The Twelve Days of Spec Fic

Every year on Christmas Eve, my friends and family perform an epic rendition of “The Twelve Days of Christmas.” People group up and choose numbers. We have a conductor. It’s loud and ridiculous, and probably the reason this idea popped into my head.

So, my friends, come forth and join me in a chorus of “The Twelve Days of Spec Fic,” presented to you without spoilers!

On the twelfth day of Spec Fic, my nerd friend gave to me…

Twelve Dystopic Districts…


There are some books that hit it big, selling thousands of copies. Then there are those that embed themselves in the cultural landscape, providing a touchstone that everyone, even those who haven’t read the books, will understand. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is one of those books. Compare an event or a competition to the Hunger Games, and everyone knows you’re talking about a ruthless showdown that can only end with one winner left standing. “May the odds be ever in your favor” has also become another way of wishing someone good luck. Collins struck a nerve with her dystopic trilogy, planting flags among the zeitgeist.

In case you’re wondering, the Districts are, from one to twelve: Luxury, Masonry, Technology, Fishing, Power (Energy), Transportation, Lumber, Textiles, Grain, Livestock, Agriculture, Mining.

Eleven Eggo Waffles…


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Stranger Things fans might have expected me to go with Eleven herself, the psychokinetic wunderkind who escapes captivity, if not her epic destiny. But one of the things that grounds the character, aside from Millie Bobby Brown’s wonderful performance, is her idiosyncrasies, like her love for Kellogg Eggo Waffles.

This show is also very firmly rooted in the time period in which it’s set (the early 1980s), and what child of the ’80s didn’t grow up with an affinity for the ease and cardboardy sweetness of an Eggo toaster waffle? And people are still saying “L’Eggo My Eggo.” That’s some serious pop-cultural staying power there.

Ten Tremendous Wordsmiths…


Amazon Prime recently revealed a decision to remake J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings for the umpteenth time, and a majority of the fandom responded with a very good question: Why? Not only are Peter Jackson’s adaptations less than twenty years old, but they were exceedingly well-received, making them pretty much the definitive adaptations for some time to come. Perhaps forever.

On the heels of that “why” came another question: with so many other talented spec fic writers out there, why revisit Tolkien yet again? In the spirit of that question, I offer you the names of ten talented authors whose works I would personally love to see hit the screen: N.K. Jemisin, Juliet Marillier, Sharon Shinn, Robin Hobb, Octavia Butler, Tamora Pierce, Becky Chambers, Tananarive Due, Kameron Hurley, Seanan McGuire/Mira Grant.

You’re welcome, Amazon Prime.

Nine Symbiotic Lifespans…


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One of my favorite characters in the whole of the Star Trek universe is Dax. Dax appears most prominently in Star Trek: Deep Space 9, and if you’re not familiar with this Trill symbiont, Dax is one of many wormlike creatures that joins with specially chosen humanoid Trills. When one humanoid hosts dies, the symbiont is removed and joined with another host, sharing with that host all of the collective experiences and knowledge of its previous hosts.

In the Star Trek mythos, Dax is born on Trill in 2018, and by the time we first encounter it — in the body of a cheeky Starfleet science officer named Jadzia — it has already lived with seven previous hosts: Lela, a famous Trill legislator and one of the first female council members; Tobin, a wallflower with a penchant for magic and an intimate knowledge of phase coil inverters; Emony, an Olympic gymnast; Audrid, who rose to the head of the Trill Symbiosis Commission; the carefree Torias; Joran, a musician and murderer (whoops!); and Curzon, friend to Benjamin Sisko before his joining with Jadzia, and the reason for Sisko’s nickname for Dax, “old man.”

Ah, but this is nine, not eight. Well, at some point during the run of DS9, Dax moves from Jadzia into the body of Ezri, and for the sake of spoilers, that’s all I’m saying. If you’d like to know how/why this transfer occurs, then get on it and go watch the series.

(Side note: how ‘90s-tacular is that image?!)

