the good wife

Lavie Tidhar – Author

Lavie Tidhar is the award winning author of the novel Osama.  He’s recently published Martian Sands and The Violent Century will be released in October.  In addition to novels he writes a blog, comics, and novellas, and these are his good things.

Good things to read.

Some recent genre books I read/blurbed.

Osiris by E.J. Swift.  Literary climate-change science fiction set on the world’s last (floating) city.

Conservation of Shadows by Yoon Ha Lee.  A collection of excellent science fiction short stories, many with a military theme – my favourite was perhaps “The Bones of Giants” – mecha-skeletons!

Witchcraft in the Harem by Aliya Whiteley.  Strange and wonderful stories including the unforgettable 1926 in Brazilian Football.

Good things to watch.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace.  No one has ever done a retro-bad sci-fi series as well as the fictional “Garth Marenghi: writer, director, visionary, also actor!”

The Wire.  Well, goes without saying. I’m on a rewatch at the moment…

The Good Wife.  So refreshing to see a series with real women characters taking the spotlight. Can’t wait for the next season to start.

Good things to use.

A decent chef’s knife – makes all the difference!

Weightlessbooks – a boutique e-book store specialising in SF/F.

Icy Tower 2.  How else to waste some productive time. Addictive.

Connect with him on Twitter, @LavieTidhar.

Kristine Kathryn Rusch – Author

Kristine Kathryn Rusch writes fiction under several names, including the bestselling Retrieval Artist series. She also edits Fiction River, an eclectic magazine, and runs a surprisingly popular (to her, anyway) website at

Good things to read.

Santiago by Mike Resnick.  It’s rare for a novel to remain in print these days, let alone stay in print for more than two decades. I read Mike Resnick’s sf classic, Santiago, when it came out and I still remember it to this day. Mike writes classic space opera here and, as a fan of all things space opera, I can’t get enough of that.

Hopscotch by Kevin J. Anderson: I’ve known Kevin most of my life (really) and he wrote this novel as an answer-story to one of my stories, “Stained Black.” Think about this: what if you could switch bodies with someone? Would you steal their life? Kev has an apocalyptic imagination and a thriller sensibility, and he brings both to bear here.

In Hero Years…I’m Dead by Michael A. Stackpole: A confession here. When I got asked to do the three things, I got asked because I’m in a Storybundle with Mike & Michael & Kevin, and I was asked to promote my own book, The Disappeared,  the first book in my Retrieval Artist series. The Disappeared is one of the titles you can get for any price you want to set. But I’m really lousy at Shameless Self Promotion. I can’t honestly tell you it’s the best book in the bunch because I’m the worst judge of my own work. Instead, I’m going to close this with Mike Stackpole’s marvelous super-hero noir novel, In Hero Years…I’m Dead. Mike calls it what you would get if Dashiell Hammett had written The Watchmen, and yeah, it is. So read, enjoy, and have some fun. I’m off to do the same.

Good things to watch.

Orphan Black. One of  the best shows on television in acting and in writing. You can find it on BBC America, but before the new season starts next year, order the first season. Titiana Maslany plays (at my count) six different clones, and they are all different and distinct. It’s an acting feat extraordinaire, which would make the series worth watching all by itself, except…the plot’s good, the story’s riveting, and the writing is spot-on.

Comfort and Joy. One of my favorite movies of all time and, sadly, only available on VHS. Yes, I said VHS. This is a Bill Forsyth movie which, if I describe it to you, will make me sound like a lunatic. So find a copy and enjoy it. Then write to someone (although I’m not sure who) and beg them to put this thing out on DVD and streaming. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll wonder how anyone thinks of this stuff.

The Good Wife.  Since I gave you two obscure things, let me point you to something accessible. The Good Wife has a stupid name for a TV program and the description of the series sounds completely off-putting. With the exception of the first few episodes of Season 4, it has the best writing on television (cable or network) and it’s got a great cast. It comments about the issues of the day, and presents a believable look at a large Chicago law firm, as well as politics and family relationships. Plus you can’t miss Michael J. Fox’s repeating guest shots as Louis J. Canning. (Not to mention Nathan Lane, and tons of other Broadway actors who come in and out for memorable guest turns.)

Good things to use.

A Tablet.  I use an iPad, but there are so many good ones that I hesitate to restrict you to just one. My husband, who is not a tech geek, forced me to buy one a few years ago. I am a tech geek, and thought I didn’t need one. Now, I love me my iPad. I use it all the time, for reading, for web browsing, for watching videos, and for watching TV I missed. I also use it for things I will not admit to like Angry Birds. No, I don’t play Angry Birds. Really, I don’t. Honest.

Kobo Mini. Kobo might discontinue the manufacture of the mini because it didn’t sell to expectations, so buy one while you can. It’s so tiny; it’s the size of a mass market paperback, but it has a great screen and it’s really light. You can stuff it in your pocket or in your purse. And Kobo, with its international flavor, has a completely different list of available books than Amazon.

iPod Classic. Yeah, I know, they’re so passé. But the thing I love about the iPod Classic is its focus. It doesn’t do much besides store your library and play music. You can store your music in the cloud or use your computer to play tunes, but the iPod goes into your pocket and travels with you. It doesn’t use bandwidth that you might use for, say, streaming a movie in the other room. When I want to listen to music, I use my iPod (and its various docks, etc). Because I have other Apple products, I can easily move part of my library to them, and finally iTunes got wise, allowing you to move the music you downloaded not from iTunes to your other devices. So the ancient Pod is useful once again.

