The BBC will air a docudrama on Terry Pratchett's life and his struggle with Alzheimer's

Paul Kaye plays Pratchett in Back in Black, based on Pratchett's unfinished autobiography; it will air on Saturday. Read the rest

A history of American collapse in science fiction, from 1889's Last American to today

Paul Di Filippo has written a masterful, lively history of the many ways in which science fiction has explored the collapse of the American project, from JA Mitchell's 1889 The Last American to contemporary novels like Too Like the Lightning, Liberation, DMZ and Counting Heads. Read the rest

Now in print: Neil Gaiman's "novelistic" book of Norse mythos

Readers of Neil Gaiman's essay collection The View From the Cheap Seats know how influential Jack Kirby's Mighty Thor and Roger Lancelyn Green's Myths of the Norsemen were on his work -- an influence that shows in books like American Gods and Odd and the Frost Giants -- so we were all excited when WW Norton announced that Gaiman would write a novelistic retelling of the Norse myths for them. Read the rest

Waterstones, the UK's national bookstore, came back from near-death by transforming into indie, local stores

Waterstones was at death's door when it was purchased by Russian billioniare Alexander Mamut, who hired James Daunt -- an investment banker who'd founded the successful, six-store Daunt Books -- to run the chain. Read the rest

Fan re-edits The Hobbit single, reasonable movie

Sara writes, "It has been a few years since The Hobbit has its theatrical release and some fans have been toiling since then on the perfect edit. Joblit has posted links to his latest versions.They include the personal favourite Theatrical Edition (runtime 2:42), a somewhat indulgent Extended Edition (runtime 3:45), and a brisk Ludicrous Edition (runtime 2:10). He notes to keep in mind that the credits are 13 minutes long, so playback is considerably shorter. If you're a fan of the films and also like an early night then these film edits are for you." Read the rest

A 19th century Lithuanian book smuggler defies the autocrat's book-ban

This is Vincas Juska, a knygnešys -- "book smuggler" -- one of the brave people who defied Tsar Alexander II's "Temporary Rules for State Junior Schools of the Northwestern Krai" by smuggling books written with Latin characters into Lithuania, defying the ban put into place after the Polish-Lithuanian insurrection of 1863. Read the rest

Trump's bookcase, Old State Department Library

Ladies and gentlemen, the bookcase of the Old State Department Library at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building. (via Bookshelf) Read the rest

Six Wakes: a locked-room science fiction murder mystery, delightfully confounded by cloning and memory backups

Readers of Boing Boing have joined me in chronicling the variegated science fiction career of Mur Lafferty: novelist, podcast pioneer, editor -- today, she publishes her latest novel, a hard sf murder mystery called Six Wakes, in which the crew of a generation ship awake in a blood-drenched shipboard cloning bay, in fresh bodies to replace their murdered selves floating in the alarming null-gee, memories restored to the backup they made just before launch, a quarter-century before.

A week into the Trump Administration, dystopian books top charts

The BBC's Brian Wheeler reports that Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell's classic tale of a fake news editor at a popular British tabloid, has sold out only days into the new administration of President Donald Trump. (It's the #1 book at Amazon, with only used copies in stock; the company promises new Prime-shipped paperbacks in a week. The Blu-Ray of the John Hurt movie's sold out too.)

In the top five is It Can't Happen Here, Sinclair Lewis's classic cautionary tale about the fragility of democracy, which predicts the "chillingly realistic rise of a president who becomes a dictator to save the nation from welfare cheats, sex, crime, and a liberal press."

Also flying high is Aldous Huxley's 1935 novel Brave New World, which imagined a insidiously totalitarian future where prescription medications, relentless entertainment and consumerist excess make violent repression unnecessary, where "slaves ... do not have to be coerced, because they love their servitude."

Ray Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 sneaks back into the top 50, right behind Trump: The Art of the Deal, a ghostwritten autobiography rumored to have never been read by its ostensible author.

The most dystopian book in the bestseller lists, though, was not included in the BBC's roundup: The Subtle Art of Not Giving A Fuck, by personal development consultant Mark Manson, who has cracked the art of standing out in the crowded self-help genre: "Fuck positivity. Let’s be honest, shit is fucked and we have to live with it." Read the rest

Kindred: a powerful graphic novel adaptation of Octavia Butler's slavery masterpiece

Octavia Butler is a name to conjure with: the first African-American woman to rise to prominence in science fiction, Butler's fiction inspired generations of writers by mixing rousing adventure stories with nuanced, razor-sharp parables about race and gender in America; she was the first science fiction writer to be awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant, and her sudden and untimely death left a hole in the hearts of her readers, proteges and admirers.

