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Cover and summary for Lauren Beukes's next horror novel

Here's some good news: the next Lauren Beukes novel, Broken Monsters, is up for pre-order, and we've got a taste of the cover and the synopsis: "Detective Gabriella Versado has seen a lot of bodies. But this one is unique even by Detroit's standards: half boy, half deer, somehow fused together. As stranger and more disturbing bodies are discovered, how can the city hold on to a reality that is already tearing at its seams? If you're Detective Versado's geeky teenage daughter, Layla, you commence a dangerous flirtation with a potential predator online. If you're desperate freelance journalist Jonno, you do whatever it takes to get the exclusive on a horrific story. If you're Thomas Keen, known on the street as TK, you'll do what you can to keep your homeless family safe--and find the monster who is possessed by the dream of violently remaking the world."

I loved Beukes's earlier work -- see my reviews of The Shining Girls and Zoo City.

Broken Monsters (via Super Punch)

Cats of Tanglewood Forest: illustrated modern folktale from Charles de Lint and Charles Vess


For the past two months, my daughter's and my main bedtime reading has been The Cats of Tanglewood Forest, a modern folktale written by Charles de Lint and illustrated by Charles Vess, a power duo if ever there was one. This is a story set on an American prairie farm sometime in the 20th century, about Lillian, a kind-hearted girl who sets out saucers of milk for the wild cats, scatters grain for the songbirds, and leaves a biscuit by the oldest, most gnarled apple tree in the orchard for the Apple Tree Man. And it's because of her good heart and her wild spirit that the cats of Tanglewood Forest defy the king of cats, and work cat-magic to rescue her when she is bitten by a snake and brought near to death. Now she has been reborn as a kitten, and she must find out how she can once again become a girl.

The book is lavishly illustrated with Charlie Vess's amazing art nouveau paintings (you may recognize these from his frequent collaborations with Neil Gaiman, such as the beautiful picture book Blueberry Girl). The paintings -- which appear as full pages, but are also worked into the margins, endpapers, and jacket -- are a wonderful and gripping accompaniment to the story. Although this story is too sophisticated for my six-year-old to have read to herself, the combination of the illustrations and my reading it aloud made it absolutely accessible to her. And these paintings are so gorgeous that she was more than happy to sit and thumb through the book, enjoying them on their own.

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Crowdfunding a science fiction short film adapted from Poe's Tell-Tale Heart

Nicholas sends us, "A crowd funding campaign to create a short film adaptation of Poe's 'The Tell Tale Heart' set on space station orbiting a mysterious planet. The short, ORBIT, has an emphasis on practical special effects and old in-camera techniques as a celebration of some of the classic sci-fi films it was directly inspired by."

The production team is very accomplished and this looks very beautiful, and they've brought down their reward pricing: $13 gets you a digital DRM-free download of the movie.

ORBIT - A Sci-Fi Thriller from the Mind of Edgar Allan Poe (Thanks, Nicholas!)

The Wil Wheaton Project: Talk Soup for Geeks

The wonderful, talented Wil Wheaton has landed a weekly show with SyFy, called the Wil Wheaton project: "a weekly roundup of the things I love on television and on the Internet, with commentary and jokes, and the occasional visit from interesting people who make those things happen. It’s sort of like Talk Soup for geeks." Congrats, Wil! Cory 10

Kickstarting SCHMUCK: a comics memoir of "trying to date NYC"

David writes, "Award-winning photographer Seth Kushner is renowned for his photography book of portraits of comic book writers and artists (Leaping Tall Buildings). Seth Kushner spent much of his 20s dating, or trying to date, in New York City. For the last 6 years, Kushner has been writing a semi-autobiographical webcomic called SCHMUCK chock full of equal parts tragedy and comedy."

$9 gets you a download of the book, $25 gets you a print edition.

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The Abels Raise Cain - An excerpt from Kembrew McLeod's PRANKSTERS


[Ed: I'm a huge fan of Kembrew McLeod, a writer, nerdfighter, media theorist and hoopy frood. From epic pranks like Freedom of Expression (R) to genius analysis like Creative License, Kembrew always amazes. Here's an excerpt from his latest: Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, with an introduction just for us -Cory]

Since I was a kid, I have been fixated on trickery, which played a role in why I grew up to be an occasional prankster (my dad recalls that, as an adolescent, I would surprise him by placing my Sesame Street Ernie doll in grim situations, such leaving him in a noose hanging from a shower head or pinned to the kitchen wall with a knife). Now that I am an adult, I spend most of my time as a teacher and professor being a bit more serious -- enough to take the subject of pranking seriously, which is why I wrote Pranksters: Making Mischief in the Modern World, published by NYU Press on April 1 this year. The word prank is more often used today to describe stunts that make people look foolish and little more. I'm not interested in celebrating cruelty -- especially the sorts of mean-spirited practical jokes, hazing rituals, and reality television deceits that are all too common in today's popular culture. Although "good" pranks sometimes do ridicule their targets, they serve a higher purpose by sowing skepticism and speaking truth to power (or at least cracking jokes that expose fissures in power's facade). A prank a day keeps The Man away, I always say. Nevertheless, I should stress that this book is not solely about pranking. Many of the characters who populate its pages aren't driven by noble impulses, and even those who are more pure of heart can muddy the ethical waters with dubious tactics. With this in mind, Pranksters examines everything from political pranks, silly hoaxes, and con games to the sort of self-deception that fuels outlandish belief systems. The following is an excerpt from Chapter Nine of Pranksters, about the exploits of a married couple named Jeanne and Alan Abel who began as professional pranksters in the late 1950s, and are still at it today.

