An interview with ROBERT JACKSON BENNETT on the occasion of the publication of THE CITY OF BLADES

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Boing Boing is proud to welcome Robert Jackson Bennett's The City of Blades as a sponsor!

In a world where politics have run amuck and consumers must choose from over 300 varieties of toothpaste, one seemingly simple question rises to the fore: what is my next great read? Luckily for you, ladies and gentlemen, we have the answer to that question – a book that will satisfy your cravings, turn that frown upside down, reduce wrinkles in women and stimulate hair growth in men. In short, my friends, it is a miracle book indeed.

And you don’t have to take my word for it; the bookish masses all agree that Robert Jackson Bennett’s books are a wonder. Author Jim C. Hines (Libriomancer) said: “Every once in a while I read a book that's so well done, I find myself wanting to punch the author in the face out of pure envy. Congratulations Bennett, you just made the face-punching list!" Blogger G. Brown of Nerds of a Feather, writes “Dazzling, sophisticated and thoroughly modern... Imagine China Mieville and George R. R. Martin stuck in an elevator, with only a laptop to keep them company, and you’re almost there. Robert Jackson Bennett is a name to remember and a talent to behold.” – G. BROWN, NERDS OF A FEATHER

Lean in closer, my friends, and I will whisper to you the names of these great books: Mr. Shivers, The Company Man, The Troupe, American Elsewhere, City of Stairs and the brand-new, much-anticipated, and thoroughly-magnificent (imagine a drum roll here, please) City... Read the rest

Charlie Jane Anders's All the Birds in the Sky: smartass, soulful novel

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All the Birds in the Sky is everything you could ask for in a debut novel -- a fresh look at science fiction's most cherished memes, ruthlessly shredded and lovingly reassembled.

Reddit published a real book collecting its best AMAs

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Reddit has published a hardcover compendium of the editor's favorite AMAs from r/IAmA. The 400 page tome, Ask Me Anything, includes AMAs with Louis C.K., Chris Rock, Martha Stewart, the Waffle House Grill Masters, Spike Lee, Bill Gates, Bette Midler, and many more. The book contains original portraits by u/youngluck and introductions from the r/IAmA Mods. Of course, the AMAs are available for free online but this is a tangible object, limited edition, etc. $35.

"Ask Me Anything (A collection of Reddit's best from r/IAmA Volume 1)" (Amazon)

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Two indie zombie novels that may make Christmas Eve pass easier

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I've read a bunch of new indie zombie novels, via Kindle Unlimited, this week! Here are two very funny, fasted paced stories that will help pass the time, as you wait in ambush for an overweight, red suited home invader to exit your chimney.

David Achord's Zombie Rules series was a serious page turner. I read all 4 novels in the series, Zombie Rules, Z14, Zfinity, and Destiny, in about a day! Achord tells the tale of Zach, an under privileged 16 year old who turns out to be the smartest, and most important guy on earth! Told from the pov of a teenager who is full of himself, the story never lacks for silly.

Achord writes great action, and builds a fun post-zombie apocalypse world. This is a really fun series, where the gore isn't too gory, and the plot has some unexpected twists and turns! The action and world building are good enough you ignore the plot holes and ridiculousness of some situations, as they are done to keep the pace up. Watch Zach save the world, and just not understand girls.

Second up is Chaos Theory by Rick Restucci. A super-sized survivalist, a teenaged girl, and an escaped convict make their way south, from New England to the Gulf of Mexico, trying to survive the zombie menace. The convict also happens to have been bitten, but did not turn, so naturally the remnants of the US Federal government are after him. Being a criminal, he doesn't seem to care much about helping the world find a vaccine. Read the rest

Kellie Strøm's Worse Things Happen At Sea

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If you love, or fear the ocean, Worse Things Happen At Sea is the art book for you!

This doubled sided panorama illustrates man locked in battle with the terrors of the deep. Kellie Strøm spent over 2 years working with a magnifying glass and insanely fine ink pens to create these beautiful illustrations.

Kellie Strøm's Worse Things Happen At Sea via Amazon Read the rest

Listen to the soldiers' musical soundtrack of the Vietnam War

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We Gotta Get Out of This Place: The Soundtrack of the Vietnam War is a new book by veteran Doug Bradley and Craig Werner, professor of Afro-American studies at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, about soldiers' musical memories and the impact of James Brown, Eric Burdon, Country Joe McDonald, and other popular artists on the Vietnam experience and our understanding of it.

