My publicist just found an extra box of the cool promotional Walkaway multitools, and she's generously offered to give them to the next 100 people to reserve tickets to the May 7th Walkaway event at Chicago's Royal George Theater, where I'm presenting with CARDS AGAINST HUMANITY creator Max Temkin (current ticket-holders, don't worry, you get one too).
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My latest novel, Walkaway, was published today, and the Crooked Timber block has honored me with a seminar on the book, where luminaries from Henry Farrell to Julia Powles to John Holbo to Astra Taylor to Bruce Schneier weigh in with a series of critical essays that will run in the weeks to come, closing with an essay of my own, in response.
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Regular Boing Boing readers need no introduction to John Scalzi, whose smartass, snappy, funny, action-packed science fiction novels are a treat to read; but new fans and old hands alike will find much to love in The Collapsing Empire
, the first volume in a new, epic space-opera series.
Life is a continuing cycle of newness, then growth, and then gone: then birth and growth again. I started thinking about that theme of new life and new beginnings several years ago, and WAKE UP!
, published by Candlewick Press, is the result. Working with my collaborator, poet Helen Frost, our book is about opening eyes—our own, first—and pointing to the world that’s right here, containing us all. Helen and I are both based in the US Midwest, so we started there, with a world that we didn’t need to travel far to explore, only wake up enough to actually see.
When occult historian Mitch Horowitz's excellent 2009 book Occult America
was published, he received a phone call from an admiring fan: Stephen K. Bannon. Over at Salon, Mitch writes about the right wing's weird connection to New Age mysticism:
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(Bannon) professed deep interest in the book’s themes, and encouraged me in my next work, “One Simple Idea,” an exploration of positive-mind metaphysics in American life....
Although the media have characterized Bannon as the Disraeli of the dark side following his rise to power in the Trump administration, I knew him, and still do, as a deeply read and erudite observer of the American religious scene, with a keen appetite for mystical thought.
Ronald Reagan, a hero of his, was not dissimilar. As I’ve written in the Washington Post and elsewhere, Reagan, from the start of his political career in the 1950s up through the first term of his presidency, adopted phrasing and ideas from the writings of a Los Angeles-based occult scholar named Manly P. Hall (1901-1990), whose 1928 encyclopedia arcana “The Secret Teachings of All Ages” is among the most influential underground books in American culture.
President Trump himself has admiringly recalled his lessons in the mystic art of “positive thinking” from the Rev. Norman Vincent Peale, the Trump family’s longtime pastor, who popularized metaphysical mind-power themes in his 1952 mega-seller “The Power of Positive Thinking.”
What in the cosmos is going on? New Age and alternative spirituality are supposed to be the domain of patchouli-scented aisles of health food stores and bookshops that sell candles and pendulums, right?
Steven Boyett writes, "Humble Bundle has released a unicorn-themed Bundle, with proceeds to benefit the World Wide Fund for Nature and Fauna & Flora International. For as little as $1.00, you can get Ariel, by Steven R. Boyett (full disclosure: that's me); Unicorn Mountain, by Michael Bishop; Homeward Bound, by Bruce Coville; and Unicorn Triangle, by Patricia McKillip."
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Sean Tejaratchi is the absolute master of photoshopped cultural effluvia, God of an alternative world where the classic trash you remember warps into a mythopoeia of weird, hilarious insanity. And now much of it is to be collected in an 8.5″ x 11″ 248-page color book, Liartown, the first four years.
The book contains almost all LiarTown material from early 2013 to January 2017. It includes an introduction by me, Sean Tejaratchi, a foreword by former Onion editor Scott Dikkers, a section with notes on selected pieces, and an exhaustive index. The back cover will feature brief explanatory text (written especially for the back cover and not previously read by the public), as well as a laudatory comments from cultural notables, a barcode, and cover price. Every inch of this lavishly designed book has been designed to perfection. Even the spine, normally known only as the narrow, bound left edge of a volume, will be emblazoned with the title, subtitle, author, and publisher logo.
Speaking of the publisher, beloved Feral House Books has honored my desire to keep all the bad words and bird dicks and lunchbox tits and other improprieties. I was not asked to change a single thing.
It'll ship in late fall; preorder it now. [Amazon link]
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Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009, drops in four days, and today, my US publisher Tor Boooks unveiled a gorgeous, stylish book-trailer for the novel, created by Jaye Rochon from Circle of Seven.
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With less than a week to go until the debut of Walkaway, my next novel for adults, Portland's Powell's Bookstore has run a long Q&A with me about the book, my writing habits, my favorite reads, and many other subjects.
