Pixel Scroll 12/7/19 Why Do Belters Wear Red Suspenders?

(1) F&SF COVER REVEAL. The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction’s Jan/Feb 2020 cover art is by Max Bertolini.

(2) RECOMMENDATIONS. Andrew Liptak shares his list of “10 new science fiction and fantasy books to check out this December” at Polygon. Following his first choice, Gideon the Ninth

…The second is Cixin Liu’s Supernova Era. Liu is best-known for the epic novels The Three-Body Problem, The Dark Forest, and Death’s End, which put Chinese science fiction on the map for US readers. This novel, which sees Earth’s adult population wiped out after radiation from a supernova passes by, is about the young survivors as they work to rebuild human civilization once again. Like Liu’s other novels, it’s an ambitious, fun read that reminds me quite a bit of science fiction’s classic eras.

(3) A FELINE UNIVERSE. All you students of worldbuilding probably already know this: “An Attempt to Answer All Your Questions About the Plot and Universe of Cats at Vulture.

What the hell does “Jellicle” mean?
According to T.S. Eliot’s widow Valerie Eliot (at least as described in Lloyd Webber’s memoir), the word comes out of T.S.’s private joke about how the British upper class slurred the words “dear little cats” together to somehow make a sound like “Jellicle.” Eliot also wrote about “Pollicle Dogs,” based off the phrase “poor little dogs.” There’s a poem, “The Aweful Battle of the Pekes and the Pollicles” that gets ported into Cats, where the cats all dress up as dogs and make fun of them. This is frankly anti-dog, but what did you expect in Cats?

(4) NEW TESTAMENTS. “In the 2010s, The Handmaid’s Tale Arrived Margaret Atwood on whether anything shocks her anymore.”The Vulture’s Molly Young interview with Atwood includes this passage about fan tributes.

What, if anything, did you make of that?
My readers deal with those things. They notice them before I do. I expect that Kylie Jenner heard from some of them along the lines of “We appreciate the thought, but you kind of missed it.” There were some themed tequila. People often do this in a very well-meaning way; they’re not trying to be unpleasant. It has been the occasion when I’ve been speaking somewhere and I will be greeted with Handmaid’s Tale cupcakes because the person doing the catering is such a fan. Will I turn up my nose at such cupcakes? No, I will not. I will not do that.

Will you eat the cupcake?
That depends on my relationship to sugar at the moment. If I were in a sugar-eating moment, I would certainly eat the cupcake. I have a collection of artifacts: I have LEGO handmaids and commanders made by the children of one of the publicists in London. I’ve got some knitted chickens from a pro-choice outfit in Texas that knits chickens for charity. She made me some themed knitted chickens. First one is called “the Henmaid’s Tale.” It has an outfit. I have a piece of honey-point embroidery done before the embroiderer had read The Testaments or even knew about it. It says F*CK AUNT LYDIA So there are these things that appear, and as far as I’m concerned, that’s people playing in the sandbox. I’m happy to have people playing in the sandbox, although sometimes they get a little off, but that is to be expected. There are people right now writing military histories of Gilead, and I look forward to reading them because I’m not going to do that.

(5) NEW VANDERMEER. Arkady Martine for NPR concludes that “Clarity Isn’t The Point In Confusing, Absorbing ‘Dead Astronauts'”.

Jeff Vandermeer’s latest novel, Dead Astronauts, is a kaleidoscopic and fractured mosaic: In a long-changed, post-climate-apocalypse world, a trio of saboteurs — or escapees — or simply survivors — attempt over and over again to dismantle the work of the Company, an entity which may have once been a biotech corporation but now churns out broken and altered-beyond-recognition monstrosities in an endless stream. The three — who are the closest the reader gets to protagonists in the first half of the book — are only nominally human, and only nominally astronauts. Like nearly everything else Vandermeer has created in Dead Astronauts, they are allegories, figments, fables for a dissolving world where narrative and language are as subject to corruption as modified flesh.

Their leader is Grayson, an astronaut returned to Earth who can see futures and truths out of her blinded eye. With her are Chen, who sees the world in equations and probabilities, constantly on the verge of ego-dissolution into mathematics and emotional trauma; a man who might once have been a salamander, or many salamanders, but who definitely once worked intimately for the Company — and Moss, whom Grayson loves. Moss is sometimes a woman, sometimes a person — when she wants to be, for Grayson — and always a sentient moss, splittable into many selves, charged with (or choosing) to use herself to reseed the broken world with viable life.

(6) STARGIRL TEASER TRAILER.  “The staff chose me, and I choose you.”

Stargirl premieres Spring 2020 on DC Universe and The CW. Stargirl follows high school sophomore Courtney Whitmore (Brec Bassinger), who inspires an unlikely group of young heroes to stop the villains of the past. The project reimagines Stargirl and the very first superhero team, the Justice Society of America, in a fun, exciting and unpredictable series

(7) STAY FROSTY. BBC’s Sounds devotes a segment of CrowdSicence to the question: “Could humans hibernate during interstellar travel?”

