THEFT: A History of Music

It's been seven years since we previewed Theft: A History of Music, a comic book that explains the complicated history of music, borrowing, control and copyright, created by a dynamic duo of witty copyright law professors from Duke University as a followup to the greatest law-comic ever published: the book was due out years ago, but the untimely and tragic death of illustrator Keith Aoki delayed it -- until today.

Matt Ruff talks about his masterful antiracist novel Lovecraft Country, out in paperback today

When I reviewed Matt Ruff's incredible Lovecraft Country last February on its hardcover release dates, I wrote, "Ruff inverts the Lovecraft horror, which turned so often on "miscegenation" and the duty of advanced humans to trample those around them in their drive to recapture this lost wisdom (and humanity's lost grace). His Lovecraftian horror is the horror of the people whom the Lovecraftian heroes viewed as subhuman, expendable, a stain on the human race. By blending real history (such as the Tulsa riots) and Lovecraftian tropes, Ruff's characters shine as active protagonists in their own story who have lives, have dignity, and have indomitable spirit that they use to fight back against the power structure that Lovecraft lionized." Read the rest

Decelerate Blue: YA graphic novel about the kids who refuse to keep pace with totalitarian, high-speed consumerism

Decelerate Blue is a new dystopian science fiction YA graphic novel from Adam Rapp and Mike Cavallaro that tells the story of Angela Swiff, a teen who refuses to go along with the "Guarantee," a totalitarian philosophy that demands that everyone work, play and (especially) shop as quickly as is humanly possible.

Review: Lenovo Yoga Book

Lenovo's Yoga Book is the most striking personal computer I've seen in years. More than the original iPhone, or Sony's X505, or the Messagepad, here's technology that seems a few years ahead of schedule. It's compact, attractive and thinner than anything else that might be called a laptop. Imagine two hinged pieces of black glass, one of which glows with the internet and the other with Okudagrams, and you have the Yoga Book. Read the rest

Six Wakes: a locked-room science fiction murder mystery, delightfully confounded by cloning and memory backups

Readers of Boing Boing have joined me in chronicling the variegated science fiction career of Mur Lafferty: novelist, podcast pioneer, editor -- today, she publishes her latest novel, a hard sf murder mystery called Six Wakes, in which the crew of a generation ship awake in a blood-drenched shipboard cloning bay, in fresh bodies to replace their murdered selves floating in the alarming null-gee, memories restored to the backup they made just before launch, a quarter-century before.

The Abominable Mr Seabrook: a sympathetic biography of an unsympathetic, forgotten literary legend

William Seabrook was once one of America's foremost literary stars; now he is all but forgotten. Seabrook travelled the world, writing a series of (decreasingly sympathetic) accounts of indigenous people and their culture, outselling the literary giants he kept company with, and who pretended not to mind the women he paid to let him tie them up and keep around his home. In The Abominable Mr. Seabrook, graphic novelist Joe Ollman presents an unflinching look at Seabrook, his literary accomplishments and failures, his terrible self-destructiveness, and the awful spiral that took him from the heights of American letters to an ignominious suicide after his discharge from a psychiatric facility.

Penguin Galaxy: a boxed set of six science fiction greats, introduced by Neil Gaiman

Last October, Penguin released its Galaxy boxed set, a $133 set of six hardcover reprints of some of science fiction's most canonical titles: The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula K LeGuin; Stranger in a Strange Land by Robert A Heinlein; 2001: A Space Odyssey by Arthur C Clarke; Dune by Frank Herbert; The Once and Future King by TH White; and Neuromancer, by William Gibson.

Four Futures: using science fiction to challenge late stage capitalism and Thatcher's "no alternative"

Margaret Thatcher's 1979 declaration that "there is no alternative" to neoliberal capitalism is more than a rallying cry: it's a straitjacket on our imaginations, constraining our ability to imagine what kinds of other worlds we might live in. But in science fiction, alternatives to market economies abound (and a surprising number of them are awarded prestigious awards by the Libertarian Futurist Society!), and it is through these tales that sociologist Peter Frase asks us to think through four different ways things could go, in a slim, sprightly book called Four Futures -- a book that assures us that there is no more business as usual, and an alternative must be found.

