius, and the following day. It is really good and a little hard to watch. If the sounds of people screaming and children crying seem over the top, read the passage they include, from Pliny the Younger, describing the event a year after it happened.

Sorry. Didn’t mean to bum everybody out.


We have some active giveaways right now. Check here.

Have a great week! On Saturday, May 14, the 2016 Nebula Awards will be announced, so there should be lots to talk about next Wednesday!


  • 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.