"We protect our community from bad actors" 👀

I'm supposed to be writing about pancakes in a can, but, well, you'll need to wait a week for the DRAMATIC FINALE. Exciting stuff. For now, some STUFF.

A very cool book fair coming up on 2 December, hosted by the London Centre for Book Arts. Small and independent publishers, lots of jam (?!) and the promise of some beautiful print-work. Life permitting, I'll be there.

Another useful resource - this time for game writers. Keeping that in mind, think about how the carefully crafted, nostalgia-heavy design of the Playstation Classic, as reviewed here.

This 1861 Japanese history(?) of America's founding fathers is AMAZING. Watch John Adams battle a giant snake!

Less AMAZING: the revelation that Facebook's PR tactics were really awful. I understand that Facebook is enduring a prolonged existential crisis at this point, but I'm embarrassed for them, and deeply ashamed of any agencies that may have been involved.

Rather ironic that their tactics included both playing to anti-Semites and accusing their attackers of being anti-Semitic. The tactic of inflaming both sides to sow confusion exactly what hostile actors (HI PUTIN) do on Facebook. Another rather charming irony of the modern world, I suppose. 

We all bandy around Martin Niemöller's 'First they came...'. In this case - personally, professionally, politically, culturally... it feels they came for me. Or, more accurately, they showed they were willing to push my culture, my countr(y/ies), my politics, and my profession into moving traffic, all in aid of preserving their bottom line. This is an entirely ego-centric view of it, and mostly makes me feel terribly guilty. Why did I have to wait until they specifically came for Jewish communications-obsessives before I said something? Which is, frankly something I need to deal with on my own. But, whatever. If I don't quit now, I worry what it would take. And that's a question I never wanted answered.

This isn't a plea for some sort of mass walk-out, and I'm not judging anyone else (except Facebook, because, fuck those guys). This is simply what's best for me. 

I wrote a review!

This is exciting as, since we Old Yeller'd Pornokitsch, I've had no one to listen to my deeply felt opinions on books. (Well, except for Anne. And the cats. But they don't count, because they have to.) Anyway, if you're interested in my tepid re-entry into the world of opinion-giving, here I am wanging on about Adam Hughes' We Can Save Us All, and taking cheap shots at Princeton.

I also wrote it just in time, as Tor.com invited its reviewers to choose their favourite SF/F books of 2018. They seem a little disconnected, but upon looking at them as a collective, I can see the pattern. They're all part of my response to THE TIMES IN WHICH WE'RE LIVIN'.

One is pure escapism, and I think that's immensely important - not only in terms of 'self-care', but in reminding ourselves of the critical role of joy in our lives. Another is, well, angry. Powerful and raging and impactful - I found reading it to be like standing in the path of a hurricane. That too is, in a way, reassuring. We're never alone in what we feel, and somewhere out there, someone can express the inexpressible for us. The final book is yet another response - it is almost dramatically everyday. Set against the backdrop of apocalyptic ruin, it reminds us that there's beauty and good all around us. It is an ode to life.

Going back to the brief (as one should), these are particularly important because they're all, to some degree, science fiction and fantasy. They could be about anything, but they're using that limitless possibility to explore the world in which we live. With great power, and all that.

Anyway, if you're looking for a good read, you could do a lot worse than The Stars Now Unclaimed, There's a Witch in the Word Machine and Paris Adrift.

The Goodreads Choice Awards are up. On one hand, these are literally the absolute worstest of awards. A long-longlist curated by an Amazon company (hmm), then multiple rounds of heavily-brigaded popular voting with zero barrier to entry. On the other hand, they're also - especially at this stage - a handy way of seeing what's generally well-received in the genres I don't follow obsessively. For example, I don't know bupkis about romance - except that I quite like reading it. So knowing the dozen or so most popular ones makes for a pretty good shopping list. 

It all ties into my fundamental and unbending view of awards: they're recommendations - just like my own reviews above! Take 'em or leave 'em!  In this case, I've found an award that gives me useful recommendations in the categories I'm not familiar with. That's a pretty specific benefit, but a benefit nonetheless.