At KQED's Next Avenue, Bradley shared the "Top 10 Songs of Vietnam" mentioned by the hundreds soldiers they interviewed for the book. Here are the top three with Bradley's comments on them:

1. We Gotta Get Out of This Place by The Animals

No one saw this coming. Not the writers of the song — the dynamic Brill Building duo of Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil; not the group who recorded it — The Animals and their iconic lead singer, Eric Burdon; not the 3 million soldiers who fought in Vietnam who placed extra importance on the lyrics. But the fact is that We Gotta Get Out of This Place is regarded by most Vietnam vets as our We Shall Overcome, says Bobbie Keith, an Armed Forces Radio DJ in Vietnam from 1967-69. Or as Leroy Tecube, an Apache infantryman stationed south of Chu Lai in 1968, recalls: “When the chorus began, singing ability didn’t matter; drunk or sober, everyone joined in as loud as he could.” No wonder it became the title of our book!

2. I Feel Like I’m Fixin to Die Rag by Country Joe & The Fish

Misunderstood and misinterpreted by most Americans, Country Joe’s iconic song became a flashpoint for disagreements about the war and its politics.

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On Sale Today: A Visual Guide to Drink, an imbiber’s delight from the minds of Pop Chart Lab

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Pop Chart Lab was founded in 2010 by a book editor and a designer, with the modest goal of rendering all of human experience in chart form. Since then they’ve charted a wide array of cultural touchstones. A Visual Guide to Drink is Pop Chart Lab’s comprehensive volume of its most important topics in graphical form: beer, wine, and spirits.

Containing everything from the many varieties of beer and the vessels from which to drink them, to cocktails of choice in film and literature, A Visual Guide to Drink maps, graphs, and charts the history, geography, and culture of the world’s very favorite pastime. The domestic beer-drinking novice and whisk(e)y aficionado alike will relish this perfectly practical primer awash in essentials like charted cocktail recipes, a breakdown of brewing processes, and extensive maps of the world’s wine region in Pop Chart Lab’s trademark clean and elegant design.

The definitive guide to informative imbibing, A Visual Guide to Drink is a fun, functional, and beautiful concoction of data and design that is sure to inspire delight in readers (and drinkers) everywhere. Read the rest

A Book of Surrealist Games

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Hilarious and silly, A Book of Surrealist Games is a fantastic introduction to the surrealist mind-set. In addition to just being fun to peruse, this collection of written, visual and verbal games is great for exercising your mind, and staying creative.

In addition to the games, this oddly organized book is packed with poems, illustrations and stories. While a bit dated, it is a wonderfully nostalgic tour of the spirit of surrealism.

Some of the game directions are vague, and the images may not be the best, but I've had a lot of fun with this book over the years. Exquisite Corpse is one I'd expect to see our Boing Boing forums make good use of.

A Book of Surrealist Games by Alastair Brotchie Read the rest

Meet the most popular straight woman on OKCupid

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Lauren Urasek, 25, "the most popular heterosexual on OKCupid" according to the dating site, has a new book out, Popular: The Ups and Downs of Online Dating from the Most Popular Girl in New York City. As you might imagine, Urasek's got lot of fun, funny, and horrifying stories to tell, of guys who went for a kiss ten minutes into the first date, outright offered her cash for sex, and interviewed her as if being girlfriend was a job she had applied for. From an interview in The Daily Dot:

Let's talk strategy: What makes you most likely to respond to a guy from an online dating site?

As long as you’re not writing a really horrible message, it’s really about your pictures and your profile, whatever you say. If I’m attracted to you and you don’t come across like an idiot, then I’ll respond to you. It seems so simple, but it’s really not.

I always find it very weird that you can always tell a lot about someone from one picture, or the type of hat that they’re wearing, or the way their facial hair is—if it’s messy or really clean cut, what does that say? And I don't care how attractive you are, shirtless pictures are an automatic turn-off.

I keep hearing this thing about guys posing for pictures with tigers. Is that a thing that you’ve seen?

Yeah. Girls do it, too. Posing for pictures with, like, exotic animals, and in front of national landmarks and wonders of the world.

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New "rare and lovely" short stories from the "wickedest man in the world"

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Infamous occultist, drug addict, and mountaineer Aleister Crowley also wrote more than 70 dark, and darkly comedic, short stories, including five that have never been published until now. Wordsworth Editions have released a new edition of The Drug and Other Stories expanded to include these unseen works, titled Ambrosii Magi Hortus Rosarum, The Murder in X. Street, The Electric Silence, The Professor and the Plutocrat, and The Ideal Idol. From The Guardian:

British poet and artist David Tibet, in a foreword to the new edition, says that Crowley’s stories are overdue a reassessment. “It is time to reassess these witty, strange and occasionally very dark works as the rare and lovely jewels they are,” he writes, comparing Crowley’s story The Stratagem to Ray Bradbury and Jorge Luis Borges.

