Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2017, Day Four: Fan Favorites!

For the first three days of the Whatever Gift Guide 2017, I’ve let authors and creators tell you about their work. Today is different: Today is Fan Favorites day, in which fans, admirers and satisfied customers share with you a few of their favorite things — and you can share some of your favorite things as well. This is a way to discover some cool stuff from folks like you, and to spread the word about some of the things you love.

Fans: Here’s how to post in this thread. Please follow these directions!

1. Fans only: That means that authors and creators may not post about their own work in this thread (they may post about other people’s work, if they are fans). There are already existing threads for traditionally-published authorsnon-traditionally published authors, and for other creators. Those are the places to post about your own work, not here.

2. Individually created and completed works only, please. Which is to say, don’t promote things like a piece of hardware you can find at Home Depot, shoes from Foot Locker, or a TV you got at Wal-Mart. Focus on things created by one person or a small group: Music CDs, books, crafts and such. Things that you’ve discovered and think other people should know about, basically. Do not post about works in progress, even if they’re posted publicly elsewhere. Remember that this is supposed to be a gift guide, and that these are things meant to be given to other people. So focus on things that are completed and able to be sold of shared.

3. One post per fan. In that post, you can list whatever creations you like, from more than one person if you like, but allow me to suggest you focus on newer stuff. Note also that the majority of Whatever’s readership is in the US/Canada, so I suggest focusing on things available in North America.

4. Keep your description of the work brief (there will be a lot of posts, I’m guessing) and entertaining. Imagine the person is in front of you as you tell them about the work and is interested but easily distracted.

5. You may include a link to a sales site if you like by using standard HTML link scripting. Be warned that if you include too many links (typically three or more) your post may get sent to the moderating queue. If this happens, don’t panic: I’ll be going in through the day to release moderated posts. Note that posts will occasionally go into the moderation queue semi-randomly; Don’t panic about that either.

6. Comment posts that are not about fans promoting work they like will be deleted, in order to keep the comment thread useful for people looking to find interesting gifts.

Got it? Excellent. Now: Geek out and tell us about cool stuff you love — and where we can get it too.

65 Comments on “Whatever Holiday Gift Guide 2017, Day Four: Fan Favorites!”

  1. Above the Timberline Hardcover – October 24, 2017
    by Gregory Manchess (Author, Illustrator)
    The most visually stunning Graphic Novel I’ve seen in a long time. Set in a distant future Earth but with a somewhat Steampunk feel: Arctic Explorers rediscovering 21st century technology, Airships, Biplanes, and Mysterious Monks who Know Ancient Hidden Secrets.

  2. Ooops: October 24, 2017 is just the date on which I ordered my copy, which I forgot to edit out when copying and pasting. John Scalzi, maybe you can edit my previous post to remove that date and then delete this one?

  3. LOVED Black Wolves of Boston by Wen Spencer. Now in the process of tracking down all the earlier books by this new-to-me author. Funny, scary, interesting characters, a different take on the urban fantasy/werewolf genre. I HOPE this link will work.

  4. I know Ursula Vernon comments on here frequently, and was surprised not to see her chime in on Days 1 and 2. Under her own name, she writes cool kids’ books including the Dragonbreath and (currently) Hamster Princess series. I especially like the latter, for the twisted-fairy-tale-cum-self-rescuing-princess ethos. Under the pseudonym T. Kingfisher, she writes adult fantasy combining a slightly darker aesthetic with grimly practical protagonists who have better sense than to run around screaming when the shambling horror is coming straight for them. The Vernon books are “traditionally published,” while most of the Kingfisher books are “non-traditionally published.” Available wherever such things are available, go Google it.

  5. Abby Howard’s “Dinosaur Empire!” is a delightful graphic novel full of interesting information about dinosaurs from three different periods.

    “Ronnie is just a normal fifth-grader trying to pass her science class’s impossible quiz on the history of dinosaurs . . . until she happens upon her neighbor – Ms. Lernin – a retired paleontologist. With the assistance of Science Magic, Ronnie and Ms. Lernin travel back through time and space to experience the Mesozoic Era firsthand.”


