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MIND MELD: Great Gift Ideas For Geeks and Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

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As the holidays approach and our thoughts turn towards our loved ones, we are faced with the sometimes-daunting task of gift giving. What’s a good gift for that special someone? Well, if that someone is a speculative fiction fan and/or a geek, here are some suggestions from this week’s Mind Meld panelists. We asked them:

Q: What gifts would you recommend for the speculative fiction fan or all-around geek?

Here’s what they said…

Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Kristine Kathryn Rusch‘s nonfiction guide to freelancing, The Freelancer’s Survival Guide, has just appeared from WMG Publishing. She has won a few Hugos, published many novels, and freelanced for more than 30 years. And, um, oh…she’s been an all-around geek for much longer than that.

What to get that hard-to-buy-for sf fan on your list? Well, of course, if they don’t have an e-reader, they should get one. I haven’t tried all the various kinds, so I can’t tell you which is the best. I think you should pick specifically for your friend. Will they use it just to read books? Then a wireless Kindle or Nook would be great. But if they’re going to watch movies or get newspapers/comics/enhanced content, then a color Nook or an iPad would probably be best.

Don’t want to spend that much? Then I’d go for a DVD boxed set. If they’re not watching The Big Bang Theory, they should be. So start ’em with Season One. Or Season One of Stargate: Universe if you want them to have an…um…grim holiday.

And of course, there’s always books. Get both of Connie Willis’s books in hardcover, Blackout and All Clear. They’ll thank you. Or if you want nonfiction and your geek is a little older, say middle-aged, then get them The Elfish Gene by Mark Barrowcliffe. This is a British book about growing up geeky in the 1970s. Oh, heck. Really, it’s about D&D and growing up. Lots of fun.

Finally, if you can only spend $1 (we used to do dollar presents back at our holiday party), download “Hot Girl in the Comic Shop” by Tripod for them. They’ll get a kick out of it.

Mike Resnick
Mike Resnick is the author of 62 novels, 250 short stories, a pair of screenplays, and the editor of more than 40 anthologies. According to Locus, he is the leading award winner, living or dead, of short fiction. His work has been translated into 26 languages.


  • Dimension of Miracles by Robert Sheckley
  • City by Clifford D. Simak
  • The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury
  • Northwest of Earth by C. L. Moore

Movies on DVD:

  • Field of Dreams
  • Portrait of Jennie
  • Forbidden Planet

Movies on VHS:

  • The Wonderful Ice Cream Suit

Plays on DVD:

  • Into the Woods
  • Steambath
Angela Slatter
Angela Slatter writes speculative fiction. Her short stories have appeared in Dreaming Again, Strange Tales II, 2012, Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet and Shimmer. Her work has had Honourable Mentions in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror anthologies and has been shortlisted for an Aurealis Award three times. She blogs at

Obviously, books are the first port of call for me: I like to give the fancy editions of books to folk I love and who also have a passion for books (no point giving a book to a Philistine who doesn’t love books – not that I know any of them). So the lovely hard covers from the likes of Tartarus Press or Subterranean Press; whatever I know will appeal to someone’s tastes. But if a book isn’t quite right (it happens, not often, but sometimes!), then I will go to one of my favourite sites in the Universe: ThinkGeek.

When it comes to geeky gifts, not only do they have tasty t-shirts, but there’s stuff for the house as well! There’s the Doctor Who Talking Tardis Cookie jar (which I like to think is larger on the inside than the outside and so fits in more cookies), the Doctor Who coffee cups that change appearance when you put hot liquid in them, the SS Enterprise pizza cutter, and the completely irresistible and highly necessary, Periodic Table shower curtain.

If you can’t find something there, then maybe go for the DVD collectables – director’s cuts of Blade Runner or Aliens…or something like the Angela Carter-Neil Jordan version of The Company of Wolves…or the first three (as in the first three made) Star Wars films (because let’s face it, giving anyone the last three made is reason for a friend audit).

And for a board game…well, we got my boss at work the Zombies! Board game from BoardGameGeek … you can get glow-in-the-dark zombie figures to go with it. Who wouldn’t want that?

