An excerpt from Tropic of Kansas, a novel about a Trumpian, dystopian America

On Tor.com, an excerpt from Christopher Brown's forthcoming debut novel Tropic of Kansas, an outstanding and well-timed thriller about a corporate-presidency dystopia (you may recall it from Brown's essay in March). Read the rest

How to get a signed, personalized copy of Walkaway sent to your door!

The main body of the tour for my novel Walkaway is done (though there are still upcoming stops at Denver Comic-Con, San Diego Comic-Con, the Burbank Public Library and Defcon in Las Vegas), but you can still get signed, personalized copies of Walkaway! Read the rest

What I've been reading - recommended books

A few days ago Jason Kottke posted his media diet - a list of books and movies he's read and watched recenty. I found some interesting things on his list, which I made a note of. (I keep a running list of media to consume on Workflowy, the best task manager. If I meet you and we chat, chances are good I will pull out my phone and add something we talked about to my list.)

In the spirit of Kottke's media diet list, here are some books that I've read recently and recommend.

People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo -- and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up, by Richard Lloyd Parry. A true crime novel about the disappearence of a young British woman who worked as a hostess in Toyko's Roppongi nightclub district. Her body was found several months later. The most interesting part was the glimpse into Tokyo's criminal justice system, which is very different from the United States'. In Japan, getting a suspect to confess is an essential part of the process, and their legal system almost breaks down when a suspect refuses to confess.

11/22/63: A Novel, by Stephen King. This was my first Stephen King novel, and many people say it's his best work. It's about guy who finds a secret portal to 1958. He enters it through the back of a diner, and no matter how long he is in that past, when he re-enters the present, only a few minutes have elapsed. Read the rest

Neal Stephenson and Nicole Galland's DODO novel mashes up D&D, time-travel and military bureaucracy

While all of Neal Stephenson's -- always excellent -- novels share common themes and tropes, they're also told in many different modes, from the stately, measured pace of the Baroque Cycle books to the madcap energy of Snow Crash to the wildly experimental pacing of Seveneves. With The Rise and Fall of DODO, a novel co-written with his Mongoliad collaborator, the novelist Nicole Galland, we get all the modes of Stephenson, and all the tropes, and it is glorious.

Steven Boyett on Fata Morgana, his new WWII/alt-history mashup novel

Today on John Scalzi's Whatever blog, Steven R Boyett (author of the classic fantasy novel Ariel) writes about Fata Morgana, the new alternate history/WWII novel he's just published with Ken Mitchroney. Read the rest

Journalism After Snowden: essays about a free press in a surveillance state

Journalism After Snowden: The Future of the Free Press in the Surveillance State is a new essay collection from Columbia Journalism Review Books with contributions from Ed Snowden, Alan Rusbridger (former editor-in-chief of The Guardian); Jill Abramson (former New York Times executive editor; Glenn Greenwald, Steve Coll (Dean of Columbia Graduate School of Journalism), Clay Shirky, Cass Sunstein, and Julia Angwin. Read the rest

Coup! Serial satire uses imaginary Mike Pence coup to lampoon Trump's "presidency"

Gersh Kuntzman's serialized novel "Coup!" is notionally the memoir of a retired CIA operative ("Deep State") who, having discovered he had terminal cancer, decided to help Mike Pence invoke the 25th Amendment and stage a coup deposing Donald Trump and installing himself as President Handmaid's Tale, with a coterie of morally flexible billionaires who'd been bought off of Trump's cabinet with promises of special favors and steady leadership. Read the rest

Down Among the Sticks and Bones: return to the world of Every Heart a Doorway, where gender and peril collide

Seanan McGuire's 2016 novella Every Heart a Doorway was a mean, beautiful, hopeful fairy tale about a boarding school for kids who once opened a door into a magical world, only to return to mundane our earth broken and sorrowing. In Down Among the Sticks and Bones, a prequel published today, McGuire sharpens the tip of her literary spear to a lethal point, telling the tale of Jacqueline and Jillian, twins who opened a door and found themselves upon a moor where they were apprenticed to a vampire and a mad scientist.

