On IO9, Charlie Jane Anders takes an advance look at Questionable Practices, the first new collection of Eileen Gunn's short fiction since 2004's Stable Strategies and Others (which I called the best collection of the year). Anders loved it -- I can't wait until March, when it comes out!
True to form, Gunn's new book, Questionable Practices, contains a number of sardonically weird looks at the future and the strangeness of corporate culture. But her insatiable eye for weirdness branches out this time around, featuring a number of different takes on the fantastical.
There is also a good deal of silliness in Questionable Practices, which should be welcomed by anyone who's gotten tired of the pervasive stiff upper lip in SF and fantasy of late. From outright spoofs to metafictional pranks to sarcastic mischief, Gunn is constantly winking at the reader, while also packing tons of clever ideas. And just when you least expect it, she drops a serious truth bomb.
Questionable Practices [Amazon]
Eileen Gunn's strange thought experiments will unravel your mind [Charlie Jane Anders/IO9]
A team at MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering and Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering have created a set of foldable, 3D printed robots that are doped with magnetic particles that are precisely aligned during printing; when triggered by a control-magnet they engage in precise movements: grabbing, jumping, rolling, squeezing, etc.
John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.
David Graeber defined a "bullshit job" in his viral 2013 essay as jobs that no one -- not even the people doing them -- valued, and he clearly struck a chord: in the years since, Graeber, an anthropologist, has collected stories from people whose bullshit jobs inspired them to get in touch with him, and now he has synthesized all that data into a beautifully written, outrageous and thought-provoking book called, simply, Bullshit Jobs.
Spring came and went, but we’re not here to judge if you didn’t get around to cleaning up your living space. After all, taking the time to vacuum your floors can stretch out into a lengthy task when you’re constantly switching between power outlets and trying to jam your machine into those tight corners. With […]
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