Science fiction is full of people settling on distant planets. But even the closest stars would take millennia to reach with current speeds of travel, by the time any passengers reached an extra solar planet, they would be long dead. 

So CrowdScience listener Balaji asked us to find out whether humans could hibernate for interstellar travel?

To uncover the science fact behind this idea, Anand Jagatia holds a tiny hibernating dormouse at the Wildwood Trust in Kent, and meets Dr Samuel Tisherman who puts his patients into suspended animation for a couple of hours, to save their lives after traumatic injuries that cause cardiac arrest. We ask if Dr Tisherman’s research could be extended to put healthy individuals to sleep for much longer periods of time? 

It’s a question that neuroscientist, Professor Kelly Drew is studying, in Alaska Fairbanks. She uses Ground Squirrels as a model to understand internal thermostats, and how hibernating mammals manage to reduce their core temperatures to -3 degrees Celsius. 

Anand speculates wildly with science fiction authors Adrian Tchaikovsky and Temi Oh whose characters in their books ‘Children of Time’ and ‘Do You Dream of Terra Two?’ traverse enormous distances between habitable planets. 

But is human stasis something that would actually be useful? John Bradford is the director of SpaceWorks, this company works with NASA to try to investigate human hibernation for space travel. He’s trying to make space-based human hibernation a reality, and it seems that may be closer than you’d think. 

(8) DALEKS! Galactic Journey’s Jessica Holmes keeps her TV tuned to vintage Doctor Who — [December 7, 1964] Panic On The Streets Of London (Doctor Who: THE DALEK INVASION OF EARTH).

…Cue the montage! Daleks in Trafalgar Square! Daleks at the Albert Memorial! This is what location shooting is for. I don’t care if the rest of the series takes place in my shed, it’s worth it to see a Dalek surrounded by pigeons, further proving that Daleks are not the masters of Earth, because pigeons bow to no man, or alien pepperpot….

(9) FUTURE WHO. Meanwhile, in 2020…. Or it will be when this airs: “‘Doctor Who’ To Return With Biggest Episode Ever As Showrunner Chris Chibnall Shakes Up Sci-Fi Show”Deadline has the story.

Doctor Who showrunner Chris Chibnall… told Deadline that Jodie Whittaker’s Tardis-travelling time lord will be thrown into action in a “movie-like” two-part curtain-raiser called Spyfall, which will premiere on BBC One and BBC America on January 1, 2020.

“Episode one is probably the biggest episode of Doctor Who we’ve done, or has been done, I would imagine. Physically, there’s a lot of stunts, there’s a lot of locations, it’s a globe-trotting action thriller,” he said. “But you don’t want to lose sight of character and intimacy and emotion. You can’t do everything at 11.”


  • December 7, 1979 Star Trek: The Motion Picture premiered. Starring all of the expected suspects plus the now departed Indian model and actress Persis Khambatta, the film did very well but not well enough to not stop the studio from stripping Roddenberry of creative control of all things Trek. Reviewers and critics alike give it a 42% rating at Rotten Tomatoes.
  • December 7, 1984 2019: After The Fall of New York premiered. This Italian film was directed by Sergio Martino in both the English and Italian versions. The film starred Michael Sopkiw and Anna Kanakis, and George Eastman. Wiki says it was influenced by Escape from New York. One critic noted that “Graphic scenes of rape and murder await the viewer, as well as rats, midgets, and subway-riding revolutionaries.” Despite that, or because of it, it has a decent 59% rating among viewers at Rotten Tomatoes. 
  • December 7, 1984 2010: The Year We Make Contact premiered. Written, produced, shot and directed by Peter Hyams. It’s based off Clarke’s 2010: Odyssey Two, the sequel to the film. It starred Roy Scheider as Heywood Floyd, John Lithgow as Walter Curnow and Helen Mirren as Tanya Kirbuk. It would outgross both Dune and Starman who opened roughly when it did. And yes it won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation at Aussiecon Two beating out The Last StarfighterDuneGhostbusters and The Search for Spock.


