I signed 2,800 copies of Walkaway, my next novel, and you can pre-order now!

It took most of a week to sign all 2,800 "tip-in" sheets that are being bound into a special, limited-edition version of Walkaway, my first novel for adults since 2009, but it was worth it! You can pre-order one from the good fellows at Barnes and Noble (hey, indie booksellers: there's some left over for you -- talk to your Macmillan rep!) Read the rest

Why are license "agreements" so uniformly terrible?

An excerpt from The End of Ownership: Personal Property in the Digital Economy, by Aaron Perzanowski and Jason Schultz, coming this Friday from MIT Press.

Memento Mori – Spectacular book of essays and 500 photos of the dead among us

One of my most unforgettable travel experiences was visiting the Sedlec Ossuary in Kutná Hora, near Prague. This small 19-century monastery chapel would be unremarkable, except that it is decorated with thousands of human bones and skulls. There are skull- and femur-decorated columns, hanging garlands of bones, a chandelier made of every bone in the human body, and a replica of the Schwarzenberg family coat of “arms” – that also includes leg, finger, scapula, and coccyx bones! The memory of that space makes any Halloween display seem tame and unimaginative.

If Kutná Hora isn’t in your travel plans, check out Memento Mori, a spectacular book of essays and photographs by UCLA PhD and art historian Paul Koudounaris. His 500 color photographs here are arresting, both in subject matter and photographic technique. The handsome hardbound book includes a stunning centerfold of a bejeweled and gold-encrusted mummy. The detail and visual opulence of the photo justifies the giant four-page spread. I enjoyed reading the informative essays about the use of human bones as a form of remembrance in cultures around the world, from Europe to Thailand, Japan to Peru, and from ancient times to the present day. Here’s just one fun fact: there are two venerated human skulls (ñatitas) enshrined in the homicide division of the national law enforcement agency in El Alto, Bolivia. These two cranium crime-stoppers have provided “clues to difficult cases and have been credited with helping to solve hundreds of crimes.”

Memento Mori: The Dead Among Us by Paul Koudounaris Thames and Hudson 2015, 208 pages, 9 x 13.3 x 1 inches (hardcover) $39 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Draw like an artist: go from "I can't draw" to "handmade art for sale"

Boing Boing-beloved artist Chris Locke (previously) writes, "World-famous artist and middle-school art teacher Christopher Locke has published a new drawing tutorial book, packed with lessons from his own classroom. Whether you're a 10-year-old aspiring artist, or an octogenarian with an art degree, you'll find exercises and activities that will help you build your skill and refine the way you see the world." Read the rest

Amazing new UK covers for William Gibson's Sprawl books

Gollancz have announced a gorgeous set of new editions of William Gibson's seminal Sprawl books, which began with 1984's Hugo, Nebula and Philip K Dick award-winning novel Neuromancer, designed by Daniel Brown (previously), using software that created fractals based on 1970s apartment buildings. Read the rest

The Stars: The Definitive Guide to the Cosmos

I’ve always been fascinated with the cosmos (who isn’t?), and I even once splurged for a telescope to put in the garden for my family to enjoy. But with only one college astronomy class (101) under my belt, my knowledge of the stars falls into the “Dummies” category. Which is why I loved DK’s new book, The Stars: The Definitive Visual Guide to the Cosmos.

Not that it’s only for dummies. The large 10.1 x 12.8 book is for astro newbies as well as the more seasoned who will enjoy the scenery and surely pick up some new stellar facts. It's for teens as well as adults, jam-packed with starry science that falls into three sections. The first, “Understanding the Cosmos,” covers the basics and beyond, from the Big Bang, starbirth, supernovae and neutron stars to black holes, colliding galaxies, galaxy clusters and a lot more.

“Constellations,” the second and largest section, is loaded with the significance and charts of constellations – some popular ones (like those from the zodiac) as well as many I’d never heard of before (like Vulpecula the fox and Monoceros the unicorn). The third, smallest section of the book, “The Solar System,” just touches on our sun and planets, and was the one section that the authors could have expanded.

In true DK fashion, The Stars compliments its smart yet accessible text with a heavy dose of charts, maps, sidebars, and brilliant photos. The authors managed to make every page highly fresh and engaging.

