WWWednesday: September 16, 2015

This week’s word for Wednesday is “taradiddle,” meaning a petty lie or a bunch of pretentious nonsense. According to the Oxford Dictionary, it came into use in the late 18th century.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Stormy Seas in Sagittarius (c) NASA


Patrick Rothfuss is opening up his Worldbuilders Foundation for donations to refugees from Syria. His wrote a moving blog post about it. You can donate here. The donations will be open through at least Friday, September 18.


DragonCon, Atlanta’s annual convention, hit an all-time high for attendance this year, with 70,000 participants. (Via File 770.)

IO9 celebrates some out-of-this-world cosplay at California’s Long Beach Comic Con.


Choire Sicha interviews Ursula LeGuin for Interview Magazine. It’s a great, wide-ranging talk, with some great lines, and funny moments when Sicha exposes total ignorance, (“Do you feel like enough of the world gets through to you, out here in Oregon?” is my favorite.) (H/t to Kate.)

The Man Booker Awards short list was released yesterday. It’s an interesting list; some newer writers edged out the odds-on favorites.

Nicola Griffith shares a letter to her character, Hild, known historically as St. Hilda of Whitby. There is some lovely writing here. (Thanks to Terry for this one.)

Fran Wilde’s new book Updraft is out. At Tor.com, she talks about language as a core element of fantasy world-building.


fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Pluto and Charon (c) NASA 2015

Jay Maynard started a long conversation on Black Gate this week when he brainstormed a new award that would honor “good stories.” The devil, as they say, is in the details. During a heated back-and-forth, Catherynne Valente suddenly conceived of an award that actually celebrates aspects of storytelling. Like the MTV Movie Awards, Valente’s as-yet-unnamed award would not be given for a specific work but a story-telling aspect of that work; Best Villain, Best Ending, Best World-Building, Best Romance, and so on. Valente seems to be running with this. It’s a cool idea and I hope it materializes, because this award would be fun!

Science and Technology:

This shimmering translucent violin was printed on a 3-D printer, and it plays.

Watch robot-arm Paul draw a pen-and-ink sketch of his human creator. At one point, I thought Paul had lost its robotic mind and was just scribbling… but that was not the case.


From 2008, here is a link to the first fantasy science fiction air show. It’s “fantasy” because it only exists on the internet.

fantasy book reviews science fiction book reviews

Little Gem Nebula (c) NASA

An in-depth look at the letters of Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace, reveals that she was probably not the “world’s first programmer” but she would have crushed it in app-dev. Lovelace’s correspondence with Charles Babbage shows that she had a greater understanding of what his calculating machines would do than he did.


Some very skinny paleontologists helped uncover the skeletons of a new hominin, described in this Atlantic Magazine article. The decent into the chasm to locate the bones is as suspenseful as any cave movie. They’ve named the new “ancient human” homo naledi.


21st Century Fox has purchased National Geographic. The press release states that the non-profit National Geographic Society Foundation, which awards grants for scientific research, will be independent of the media outlets.

The National Geographic Society was founded on January 13, 1888, as “a society for the increase and diffusion of geographical knowledge.” It remains to be seen how well it will continue to do that.

The poetic name for a family group of otters is a “romp.” You’ll understand why after you watch this short video of otters playing winter games in snowy Yellowstone Park.


We have two giveaways still going on: Jana’s interview with Hilary Badger and Identify Those Covers.

Space (and Art):

Today’s photos are from the New Horizon and the Hubble, courtesy of NASA. Thanks, NASA!

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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. Marion, what a terrific column! Cat Valente’s idea for an award for story elements is kind of exciting — I’m looking forward to seeing how that plays out. Especially “Best Ending” — is SO HARD to make endings go right!

  2. I hereby demand that Wednesday Words becomes a regular feature. (As though my demands carry any weight, haha.)

    Cat Valente’s awards idea is awesome, and the LeGuin interview is unintentionally hilarious…but I’m angry that that robot has more artistic skill than I do. Not fair!

  3. Ursula K. LeGuin is a world treasure

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