[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]

  • Born December 7, 1915 Eli Wallach. I‘ve a fondness for anyone who appeared on the Sixties Batman series. He played Mr. Freeze in a two part story, the third actor to do as both George Sanders and Otto Preminger had done so in previous two part stories. He also had one-offs in Worlds Beyond, Alfred Hitchcock Presents, Veritas: The Quest and Tales of the Unexpected. (Died 2014.)
  • Born December 7, 1923 Johnny Duncan. Was the Sixties Batman the first Batman series? You know better. Johnny here was Robin on Batman And Robin (1949) for Columbia Pictures Corporation. It ran for fifteen episodes with roughly fifteen or so minutes apiece. Robert Lowery was Wayne / Batman. He has only one other genre appearance, an uncredited one in Plan 9 from Outer Space as Second Stretcher Bearer. (Died 2016.)
  • Born December 7, 1915 Leigh Brackett. Surely her scripts for The Big Sleep and The Long Goodbye are genre adjacent? Why not? Ok, then her very pulpy Sea-Kings of Mars is? Being rhetorical there. And I love her Eric John Stark stories! (Much of these were written with her husband Edmond Hamilton.) And yes, she completed her draft of The Empire Strikes Back just before she died. (Died 1978.)
  • Born December 7, 1945 W.D. Richter, 74. As a screenwriter, he’s given us Invasion of The Body Snatchers, Dracula, and one of my most loved films, Big Trouble In Little China.  As a director, he gave us Buckaroo Banzai Across The 8th Dimension, another of my most loved films. He’s not getting love for the reboot of Big Trouble In Little China with Dwayne Johnson that he’s apparently involved with. Grrrr!
  • Born December 7, 1947 Wendy Padbury, 72. She’s Zoe Heriot, a Companion to the Second Doctor. She first appears in “The Wheel in Space” where she is the librarian on board the Wheel.  Big Finish has made use of her character rather well. Her only genre film was Cathy Vespers in The Blood on Satan’s Claw (not to my to-be-viewed list), and she was regular cast member Sue Wheeler in the Freewheelers series which at least genre adjacent. Think Avengers only younger. 
  • Born December 7, 1949 Tom Waits, 70. He’s got uncredited (but obviously known) roles in Wolfen and The Fisher King. He is in Bram Stoker’s Dracula as R.M. Renfield, and he shows up in Mystery Men as Doc Heller and in Mr.Nick in The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus. He’s simply Engineer in The Book of Eli
  • Born December 7, 1959 William John King, 60. Author who works exclusively in the Warhammer and Warhammer 40,000 Universes. Now I’ve not read in that universe, but I discovered recently, well in the last few months I think, that Games Workshop actually has some forty shops around the US where you can buy their miniatures, get them painted and just hang out. They also sell some fiction, both hardcopy and audiobooks, all Warhammer of course. Neat?


  • Bliss shows there’s no end of things alien visitors must keep in mind.
  • Frank and Ernest think that, a synonym for wimpy, “snowflakes” is an illogical choice.

(13) THE ORIGINALS. Profiles in History will hold an auction of rare original comicbook art on December 12, “Comic & Illustration Art the Property of a Distinguished American Collector”. The entire catalogue is viewable online, or as a download.

(14) BIG BROTHER WASN’T WATCHING? Daring Fireball carries the phone maker’s response to news linked in yesterday’s Scroll: “Ultra Wideband Technology: Apple’s Explanation for Why Newer iPhones Appear to Collect Location Data, Even When Location Services Are Disabled”

…Nick Heer:

“This makes complete sense to me and appears to be nothing more than a mistake in not providing a toggle specifically for UWB. It seems that a risk of marketing a company as uniquely privacy-friendly is that any slip-up is magnified a hundredfold and treated as evidence that every tech company is basically the same.”

It is totally fair to hold Apple to a higher standard on privacy than other companies. But Heer is exactly right: when they do make a mistake, it’s going to be magnified. The mistake here wasn’t that location data was leaked?—?including to Apple’s own servers, apparently. The mistake was not making it clear in Settings that UWB requires location data for regulatory compliance. Most people don’t even know what UWB is at this point.

(15) SOME RANDO. Tor.com’s Andrew Liptak in “Ryan Reynolds Discovers He’s an NPC in the First Trailer for Free Guy explains it more clearly than the studio’s synopsis, so let’s go with Liptak. He begins —

Non-player characters (NPCs) are a staple of video games: the anonymous members of a crowd that make up the background of the story you’re playing. At São Paulo’s Comic Con Experience (CCXP) today, 20th Century Fox unveiled a first look at Free Guy, about such a character who realizes that the world he inhabits isn’t what it seems.

(16) LOVE AMONG THE PENGUINS. I was never allowed to see Bruce Pelz’ chart of the romantic entanglements of LASFS members, but I bet it looked something like this… “Japan’s aquarium penguins lead complicated lives of feuding, love — and incest”. CNN has the complete chart posted here.  

…Such is the intrigue surrounding the sex lives of these black and white birds that, for the second year running, Kyoto Aquarium and Tokyo’s Sumida Aquarium, have released a chart detailing the tangled love lines among them.

…Rozu (or Rose) was a pick-up artist and a penguinizer before meeting Warabi, formerly the most popular penguin in the aquarium.

After falling in love, the two are now in an exclusive relationship and “can’t bear to leave each other’s side for more than one second.”

Then there’s inter-species love.

The two Penguin Relationship Charts also reveal how the aquariums’ caretakers are unwittingly pulled into the penguins’ affairs of the heart.