Martha Wells
Martha Wells is the author of nine fantasy novels, including The Wizard Hunters, The Ships of Air, and The Gate of Gods, and the Nebula-nominated The Death of the Necromancer. Her publications also include two Stargate: Atlantis novels and several short stories. Her new fantasy, The Cloud Roads, will be coming out from Night Shade Books in 2011.

When I was first coming into the fullness of my geekdom in high school and college, there were no online retailers and ebay didn’t exist. I was deeply into Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark at that point, and while bookstores would occasionally carry photo books or other tie-in items, I really didn’t find any of the good stuff until I started going to SF/F conventions.

Even with all the options we have today, I still think cons are the best places to find great gifts. Sometimes it’s hard to find out what new books, DVDs, collectibles, and so on that your friends want but haven’t already bought for themselves. At a con, it’s easier to find unique items they won’t have had a chance to get. (Unless they’re at the con with you.)

At a con you can get a book signed and personalized for them by their favorite author, get hard-to-find DVDs or collectibles from other countries, neat prints, jewelry, or sculpture items from the art show. One of my favorite presents ever came from a media convention that I couldn’t attend.

A friend knew I couldn’t afford to go, so she got one of the guests, my favorite actor Joe Flannigan from Stargate: Atlantis, to pose for a photo holding a sign that said “Hi Martha.” That was a fabulous and thoughtful present. (She also got one for Rachel Caine, with SG1‘s Michael Shanks holding a sign for her.)

Anyway, if you can’t make it to a con, here’s a few things I think would make awesome presents (at least they would make awesome presents for me):

David B. Coe
David B. Coe is the award-winning author of eleven fantasy novels and the occasional short story. His first trilogy, The LonTobyn Chronicle, received the Crawford Fantasy Award as the best work by a new author in fantasy. His latest fantasy novel, The Dark-Eyes’ War, is the final volume of his Blood of the Southlands trilogy, which began with The Sorcerers’ Plague and The Horsemen’s Gambit. The series is a follow-up to his critically acclaimed Winds of the Forelands quintet. He has recently written the novelization of director Ridley Scott’s movie, Robin Hood, starring Russell Crowe. David’s novels have been translated into a dozen languages. David is currently working on a new historical fantasy series set in pre-Revolutionary Boston. He is writing this series under the name D.B. Jackson. The first volume, called Thieftaker, will be released early in 2012. David is also part of the Magical Words group blog, a site devoted to discussions of the craft and business of writing fantasy. His web site can be found at

I have to admit to being fairly ignorant in the ways of gadgets and such. Don’t get me wrong: I covet them as much as the next guy. I just don’t know very much about them. So, I’m going to take a slightly different approach to this question. I’m a writing geek, and writing geeks tend to be thrilled with low-tech gifts. Really. For my last birthday, my wife bought me a gorgeous leather-bound journal. I love it.

So these are my ideas:

  1. Well, okay, this might not be the most original idea, but a gorgeous leather-bound journal makes a lovely gift for the writer geek on your list. Or so I’m told….
  2. Another thing I have that I just love is one of those bean bag lap desks that you can write on or use as a “table” for a laptop computer. They’re basically a slab of wood or composite board, with a fabric bottom filled with Styrofoam beads so that it conforms to your shape. Google them and you’ll get a ton of hits. Great gift.
  3. Books make great gifts. Fantasy books especially. And I happen to have published quite a few. But this is more than just a self-promotion gig, so let me recommend a couple of other authors whose work you might not know all that well, at least not yet: C.E. Murphy, Faith Hunter, A.J. Hartley, Misty Massey, Diana Pharaoh Francis, Lynn Flewelling. Great writers all. The fact that they’re all friends and among my favorite people in the world, is just a bonus. And since this is a low-tech list, go on out and buy the actual books. E-readers are fine — I have nothing against them — but there’s just something about reading a real book.
  4. Writers also like research books. Here are a few titles for the fantasist on your list: English Through The Ages by William Brohaugh will tell your fantasy author friend when different words first entered the language — a great tool for avoiding anachronistic language in historical settings. Ancient Inventions by Peter James and Nick Thorpe contains short essays on the histories of many common household items and technological breakthroughs. The Howdunit Series is a group of titles geared toward mystery writers, but they’re great for fantasy or sf writers, too. With such titles as Cause of Death and Deadly Doses (a book about poisons) these books aren’t for the faint of heart. But they are fun.
  5. More interested in treats than books? That’s fine. I know writers who swear by chocolate-covered espresso beans. Seriously. A little chocolate, a dose of caffeine… What could be better? I’m partial to gummies myself. But the point is that those of us who spend our days or nights in front of a computer screen typing away at our stories and books tend to love sweets. I’m just sayin’.
  6. We also like tchotchkes. That’s Yiddish for knickknacks. And my desk is covered with them. I wrote a story about a dragon earlier this year, and so a couple of friends sent me little dragons. My first series had crystals as part of the magic system. I have crystals and geodes on my bookshelves. I’m a bird guy, and I have lots of bird carvings and the like. You get what I mean. Maybe your writer friend has something that he or she writes about. A gift along those lines can be quite meaningful to the recipient; take it from one who knows.