Unfuck Your Habitat: compassionate cleaning advice, even for people terrified by Marie Kondo

Ever since I found the Unfuck Your Habitat Tumblr, I've been addicted to its brand of frank, compassionate, sweary advice for people who want to be organized but don't know where to start. Now, unfucker-in-chief Rachel Hoffman has distilled the UFyH philosophy into a brilliant, breezy book that is a must-read for people who are terrified by Marie Kondo but intrigued by being able to see their floors again: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess. Read the rest

The Hardware Hacker: Bunnie Huang's tour-de-force on hardware hacking, reverse engineering, China, manufacturing, innovation and biohacking

I've been writing about genius hardware hackers Andrew "bunnie" Huang since 2003, when MIT hung him out to dry over his book explaining how he hacked the original Xbox; the book he wrote about that hack has become a significant engineering classic, and his own life has taken a thousand odd turns that we've chronicled here as he's founded companies, hacked hardware, become a China manufacturing guru, and sued the US government over the anti-hacking provisions of the DMCA.

Kirkus just gave me an AWESOME Christmas present: this starred review for WALKAWAY

Kirkus Reviews is one of the publishing industry's toughest gauntlets, used by librarians and bookstore buyers to help sort through the avalanche of new titles, and its reviews often have a sting in their tails aimed at this audience, a pitiless rehearsal of the reasons you wouldn't want to stock this book -- vital intelligence for people making hard choices. Read the rest

Rogue One is good

In the first act, we visit planet after planet without any sense of place or structure. I almost tuned out in fear of ending up at BOOP CHOWBAH, IMPERIAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT MOON. But once the Death Star fires its first shot, we're off to the races: Rogue One is fast, focused action sci-fi given space to get its hands dirtier than usual Star Wars stuff.

Yet it so loves and respects that universe, treating it with great reverence. In particular, I loved how the "primitive" computer displays of the original Star Wars era were convincingly upgraded into an intentional UI aesthetic. Now the 1977 original looks like a faithful low-budget sequel to a beloved classic. Read the rest

Brian K Vaughan and Cliff Chang's Papergirls: like an all-girl Stranger Things, with time-travel

Brian K Vaughan is one of my very favorite comics creators, though the erratic schedule of Saga, the psychedelic, sexy space opera he and Fiona Staples created has frustrated me at times -- and then I remember that Vaughan is so erratic because he's so busy, creating new titles like 2015's Paper Girls, which Image Comics began to collect in two volumes this year: Book 1 last April, and Book 2 on December 6.

Vision: the Marvel reboot Ta-Nehisi Coates called "the best comic going right now"

When ex-CIA agent Tom King teamed up with a group of extremely talented writers to reboot Marvel's "Vision" in 2015, he had a lot of material to work with -- the character had begun as a kind of super-android in the 1940s and had been reincarnated many times, through many twists and turns: what King & Co did with Vision both incorporated and transcended all that backstory, in an astounding tale that Ta-Nehisi Coates called "the best comic going right now." With the whole run collected in two volumes, there's never been a better time to see just how far comic storytelling can go.

Whiplash: Joi Ito's nine principles of the Media Lab in book form

I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002, and over the decade and a half since, I've marvelled at his polymath abilities -- running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary's ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT's storied Media Lab -- and I've watched with excitement as he's distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.

LED flashlight review in abandoned mine ends on unsettling note

A flashlight review that begins with the promise "I'm about to hike through a remote canyon to an abandoned mine, and I gotta tell you there's a storm raging outside" should end on an interesting note, and this one does. [via]

Disturbing, strange sounds. That's exactly what I caught on video while filming and documenting the abandoned Waldeck Mine using the ThruNite TN12 flashlight. The Waldeck Mine is an abandoned gold mine located deep in a forested canyon in the high country. I went there on a stormy night in order to document the mine while reviewing and demonstrating ThruNite's excellent TN12 handheld flashlight. The abandoned mine itself is over 150 years old and still has a lot of awesome yet dangerous timbering in its furthest reaches. There are upper levels in the Waldeck Mine, but I only explored and documented the main haulage tunnel.

The ghostly AMSR action starts about 12:15 in.

Witchgadget.com is available! Read the rest

Normal: Warren Ellis's story of futurists driven mad by staring into the abyss of tomorrow

Last summer, Warren Ellis serialized a novel, "Normal," as a series of four novellas; today, they're collected in a single, short book that mainlines a month's worth of terrifying futuristic fiction in one go.

More posts