The time has come for my Annual Greed List – the large (and, yes, uncut) list of things I desire for Christmas in 2014. Why do I do this? If you’re really interested, here’s a brief history of the Greed List.
The briefer version, however, is that I think “What you want” is a reflection of “Who you are” at this moment – your music, your hobbies, your fandoms, who you are as a person. I find it fascinating as a history, watching how what I’ve desired has mutated (the shifts away from physical objects is so bizarre – I don’t want DVDs any more, as I get most of that through Netflix streaming, and CDs have disappeared into the Spotify void), and remembering what I thought I wanted so badly but turned out to be too much effort to turn into a hobby (*cough cough* fire poi), and the things I did want that became habit (*cut cut* straight razor), and the stuff that sort of straddled the void (*cut cut* woodworking).
And while I guess I could just toss all this on an Amazon Wishlist and send you over, that doesn’t tell you why I want things, which is at least as interesting as my desires.
So here it is. Here’s who I am this year, expressed in what I want, in descending order of most-lust to least-lust.
Buy My Bok: Flex, by Ferrett Steinmetz ($7.99)
So I’m pretty goddamned sure you’ve heard that I sold a book this year. And if for some bizarre reason you’re all like, “I’d like to buy Ferrett a gift!” and you have yet to advance-purchase a copy of my book, well, that’ll help me more than anything else.
Books are, sadly, heavily driven by advance sales. Most of the sales a book will ever get come in the first six weeks of release, I’m told – which is a goddamned terrifying thought. But based on my old job buyin’ books for Waldenbooks, that’s probably true. So if you feel like doin’ a brother a favor, and you haven’t sunk your cash into this quagmire of a book, well, you can help me earn out the lovely advance the folks at Angry Robot paid me. (And if you have, hey, thanks!)
(As a side note, later in the year I will be posting an essay on What To Do If You Like Ferrett And Thought His Book Was Bleah, along with a side helping of What To Do If You Like Ferrett And Have Not Read His Book. The short answer: It’s cool. I have authors I love personally, and whose books leave me cold. I will never get mad if you have not read me. Or if you have and were filled with ennui. That ain’t how I work.)
Dewalt Table Saw ($577.99)
So my woodworking career has been going pretty suboptimally. Gini bought me a ton of woodworking equipment back in, I think, 2010, which sat in my garage in boxes for three years. Then Erin and I went out and unboxed and set up everything, which was awesome, and we set to working making cabinets.
…and we failed abysmally.
The problem is that Gini bought me a very tiny table saw. It’s got a 10″ rip fence. Which is miniscule. That basically means if there’s any piece of wood I need to saw that’s over 10″, I… can’t cut it.
Okay, I can. Kind of. But doing so means about seven to nine measurements and calculations to set up all sorts of manual rip fences, then hope like hell none of our clamps shift, and then hope my arms don’t shake as I use the circular saw. And I thought it was just that I was bad with envisoning measurements – which I very much am – until I spent two weekends building an inset bookcase with my friend Eric, who is a goddamned savant when it comes to visualizing spaces. And Eric would spend about forty minutes setting up a perfect cut, making all sorts of pencil marks along the sides and muttering under his breath as he did all the math, and then the clamp slipped and I watched Eric give the Glare of Death at the now-angled board.
But this truly expensive table saw has a gigantic rip capacity! Thirty-two inches! And if I need something bigger than thirty-two inches, hell, I don’t need to cut it!
Gini looked at me when I suggested this. She said, “You realize that’d be the only gift you’re getting this Christmas. Everyone would have to donate.” And if so, that’s cool! I’m full up on books to read. The things I’m going to play, I’ve pretty much got. So if this was my only gift, well, okay. Because it means I could make all sorts of bookcases come Spring.
Superman vs. Muhammad Ali: The Deluxe Version, by Denny O’Neil and Neal Adams ($13.99)
If you were to ask me about the comic that had the most influence upon me, well, I might say it was Alan Moore’s critically-acclaimed run on Swamp Thing. Or maybe some of the early runs (heh) of the Barry Allen Flash. Or perhaps the complete revamp of Batman that Frank Miller engendered with The Dark Knight Returns.
But really? It’s fucking Superman versus Muhammad Ali. That’s it. Some of my best scenes in fiction come from trying to emulate this.
I will not have you judging me.
The thing is, this comic hits all my high points: two men, stripped of all hope, making a valiant stand against insurmountable forces? (There is one point where Muhammad Ali calls out the nine-foot-tall alien genetically-engineered warlord he’s about to fight, knowing if he fails that Earth will be destroyed – and he fucking is unstoppable.) Vast scope? Shit, look at that cover, where every celebrity of the 1970s shows up. A situation I’ve never seen before? Oh God, say what you will about how silly the concept is, but O’Neil and Adams fucking sell it, devising a solid reason where, yes, Superman has to fight Ali under a red sun – and guess what? You take out the super-strength, and Superman is not equipped to deal with the heavyweight champion of the world.
