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Friday Open Thread (with December and Gifts)

Close-up on a thin scrim of ice on a river's edge, with thin reeds and grasses poking through it in chilly lacework.

Dear Friends,

It's December, Sagittarius season, and my birthday month, bringing with it the end of the teaching term and the prospect of holidays – but sandwiched in between them are giant piles of marking, so I'm keeping today's missive a bit brief.

These next two weeks are prime gift-guide-season, a time for end-of-year lists and best-ofs and so on. I'm usually on the recommending side of things, and will certainly link you to a few book-centric things below, but first, I'd love to know – what's something you'd love to be given as a gift in what remains of the year?

Be as whimsical or pragmatic, as vague or specific as you like. Is a specific pair of socks thrilling you? Are there things you wish someone would give you without you needing to ask? Is there something you know you'd never get for yourself but would love to receive from a thoughtful friend? Share them in comments here, and who knows – maybe the universe will provide. Or maybe articulating the desire will be its own satisfaction.

Wishing you a weekend of deep rest and recovery,


Postscripts of News

  • My last Otherworldly column of the year is up! I cover seven novels, all circling a core of conflicted and conflicting memories and unreliability: Elder Race by Adrian Tchaikovsky, You Feel It Just Below the Ribs by Jeffrey Cranor and Janina Matthewson, A Marvellous Light by Freya Marske, Far From the Light of Heaven by Tade Thompson, AI 2041 by Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Quifan, The Cabinet by Un-Su Kim, and The Perishing by Natashia Deón. (I have one more thing coming out in the NYTBR this year and it's a Top 10, the first such thing I've done for them, and I'm looking forward to it).
  • NPR launched its 2021 BOOKS WE LOVE feature, formerly called the Book Concierge, and have dedicated it to the memory of Petra Mayer. If you're new to it, it's an interactive feature that allows you to stack tags to find books at the intersection of your interests; for instance, stack "Sci Fi and Fantasy" with "Seriously Great Writing" and you'll find On Fragile Waves by E. Lily Yu (among others). I contributed capsule reviews to the above and to I'm Waiting for You by Kim Bo-Young, Sorrowland by Rivers Solomon, Chaos on Catnet by Naomi Kritzer, and Firebreak by Nicole Kornher-Stace.
  • Remember earlier this year when Isa Hansen and I collaborated on what was, for both of us, our first comic? It's been collected into an absolutely gorgeous volume with the other three issues in the series, and it's available now!
Cover for Jim Henson's THE STORYTELLER: TRICKSTERS hardcover volume. A purple border surrounds the title and central images featuring Peach Momoko's cover art from Jordan Ifueko and Erin Kubo's collaboration, depicting a stylized young Black woman's form half-merged with a sharp-toothed grinning interpretation of Eshu, the Yoruba god of mischief. Below them, enclosed in a circle, the titular Storyteller and his dog gaze at each other fondly.

My contributor copies arrived last week and I can confirm they're stunningly beautiful. I'm so excited to read the other stories. The volume also includes commentary by the writers and sketches from the artists – I absolutely love what Isa wrote about learning Medieval humours, and I'm weirdly proud of my very short introduction to "A Tale of Two Markets," which required some deep digging into and reconstructions of childhood memory to get at a kernel of truth.