Decoder rings

Retroworks' $18 decoder rings don't have much by way of cryptographic robustness (they compare disfavorably to the cipher-wheel wedding rings my wife and I wear!), but they're not a bad way to introduce the littlies in your life to the idea of habitual secrecy. (via Red Ferret) Read the rest

Shade the Changing Girl v. 1: On sidequels and writing the teenage alien.

This week (and next due to the nature of different release dates for the direct market and the book market) marks the release of the first collection of SHADE THE CHANGING GIRL v.1: Earth Girl Made Easy, which compiles issues 1-6 (previously). It’s a heavy load to recreate a character that giants before you have written. Steve Ditko is a master of the strange. His mind a merry-go-round of experimentation.

An important, lyrical, critical book about the future of "Smart Cities"

Adam Greenfield's new book Radical Technologies: The Design of Everyday Life (previously) has scored an outstanding review from The Guardian's Steven Poole, who calls it "a landmark primer and spur to more informed and effective opposition" to "the pitiless libertarianism towards which all [Smart Cities] developments seem to lean." Read the rest

Tropic of Kansas: Making America Great Again considered harmful

Chris Brown -- long known as a writer of perfect, jewel-like demented cyberpunk stories -- makes his long-overdue novel debut today with Tropic of Kansas; a hilarious, dark, and ultimately hopeful story of a terrible authoritarian president whose project to Make America Great Again has plunged the country into an authoritarian collapse that's all too plausible.

Nerdy nail-wraps

Espionage Cosmetics has your nerdy nail-art needs covered with the D20-themed $10 Critical Hit nail wraps, circuit board wraps and tentacle wraps. (via Geeky Merch) Read the rest

Gorgeous "Monster Zen" book of Japanese-styled monsters with haiku

Chet Phillips's Monster Zen is a book of 16 beautiful, "Japanese-styled" drawings of monsters, accompanied by haikus by the artist -- you can get the book for $24 or get individual prints. Read the rest

Kickstarting maker-kits for kids based on conductive play-doh

Technology Will Save Us (previously) have fully funded their Dough Universe Kickstarter, maker kits for kids that combine conductive play-doh ("electro-dough") with simple components like motors and switches with apps that make it all programmable. Read the rest

A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived: DNA, individuals, and species

British geneticist Adam Rutherford is one of the country's great science communicators, an alumnus of Nature whose work we've celebrated here for many years; with his second book, A Brief History of Everyone Who Ever Lived, Rutherford reveals how the century's astounding advances in genetic science reveal just how little we understand about our genes -- and how our ideas about race and heredity are antiquated superstitions that reflect our biases more than our DNA. (See the bottom of this post for an important update about the upcoming US edition!)

The Private Eye: a supervillain tries to bring the internet back to a world where the press are the cops

Brian K Vaughan and artists Marcos Martin and Muntsa Vicente started syndicating The Private Eye just before the first Snowden revelations hit, which was a fortuitous bit of timing for them, since their surreal science fictional tale was set in a future where the rupture of all internet security had provoked humanity into banning the internet altogether, replacing it with a world where cable news was so dominant that the police had been replaced by reporters.

Kickstarting a new Girl Genius collection

Phil Foglio (previously) writes, "Studio Foglio is kickstarting a new Girl Genius Collection! The Incorruptible Library covers the adventures of Agatha Heterodyne and her friends as they journey beneath the streets of Paris. There they encounter hidden subterranean civilizations, forgotten labyrinths filled with secrets, and a healthy dollop of Adventure, Romance, and Mad Science!" Read the rest

Origami lounge-chairs that flat-pack to the size of a briefcase

The Flux chair is a $130, 12lb "origami-style" polypropylene lounge chair designed by Douwe Jacobs; it sets up in minutes and is stable and lovely (there's also a $65 kids' version and a whole range of furnishings including a bar, coffee table, countertop, end-table, etc). (via Yanko Design) Read the rest

Top Secret: New World Order: Merle M. Rasmussen reboots his 1980 RPG classic

The first time Merle Rasmussen played Dungeons & Dragons, he thought it was a Halloween game. “It was October 1975, and I was an 18-year-old freshman at Iowa State University. My roommate got this game filled with skeletons and undead monsters. I had no idea.” The role-playing bug had bitten him, but fantasy wasn’t his genre. So that same year, he started writing a game set in a modern world, the spy game that would become Top Secret.

The Big Bad Fox: hilarious tale of predators, parenting, and poultry

Benjamin Renner's hit French comic The Big Bad Fox isn't just being adapted as an animated feature, it's also now available in English, thanks to the good graces of Firstsecond, whose translation keeps and even enhances all the comic timing of the original.

My Favorite Thing is Monsters: a haunting diary of a young girl as a dazzling graphic novel

Emil Ferris's graphic novel debut My Favorite Thing is Monsters may just be the best graphic novel of 2017, and is certainly the best debut I've read in the genre, and it virtually defies summarizing: Karen is a young girl in a rough Chicago neighborhood is obsessed with monsters and synthesia, is outcast among her friends, is queer, is torn apart by the assassination of Martin Luther King, by her mother's terminal illness, by the murder of the upstairs neighbor, a beautiful and broken Holocaust survivor, by her love for her Vietnam-draft-eligible brother and her love of fine art.

Kickstarting a diverse anthology of middle-grades science fiction

Corie J Weaver writes to tell us that Dreaming Robot (previously is kickstarting its latest science fiction anthology for kids, The Young Explorer's Adventure Guide, "the fourth collection of science fiction stories for middle grade readers, with a focus on diversity and representation." Read the rest

In 1956, Hugh Hefner gave MAD's founding editor an unlimited budget for a new satire magazine called "TRUMP"

Harvey Kurtzman is a hero of satire, the guy who convinced Bill Gaines's mother to bankroll a comic book called MAD, then doubled down by turning MAD into a magazine -- only to jump ship five issues later after a bizarre fight with the Gaineses, finding refuge with Playboy founder Hugh Hefner who gave him an unlimited budget to start an all-star, high-quality satire magazine called TRUMP, which lasted for two legendary, prized issues, now collected in a gorgeous hardcover from Dark Horse. Read the rest

How to get a signed, personalized copy of Walkaway sent to your door!

The main body of the tour for my novel Walkaway is done (though there are still upcoming stops at Denver Comic-Con, San Diego Comic-Con, the Burbank Public Library and Defcon in Las Vegas), but you can still get signed, personalized copies of Walkaway! Read the rest

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