The 2017 Ikea Catalog considered as dystopian urban microapartment futurism

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The new Ikea Catalog is making a big bet on very small living spaces -- the kind of place that costs more than half your monthly salary but is too small for a dinner-table, let alone a separate room for your kids, who are supposed to sleep in a bunk-bed in the living room ("Why would a child on the verge of pubescence need privacy anyway?"). Read the rest

An oral history of the Suicide Squad

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Zack Smith writes, "With the film of SUICIDE SQUAD out Friday [ed: alas, it looks like a turkey], you might enjoy this oral history I did of the 1980s series with writer John Ostrander and most of the artistic and editorial team from throughout the book's run. Along with some fun surprises, it includes some never-before-seen script and original art pages from the creators' personal collections." Read the rest

Report on the dismal state of black sf/f writers in the short fiction markets

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Pablo Defendini writes, "Fireside Fiction Company has released a report detailing the dismal state of representation of black writers in the science fiction and fantasy short fiction market . Despite increasing efforts to boost representation of people of color generally, the prospects for black writers, specifically, have not been improving. According to the data (which is available in a publicly accessible Google spreadsheet ), out of 2,039 stories published in 2015, only 38 were written by black authors. The report is accompanied by a series of essays in reaction to the report by Nisi Shawl , Troy L. Wiggins , Mikki Kendall , Justina Ireland , and Tobias Buckell ; as well as an interview with N.K. Jemisin . Fireside's editor, Brian White, has also written an editorial detailing some steps that Fireside is committed to taking to counter our own biases and help fix this huge problem." Read the rest

100 African science fiction writers you should be reading

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Canadian/British science fiction and fantasy author Geoff Ryman, author of the incredible novel WAS, has begun a series in which he profiles 100 working science fiction and fantasy writers in Africa, place by place, starting with Nairobi. Read the rest

Tactical Awareness: 100 100-word stories about the uneasy sense of living in the Uncanny Valley

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TACTICAL AWARENESS is a collection of one hundred SF short stories, each of them one hundred words long.

China's "ultra-unreal" literary movement takes inspiration from breathtaking corruption

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How can Chinese novelists convey the sense of unreality of living in a country where raids on the homes of civic officials uncover so much cash that it burns out four bill-counting machines when the police try to tot it up, or when it needs to be weighed by the ton to approximate its value? Read the rest

Watch this smart analysis of designing story dialogue

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Writing good dialogue is a craft few can master. Lewis Criswell draws from a nice survey of recent and classic examples, both good and bad, to explain the craft of designing dialogue. 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.

Frankenstein turns 200 this year: write a short story, win cool prizes

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Arizona State University, Nanowrimo, and the Chabot Science Center are commemorating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein with a series of events, including a short-story contest judged by Elizabeth Bear. Read the rest

Class action: publishers paid writers "sale" royalties on ebooks whose fine-print says they're "licensed"

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When you sign a publishing deal, the contract spells out different royalty rates for different kinds of commercial activity; you get so much every time a copy is sold, and significantly more from every licensing deal for the book. Read the rest

The best thing you will read about the revelation that Captain America was a Nazi spy

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This week, Marvel Comics published the first issue of Captain America: Steve Rogers in which it's revealed that since his earliest days, Captain America has been a double agent for Hydra, the thinly veiled allegory for the Nazis; in an epic Twitter rant, Livejournal alumnus and Dreamwidth cofounder Denise Paolucci explains the way that perpetual copyright and business concentration has neutralized the ancient custom of collective storytelling of epic narratives, magnifying the harm from bad corporate decisions. Read the rest

Famous writers with their first word processors

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U Maryland English professor Matthew G. Kirschenbaum has a new book called Track Changes: A Literary History of Word Processing that tells the story of word processing from writers' perspectives; an accompanying gallery collects photos of famous authors with their first word processors (mine was an Apple //e). Pictured above: Stephen King with his Wang System 5 Model 3 word processor in 1982. Read the rest

Comics and Science: An Explosive Combination

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In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Jon Chad, author of Science Comics: Volcanoes: Fire and Life, and the co-author, with Maris Wicks, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. Read the rest

Free Comic Book Day: Why write science comics?

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In honor of Free Comic Book Day, we present this essay by Maris Wicks, author of Science Comics: Coral Reefs: Cities of the Ocean, and the co-author, with Jon Chad, of "Science Comics," a free comic available in comics stores all over the world today. See the bottom of the post for an exclusive preview of Science Comics!

Baby names generated by a neural network

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In 2015, Stanford computer science PhD candidate Andrej Karpathy decided to test out some neural network tools he'd been experimenting with, and set them to generating plausible baby names. Read the rest

Writer's block supercut

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Writer's Block - A Supercut from Ben Watts on Vimeo.

Ben Watts and Ivan Kander edited a supercut of scenes depicting writer's block from 53 movies. You can see the list of movies here. Read the rest

Classic paper on economic models is secretly a masterclass in thinking, talking, writing and convincing

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Hal Varian, now Google's chief economist, wrote "How to Build an Economic Model in Your Spare Time," a classic paper, in 1994 while teaching at UC Berkeley (he's still an emeritus there). Read the rest

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