Boing Boing 

Jo Walton's "The Just City"

Time-travelling godess Athena assembles on a volcanic island every man and woman in history who has ever prayed to her to live in Plato’s Republic, and sets in motion a social experiment that shows just how heartrending, exciting, and satisfying philosophical inquiry can be.

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Lights and chandeliers made from booze bottles and books


The Moonshine Lamp Company makes beautiful lights out of booze bottles, such as the Crystal Skull Sconce and the eight-bottle chandelier; but they also make lights out of hardcovers, including one made from Jeremy Scahill's superb investigative 2007 book Blackwater. (via Neatorama)

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Recipe: picture book that introduces sloppy cooking and social engineering


At my house, we've fallen in love with Recipe, a 2013 picture book about a little girl who tells her good-sport mom that it's time she learned to cook, and hands over a set of ingredients for Mom to buy, including a new puppy, a Cleveland Browns sweatshirt, a helmet, a water squirter, and 20 bags of marshmallows.

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The American science-denial playbook

Michael Mann, the author of The Hockey Stick and the Climate Wars: Dispatches from the Front Lines and creator of the "hockey-stick" climate-change graph used in An Inconvenient Truth, writes in the the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists about the uniquely American "witch-hunt" he and other climate scientists are subjected to.

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Leif the Lucky – A gorgeously illustrated bio on Leif Erikson, the first European to set foot in America

Leif Erikson, the Viking explorer, is usually just briefly touched on in elementary school classrooms. But his rich story is a captivating one that any child – or adult – would enjoy. As a boy he moved from Iceland to icy Greenland, where his father established the continent’s first settlement. Eric grew up learning how to sail ships, throw spears, and catch sea animals for dinner. He played with baby polar bears and dreamed of adventures.

As a young adult Leif sailed to Norway and charmed the king with a Greenland falcon on his fist and a bear cub at his side. The king granted him permission to explore the west (Leif’s father had once seen a speck of something west of Greenland on an earlier exploration), and Leif became the first European to set foot in America (Canada) – 500 years before Christopher Columbus “discovered” it. Soon Leif’s relatives settled in this new land – for a while – until, well, I won’t give the whole story away, but let’s just say they were chased off the new land and forced to hightail it back to Greenland.

As soon as I laid my eyes on this book I was blown away by the stunning art: the bold popping colors on some pages, the beautifully shaded black and white images on others, and the saturated details and texture that all of the illustrations enjoy. And then I found out the book was first published in 1941 by Doubleday, created by the bohemian husband-and-wife team Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire, who wrote 27 illustrated books in all (many of them tales about Scandinavian heroes and mythology). Leif the Lucky is one of three of their books to be reprinted by University of Minnesota Press, and I now need to get my hands on the other two (Children of the Northlights and Ola).

Leif the Lucky, by Ingri and Edgar Parin D’Aulaire

See sample pages of Leif the Lucky at Wink.

There Goes the Galaxy by Jenn Thorson

There Goes the Galaxy

I loved Jenn Thorson's zany, absurdist space adventure There Goes the Galaxy. Join Bertram Ludlow as he negotiates what appears to be complete mental breakdown by saving the Earth.

With a wild sense of humor that is perfect for the genre, Jenn Thorson quickly sets up a hilarious, but oddly familiar, Greater Communicating Universe. After being kidnapped from Earth and taken to another planet, psychology doctoral candidate Bertram Ludlow is either going crazy or the Earth's sole defender from being redeveloped. Gruff sidekick nee abductor Rollie helps Bertram negotiate the wacky social and political atmosphere that stands in their way. They are a wonderful unlikely buddies pairing.

I'm looking forward to reading the second in this series, The Purloined Number.

There Goes the Galaxy by Jenn Thorson

A work of art that reproduces 100 woodblock prints of Edo by artist Hiroshige

Without question, Hiroshige: One Hundred Famous Views of Edo is the bookiest book I own. It is a museum-quality artifact, which in a few more years will cease to be made, or at least made affordably. It is a work of art that reproduces the famous 100 Japanese woodblock prints that the artist Hiroshige created of Edo.

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Tor.com's annual free "Best of" ebook

Every year, Tor.com anthologizes some of the best short fiction from its website in a free ebook, and it's always one of the best sf anthologies of the year -- this is no exception!

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Safety Tips for Living Alone by Jim Shepard

Safety Tips for Living Alone (Kindle Single) (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading Book 133)

Safety Tips for Living Alone is a true story of American service men and civilians sacrificing their lives during the cold war. Stationed on a precarious mid-Atlantic listening station, join the brave souls and their families as the end draws near.

