Unpleasant Design: design that bullies its users

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Selena Savić and Gordan Savicic (previously) have published Unpleasant Design, their long-awaited book on "design that bullies its users" -- that is, devices, street furniture, tools and products designed to control humans. Read the rest

Star Trek: TOS communicators that run on Bluetooth

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Thinkgeek's $150 Bluetooth Communicators are based on 3D scans of a prop communicator; pair it with your phone and clip it to your belt: when you get a ring, the psychedelic hypno-disc in the middle will spin prettily, flick it open and start talking. Read the rest

George RR Martin's "Fevre Dream": the Lannisters as vampires

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I first read George RR Martin's 1982 vampire novel Fevre Dream as a young teenager, around the time I was also discovering Anne Rice and a host of other "contemporary" vampire novels who were reinventing the genre; now, decades later, I've been transported anew to the slavery-haunted riverboat where Joshua York and Abner Marsh tried to tame the ancient vampire before it was too late.

The Perdition Score: Sandman Slim vs the One Percent

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It's been seven years since Richard Kadrey blew the lid off urban fantasy with Sandman Slim, a fresh, funny, mean and dirty supernatural hard-boiled revenge story like no other. Now, with the publication of book seven, The Perdition Score, Kadrey forces his antihero to confront his fiercest-ever opponent: his own violent nature.

Kickstarting open source steampunk clocks that use meters to tell the time

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Kyle writes, "The Volt is a fully open source, arduino-based, handmade analog clock that tells time with meters. Available in a DIY install kit, 2 pre-made models, and a mix & match hardware option. The clocks are but with solid black walnut and maple, with faceplates produced in brass, copper, and steel. Only on Kickstarter!" Read the rest

Hope Larson's "Compass South": swashbuckling YA graphic novel

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Hope Larson is a comics genius, the woman hand-picked to adapt Madeline L'Engle's Wrinkle In Time for comics, who furthermore just nailed it, and whose other projects are every bit as rich and wonderful. Today she begins a new young adult series, Four Points, whose first volume, Compass South is a treasure-chest of swashbuckling themes and action.

Shrill: Lindy West's amazing, laugh-aloud memoir about fatness, abortion, trolls and rape-jokes

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Lindy West is one of those web-writers who's done consistently great work over the years, whether it's talking about boobs or talking about trolls, and so I expected to like her memoir Shrill: Notes From a Loud Woman, but I didn't expect to find myself laughing aloud over and over, nor did I expect to end up crying -- and having done both in great measure, now I can't get that most excellent book out of my head.

Mermaid tights with silicone shin-scales

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Daniel "Tinkercast" Struzyna, a designer in Dusseldorf, sells these tights with handmade silicone scales: $72.09 a pair, comes in aqua or coral. (via Seanan McGuire) Read the rest

Writing the Other: intensely practical advice for representing other cultures in fiction

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For more than a decade, science fiction and fantasy writers have handed around Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward's Writing the Other, an intensely practical and thoughtful guide to inclusive, representative writing that includes people of genders, ethnicities, races, and orientations other than the writer's.

Nerdy fidget rings for tabletop RPG players

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Thinkgeek has posted a pair of spinning fidget rings for gamers: a $20 D20 ring you flick to get a value between 1-20, and a $25 "counter ring" that clicks from values between 0-99, useful for tracking hit points. Read the rest

Judenstaat: an alternate history in which a Jewish state is created in east Germany in 1948

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Theodor Herzl's seminal 1896 essay Der Judenstaat called for the creation of Jewish state as an answer to the ancient evil of antisemitism; its legacy, Zionism, underpinned the creation of Israel; in Judenstaat, Simone Zelitch's beautifully told, thoughtful and disturbing alternate history, the Jewish state is created in Saxony, not Palestine, and takes the place of East Germany. Read the rest

Neon skull desk-lamp

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Fancy's $100 neon desktop skull lamp is 15.5" x 10", with a one-year warrant and a 6' cord; the picture makes it look more decorative than functional, which is a pity, because it would great to replace a desk-light with this for close-up work, as a kind of contemporary memento mori. (via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Algorithms to Live By: what computer science teaches us about everyday decisions

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Brian Christian and Tom Griffiths' Algorithms to Live By: The Computer Science of Human Decisions is pitched as a combination of personal advice and business book grounded in the lessons of computer science, but it's better than that: while much of the computer science they explain is useful in personal and management contexts, the book is also a beautifully accessible primer on algorithms and computer science themselves, and a kind of philosophical treatise on what the authors call "computational kindness" and "computational stoicism."

Kickstarting a pair of goth cookbooks featuring drawings of Morrissey and Nick Cave

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Elly from Microcosm Publishing writes, "Artist Automne Zingg started drawing pictures of Nick Cave gorging on comfort foods and Morrissey hoarding treats a few years ago to get over a breakup and it turned into an obsession. We got rockstar chef Joshua Ploeg to write lyrics-inspired vegan recipes to go with the books, and the result is... magic." Read the rest

Steeplejack: diverse YA fantasy driven by expert plotting

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AJ Hartley's new YA series opens with Steeplejack, a whodunnit whose unlikely and welcome hard-boiled detective is a young woman who has to beat class and race discrimination as well as the bad guys.

30 years on, Roz Kaveney's "Tiny Pieces of Skull, or a Lesson in Manners" is finally in print and winning prizes

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More than 30 years ago, Roz Kaveney showed a draft of her novel Tiny Pieces of Skull to Neil Gaiman, who was "saddened and horrified" that publishers wouldn't put her story of "trans street life and bar life in London and Chicago in the late 1970s" into print. Read the rest

Parfumiers are trying to capture the smell of old books

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We've been writing about the efforts of parfumiers to make book-smell scents (chemistry, product, hoax) for many years, but the reality has been pretty disappointing -- I bought some smell early on and found that I ended up just smelling like vanilla. Read the rest

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