The Raven Pops Up!


Earlier this year paper engineer David Pelham and illustrator Christopher Wormell collaborated on a masterful pop-up book rendition of Edgar Allen Poe’s poem “The Raven.”

It’s an unusually accomplished work in a genre that is often thought to be directed at children. And while kids’ books do make up a large portion of the pop-up books produced, adults who turn their nose up at anything more than a flat white page adorned with black text might find much to admire in the field of “moveable books.” A Moveable Book Society not only exists, but has a biannual convention that’s taking place this coming weekend in Boston. The earliest pop-ups appeared in books hundreds of years ago. This video lecture by pop-up wizard and designer Robert Sabuda was done for the Smithsonian.

I used to be a pop-up book nut, having started collecting them in the 1980s. Eventually, with hundreds of books stacked up all over, I sold it for a pittance. A pity, in retrospect, though I did keep an important few, including a beautiful copy of Model Menagerie published in 1895 by Ernest Nister which I snatched up for an unlikely C note on Portobello Road in London just as the dealer was opening his stand early in the morning. I scampered out with my prize feeling terribly guilty and simultaneously full of glee.

These days pop-up books are most often produced on glossy stock. The Raven, however, is printed on uncoated paper, and this in combination with Wormell’s magnificent illustrations create a book of seeming mid-19th century engravings come to life. Read the rest

Mighty Jack: a new series from Ben "Zita the Spacegirl" Hatke

Ben Hatke's Zita the Spacegirl trilogy was one of the best kids' comics of the new century (and it's headed to TV!), and he's been very productive in the years since, but his new series, Mighty Jack feels like the true successor to Zita: a meaty volume one that promises and delivers all the buckle you can shake a swash at, with more to come.

Edgar Allan Poe's "The Raven" - the pop-up book edition

Pop-up book veterans David Pelham and Christopher Wormell have collaborated on a just-in-time-for-ween edition of Edgar Allen Poe's magnificent torch, 1845's The Raven.

Parasitic Souls: what if there was a tech bubble, but for magic?

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[Editor's note: Kater Cheek was one of my Clarion 2007 students, and has been vigorously writing and publishing ever since. She has graciously offered us the opportunity to publish the opening chapter of Parasitic Souls, her latest novel -Cory]

Welcome to Night Vale: scripts and notes from podcasting's eeriest drama

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First, the amazing, creepy, weird and lovable podcast Welcome to Night Vale spawned a wonderful, improbable novel, and now, for book lovers who love Night Vale, there's two books of scripts and notes from the production team: Mostly Void, Partially Stars: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 1 and The Great Glowing Coils of the Universe: Welcome to Night Vale Episodes, Volume 2 (I wrote the introduction to volume 1!).

When "computers" were young, brilliant black women mathematicians


Margot Lee Shetterly's Hidden Figures recovers the lost history of the young African American women who did the heavy computational work of the Apollo missions, given the job title of "computer" -- her compelling book has been made into a new motion picture. Read the rest

Guide to raising smartass kids

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Lucy Walinchus's How to Raise a Smartass is a great, funny, irreverent memoir/guidebook about Walinchus's own experiences, proudly raising a passel of smartass kids. Speaking as the father of a self-declared "sassy" eight year old, I could certainly relate -- I laughed, I winced, I laughed again. Read the rest

Scarily prescient 1958 animated interview with Aldous Huxley

In a 1958 interview, author, philosopher, and futurist Aldous Huxley (Brave New World, The Doors of Perception) shares his grim predictions that are unfortunately quite relevant today. From Blank on Blank:

"This is Aldous Huxley, a man haunted by a vision of hell on earth. Mr. Huxley wrote a Brave New World, a novel that predicted that some day the entire world would live under a frightful dictatorship. Today Mr. Huxley says that his fictional world of horror is probably just around the corner for all of us." - Mike Wallace

In this remarkable interview, Huxley foretells a future when telegenic presidential hopefuls use television to rise to power, technology takes over, drugs grab hold, and frightful dictatorships rule us all.

Read the rest

Dear Data – Two women explore their friendship through data analysis and mail art


See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Dear Data by Giorgia Lupi and Stefanie Posavec Princeton Architectural Press 2016, 288 pages, 8.4 x 11.2 x 1 inches (softcover) $32 Buy a copy on Amazon

I have always had a deep fascination with the graphical representation of data. Being mildly dyslexic, numbers make my head hurt. Being extremely visual, numbers only come alive for me when they take color, shape, or are otherwise rendered in some visual way. Show me numbers and they will have little impact. Show me a beautiful graphical representation of those numbers and I will remember them forever. Dear Data is a rich and inspiring teasure-trove of creatively rendereded data, giving visual shape to the more mundane aspects of the two authors’ lives.

Dear Data is the result of a year-long project that two designer friends undertook. For one year, Giorgia Lupi, an Italian living in New York, and Stefanie Posavec, an American in London, gathered data around a theme each week, things like the number of times they said “Thank you,” the numbers of people they met (and how they connected), the numbers (and types) of doorways they walked through, the number of times they each looked at a clock, etc. With this data in hand, they would render a postcard with an artful, graphical presentation of their week and send it to the other. This book collects all 52 weeks, along with lots of additional art, insight, and asides.

