The December Newsletter: Lots of Specials and a Game

December NewsletterHere at Book View Cafe, we got carried away with this month’s newsletter and put fifteen books on special this month, just in time for the holidays! Given how much work this piled on the elves who make specials happen, it isn’t likely to happen again, so take full advantage.

This issue also includes a “match the author” contest. The deadline for entry is December 11, so hurry up and enter.

Of course we have the usual new releases and news from our authors.

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Dr. Strange: A Very Short Review

by Brenda W. Clough

drstrange Marvel comics have never been core for me. But like most comic fans I’m well familiar with the major landmarks of the Marvelverse — the X-men, the Fantastic Four and so on. Dr. Stephen Strange I know only by sight. Nevertheless, the idea of seeing Ditko creativity on the big screen was irresistible, and we live near an Imax 3-D theater.

And it was glorious — escapism in pure hot molten form! An actor who can dominate as Hamlet is not going to be stretched by starring in a superhero flick, so it is a pleasure to watch Benedict Cumberbatch totally rule in the title role. He has this in the palm of his eloquent hand. Continue reading

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Movie review: Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas

bickford-shmecklers-cool-ideasI recently bought two DVDs out of the cheap-and-used bin at Half Priced Books & Movies. I buy a lot of movies that way. I tell myself I’m scouting for gifts to give my husband at holidays. (We double up a lot. “How many presents are you getting me for Christmas?” “You tell me first.” “Uh, eight?” “Okay, I can make that work.” Meaning, if I tape a movie to each shirt or spatula or box of golf balls, I can pretend I’ve only got eight when it’s more like fourteen.)

The truth is I’m looking for keepers. For me. My keeper DVD shelf is never full enough. I re-watch movies the way I re-read books: they’re comfort food for the eye and ear and heart and funnybone; they give me the security of knowing that at least these movies won’t make me wake up screaming or barf up my pizza.

Both these DVDs are keepers. I screened them, as I screen all “gifts for Rich,” skeptically. Each is so very obviously the brainchild of a single auteur, written-&-directed-by jobs, badly packaged because they’re obviously too “intelligently written” (as the blurbs crow) to make their way successfully through a big studio’s marketing department, and possibly they’re too fucking arty to be watchable. I take these chances.

spaceman-and-bickThat said. <deep breath> I’ll give you Bickford Shmeckler’s Cool Ideas first, and later this month, Rhymes With Banana. Continue reading

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BVC welcomes Judith Berman

Judith BermanPlease join Book View Café in welcoming Judith Berman as our newest member.

Judith is a writer, anthropologist, and long-time aikido practitioner. Her short fiction, which has been shortlisted for the Nebula and Sturgeon Awards, has appeared in Asimov’s, Black Gate, Interzone, Realms of Fantasy, Lightspeed, and the chapbook Lord Stink and Other Stories. Her novel Bear Daughter was a finalist for the Crawford Award, and her influential essay “Science Fiction Without the Future,” received the Science Fiction Research Association’s Pioneer Award. She has lived in Philadelphia, Dubai, and northern Idaho, and currently resides on a hilltop on Vancouver Island, BC, in sight of the ocean.

Welcome, Judith!

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The Odd Bird

by Brenda W. Clough

14457278_10202072781937226_8206484700689227936_n Some years ago I went to China on a tourist visit. I am ethnically Chinese, and there is a genealogy to prove it, brush-written in characters I cannot read on handmade paper. It runs back 14 generations.

Nevertheless, when I arrived in Beijing, I did not fit in. Not only do I not speak or read Chinese. I am tall and broad-shouldered, possibly due to American nutrition. I stand head and shoulders taller than nearly everyone in the streets of Beijing. I move and walk like an American, with the loose confident step you learn when your shoes always fit and there is forever a lot of room on the sidewalk. In China people scurry out of my way as if I were Xena Warrior Princess. And you should have seen my daughter, the rower — tall as I am but muscular. She looked like someone from another planet, probably Krypton. You know how men hit on women? They do not hit on us, not in China. We do not look hit-on-able. (Also my daughter could snap them in half.) Continue reading

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BVC Announces Bear Daughter by Judith Berman

Bear Daughter by Judith BermanBear Daughter
by Judith Berman

Until Cloud is twelve years old, she is a neglected bear cub wandering the town ruled by King Rumble. Cloud’s unexpected transformation into a human girl, with no memory of what came before, enrages Rumble, and she is forced to flee from his malevolent wizard. Her only hope of survival is a terrifying quest to free the spirits of her dead brothers.
Continue reading

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A thanksgiving

    A thanksgiving

by Ursula K. Le Guin

Those who stood at Standing Rock
show us how the rocks stand
so that only earth itself can move them,
so that they move with earth,
dancing earth’s dance with sky
so their shadows tell the years.

Continue reading

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Wince words

blahI make up words all the time because they better reflect what I want to say. Portmanteau words that pull together different ideas to create one. Examples of such words that I have not created: dramedy, rockumentary, cosplay, jazzercise, literotica, and so on. I know some people hate these words, or words that are nouns made into verbs (google a subject, for instance, or disrespect someone). But I’m okay with those. Sometimes they ping me a little, but really, the words that bother me and make me wince, are the words that are different iterations of common words that are used just for fanciness, or so it seems to me.

I hate hesitancy in place of hesitation. In fact, a lot of the words that drives me nuts end in -ancy or -ency. Like Aberrancy in place of aberrance. Rampancy for rampant. Expectancy for expectant. There’s a lot of these words. And they are real words, so my wincing doesn’t make a lot of sense, and yet . . . They drive me up a wall. It feels pretentious, even though it probably isn’t. I think it’s because the form I dislike is used less often and therefore feels that it’s a reach because the ordinary form is just that . . . ordinary. Continue reading

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Dice Tales: Other Relics

Roman twenty-sided die(This is the forty-sixth installment of Dice Tales, an ongoing series of posts about RPGs as storytelling.)


I used to work as an archaeologist. People think that field is all about finding Stuff: graves, tools, buildings. But the truth is that most of the time, you don’t actually find the Stuff itself; you find its remnants, the little surviving fragments or even just the shapes of where the Stuff used to be. The chips of flint left behind where somebody made an arrowhead. A rusted mass that used to be a pile of tools. The stones that surrounded the base of a post, the post itself now long since rotted away. One site I worked at, we knew we’d found a grave because we found the stains in the dirt where the bones had been; the bones themselves had been dissolved by the acidity of the soil.

RPGs leave behind fragments of their own. I’ve already mentioned wikis (which tend to be the most factually detailed) and soundtracks (which tend to be the most emotionally true), but those are only two of the kinds of traces that can linger after a game is over, and probably not even the most common.

Continue reading

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Books that made a difference

women-writers-and-readersI was chatting with some writers a couple weeks ago, when one person began talking about the upcoming holidays, and mentioned having been invited to a book fair to speak on a panel about YA Books.

We got enthusiastic about recommending YAs—recent? Classic? Really old? What constitutes YA these days. Then she asked the group if they thought it was okay to go about recommending one’s own books, even though she’d been invited through her school as a teacher.

No surprise that four writers had four different opinions, but all pretty much agreed:

  1. Best is if asked upfront to talk about your books.
  1. If not asked, maybe ask if listeners like your genre, and if you see some enthusiasm, give your pitch.
  1. Avoid hard sell (or as our host put it, “Try to keep your pitch under an hour”), and if you’re there to talk about other books, talk about other books first, at least.

Continue reading

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