My Favorite Things: Awesome E-Readers, NSFW Memoirs, Award-Worthy Novellas, and Star Trek at 50

They might not be raindrops on roses or whiskers on kittens, but that doesn’t mean that we love them any less. Welcome back to My Favorite Things, a weekly column where we gab about the greatest in geek. This week includes a comedic memoir about growing up nerdy, a Lovecraft-inspired novella, a favorite e-reader, and one of the biggest sci-fi properties of all time.


Whitney’s Favorite Thing is… Star Trek!

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Star Trek, for me, runs in the genes, a passion I inherited from my dad. From quietly tempting parental wrath by staying up late to watch new episodes of The Next Generation to getting my greedy hands on a VHS copy of “The Menagerie” (in that long ago era where episodes of old TV shows were only obtainable by catching the elusive rerun) and scoffing over the audacity of Deep Space Nine only to have Julian Bashir become my official second crush (replacing that suave bastard Will Riker) to somehow owning four Starfleet uniforms and Conversational Klingon, it’s hard to remember a time when Star Trek wasn’t part of me. It was only when I got older that I started to truly appreciate what the franchise really is: a true celebration of hope in a world where we often lose sight of Gene Roddenberry’s unwavering belief that the human race can do better. Imagining a future without poverty, crime, where we are driven by curiosity and exploration rather than greed may be naïve, but it is also inspiring and beautiful. There’s a reason Star Trek has endured for 50 years, and I hope that 50 years from now, I still get to call it one of my favorite things.

 

Carey’s Favorite Thing is… Self Inflicted-Wounds!

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In my house, Aisha Tyler is best known for voicing Lana Kane on the adult animated spy-satire series Archer. Lana is often the sarcastic voice of reason (although there are exceptions) in an otherwise absolutely dysfunctional work family. Tyler is currently onscreen in Criminal Minds, and co-hosting on The Talk, although I have seen neither of those things (no network TV here).

When I saw Tyler had written a memoir — Self-Inflicted Wounds: Heartwarming Tales of Epic HumiliationI couldn’t pass it up. I know, another comedian memoir. But really, who could resist that title? Reader, I bought the book. Then, because the best thing to do when reading anything written by a comedian is to listen to them read it in their own voice, I found Self-Inflicted Wounds in my library’s downloadable audiobook service. I downloaded it, opened the book, and prepared to laugh my ass off. And laugh I have. Tyler’s pitch-perfect recording brings a vitality and a humor that just can’t be conveyed by printed word.

How is this related to speculative fiction? Not only does Aisha Tyler play an animated international superspy in Archer, she grew up geek. Tyler’s memoir captures all the awkward hilarity of a geeky childhood spent trying to figure out just how to fit in while being “vegetarian before it was cool,” tall for her age, a person of color, and an introverted, avid SFF reader. The audiobook is great for road trips, but definitely NSFW (kinda like Archer…). I discovered the book is based on Tyler’s podcast of the same name, so I’m off to find the episodes — and learn more about the rest of her projects.

 

Sherry’s Favorite Thing is… the Kobo e-reader!

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I absolutely *love* my Kobo Glo e-reader. I’ve had it for a few years now, and I take it with me everywhere. It’s light. I love being able to enlarge the font so it gives my eyes a rest after staring at the computer all day, and I love being able to choose a ragged right edge through left justification simply because it makes reading easier than having to read with full justification. Kobo has updated its e-readers a few times since I bought my Glo. The Kobo Aura H20 is water-proof. The Kobo Aura HD has sharper text. I’ve been tempted to upgrade, but I haven’t felt a *huge* need, until now. Recently Kobo announced the release of the Kobo Aura One, which seems to be the best of all three e-readers. It’s bigger, it’s lighter, it has sharper text, and it’s water-proof. But the features that have me drooling is the Comfort-Light feature which reduces the blue light and changes it to a red light which is easier on the eyes and the body for night-time reading. It also supports all kinds of ebook formats (EPUB, EPUB3, PDF, MOBI, JPEG, GIF, PNG, BMP, TIFF, TXT, HTML, RTF, CBZ, CBR) so that borrowing books from the library is easy to do. I can’t wait to get my hands on this new e-reader!

 

Lane’s Favorite Thing is…The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe!

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So my Favorite Thing this month, definitely my favorite read this summer, is Kij Johnson’s novella The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe.  (Quick disclaimer — Kij is a friend of mine, but she’s also an award-winning writer who deserves the accolades, so if I’m biased in this case, it’s a bias many many people share.) I expect to see this book on next year’s award lists.  It’s impossible to talk about why it blew me away without encroaching into significant spoiler territory, so I’m hampered.  But let me say: if you like Lovecraft, you’ll probably like this book.  If you like Lovecraft but find his stories and world-building problematic in many ways, you’ll LOVE Vellitt Boe.  And if you’re a woman who loves fantasy, you’ll adore this book.  It’s got a power well beyond its page count.

The general gist of the book is that Vellitt Boe, lecturer at the only woman’s college in the entirety of the Dreamlands, finds her whole college imperiled when a student impetuously runs away with a Earthborn dreamer.  It’s a fun inversion of the usual trope where people are sucked into the fantasy world — here, the student’s running to Earth, which is as exotic to them as the Dreamlands would be to us.  And Vellitt is awesome.  She’s an atypical character for quest fiction: an older woman who’s had adventures in her past, but has settled down.  Now she gets to go back into the world to find out if her own skills can come back to her.  It’s wildly feminist without even remotely being preachy. Go! Read it! I bet you’ll like it.


 

What was your favorite thing this week? Any thoughts on the selections above? Let us know in the comments!

6 Comments

  • Nancy O'Toole Meservier September 19, 2016 at 10:52 am

    Damn, we’re all such book nerds on this blog!

    I absolutely love the cover art for The Dream-Quest of Vellitt Boe. I think that tor.com did such a wonderful job. In fact, I think they’ve done a wonderful job with pretty much all of their novellas. I can’t think of a single one that hasn’t worked for me on some level.

    Reply
    • Shara White September 19, 2016 at 2:24 pm

      Have you read ALL of their novellas? Or are you just looking at the covers?

      Reply
      • Nancy O'Toole Meservier September 19, 2016 at 8:24 pm

        Nah. I’m just talking about the covers in this instance. I can see now how that wasn’t clear.

        I do like the ones I’ve read though. Really want to check out the one that just came out by Marie Brennan.

        Reply
        • Shara White September 19, 2016 at 11:06 pm

          I hear you. And I’ve got the Brennan waiting on my Kindle. I’m stockpiling for vacation!

          Reply
  • Lane Robins September 20, 2016 at 1:14 am

    Oh, the Aisha Tyler book sounds interesting! I’ve only seen her in Criminal Minds so the idea that she’s a comedian is new to me!

    Reply
    • Shara White September 20, 2016 at 9:16 am

      Oh lord…. get to Netflix, start watching ARCHER and be prepared to be both horrified and amazed. 🙂

      Reply

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