The Stars: The Definitive Guide to the Cosmos by DK 2016, 256 pages, 10.8 x 12.1 x 0.9 inches (hardcover) $26 Buy a copy on Amazon Read the rest

Philip Roth donating his personal book collection to Newark Public Library

The Newark Public Library is the scene of Philip Roth's novella Goodbye, Columbus. Now, Roth is donating his personal book collection to that same library. From the New York Times:

Mr. Roth’s library, some 4,000 volumes, is now stored mostly at his house in northwest Connecticut, where it has more or less taken over the premises. A room at the back of the house has been given over to nonfiction. It has library shelves, library lighting — everything except a librarian, Mr. Roth said recently on the phone from his New York apartment. Fiction starts in the living room, takes up all the walls in a front study, and has also colonized a guest bedroom upstairs. Copies of Mr. Roth’s own books and their many translations are stuffed in closets and piled in the attic. The books that were helpful to Mr. Roth in his research for his novel “The Plot Against America” are all grouped together, as are those he consulted for “Operation Shylock...."

The books will be shelved in Newark exactly as they are in Connecticut — not a window into Mr. Roth’s mind exactly, but physical evidence of the eclectic writers who helped shape it: Salinger, Bellow, Malamud, Kafka, Bruno Schulz. Many of the volumes are heavily underlined and annotated...

“I’m 83, and I don’t have any heirs,” Mr. Roth said, explaining why he decided to give the library away. “If I had children it might be a different story. It’s not a huge library, but it’s special to me, and I wanted it preserved as it was, if only for historical interest: What was an American writer reading in the second half of the 20th century.”

"A Scene Right Out of Philip Roth: His Books Come Home to Newark’s Library" (New York Times)

Read the rest

Fun book about toys of the '50s, '60s and '70s

There are lots of books about baby boomer toys, but this fun collection is presented from the viewpoint of the kids who played with the toys and includes lots of personal memories and photographs. Sure, there are many interesting facts and histories about well-known toys and their creators. Classic toys and games that are still made today like Tonka trucks, Easy-Bake Oven, G.I. Joe, Matchbox and Hot Wheels, Twister and Mousetrap are featured in loving color photographs and vintage ads. Their stories are well-known, too. For example, writer and artist Johnny Gruelle patented his rag doll design in 1915, the same year his daughter Marcella died after a controversial smallpox vaccination. The Rageddy Ann and Andy dolls and books helped Gruelle keep his memories of his daughter alive.

Famous fads include the '50s Davy Crocket Coonskin Hats, the '60s Troll dolls, and the '70s Pet Rock. Toys always reflect the times they’re from and this book provides plenty of cultural and historical background. Only after the heady 1960s and '70s with women’s liberation, the sexual revolution, and Black Power movement would there be an anatomically correct African American baby boy doll, Mattel’s Baby Tender Love, molded in life-like vinyl skin called Dublon.

Other less well-known toys are long gone from the toy store shelves but live on in the very personal memories (and actual childhood photographs!) featured throughout the book. Home health training specialist Lisa Crawford (b 1963) appropriately recalls the insanely dangerous metal-tipped lawn Jarts. I was delighted to find Make editor and fellow WINK contributor Gareth Branwyn’s (b 1958) recollection of using his own Johnny Horizon Environmental Test Kit to get an A+ on a school project (and to keep tabs on any hometown polluters!). Read the rest

Everfair: a diverse, ambitious steampunk novel of Fabian socialists and American Black Zionists in Belgian Congo

Though Everfair is Nisi Shawl's debut novel, it's also been a hotly anticipated book for years, as Shawl is the co-author of Writing the Other, a seminal book about diversity in prose; and is a much-respected critic and teacher. The book was worth the wait.

Comedy writer has exactly the right response to his kid's Fahrenheit 451 permission slip

Daily Show writer Daniel Radosh's son came home from school with a permission slip that he'd have to sign before the kid could read Ray Bradbury's novel Fahrenheit 451, which is widely believed to be an anti-censorship book (Bradbury himself insisted that this was wrong, and that the book was actually about the evils of television). Read the rest

A Field Guide to Redheads - an assortment of people, places and things all topped with red

For redheads, and people who love them, get past the slightly disturbing title and enjoy this collection of people, places, and things, all with red on top. The subjects are diverse, from movie stars to redheaded animals to L. Ron Hubbard to a recipe for carrot soup. The full-page, full-color, ink-wash illustrations are all charming and usually identifiable: Ron Howard is clearly nobody else, while Ginger Spice is less recognizable. Redheads of the White House, Thelma and Louise driving off a cliff, Mario Batali, and Malcolm X, all lovingly drawn here for your...your...well, it’s not clear what the point of the book is, but it’s enjoyable and odd, and isn’t that enough?