Eight Exciting Episodes…


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The eighth episode of Star Wars — The Last Jedi — has finally hit the big screen, and from the word on the street, it’s been more than worth the wait. Yay! But while I’m sure many of the fans are mostly excited, there’s a bittersweet quality to this episode as well, since this was the final project that the indomitable Carrie Fisher (General Leia Organa) worked on before she died at the end of the Dumpster fire that was 2016.

While there are some amazing female characters/actresses in the series, and more and more with every movie, the buns of Leia will be impossible to fill. And so, while we welcome Episode VIII with open arms, let us also remember, with reverence, the passing of an irreplaceable icon.

Seven Bells a-Swinging…


In Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series, there are necromancers aplenty, and they all carry the same seven bells for the purposes of controlling the dead.

They are, in order from smallest to largest: Ranna, the sleepbringer. Or, if you will, the Ambien of the bells. Mosrael, the waker, a sort of alarm bell that throws the ringers further into Death while bringing the listener closer to Life. Kibeth, the walker, which can offer freedom of movement to the dead or force them deeper into Death. Dyrim, the song bell that can either make someone speak or still their tongue, helpful if you’re losing an argument or sitting next to chatty people in the movie theater. Belgaer can either restore lost memories or Eternal Sunshine the listener. Saraneth is the lowest bell, and…well, have you ever wanted to make a dead body dance to your bidding? Then this is the bell for you, you freak! Last but not least is Astarael the Sorrowful. This is the nuclear option for a necromancer because it casts everyone, including the ringer, super-far into death. Good times.

Now, a necromancer probably wouldn’t be the first person on your party invite list, but if you’re getting down in Ancelstierre, you might want to make sure the Abhorsen, a necromancer sworn to protect people from the dead, gets your Evite. And good luck with that! For those who haven’t read the books, technology doesn’t work in Ancelstierre, so that’s the joke there…

Moving on.

Six Books of Ice and Fire… Maybe…


Look, I know George R.R. Martin is not my bitch, and that, as an artist, he doesn’t owe anyone anything. As a writer, I both acknowledge and support Martin’s right to do with his series as he wishes. So, it is in that spirit that I posit the following theory: we’re never getting the last few books in the Song of Ice and Fire series.

I mean, we might eventually get The Winds of Winter. I could also see us getting a few short story or novella collections to follow through on or tie up some loose ends. But with things like the Meereenese Knot causing so much trouble for Martin and the TV show coming to an end, it’s my theory that Martin will stray away from the tradition large-book form for the remainder of the stories. And just to be clear, I’m okay with that! Martin’s rich, immense world is his to do with as he pleases, and I’d rather get to the end in fits and starts rather than never reach it at all.

Five Zombie Apocalypse Survivors…


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This is a tricky one because I promised no spoilers, but I think it’s general knowledge that The Walking Dead is pretty merciless when it comes to killing off its characters. And so, without naming names, I can tell you at the start of the eighth season, there are only five main characters that have survived from the first season. That…is not a great survival rate. Statistically speaking, you would have a better chance of surviving the Hunger Games than a season of The Walking Dead.

Happy holidays!

Four Silly Seasons…


When Warehouse 13 ended, I was left with a huge Warehouse 13-shaped hole in my heart. In my opinion, never before had a science fiction/fantasy show managed to hit the same balance of silliness and intensity that Warehouse 13 achieved, and despite its rushed (and therefore subpar) finale, I missed it greatly when it went off the air.

But then — lo and behold! — The Librarians came along to fill the void. The Librarians is a spinoff of the TV-movie miniseries of the same name starring Noah Wyle, and it primarily follows a group of newbie Librarians — a squad of geniuses with a wide variety of specialties — and their Guardian Eve, an ex-NATO soldier turned badass Mother Hen. And even though the TNT series doesn’t have quite as many complex female characters as Warehouse 13, and it can, at times, pull its punches when it comes to the darker moments, it is still a worthy successor and a rollicking enjoyable watch, and I’ve already loving the start of season four.