“The difficulty of accessing the pieces collected here for the first time – scattered as they were through obscure journals such as the Equinox or the International or appearing in extremely rare first editions – has prevented their author from being reassessed as a remarkable and idiosyncratic short-story writer of the highest order,” according to Tibet. “If Crowley’s wit is not quite as consistently barbed as that of Saki … it certainly covers a wider range of social (and sexual!) situations.”

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The Bathrobe Knight: Volume 1

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Originally written as a web serial, this novel about a gamer transported into the world of MMORPGs is hilarious! I read The Bathroom Knight as a novel, and so I can only review it as such. I think it'd have been even more fun as a serial, a format I greatly enjoy.

Charles Dean rapidly sets up a fantastic fantasy world! Darwin, our extremely unique protagonist, really loves to play MMORPGs. So much so, he even plans to spend Christmas immersed! After beating up a burglar who interrupts his holiday fun, Darwin is magically transported into a game, and must quest to save the realm and figure himself out.

I liked Dean's take on gaming. He both shows the fun and camaraderie of gamers, and the terrible aspects of a "trapped-in-a-game, must level-up" mentality. Character development is pretty good for a freshman novel, and while the use of RPG vernacular occasionally baffled me, mostly it was easy to understand. I think Dean has done a fantastic job having fun with a genre, and not taking it seriously, at all.

This is a fun read. I bought it for my Kindle as Dean has apparently spent time, energy and money working with editors. In web serial format the novel is available here free.

The Bathrobe Knight: Volume 1 Read the rest

Beginner Watchmaking by Tim Swike

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I thought it would be impossible for an eBook to inspire me to get me working on a watch. Read the rest

How To Recognize and Handle Abnormal People: A Manual for the Police Officer

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In 1954, the National Association for Mental Health first issued the book "How To Recognize and Handle Abnormal People: A Manual for the Police Officer." Included were techniques on dealing with all kinds of "abnormal persons," from psychopaths, drug addicts, and the "mentally retarded" to civil protestors and those involved in family disturbances.

A selection of scans is below. And if you're not satisfied, you can purchase a copy of the 1975 edition on Amazon for the low price of $103.

(Print via Weird Universe)

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The Dungeoneers, a playful and hilarious adventure

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A case of mistaken identity lands Durham, a going no-place palace guard, a job with a troop of dwarvish treasure hunters. Seeing his big chance to make something of himself, our hero joins the Dungeoneers.

Durham is a pretty boring guy, but a common spelling mistake sends him, a lowly guard who rarely needs a vocabulary, on an adventure in place of the Keeper of the Vault! Added to a crack team of dwavish treasure seekers, Durham would be completely out of his element, if he had one. Seeing his opportunity to finally be the hero, Durham is positive he'll make something of himself. No one else shares his optimism. The gang of dwarves he is sent to aid see him as a bad luck charm, the only human woman around thinks he is comic relief, and he doesn't know a damn thing about recovering treasure.

This indie fantasy is a lot of fun. The novel has some light editing errors and isn't perfect, but author Jeffrey Russell has written a fantastic example of the fantasy quest/adventure. I'll be hoping for more!

The Dungeoneers by Jeffrey Russell via amazon Read the rest

Look at how this artist turns a dumb "doodle pad" into amazing illustrations

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Several years ago, artist David Jablow came across a doodle pad printed with a partially completed drawing of a naked woman. It looks like this:

He proceeded to create wonderfully creative illustrations that put the woman in a number of exciting scenarios. I've posted David's work in 2014 and 2013. I also bought his Do It Yourself Doodler Book from his Etsy store. David just posted a new batch of doodles. Check them out on his website. Here are a few samples:

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Step Aside, Pops: a new Hark! A Vagrant! collection that delights and dazzles

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Canadian historian turned webcomics god Kate Beaton is back with her second Hark! A Vagrant! collection: Step Aside, Pops. Never before has history been so bitterly funny.

Harvard linguist points out the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases

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At first I was adverse to posting this fulsome list of 58 commonly misused words and phrases, due to its sheer enormity, but I decided to proscribe it anyway because it is pretty bemusing. They are from Harvard linguist Steven Pinker's book, The Sense of Style: The Thinking Person's Guide to Writing in the 21st Century.

Adverse means detrimental and does not mean averse or disinclined.

Fulsome means unctuous or excessively or insincerely complimentary and does not mean full or copious.

Enormity means extreme evil and does not mean enormousness. [Note: It is acceptable to use it to mean a deplorable enormousness.]

Proscribe means to condemn, to forbid and does not mean to prescribe, to recommend, to direct.

Bemused means bewildered and does not mean amused.

Harvard linguist points out the 58 most commonly misused words and phrases Read the rest

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