December 22, 2012

For your Holiday reading list!

Book Club Reminder: NO December meeting!
If you plan to attend the January meeting of SF&F Literati, you may want to use some of that holiday cash for a copy of the January and February discussion titles:
January 28, 2013: Leviathan Wakes, by Hugo Award Nominee James A. Corey, and available from Barnes & Noble Booksellers.
February 25, 2013: The Name of the Wind, by ConQuesT 44 GoH Patrick Rothfuss, and available from Barnes & Noble Booksellers.

Please also note that the KaCSFFS Blog's Reviews and Commentary Page always welcomes book reviews!

Leviathan Wakes
Overview from Barnes & Noble:
Humanity has colonized the solar system - Mars, the Moon, the Asteroid Belt and beyond - but the stars are still out of our reach.

Jim Holden is XO of an ice miner making runs from the rings of Saturn to the mining stations of the Belt. When he and his crew stumble upon a derelict ship, The Scopuli, they find themselves in possession of a secret they never wanted. A secret that someone is willing to kill for - and kill on a scale unfathomable to Jim and his crew. War is brewing in the system unless he can find out who left the ship and why.

Detective Miller is looking for a girl. One girl in a system of billions, but her parents have money and money talks. When the trail leads him to The Scopuli and rebel sympathizer Holden, he realizes that this girl may be the key to everything.

Holden and Miller must thread the needle between the Earth government, the Outer Planet revolutionaries, and secretive corporations - and the odds are against them. But out in the Belt, the rules are different, and one small ship can change the fate of the universe. 

The Name of the Wind
Kingkiller Chronicles Series, Book #1
Overview from Barnes & Noble:
"I have stolen princesses back from sleeping barrow kings. I burned down the town of Trebon. I have spent the night with Felurian and left with both my sanity and my life. I was expelled from the University at a younger age than most people are allowed in. I tread paths by moonlight that others fear to speak of during day. I have talked to Gods, loved women, and written songs that make the minstrels weep.

"You may have heard of me."

So begins the tale of Kvothe: from his childhood in a troupe of traveling players, to years spent as a near-feral orphan in a crime-riddled city, to his daringly brazen yet successful bid to enter a difficult and dangerous school of magic. In these pages you will come to know Kvothe as a notorious magician, an accomplished thief, a masterful musician, and an infamous assassin. The Name Of The Wind . . . reveals the truth behind Kvothe's legend.

The riveting first-person narrative of a young man who grows to be the most notorious magician his world has ever seen. 

The Name of the Wind . . . transports readers into the body and mind of a wizard. It is a high-action novel written with a poet's hand, a powerful coming-of-age story of a magically gifted young man, told through his eyes.

COVER IMAGES: Many thanks to Barnes & Noble Booksellers, for the cover images for these two books. The cover image for Leviathan Wakes is from its sale page. The image for The Name of the Wind is from its sale page.

December 15, 2012

December 21: What Time will the World End?

By David Sooby
I was talking with a Kaxfan recently who asked: What time, according to the Mayan calendar which supposedly predicts the end of the world on December 21, 2012, will the world end?

A bit of research led me to various spoil-sports trying to assure me that the calendar in question is actually the Mesoamerican Long Count calendar (hereafter MLC), not specifically the Mayan calendar; that the Mayans did not envision an apocalypse coinciding with the end of a calendar era; that the "end of the world" concept was a New Agey meme invented by one Michael D. Coe in his 1966 book The Maya; and that Coe's date was actually December 24.

I also ran across some arguments over the date which pointed out that the MLC calendar does not include leap days, so the calendar would have become progressively more and more out of alignment with our modern, Julian calendar as the centuries passed since the creation of the MLC calendar.

Pedants spouting all this historical and calendric technobabble completely and utterly miss the point! They obviously fail to realize that the importance of identifying an end-of-the-world date (and time), regardless of how solid or flimsy the reasoning, is to give an excuse for throwing an end-of-the-world party!

But to come back to the question posed above: The end of the current era of the MLC calendar is the winter solstice of 2012, which occurs on December 21. Thus we can ignore any misalignment of the MLC calendar and the current Julian calendar. Solstices occur at a particular instant in time, and this year it will be at 11:11 GMT. That would be, unfortunately, a rather non-party time of 5:11 AM in U.S. Central Time, including the Kansas City area.