Three Sassy Slayers…


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Even though Joss Whedon’s name recently joined the ranks of famous creeper men, I have chosen to separate Buffyverse from him, because, yes, while he came up with Buffy and was a driving force behind the show, at least in the earlier seasons, so were Marti Noxon, Jane Espenson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, and a lot of other amazing, talented women. Buffy is a character who transcended her progenitor, and I, for one, refuse to give her up.

With that established, this number is giving tribute to the three main vampire slayers who appeared during the run of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: our Beloved Buffy, the Fickle Faith, and Kickass Kendra of the Dubious Accent. People who know the show in passing might know that, like Highlanders, there can usually be only one. But over the course of the show, things happen, so at different times and for various reasons, slayage falls to all three of these women.

A Second Wonder Woman…


For years, we waited for a Wonder Woman movie. We endured years of rumors and various writers, producers, directors, and actresses signing on and then signing off the project. We watched as dozens of Batmen, hundreds of Supermen, and a thousand different Spider-Men came and went. We suffered through nipples on the Bat-Suit and at least seven mind-numbing Hulk movies, and scarfed up every last episode of Agent Carter knowing that one day our time would come…

On June 2, 2017, Wonder Woman at last made it to the silver screen…and Patty Jenkins be praised, it was worth the wait! Not only was Wonder Woman a fun, funny, thoughtful, heartbreaking, inspiring movie befitting of its heroine, played with depth and strength by the stunning Gal Gadot, but it also killed at the box office and among the critics, thereby ensuring a Wonder Woman 2, which is already slated for release on November 1, 2019.

And a female Doctor in the TARDIS!


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This is another long-awaited moment. After twelve male Doctors of varying temperament and skill, we Whovians are finally getting a lady Doctor in the TARDIS. Huzzah!

But it’s so much pressure! Can Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor be everything we want/need her to be? Before Wonder Woman, I would have been more skeptical, but that movie proved to me that there are times when we fans can sometimes have our cake and eat it too, and given Whittaker’s amazing work on Broadchurch, I’m certainly willing to pin my hopes on her prodigious acting chops. Of course, she’s only one part of a much larger machine, and whether that machine can deliver, we soon shall see!

And there you have it, folks — my Twelve Days of Spec Fic. What do you think? Do you like the list? Can you think of some different, or better, entries you’d like to add? Put on your nerdy, songwriting cap (which I imagine looks a lot like the Sorting Hat) and comment below!


  • Shara White December 20, 2017 at 5:07 pm

    This is such a fun post. My spoilery addition for Orphan Black?

    Five Final Clones!

    Okay, maybe it’s not really five considering we learn how many Ledas there are in the world, but hey, given the fact the series ended with a relatively small (but painful) character deaths, it’s pretty impressive!

    • Erin Bales December 20, 2017 at 6:33 pm

      Love it! I thought about trying to work in OB, but there were just so many numerical possibilities. 🙂

      • Shara White December 21, 2017 at 9:15 am

        So true, and you were definitely trying to avoid spoilers. *hats off!*

  • Kelly McCarty December 21, 2017 at 11:56 pm

    This is such a cool post, although when it comes to George R.R. Martin not finishing the Song of Ice and Fire, I’m going to cover my ears and say, “La, la, la, I can’t hear you.” Actually I can live with that series not being finished, although I’ll be disappointed, but if Diana Gabaldon never writes the last Outlander book, I will flip tables.

    • Erin Bales December 22, 2017 at 3:43 pm

      Thanks! I hope I’m wrong about GRRM, but with the show finishing and all… I don’t know. I just have a feeling. As far as I’m aware, though, Gabaldon has been, and continues to be, on it with those Outlander books.

    • Shara White December 23, 2017 at 7:53 am

      You know, I’ve only read one Outlander book (loved it), but yet I’m constantly amazed that new titles still keep coming out. How much hell can those characters go through?


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