A legal victory for the kickstarted Star Trek mashup censored by Dr Seuss's estate

Last October, the Dr Seuss estate used legal threats to halt a wildly successful crowdfunded Seuss/Star Trek mashup called "Oh, The Places You'll Boldly Go," whose contributors included comics legend Ty Templeton and Tribbles creator David Gerrold. Read the rest

Chicago! I'll see you tomorrow at Printers Row!

I'm on stage tomorrow at 11:30 with Mary Robinette Kowal (free tickets here) -- we'll be talking about my new novel, Walkaway. Can't wait to see you! Read the rest

To do in San Francisco this Sunday: Steven Boyett and Ken Mitchroney at SF in SF

The SF in SF reading series is back this Sunday at the American Bookbinders Museum, with Steven "Ariel" Boyett and Ken Mitchroney, authors of the outstanding new WWII/alternate history novel Fata Morgana. Read the rest

Anthony Burgess's lost, incomplete slang dictionary re-discovered

Burgess's fascination with slang extended well past Nadsat, the synthetic Russo-English dialect he invented for A Clockwork Orange; his autobiography mentions in passing that he'd begun work on a dictionary of slang but gave it up: "I’ve done A and B and find that a good deal of A and B is out of date or has to be added to, and I could envisage the future as being totally tied up with such a dictionary." Read the rest

Hot Cockles and other weird medieval party games

Claire Voon takes a fascinating look at engraver Joseph Strutt's illustrations of strange medieval party games, many of which involve beating the hell out of other guests. Read the rest

The Conjuring Arts Research Center: Manhattan's hidden library of magic

Atlas Obscura discloses a secret library, The Conjuring Arts Research Center, established to preserve the secrets of magic!

The not-for-profit organization was established in 2003, “dedicated to the preservation and interpretation of magic and its allied arts.” It was started by William Kalush, who developed a love of magic from the card tricks shown to him by his father, a Marine wounded in World War II. This love of card magic turned to a love of collecting magic books, which now form a wondrous collection of over 15,000 books—some dating to over 600 years old—housed in this hidden location.

“I like early books that no one else has ever seen”, Kalush says, sitting in a high-backed, ornately carved wooden chair that wouldn’t look out of place with a wizard sitting on it. “Books of performances pieces, card secrets, many that are unique.”

Browsing through the shelves stacked with all things conjuring, you will find obscure books on sleight-of-hand techniques, mentalism, deceptive gambling, the history of magic, and the mysterious secrets of card tricks. One book is the seminal The Expert At the Card Table, which appeared in 1902, written by an S. W. Erdnase. It’s one of the most detailed collections of sleight-of-hand techniques and card sharping, a book so iconic and well-studied within magic circles it is known as “the Bible.” Appropriately enough, S. W. Erdnase was a pseudonym. The real identity of the writer has remained a century-old mystery.

Read the rest

The Kill Society: Sandman Slim meets Mad Max...in hell

Every time I imagine that Richard Kadrey has run out of ends-of-all-creation to torture his long-running, hard-boiled supernatural antihero Sandman Slim with, he surprises me with a bigger, badder, meaner, scarier end-of-days than the last, and with the eighth volume in the series, The Kill Society, Kadrey pulls out all the stops. Read the rest

New Yorkers! I'll see you tomorrow at Bookcon on the Walkaway tour (then SF, Chicago, Denver...) (!)

I just got to NYC for Bookcon, where I'm Read the rest

Kickstarting a CC-licensed picture book that teaches mathematical functions to small kids

Maria writes, "Funville Adventures is a creative, joyful, and gentle new project that introduces young children to advanced math. Children as young as 5 will enjoy the story and math-rich play; older children and adults can also investigate the deeper mathematical concepts such as inverse function, composition, and functional." Read the rest

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