Caretaker Nagaoka’s friendship with penguin Hanabi has made Hanabi’s wife Ichigo jealous, turning Nagaoka and Ichigo into enemies.

Chiyouchin is said to have “neverending love” for his caretaker Oshiro.

Caretaker Tanaka wants to befriend Kiriko, but Kiriko blows hot and cold — sometimes sulking with Tanaka for as long as 20 minutes.

(17) CONSENTACLE. “Consentacle is a board game about having consensual alien sex in space “ – let SYFY Wire’s “Fangrrls” explain:

… While we at SYFY FANGRRLS don’t often talk about board games, we thought we would make an exception for this one, because it’s about playing through a consensual female-focused alien encounter with some sexy tentacles, and if that’s not our area of expertise, I don’t know what is.

Consentacle is a co-operative board game set in space, where the whole aim is for players to communicate as best they can with a language barrier in place. One player takes on the role of a curious blue-haired human astronaut, while the other takes on the role of a sensitive and caring feminine tentacle-covered alien. Neither of your species shares a spoken language, and as such the players are not allowed to use words to communicate their plans during the game. Both players and characters establish consent, then attempt to fumble their way wordlessly through a sexy space encounter, keeping each other’s needs and wants in mind.

Different acts between the pair will produce different “satisfaction” resource tokens, and the players have to work out what each other needs, and try to anticipate their plays, for mutual resource building in tandem. Each player has their own deck of cards, which have various effects when used solo or in combos, with some cards better used one-sided or in tandem….

[Thanks to Gordon Van Gelder, John Coxonn, JJ, Cat Eldridge, Mike Kennedy, John King Tarpinian, Andrew Liptak, Chip Hitchcock, Daniel Dern, Martin Morse Wooster, and Andrew Porter for some of these stories. Title credit goes to File 770 contributing editor of the day Fire Chief Daniel Dern.]

78 thoughts on “Pixel Scroll 12/7/19 Why Do Belters Wear Red Suspenders?

  1. Michael J. Walsh: Yes, I don’t know how it is I turn into a random number generator when I retype some of these things….

  2. (14) Okay, I read that, and clicked though and read the original, and I still don’t know what ultra wide band technology is when it’s at work.

  3. Eric and I are looking for suggestions for YA books that a bright 12-year-old might like.

    This Christmas, our prospective adoptive son will spend two weeks with us here in Seattle, and we’d like some ideas for books he might like. Last month, we spent three days with him in Spokane, and we learned a few things about his taste in books.

    First, he’s a huge fan of Magic: The Gathering, so I’ve already bought (and read) “The Wildered Quest,” by Kate Elliott. (It’s actually pretty good, considering.) So that’s one we’ll have for him.

    Second, he’s a very fast reader when he engages. I got him “Insurgent,” the sequel to “Divergence” (which he said he’d read and liked) and he devoured it at over 300 words/minute. So there is no problem with longer works or series.

    He bounced off “Salem’s Lot” (it took too long to get going). On the other hand, he actually read the first three chapters of “Semiosis” just because he wanted to know what I was reading. (I was actually reading the sequel, “Interference.”) That’s not a YA novel, but he seemed to like it, even though he didn’t finish it. He said he previously bounced off of “Hunger Games,” which might have been too dark. (Not that “Divergence” is exactly cheerful.) He did say he might give it another try at some point.

    Note that “Divergence” has a female protagonist; I thought 12-year-old boys wouldn’t read books like that, but he’s got no problem with it. (Nor did I at that age, for that matter.)

    Anyway, we have a few ideas already (e.g. Harry Potter) but we’d love to hear a broader set of suggestions.

  4. @Greg
    Instead of Harry Potter, you might try the “Young Wizards” series. You can get the first nine as e-books here, though they’re intended more for 14-and-up.
    (BTW, when some of us read, we’re cruising at 500 wpm, or even faster.)

  5. Greg Hullender: My daughter liked all the Artemis Fowl books — and so did I. Might be a good suggestion.

  6. (10) My editor brain suffers every time I see “2010: The Year We Make Contact” because it’s unequivocally incorrect. (So is the official 1985 Hugo Awards page, which calls the movie “2010: Odyssey Two”; see http://www.thehugoawards.org/hugo-history/1995-hugo-awards-2/.) The title is just plain 2010 in the movie itself, despite the slogan on the posters, home video, etc.

    I can’t just yield to the reality that people insist on adopting as official the movie titles they remember from such advertising. A few days ago on Jeopardy a clue required knowledge of the subtitle of Die Hard 2, that is, “Die Harder.” But just like 2010, the movie in fact has no subtitle.

    (I get just as frustrated when I read stories describing the 1977 Star Wars movie as if it were always called “Episode IV: A New Hope,” or “The Wrath of Khan” as if it were always preceded by “Star Trek II“. But in those cases, the prints themselves were altered from what first appeared on screen, years or months later, respectively.)

