Classic cartographic techniques to map out music, gaming, and the net

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Martin Vargic, the 17-year-old cartographic wunderkind from Slovakia responsible for the "Map of Stereotypes" that went viral last year, has done some seriously fine work in this collection of highly-detailed, thoroughly researched and beautiful maps. While some are factual maps based on data and infographic in nature, many are the product of Vargic's imagination, research, and incredible information organization skills. He uses classic cartographic techniques to map out abstract landscapes like music, gaming and the internet.

As Vargic says in the introduction of the book, drawing something out as a map gives you a unique opportunity to present many different metrics of visual information all at once. Charting maps of these systems, landscapes, and fields of culture provides so many dimensions for the reader to dig into and analyze: the size, color, geographic traits, and bordering territories of each region offer a new way to think about all of the pieces in relation to one another. Every page is filled with hundreds of opportunities to pick up some trivia (e.g. "Subway has forty-three thousand locations worldwide"), inspire a quick Google (e.g. "Wait, 'baroque pop' is a thing?"), or jog a memory (e.g. "Aww, I miss Encyclopedia Britannica!"). Flipping the book open to a random page can almost be a little disorienting, because there's just so much to look at. This is the perfect book to look through with a friend or two, pouring over the maps together to discuss, debate and learn. Read the rest

Blooks: functional objects disguised as books

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About Blooks is a blog devoted to "blooks," objects that look like books but aren't, such as book-shaped handbags, hollow books used to hide valuables, and booze flasks that are disguised as books. Read the rest

One Breath, a tragic tale of free diving by Adam Skolnick

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Free diving holds a special terror for me. I've lost two friends to abalone diving, here in Northern California, and while strenuous and dangerous, it doesn't hold a candle to competitive free diving. Adam Skolnick's One Breath tells the tale of Nick Mevoli, a superstar whose death put the sport on trial.

Mevoli in 2013 was a rising star in the world of competitive free diving. His entrance in Vertical Blue, free divings version of Mavericks, was highly anticipated. Mevoli was expected to shatter records, instead he died. Skolnick does an amazing job of showing you the forces, internally and externally, that drove Mevoli to his tragic end.

One Breath: Freediving, Death, and the Quest to Shatter Human Limits by Adam Skolnick via Amazon Read the rest

Usborne releases free PDFs of its classic 1980s computer programming books

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Jindo Fox writes, "A few years ago, Cory linked to some wonderful pictures in Usborne's 1983 classic Introduction to Machine Code for Beginners. Usborne has made PDF copies available of their whole line, with the only restriction that you link to their page, not to copy and redistribute the files themselves. Very cool. I have fond memories of wasting my childhood typing these listings into the mainframe terminal at my local university, and later on my Timex Sinclair 1000, which I somehow knew was the American version of the ZX-81 that was featured in these pages." Read the rest

Gauzy literary scarves: Poe, Holmes, Romeo and Juliet, Alice in Wonderland and more

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Fresh Comfy is a Thai scarf-seller whose gauzy chiffon scarves come screened with motifs from literary classics, in a variety of finishes (grey, black, off-white, full color): Anne of Green Gables cover; Harry Potter Marauders' Map; Map of Middle Earth; Pride and Prejudice cover; the Cheshire Cat; Romeo and Juliet title-page; Sherlock Holmes engravings; Alice in Wonderland interior page; Poe's The Raven and many more. Read the rest

It Isn't Even Past: location scouting the secret history of Rudy Valentino with Tim Powers

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In Medusa's Web, fantasy grandmaster Tim Powers presents us with another of his amazing secret histories, this one of Rudolph Valentino. In this guest editorial, Powers -- author of many of Boing Boing's favorite novels, including the World Fantasy Award winning Last Call, Hide Me Among the Graves, and Dinner at Deviant's Palace -- explains the genesis of his latest book, and takes us with him for his field-research.

Ikea for 2x4s: Building gorgeous furniture out of unfinished lumber

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The design idea of "counter-constraint" is to create things in such a way as to get around some constraint -- for example, open source hardware works without patents or copyrights. Read the rest

A compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

They say that truth is stranger than fiction, so that may explain why The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities almost fooled me into believing it’s real. Were it not for the authors being well-known fiction writers – writers like Alan Moore, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Helen Oyeyemi – I would have considered this a legitimate study of an eccentric, pseudoscientific collection of oddities. Even the introduction, which gives the history of Mr. Lambshead in a completely deadpan tone, in no way gives away the “joke” that everything is fiction.

Essentially, this compendium of bizarre fictional Victoriana brings together more than 50 of the most talented writers and artists of modern fantasy and weird fiction in a collection of the odd, esoteric, and occasionally frightening. Some pieces are written like a museum catalog, while others are stories “inspired” by the collection. The creators have taken full advantage of a long history of eccentric Victorian collectors and unbelievable inventions to assemble a cabinet in book form, stuffed to the brim with curiosities that may only exist in the imagination, and yet feel strangely real.