This short kindle read was amazing. Jim Shepard tells a little known story from the Cold War expertly. The crew of Texas Tower 4, a poorly designed listening station in the middle of the sea, and their families, know death is likely on the way. How they approach this, and their last communications home, brought me close to tears.

Safety Tips for Living Alone (Kindle Single) (Electric Literature's Recommended Reading Book 133)

The Lost Starship by Vaughn Heppner

The Lost Starship

Vaughn Heppner's The Lost Starship is a high speed space adventure. Join Agent Maddux, and his team of lovable rejects, as they save one branch of humanity from another.

Forget aliens, humanity is still at war with itself. Centuries after self imposed peace, a divergent evolutionary branch, the New Men, return from deep space with a vengeance. Agent Maddux, who may or may not be half New Man himself, gathers his team and sets off in search of an ancient, alien battleship that be the key to 'humanity' surviving.

I enjoyed The Lost Starship. Heppner keeps a breakneck pace and the books 371 pages fly by.

The Lost Starship by Vaughn Heppner

Monstrous Regiment: the finest Discworld novel?

Monstrous Regiment, a book about gender, war, identity, strategy and tactics, can be enjoyed without reading any of the other marvellous books in the Discworld series.

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EB White explains his dachshund's license status


Letters of Note (whose book was spectacular) publishes this arch, sarcastic letter from EB "Charlotte's Web" White to the ASPCA about whether his dachshund, Minnie, is duly licensed.

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The opening manuscript page of JG Ballard's "Crash"


[Link]/[Book link]

Books can change the world

Rick Kleffel: An Argument that books can change the world and nine from 2014 have the potential to do so; including Karen Armstrong, Roz Chast, Cory Doctorow, Richard Ford, William Gibson, Jake Halpern, Michael Katakis, Thomas Piketty,and Lawrence Wright.

Lynda Barry’s irresistible lesson plan for “drawing the unthinkable”

Professor Lynda Barry has been on a roll of late. First, she published her astonishing and inspired writing-workshop-in-a-book, What It Is. She followed that up with Picture This: The Near-sighted Monkey Book, which covered drawing in much the same way that What It Is approached writing. In Syllabus, Barry has published her actual hand-drawn lesson plans from her popular college class entitled “Drawing the Unthinkable.”

There is something profoundly dream-like in Syllabus – in all three of these books – like you’re mainlining Barry’s bizarre and fertile imagination, and tapping into your own via a kind of contact high. There are visual invitations on every single page of this composition-styled, hand-drawn notebook to get out your own crayons, pens, and notebook and get to work. There are a series of lessons in the book, class announcements, examples of student work, and related class notes. Where I loved and was inspired by Barry’s first two workshop books, Syllabus finally pushed me to start doing a daily art journal, one that grants me permission to play, to “draw the unthinkable” (i.e. just do it, don’t overthink it, and do it for the process, not the product). I’m 19 days in and absolutely having the time of my life.

See sample pages of Syllabus: Notes from an Accidental Professor at Wink.

Crypto puzzles and games for kids

Dev Gualtieri's newly published Secret Codes & Number Games: Cryptographic Projects & Number Games for Children Ages 5-16 is a thoughtfully designed introduction to crypto for kids.

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Lauren Ipsum: The Phantom Tollbooth meets Young Ladies' Illustrated Primer

Lauren Ipsum is an absolutely brilliant kids’ book about computer science, and it never mentions computer science—it’s a series of witty, charming, and educational parables about the fundamentals that underpin the discipline.

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How Kazuo Ishiguro wrote "Remains of the Day" in 4 weeks

In 1987, motivated by anxiety over his inability to produce a followup novel to his earlier sucesses, Ishiguru made a deal with his wife Lorna: he would write every day from 9h-2230h, with brief meal-breaks, 6 days a week: four weeks later, he finished Remains of the Day.

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Atlas of Cities – Dissecting the anatomy of cities from around the world

The Atlas of Cities does not graph the usual geographic shapes of cities, but tries to diagram the many other dimensions within cities around the world. Taking example from many specific cities (such as Istanbul, or Cairo) it tries to dissect, almost like an x-ray, the many organs, tissues, cells, and anatomy of a typical city. In fact a better title for the book would have been Anatomical Atlas of Cities. It uses charts and graphs to show how cities remain healthy, or how they get sick. Since 50% of the humans alive today live in an urban neighborhood, this book will likely illuminate your world.

See sample pages of Atlas of Cities at Wink.