  7. 10) I have to say I’ve always liked ST:TMP in all its slow, ponderous glory.

    11) William King works ALMOST exclusively in the Warhammer/WH40K universes — he’s also written at least one Warcraft novel that I’m aware of, and has self-published a number of sword & sorcery novels, mostly in the Kormak series. I’ve read some of his Warhammer books (the Gotrek & Felix series) and some of his self-published novels, and always enjoyed them.

  8. Greg Hullender on December 7, 2019 at 8:58 pm said:

    Eric and I are looking for suggestions for YA books that a bright 12-year-old might like.

    I wasn’t impressed by them but James Patterson’s Maximum Ride series was popular with a relative of mine when he was younger.

  9. Greg Hullender on December 7, 2019 at 8:58 pm said:

    Eric and I are looking for suggestions for YA books that a bright 12-year-old might like.

    I guess my nephew was ard 12/13 (during 2011/12) when he devoured Rick Riordan’s Percy sth(Jackson) series, John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice/BrotherBand, n Pittacus Lore’s Lorien Legacies (up till at least 2015/16 when he woulda been 16/17).

    I second OGH suggestion of Artemis Fowl tho it might be according to taste, I did like the first couple I bought n read.

    Katniss Everdeen is da bomb, I’m pretty sure she’s the exception to the rule; my younger (by 3 years) nephew, also liked n finished Divergent series but I’m not sure the Hunger Games was ever read by him. He watched all the movies of HG but never bother with the Divergent movies, not remembering why now.

  10. @Greg Hullender — There’s also Kate Elliott’s Court of Fives trilogy (secondary world YA fantasy — a little bit of a Hunger Games vibe to the set-up, but not nearly so dark); I enjoyed them quite a bit.

    Philip Reeve’s Larklight books (quasi-Victorian space adventures) were fun, as were Kenneth Oppel’s Airborn books (not quite steampunk, but adventures on airships).

    That might also not be a terrible age for some of the Star Wars novels, or Dragonlance or other D&D, if he’s so inclined.

    Maybe Gaiman? Coraline and/or the Graveyard book?

    And I always have to mention L.A. Meyer’s Bloody Jack books (historical, not genre; in the first book, Jacky Faber, London orphan girl, dresses up in boys’ clothing and joins the Napoleonic-era British navy, then proceeds to have many adventures).

    Or for something TOTALLY off-the-wall, the D’Aulaires’ collections of Greek and/or Norse myths.

  11. @Greg: YA suggestions: Steven Gould’s JUMPER series (both the original pre-movie book and the novelization of the movel), give or take the most recent or recent-minus-one, which I thought went a little portaling-the-shark. And Gould’s other books.

    How about David Gerrold’s JUMPING OFF THE PLANET (series, or at least trilogy, I think).

    (11) Tom Waits. I first saw Tom Wait back in/just after college — so, early, 1970s — as the opening act at Cambridge, MA’s PASSIM coffeeshop at 47 Palmer Street (the spiritual and numerical heir to the Club 47 on Mt Auburn Street). Given that Passim was at that time primarily a folk music venue (and I was there a bunch, both as audience and as a (folk) music reviewer), while Waits was good, I found it jarring given that he seemed to, on stage, have adopted a performing persona, unlike most of the folkies. I continue to like a lot of Waits’ stuff, mostly-early-to-middle, but not most of the experimental and/or “I can’t understand a word he’s singing” stuff.

  12. BTW, title-wise, while I didn’t have a specific answer in mind when I submitted the title suggestion to OGH, here’s some possibilities:
    1, “Because that’s the only color available”
    2, “To hold up their space pants.”
    3, “To hold up their asteroid belts.’
    4, “To attach things to.”

  13. @Greg Hullender: I see nobody has suggested the Tiffany Aching subset of Discworld; if the 12yo is already tolerating female protagonists, these may be well-received. (You don’t say whether he’s good with other cultures; these books are still white English-speaking people, but they’re definitely a slice of village England that could either stretch his mind or bounce him away.) I would also recommend Susan Cooper’s The Dark Is Rising; the even numbers feature a boy about that age with a Destiny (without the formulaic Procrusteanizing of Harry Potter), and the odds a set of purely-human children running into edge bits of England (for the first time, so they’re also learning, which may make the books may be a bit easier than Tiffany Aching); they join in #5 (of 5). The title book may be a good starting point even if it’s #2. (I was blown away by her standalone King of Shadows, about a boy who winds up creating Puck in A Midsummer Night’s Dream, but IIRC the boy is ~10 — don’t know whether your 12yo would prefer books about older kids.)
    I second @Joe H’s recommendation of the Young Magicians series, although I’d start with just the first couple — IMO the ones after #3 sometimes read as if they were pushed out under time pressure rather than crafted, but a 12yo may not trip over that if he likes the first ones. (If you haven’t read these yourself, give them a try; there’s a piece in the middle of #2, where the two kids are convincing her parents to let them do something dangerous and necessary, that still gets to me.)
    And you should try something by Diana Wynne Jones; there are some cultural differences but not as much as with Pratchett, and she’s got a wonderfully skewed sense of humor. Eight Days of Luke is fun, and Archer’s Goon is only a little meta; Conrad’s Fate piles up the strangeness a little but IIRC the title character is ~12yo.
    Bouncing off Hunger Games suggests he may have little tolerance for contrived settings; the above all seemed more plausible to me.
    I see all of these are fantasy; I haven’t seen any good YA science fiction recently (unless you consider Francis Hardinge as such — I’m not sure where to place her.) Some Bujold might do, but I’m not conversant enough with the younger Miles stories to point.