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There's a painted woman in this moth

Paul Roustan is an incredible body-painter who produces brilliant optical illusions. In this video, he shows how he's painted a model to blend seamlessly into this image of a pandora sphinx moth; when she emerges from the still, it's a pure mind-blower. This (NSFW) gallery of his work shows off his incredible versatility and virtuosity.

When You See It…

Engagement ring with tiny slide and projection lens built in


This engagement ring with a built-in lens and slide is apparently a prototype produced by an unnamed Polish manufacturer. According to Technolog, who posted the images to Reddit, the publicity-shy manufacturer hasn't gone into production yet.

Update: Technolog has updated the post with the name of the maker: Marek Mazur of Gdansk

Engagement ring with little photo slide and lens in it (via Super Punch)

Geeky temporary tatts: TATTONOMY


Harry sez, "Tattoos are the best form of self expression, but let's face it, some of us don't want to get something permanent on our skin that we might regret for the rest of our lives. That's where TATTONOMY comes in. They've created temporary tattoos with geeky designs that you will never regret having. You put them on with water, they stay on for a few days and then you wave goodbye to your geeky design."

Harry's the CPU Wars guy -- a good egg.

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Michael Lewis's "Flash Boys": lifting the rock on crooked high-speed trading

Michael Lewis is the best finance writer in the business (see my reviews of The Big Short and Liar's Poker), a gifted storyteller with a firm grasp of his subject and real insider access and insight. He's got a new book out, Flash Boys: A Wall Street Revolt, which tells the story of the high-speed traders who turned the stock markets into (more of) a rigged game, and how the big incumbent banks fought back. The New York Times Magazine has adapted a long excerpt from the book and it's thrilling, shining a light on what New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman called "insider trading 2.0."

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HOPE X/EFF fundraiser

Emmanuel Goldstein from 2600 Magazine writes, "This summer's HOPE X conference is having a special EFF fundraiser for the entire month of April. Ten percent of every ticket sale will be donated to the Electronic Frontier Foundation as recognition of the essential work they're doing for the entire online community. In addition, there will be a huge EFF presence at the HOPE X conference, with multiple talks and presentations. HOPE X is being held July 18-20 at the Hotel Pennsylvania in New York City." Cory 2

British science fiction pulp covers: Gernsback continuum from an alternative universe


Here's a smashing gallery of British science fiction and science pulps from the golden age of sf. These are recognizably of a piece with the American pulps of the era, but are also distinctive in every way: line, color-choice, subject, typography, composition and character design. They are a divergent, parallel universe to the American Gernsback continuum, and all the more striking for it.

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Text adventure based on Jeff VanderMeer's novel Annihilation

Jeff VenderMeer writes, "The Fourth Estate, my UK publisher, has put together a cool site that takes the main premise of my novel, Annihilation, and creates a text game around with, with images and video as well. Now you too can join an expedition into the mysterious Area X, supposedly a pristine wilderness, but hiding a lot more than that. Overseen by the secret agency, the Southern Reach, which has its own secrets to hide."

Previously: Talking with Jeff VanderMeer about his new novel Annihilation

Hand-painted Haunted Mansion stretching portraits coasters on Italian marble


Etsy seller Breakeble Designs used to offer these hand-painted Italian marble coasters that depicted the stretching portraits from the Haunted Mansions from Disneyland/Walt Disney World and Tokyo Disneyland. Alas, Breakeble Designs is on holiday, with no word of when or if the coasters will return. They'd make handsome decorative wall-tiles as well as coasters.

Haunted Mansion Stretching Portrait Italian Marble Coasters (via The Haunted Mansion)

Playground removes "safety" rules; fun, development and injuries ensue


The Swanson School in Auckland, NZ, quietly eliminated all the rules against "unsafe play," allowing kids to play swordfight with sticks, ride scooters, and climb trees. It started when the playground structures were torn down to make way for new ones, and the school principal, Bruce McLachlan, noticed that kids were building their own structures out of the construction rubble. The "unsafe" playground has resulted in some injuries, including at least one broken arm, but the parents are very supportive of the initiative. In particular, the parents of the kid with the broken arm made a point of visiting the principal to ask him not to change the playground just because their kid got hurt.

The article in the Canadian National Post notes that Kiwis are less litigious, by and large, than Americans, and that they enjoy an excellent national health service, and says that these two factors are a large contributor to the realpolitik that makes the playground possible. But this is still rather daring by Kiwi standards.

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