So there you are. A low-tech list for the writer geek. What was that? What do I want for the holidays? Well, I have all of that stuff. I kind of have my eye on an iPod Touch…

Jaym Gates
Jaym Gates is an anthologist (Rigor Amortis and 20Spec), editor (Crossed Genres) and publicist (Raw Dog Screaming Press). Her ideal gifts would be a massage, an army of orcs and an all expenses-paid vacation in Powell’s bookstore. Not necessarily at the same time, however.

Is there anyone harder to shop for than a geek? We know what we like, how we like it, and the precise specs of that gaming system we’re lusting after. Then again, a happy fun ball or bubble wrap can keep most of us amused for hours. Gift cards are usually a safe bet, especially to Amazon, Powell’s or Ebay.

But how about a convention-survival kit? For newbies and seasoned veterans alike, this is a pretty easy gift. Pens and bookplates for signatures, protein bars, individual tea/coffee bags and a travel mug, a notebook for panels, Airborn (or something similar) to ward off con-crud, caffeinated soap (no, really), lotion and chapstick. Wrap it all up in a small backpack or book bag. Self-wrapping, to boot! How can one beat that?

A gift-basket from The Unemployed Philosophers Guild has nearly endless options. Products can be searched by themes like ‘Sin’, ‘Freud’ and ‘Sacred Cows’. Favorite items: The mug with a heat-reactive, disappearing Tardis and the Passport Notebooks. 4 for $12, including passports to Hell, Plato’s Republic, the Unconscious and Pangaea. (Hint, hint!)

The Science Tarot. The art of the Tarot is pretty cool, and this one is just witty and clever. Schrodinger’s Cat Wheel of Fortune, Newton’s Apples and Fusion. Even better: Get the deck ahead of time, and have sets of the cards framed.

It’s no longer true that geeks can’t/don’t cook. The Foodie movement is pretty strong in geek culture, as a matter of fact. From Molecular Gastronomy (a geeky pursuit if EVER there was one) to mixing a great room-party drink, food isn’t something to be afraid of any more! Entering the arena now: Cooking For Geeks. A great mix of science-experiment, history and recipes, this is for the geek who wants to know how the food works, but still be able to eat it at the end of experimentation.

John O’Neill
John O’Neill is the publisher and editor of Black Gate, a magazine dedicated to adventure fantasy. He manages the Black Gate Brain Trust, a strange gathering of writers who blog daily at

Well, yeah. The gift that really makes a statement for the serious science fiction fan, of course, is the Brain In A Jar. There are a few suppliers on the market, but the one I recommend is the Atomic Brain Think Tank, from Frankenstein Labs for $149. Their brains are fresh, and they don’t skimp on the air supply — crucial to keeping your captive brain active. Just don’t (under any circumstances) connect your floating brain to the Internet, or any other communication medium that would allow it to order parts for a nuclear reactor or giant robot. I mean, c’mon. Just use some common sense people, and you’ll get maximum enjoyment from your captive new friend.