  6. My favorites are history books by Max Hastings. I’ve read Retribution (last two years of the pacific war 1944-1945) and am currently in the middle of Inferno (World War II, 1939-1945). He only discusses the battles in broad strokes, so some knowledge of WW2 may be helpful. Instead he focuses on the boots-on-the-ground experience, using diaries, and letters to illustrate what it was like. Many of the letters in Inferno are posthumous, eg ‘this letter was found on the author’s body after the battle of Kursk’. He also conveys the world experience, discussing lesser known events like the famine in Bengal, or how the Japanese turned all of Indochina against them. Going to read Armageddon after Inferno.

    If you have Netflix, I’d recommend giving Dark Matter a try. Andromeda is on the Roku Channel, campy but there are a few good episodes.

  7. I recommend the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. It juxtaposes two remote living environments (the Arctic and deep space) and makes you think about connection and community.

    A quote: “He had never been satisfied and never would be. It wasn’t success he craved, or even fame, it was history: he wanted to crack the universe open like a ripe watermelon, to arrange the mess of pulpy seeds before his dumbfounded colleagues. He wanted to take the dripping red fruit in his hands and quantify the guts of infinity to look back into the dawn of time and glimpse the very beginning. He wanted to be remembered.”

  8. My friends make absolutely gorgeous NDN silverwork jewelry; view their galleries at http://wingssilverwork.com/
    If a piece is marked “Sold”, they can work with you to make something in a similar style, but uniquely your own. For inquiries on purchases and commissions, use the Contact form on the website. They also carry sculptures and paintings by other Native artists.

  9. My mom, Kathleen Karr, who passed away yesterday, wrote 30 amazing historical fiction books for kids and adults. The Great Turkey Walk, one of her funniest and best, is about a simple Simon character who fails third grade for the fourth time, and decides to walk a herd of turkeys across pre-Civil War US to make his fortune. True story! If you like it, she wrote so many more, mostly about a simpler time in this great nation.



  10. This recommendation may be out of date because the books were published a decade ago but I just read them this year and I thought they were phenomenal. So for anyone else who missed the Farthing (Farthing, Hapenny and Half a Crown) trilogy by Jo Walton seek them out. They posit a world in which Britain came to an agreement with Hitler after Dunkirk whereby the Germans would stay in Europe and not venture across the English Channel. Fascism and anti-Semitism reign not just in the countries under German control but also in Britain. The other reason I make this recommendation is because I am a proud Canadian and Jo Walton is a transplanted Brit living in Canada.

  11. A couple of somewhat obscure writers who deserve to be more recognized:

    Nathan Lowell has been writing his Golden Age of the Solar Clipper series for some time, with three interwoven arcs. The first and most developed, Quarter Share et. al., follows Ishmael Horatio Wang from a raw recruit trying desperately to find alternatives to getting kicked off the company planet where his mother died, through the ranks to captain and owner of his own ship. It’s Hornblower in space, from the Merchant Marine side of things. Two other more recent and connecting series, Smugglers’ Tales and South Coast Shaman, are set in the same universe and will probably eventually link up with Ish’s side of things. Mr. Lowell has just started a further arc about Ish, Toehold Space, and the Deep Dark between.

    Shelley Adina has been writing steampunk-esque novels in a slightly alternate history. In Victorian England, Claire Trevelyan has a knack for inventing, and a family recently fallen into disrepute thanks to her father’s inept investing. Running just ahead of a mob who wants their investments back, Claire takes refuge in a band of street urchins, becoming their lady protector and head of the gang, the mysterious Lady of Devices. Magnificent Devices is up to Book 12, and good steampunk fun with strong female characters.

    Party of the third part: I wholeheartedly agree that Ursula Vernon is great! :D

  12. Do you like feminism? How about dogs? My Favorite Murder? Are you an optimist who likes some of the money you spend to go to a good cause? My lovely friend behind the Five 15 makes pins, patches, stickers, and t-shirts that celebrate all these things and more, and donates a portion of her sales to various animal rescue organizations and social justice charities. As a bonus for Canadian readers, she ships from Vancouver, so you don’t have to deal with customs fees and wait times. Feel good about supporting an excellent human being, whilst buying awesome things for friends and loved ones.


  13. I feel like the name alone should sell it, but I really love The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again by A.C. Wise.

