Shrill: Lindy West's amazing, laugh-aloud memoir about fatness, abortion, trolls and rape-jokes

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Lindy West is one of those web-writers who's done consistently great work over the years, whether it's talking about boobs or talking about trolls, and so I expected to like her memoir Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, but I didn't expect to find myself laughing aloud over and over, nor did I expect to end up crying -- and having done both in great measure, now I can't get that most excellent book out of my head.

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors: A Duck & Cover Adventure

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Modern civilization has all but disappeared. It falls to a fearless, dedicated and slap-stick bunch known as Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors to help humanity recover. With help like this, you might be better off on your own!

Benjamin Wallace's first installment in the Duck and Cover series is a quick and witty read. We find America highly mutated and extremely dangerous. Small enclaves of folks are trying to rebuild society, and boy do they need help! Enter the post-apocalyptic nomadic warriors: experts in a little bit of everything, and a whole lot of nothing. Two such warriors arrive at the town of New Hope, each offering to lend his aid. New Hope sends one away and accepts the aid of the other. Did they choose wisely? Did they even need to choose? How did humanity survive at all?

This read was a good time! The characters are a lot of fun, and standout for this style of novel. The contrasting styles of the two titular characters, and the passing of focus back and forth, really makes this tale roll along. The story is predictable, but Wallace's wildly mutated landscape, and slowly emerging backstory, made it hard to put this book down.

Post-Apocalyptic Nomadic Warriors: A Duck & Cover Adventure Read the rest

Locus Award 2016 winners: your summer reading!

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The readership of Locus magazine have chosen their favorite fantasy and science fiction works of 2015, and the winners make for a very exciting summer reading list indeed! Read the rest

Batmanga - Campy, humorous, and sometimes so on the nose it's laughable

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Batman: The Jiro Kuwata Batmanga Vol. 1 by Jiro Kuwata (illustrator) DC Comics 2014, 352 pages, 5.8 x 8.2 x 1.1 inches (softcover) $10 Buy a copy on Amazon

Available for the first time in English, Jiro Kuwata’s Batman is basically a Japanese version of the 1960s Batman TV series. It’s campy, humorous, and sometimes so on the nose it’s laughable. Maybe Batman will escape danger with a goofy, too convenient action, or the villain will taunt Batman with some of the oldest superhero cliches around. It will surely be an adjustment for readers who haven’t experienced any of Batman’s older stories, but it’s important to remember this was produced in the '60s, and Kuwata was essentially mimicking the style of Batman that was popular. If you can do that you’ll find a thoroughly enjoyable alternate take on the Caped Crusader and the Dynamic Duo.

Included here are six Batman stories, featuring Batman and Robin vs. unique villains like Lord Death Man and the Human Ball. The story arcs are all standalone and don’t reference each other, however each arc is sub-divided into three to four parts. These villains are all formidable foes and a good mix of character types. Lord Death Man for example keeps coming back from the dead, while the Human Ball wears a metal suit that allows him to bounce off any surface, including Batman’s punches. Each time, Batman is tasked with not just fighting the villain into submission, but using his classic Batman intellect to outthink them and set a trap. Read the rest

Crowdfunding the publication of Samuel R Delany's journals

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Samuel R Delany is one of the most important figures in science fiction; one of the first prominent black writers in the field; the first out, queer writer; a titan of imagination and a prose stylist without compare. Read the rest

Judenstaat: an alternate history in which a Jewish state is created in east Germany in 1948

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Theodor Herzl's seminal 1896 essay Der Judenstaat called for the creation of Jewish state as an answer to the ancient evil of antisemitism; its legacy, Zionism, underpinned the creation of Israel; in Judenstaat, Simone Zelitch's beautifully told, thoughtful and disturbing alternate history, the Jewish state is created in Saxony, not Palestine, and takes the place of East Germany. Read the rest

Frankenstein turns 200 this year: write a short story, win cool prizes

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Arizona State University, Nanowrimo, and the Chabot Science Center are commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a series of events, including a short-story contest judged by Elizabeth Bear. Read the rest

Algorithms to Live By: what computer science teaches us about everyday decisions

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Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths' Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions is pitched as a combination of personal advice and business book grounded in the lessons of computer science, but it's better than that: while much of the computer science they explain is useful in personal and management contexts, the book is also a beautifully accessible primer on algorithms and computer science themselves, and a kind of philosophical treatise on what the authors call "computational kindness" and "computational stoicism."