I also recommend Frankenstein Labs’ Einstein’s Brain Lamp, for those dark corners where you need to do some serious thinking. $49 plus maybe some batteries.

If money is no object, you might try asking for an authentic steampunk raygun from Dr. Grordbort’s Contrapulatronic Dingus Directory. My favorite is the Wave Disrupter gun, which comes in its own metal case. At $690 they’re a little pricey, yeah. But hold one of these sweet babies in your hand, and you’ll understand. I don’t exactly know what wave disruption is, really, but I know I like it. A lot.

Assuming that money is an, um, object, maybe you want to settle for a book. A big, beautiful book you can wrap up like a brick, and put under the tree to intimidate all the other, lesser gifts. I recommend Songs of the Dying Earth, the Jack Vance tribute anthology edited by George R.R. Martin and Gardner Dozois. The original Subterranean edition is getting harder to find, but it will be re-released in a more affordable format by Tor on Dec 7. 28 bucks before the Amazon discount.

Speaking of beautiful books, probably the most visually stunning — and endlessly informative — book to cross my desk this year was Sci-Fi Art: A Graphic History, by Steve Holland. It’s a gorgeous, full-color look at science fiction art in the pulps, paperbacks, comic books, movies, computer games, and even toys. I’ve seen countless genre art books, but this one was a real delight. $24.95 from Collins Design.

If you’re looking for a quick read, allow me to point you towards Godlike Machines, edited by Jonathan Strahan — a collection of original novellas featuring colossal, sentient machines from Alastair Reynolds, Stephen Baxter, Cory Doctorow, Sean Williams, Robert Reed, and Greg Egan. I got my copy from the publisher, the Science Fiction Book Club, but it’s also available through a few secondary markets, including Amazon and eBay. $14 or thereabouts.

Finally, for the science fiction reader and collector who’s got everything (including a floating brain and a Wave Disrupter? Wow, that’s some disposable income), I present to you the resurrected Startling Stories, handsome quarterly magazines published in print and PDF by Wild Cat Books. These great-looking magazines recapture the spirit of one of the most beloved of the old SF pulps, and look fantastic on your shelf. Check them out.

Brent Bowen
Brent Bowen is a writer and interview correspondent for Adventures in Scifi Publishing. Turned onto reading at an early age–the product of bible stories given as punishment for stealing candy from a drug store–Brent devours books of all genres. And though Samson and Delilah is still a favorite, he would prefer to blend mysticism with archeologist canines and plasma armor. Since then, Brent’s first paid, published story was a tweet (per word it’s a pretty good gig), and he’s studied with several genre luminaries at the 2009 Viable Paradise XIII writer’s workshop. Learn more about Brent and his work at Split Legend or Twitter.

For the gadget fiend con lover, writer, podcaster

The Livescribe smartpen makes the perfect convention companion. Head to panels without the fear of deciphering your chicken scratch. It records audio while you write. Weeks after the con, just touch the text and … alakazam … the audio tied to the book recommendation about 16th century German fairy tales comes out loud and clear.  I’ve used this baby at writing workshops and, gasp, as a backup microphone during an Adventures in Scifi Publishing interview when my primary mic failed.

Speaking of perfect con companions, the Sprint Overdrive is a high-speed wifi hotspot (we’re talking cable speeds folks) fit for any cargo pants pocket. Sure, the hotel is offering free wifi, but when several hundred con goers hit it at once. Forget it. Don’t leave your loved ones without the interwebs.

Writer with an iPhone who has to sneak in some writing time (who doesn’t)? If so, this next stealth combo is better than half-n-half in your morning coffee. Pick an iPhone writing app (my current choice is Manuscript because it exports to Dropbox) and couple it with the iZel smartphone stand and a bluetooth keyboard. I say, who needs an iPad or a laptop to get your writing in?

