Media Comfort Foods by S.L. Huang

Welcome to Smugglivus 2017! Throughout this month, we will have guests – authors and bloggers alike – looking back at their favorite reads of 2017, looking forward to events and upcoming books in 2018, and more.

Our next Smugglivus guest is S.L. Huang, author of The Little Homo Sapiens Scientist and an upcoming Book Smugglers Publishing novella set in the same world as “Hunting Monsters” and “Fighting Demons“.


The current global political climate is not easy for anyone I know, no matter who they are. Therefore, I thought it might be a good time to offer some of my recommendations of media “comfort food”: wonderful stories that also have a feel-good factor, the type of media you can watch or read over and over, and it can make you feel just a little better about the world because, well, it’s comfort food!

A Comfort Book: Deep Secret by Diana Wynne Jones

I had to mull about this a bit because I have far, far too many comfort food books. And unfortunately they tend to be older titles, because I used books as an escape all growing up, and the more I’ve reread a book as a happy place, the more it’s solidified in my soul as a comfort food book.

Ultimately, however, the reason I kept coming back to Deep Secret for this post is that it’s so clearly a love letter from Diana Wynne Jones to SFF fans. The latter half of the book takes place at a SFF convention, and our heroes have to run around doing actual magic while dodging cosplayers and filkers. There’s some friendly poking fun, as well, but very friendly, and all the characters are delightful.
If you haven’t read Deep Secret and want a book that’s like curling up with a hot mug of cider next to the fire on a rainy day, this will do it for you.

A Comfort Show: “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries”

I can’t recall how many times I’ve rewatched the entirety of “The Lizzie Bennet Diaries.” At least seven.

As the name suggests, it is a contemporary updating of Jane Austen, and is my absolute favorite Pride & Prejudice adaptation. Starring nerdy grad student Lizzie who starts keeping a video blog about her life — including her family, with her sisters Jane and Lydia dropping in to co-star — the show does a fantastic job of sweeping the audience along with all of the characters’ life dilemmas and paralleling Austen’s plot with creative modern day equivalences.

The gradually-expanding cast is pleasantly diverse — e.g., Charles Bingley has become “Bing Lee” — and, in a stroke of genius, they often “play” each other while acting out what’s happened in their lives. (Jane’s rendition of Lydia alone is worth watching the whole series for.)

You can start watching the first episode here.

A Comfort Story: Too Many To List

Like books, I’ve read a lot of short stories, so it was hard to pick one to point to as a happy place. Depending on the itch I’m feeling, I’ve returned to reread plenty of shorts, from Charlie Jane Anders’ “The Fermi Paradox Is Our Business Model” to Terry Bisson’s “They’re Made Out of Meat” to Zen Cho’s “The House of Aunts.” Then there are the bite-sized comedy delights like Desmond Warzel’s “Wikihistory,” Effie Seiberg’s “Re: Little Miss Apocalypse Playset,” or Laura Pearlman’s “I am Graalnak of the Vroon Empire, Destroyer of Galaxies, Supreme Overlord of the Planet Earth. Ask Me Anything.”

Come to think of it, I’m not going to choose one. The above stories are great. Check ’em out!

A Comfort Comic: The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage

I will recommend The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage to anyone who will listen.

Ada Lovelace is widely credited as being the first computer programmer, who wrote software for a machine that didn’t even exist yet. Charles Babbage was a genius inventor of that theoretical machine, and father of modern computing. The two were, historically, great friends and collaborators. However, Babbage’s machines were never built and he got increasingly bitter, and Ada Lovelace died young, and WOULDN’T IT BE BETTER if instead they fought crime and had adventures in a steampunk pocket universe?

Yes. Yes, it would.

The comic is drawn by professional animator Sydney Padua, who did the first one as a joke only for it to go viral. Start with The Origin, and then go on to the other Comics. If you find yourself swallowed by this wonderful world, you can also purchase The Book.

Oh, and definitely read the historical footnotes. They are almost the best part, and that’s saying a lot for a comic chock full of geek jokes. Who would have thought these Charles Babbage was such a character?

What’s your media comfort food? (Please do share! I need more.)


SL Huang is an Amazon-bestselling author whose debut novel, Zero Sum Game, is upcoming from Tor. Her short fiction has sold to Strange Horizons, Analog, and The Best American Science Fiction & Fantasy 2016. She is also an MIT graduate, stuntwoman, and firearms expert. Follow her at or @sl_huang.

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