Starve #2: Brian Wood lands the tale in a screaming dive and a perfect touchdown

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Brian Wood's Starve, Volume One (collecting issues 1-5) was the best, meanest new graphic novel debut since Transmetropolitan; now, with Starve, Volume Two (issues 6-10), Wood brings the story in for a conclusion that is triumphant and wicked and eminently satisfying, without being pat.

The 13 Clocks: Grimm's Fairytales meet The Phantom Tollbooth

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I discovered The 13 Clocks by reading Neil Gaiman's introduction to the 2008 New York Review of Books edition (which I found in The View from the Cheap Seats, a massive collection of Gaiman's nonfiction), where he calls it "Probably the best book in the world" -- how could I resist?

Neil Gaiman's nonfiction: what makes everything so great

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The View from the Cheap Seats, Neil Gaiman's mammoth collection of nonfiction essays, introductions, and speeches, is a remarkable explanatory volume in which Gaiman explains not just why he loves the things he loves, but also what makes them great.

Review: Dasani Sparkling Bread Mold water

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As a longtime fan of sparkling, zero-carb flavored water beverages, I thought I'd check out the new offerings from Dasani, whose own unsweetened slim-can drinks come in a range of popular flavors—and a lighter price tag than Perrier and La Croix.

I decided to try Dasani's Sparkling Bread Mold flavor first, and I must say that I'm delighted with the results.

Floral, moldy and yet delicately balanced, it only hints at a full taste of unseen mycobiomes, with crisp fungal notes hitting the nose moreso than the tongue. These mildew whispers gather to a full-throated sporal experience as the flavor settles in.

If at first it seems a slow way to acquire a taste for gulping clumps of algae in polluted lakes, or standing rainwater from brownfield reclamation sites, remember that the key to these fashionable sparkling waters is subtlety, a careful naturalism that's hard to crack without the crutches of sugar or lead-acid battery slime.

Complex notes of penicillin and petrichor are augmented by tertiary aromas of flower petals and basement dust, leading to a satisfying, sustained mildew finish.

All in all, I can't recommend Dasani Sparkling Bread Mold water enough, especially to fans of organic matter that has putrefied then dried out to leave only a vaguely acrid scent of death.

Garnish with an old crouton and enjoy over ice on an oppressively humid day, in a swamp-cooled shed with wet carpet.

Note: Oddly, the cans I tested were subject to a misprint whereby each was stamped "Raspberry Lemonade" instead of "Bread Mold." This had no effect on the flavor whatsoever. Read the rest

Nightwork: the extraordinary, exuberant history of rulebreaking at MIT

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MIT has a complicated relationship with disobedience. On the one hand, the university has spent more than a century cultivating and celebrating a "hacker culture" that involves huge, ambitious, thoughtful and delightful pranks undertaken with the tacit approval of the university. On the other hand -- well, on the other hand: Star Simpson, Bunnie Huang, and Aaron Swartz. In Nightwork, first published in 2003 and updated in 2011, MIT Historian T. F. Peterson explores this contradictory relationship and celebrates the very best, while suggesting a path for getting rid of the very worst.

The new Lumberjanes book is sweet and badass, with a hell of a monster

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Books one and two of Lumberjanes introduced us to the characters and setting of the awesome, women-run, girl-positive comics: the girls of Roanoke cabin at Miss Quinzella Thiskwin Penniquiqul Thistle Crumpet's Camp for Hardcore Lady Types are Lumberjanes, being trained in the badass arts. Book three -- collecting comics from a kind of victory lap of the title after its amazing success -- turned the series' reins over to some of the best writers and illustrators in comics-dom for a series of vignettes. Now, with Out of Time, the fourth book, the original creative team are back at the helm, telling a long-form story that illuminates the Lumberjane backstory and introduces one of the best, scariest monsters of cryptozoologica.

Sex Criminals Volume Three: in which a dirty caper story becomes something much, much more

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The first two volumes of Matt Fraction and Chip Zdarsky's Sex Criminals were a dirty romp: a pair of lovers who discover that they can stop time at the moment of orgasm start robbing banks to save a local library from demolition, and run into a posse of other time-stopping fuckers who are set against them. But in volume three, Three the Hard Way, the story transcends the sex and the jokes to take a hard, wet look at what humans do when we do sex.

Review: Keto chocolate chip cookies

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I lost about 40 pounds on a keto diet, that being the near-total abnegation of carbs. It worked, for me, but the strict mandate means my foodlife is mostly salads, nuts and meat. Tough going! The popularity of the diet, and others similar to it (paleo, Atkins, etc), has created a market for carbless snacks that nonetheless resemble carbtastic snacks. Such as "keto cookies," a new product from ketokookies.com that they're kickstarting. Read the rest

Jughead: Zdarsky's reboot is funny, fannish, and freaky

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For the past couple years, the "new, hipster" Archie has been pushing the envelope on what can be done within the confines of an old, beloved (and outdated) media brand: there was Kevin Keller, a gay character; Jughead coming out as asexual; a seriously scary zombie story; Sharknado spinoffs; a breast cancer storyline; even a guest appearance by Jaime "Love and Rockets" Hernandez: but Chip "Sex Criminals" Zdarsky's run on Jughead, illustrated by Erica Henderson and just collected in a trade paperback shows just how much fun the new normal of Archie can be!

William Gibson's Archangel: intricate military sf, mercilessly optimized for comics

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Archangel is a five-part science fiction comic written by William Gibson and Michael St. John Smith and illustrated by Butch Guice; Issue #1 came out last month and sold out immediately, and IDW has only just got its second printing into stores this week, just ahead of the ship-date for #2, which is due next Wednesday. Read the rest

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.

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."

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.

Every Heart a Doorway: Seanan McGuire's subversive, gorgeous tale of rejects from the realms of faerie

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Seanan McGuire is one of science fiction's most passionate voices, no matter whether she's writing under her Mira Grant pseudonym or her own name, you always know that you're going to be reading a story that moves and inflames, illuminating the cause of the underdog and the overlooked with stories that are firmly adventures first and allegories second, the best kind of political fiction, and now, with her new novella Every Heart a Doorway, McGuire shows us that she can weaponize that talent and use it as a skewer to pin the reader, right through the heart.

Geek Feminist Revolution: Kameron Hurley's measured essays on the importance of rage

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Kameron Hurley is first and foremost a talented novelist (see, for example, her critically acclaimed God's War books), but her first Hugo was awarded for an essay, "We Have Always Fought," which is just one of many significant, eloquent, and insightful nonfiction pieces collected in The Geek Feminist Revolution, just published in paperback.

The Nameless City: YA graphic novel about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour

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Faith Erin Hicks (Zombies Calling, Friends with Boys, Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong) is back with the first volume of a new, epic YA trilogy: The Nameless City, a fantasy adventure comic about diplomacy, hard and soft power, colonialism, bravery, and parkour.

Parent Hacks: illustrated guide is the best kind of parenting book

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The latest incarnation of Parent Hacks is the best yet: Parent Hacks: 134 Genius Shortcuts for Life with Kids, with illustrations from Craighton Berman.

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