For the developing spec-fiction aficionado

Now, no gift list would be complete without the appropriate brain washing of our youth. Considering I have children ages eight and nearly five, I get schooled on the subject ad nauseum:

  • Of course, we all know that Star Wars is the gateway drug to more devoted fandom. Favorites in my house this year are Star Wars LEGOS, particularly the Hoth Wampa Cave set. Being that they’re LEGOS, I assume the Wampa’s arm comes off pretty cleanly. And for the younger set, Build-A-Bear still has stock of a midnight blue Star Wars-licensed bear and multiple outfits to choose from … no matter your side of The Force.
  • Consider me a neophyte, but sometimes you just miss something along the way. For me, it was the Bone graphic novels. Just a few months ago, I picked up the first volume for my kids when I was at Armadillocon in Austin. Now on volume three, the whole family piles into bed to hear Fone Bone’s quest.
  • Finally, no matter how simple, kids love to destroy things. If you’re tired of them making trouble in the house, what better to have them destroy than … Zombies. Toy-maker Front Porch Classics has come out with a table-top bowling game called Bowling Zombies. Mow down those brain slurpers to save the damsel in distress.

For the seasoned spec-fic reader

In my humble opinion, the holiday season is perfect for anthologies (who doesn’t think a short story would make a nice, quick escape from a family gathering). Here are a few of note:

  • Fan of the Dresden Files? No Harry Dresden collection is complete without the recently released Side Jobs. Jim Butcher brings Harry’s short works — and an added bonus novella — together for the first time. I’ve already picked up a copy for my dad (don’t worry, he doesn’t get online. Hi mom!).
  • I need more superhero prose. Neeeed it! Oh …. Thanks, Lou Anders. Released this summer, Masked is a collection of metahuman short stories offering more than your usual golden-age man of steel tales.
  • Not that I would disrespect golden-age. In fact, small press Hadley Rille Books just put out Sentinels: In Honor of Arthur C. Clarke. Edited by Gregory Benford and George Zebrowski, this collection of stories and essays by some of Arthur C. Clarke’s colleagues and friends draws inspiration from Clarke’s work and exploration into human possibilities. In fact, if you buy direct from the publisher between now and Dec. 31, you could perhaps double-down on your gift — or fine then, be selfish and keep it for yourself. In honor of their fifth birthday, Hadley Rille is giving away a Kindle 3G.

Of course, the markets perhaps scrapping more than small press is short fiction. Short markets continue to scrape by, so you could do yourself and your loved one a favor by giving the gift of year-long fiction. Donate money in the name of a loved one to a short-fiction market. Whether it’s Apex, Clarkesworld, Strange Horizons or whatever your poison, donate to keep these markets thriving for 2011 and years to come.

Kari Sperring
Kari Sperring is the author of Living With Ghosts (DAW 2009), which was short-listed for the 2010 William L Crawford Award, and won the 2010 Sydney J Bounds Award. She’s British, love musketeers and Chinese cinema, and lives in Cambridge, England.

Gifts are always daunting, especially for those of us who have full-time geeks in the family. I’m not much of a gadget lover myself, but these wind-up walkie-talkies were a big hit last year with my nephews, and this self-assembly trebuchet occupied a sitting room full of sf fans. Books on my present-buying list this year include Lauren Beukes’ Zoo City (Angry Robot Books, 2010), a genuinely different urban noir cyberpunk novel which is garnering great reviews; Cold Magic (Orbit, 2010), the new book from Kate Elliott, one of my must-buy writers; and — pandering to my own geekery — Chinese Film Stars edited by Mary Farquhar and Zhang Yingjin (Routledge 2010).

And anyone I know who has an e-book reader is likely to be getting Alexandre Dumas’ The Works: 19 Novels and Short Stories from Halcyon, which brings together all Dumas’ major novels and is great value, too. Channel 4’s boxed set of seasons 1 and 2 of Misfits comes out on 1st January, a little late for the holiday season but will be worth waiting for. Jackie Chan’s Little Big Soldier (co-starring Wang Leehom) had a limited cinema release in Europe and the USA, but is a wonderful showcase for Chan’s martial and comedic skills and is now available in a 2 dvd set with plentiful extras from Cine Asia.

