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Sunday Links for April 15, 2012

The National Magazine Awards 2012 finalists have been announced.

The Indies Choice Book Awards and E.B. White Read-Aloud Awards have been announced.

If you need some cocktail party chatter, you could do worse than to bring up the topic of the Modern Language Association’s rankings of American writers. Emily Dickinson all the way down at 11th? Surely you jest. Only four women out of the 25 authors named? A disgrace! See? Plenty to talk about here.

Is it still possible to write a philosophical novel? Do big ideas still have currency?

Do you have a trip to New York on your agenda? You might want to consider traveling there in early June, as Book Expo America (BEA) will be offering 1000 tickets to the general public for the final day of the show. That’s almost worth the air fare from California, if you ask me!

In honor of Friday the 13th, just passed, Kat Kenyon offers 13 common writer superstitions. I never heard this one: “If your fingernails are different lengths, you will write dreck.” The others all sort of make sense – as superstitions, that is.

I often link to SF Signal’s mind melds, because they’re fun and usually contain some interesting ideas. This one, on the non-genre influences of genre writers, is especially valuable. It reminds all of us that we need to read everything, not just maintain a steady diet in our genre of choice. Excellent reading here.

I link to Damien Walter, writing in The Guardian, quite often as well. Walter loves to be provocative. He doesn’t fail this week, writing about whether science fiction and fantasy should provide more than entertainment. Walter writes a bit about what happened at the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, which I attended in Orlando, Florida, late last month. My write-up of the conference (which is quite different from the learned discussion by Walter) can be found here: Part One, Part Two, Part Three.

Now here’s an interesting list: great small press books recommended by literary insiders. There’s only one book on the list I’ve even heard of (I don’t own it), and there’s not a single one that doesn’t sound fascinating to me. I’ll bet your own TBR list will grow if you click this link.

I know Libertarians sometimes feel like the odd man out at the political party, so here’s a list for them: the year’s best science fiction and fantasy books for libertarians.

If you hurry, you can participate in Night Shade Books’ yearly half-off sale. The sale includes forthcoming titles, and it sure looks like this smaller press has some great stuff planned for the year. The May 2012 books alone are enough to get any serious fan salivating. If I could afford it, I’d order every single book being published this year.

Neil Gaiman interviews Stephen King. Wow!

One wouldn’t think that a movie about a dystopia would have people nattering on about fashion, but the corruption of the capital city in “The Hunger Games” includes complete outré clothing. The costuming has come in for some criticism, but I, at least, thought it well done. Nothing says “we can eat but you can’t” like blue hair hovering over a sparkly blue suit, am I right?

Atlantic Magazine gets even deeper into “The Hunger Games,” decoding its classical references and influences. Some seem to reach a bit, but overall this is a very fine article.

And if you’re not tired of articles about “The Hunger Games” yet (this film must have an excellent publicist), the New York Times film critics Manohla Dargis and A.O. Scott discuss whether Katniss Everdeen is a “radical female heroine from dystopia.”

If you don’t happen to be an admirer of the film – well, and even if you are -- Cracked has a funny column entitled “If Hunger Games was 10 Times Shorter and 100 Percent Honest”. The made-up dialogue is perfect.

John Scalzi, ever on the lookout for our safety and well-being, offers a list of five films to offer to aliens who will annihilate us if they don’t like what they see. If ever a group of science fiction films would prove that humans are worth saving, this is the one.