The Powder Mage Trilogy - Brian McClellan's new epic fantasy series

In the latest episode of the Sword and Laser, Veronica and Tom break down their June book pick, Promise of Blood by Brian McClellan.

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Online roundtable on the works of Octavia Butler

The Hooded Utilitarian is hosting an online roundtable on the work of Octavia Butler, one of science fiction's greatest writers, and also one of the first women of color to attain widespread recognition in the field. The initial installment, from Qiana Whitted, is a challenging, sharply critical essay about the ways that Butler's work (including Fledgling, a book I very much liked) literally nauseated the writer, and what that says about both Butler and her critics.

Ugliness, Empathy, and Octavia Butler (Thanks, Noah!)

(Image: Leslie Howle)

Young adult novels, defined

Stephen Colbert nails it: "A young adult novel is a regular novel that people actually read." (via Super Punch)

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The big lies behind the big eyes of "artist" Walter Keane

This week in Gweek we review Adam Parfrey and Cletus Nelson’s biography of famous kitsch artists, the Keanes. Plus: Plex media server, play putties, and much more. Brought to you by Random House Audio (click here for free downloads!)
and by Stamps.com (click here for a special $110 offer!)

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David Hockney's illustrations of Grimm's Fair Tales

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1907533249 01 SL285 SCLZZZZZZZSix Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm with illustrations by David Hockney was first published in 1969 and recently reissued as a lovely slim hardback. More images below and at Juxtapoz.

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Nigerians in Space: afrofuturist science fiction debut novel

This sounds good: Afrocyberpunk reviews the debut novel of Deji Olukotun, Nigerians in Space: "He wouldn't hit golf balls like the American astronauts. He would squeeze out rhythms from a talking drum into the blackness between the stars. These were the drums of war and death, of celebration, the drums that had bonded the towns of his homeland over centuries in tonal communication… He would bind the stars with the drums. There would be dancing."

Review [Afrocyberpunk]

Nigerians in Space [Amazon]

How the CIA got Dr Zhivago into the hands of Soviet dissidents


Working from recently declassified documents disclosed in The Zhivago Affair: The Kremlin, the CIA, and the Battle Over a Forbidden Book, the BBC World Service tells the extraordinary story of how the CIA conspired with a Dutch spy to publish a Russian edition of Boris Pasternak's Dr Zhivago and smuggle it into Russia by sneaking it into the hands of Soviet attendees at the Brussels Universal and International Exposition in 1958. Zhivago was banned by the Soviets, who also forced Pasternak to renounce the Nobel Prize in literature, which he was awarded that year.

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The Septic System Owner's Manual

The Septic System Owner's Manual

Nothing has fed my ridiculous, personal anxieties like moving to a house with a septic tank. Lloyd Kahn's fantastic The Septic System Owner's Manual helped educate me enough that I'm back to worrying about other things.

When I bought my home, back in 2008, the fiberglass septic tank was leaking. I got all sorts of advice from folks that seemed to involve a lot of voodoo and very little science. I found this book and have been able to confidently make good decisions ever since. I replaced the tank with a very basic concrete design.

Kahn is clear, his story telling is whimsical while at the same time pointing out construction or political tragedy. His solutions are always steering you towards the simplest solution and to avoid adding points that can break. Complications in this type of system are messy.

Now I'll go find something else to worry about...

The Septic System Owner's Manual by Lloyd Kahn

Astounding steampunk leatherwork bags and books


Russian leatherworker and throat-singer Sergueї Kooc produced this beautiful steampunk briefcase in 2013. It's just one of the many versatile and wonderful pieces he's posted to his Livejournal:

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Movies teach us morals


Carl Plantinga's talk, "Spectator Judge: Affect and Ethics in Narrative Film and Television," delivered to the Society for Cognitive Studies of the Moving Image, argues that movies powerfully instill moral values in the people who watch them, by cueing us to "judge, believe, and feel emotions in various ways." This is the thesis of the novel I'm working on, so I read the summary of the talk with great interest:

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Thomas Piketty's Capital in the 21st Century

Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century is a bestselling economics tome whose combination of deep, careful presentation of centuries’ worth of data, along with an equally careful analysis of where capitalism is headed has ignited a global conversation about inequality, tax, and policy. Cory Doctorow summarizes the conversation without making you read 696 pages (though you should).

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A Wrinkle in Time: the graphic novel, still wonderful and fresh two years later

The graphic novel adaptation of A Wrinkle in Time got a rave review here when it first came out in 2012. Two years later, Cory Doctorow re-reads it to his now-six-year-old and discovers fresh delights in a beautiful and fitting tribute to one of literature’s best-loved young adult novels.

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Mathematics as the basis for leftist reasoning


Chris Mooney of the Inquiring Minds podcast interviewed Jordan Ellenberg about his book How Not to Be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, and in a fascinating accompanying post, Mooney investigates whether mathematics are "liberal." His argument is that liberal thought is characterized by "wishy washy" uncertainty and that math professors tend to vote left:

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CS Lewis explains why you should be proud to read children's books

A stupid, shaming, linkbaity screed against young adult literature in Slate has got lots of peoples' backs up. But reactionary nonsense about children's literature is nothing new, as CS Lewis's classic 1952 essay On Three Ways of Writing for Children (currently available in the excellent collection Of Other Worlds) demonstrates. Lewis demolishes the knee-jerk fear of being caught reading "kids' stuff," and reveals it for what it is: insecurity about your own maturity and seriousness (he also tackles the stupid idea that fantasy literature makes it hard for kids to know what's real):

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Wink's remarkable book picks of the week

winkWink is a website that reviews one remarkable paper book every weekday. My wife, Carla Sinclair, is the editor. We take lots of photos of the covers and the interior pages of the books to show you why we love them.

This week we reviewed:

The Good Life Lab – Moving from a high-powered life in New York to off-the-grid living in New Mexico

The Ashley Book of Knots – Thousands of old timey knots, both useful and decorative.

The Philosophy Book - An absorbing introductory course on philosophers throughout the ages

Masters of Deception – Optical illusion masterpieces by 20 different artists

Pirate Nightmare Vice Explosion – Found remnants of an amateur dadaist’s library

The Essential Scratch and Sniff Guide to Becoming a Wine Expert – a playful, simple, informative book about wine and its many delectable smells

Take a look at these books and many others at Wink. And sign up for our Wink newsletter to get all the reviews and photos delivered once a week.