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I want to mention a new book by a new author, Shattered Dreams, book one in the Luna’s Children series, by Melissa Kay Clarke. I admit I sometimes read romantic/action/adventure fantasy (particularly ones with a Steampunk sensibility, or Dragons and other supernatural creatures), and I quite enjoyed this one. In the interest of Full Disclosure I have to admit that in part this was because I got to be one of the Beta Readers and give my feedback, and then see what changed because of the input. But I genuinely enjoyed the story, liked several of the characters, and found the concepts behind the culture quite intriguing. I am looking forward to checking out the next book in the series, because this is off to quite a promising start.

Shattered Dreams by Melissa Kay Clarke
Shattered Dreams by Melissa Kay Clarke

I read an insane amount of books, and I have decided I need to start blogging about them here. Not in an every-week kind of way, but just when I am reading something I really like and want to share. I have posted about a bunch of favorite authors, and mentioned favorite books that got turned into movies or TV shows, and book-centric conventions and awards. But I don’t think I have usually talked about the books themselves. This is something I intend to correct, as there are a lot of excellent works out there.

Coming up on Thursday the 28th at the Gunn Center for the Study of Science Fiction at Kansas University, Cory Doctorow will be doing a lecture entitled The Coming War on General Purpose Computing: Every single political issue will end up rehashing the stupid Internet copyright fight. I wish I was anywhere near there so I could attend and hear one of the most innovative and insightful thinkers of the last dozen years give this presentation. If you are nearby, don’t miss it; seating is free, but limited, so you want to get there early. If someone records it and puts in on TED or YouTube, I will post it here, which will at least be better than missing it entirely.

Doctorow Poster

In the meantime, here is a very related presentation he gave back in 2011 that should give you an idea of the subject matter. The Copyright and Intellectual Property questions are very complex, because the solutions to protect one group’s rights would often wipe out every other group’s rights, and what we need is a system that will protect everyone’s rights at once. There is a solution to be found, but not without a lot of work to find common ground and implement a best practices list that actually works for all of us. I appreciate the fact that Doctorow looks at the problem from lots of angles and is not shy about expressing his opinions about all of the components involved with the process.

This stuff is important; it deserves your attention and understanding. Yeah, it may take a bit of time and effort to comprehend but the rewards of getting it right will be amazing for the entire human race. Don’t let the future be determined without taking a moment to find out about the arguments and making your voice heard in favor of the aspects you consider worth fighting for.

It is time for the SFX 2011 Blog Awards, where the world class Sci-Fi magazine staff have narrowed each category down to four or so nominations. They have six categories, but they have still left us some impossible decisions. Under Best Podcast, as an example, they have both Escape Pod and Doctor Who Podshock, both of which are insanely good, so how do you decide? The Fan Community choice is even harder; Gateworld or Whedonesque gets compounded with Gallifrey Base or The Trek BBS, and I want to vote for all of them! But you only get one vote per category, and trust me when I say the others are just as difficult to choose between.

The new Harry Potter trailer is just a bit dark, and the last book is broken into two different films, but it still looks like fun to me. So even though we all saw it this weekend in the Theater, here it is again.

In the land of Authors, I have to endorse this review of Ken MacLeod’s Restoration Game, and encourage anyone who hasn’t read MacLeod to get off their ass and buy and read a copy of everything he has ever written. He comes at the world from directions most of us cannot imagine. I would also like to recommend this weeks favorite Steampunk Romance author, Gail Carriger, who managed to create a wonderful milieu and the characters to populate it. If you can’t afford to buy them, hit your local library and read Soulless, Changeless, and Blameless, and see how the stories and series began.

Get ready for the Steampunk World’s Fair in Piscataway, NJ. This is the largest Steampunk convention in the world to date, with discussions, debates, workshops, demonstrations, readings, parties, contests, games, and parades to satisfy all of your Steampunk needs. The list of performers alone exceeds anything else I have ever seen listed; this one is a monster!

Demi-Con is a generic Sci-Fi con that has strong readercon roots, baseed in Des Moines, IA, and the motto Everything Is Better With Pirates; whats not to love? LepreCon 36 in Mesa, AZ, is a Relaxacon, meaning a readercon that is comfortable enough with itself to be laid back, even for the pros.

The Anime Central con happens May 14th to the 16th in Rosemont, IL, and if you are serious about your Cosplay you know you can not miss this one. If you win the main Cosplay competition at this event, you are guaranteed a spot on the Yume Cosplay Prize competition! That takes place in October, and will have the winners of all the regional contests battling it out to see which luck Cosplay Couple gets the matching set of all expense paid round trip tickets to Tokyo for a week, to include VIP tickets to the Tokyo Anime Fair.

In Media cons, there is a Twilight Creation event in Vancouver, CA, and for Comic-Cons, the Motor City Comic Con is a bit deceptive. That is because it has a lot of media talent as guests, around 40 of them listed including some noticeably famous names.

And yes, there are many more cons remaining unmentioned for this weekend, but this should give you a tasty place to get started…