Wil Wheaton's "Dead Trees Give No Shelter": terrifying tale, beautifully told

    Wil Wheaton's 2017 standalone novelette Dead Trees Give No Shelter is a beautiful, spooky horror story in the vein of Stranger Things, following Jay Turner as he returns to the small Ohio town where his baby brother was murdered, 20 years before, to witness the execution of his killer. Read the rest

    Lent: Jo Walton's new novel is Dante's Groundhog Day

    I love Hugo and Nebula-Award winner Jo Walton's science fiction and fantasy novels (previously) and that's why it was such a treat to inaugurate my new gig as an LA Times book reviewer with a review of her latest novel, Lent, a fictionalized retelling of the live of Savonarola, who reformed the Florentine church in the 1490s, opposing a corrupt Pope, who martyred him (except in Walton's book, and unbeknownst to Savonarola himself, Savonarola is a demon who is sent back to Hell when he is martyred, then returned to 1492 Florence to start over again). Read the rest

    Luna: Moon Rising, in which Ian McDonald brings the trilogy to an astounding, intricate, exciting and satisfying climax

    Back in 2015, the incomparable Ian McDonald (previously) published Luna: New Moon, a kind of cross between Dallas and The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, with warring clans scheme and fighting on a libertopian lunar colony where the only law is private contracts and you're charged for the very air you breathe; McDonald raised the stakes to impossible heights with the 2017 sequel Luna: Wolf Moon, and now, with the final volume, Luna: Moon Rising, McDonald proves that he despite the wild gyrations of his massive cast of characters and their intricate schemes, he never lost control. Read the rest

    Adam Savage, 'Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It' [BOOKS]

    'Mythbusters' TV star Adam Savage's first book is out. 'Every Tool's a Hammer: Life Is What You Make It' is a wonderful read, in which Adam shares his own personal guidelines for creativity, from inspiration to execution. Read the rest

    Quantum Physics for Babies and Rocket Science for Babies

    Quantum Physics for Babies and Rocket Science for Babies are the kind of board books you’d find on a toddler’s shelf. They have stiff, tear-proof cardboard pages, simple illustrations, and minimal text. But they actually explain the subjects on a (very) high level. The author, Chris Ferrie, is a physicist and Senior Lecturer for Quantum Software and Information at the University of Technology Sydney.

    I finally learned why quantum physics is called quantum physics! And even though I know how a wing moving through air goes up, the rocket science book reinforced the concept for me.

    These books will be entertaining for kids age 2 and up, but the concepts, even though clearly and simply presented, are better suited for readers from age 5-105. Read the rest

    The 2019 Locus Award nominees: your guide to the best sf/f of 2018

    Locus Magazine has published its annual Locus Award finalists, a shortlist of the best science fiction and fantasy of the past calendar year. I rely on this list to find the books I've overlooked (so. many. books.). This year's looks like a bumper crop. Read the rest

    Great deal on Blake Crouch's Dark Matter

    I loved Blake Crouch's Wayward Pines trilogy. I'm about 200 pages into his later novel, Dark Matter, and I'm liking it just as much. It reminds me a bit of Wayward Pines in that the main character gets thrown into a bizarre world that is keeping me guessing. It also reminds me of one of my favorite science fiction novels of the past, What Mad Universe, by Fredric Brown.

    Right now, Amazon has the Kindle version of Dark Matter at a steep discount. The Wayward Pines series is on sale, too. Read the rest

    "A Fire Story": a moving, beautiful memoir of the Calistoga wildfire in comics form

    In 2017, cartoonist Brian Fies lost his northern California home in the Calistoga wildfires; in the days after, working with the cheap art supplies he was able to get from a surviving big box store, he drew A Fire Story, a strip about how he and his wife barely managed to escape their home ahead of the blaze, and about life after everything you own (and everything your neighbors own) is reduced to ash and slag. The strip went viral, and in the months after, Fies adapted it into a deeply moving, beautiful book. Read the rest

    SO LATE SO SOON: fun, genre-celebrating SF for young readers (of all ages!)

    [Harry Tynan posts on our forums as Moose Malloy. Earlier this week, he messaged me about his fun, self-published kid's book, written as a series of bedtime stories for his kid (a tradition I'm very fond of -- it's the origin story of The Borribles!). The book is so much fun that I invited him to write a short introduction and choose a excerpt for your edification. Hope you enjoy it as much as I did! -Cory]

    The great Umberto Eco once wrote, in a marvellous essay about Casablanca, that "Two clichés make us laugh. A hundred clichés move us. For we sense dimly that the clichés are talking among themselves, and celebrating a reunion." Read the rest

    The National Security Sublime: On the Aesthetics of Government Secrecy

    [Matt Potolsky's new book, The National Security Sublime, is a tour through the look-and-feel of mass surveillance, as practiced by the most unlikely of aesthetes: big data authoritarian snoops and the grifter military contractors who wax fat on them. This is a subject dear to my heart. -Cory]

    The US National Security Agency is big, really big. But it’s unlikely that most people outside the government can (or would even try to) quantify its size or powers with any specificity. The agency is just massive, a quality that can produce in those who try to contemplate it the overwhelming sense of awe and wonder called the sublime. Triggered by an encounter with something grand (towering mountain peaks) or verging on the infinite (the number of stars in the universe), it describes a generally pleasurable feeling of cognitive breakdown, the sensation that you just can’t wrap your head around an object or idea so vast and boundless. Read the rest

    The creator of Encyclopedia Brown wanted to remain a mystery

    Donald J. Sobol (1924 – 2012) created the Encyclopedia Brown series of mystery books in 1963, which have sold over 50 million copies. I loved these as a kid. Each one had ten stories starring the boy detective, who charged his neighbors 25 cents to solve a mystery. Often the culprit of the petty crimes Brown investigated was the bully Bugs Meany, leader of the Tigers gang. Bugs's abbreviated intelligence was no match for Brown's erudition and powers of deduction.