    Good luck with your adoption plans.

  14. @ Greg Hullender

    How about Karl Schroeder’s Lockstep? It’s straight-up SF YA, but since it’s Karl, the ideas are very interesting.

  15. It was PJ Evans who recommended Young Magicians, not me, but I would heartily endorse that recommendation. Likewise TIffany Aching.

    I wonder about Lloyd Alexander’s Prydain series? Although that might skew a bit younger?

  16. 11) Since we’re talking about Tom Waits the performer too, I am a fan of everything from his beginnings up to his greatest experimental album Bone Machine (his most recent stuff seems to be covering the same old ground). In genre, he developed the soundtrack for Robert Wilson and William Burrough’s “musical fable” The Black Rider, which is an adaptation of the fantastic German folktale Der Freischutz.

  17. Thanks everyone! That nicely fills out my list and reinforces a few I already had listed. Many of these are already in our Kindle library, which he’ll have access to.

    Here’s the whole list so far, if anyone wants to add suggestions and/or comments. (Or if I missed something.)

    Thanks again!

    Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer

    Bartimaeus Trilogy, The (Book 1: Amulet of Samarkand)
    Court of Fives, by Kate Elliott

    Dark Is Rising, The (Book 1: Over Sea, Under Stone), by Susan Cooper

    Discworld: Tiffany Aching (Book 1: The Wee Free Men

    Earthsea Cycle (Book 1: A Wizard of Earthsea), by Ursula K. Le Guin

    Eight Days of Luke, by Diana Wynne Jones

    Ender Quintet (Book 1: Ender’s Game), by Orson Scott Card

    Far Side of the Sky (Book 1: Jumping Off the Planet ), by David Gerrold

    Graveyard Book, The, by Neil Gaiman

    Grishaverse (Book 1: Six of Crows)

    Harry Potter (Book 1: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone), by J.K. Rowling

    Hobbit, The

    Jumper, by Steven Gould

    Kingkiller Chronicle, The (Book 1: The Name of the Wind), by Patrick Rothfuss

    Lockstep, by Karl Schroeder

    Lorien Legacies (Book 1: I Am Number Four) by Pittacus Lore

    Martian, The, Andy Weir

    Maximum Ride, by James Patterson

    Maze Runner, The (Book 1: The Maze Runner), by James Dashner

    Miss Peregrine’s Peculiar Children (Book 1: Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children), by Ransom Riggs

    Narnia, The Chronicles of

    Penric & Desdemona (Book 1: Penric’s Demon), by Lois McMaster Bujold

    Percy Jackson and the Olympians (Book 1: Lightning Thief, The), by Rick Riordan

    Prydain, The Chronicles of, by Lloyd Alexander

    Time for the Stars, Robert A. Heinlein

    Vorkosigan Saga (Book 2: The Warrior’s Apprentice), by Lois McMaster Bujold

    Wrinkle in Time, A, by Madeleine L’Engle

    Young Wizards Series (The First Three Books), by Diane Duane

  18. @Greg: or just take him up to the UW bookstore (or Elliott Bay or whatever other worthwhile store) and say ‘pick out a couple things’?

  19. @Greg: Castle Hangnail by Ursula Vernon is delightful
    Tim Zahn’s Angelmass might also appeal

    @Daniel P Dern: “To hold up their Pocket Pak Protectors”

  20. @Greg. I definitely second the Young Wizard series, especially the updated ebook version. I’d also like to add Jeramey Kraatz’s Space Runner series (Moon Platoon is the first book) and David Liss’ Randoms series (Randoms is the first book)

  21. @Jake We did that in Spokane at a Barnes & Noble. We had a lot of fun walking up and down the aisles, and we netted two books: “Salem’s Lot” and “Insurgence.” We picked those because he asked for “something by Stephen King” and he’d already read “Divergence.”

    I was hoping that with a list of stories we might be more help to him next time. And he did tell us he had trouble finding books, so he really does want us to make some suggestions.