Delware school district wants kids to get signed permission before checking out YA library books


The Appoquinimink, DE school board is contemplating requiring parental permission slips for students who want to check YA novels out of their school library; district secondary education curriculum director Ray Gravuer came up with this silly idea in response to a parental complaint.

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Discounted ebooks for readers who own Dilbert, Oatmeal and Nom Nom Paleo books


Peter writes, "Vancouver based ebook bundling start-up, Bitlit has signed a deal with Andrews McMeel publishing. The deal allows readers who own a paper copy of an Andrews McMeel book to get the eBook for 80% off. The deal includes comic collections from Matthew Inman (The Oatmeal) and Scott Adams (Dilbert), and Michelle Tam's bestselling cookbook Nom Nom Paleo."

Tldrbot: great works of literature in seconds

Tldrbot is the latest bot from Shardcore (previously, previously, previously) that slurps up great novels, algorithmically summarizes them to 1% of their length, then spits out audio files of a synthetic Scottish woman's voice reading those summaries aloud.

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Vast Humble Comics Bundle


The latest Humble Bundle features an indescribably vast array of comics from Mega, including work from Mark Waid, Darick Robertson, Garth Ennis, Gail Simone, Kevin Smith, Alex Ross, J. Michael Straczynski, David Mack, Howard Chaykin, Bill Willingham, Sean Phillips, Tim Seeley, Chuck Dixon, Andy Diggle, Duane Swierczynski, Joshua Hale Fialkov and others.

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Pippi Won’t Grow Up – Whimsical, charming and wonderfully absurd

Just released today is Pippi Won’t Grow Up, Drawn and Quarterly’s third volume of Pippi Longstocking comics. Last spring I reviewed the hilarious second volume, Pippi Fixes Everything, and this one is just as whimsical, humorous and utterly charming.

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Stross's Merchant Princes books in omnibus editions


Charlie Stross's "Merchant Princes" series-- a sly, action-packed romp that blends heroic fantasy, military science fiction, economics, politics, and alternate worlds -- originally published as six mass-market paperbacks, is now available in three handy trade-paperbacks.

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David Nickle and Karl Schroeder's "The Toy Mill"


"His hair was whiter than his flesh. Thick whorls of ice embedded his beard in icicles like a January cataract; more separated the thick hairs of his eyebrows into individual daggers, pushed back by the yuletide winds of the stratosphere so that they swept down to meet at the bridge of his narrow, blue-tinged nose."

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The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure

Nathaniel Burney continues his project to create an entire law-degree in comic-book form with The Illustrated Guide to Criminal Procedure, Vol I: Parts 1-3, the followup to his brilliant 2012 book Illustrated Guide to Criminal Law. Never has the Fourth Amendment been more graphic and accessible: Cory Doctorow is learning everything he needs for a life of successful criminal law and/or crime.

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Forbidden Activities for Neglected Children celebrates the wonderful grotesquery of the late 1970s

Here is a snapshot of my room in 1979: A box of Warren horror magazines, with assorted outliers such as Psycho and Scream; a stack of Dungeons & Dragons books, including some of the earlier supplements such as Eldritch Wizardry; a shelf displaying various Aurora monster models; a bookshelf holding any number of supernatural and horror short story anthologies; and my beloved but completely dog-eared copy of A Pictorial History of Horror Movies by Denis Gifford.

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Weird fiction Storybundle to benefit Helsinki Worldcon bid


Crystal writes, "Love indie fiction? Want a choose-your-price set of Weird Fiction ebooks that will help support the Helsinki bid for Worldcon? We want to bring Worldcon to Helsinki in 2017, to boldly go where no Worldcon has gone before.

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The book of Genesis

genesis

If you grew up in the comfortable eighties, you might still have memories of the 16-bit console war, the perverse thrill of wishing for a Super Nintendo or a Sega Genesis, and then arguing with other children on the playground about which was better.

These days being a Sega Genesis fan is a little bit weirder -- you chose the camp that would be basically out of the hardware market by the new millennium. A new book, Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works brings that beauty and weirdness to full-color life in a celebration of the Genesis by Guardian games editor Keith Stuart (disclosure: he commissions, edits and pays me when I write about games at the Guardian, which is sometimes).

The Verge's Chris Plante loves the book:

A 30-page history of a 1990s video game console serves a certain niche audience, but the 28 interviews with the people responsible for Sega’s hardware and most cherished games are more digestible and should pique the interest of anyone who owned the system. And there are dozens of glossy pages containing design documentary, hand sketches, key art, title screens, and photography. It's easy to zone out, turning between one drawing and the next.
Sega Mega Drive/Genesis: Collected Works is available for £35.00, while an extra £15 gets it to you by Christmas.