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

Released today! Beverly – Six intertwined stories that show the underside of suburban life

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See sample pages at Wink.

Nick Drnaso’s Beverly, released today, is a brilliant set of six intertwined stories that show the underside of suburban life. Each story starts off with a smile, while pretty pastel colors and manicured lawns are plentiful. The art is crisp, geometric, simple and orderly. But scratch just a bit underneath the astroturf and horrific, heart-breaking details emerge. Broken-down parents cut their family vacation short after walking in on their sexually-repressed son in the middle of a cringe-inducing act. A teen girl who disappears from the diner she works at isn’t as innocent as her xenophobic town first thinks. A lonely housewife has stars in her eyes when she takes part in a sitcom focus group, only to find out she’s been duped.

With a structure like Richard Linklater’s Slacker and the temperament of Daniel Clowes’ Ghost World, each story of bored, angst-filled teens and desperate adults features at least one character from one of the other stories, and yet each is its own separate tale. I was completely taken in, thinking at times that I was right there sharing the same stifled air as these folks, and now they exist in my mind as memories, rather than pieces of a graphic narrative.

Beverly by Nick Drnaso Drawn & Quarterly 2016, 136 pages, 7.5 x 9.5 x 0.4 inches (softcover) $17 Buy a copy on Amazon 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.

Negative Publicity: a book of paraphernalia from state kidnappings

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Crofton Black is a British counterterrorism investigator who has spent years tracking down the detritus of extraordinary rendition -- a polite euphemism for the government practice of snatching people, flying them to a distant country, and torturing them. Read the rest

Starve: the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan

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The launch of Starve, the new comic from Brian Wood, creator of the landmark DMZ and artists Danijel Žeželj and Dave Stewart, was widely celebrated as a major new comic that started as strong as Warren Ellis's Transmetropolitan.

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