Matt Gemmell – iOS and Mac developer

Matt Gemmell is an iOS and Mac software developer focused on user experience. He writes about software interfaces and usability on his blog and for newspapers and industry magazines. He speaks at conferences worldwide, and his clients include Apple and other Fortune 500 companies. He’s @mattgemmell on Twitter and mattgemmell on App.Net, these are his good things.

Good things to read.

The Unconsoled, by Kazuo Ishiguro. This is a unique novel, nominally about a pianist who arrives in a European city to perform a concert, which plays with the reader’s expectations as to narrative cohesion. It’s a book written in the manner of a dream, with all of the corresponding spatial, temporal and narrative malleability, and is well worth at least attempting to read.

Universal Principles of Design, by Lidwell et al. This is an accessible (and beautifully produced and printed) book covering many facets of design: visual, behavioural, cognitive and emotional. It’s easy to dip into, and its many very brief chapters are both concise and informative. It’s one of my favourite books on design.

Design Patterns, by Gamma et al. This books talks about design in the software architecture sense, presenting classic patterns for control flow, abstraction, delegation and more. Some of the names may be different from those you’re used to from your own development platform, but any programmer will gain a great deal of insight from this clear, rational treatment.

Good things to watch.

The Good Wife. My own wife introduced me to this show. It’s a legal/political drama, with a strong and nuanced female lead character and an impressive ensemble cast. Julianna Margulies manages to portray both capability and vulnerability without sacrificing either, and the storylines are extremely contemporary – often touching on the travails of large tech companies and the legal issues surrounding information ubiquity and privacy.

Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace. This is a magnificent British dark comedy series, which presents itself as if it’s a rediscovered lost classic from the 1980s. The titular character is a self-possessed, arrogant, insecure and casually sexist pulp horror fiction author, and Darkplace was supposedly the low-budget TV adaption of some of his work, also starring himself and his friends. There are only 6 episodes, but the attention to detail and satire-upon-pastiche nature of the show make it instantly comfortable.

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan. A timely choice, given this year’s release of the second reimagined Star Trek movies. Khan is not only easily in the top two Trek movies (and indeed I’d put it in the top spot, above First Contact), but it’s also perhaps the pinnacle of the tight, tense and claustrophobic sub-genre of space battles. It manages to deal with ageing, family, love, friendship, death and vengeance, with a truly epic Horner score and one of the most satisfying cat-and-mouse space battles I’ve ever seen. The crew are extremely comfortable in their roles without the premise feeling fatigued, and there are moments of surprising emotion. Khan remains one of my favourite movies of all time, sci-fi or otherwise.

Good things to use.

xScope, by The Iconfactory. xScope is a fantastic tool for designers, whether your work is destined for the web, apps, or something else. It incorporates several very clever tools, including on-screen frames for various devices and screen-sizes, automatic edge-finding measurement tools, colour pickers with colour-blindness simulation, global guides, and the ability to mirror your designs on iOS devices. It should be part of any designer’s or developer’s toolkit.

Staedtler Pigment Liner Fineliner pens. These are my favourite pens (often for use in my beloved Moleskine squared-paper large softcover notebooks). I use then for writing notes and for UI sketches, and I like to keep a range of nib sizes: 0.5mm down to 0.05mm. The ink flows smoothly and is pleasantly dark without requiring pressure, and there’s no scratchiness. You can also get them in a range of colours if you wish, but I find that the plain black pigment liners suit me perfectly.

Mu folding UK plug. In the UK, we have large three-pronged moulded power plugs which, whilst very safe, are bulky to transport (commonly creating a bump in your messenger bag, or even gradually fraying the fabric from inside). The Mu plug fixes that by offering a UK plug (mains to USB) that folds flat for transport. When folded out for use, it’s very robust and can be readily inserted into and removed from even the stiffest power socket, and it folds flat again in seconds. It’s not cheap, but it’s well worth buying for either British people travelling, or those visiting the UK.

Christopher Logan – Author of dr.a.g.

These are Christopher Logan’s good things.

Good things to read.

The coffee table book! My collection of top drag performers by fashion photographers, to raise money for the independent film.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo. I may be a bit behind the curve but I recently picked up this book and am hooked. There’s something in the prose that is simple and captivating.

A.S. Byatt’s Little Black Book of Stories. If you love the English language, you will revel in the elegantly restrained flow of words and the classic romanticism of the story-line.

Daphne (The Penguin Who Wanted to Fly). A novel for the child in your life or to bring out the kid in you. Written as a gift for a friend as a lesson in possibility, it’s a book I’m very proud to have written.

Good things to watch.

The Good Wife. Simply, elegant television.

Working Girl. Watching a simple story that still hits home so much that the ridiculous extras and hairdos in the background are sheer gravy.

Good things to use. I’ve become quite addicted to this inexpensive help and task sourcing site.

The Body Shop Body Butter (Vanilla). Completely Hooked after one use. I’m even stopping every few minute to smell my skin.

Good things to say.

If you disagree with the way someone is treated, or something they say…say so. Otherwise, you just lost your right to complain about it in the future and have foisted their attitude on the next person and the next after that.