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Kickstarting Maker's Alphabet: an ABC book that celebrates creativity

Melody writes, "We're grad students in the MFA Interaction Design program at the School of Visual Arts in NYC. We launched a Kickstarter project called Maker's Alphabet. It's an ABC book that features whimsical illustrations and verses to celebrate creativity of all stripes."

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Sword and Laser Podcast 171: The Martian Influx

The Sword and Laser (S&L) is a science fiction and fantasy-themed book club podcast hosted by Veronica Belmont and Tom Merritt. The main goal of the club is to build a strong online community of science fiction / fantasy buffs, and to discuss and enjoy books of both genres. Check out previous episodes here.

We're very excited that James S. A. Corey's The Expanse is being made into a TV series! Plus, we sat down to chat with Andy Weir and Daniel Suarez. We learn you shouldn't go for a publisher, but go for an audience, and why you should NOT tell your friends your stories but make them read what you write instead.

Read show notes here.

Sword and Laser is not just a podcast; we’ve also been a book club since 2007! Each month we select a science fiction or fantasy book, discuss it during kick-off and wrap-up episodes of the podcast, and continue that discussion with our listeners over on our Goodreads forums. So come read along with us, and even get a chance to ask your questions to the authors themselves!

Sword and Laser: Subscribe RSS | iTunes | Download this episode

Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them.

This week we reviewed books about Rocketeer creator Dave Stevens' beautiful comic book art, unusual maps of an ordinary neighborhood, the history of economics told through comics, visual representations of history, a visual guide to psychology, and hundreds of excellent optical illusions.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink. And sign up for our Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.

Gabriel García Márquez, Nobel laureate novelist, 1927-2014

Novelist Gabriel García Márquez, whose One Hundred Years of Solitude "established him as a giant of 20th-century literature," died today at his home in Mexico City. He was 87.

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Daniel Pinkwater's brilliant, hilarious, life-changing books as $3 ebooks


Children's author, essayist and hero of literature Daniel Pinkwater has revived his classic backlist as a line of DRM-free ebooks! Each one is only $3, and there are some astoundingly good titles in there.

Alan Mendelsohn, The Boy From Mars was my first Pinkwater, and it literally changed my life. It's your basic nerd-discovers-he-has-special-powers book, except it's not: it's got saucer cults, green death chili, mystic bikers, and a sweet and inclusive message about following your weird without looking down on others. It literally changed my life.

The Education of Robert Nifkin is another take on an Alan Mendelsohn-like story, but this time, it's all about taking charge of your own education and an alternative school where the inmates run the asylum. It's probably no coincidence that I ended up at a school much like Nifkin's after reading Mendelsohn (here's my full review).

Young Adults is a hilarious, bawdy romp through the conventions of young adult literature. When got my first paperback copy, I walked around for days, annoying my roommates by reading long passages from this at them until they forgave me because they were convulsed with laughter. Dadaism was never so funny.

Wingman is such a beautiful, compassionate book about race, comics, and a love affair with literature. I read my copy until it fell apart.

What can you say about the Snarkout Boys? They sneak out at night and go to an all-night B-movie palace where they have comic, X-Files-style adventures with the paranormal and diner food. The Snarkout Boys & The Avocado of Death and The Snarkout Boys & The Baconburg Horror comprise the canon.

Fat Men from Space is the greatest paen ever penned to sloppy cooking. If you can't get enough of Shopsin's in NYC, or find yourself throwing everything in a frying pan at 2AM, you need this book.

Then there's Chicago Days and Hoboken Nights, a memoir as a series of comic essays that tell the story of Pinkwater's boyhood, his training as an artist, his late-night hot-dogs, and the forces that made him into the towering force of literature that he is today.

There's so much more!

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Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell (book review)

Diableries: Stereoscopic Adventures in Hell centers on a beautiful, reprinted collection of diabolical 1860s French stereoscopic cards. On each card is an image of a detailed, intricate clay diorama depicting life in hell. Each card tells a story, but the story of the collection itself is far more interesting.

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Letters of Note finally in print

Letters of Note, the most excellent blog collecting intriguing letters sent by noteworthy persons, is finally to be an excellent book.

"This spectacular collection of more than 125 letters offers a never-before-seen glimpse of the events and people of history—the brightest and best, the most notorious, and the endearingly everyday. Entries include a transcript of the letter; a short contextual introduction; and, in 100 cases, a captivating facsimile of the letter itself. The artfulness of Shaun Usher's eclectic arrangement creates a reading experience rich in discovery. Mordant, hilarious, poignant, enlightening—surprise rewards each turn of the page. Colorfully illustrated with photographs, portraits, and relevant artworks, this handsome hardcover is a visual treat too, making Letters of Note an utterly distinctive gift, and an instant classic."