    This says it better than I ever could:
    ”What Wise does in this book is build a deeply unconventional though not unfamiliar, at least to those of us who are queer–chosen family. She pits them against a range of monsters disguised as comic and film tropes…or perhaps they’re tropes disguised as monsters. There are times when the storytelling veers ever so slightly into metafiction. Like its unabashedly long title, The Ultra Fabulous Glitter Squadron Saves the World Again gives the reader so many things. It’s your basic superhero-drag show-family drama-Fifties monster movie-bittersweet coming out story-archaeology adventure-political thriller-alien invasion-mash-up.” –Alyx Dellamonica for Tor.com

    All of Wise’s writing is fabulous, but I feel like this is the perfect jumping off point for new readers. Give it a try. Her corgi, Pippin, really thinks you should.

  14. For a fun game for any gathering of family and friends, I break out Tsuro-The Game of the Path. It plays from 2-8 people, takes less than a minute to explain the rules, and plays in about 20 minutes. AND it is really pretty to look at!

  15. Aliette de Bodard’s Dominion of the Fallen books are full of intrigue and dragons in an alt-Paris.

    I really enjoyed Ursula Vernon as T. Kingfisher’s entire oeuvre. Her latest. The Clockwork Boys was fantastic: https://www.goodreads.com/search?q=t+kingfisher

    Stephanie Burgis’s Snowspelled is a delightful alt-history romance, set in a snowstorm, so very seasonally appropriate.

    Matt Wallace’s Sin du Jour series about a catering company to the supernatural would be a great present for the foodie lover of urban fantasy.

    For those of a more SF bent, Martha Wells’s Murderbot Diaries are wonderful & wonderfully snarky.

    Mu Lafferty’s Six Wakes is a locked room murder mystery in spaaaaaaaaaaaace!

  16. Nameless, Heartless, & Faceless. Three book series by Matthew Rossi (@MatthewWRossi on Twitter).

    My best description for the world of Nameless would be an urban fantasy with magic, creatures, & all the Lovecraftian horrors you could wish for. It’s a very human story, and very inclusive, with characters to which we can all relate. I bought a second set of books for my friend for Christmas, which says a lot about my opinions on the series.

    Find them here:


  17. I second Laura’s recommendation of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Also, the absolute best thing I read this past year was the Broken Earth trilogy (The Fifth Season, The Obelisk Gate and The Stone Sky) by N. K. Jemisin.

  18. Violet Crown by KC Littleton. If you like black ops stories mixed with some sci-fi and fantasy, then you’ll enjoy this.

    “Dr. Hedwig (Hedy) Villarreal is a forty-something criminal psychologist and sexually liberal fatass with the vocabulary and nerd tattoos of a well-educated sailor. Two years after the death of her beloved wife, she’s hanging out on the Texas coast in her father’s condo, occasionally consulting as a profiler for the DEA. That work puts her at odds with a powerful drug trafficker, landing her in protective custody at a black ops site deep in the central Texas Hill Country.

    Hedy quickly finds out her world is not as she thought it was, and sets out to use her unqiue skills to support those who would protect her. In this peculiar, often dangerous environment dormant passions flourish, though not everyone is a fan of her renewed lust for life. Violent encounters change lives, painful truths are unearthed, and Hedy discovers that her various entanglements have roots that reach further back than anyone realizes.”


  19. I adore Heather Dale, a Celtic folk artist/Arthurian storyteller from Canada, her stuff is fascinating, beautiful and really well-researched. The songs/legends are carefully chosen and presented without all the usual clichés. Satisfies my nerdy leanings without turning off my family! She’s got a Christmas album that includes carols in tons of different languages, definitely a good place to start with her: https://heatherdale.com/product-category/spark/

  20. I really enjoyed “Solid Ground,” a novel by Jeff McKown. It’s a slice of life story that moved me, sometimes to laughter and tears, with honest storytelling about a gay man trying to overcome his past and be a better person. Perhaps not for SciFi or Fantasy readers (no aliens, dragons, or werewolves here, but alligators do figure into the story!), but it’s funny and serious and sad and messy—just like life.