And okay, I have my battered original version, bought at the Corner Store in Norwalk in the days before there were comic stores, but this crisp version has behind-the-scenes versions of it. And I gotta tell you:
Muhammad Ali will destroy Hun’ya.
What Makes This Book So Great, by Jo Walton ($22.99)
Jo Walton is one of my favorite writers – seriously, try Tooth and Claw, which is a flawless melding of Jane Austen and cannibalistic dragons – and she made me feel tremendously underread with her book Among Others, which was about an obsessive reader of books in the 1970s. I did not read nearly as much science fiction as I should have back then, and as a result I feel like I know practically no good books.
Fortunately, she wrote several essays discussing her favorite book and dissecting them with all of her wisdom! And yes! They’re available for free online! I don’t care! I want to hand Jo Walton some money directly! So Buy Her Bok and send her words straight to me!
inFamous: Second Son (Playstation 4, $35)
As part of my reward for selling my first novel, I got a Playstation 4. But the two games I got for it? Disappointing. Shadows of Mordor and The Last Of Us were both sneak-fests… and I don’t want to creep around a map, trying to optimize my approach so I can strike from the shadows with one of my three remaining bullets – I’m here to destroy things! And inFamous: Second Son is pretty much superhero power-plays – you fly around a sandboxed town and destroy things with your overpowered laser-beams.
I like destroying things. Let’s hope it’s better than frickin’ Mordor.
Miscellaneous Old James Bond Movies On Blu-Ray ($5)
Talk with Gini about this one, but….
I don’t know old James Bond at all. I watched ‘em as a kid, but I had no idea what was going on, and I didn’t remember them. So Connery? Moore? They’re foreign lands to me.
Yet when Best Buy had a sale where you could pick up all sorts of old Bond movies for cheap, we picked up a lot of them – and it has been a hoot watching them with Amy and Gini and them explaining to me why this is Very James Bond, and me spluttering that this is a moronic plot, things don’t work that way, and it’s still kinda fun watching all the sexual harassment lawsuits pile up. Having more of these around would be a lot of fun.
Ancillary Sword, by Ann Leckie ($13)
My small claim to fame is that I remember when Ann Leckie told me she sold her trilogy. We were at a con, and she’d published a story of mine, and I met her at the con and discovered she was a great human being. We hung. We laughed. We cried. We exchanged gift baskets.
And so when her book came out, I read it.
And it was fucking awesome.
Seriously, Ancillary Justice was one of my favorite books of last year, a space opera told from the perspective of a warship who doesn’t understand gender all that well. It was both groundbreakingly new and familiar – a dangerous combination. And then I didn’t buy the sequel – or, rather, I did, but I was boycotting Amazon at the time because of the dickishness they were doing with Hachette, and Books-A-Million across the street didn’t have it, and now I still don’t have it.
So I want it. Because I am truly excited about this, but now it’s a Christmas gift.
Eraserhead: The Criterion Collection ($27)
I have such a love/hate relationship with Eraserhead. The first time I watched it, I hated it. The second time I watched it at a film festival, I hated it. The third time I watched it at my house during a film marathon, I despised it.
Yet there’s something weirdly sticky about it. I think about this film. Occasionally I want to take it out. It’s a nightmare of a film – a literal nightmare, with only a vague plot that keeps shifting underfoot, and lurking fears in black-and-white, and God, that baby, that hideous baby who the titular Eraserhead has to take care of. Nobody is really sure what it’s about – you float Jungian theories, but it doesn’t make any sense on a scene-to-scene level.
And Criterion is the best guardian of film love in America – their DVD extras are always over-the-top in terms of providing usefulness. So I want to shoo Gini out of the house and watch this again, with all of the extras, and see what happens.
Wolfenstein: The New Order (Playstation 4, $39.99)
This is a videogame that is what I consider to be a dispensable videogame. It got decent reviews when it came out. It is a first-person shooter. I will enjoy shooting my way through it, racking up achievements, burning up a week or so in murderous meditation, and then I will probably forget it until the sequel comes out.
But it involves shooting Nazis. In the face.
You can’t beat shooting Nazis in the face.
The Chaplain’s War, Brad Torgersen ($13)
Brad is an author who I often find myself on the opposite political ends of the spectrum, but he is a talented writer. And I’m curious to see how this book actually functions: from what I’m told, it’s a heavy Ender’s Game riff on a spacefaring war-chaplain dealing with some PTSD, and I suspect his religious background will tinge this in all the right ways for me. I definitely wouldn’t mind having this in my pocket.
Cross-posted from Ferrett's Real Blog.