Charles Stross -- Best of 2009

Films: I haven't seen any this year.

Live performances: Ultravox (who disbanded in, um, 1985) got together again and toured the UK and Germany very successfully: no new material, but they're w-a-y better live than their 80s studio albums suggested. Dark para-gothic electronica from the cold war, heavily influenced by J. G. Ballard -- if you get an opportunity, go see them. Second tip goes to Amanda Palmer (formerly half of the Dresden Dolls) who just goes from strength to strength.

Recorded music: I've been grooving to tribute albums this year, notably covers of Front 242 and Nitzer Ebb (electronic dance/industrial stuff from the late 80s and 90s). Lady Gaga it ain't. Unfortunately none of this stuff is new. I refuse to buy MP3s online -- the audio quality is lamentably poor compared to CDs (which I buy and rip for myself, at a much higher bit rate or in lossless audio formats).

Books: you will *love* "The Restoration Game" by Ken MacLeod -- when it's published. Also, "The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride" by Daniel James Brown has left me with a yen to write a Donner Party in Spaaaace novella. With robots.

Best seasonal accessory: the two elderly cats who have decided it's now cold enough to sleep on the duvet above the food ape's feet at night. Failing that, try a furry hot water bottle.