  21. The first volume of The Comfortable Courtesan: Being Memoirs by Clorinda Cathcart (that has been a Lady of the Town these several years) is now available in print. It’s the fictional memoir of a high-class prostitute in 1810s-ish London, with lots of interesting characters. This volume stands alone; while there are hints of future plotlines at the end, the major plotlines of the volume are tied up. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed reading this series on Dreamwidth, and I’m looking forward to getting the dead tree version. https://www.amazon.com/Comfortable-Courtesan-Memoirs-Clorinda-Cathcart/dp/1912481014/

  22. I’m not an Amazon guy, but I’ve included Amazon links for convenience:

    Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life, by Adam Greenfield – Sometimes called “The Jane Jacobs of the Smart City”, Adam has written the best book on the social impact of technology I’ve seen in years.

    Scarborough, by Catherine Hernandez – Deeply moving novel about the intersection of poverty, race, and sexuality in a contemporary Toronto suburb.

    Two Travelers, by Sarah Tolmie. The two fantasy novellas here are rich, complex, and optimistic. I believe if she’d been picked up by a bigger press Sarah would already be considered one of the great speculative writers of her generation.

    Baseball Life Advice: Loving the Game That Saved Me, by Stacey May Fowles. Wonderful introspective personal essays on how baseball has helped one writer find meaning, and what lessons her experiences might have for others.

    The Explorers: The Door in the Alley, by Adrienne Kress. Super fun kids’ book from a reliably entertaining author about a mysterious society and kids having adventures. Features a pig in a teeny hat.

  23. I’d like to give a shout out to one of my favorite artists – Karen Hallion. She creates terrific images that are often mash-ups of various science fiction/fantasy/anime series/pop culture with a strong pro-feminist slant. You may have seen her Nasty Lady Liberty flashing over Twitter as she generously promoted using the image in the run-up to the election and also prior to the Women’s March. I own a number of her shirts, which are generally for sale on TeePublic, Society 6, Redbubble, and Tee Fury, but she also has her own shop on Etsy. https://www.etsy.com/shop/khallion

    Someday I will purchase her Leia artwork in the style of Alphonse Mucha, but for now, I’ll just keep admiring from afar! https://www.etsy.com/listing/95039777/la-dauphine-aux-alderaan-large-print?ref=shop_home_active_1

  24. I noticed S.J. Pajonas posted in the authors thread about her science fiction series, but I would like to recommend her mystery series, The Daydreamer Detective

    “Mei Yamagawa is out of luck and out of money. After five years in Tokyo, she has little to show for it besides a laundry list of unrealized dreams. Left without a choice, she returns to her rural Japanese hometown, ready to be branded a failure by her relatives and rivals. At the least, she looks forward to seeing her best friend, until Akiko is accused of murdering her own father.

    As Mei helps her farmer mother with the crops, she scouts for clues to clear her friend’s name. But during her investigation, she can’t help but notice the celebrity chef looking in her direction. The amateur detective can balance a new love interest and a murder case… can’t she?

    To clear her friend of the crime and find the real killer, Mei’s going to need every last ounce of her imagination… and just a pinch of luck.”

    Mei, the main character, is absolutely delightful as a feminist who’s lost her way and is trying to find a new one without compromising her principles while stuck in her old home town.

    I highly recommend it.



  25. If you like tech thrillers, Change Agent by Daniel Suarez is worth a read, especially if you’re interested in the implications of gene-editing technology for humanity. Some say Suarez is the new Michael Crichton. It’s hard to disagree, but Suarez has yet to see any of his five novels turned into a major motion picture.


    If you like Military SF, the War Dogs Trilogy by Greg Bear is hard to beat. It’s set on Mars and Saturn’s moon Titan. The first book (War Dogs) contains a masterful blend of hard science about Mars and a ripping good “first person” combat narrative.


    If you like stories about First Contact (who doesn’t) with just enough hard SF to ensure scientific plausibility, give Saturn Run by John Sandford and Ctein a read. Ctein says Saturn Run has strong female characters, but the USS Nixon steals the show in this tale.


    I second Matthew Healey’s shout out on Above the Timberline by Gregory Manchess. Bought it on impulse after reading about it here on Whatever. Glad I did. Above the Timberline combines an epic “coming of age” action/adventure story with cool Steampunk visuals, which I enjoyed as much as the story itself.