The result is a very lovely book and a very unique way of exploring a friendship while more deeply exploring oneself in the process. Read the rest

Scrumdiddlyumptious and other Roald Dahlesque words now in the Oxford English Dictionary

In celebration of the centenary of Roald Dahl's birth this month, the Oxford English Dictionary has added words and updated entries related to Dahl's iconic children's books like Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The BFG. From

This update also includes brand new entries and senses for a range of vocabulary best described as Dahlesque—an adjective which makes its first appearance in OED today with a first quotation from 1983 in which a collection of stories is praised for its ‘Dahlesque delight in the bizarre’. These new additions provide Dahl fans with a golden ticket to the first uses and historical development of words like scrumdiddlyumptious, for those occasions when scrumptious simply won’t do (or at all times if you happen to be The Simpsons’ Ned Flanders), and the human bean, which is not a vegetable, although—according to the Dahl’s Big Friendly Giant—it comes in ‘dillions of different flavours’. A new sub-entry for golden ticket itself reveals that (long before Charlie Bucket found his own in the wrapper of a Wonka Whipple-Scrumptious Fudge Mallow Delight) the first such ticket was granted to the painter and engraver William Hogarth. Hogarth’s ticket granted the bearer and five companions perpetual free admission to the pleasure gardens of Vauxhall, in return for paintings carried out for the gardens by the artist....

The witching hour, the ‘special moment in the middle of the night when every child and every grown-up [is] in a deep deep sleep’, and when the BFG and his bloodthirsty cousins wander abroad, was first mentioned in 1762, in a poem by Elizabeth Carter Keene (now all-but forgotten, and dismissed by one twentieth-century critic as ‘a vapid bungler’), where it is a clear reference to—or misremembering of—Hamlet’s ‘the very witching time of night, When Churchyards yawne, and hell it selfe breakes out Contagion to this world’.

Read the rest

After 60 years, man returns library book that clearly influenced his life


Larry Murdock just returned a library book that he checked out from the Linton, Indiana Public Library in 1956, when he was just 8 years old. The book is "Moths of the Limberlost." Murdock is now a Purdue University professor of entomology who specializes in the study of moths. He said the book turned up in a box.

"(Returning) it was the right thing to do," he said. "Maybe after all those years there are kids out there who might get some benefit" from the book.

Murdock paid a $436.44 fine.

(AP) Read the rest

They're making a Twits ale from Roald Dahl's body-yeast

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Roald Dahl spent the last of his days in a special armchair that he modded to help him with back pain from a WWII injury; now, in honour of the Dinner at the Twits interactive theatre events, the craft 40FT Brewery has swabbed some yeast from Dahl's chair and cultured it to brew Mr. Twit's Odious Ale, which will be served at the event. Read the rest

Starve #2: Brian Wood lands the tale in a screaming dive and a perfect touchdown

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Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

Lovely watercolor illustrations of The Silmarillion's first chapter


Evan Palmer's reverent watercolors capture the verbal harmonies and surprising glories of J.R.R. Tolkien's origin story for the universe he created. Read the rest

George Orwell's letter from his former French teacher, Aldous Huxley, about Nineteen Eighty-Four

Shortly after George Orwell published Nineteen Eighty-Four in 1949, he received a letter from his onetime high school French teacher, Aldous Huxley, who had published Brave New Work 17 years earlier. Here are Huxley's comments, via Letters of Note:

Wrightwood. Cal. 21 October, 1949

Dear Mr. Orwell,

It was very kind of you to tell your publishers to send me a copy of your book. It arrived as I was in the midst of a piece of work that required much reading and consulting of references; and since poor sight makes it necessary for me to ration my reading, I had to wait a long time before being able to embark on Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Agreeing with all that the critics have written of it, I need not tell you, yet once more, how fine and how profoundly important the book is. May I speak instead of the thing with which the book deals --- the ultimate revolution? The first hints of a philosophy of the ultimate revolution --- the revolution which lies beyond politics and economics, and which aims at total subversion of the individual's psychology and physiology --- are to be found in the Marquis de Sade, who regarded himself as the continuator, the consummator, of Robespierre and Babeuf. The philosophy of the ruling minority in Nineteen Eighty-Four is a sadism which has been carried to its logical conclusion by going beyond sex and denying it. Whether in actual fact the policy of the boot-on-the-face can go on indefinitely seems doubtful.

Read the rest

How the New York Public Library made ebooks open, and thus one trillion times better

Leonard Richardson isn't just the author of Constellation Games, one of the best debut novels I ever read and certainly one of the best books I read in 2013; he's also an extremely talented free/open source server-software developer who has been working for the New York Public Library on a software project that liberates every part of the electronic book lending system from any kind of proprietary lock-in, and, in the process, made reading library ebooks one trillion times better. Read the rest

Hugo Award Winners 2016


Tonight in Kansas City, MO, at Midamericon II, the 74th World Science Fiction Convention, the Hugo Awards were presented to a rapt audience in person and online, with voters weighing on a ballot that had been partially sabotaged by a small clique of people who objected to stories about wowen and people who weren't white. Read the rest

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