The stunning yet bizarre imagery sprinkled throughout the book mirrors the various styles of illustration, printmaking, and early photography that would have been found in the kind of 19th-century tome Cabinet takes as a model, reinforcing the otherworldly feeling of reading a history book from an alternate universe, where automatons educate our children and gorillas are raised by crocodiles in the sewer. Read the rest

Laura Poitras's Astro Noise: indispensable book and gallery show about mass surveillance

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Laura Poitras is the Macarthur-winning, Oscar-winning documentarian who made Citizenfour. Her life has been dogged by government surveillance and harassment, and she has had to become a paranoid OPSEC ninja just to survive. Read the rest

Z Burbia, a novel by Jake Bible

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The first novel in Jake Bible's series Z Burbia hooked me. What appeared to be a jokey take on zombie fiction quickly develops some great characters and story.

Jason "Long Pork" Stanford and his family live in a small community outside Asheville, NC. They've used the local geography and their HOA to secure the housing complex and have spent several years keeping things together. Their insular policies and strict adherence to the CC&Rs of Whispering Pines, their home, have kept them alive in the face of bandits, cannibals and of course hordes of zombies. Sadly, things are about to fall apart.

I've enjoyed the characters, Bible has an ability to write little about folks, while not having them be cartoons. The plot, once you get past the condo association stuff, is rather standard Zombie fare, but I'm very much looking forward to the rest of his series. I got the first and second books via Kindle Unlimited.

Z-Burbia by Jake Bible via Amazon Read the rest

Whimsical treasure hunt turns into a grim search-and-rescue

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When Forrest Fenn, a retired antiquities dealer, hid $2m worth of gold, jewels and artifacts in the Rockies and teased the location of the treasure with cryptic clues in his self-published memoir The Thrill of the Chase, he'd hoped to inspire readers "to get the kids off the couch and away from the game machine." Read the rest

First Second Books: a look back at ten years of world-changing graphic publishing

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First Second Books celebrates its tenth anniversary in 2016. From its inception, First Second was known for high quality graphic novels – books that told great stories for every age of reader, from kids to adults. Throughout the years, First Second has published graphic novels as diverse as Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese, Vera Brosgol’s Anya’s Ghost, Mariko Tamaki and Jillian Tamai’s This One Summer, Lucy Knisley’s Relish, and Faith Erin Hicks’ Friends With Boys. And First Second has broken ground with its publishing, bringing unprecedented acceptance and awards to the graphic novel form for kids and parents, teachers and librarians. The graphic novel market looks much different today than it did ten years ago!

Monkeys make surprisingly terrible random-number generators

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Back in 2002, artists at England's Plymouth University teamed up with Paignton Zoo to see if monkeys could write Shakespeare. Read the rest

The Only Child – Searching for a companion while lost in fantasy

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See sample pages of The Only Child at Wink.

The Only Child portrays a lonely tot who becomes lost in a winter landscape. While her parents scour the city and surrounding countryside, the child scampers in snow, clouds, and seas with a mystical buck. This only child left the safety of home to visit Grandma; thankfully, the deer protects the child while guiding their journey. The discoveries made by the pair show how important companions are in life.

The book is illustrated in soft charcoal and chalk pastels, some images filling small boxes, others covering a full page. By using charcoal and pastel, images feel gentle and dreamlike, especially in the fantasy scenes. In contrast, artist Guojing’s urban settings have sharper lines and a gritty texture. In each image, the reader feels the child’s loneliness through the absence of color, the blank snow surrounding the child’s adventure, and the utterly silent text. I felt truly lonely reading the book, scanning the tot’s face and accompanying landscape. I saw that the new companions – the buck, a polar bear cub, and a blue whale – must be temporary, for they do not exist in the ordinary world of adults. I heard the longings for friends and family, as each page tugged me toward the next in hopes of being embraced by Grandma and Mom and Dad.

The Only Child whispers of loneliness, dreams, friendship, family, and adventure. The book reverberates with the timeless yearnings we all have, drawing the reader into the story with its familiar emotions and contrasting world of fantasy. Read the rest

Abusing the Internet of Things: Blackouts, Freakouts, and Stakeouts

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Nitesh Dhanjani's 2015 O'Reilly book Abusing the Internet of Things: Blackouts, Freakouts, and Stakeouts is a very practical existence-proof of the inadequacy and urgency of Internet of Things security.

Seminar on Jo Walton's Philosopher Kings novels

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Jo Walton (previously) is one of science fiction's great talents, a writer who blends beautiful insight about human beings and their frailties and failings without ever losing sight of their nobility and aspirations. Read the rest

Home, a dystopian adventure by Tom Abrahams

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Tom Abrahams' Home introduces us to a prepper nightmare. His vision of life in a post-plague America is worse than I'd imagined.

Former military expert and super prepper Battle has spent the last few years doing nothing but readying his 50 acres, wife and son for the impending doom of society. He has years of supplies, all the guns and ammo you could want, a special mineral rights deal with someone to supply never ending power to his fortress, he thought of every contingency! Sadly, his wife lets a plague ridden neighbor in for some tea.

Battle has to cope with this odd failure, while pretty much kicking the shit out of everything that gets even remotely intrudes on his home. While completely out of his control, Battle is fueled by this failure and sets out to save a stranger's son from an unknown fate. A lot of bullets fly, people get killed.

The action, motivations and organization of post-plague, Cartel run America felt right to me. Bad guys are not so cut and dry bad, unless they are at the very top, and the evolution of post-collapse society painted a scarily realistic picture. I'm looking forward to seeing where Abrahams takes this story next, and if the fallible prepper, Mr. Battle grows.

Home: A Post Apocalyptic/Dystopian Adventure (The Traveler Book 1) via Amazon Read the rest

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