  22. @Kathryn “Spacerunners” looks good, but I just read the first chapter of of “Randoms,” and it’s about how a kid gets bullied by students, teachers, and even the principal all because he transferred into a new middle school in the middle of the term. The writing is great–I loved the cheeky narrator–but I’m trying to reassure our little guy that transfering into middle school in the middle of the term isn’t going to be so bad!

    I’m probably being silly, but maybe this will be a good one to suggest to him after he gets settled in. 🙂

  23. @Greg
    The Neverending Story by Michael Ende is good for that age, though Bastian is also bullied at school early on, so if that’s a potential issue, maybe skip it till later.

    Also, all the best and good luck to you, Eric and the kid.

  24. The themes in Jumper are a little more adult than I would give my son (who is 12). It has a scene where David is hitchhiking and is almost sexually molested, and as he grows up, he sleeps with his girlfriend. David’s father beats his mother. But you’d know better if it is appropriate for your guy — it’s a good story otherwise.

    Glad to see a Heinlein juvenile on the list, but to my way of thinking, Time for the Stars is kinda meh. I think Citizen of the Galaxy and Farmer in the Sky are superior.

    My son has enjoyed Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider stories. They are juvenile James Bond stories, though, not SF. And Gary Paulsen’s Hatchet series, which are not in the least genre, but are good books.

  25. @Greg: If you want a physical copy you’ll have to get it used (easy to do on, say, Abebooks), but Alexander Key’s The Forgotten Door is absolutely wonderful.

  26. (3) I had always imagined that they were supposed to be [an]gelical cats and [dia]bolical dogs.

    Why the pixel shudders when it perceives the scroll.

  27. @bill Thanks. Yeah, I didn’t preview that one yet somehow. I think anything with themes of child abuse and/or neglect is likely to be problematic. Although I’m told that Harry Potter is wildly popular with foster kids, so maybe I’m oversensitive.

    As for “Time for the Stars,” it just happened to be the only one currently in my library. I’d love to get him “Farmer in the Sky,” but it appears to be out-of-print. “Space Cadet” and “The Rolling Stones” are also out-of-print. I’m really surprised you can’t just buy a Kindle omnibus with all of the Heinlein juveniles in it.

    “Citizen of the Galaxy” might work. It’s available on Kindle, anyway.

    @PhilRM We’re only looking at things we can get on the Kindle, so that’s not a problem. I added “The Forgotten Door,” since it does have a Kindle edition and the first few pages at least look good.

  28. @ Greg Hullender

    Come to think, Lockstep deals with abandonment issues, so you might want to check it out first.

  29. I concur with @bill, by the way about Jumper – it’s very intense.

    How about Mike Ford’s “Growing Up Weightless”? Jones’ “A Tale of Time City” might be suitable as well.

  30. @Greg:

    As for “Time for the Stars,” it just happened to be the only one currently in my library. I’d love to get him “Farmer in the Sky,” but it appears to be out-of-print. “Space Cadet” and “The Rolling Stones” are also out-of-print. I’m really surprised you can’t just buy a Kindle omnibus with all of the Heinlein juveniles in it.

    Umm, libraries? Used bookstores? Cons? Or I’ll long-loan/sell/give my duplicate/extras (of whatever I have), by media mail.

    WRT Stephen King, FIRESTARTER. DIFFERENT SEASONS (if not too edge.) THE GIRL WHO LOVER TOM GORDON (tho I haven’t read it in a few years).

  31. Greg,
    I haven’t seen a bad suggestion yet, but if like to add a few.

    The Skullduggery Pleasant books by Derek Landy. Hidden magic, strange magicians and saving the world.

    The Usagi Yojimbo Saga books and Usagi Yojimbo Special Editions by Stan Sakai. My 12 year old daughter loves them.

    Dragonsong, Dragonsinger and Dragondrums by Anne McAffrey. May not be too everyone’s taste these days but I remember them fondly.

    Have Spacesuit, Will Travel by Robert A. Heinlein. I read the print off of this one.

    And I did the same for Tunnel In The Sky as well.

    Then there’s Godstalk by PC Hodgell. I found it in 82 or 83 and it’s born up well over the years.

    Waterborn and Blackgod by Greg Keyes. The characters are pretty young and they do screw up, but they grow and the world changes along the way.

  32. @Greg: I’d suggest starting the “Dark is Rising” series with book 2, The Dark is Rising. It’s much better written than book 1, and stands alone.

    In re the penguins, here’s a song about Penguin Lust.