Jeff VanderMeer
World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer grew up in the Fiji Islands and has had fiction published in over 20 countries. His books, including the bestselling City of Saints & Madmen, have made the year’s best lists of Publishers Weekly, LA Weekly, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and many more. With his wife Ann he wrote the illustrated The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals, published this year by Tachyon, which he maintains is “the perfect little gift book for the holidays.” Visit his blog at

When I think about gift books to recommend, I think of certain qualities: that the books in question be beautiful in some way, that they be rich in imagination, and that they be something that the recipient may not have heard about but will love anyway-because who doesn’t want an unexpected treasure?

Three books in particular struck me as fulfilling these criteria this year:

Amal El-Mohtar’s The Honey Month – This beautifully illustrated volume of short fictions and poems takes as its inspiration the author’s tasting of 28 different kinds of honey, one per day. Each tasting leads to a different literary creation, but she begins each entry by describing the honey in terms that will be familiar to wine connoisseurs. To top it all off, Oliver Hunter’s finely rendered color illustrations make encountering such rich, heady prose even more delightful. A lovely introduction by Danielle Sucher, whose honey provided the inspiration, is also unexpectedly moving. The book’s a slim 73 pages for a reason: like the honey described, any more and it would be too rich for most readers. As it stands, however, The Honey Month is the perfect length, and the perfect gift.

Hiromi Goto’s Half World – Goto’s phantasmagorical and often harrowing novel has already received the 2010 Sunburst Award and made the long list of the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award. Neil Gaiman contributed an enthusiastic blurb. Featuring a strong daughter-mother relationship and a heroine both realistic and brave, the novel is a potent beautifully written and deeply felt mix of fantasy and stark reality that reminds me favorably of the work of filmmaker Miyazaki. It also avoids cliché by refusing to indulge in stock situations. Jillian Tamaki’s bold yet whimsical illustrations add further layers to the text and transform the book from a compelling read into a good gift book.

Lynda Barry’s Picture This: The Near-Sighted Monkey Book – I put Barry’s previous book What It Is on my list of the best of the decade for the Omni book blog, writing that it was an extraordinary “exploration of the imagination, an invitation to create, and a moving autobiographical account… one of those rare books that offers solace for the soul and brilliant commentary on the artistic impulse. The images by themselves would be amazing, the text by itself wise and luminous yet pragmatic. The combination of text and art provides new insight that feels three-dimensional and oddly soothing.” That description would also fit the follow-up, Picture This, a slightly less focused effort but no less wonderful. Barry’s a national treasure and this is a book you can give to anyone and they’ll thank you for it.

Lezli Robyn
Lezli Robyn is a sf and fantasy writer who has recently sold her first short story collection to Australian publisher Ticonderoga Press, and in 2010 she was runner up for the Campbell Award for best new writer, and an Aurealis Award for best sf story. She writes frequently with noted writer, Mike Resnick.

For that special someone, or dear loved ones, a favourite choice of mine is to give a signed book, usually old and second hand. I can spend all year looking for a (usually uncommon) signed book to make the gift a little more special to the person receiving it. And now, as a writer myself, I am also able to ask other authors I know for a personalised copy of a specific book if I think my special someone would geek out upon receiving it. I love giving personalised gifts.

Another yet example of what I would gift a speculative fiction fan/geek is the Steampunk jewelry I bought at Worldcon this year. I know these items aren’t easily bought in shops, and thus would make great presents for some of my female sf/f friends when Christmas came around.

I’m also very sentimental. I have gotten into the habit of writing elements of loved ones into the stories I write and publish, as I’ve discovered speculative fiction fans/geeks LOVE being mentioned in print. (And not just sf/f fans. I wrote my Grandma into my first published story, and she was so excited.) Due to the generally considerable time in between selling the story and it being published, I often have the chance to surprise a loved one by letting them know on their birthday or at Christmas.

And, last but not least, I love taking speculative fiction geeks to Astor theatre which has been converted into a movie cinema. They play old or new sf/fantasy movies, and watching them from the Dress Circle of the old theatre makes the experience so much more special. They also air a lot of other fascinating classic, international, or popular movies, depending on the night. A very unique experience.