A revelatory book of photographs taken by visually impaired people

The Blind Photographer is surprising and fascinating. These photos taken by visually impaired photographers, accompanied by a bit of text explaining the photographers’ working processes and inspirations, forced me to rethink the nature of photography:

Is it a strictly visual medium, or should sound, feel, and taste also be represented somehow? (The book’s images of fruit, musicians, and skin show how photography can be more multi-sensory.)

Why do photos conventionally have to be symmetrical and in focus? (Fuzzy and off-center photos can evoke a mood just as well as sharp ones.)

Are shadows just as interesting as objects? (Photographer Alberto Loranca writes, “I can distinguish light and shadow and I pay a great deal of attention to light in order to take pictures; I calculate the amount of light needed using trigonometry.”)

These ideas might be obvious to art historians and photographers themselves, but to a lay person there’s a lot to gain from The Blind Photographer’s implication that everything is worthy of being photographed, no matter how mundane or odd. I may just be photographing a person’s feet, rather than gravitating toward their face, in the future.

The Blind Photographer by Julian Rothenstein (Editor), Candia McWilliam (Introduction) Princeton Architectural Press 2016, 213 pages, 9.0 x 1.0 x 12.0 inches, Hardcover $24 Buy on Amazon Read the rest

Researchers discover hundreds of thousands of unsuspected, Star Wars-themed twitterbots hiding in plain sight

Twitter is a great place for bots. Botherders like Shardcore produce amazing, politics, artistic bots that mine Twitter, inject useful information into Twitter, or just frolic on Twitter, making it a better place. Twitterbots produce entries in imaginary grimoires, conduct sociological research, produce virtual model railroads, alert the public when governments try to make bad news disappear, and much, much more. Read the rest

Rep. John Lewis' civil rights comic trilogy still at #1. Thanks Trump!

After dismissing civil rights icon John Lewis as "all talk," Donald Trump catapulted Lewis' March trilogy comic on the civil rights movement back to the best-seller charts, where it has stayed all month. This week, it won four American Library Association Awards. Read the rest

The Abominable Mr Seabrook: a sympathetic biography of an unsympathetic, forgotten literary legend

William Seabrook was once one of America's foremost literary stars; now he is all but forgotten. Seabrook travelled the world, writing a series of (decreasingly sympathetic) accounts of indigenous people and their culture, outselling the literary giants he kept company with, and who pretended not to mind the women he paid to let him tie them up and keep around his home. In The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, graphic novelist Joe Ollman presents an unflinching look at Seabrook, his literary accomplishments and failures, his terrible self-destructiveness, and the awful spiral that took him from the heights of American letters to an ignominious suicide after his discharge from a psychiatric facility.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections

If you were one of the lucky Del Toro fans who got to see the At Home With Monsters show at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art this year I hope you found the photo-mural of his house on the way out and took a selfie there — it looks like YOU are right there inside Bleak House, Del Toro’s home of monsters! (see my pic above). Seeing that show was about as close as any of us will ever be to getting inside to see his collection. If you missed the show, then this book is the next best thing.

Any fan of horror, sci-fi, and Del Toro films like Hellboy, will love this handsome book designed to go along with the museum show. The legendary film director’s collection of original art, movie props and extraordinarily realistic life-size figures is truly amazing. His appetite is omnivorous and wide-ranging from low- to high-brow and everything in between: William Blake etchings, pulp novels and comic books, Japanese woodblock prints, Simpsons vinyl collectibles, Phillip Guston paintings to Todd Browning Freaks stills, and much, much, MUCH, more. Also included, are pages directly from Del Toro’s own notebook with sketches and notes for his films, including Pan’s Labyrinth and Blade.

See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Guillermo del Toro: At Home with Monsters: Inside His Films, Notebooks, and Collections by Guillermo del Toro (Author), Guy Davis (Illustrator), & 3 more Insight Editions 2016, 152 pages, 8.0 x 0.8 x 10.0 inches, Hardcover $20 Buy one on Amazon Read the rest

The best young adult literature from 1967

For the past couple of years, I've been making the case, at HILOBROW and in the UNBORED books I've co-authored, that the Sixties (1964–1973, according to my non-calendrical schema) were a golden age for YA and YYA adventures.

In no particular order, here's my list of the Best YA and YYA Lit of 1967. Happy 50th anniversary! Read the rest

10 reasons why Fletcher Hanks kicks ass

Fletcher Hanks comics are incredibly violent, incredibly stupid, and incredibly beautiful. His first published work appeared in 1939, only months after the first Superman story ran, and his last work appeared in 1941. Then he disappeared. All 53 of his batshit crazy tales have been reprinted in “Turn Loose Our Death Rays And Kill Them All!: The Complete Works Of Fletcher Hanks.” They are likely to pop your eyes, blow your mind, and leave you speechless. Shortly before his death, Kurt Vonnegut wrote that, “The recovery of these treasures is in itself a major work of art.”

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