  33. Alan Garner’s The Weirdstone of Brisengamen was a favourite of mine, and while The Owl Service is probably a bit old for a 12yo, Elidor ought to be fine. Brian Jacques’ Redwall books might be a little young (but if he likes them there’s A Lot)? The Cry of the Icemark by Stuart Hill is a great epic fantasy with some unusual worldbuilding for around that age group. Tamora Pierce’s stuff is always good for tweens (The Circle of Magic series might be the best bet, but my personal favourite are the Keladry books). Anthony Horowitz’s The Diamond Brothers series and Groosham Grange are all funny, and if he’d prefer something more serious than the Alex Rider teenage spy novels are very popular. I kind of want to press Tom’s Midnight Garden by Phillipa Pearce into the hands of everyone, ever, because I love that book unreasonably, but YMMV (but seriously it is Great). Recent stuff – I really enjoyed The Dragon with a Chocolate Heart by Stephanie Burgis. And of course Frances Hardinge is excellent.

    Seconding The Dark is Rising sequence (and that starting with The Dark is Rising the book is a good place) and Diana Wynne Jones – The Lives of Christopher Chant is a pretty good entry point for her, imo, but there’s also the Dalemark books if he takes to epic fantasy at all.

    (This is actually very hard for me because I was an extremely flexible reader – I was as happy reading excellent picture books as I was excellent YA as I was excellent adult books when I was 12. And I wasn’t fussed about modernity, either.)

    (Actually, speaking of adult books, I suspect The Goblin Emperor would be highly accessible to a 12yo, but you’d need to assess whether Maia’s terrible childhood would be a dealbreaker.)

  34. We also just lost Carroll Spinney (Big Bird & Oscar the Grouch). Sigh.

    Unrelatedly, I’m now about half way into God Stalk for the first time in many, many years and yes, this is a really great book although I admit that it’s a bit of a slow burn at the start (pretty much until Jame settles at the inn and goes off to become a thief).

  35. I’m not trying to spam the thread, I swear, but Terry Pratchett’s Hogfather and Ann Leckie’s Provenance are both on sale for 99p on Amazon UK and I didn’t want to forget before the next scroll. Both very good!

    (Incidentally, I was well on my way through most of Discworld at 12 – younger, actually, since I was pretty much up to date by the time The Fifth Elephant came out in 1999, when I was 10. Aside from the swearing there’s not much in them that would be inappropriate, although some of the Rincewind’s might not have aged all that well with regard to depiction of race. I’ve not revisited them recently to check.)

    (Oh, Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a good YA read, too.)

    (Oh oh! Terry Pratchett’s Johnny Maxwell trilogy! Starts with Only You Can Save Mankind. Loved those, and they’re aimed at tweens.)

  36. @Meredith

    I’m not trying to spam the thread, I swear

    Grin. If anyone is monopolizing the thread, it’s me. I really appreciate everyone giving so many helpful suggestions!

    Actually, speaking of adult books, I suspect The Goblin Emperor would be highly accessible to a 12yo, but you’d need to assess whether Maia’s terrible childhood would be a dealbreaker.

    I dearly love “The Goblin Emperor,” and I suspect that, as with Harry Potter, there’d be no real problem. Indeed, Harry Potter is pretty much unfazed by the way the Dursley’s treat him, but Maia is genuinely recovering from trauma (all foster kids have suffered trauma, of course) which might make him more relatable.

  37. @Greg Hullender: the abuse in Potter is much milder than in Jumper — the father in the latter is a brutal drunk, not just an idiot to be mocked, and the lead’s mother dies in a terrorist incident just after he’s reconnected with her (she got out years ago). I loved the book — given teleportation, the lead screws up enough to be believable — but it may be strong for 12yo already dealing with changes.

    I realized after closing that Finity’s End is SF and about the closest Cherryh comes to YA — but it’s still Cherryh, which means intense (in writing and in situations — I don’t remember it well enough to guess whether the latter would trigger). Merchanter’s Luck is about someone who pulls through after losing most of his family to military pirates and the last two due to accident — but he’s 27, and it’s also intense (although not as long as most), and introduces sex early; it’s my first rec for adults wondering about Cherryh.

    I also love Growing Up Weightless, but I’d be wary of giving it to a 12yo; one set of characters are all short of ~14 — but ~14 is the age of majority (and they’re mature accordingly), and the rest of the characters are adults with their own intense problems (which might just go over your guy’s head, but you should read it before referring it).

    +1 on @Andrew’s recommendation of A Tale of Time City; I mentioned ones that have boys in the lead, but this one is almost balanced.

    Firestarter is another that may be grim for a 12yo — both parents die messily, but not before the father convinces one of the bad guys to stick his hand in a garbage grinder, and there’s a seriously psycho character periodically after the tweenish girl lead.

    This should keep you busy for a while — and if you come back with likes and dislikes I bet that will spawn a whole new list.

  38. And then I started thinking about Tom Swift Jr. (too young — they were rated for ordinary readers 8-14), and it hit me that nobody has recommended anything by Andre Norton. A lot of her work seems clumsily written to my adult mind, but I loved them at that age; I think you’ll find Star Rangers and Galactic Derelict are good adventures and still look ahead in terms of tolerance. (Those are the ones I particularly remember; I expect many older readers here have their favorites.)

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