Brenda Cooper
Brenda Cooper is a technology professional, a science fiction and fantasy writer, and a futurist. Her recent books include the Endeavor award winning Silver Ship and The Sea and a sequel, Reading the Wind. See for more info, and for periodic reading recommendations.

Great question! I’m going to start with books. For fantasy, I highly recommend N.K. Jemisin’s book The Hundred Thousand Kingdoms. It’s very fabulous, in a sort of brand new and powerful work way. This is for 16 and over geeks only, though. An all-ages fantasy I loved this year was Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings. However, if you wrap it as a gift, no one will guess it’s a book. There’s too many words to fit the book form. I bought it as an old-fashioned book, and found it physically hard to read. So it really needs to come on either an iPad or the new Kindle. The iPad almost-but-not-quite replaces a computer, and the Kindle doesn’t, nor does it cost as much. But anyone without an e-reader today really needs one. And if you’re thinking of buying someone the Sanderson, you might save one whole tree.

I did think a few kitchen gadgets might go well. After all I’m both a fan of Julia Child’s and a geek…and I found the links to these on C|Net blog in a post by Brian Krepshaw. Don’t be afraid. C|Net is where all good girl geeks look for kitchen toys. Right? So how about a way to make some robot ice cubes? And if that’s not enough, you might add some robot bakers. They won’t bake the cupcakes for you, but they will give you silly points. And for those who want to spend a little more money on something they are less likely to need, and less likely to have a place to put – I’ve been lusting after the space-ship like Alessi juicer since I saw it in a store down the street from my day job.

Mike Brotherton
Mike Brotherton is the author of the hard science fiction novels Spider Star (2008) and Star Dragon (2003), the latter being a finalist for the Campbell award. He’s also a professor of astronomy at the University of Wyoming, Clarion West graduate, and founder of the Launch Pad Astronomy Workshop for Writers ( He blogs at

My first stop shopping for geek gifts is

Here are some of my favorites from there:

You can’t buy everything at thinkgeek that makes a great geek gift. Here are some more things I think are cool.

I personally own about half of these, and would be thrilled to receive the other half as a holiday gift.

A. Lee Martinez
A. Lee Martinez is a writer you probably haven’t heard of but really should have. He is the author of Gil’s All Fright Diner, In the Company of Ogres, A Nameless Witch, The Automatic Detective, Too Many Curses, Monster and Divine Misfortune. He credits comic books and Godzilla movies as his biggest influences, and thinks that every story is better with a dash of ninja.

What gift would be perfect for a sci fi / fantasy fan? That’s a loaded question, isn’t it? Geeks, nerds, whatever you want to call them, are a varied lot. Despite what popular culture might have you believe, geeks are not a monolithic single entity. We have our share of conflicts. Star Wars vs. Lord of the Rings. X-Box VS Wii. Comic books VS. Anime. So, fair warning, this list is biased toward my own particular brand of geekiness. Your geeks may vary.

First up, Sid Meyer’s Civilization: The Board Game by Fantasy Flight Games is a pretty safe bet for the tabletop game player in me. Or it would be if I didn’t already own a copy of it. It might seem strange to recommend a board game based on a computer game that was already sort of a board game on the computer. But I like board games because it’s fun to meet people face to face. Maybe that’s old-fashioned in this new fangled age of internets and rocketpacks, but I don’t care. Civilization is a great game that should have terrific appeal to fans of the original computer game and possibly even for board game fans with no experience with the original.

Another fantastic game is Death Angel (again by Fantasy Flight Games). Fun, fast, and brutal. It also has the advantage of being a cooperative, easily portable card game that’s not too hard on the wallet. Any game where you blast aliens is cool with me.

The last game recommendation is Monsterpocalypse by Privateer Press. If you like giant monsters and / or games then you should be playing this great game. It’s a collectible miniature game, which can be off putting to some, but a two-player starter set was recently released and it’s the perfect launchpad to the game or it’s playable just fine all by itself. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. Monsterpocalypse is awesome.

Let’s not neglect movies here. Scott Pilgrim VS. the World is amazing, especially for the video game player in your life. It’s also a wonderful action movie, in its own quirky way. And any love story where people learn about life and themselves while also punching people so hard that they explode into coins doesn’t need my recommendation, but I’ll recommend it anyway.