A Field Guide to Redheads: An Illustrated Celebration by Elizabeth Graeber Workman Publishing 2016, 160 pages, 5.1 x 0.7 x 7.1 inches (hardcover) $13 Buy a copy on Amazon

See sample pages from this book at Wink. Read the rest

Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy

Today sees the publication of Bonnie Burton's (previously) long-awaited new book, Crafting with Feminism: 25 Girl-Powered Projects to Smash the Patriarchy. Read the rest

The Blot: correspondence between Jonathan Lethem and Laurence A. Rickels about Philip K Dick

A Gambler's Anatomy is the latest novel from Copyfighting certified genius Jonathan Lethem (previously) -- a book about an international backgammon hustler who believes he is psychic -- and who sports a huge tumor growing from his face. Read the rest

Let's Split! is an atlas of separatism, national identity, and fringe geopolitical movements

Let’s Split! causes me no end of joy and pain. It is my favorite Nietzsche quote come to life. (“Madness is rare in individuals – but in groups, parties, nations and ages it is the rule.”) It is also a 636-page atlas of separatism, national identity, fringe geopolitical movements, and a baleful cry from oppressed minority populations.

The book is put together with the obsessive care of an eccentric Victorian explorer documenting each step of his journey through uncharted lands, never stopping to discern between the observed real and the observed surreal. But Roth is no Victorian. He’s an anthropologist who’s worked with indigenous peoples in Canada and Alaska for governmental recognition and rights. Let’s Split! began life in 2011 as a blog that Roth maintains titled Springtime of Nations. (Full disclosure: by some trick in the time/space continuum, author Roth lives just a few miles from me and we have friends in common. I found this out after I discovered his blog and book.)

Conceptually, the idea of a nation-state is relatively new in the spectrum of development of human societies. People were once few on the earth and tended toward the homogeneity of tribal affiliation. As populations grew, coalitions, hegemony, and politics took shape both psychologically and politically.

Organized by continent, Let’s Split! leaves no territory behind. (Though Roth rightfully excludes "cybernations" and the giggling masses of "micronations" invented by bored teenagers declaring their basement lairs sovereign territory no longer oppressed by the evil overlords, Mom & Dad.) Included with each entry are pictures of the flags, potential population, geographic size, and finally, its likelihood for autonomy. Read the rest

Everything Belongs to the Future: a tale of pharmadystopian, immortal gerontocrats

Laurie Penny's first science fiction book, Everything Belongs to the Future, is available to the public as of today: if you've followed her work, you're probably expecting something scathing, feminist, woke, and smart as hell, and you won't be disappointed -- but you're going to get a lot more, besides.

Rysa Walker's new novel, 'The Delphi Effect'

Rysa Walker's Chronos Files series is some of the best time travel science fiction I've read in a long time. Her new novel The Delphi Effect deals with the paranormal, and does not disappoint!

The Delphi Effect introduces Anna Morgan, a young woman who has been bounced around foster care and psychiatric institutions for most of her life. Anna can talk to ghosts. Naturally, she runs into a spectre connected to some pretty big secrets and gets embroiled in some tumultuous cloak and dagger shenanigans. Good thing teenagers are well equipped to deal in these situations.

The plot is fun, but with Rysa Walker it is the characters and world building that are so immersive and fantastic. You immediately believe in what is going on, and everything feels natural. You care about these characters, you want to see bad things happen to the bad people, and you cheer on the good regardless how flawed and immature. Teenagers.

Walker writes books that are hard to put down.

The Delphi Effect by Rysa Walker via Amazon Read the rest

Japanese Tattoos – Full of traditional and modern designs, characters and history in this photo-heavy book

My skin doesn’t have a single tattoo, but I am touched by the art in tattoos, particularly traditional ones. The Japanese have a long and deep affinity for skin paintings, and have devised a complex iconography for them. The Japanese were early to pioneer color in tattoos, and gave high regard for the full body tattoo, treating the whole torso as a canvas. They even went recursive, sometimes inking a large character that sported a full-body tattoo within the tattoo. This book is chock full of classic themes, characters, and designs, with plenty of notes on the historical significance of tattoo culture. Of course it’s great inspiration for modern tattoos, but also for any other visual art.

Japanese Tattoos: History, Culture, Design by Brian Ashcraft and Hori Benny Tuttle Publishing 2016, 160 pages, 7.5 x 10 x 0.7 inches (softcover) $11 Buy a copy on Amazon

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