    Craig Pittman, writing for CrimeReads, says Sobol shunned publicity:

    He never gave a single television interview. When he talked with newspaper and magazine reporters, he did so by telephone. That way they couldn’t take his picture or even describe what he looked like. A photo of the author only appeared in one book, and he said that was by mistake.

    “I am very content with staying in the background and letting the books do the talking,” he told the Oberlin Alumni Magazine in 2011.

    Read the rest

    Ottawa! I'll be at the Writers Festival this Saturday night (then Berlin for Re:publica and Houston for Comicpalooza!)

    This Saturday, May 4, at 7:30PM, I'll be presenting at the Ottawa Writers Festival, talking about my novel Radicalized and how it ties into surveillance, monopoly, refugees, climate change, racism and oligarchy -- all the good stuff! Read the rest

    Talking Radicalized with the LA Public Library: Trump derangement syndrome, engagement algorithms, and novellas as checked luggage

    The LA Public Library's Daryl M interviewed me about my new book, Radicalized, specifically, about how my Trump anxiety (created, in part, by the platforms' relentless use of "engagement" tools to nonconsensually eyeball-fuck me with Trump headlines) led to the book's germination, as well as the specific inspirations for each of the four novellas, and the delights of working in novella form. Read the rest

    Unseen sequel to Anthony Burgess's "A Clockwork Orange" found in his archives

    Attention, Droogs! A sequel to Anthony Burgess's A Clockwork Orange has turned up in the author's archives. According to Andrew Biswell, director of the International Anthony Burgess Foundation, the 200-page manuscript, titled "The Clockwork Condition," "provides a context for Burgess's most famous work, and amplifies his views on crime, punishment and the possible corrupting effects of visual culture." From the BBC News:

    Burgess himself described the work as a "major philosophical statement on the contemporary human condition", outlining his concerns about the effect on humanity of technology, in particular media, film and television.

    It also explains the origins of his novel's unusual title.

    "In 1945, back from the army," an extract reads, "I heard an 80-year-old Cockney in a London pub say that somebody was 'as queer as a clockwork orange'.

    "The 'queer' did not mean homosexual: it meant mad... For nearly twenty years I wanted to use it as the title of something... It was a traditional trope, and it asked to entitle a work which combined a concern with tradition and a bizarre technique..."

    Prof Biswell, who is also professor of English at Manchester Metropolitan University, said the author abandoned the manuscript when he came to realise "he was a novelist and not a philosopher".

    "Unseen Clockwork Orange 'follow-up' by Anthony Burgess unearthed" (BBC Bews)

    image: cover art for "A Clockwork Orange" (Penguin Books, 1972) by David Pellham

    Read the rest

    Gallery of great old How and Why Wonder Books

    I have a small collection of How and Why Wonder Books that were published in the 1960s and 1970s. The interior and cover art is great. According to Wikipedia, there were 74 titles in this series of illustrated kids science and nature books. Flickr user X Ray Delta One uploaded 10 covers from the series. Read the rest

    Prince's memoir to be published in the fall

    By the time Prince died in 2016, he had completed 50 hand-written pages of his memoir, titled "The Beautiful Ones." The memoir, filled out with photos and other material, will be published by Random House on October 29. From the Associated Press:

    ″‘The Beautiful Ones’ is the deeply personal account of how Prince Rogers Nelson became the Prince we know: the real-time story of a kid absorbing the world around him and creating a persona, an artistic vision, and a life, before the hits and the fame that would come to define him,” Random House announced.

    “The book will span from Prince’s childhood to his early years as a musician to the cusp of international stardom, using Prince’s own writings, a scrapbook of his personal photos, and the original handwritten lyric sheets for many of his most iconic songs, which he kept at Paisley Park. The book depicts Prince’s evolution through deeply revealing, never-before-shared images and memories and culminates with his original handwritten treatment for his masterwork, ‘Purple Rain.’”

    (Prince's collaborator on the book Dan) Piepenbring’s introduction will touch upon Prince’s final days, “a time when Prince was thinking deeply about how to reveal more of himself and his ideas to the world, while retaining the mystery and mystique he’d so carefully cultivated.” Piepenbring, whom Prince had called “my brother Dan” and “not a yes man at all,” is a Paris Review advisory editor who also contributes to The New Yorker.

    Read the rest

    Chuck Tingle's Muellerporn: "Redacted In The Butt By Redacted Under The Tromp Administration"

    Chuck Tingle (previously) has leapt into action with some of the most trenchant analysis of the Mueller Report yet seen: Redacted In The Butt By Redacted Under The Tromp Administration covers all the most significant details through an exquisitely crafted tale of gay pornography. Read the rest

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