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Kory Stamper, author of the new book Word by Word: The Secret Life of Dictionaries describes three criteria Merriam-Webster uses for inclusion of words like truther, binge-watch, photobomb and the 1,000 other words that make the cut in a typical year. Read the rest
I read pretty much every Disneyland history and fact book I find. Chris Strodder's The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom lives up to its massive title.
A simple alphabetical listing of just about every First through Fifth order-of-interest item in the park. Everything from the amazing history of the Golden Horseshoe Review to fun facts about a tobacco shop that disappeared 27 years ago lies between the covers of this book. These are truly encyclopedia style entries and are chock full of facts with less emphasis on story telling. I think it'd be a great book to have at the park.
I did a cover-to-cover read through of this at home. I'd prefer to have it electronically on my phone via Kindle to look at while in the park. Go e-version if you can.
The Disneyland Encyclopedia: The Unofficial, Unauthorized, and Unprecedented History of Every Land, Attraction, Restaurant, Shop, and Major Event in the Original Magic Kingdom via Amazon
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Artist Butcher Billy brilliantly reimagined 1970s and 1980s songs about the dark side of love as if they were Stephen King paperback covers from the era. The series is titled Stranger Love Things
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The smell of old books is instantly recognizable but hard to describe. Thanks to mass spectrometry and good old fashioned smell tests, University College London researchers have created a Historic Book Odour Wheel. Read the rest
Briggs Land is a complex, intelligent crime drama that is so American at its core, but a slice of America we rarely get to see. It would be topical at any time, but in our current political climate, it's frighteningly relevant.
Saga is Brian K Vaughan and Fiona Staples' magnificent, visually stunning, adventurous, funny, raunchy, complex and provocative graphic novel; the first six volumes of collected comics moved from strength to strength, fleshing out a universe that was simultaneously surreal and deadly serious, where cute characters could have deadly-serious lives: now, with volume 7
, Staples and Vaughan continue their unbroken streak of brilliance.
Superman always left me cold. Virtually omnipotent, unerringly virtuous, and slightly boring, Superman is capable of rescuing kittens from trees, leaping over buildings with a single bound, and routinely saving the entire planet from certain cataclysm. He always wins. Sure, he was sort of killed once, he's been naughty on occasion (usually due to some form of Kryptonite or an alternate reality), and he certainly has a fascist streak in the current movies, but his most recent controversy is whether he's wearing the red trunks or not. Yawn.
I was always fascinated by the C-squad heroes, the not-quite-ready-for-prime-time group just below Aquaman and Elongated Man in name recognition. Red Tornado, the 1940's heroine who fought crime while wearing a bucket on her head, utilizing only her fists and wit. Mr. Terrific, the Golden Age 'Man of 1000 Talents', who rarely used any of them. Phantom Stranger, a mage with omnipotent powers who was merely a narrator in his own book, generally only appearing in the first and last panels. And then there's The Legion Of Superheroes, whose members included Bouncing Boy, who had the ability to inflate himself and bounce around, Ferro Lad, who could turn himself to solid iron, and Matter Eater Lad, who could eat anything, which inspired the indie rock group Guided By Voices to write a song about him. Don't even get me started on the League Of Substitute Heroes, the minor leaguers with questionable abilities not quite up to snuff to join the Legion.
The League Of Regrettable Superheroes examines the careers of a few of the comic book history's least likely heroes. Read the rest
The Hans Christian Andersen classic, The Snow Queen, is a quick and enjoyable read, made all the more so with printmaker Sanna Annukka’s gorgeous illustrations. You’ll likely recognize the textile designer’s aesthetic from Marimekko and, not surprisingly, many of her illustrations make full use of her bold, geometric patterns through the characters’ dress. Her landscapes look like fabrics, too. A panel that shows a wintry countryside looks like it could be a weaving and I wish I could buy another, a garden in full bloom, by the bolt.
The story itself is not what I had expected. In many ways, the titular character is a minor player. The heroine is a young girl, Gerda, who journeys bravely and earnestly, escaping numerous villains by virtue of her devotion to her young friend and playmate, Kay, who has been lured away by the Snow Queen. Kay first fell victim to the heart-numbing trickery of the devil himself, who had accidentally broken an evil mirror crafted to reflect and amplify only the most wicked and ugly things in the world. When the mirror breaks, pieces “smaller than a grain of sand” are sent flying around the word, one of which sticks in Kay’s eye, and another which pierces and chills his heart. As the Snow Queen further freezes Kay’s heart with a kiss, Gerda braves witches, haunts, thieves, and icy winds to save her friend.
Maybe it’s because I’m a mom who is worn out on Frozen, the Disney smash hit (which refuses to die, despite every parent’s best efforts) that was loosely based on the fairy tale, but I wish that the movie more closely echoed the actual story. Read the rest