Sex Criminals: Robin Hood bank robbers who can stop time when they orgasm

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Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's creator-owned comic Sex Criminals is a filthy, hilarious heist story about a couple who discover that they can stop time while orgasming, and keep it frozen until they become horny again -- so they use their power to rob banks in order to rescue a library from foreclosure (naturally). The first two series of the comic are collected in Big Hard Sex Criminals, a fabulous hardcover whose plain pink wrapper comes off to make it look like you're reading a book on DIY pet euthanasia.

Read: Strategic Dog Patterning, a story from "Why I Hunt Flying Saucers"

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My latest book just came out: Why I Hunt Flying Saucers & Other Fantasticals. The title comes from the short story of the same name, which was nominated for an Aurora Award in 1991.

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A look at digital habits of 13 year olds shows desire for privacy, face-to-face time

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Sonia Livingstone, an LSE social psychology prof, gives us a peek into the results from The Class, a year-long, deep research project into the digital lives and habits of a class of 13 year olds at an ordinary school. Read the rest

We Stand on Guard: in 100 years, America seizes Canada for its water

Brian K Vaughan's varied career in comics has had numerous and diverse hits like Saga, the epically weird and sexy space-opera; Y: The Last Man, an end-of-the-world story; now, with We Stand on Guard, Vaughan dramatically ups his body count in a tale of an American resource war that's a lot closer to home than the invasion of Iraq.

Martin Gardner's 'Science Magic,' fun tricks you can try at home

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Martin Gardner's 'Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles' teaches fun and easy experiments to demonstrate physics. I'm thrilled with the new tricks I'm learning!

Gardner shares exciting, and generally simple, science experiments with engaging, sometimes astounding results. Play with the adhesion and cohesion of water, magnetism, volume and mass, friction, stiction, pressure, and tons of other fascinating scientific properties, to both learn and amaze.

Some simple effects, like 'three jets' are pretty simple, where you drill holes in a milk carton at different levels to show changes in water pressure, however some are not for younger kids to try on their own. 'The electric pickle' is one that requires adult supervision. A glowing pickle is certainly cool, but spiking a cucumber, and plugging it into a wall socket via a cut extension cord, is something I'd prefer an adult be present for.

My kid and I are having fun playing with 1-2 of these experiments each week. A few of the presentations may become magic tricks I use with friends.

Martin Gardner's Science Magic: Tricks and Puzzles via Amazon Read the rest

Kickstarting the third Oh Joy Sex Toy anthology

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Following on the hugely successful publications of books one and two, Erika Moen and Matthew Nolan have launched a crowdfunding campaign for a third volume, collecting the excellent sex advice, erotica, and reviews from their brilliant webcomic. Read the rest

Brian Wood's REBELS book one -- read the first issue here!

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Today marks the publication of Rebels: A Well-Regulated Militia, the first collection of Brian Woods comic about the American revolutionary war that tells "the epic story of the colonists, explorers and traders, wives and daughters, farmers and volunteer soldiers who, in a few short, turbulent years, created the brand-new nation of America."

Lumberjanes: ground-breaking, wonderful, hilarious comic about adventurous girls

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I'm late to the party on Lumberjanes: I bought the first collection when it came out last summer, then promptly lost it in my overseas move; last weekend, I read it and the next two books and fell head over heels in love with this series of graphic novels for kids and adults.

Nebula Award swept by record number of women writers

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The Nebula Awards -- voted on by members of the Science Fiction Writers of America to recognize excellence in science fiction and fantasy -- were given out in Chicago yesterday, and every prose award went to a woman (the film award went to the writers of feminist action film Mad Max: Fury Road). Read the rest

Famous writers with their first word processors

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U Maryland English professor Matthew G. Kirschenbaum has a new book called Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing that tells the story of word processing from writers' perspectives; an accompanying gallery collects photos of famous authors with their first word processors (mine was an Apple //e). Pictured above: Stephen King with his Wang System 5 Model 3 word processor in 1982. Read the rest

Katherine Dunn, author of "Geek Love," RIP

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Katherine Dunn, the author of the incredible macabre comedic novel Geek Love, about the strange shenanigans in a circus sideshow, has died at age 70 from lung cancer. From a Los Angeles Times profile of Dunn at the time of the book's release in 1989:

As Dunn's tale goes, Aloysius Binewski, proprietor of a traveling circus called Binewski's Fabulon, gets the notion to breed mutant children who will perform as sideshow freaks. His theory is that, along with boosting business, he will be bestowing upon his children "the inherent ability to earn a living just by being themselves..."

Dunn said she got the idea for "Geek Love" in 1979 while she was walking in the experimental rose gardens in Portland. Admiring the hybrid roses, she conceived Papa Al and his hybrid children.

