Wondering what gifts to give to the sci-fi writer in your life this Christmas? Forget traditional favourites like aftershave, socks, and “love”, here are some better ideas.
Everything is so much clearer when you’re sudding yourself in the shower; those tricky lines of dialogue virtually write themselves, awkward plot points make so much more sense, and you know exactly how your characters are going to develop through the course of your novel. But for some reason drying yourself off wipes all those great ideas away. If only there was a way to write and wash your armpits at the same time.
Introducing the Aqua Notes Waterproof Notepad – the perfect gift for hygiene-conscious creative types. It fixes right to the wall of your shower, allowing you to capture those early morning ideas as soon as the form.
Hugo Award Winning Novels
It’s good for aspiring science fiction writers to keep up with what’s currently hot in the genre, if only to give them idea of what to aspire to. To that end, the gift of an award winning novel would be a great idea.
The biggest and most coveted award in science fiction is the Hugo. This year’s (2014) Hugo Award winner for best novel was Ancillary Justice by Ann Leckie. It’s the first book in a trilogy, and if you’d like to spend a little more the sequel, Ancillary Sword, is also now available.
Alternatively, if you think the sci-fi writer in your life would prefer something more light hearted, last year’s Hugo Award winning best novel was John Scalzi’s Star Trek parody Red Shirts, and it’s a blast.
Nebula Award Winning Anthologies
If the science fiction writer in your life is more interested in short stories than novels then here’s a gift you should consider: Each year, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America produces an anthology of the best short stories published during the previous twelve months, including Nebula Award winners and nominees.
Short stories are without a doubt the best place for sci-fi writers to look for inspiration as it’s in this format that the genre produces its most cutting edge literature. Here’s a link to this year’s Nebula Awards Showcase 2014 (2014) on Amazon.
Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space
Here’s an interesting book you might not be aware of. It’s by legendary astronomer Carl Sagan, and it shares some real science along with realistically grounded predictions about humanity’s future in space. Science fiction writers can pick a lot up from reading a book like this, from imaginative ideas to ways to make their imagined futures more scientifically plausible.
I have to admit that I haven’t this book book myself (I’m hoping somebody is going to gift it to me this Christmas), but I’m comfortable recommending it anyway on the basis that Carl Sagan was a visionary genius and probably one of the nicest and most interesting people to have lived in the last century. Any writer who cares about creating plausible speculative futures as settings for their sci-fi works will surely be appreciative of this gift.
Nothing say “I care about your wrists” and “I want you to be more productive” like an ergonomic keyboard designed to make lengthy typing sessions more comfortable while staving off problems such as arthritis. Ergonomic keyboards have really come into there own over recent years, and they now vary greatly in shape, from the only very slightly curved to the “did somebody melt your keyboard or am I hallucinating?”
Not all writers like unusually shaped keyboards,it has to be said, but that’s often simply because they’re not used to working with them. I myself am a recent convert. I started with a very slightly shaped Microsoft Comfort Curve keyboard (which I like very much and features a useful calculator button for working out how much wealthier I’d be had I chosen a different profession) but am now considering something with more of a bump. I’d recommend all writers do the same. Alternatively, there are some keyboards that allow the user to adjust the angle of the keys to suit their personal preference.
A really busy writer can burn through keyboards fairly quickly (especially if they opt for cheap ones), so there’s a good chance this gift will tick both the “want” and “need” boxes, and possible the “didn’t know I needed” box too.
Some writers will tell you that all you need to write a book is a pen and some paper, but those same writers are currently suffocating under a mountain of old notebooks and cursing themselves for not being more organised. It’s true that many writers get by using only the default word-processor that came with their PC, but there are also a number of software packages out there specifically designed to make the writing of novels easier.
I’ve been hearing wonderful things about a program called Scrivener, and I know several writers who swear by it. While I’ve never used it myself, I hear it makes the formatting and editing of long documents much easier, helps you organize and reorganize plot points and chapters, adhere to word limits and goals, and keep notes on your characters and locations. Sounds good to me. Santa, I hope you’re taking notes.
Romulan Ale Energy Drink
Screw coffee, it’s a gateway drug, so serious writers may as well skip straight to the hard stuff. Caffeine and sugar provide the perfect fuel for an all night writing session, and energy drinks provide all that and more. But this isn’t just any energy drink… well, actually it’s exactly like other energy drinks, except that it happens to be branded in a way that appeals to Star Trek fans.
On its own, a can of this not-actually-ale is far from a substantial gift, but a hamper containing this, some Klingon bloodwine, home made gagh, and sachets of Astronaut Food might be just what a starving writer needs to make it through the winter.
The Emotion Thesaurus
One of the biggest problem areas for writers is conveying a character’s emotions to the reader in a unique, compelling way. The Emotion Thesaurus: A Writer’s Guide To Character Expression is designed to help writers better portray the emotions of their characters by highlighting 75 emotions and listing the possible body language cues, thoughts, and visceral responses for each. The book also tackles a variety of emotion-related problems faced by writers, providing valuable practical advice.
Not many writers will admit to needing this book, but we could all benefit from its use, regardless of our experience, expertise, and chosen genre.
The Twilight Zone
The classic TV show The Twilight Zone is a fantastic source of inspiration for writers of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. It may be old, but it’s nonetheless packed with strange and interesting ideas that provide nourishment for the creative mind. And because it’s old, it’s easy to steal – I mean borrow – from it’s lesser known tales.
You can pick up the complete collection (156 episodes) of the original Twilight Zone for a surprisingly reasonable price for such a substantial gift.
Really Geeky Sci-Fi Quiz Book
There’s nothing more satisfying than proving to other geeks that you are geekier than they are. Crafting incredible science fiction stories is one way to prove your geek worth, but it can be arduous and time consuming. The Really Geeky Sci-Fi Quiz Book, on the other hand, provides instant gratification and allows for immediate, on-the-spot geek showdowns. It contains more than 750 questions on topics ranging from cult TV shows and expanded universes to classic science fiction literature.
OK, so I have to admit to having a vested interested in promoting this product because that’s my name on the cover. Not only is this quiz book the ideal gift for any sci-fi fanatic, buying it also helps support me and by extension this website, so please buy on Amazon and leave a review! Thanks.
Article by Mark Ball.