End of Year Short Fiction Dash

Last week I wrote about my annual reading goal, which got me thinking about all the science fiction and fantasy magazines and podcasts I subscribe to. I support two at Patreon: Uncanny and Strange Horizons. I follow several more via my Podcast Addict app on my phone: Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Clarkesworld, Escape Pod, Lightspeed and Podcastle. My Patreon magazines also have audio podcasts of select stories.

Most of the year, I’m heads down in full length books and novels. Only when I reach December, when my book clubs take a break for the holidays, do I come up for air enough to review any novellas or novelettes published in any of the magazines listed above. So I spent some time earlier this week, scrolling back through my Patreon posts to find all the ebooks I forgot to download for Uncanny and Strange Horizons. Then I scrolled through all the podcast episodes for authors I liked or had heard of for any works at least 40 minutes long (the length of half of my daily commute). I added several to my playlist and downloaded the ebooks to my tablet. My commute and lunch time reading was taken care of for the entire week.

Last Sunday, I read “A Time to Reap” by Elizabeth Bear (published in Issue 29 over the summer) and gave it four stars. At lunch on Monday, I read “The Blur in the Corner of Your Eye” by Sarah Pinsker (published in Issue 31 very recently) and didn’t like it quite as much as Bear’s story, so gave it a 3.5-4 star rating.

Continue reading “End of Year Short Fiction Dash”

What are the Odds? Astronomical Apparently

B&N's Nook Color
B&N's Nook Color

As an anniversary gift, my husband bought me a Nook Color last week.  I’ve used the free downloadable Nook for PC software for years (well, at least as long as Barnes & Noble has offered it) and even used it on my BlackBerry last year before budget belt tightening meant my employer retracted said BlackBerry.   So, I’ve accumulated about three dozen ebooks from various sources, including Barnes & Noble, but relied heavily upon Project Gutenberg for access to public domain works from the 19th century, which allowed me to read such English Literature classics as The Age of Innocence and Jane Ayre as well as purchase contemporary science fiction and fantasy works that I consider some of my all-time favorites like The Time of the Dark and The Magic of Recluce.

The first week or so of ownership didn’t involve much reading, in the traditional sense.  I test read a couple of books (including reading the Nook Color User’s Guide twice) to adjust the font size to suit my aging eyes.  I explored various wifi hot-spots I might frequent near my employer’s building (including the free one offered by the KC Public Library via their Plaza branch) and at home (my own guest wifi network which I setup a couple of months ago but had not tested yet).

The first app I downloaded and tested I heard about at GoodReadsAnnounced on their blog back in late April, the developers at my favorite book-lovers website created an app specifically for the Nook Color.  Currently, the app is limited in functionality very similar to their mobile site but I hope for some improvements in future versions, most notably the ability to vote (or like) reviews from my updates feed and support for discussions and groups.   I may have found a bug in the status update feature, at least as respects audio books or ebooks (which use percentage read instead of page read).  Since the Nook Color also includes a web browser, I can surf to GoodReads’ mobile site or even regular website if I encounter a problem with the app.

The Pulse news feed application came next.  I am not as wowed by what it serves up for news articles and find myself preferring my laptop and FireFox web browser for current events perusing.

Since I had given up on listening to audiobooks on my dumbphone, I took the 4GB microSD card I purchased several months ago (and could not use in said dumbphone due to firmware restrictions to 2GB) and inserted it into the Nook Color.  I then connected the device to my laptop via the miniUSB cord and copied the entire audio book for Elvenbane (all 15 CDs worth in MP3 audio format).  Using my old BlackBerry stereo headphones (the best sounding most comfortable ear buds I’ve every worn), I have enjoyed listening to the book while relaxing on the back seat of the van I ride to commute daily.

Astronomy Magazine (June 2011)
Astronomy Magazine (June 2011)

But the most exciting opportunity occurred today at lunch, while I surfed my feeds at Twitter and Facebook using Planet Sub‘s free wifi service.  Astronomy Magazine announce today, at 11:25 a.m. the ability to subscribe to a digital version for the Nook!  I subscribed right then and there and downloaded the June 2011 issue before returning to my office building.  Now, if I can just get B&N to also offer Sky & Telescope for the Nook Color, I’ll be in astronomical heaven!  I will console myself by reading the digital edition of Astronomy magazine on the ride home this afternoon.

The first ten days of ownership of the Nook Color promise many more enjoyable hours of reading, listening and surfing.  I have had very few problems with the device.  I highly recommend it for the geeky gadget-loving reader.