  26. My friend Catherine John produced an album of Irish-Mexican folk fusion, called ¡Fandango Bragh!, a while back. It is now available in physical form as well as digital, from CD Baby at https://store.cdbaby.com/cd/catherinejohn

    Stephanie Maclean is a landscape artist whose work features scenes from her native Scotland and her current home in the San Francisco area. Her prints and tiles can be ordered from http://www.stephaniemaclean.com/, as well as distinctive bike jerseys with one of her landscapes.

  27. My dear friend makes jewelry at WaterstriderDesign (https://www.etsy.com/shop/WaterstriderDesign). Personally, my favorite piece from her is a book-like locket that opens to a “colored pencil drawing of an science fiction alien language created by Stephanie Vizquel (used with her permission) and the English translation is ‘labor is the gift we give to those we love.'” Beautiful and geeky? What more could you want for the holidays?

  28. My own Christmas present to myself this year was a set of bundles of Amanita Design’s work (available here: http://amanita-design.net/). Their games and art/soundtrack packages are 70% off right now: https://amanitadesign.itch.io/. The artwork is adorable and the games are casual, point-and-click format that is appropriate and fun for many ages. After clicking the Buy button, you can check an option to give the game or bundle as a gift to someone else. I love each game I’ve played and would definitely love these as a gift.

  29. KJ Charles is excellent. She writes both historical fantasy and other historical, all with queer romance (mostly m/m, some other).

    Her characterisation is lovely, and she always gives full weight the the power, class and other inequalities in the time periods she writes about.

    The fantasy ones include the Charm of Magpies series (reviewed here : https://www.tor.com/2017/07/05/sleeps-with-monsters-entertaining-boys-with-magical-problems/) and The Secret Casebook of Simon Feximal.

    My personal favourite of her fantasy books though is Spectred Isle, which is the start of a new series. https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/35118935-spectred-isle

  30. For those of you who are looking for first contact scifi Evan Currie’s Odyssey One Series and Hayden War Cycle are really good. Atlantis Wars, his post apocalyptic fantasy/horror series is excellent.

    Additionally not that this needs said but anything by Brandon Sanderson would be amazing for the Epic Fantasy fan you know(Assuming they don’t already have it. They probably do.)

  31. Heyyo! You have kids? You like laughter? Ok! Then you need to buy this CD or download its equivalent – Billy Kelly “My First Comedy Album” whose kid-level comedy is (I promise you) something the adults will enjoy listening too, too:

    Note, this is the very same Billy Kelly as brought you People Really Like Milk and other favorites you can hear on SiriusXM kids! That music can be found here:

    Turns out, he’s got good stuff for people who like music that walks the line between country and rock with a touch of politics:

  32. Do you like folklore and speculative fiction with roots in history and culture from all over the globe? If so, a friend of mine released a stellar short story collection called The Blood of Four Gods this year, and it’s gorgeous. I’m not biased—everything this press puts out is gorgeous. Here is a link to the air and nothingness press site where you can buy the book, but I also recommend checking out her author site at JamieLackey.com. http://www.aanpress.com/aanorder.html

  33. The Power, a novel by Naomi Alderman, was one of the best books I’ve read this year, and it’s topic is more apposite by the day. What if women could physically overpower men? Thrilling, witty, sad and beautiful.

  34. Some friends of mine produced a CD of Renaissance Music this year that includes improvisation and dance music. . Particularly good if you want to see what recorder players can do.

  35. Looks like I get to be the first one to squee about K.B. Spangler’s Rachel Peng novels. They’re set in the larger world of her ongoing webcomic, “A Girl And Her Fed” (www.agirlandherfed.com), but for new readers I actually recommend her side series of novels focused on Rachel Peng.

    Rachel is one of the first wave of agents with a brain implant that allows her to connect seamlessly to any electronic network in the area, whether the network was intended to allow connection or not. The chip had horrible effects on the initial users, many of whom died, and the key to successful management of it has just finally been found (in the webcomic). Rachel is a former Army M.P. who has now been assigned as liaison to the Washington D.C. Metropolitan Police. She deals with anti-cyborg prejudice, her own damage from the chip, series-wide Dark Machinations in the background, and of course the actual crimes being investigated.

    Anyone who liked Charles Stross’s Halting State/Rule 34 are very likely to enjoy this; they both explore near-future augmented reality from a police procedural perspective, though with very different world-building and series styles. Available from her site or from Amazon.