So, for those wishing to throw a party coinciding with the December 21 millennialist beliefs, I would suggest a "We survived the end of the world!" party on Friday evening, December 21. And not an actual "The world is going to end tomorrow" party on Thursday, December 20. After all, if the ancient Mayans had envisioned a five-day work week and the concept of a "weekend," they surely would have been happy to move their celebration of the solstice forward a day, to enjoy a three-day weekend!

Please also note: even if the world does not end, there will be No SF&F Literati meeting Dec. 24!

PHOTO CREDIT: The Mayan Apocalypse image is from The Seattle Salmon website--thanks, guys!

December 09, 2012

Holiday meeting features Visual Feast Art Show!

December meeting has a Holiday theme!
Whether you celebrate Solstice, Hanukka, Christmas, Kwanzaa, Winter Break, the Mayan Apocalypse, or all of the above, come join us to "get your merry on" at the December KaCSFFS meeting.

What: December KaCSFFS Meeting and Holiday Visual Feast
Where: The Writers Place, 3607 Pennsylvania, Kansas City, MO 64111-2820
When: 6:30 p.m., Saturday December 15, 2012 (Art show setup and possible Board Meeting 5:30 p.m.)
Why: Because it's our holiday thing.
How: With as much festivity as possible!

Food and Festivities
Bring your favorite holiday treats to share with your friends! Does your family have a favorite cookie recipe? Bring some to share. If your tastes run more to liquid treats, those are welcome too!
Some KAXFEN like to exchange gifts at the meeting, but no one is required to do so.
Likewise, some like to don a holiday costume for the occasion. If you enjoy wearing costumes, please wear yours!

Last Chance!
ConQuesT Memberships go up December 31! This meeting is your last chance to buy your membership in person at the discounted rate. You also can buy them from the ConQuesT website, of course!
The Holiday Visual Feast
Townley: Inspired by a Star Formation
Artwork makes a great gift! Here's your chance to buy beautiful fantasy or space-inspired artwork directly from the artists themselves! KaCSFFS and the ConQuesT Art Show sponsor the event. Five artists have reserved space this year.  

Introducing Grace Townley! Grace is a local artist whose painterly oil astronomicals caught ConQuesT Art Show Director Jan Gephardt's eye at the Art Westport show last September. This show will be her first experience with science fiction fandom, so please make her feel welcome! She brings a nice variety of her prints, reproduced from her paintings.

Mayo: Jazzdragon
We also are happy to welcome back four artists familiar to KAXFEN.
Each will bring favorite images, as well as new creations.
Stein: Bad Boys

Rachael Mayo returns with colorful and imaginative prints and originals featuring her wonderful fantasy creatures--including the ever-popular Jazzdragons--in a wide range of sizes and prices. See more of her artwork on DeviantART and Elfwood. Please note: KaCSFFS has received late word that Rachael will not be able to attend because of an unanticipated scheduling conflict.

Allison Stein frequently brings an array of her whimsical and often humorous mixed-media small originals (some watercolors, some on small canvases), prints, and bookmarks, all priced affordably. See her artwork on her Etsy store site, and on her website.

Synk: Oriental Delight
Lucy A. Synk can't be with us in person, having recently moved to Michigan (Jan Gephardt is acting as her agent). She sends longtime favorite prints and a collection of new mini-prints of recent and familiar fantasy images at affordable prices. See some of her paintings and prints on her Lucy Synk Fantasy Art website.

Gephardt: Coming Through
Jan Sherrell Gephardt also returns with her paper sculptures. She now has two limited editions of fantasy images, as well as one-of-a-kind originals. Her limited edition image Coming Through will be seen in public for the first time at the Visual Feast. See her work online at her DeviantART page, as well as in frequent features on her Artdog Observations blog.

PHOTO CREDITS: sources for the holiday montage are as follows: The photo of the Menorah is from the Fantom-XP website. The Winter Break image is from The Stonehenge Solstice image is from Kimberly Snyder's blog. The Kwanzaa table photo is from The Official Kwanzaa Website. The Christmas lights and ball photo are from the Marbella Family Fun website. The Mayan Apocalypse image is from The Seattle Salmon website. The images of the artwork were all provided by the artists for our publicity.