For the animation fan, How to Train Your Dragon blew me away. A beautifully animated film with a subtle story and some of the finest acting (you read that right) I have seen in a film recently. And a giant dragon fight at the end that will forever stand out as a classic. Hey, like any sensible fan, I love kaiju, but the film is great from top to bottom.

Finally, if you’ll excuse the crass self-promotion, you really can’t go wrong with anything I’ve written. Maybe it’s not the best gift for someone else in your life, but it’d certainly be a fine gift for me. And I thank you in advance.

Peggy Kolm
Peggy Kolm is a science fiction fan who can be found, blogging, at the Biology in Science Fiction website.

I think books are always a welcome gift. The limited edition books from Subterranean Press would make a unique gift for a SF book lover. Some of their current offerings that appeal to me and that aren’t sold out at the moment: Up The Bright River, a collection of Philip Jose Farmer’s short fiction; Kraken by China Miéville; a signed edition of Connie Willis’s Fire Watch, and Neil Gaiman’s Smoke and Mirrors.

There were also a number of popular science books published in 2010 likely to interest a SF geek. A few that have caught my eye include Mary Roach’s Packing for Mars (her earlier books Bonk and Stiff are great), Stephen Hawking’s The Grand Design, Kenny Kemp’s Destination Space, and Richard Dawkin’s The Greatest Show on Earth.

A few non-SF suggestions for science geeks:

About John DeNardo (13012 Articles)
John DeNardo is the Managing Editor at SF Signal and a columnist at Kirkus Reviews. He also likes bagels. So there.

6 Comments on MIND MELD: Great Gift Ideas For Geeks and Science Fiction and Fantasy Fans

  1. I’m very impressed with the beautiful

    The Art of Hammer: The Official Poster Collection From the Archive of Hammer Films

     from Titan Books.




    Rick Remender and Tony Moore’s

    The Punisher Vol. 3: Franken-Castle 

     from Marvel Entertainment.

  2. OK, you people who recommended stuff from Retropolis, if I get reprimanded by my boss today, I blame you.  I love their stuff. . . .

  3. So many cool gadgets! But the best are the books recommendations – my Kindle is going to find itself very full after Christmas…

  4. Some cool stuff! I would love to have a cookie jar that was bigger inside than out. Kind of amazing that there so many books and DVDs but I don’t think I saw any duplciates.

  5. Too many toys to mention but I love those small radio controlled heliocopters, some as cheap as $29. As for books most geeks would like Quantum Thief by Hannu Rajaniemi, and academic geeks should love The Stories of Ibis by Hiroshi Yamamoto. Academic because it can be assigned in any high school or college literature course since it involves great storytelling with AI, Androids going beyond their program, virtual reality worlds, questions regarding morality, gender, violence, human-android misunderstanding, and more. I love the paragraph dealing with Hillel the Elder. “In one of the books I read, I found an account of a rabi named Hilell the Elder, who lived in Palestine around the year 30 BC. One day a foreign man came and asked him to explain the whole of the Torah while he stood on one foot. Hilell answered, ‘What is hateful to you, do not do to your fellow: this is the whole Torah; the rest is the explanation;go and learn.’

    Each story is related to the next story and it is up to you and the protagonist to understand how the stories are connected. I think this work would generate lively class discussion. But if you are not an academic geek enjoy this marvelous new work all on your own. You can start by asking the significance of the android storyteller’s name, IBIS, and does the English translation of her name lose something in the translation from the Japanese?

  6. If you are looking for a good book for the Holidays for a Sci-Fi Fan look no further. If they love Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, and Avery Brooks you will want to pick this up since all three Star Trek Captains are honored as characters in these books.  The series of books are called Knight Seeker, and he is a new superhero in the Sci-Fi community.
    It’s just in time for the holidays, and the author can have the books signed and shipped out for the person or persons on your Holiday List.  Just think how much a Star Trek Fan would love to have such books in their possession.  The earlier you order the better to insure that the books arrive on time.

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