Hong Kong bookseller: I was forced to confess on China TV

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Lam Wing Kee, one of the dissident Hong Kong booksellers who was kidnapped to the mainland by Chinese spies, only to surface on TV confessing to "illegal trading," now says he was forced into the confession. (Image: BBC) Read the rest

Demystifying Heironymous Bosch with this visual marvel of a book

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Hieronymous Bosch: Complete Works by Stefan Fischer (author) and Hieronymus Bosch (artist) Taschen 2016, 300 pages, 9.7 x 13.1 x 1.2 inches $27 Buy a copy on Amazon

It is, perhaps, fitting that we know the date of Heironymous Bosch’s death while his date of birth remains unclear. We know that Bosch died 500 years ago and so much of what he left us is directly concerned with the afterlife or at least the spiritual journeys that humanity takes to the endpoint of life. The artwork of Bosch is wholly concerned with Christian allegory of the most human, inhuman, and superhuman variety. When one comes to behold a Bosch masterpiece, the lives of saints and the woes of sinners are the subject matter, and sometimes they are one and the same. There is a complexity that is easily identified in any one Bosch piece, but unravelling the intertwined religious and cultural allegories is beyond most. In Heironymous Bosch, The Complete Works, we are offered a unique opportunity, not only to demystify singular works of Bosch, but to take in the entire life and progression of this artist’s journey.

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Kickstarting a pair of goth cookbooks featuring drawings of Morrissey and Nick Cave

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Elly from Microcosm Publishing writes, "Artist Automne Zingg started drawing pictures of Nick Cave gorging on comfort foods and Morrissey hoarding treats a few years ago to get over a breakup and it turned into an obsession. We got rockstar chef Joshua Ploeg to write lyrics-inspired vegan recipes to go with the books, and the result is... magic." Read the rest

Steeplejack: diverse YA fantasy driven by expert plotting

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AJ Hartley's new YA series opens with Steeplejack, a whodunnit whose unlikely and welcome hard-boiled detective is a young woman who has to beat class and race discrimination as well as the bad guys.

Reminder: Neal Stephenson predicted Donald Trump in 1994

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In 1994, Neal Stephenson and his uncle George Jewsbury published a novel called Interface, about a high-tech, poll-centric election. Read the rest

Science fiction's Radium Age: prewar stories of postscarcity, peace and justice

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For nearly a decade, science fiction historian Joshua Glenn has waged a campaign to resurrect the "Radium Age" of science fiction: the period from 1904-1933 when writers turned their pens to "Air Battles, Antigravity, Interplanetary Voyages, Lost Worlds, Mad Scientists, Time Travel, and Utopias," before writers like Andre Norton and Arthur C Clarke and Isaac Asimov began their careers. Read the rest

30 years on, Roz Kaveney's "Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners" is finally in print and winning prizes

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More than 30 years ago, Roz Kaveney showed a draft of her novel Tiny Pieces of Skull to Neil Gaiman, who was "saddened and horrified" that publishers wouldn't put her story of "trans street life and bar life in London and Chicago in the late 1970s" into print. Read the rest

The Book of Gossage – If you want to work in advertising, you need to read this book

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The Book of Gossage by Howard Luck Gossage and Jeff Goodby Copy Workshop 2006, 308 pages, 8 x 10 x 1 inches (softcover) $42-$50 Buy a copy on Amazon

Just down the street from San Francisco’s North Beach strip clubs and Beat Museum, I had the privilege of interning for an ad agency located in one of the city’s original firehouses. When I started, I had no idea that the building once belonged to Howard Luck Gossage, an advertising legend. After taking a spin down the firepole I was given a copy of The Book of Gossage and told that if I wanted to work in advertising I needed to read this book. It opened my eyes to how amazing advertising can be, and introduced me to an icon that too few people know about.

The book is dense, as it’s part textbook, part history lesson, and is filled with some incredibly witty and thought-provoking ads. The book collects a bulk of Gossage’s writings where he tackles the big issue: Is Advertising Worth Saving? He also covers topics like: How To Be Creative, The Shape of an Idea, and Our Fictitious Freedom Of The Press.

His ads filled tires with pink air, started the international paper airplane competition, and prevented the Grand Canyon from being flooded. While his creative insights alone would be worth the price of this book, there is also a lot of historic context that’s provided by colleagues, and people who were influenced by his work. Hearing about his charm and love of parties makes you understand why people like Tom Wolfe, John Steinbeck, and Stan Freberg would just hang out at his agency. Read the rest

Parfumiers are trying to capture the smell of old books

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We've been writing about the efforts of parfumiers to make book-smell scents (chemistry, product, hoax) for many years, but the reality has been pretty disappointing -- I bought some smell early on and found that I ended up just smelling like vanilla. Read the rest

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