    And the original webcomic is free to read on the site. Her artwork has developed tremendously as she’s worked on this, so after a first chapter that was redrawn, the artwork gets a bit.. rough for a while, but the story is worth it.

  36. Adorable collars and leashes for your dog or your friends’ dogs, handmade by my friend! (Handy hint: don’t know what to get your family member or friend? Get something for their pets.) She’s been selling them via word of mouth for a while and recently opened up on Etsy:

    My dog is her FB profile pic right now, so I may seem biased. But really, they’d be cool even if she hadn’t made him a cover model!

  37. I heard about Rosemary Kirstein’s Steerswomen series first in one of these threads and they’ve become some of my favorite books, re-read often. They are available as ebooks only: The Steerswoman, The Outskirter’s Secret, The Lost Steersman and The Language of Power. Strong women characters, a compelling, detailed world, and a big mystery wrapped up in a fantasy/sf setting. She is working on the fifth of a projected six-book series. Here’s her website page about the books: http://www.rosemarykirstein.com/the-books/

    Another book I re-read often is Up Against It by M.J. Locke, also known as Laura Mixon. Real people living on an asteroid. It’s an sf thriller. Under her own name, she also wrote a loosely connected series called Avatars Dance: Glass Houses, Proxies and Burning the Ice.

    She doesn’t really need my recommendation, but I’ve also been enjoying Lois McMaster Bujold’s latest series of novellas set in her world of Five Gods, all about Penric, a young man who accidentally becomes a sorcerer, sharing his body with a 200 year old demon.

  38. I love all the creations found at Whimsy Station, but in particular the gifts for writers! My writing bookshelves are home to the adorable zoinkies found in this shop: whimsystation.com

  39. If you like reading fantasy, you might like to try Rachel Neumeier’s books.
    Her newest, a single-book epic fantasy Winter of ice and iron is garnering great reviews from well-known sources.

    If you like lovely language, the writing in her first book City in the lake reminds me strongly of Patricia McKillip.

    If you’re more into werewolf stories, her Black Dog series might be to your taste: they’re not exactly werewolves (more demonic) but these stories do fit that niche.

  40. I will second recommendations for Aliette de Bodard, Rosemary Kirstein and Lois McMaster Bujold. I have recently ordered from Lioness Elise and am looking forward to getting some artwork from chrissycheung framed:


    My 9-year-old heartily recommends the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series and the follow-up The Heroes of Olympus (if you’re like me and missed them the first fifty times they were hyped :).

  41. My friend Michele Banks produces visually stunning science-inspired art. Her colorful artwork often draws on neuroscience, molecular biology, and microbiology. Much of her work uses watercolor inventively, but she also embraces the experimental nature of science to explore different media and techniques.


    In addition, Michele has been a tireless supporter of her fellow artists, promoting their work whenever possible.

  42. Fun stuff I enjoy that I think others will as well.

    Written and created by my friend, Michael Gordon, Tiki Zombie is a fun comic book read. At present, there are 3 issues of the comic and a CD of original Tiki Zombie music, which is amazing. Also, inexpensive. A perfect gift for the Tiki fan on your gift giving list.




    TWOMORROWS MAGAZINES – The perfect gift for comic art fans. They currently have several books up to 70% off retail proce. Great art books. http://twomorrows.com

    FLESK PUBLICATIONS – Great art books by Al Williamson, Arthur Adams, Bruce Timm, Frank Cho, and more. http://fleskpublications.com

    J. SCOTT CAMPBELL – A fantastic array of prints and art books featuring work by J. Scott Campbell.


    World of Strange offers an amazing selection of original, licensed, shirts.


    Support your favorite creator by signing up to pledge their Patreon page. For as little as $1 to $5 a month, you can help a creator whose work you enjoy continue creating.



    Happy Shopping.


  43. For the graphic novel fan in your life, may I suggest:

    New Super-Man–Gene Luen Yang, who did the marvelous “American Born Chinese,” offers an unusual take on the values that Superman represents. Kenan Kang has been selected for a project to create a Chinese government-funded version of American superheroes. While Kenan has a hero’s heart, he’s not terribly bright at times. His naivete clashes with both the government’s agenda and rebel heroes opposing the government. Two collections, “Made In China” and “Coming To America,” collect the series’ first two storylines.

