The holidays are approaching, which means it's time for family & friends, egg nog, and the annual panic of deciding what gifts to buy. But fear not! I'm here to offer up a tempting selection of gift ideas for the science fiction, fantasy, and horror fans on your gift list.
For fans who are avid fiction readers, there are plenty of gift ideas from which you can choose. Since they like fiction, novels are a good place to start. If you really want to hit a home run, check out the beautiful books published by The Folio Society. Their mission is to produce definitive editions of classic works of literature, including classic works of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. They are offering several new titles this holiday season. For starters, I, Robot by Isaac Asimov, is a classic collection of stories that examines Asimov's now-famous three laws of robotics. The final volumes of Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy series – Mostly Harmless, The Restaurant at the End of the Universe and So Long, and Thanks for All the Fish– are now available. These are perfect for readers who like a little humor with their science fiction. Also new this season: The Folio Science Fiction Anthology edited by Brian Aldiss, a brand new anthology of short fiction stories, written between 1752 and 2015, that showcase the power of short-form science fiction. The stories in the anthology are well-chosen in that they are good stories that are not often printed in other anthologies. For the horror fan, their stunning collector's edition of Stephen King's classic The Shining will be well received. Fantasy fans will no doubt appreciate their lovingly-crafted Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. All Folio Society editions are a cut above the books you'll see in the local bookstore. No corners are cut. They are lovingly produced and include illuminating introductions and fantastic new art commissioned specially for their volumes. In short, they are a book-lover's dream.
If you're looking for a little something less upscale, but still close to a reader's heart, consider reprints of classic speculative books. Penguin has recently published hardback reprints of six classic science fiction novels: The Once and Future King by T. H. White; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A. Heinlein; Dune by Frank Herbert; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C. Clarke; The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K. Le Guin; Neuromancer by William Gibson. Or, go for the whole enchilada and buy the Penguin Galaxy Series 6-Book Deluxe Boxed Set. These reprints use typography as their art, but are nonetheless striking. Another can't-miss reprint is A Game of Thrones: The Illustrated Edition: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One, which features full-page artwork and black and white illustrations to celebrate twenty years in print.
Some readers are huge fans of individual authors. If your gift recipient is a fan of Kurt Vonnegut, the revised and updated edition of The Vonnegut Encyclopedia by Mark Leeds is the must-buy. This 784-page beast is an A-to-Z compendium of Kurt Vonnegut's novels, stories, essays, and plays throughout his entire life. It's all here: major and minor characters, locales, images, themes, the complex web of connections between Vonnegut's references…with their significance explained. This would be a perfect companion to the Library of America's box set Kurt Vonnegut: The Complete Novels. It contains all fourteen of Vonnegut's novels, published between 1950 and 1997, in small form-factor hardback omnibus editions that are the perfect for comfortable reading. Fans of Shirley Jackson, meanwhile, would appreciate Ruth Franklin's thorough biography Shirley Jackson: A Rather Haunted Life. In it, Franklin shows the darker side of Jackson's personal life that was hidden behind her stories of domestic horror told in an American Gothic tradition. Speaking of gothic, fans of horrormeister Peter Straub should check out The Gothic Worlds of Peter Straub by John C. Tibbetts, which draws on interviews to explore the works of the man whose style Stephen King describes as "a synthesis of horror and beauty". Speaking of Stephen King, diehard King fans would adore Charlie and the Choo-Choo by Beryl Evans, the pseudonym used by King. On the surface, it's a legitimate children's book, right down to its proclamation of being a fourth edition of a book originally published in 1942. But true Stephen King fans will recognize it as the metafictional treat it's intended to be: it's adapted from the third book in his Dark Tower series: The Waste Lands.
Another excellent gift for book-lovers is Literary Wonderlands: A Journey Through the Greatest Fictional Worlds Ever Created edited by Laura Miller. This stroll down two thousand years of literature's most magical and well-imagined places is a pure delight. Speculative fiction readers derive the joy of such stories partly from the world building in which they are immersed. Not only does Literary Wonderlands resurrect that wonder, but it puts it into context. Each of the nearly one hundred worlds discussed – from The Epic of Gilgamesh (1750 BC) to Salman Rushdie's Two Years Eight Months and Twenty-Eight Nights (2015) – is examined for its meaning and put into context of the author's life and the time period in which it was written. This book is the culmination of diligent research spawned from a love of imagination. For the well-rounded geek, there's The Secret Loves of Geek Girls edited by Hope Nicholson. It's a non-fiction anthology of more than 50 female contributors who combine prose, comics, and illustrated stories to talk about the video games, comics, and sci-fi they love, both as fans and as creators.
That's more than enough to get you started – but there's more! Come back in two weeks for a round-up of gifts geared towards lovers of more visual-oriented science fiction, fantasy, and horror like art books, film, television, and comics.
Cover design by Edward Kinsella of The Folio Society’s edition of Stephen King’s The Shining.