American books are getting swearier

Psych scholars from San Diego State and U Georgia used Google Books to systematically explore the growth of swear-words in published American literature: they conclude that books are getting swearier and that this is a bellwether for a growth in the value of individualism: "Due to the greater valuation of the rights of the individual self, individualistic cultures favor more self-expression in general (Kim & Sherman, 2007) and allow more expression of personal anger in particular (Safdar et al., 2009). Thus, a more individualistic culture should be one with a higher frequency of swear word use." Read the rest

A new edition of Daniel Pinkwater's happy mutant kids' classic, "Lizard Music"

Back in 2011, The New York Review of Books inducted Daniel Pinkwater's classic Lizard Music into its canon with a handsome little hardcover edition; today they follow that up with a stylish, jazzy paperback, priced to move at $10. Read the rest

You are Henry David Thoreau in the Walden simulator video game

After years of buzz, the USC Game Innovation Lab finally released Walden: The Game earlier this month, allowing players to immerse themselves in a six-hour experience in which they play Henry David Thoreau on his gripping quest for solitude and mental clarity. Read the rest

Acting Madly: the secret history of the lost MAD-alike magazines of the satire boom

It's been a bumper year for documentary evidence of the lost, weird history of MAD Magazine: first there was the gorgeous hardcover that uncovered the two-issue, unlimited-budget Trump Magazine (created by MAD's founding editor Harvey Kurtzman after a falling out with publisher William Gaines, Jr, operating with a bankroll provided by Hugh "Playboy" Hefner); now there's Behaving Madly, which assembles a timeline of the short-lived, incredibly proliferated MAD rip-offs that popped up as Kurtzman and his successor proved that there was big bucks to be found in satire.

Walkaway is a finalist for the Dragon Awards and is #1 on Locus's hardcover bestseller list

Dragon Con's Dragon Award ballot was just published and I'm delighted to learn that my novel Walkaway is a finalist in the "Best Apocalyptic Novel" category, along with Daniel Humphreys' A Place Outside the Wild, Omar El Akkad's American War, Declan Finn and Allan Yoskowitz's Codename: Unsub, N.K. Jemisin's The Obelisk Gate, Rick Heinz's The Seventh Age: Dawn, and J.F. Holmes's ZK: Falling. Read the rest

William Gibson: what we talk about, when we talk about dystopia

With pre-orders open for the graphic novel collecting William Gibson's amazing comic book Archangel, and a linked novel on the way that ties the 2016 election to the world of The Peripheral, William Gibson has conducted a fascinating interview with Vulture on the surge in popularity in dystopian literature. Read the rest

Bitch Doctrine: sympathy, empathy and rage from the Laurie Penny's red pen of justice

Before Laurie Penny was a brilliant young feminist novelist, she was a brilliant young essayist, blazing through the British (and then the world's) media with column after column that skewered social ills on what Warren Ellis aptly dubbed her "red pen of justice."

Headbadges: the lost, gorgeous bicycle hood ornaments of yesteryear

Collectors Weekly's feature on "headbages" tells the story of the 1000+ badge collection of bike-mechanic-turned-evolutionary-biologist Jeffrey Conner, who published a book on the subject, featuring an alphabetic index of photos from his collection.

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Insights from statistical analysis of great (and not-great) literature

Ben Blatt's Nabokov's Favorite Word Is Mauve: What the Numbers Reveal About the Classics, Bestsellers, and Our Own Writing takes advantage of the fact that so much literature has been digitized, allowing him to run statistical analyses on writers, old and new, and make both fun and meaningful inferences about the empirical nature of writing. Read the rest

See you at Defcon this weekend!

I'm making the final(ish*) stop of my Walkaway tour at Defcon this weekend in Las Vegas, giving a speech on Saturday in Track 2 at 10AM called $BIGNUM steps forward, $TRUMPNUM steps back: how can we tell if we're winning?, followed by a book-signing at the No Starch Press table in the exhibitors' hall. Read the rest

Paper Girls volume 3: the all-girl, time-traveling Stranger Things gets even better

In Paper Girls, the celebrated comics creator Brian K Vaughan (Saga, Y: The Last Man, etc) teams up with Cliff Chiang to tell a story that's like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel. Read the rest

Arbitrary Stupid Goal: a memoir of growing up under the tables of the best restaurant in New York

To call Shopsin's "a Greenwich Village institution" was to understate something profound and important and weird and funny: Shopsin's (first a grocery store, later a restaurant) was a kind of secret reservoir of the odd and wonderful and informal world that New York City once represented, in the pre-Trumpian days of Sesame Street and Times Square sleaze: Tamara Shopsin grew up in Shopsin's, and Arbitrary Stupid Goal is her new, "no-muss memoir," is at once charming and sorrowing, a magnificent time-capsule containing the soul of a drowned city.

Come see me at San Diego Comic-Con!

There are three more stops on my tour for Walkaway: tomorrow at San Diego Comic-Con, next weekend at Defcon 25 in Las Vegas, and August 10th at the Burbank Public Library. Read the rest

San Diego! Come hear me read from Walkaway tomorrow night at Comickaze Liberty Station!

I'm teaching the Clarion Science Fiction writing workshop at UCSD in La Jolla this week, and tomorrow night at 7PM, I'll be reading from my novel Walkaway at Comickaze Liberty Station, 2750 Historic Decatur Rd #101, San Diego, CA 92106. Hope to see you! Read the rest

An important, lyrical, critical book about the future of "Smart Cities"

Adam Greenfield's new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (previously) has scored an outstanding review from The Guardian's Steven Poole, who calls it "a landmark primer and spur to more informed and effective opposition" to "the pitiless libertarianism towards which all [Smart Cities] developments seem to lean." Read the rest

Tropic of Kansas: Making America Great Again considered harmful

Chris Brown -- long known as a writer of perfect, jewel-like demented cyberpunk stories -- makes his long-overdue novel debut today with Tropic of Kansas; a hilarious, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of a terrible authoritarian president whose project to Make America Great Again has plunged the country into an authoritarian collapse that's all too plausible.

Gorgeous "Monster Zen" book of Japanese-styled monsters with haiku

Chet Phillips's Monster Zen is a book of 16 beautiful, "Japanese-styled" drawings of monsters, accompanied by haikus by the artist -- you can get the book for $24 or get individual prints. Read the rest

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