    For the DVD fan in your life, try:

    Brigsby Bear–“Brigsby Bear Adventures” is one of those live action kid shows where the title character has adventures among the stars with a group of friends. The show has been running for years, but you probably haven’t heard of it. That’s because the show’s audience consists of only one person, a guy named James who’s grown up with the show. But when James’ relationship to Brigsby and his world gets seriously shaken up, he starts on a journey to find personal closure.

    Your Name–This incredibly popular anime movie directed by Makoto Shinkai concerns two teenagers, Mitsuha and Taki. Mitsuha lives in Japan’s northern mountains; Taki lives in Tokyo. One day, the two teenagers awake inside the other person’s body. Initial disorientation and antagonism gives way to the two teens finding ways to help each other. Mitsuha and Taki like each other enough that they eventually want to meet in person. But there are several unexpected problems that will make a face-to-face meeting impossible.

    Kedi–No, there aren’t any fantastic genre elements in this entertaining documentary. Unless you believe cats are the closest you’ll come to meeting an alien. Anyhow, the documentary is set in and around Istanbul, where cats roam freely through the streets and are treated as creatures who choose the humans they associate with. Ceyda Torun’s film lets viewers meet seven particular cats. But the film’s also about the humans who interact with these cats. For it’s said that if you’ve lived in Istanbul long enough, you’ll have a story about an encounter with a kedi (Turkish for cat).

  44. An unexpected Top 5 book that recently came out and that I cannot recommend enough – This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada. It’s her debut novel, and I was lucky enough to meet her the day it was released, so I took it home out of curiosity. It’s *excellent* – gene hacking, an uncontrolled virus that makes it’s hosts literally explode to spread, and a bit of dystopian flare. I’ve loaned it out 4 times, and every person has loved it. Well worth checking it out!

  45. Yarn and fiber geeks: I’m a huge fan of Nerd Girl Yarns. Christa hand dyes yarn and fiber for spinners, in colorways based on all sorts of geeky fandoms – everything from Doctor Who to Marvel and DC comics/movies to Nightvale. She has some stuff in stock and ready to ship, and a huge catalog of colors available to be dyed on demand. Turnaround for custom dyed stuff is about 14 business days, so there’s still time to order for Christmas. The products are gorgeous, and a joy to work with, plus the customer service can’t be beat.

    For the Whovian knitter/crocheter/spinner in your life, it looks like she has some openings left in the Who’s Your Doctor yarn/fiber club. Each month for three months she sends out a new Doctor Who-inspired skein of yarn or fiber batt. The similar Random Fandom club will also probably open for the next three- month run later this month, for the all-around nerd. I’ve been a member of both for a couple of years now, and haven’t been disappointed.

  46. I’m here to recommend some SFF I read this year and loved. I’ll skip over ones already mentioned (Bujold, Lostetter, Lafferty, et al.) and mention:

    The Stone Sky (novel) by N.K. Jemisin is a great finish to a fascinating, dire, super-creative fantasy trilogy.

    City of Miracles (novel) by Robert Jackson Bennett is another great finish to a fantasy trilogy (a little fantasy-steampunk, really).

    Kangaroo Too (novel) by Curtis C. Chen, but be sure to read the previous book first. Awesome stuff and I especially recommend the audiobooks. P.J. Ochlan gets Kangaroo’s snarky-yet-self-deprecating voice perfect!

    “All Systems Red” (novella) by Martha Wells is a fantastic novella about a sort of robot/cyborg/android being who just wants to watch soaps instead of worrying about the humans it’s supposed to protect.

    “Brother’s Ruin” (novella) by Emma Newman is a very good fantasy novella and I just started the sequel! Also, her podcast “Tea & Jeopardy” (co-written/co-starring her husband) is a delightful series of mostly-author interviews (really more like just hanging out with them) with an amusing framing sequence of being in a different “secret tea lair” each episode, complete with her trusty butler, Latimer.

    “A Long Day in Lychford” (novella) by Paul Cornell is the great 3rd entry in the Lychford novella series. I initially thought I wouldn’t like it, but it was wonderful and sad and might be the best of the three – I’m not sure.

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