Merry Christmas!!!

We had our big family Christmas dinner last night, languishing by the pool, listening to music in the pavilion and dining like kings. Children were delighted by presents and Santa came and went.

Today is a slightly lower key thing with my mother and brother coming over for a mostly left-overs lunch that should be delightful. I think we’re all a bit tired from last night, so the day should run a bit more quietly I think.

And with that in mind: a seasonal wish for you and your loved ones. While I celebrate a traditional Christmas (sans all the religious stuff because, well, that’s not my thing), I completely understand that many, many of you do not. So a simple end-of-year wish. May the coming year bring you and your loved ones, health, wealth and happiness.

Russ, reflection and a nice night out.

Self-reflection is a dangerous thing, and the Christmas/New Year period is particularly dangerous time to engage in it. Because I have too much else to do I have, once again, been spending some time re-reading old posts on the blog trying to recapture lost moments and to glimpse once again the mindset I had at a particular moment.

It seems to me that, over the lifespan of the blog, the Christmas/New Year has been an increasingly difficult time as I balance too many commitments with family needs etc. That, in turn, has tended to make me seem gloomier than I am. Also, I don’t blog when I’m having fun. That’s because I’m having fun, which makes sense. It does, though, mean you didn’t really hear about the awesome time I had in Adelaide, how enchanting the little side street alley cafes of Melbourne were, or any of a dozen other fun moments. I’ll try to stop that.

If I hold true to form there will be some year in review posts over the coming week or so, though I’m so scattered right now that I can’t quite imagine what they’ll be. Right now I can’t think of a book of the year candidate or a movie of the year candidate. I have my album of the year, but other than that…

Meanwhile, last night I headed out to Russ and Liz’s place in Greenwood with Alisa K for drinks. Russ was in good form, Liz was a wonderful hostess, I saw some good friends (hi Nick and Amanda), and Alisa and I had fun chatting before she heads off to the blissfully cool wilds of Tasmania for Christmas/New Year. I have no photos of the event, but we drank mocktails, sat outside, nattered and so on. You can probably fill in the blanks. Today, on the other hand, is a day at the day job, then Xmas readiness preparation tonight. Onward, onward!

Top 5 Christmas Songs

I am ridiculously sentimental and have a real weakness for silly and romantic things. Christmas has always been a favorite time of the year, even though it only seems to become more stressful and complicated with time. One thing I really love is a good Christmas song, and so I thought that since this is my blog and these are days of self-indulgence, I would put together a list of my Top 5 Christmas Songs.

Because I’m older many of these are a little melancholy, but they’re all ones I’ve come to love.

1. Fairy Tale of New York, The Pogues with Kirsty MaColl

This one’s the gold standard in indy Christmas songs. MaColl and McGowan are perfect, even if the story they tell is a sad one.

2. How to Make Gravy, Paul Kelly

Another sad Christmas song. A man calling from prison to make contact with his family. Probably my favorite Australian Christmas song ever.

3. White Wine in the Sun, Tim Minchin

Though this one is a close runner up. The image of the family drinking white wine in the sun is one the resonates when you live in a place where Christmas Day itself is often blisteringly hot.

4. Happy Xmas (War is Over), John Lennon and Yoko Ono

One of the first great rock/pop Xmas songs, and a Lennon song I like better than “Imagine” these days.

5. Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town, Bruce Springsteen and the (mighty mighty) E Street Band

But most great Xmas songs aren’t sad. Every now and then you have to turn to the hard rockin’ E Street Band to kick out the jams and party at year’s end.

Swords and Dark Magic

We have official permission, so here it is. This is the cover for Swords and Dark Magic, which will be out from HarperEos in July. The cover, arranged by the wonderful Diana Gill, is by Benjamin Carre. We’re very happy with it, and also sort of excited that there’ll be another cover to see too, when the Subterranean cover comes out (we’ve not seen it yet). Lou and I had so much fun doing this book, and really hope to do another one. In the meantime, we can’t wait to find out what the world will think of this book we’ve enjoyed doing so much.

The Best Science Fiction and Fantasy of the Year: Volume 4

With the manuscript safely in the hands of the publisher in San Francisco, I can now reveal the final table of contents for The Best Science Fiction & Fantasy of the Year: Volume 4. As anthologists always do, I wish I’d had more space to include other stories that I loved, but I think that these selections are very strong.

Introduction, Jonathan Strahan
1.  It Takes Two, Nicola Griffith (Eclipse Three)
2.  Three Twilight Tales, Jo Walton (Firebirds Soaring)
3.
4.  The Island, Peter Watts (The New Space Opera 2)
5.  Ferryman, Margo Lanagan (Firebirds Soaring)
6.  A Wild and Wicked Youth, Ellen Kushner (F&SF)
7.  The Pelican Bar, Karen Joy Fowler (Eclipse Three)
8.  Spar, Kij Johnson (Clarkesworld)
9.  Going Deep, James Patrick Kelly (Asimov’s)
10.  The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, Holly Black (The Eternal Kiss)
11.  Zeppelin City, Michael Swanwick & Eileen Gunn (Tor.com)
12.  Dragon’s Teeth, Alex Irvine (F&SF)
13.  This Wind Blowing, and This Tide, Damien Broderick (Asimov’s)
14.  By Moonlight, Peter S. Beagle (We Never Talk About My Brother)
15.  Black Swan, Bruce Sterling (Interzone)
16.  As Women Fight, Sara Genge (Asimov’s)
17.  The Cinderella Game, Kelly Link (Troll’s Eye View)
18.  Formidable Caress, Stephen Baxter (Analog)
19.  Blocked, Geoff Ryman (F&SF)
20.  Truth and Bone, Pat Cadigan (Poe)
21.  Eros, Philia, Agape, Rachel Swirsky (Tor.com)
22.  The Motorman’s Coat, John Kessel (F&SF)
23.  Mongoose, Sarah Monette & Elizabeth Bear (Lovecraft Unbound)
24.  Echoes of Aurora, Ellen Klages (What Remains)
25.  Before My Last Breath, Robert Reed (Asimov’s)
26.  Jo Boy, Diana Wynne Jones (The Dragon Book)
27.  Utriusque Cosmi, Robert Charles Wilson (The New Space Opera 2)
28.  A Delicate Architecture, Catherynne Valente (Troll’s Eye View)
29.  The Cat That Walked a Thousand Miles, Kij Johnson (Tor.com)
Recommended Reading

Eagle-eyed readers will note one of the spots is blank.  This isn’t an error. I’ve agreed not to publicise one of the stories until the book comes out, so that publication here doesn’t step too badly on the toes of its original publisher. I will, however, reveal the omitted story in March.  And yes, if space permits, there will be a Recommended Reading list in the book for the first time ever. If it doesn’t make it for length reasons, I’ll make sure it’s published online.  You can pre-order the book at Amazon.com here.

ETA: Added source info.  Been in a hurry, so took this from the ToC of the book.
ETA 2: You can see the ToC for my
Locus colleague, Rich Horton’s year’s best over here.
ETA 3: Corrected misattribution of Jo’s story, which proves I shouldn’t edit posts late at night when I’m tired. Apologies on that!