Previously: Letters of Note -- blog of written correspondence from well-known people
Letters of Note, the book

Locus Poll wants your picks for the best sf/f of 2013

The 43d annual Locus Poll and Survey is now online. Every year, science fiction trade journal Locus solicits votes on its editors' picks for the best science fiction and fantasy of the year (as well as write-in suggestions for missing works) and awards the winning authors with handsome plaques and the enormous honor of winning an award that's part editors' choice, part peoples' choice. I'm delighted to see that my novel Homeland made the list this year. Subscribers and non-subscribers alike are welcome to vote.

Locus Poll and Survey

Homeland audiobook, read by Wil Wheaton, is back on downpour.com

For those of you who missed the audiobook in which Wil Wheaton reads my novel Homeland in the Humble Ebook Bundle, despair no longer! You can buy it DRM-free on the excellent Downpour.com, a site with many DRM-free audio titles.

Homeland (audiobook)

Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

Wink is a website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them. This week we reviewed books about excellent optical illusions, the events of one day in WW1 told in the form one long continuous pen drawing printed on a fold-out scroll, Ernest Shackleton’s brave yet disastrous attempt to cross the Antarctic continent, hundreds of science-themed tattoos worn by working scientists, the sketchbooks of artists from around the world, and the greatest comic books ever published in a bound slipcase.

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink.

RIP, Sue Townsend

Sue Townsend has died. Ms Townsend wrote (among other things) the marvellous Adrian Mole books that have been a touchstone for me since I was 14 years old (I'm the same age as Adrian Mole, and grew up with him through Townsend's fictionalised diaries). Townsend has been legally blind due to complications from diabetes for some time, and had been writing her books by dictation. The BBC says that she died at home "after a short illness." I am so sad about this. She was one of the great comic writers, with all that implies: wisdom, wit, compassion and ruthless honesty. She was 68.

SF in SF: Daniel Suarez and Andy Weir in San Francisco this Saturday

Rina writes, "Join SF in SF on Sat., April 12 for our author event! Authors Daniel Suarez (Influx) and Andy Weir (The Martian) will each read a selection from their work, followed by Q&A moderated by author Terry Bisson. Booksigning and schmoozing follows, with books for sale courtesy of Borderlands Books. The event will be podcasted by the Sword & Laser Podcast." Cory 2

A Canticle for Leibowitz, venerated science fiction masterpiece

I recent read Walter M. Miller Jr's. deeply loved and admired A Canticle for Leibowitz. Sci-fi reviews so often reference this published in 1959 story of post-apolcalyptic mankind's struggles, that when an old tattered copy was handed to me I had no choice but to dig in. I quickly became a fan.

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Kickstarting a new Girl Genius collection

Phil Foglio writes, "Woo hoo! Excitements abounds! Today Studio Foglio flipped the Big Red Switch and we have launched our latest Kickstarter. This one is for Girl Genius Volume 13- Agatha Heterodyne and the Sleeping City. Now, as some people might remember, we had a very successful Kickstarter last year. successful enough that you might be excused asking 'So what for do you need more money? Did you blow it all on coke' (On this point, you can rest assured. No one who does coke stays as fat as we are.) No, we calculated how much it would cost to get all of our books back into print, make tchotchkes like pins and patches and travel stickers, and hire us a business manager, and that is where the money went."

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Saturday: Pravic Science Fiction Extravaganza with Rucker, Davis, and Pesco (San Francisco)

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On Saturday (April 12), the excellent Pravic science fiction 'zine will hold its second live extravaganza in San Francisco. I'm honored that I've been added to the amazing bill featuring talks by two of my own big influences -- SF legend Rudy Rucker and Erik Davis, author of Techgnosis and co-host of the Expanding Mind podcast. I'll be sharing some thoughts on "Science, Art, and Magic." Hosted by Pravic commanders David Gill and Nathaniel Miller, there will also be readings by Ian Kappos, Ben Weiner, Michael Buckley, Daniel Gonzalez, Suhail Rafidi, and Nikita Allgire, music by Feral Luggage, and trivia, prizes, food, and beer! The free event is at Brainwash Cafe from 7pm-11pm. Hope to see you there! Pravic's 2nd Science Fiction Extravaganza