She was thinking about her son at the time and the whole issue of "the things we do to our children--most of the evil in the world is not done with bad intentions but with the best intentions ever," she said.

Dunn said "Geek Love" also reflects her concerns with "the volcanic and terrifying possibilities of genetic mutation and the whole issue of the cult." (In the book, flipper-boy Arty starts a cult in which converts have their arms and legs amputated so they can become more like their leader.)

At first, Dunn was shocked by her own terrifying characters. Now and then she'd read a passage to her son, who invariably shook his head and responded: "Weird."

"Katherine Dunn has died; the 'Geek Love' author once took the world by storm"

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Alien Invasion in My Backyard – From slobbery robots and aliens with briefcases to didgeridoo lessons

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Alien Invasion in My Backyard: An EMU Club Adventure by Ruben Bolling Andrews McMeel Publishing 2015, 112 pages, 5.3 x 8 x 0.4 inches $12 Buy a copy on Amazon

TV will tell you the truth is out there. Decades ago folks would warn you to “Keep watching the skies!” But kids know the truth: The mysteries aren’t out there, they’re right here. They are in every bump from the attic, that weird locked door in the basement, and, especially, the often mystifying backyard. Kids know that’s where the real mysteries lie, and we’re all lucky that Ruben Bolling knows it, too.

Alien Invasion in my Backyard, the first in the EMU Club series, is a fun and ridiculous (in just the right way) story of the creation of the Exploration Mystery Unbelievable Club. The book itself is intended to be the Official Report of their first mystery and written by eleven year-old President Stuart Tennemeier who, other than planning on a growth spurt in college, is planning to document all their amazing adventures. His best friend, CEO Brian, and his little sister Violet (no title because Mom makes them let her join) join him to solve all of life’s important mysteries. And we can’t forget Sergeant at Arms Ferdinand, Stuart’s loyal dog who proves critical to cracking the case. As an Official Report the reader gets direct access to the EMU Club files, including photos of their whole adventure lovingly taped to the lined graph paper it’s printed on. Read the rest

Reading With Pictures: awesome, classroom-ready comics for math, social studies, science and language arts

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Since its inception as a 2012 Kickstarter, the Reading With Pictures project has gone from strength to strength, culminating in a gorgeous, attractively produced hardcover graphic anthology of delightful comic stories that slot right into standard curriculum in science, math, social studies and language arts. Read the rest

A Fairy Friend: storybook illustrated by a Disney animation legend

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Claire Keene is a legendary Disney animation artist whose work has appeared in Frozen and Tangled; she provides such lively illustrations for children's author Sue Fliess's poem A Fairy Friend that readers are transported to an enchanted world where play and imagination can take you out of this world.

Unflattening – A graphic dissertation that argues for the power of images over text as a way to teach

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See sample pages from this book at Wink.

Unflattening by Nick Sousanis Harvard University Press 2015, 208 pages, 7.5 x 10.2 x 1 inches (softcover) $16 Buy a copy on Amazon

It is remarkable how much we learn in our youth and how fast we learn it. It is a pace that really cannot sustain itself as we age, though we might try to continue to learn as though we were young. In my youth, the newspaper seemed a vast swarm of text and a few images that encircled a hidden prize: the funnies. Comics, in youth, are acceptable, but as we age we regard them more as juvenile diversions. Over time, the picture book gives way to the novel. The non-fiction works in the form of text books and scholarly journals are tools to educate us. Finally, should we pursue learning down the institutional path long enough, we encounter doctoral theses with their many and myriad intertextual references. It is a long-standing joke among academics that it is rare that the thesis they slave over for four or more years ever actually gets read.

Nick Sousanis, with his doctoral thesis Unflattening, is a poignant departure from any trend of dissertations written for the sake of being written. More than that, it is meant to be more than a read work. It is an experiential work that asks the reader to not just read, but rather to participate in learning to appreciate imagery on equal terms with orderly lines of written text. Read the rest

Peace in Our Time: how publishers, libraries and writers could work together

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Publishing is in a weird place: ebook sales are stagnating; publishing has shrunk to five major publishers; libraries and publishers are at each others' throats over ebook pricing; and major writers' groups are up in arms over ebook royalties, and, of course, we only have one major book retailer left -- what is to be done? Read the rest

Kickstarting Losswords: a mobile game you play by unscrambling passages from great literature

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A group of successful indie game devs are kickstarting Losswords, a game whose premise is that players are the resistance in a totalitarian future in which books have been banned, and games are the only form of permitted entertainment: you keep literature alive by making games out of the great books of history. Read the rest

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