Macarthur "genius prize" recipient Octavia Butler (previously) is one of science fiction's most important figures, an author who wrote cracking, crackling, accessible and fast-moving adventure stories shot through with trenchant and smart allegories about race, gender and power (I like to think of her as "woke Heinlein").
Grand Central has just published a new edition of one of her most important books, Parable of the Sower, the first of a two-volume set that tells the tale of a young Black girl in southern California during a time of environmental and economic collapse and the rise of authoritarian rule; about how she leads a band of refugees, founding a new religion grounded in solidarity and stewardship, and how she triumphs over lunatic gangs; corrupt, militarized cops; and the logistical challenges of flash-fires, starvation and disease.
The new edition features a brilliant introduction by NK Jemisin (previously), whose Broken Earth trilogy made Hugo Award history last year when all three volumes won the prize for Best Novel.
Jemisin's introduction describes how she read Butler's novel at three times in her life, and how each read evinced a very different reaction from her -- once in the roaring nineties when the economy was booming and the internet promised democratization of culture and communications; once in Jemisin's thirties when she was was a grad student researching the theory of Black liberation and the nature of white supremacy; and now, in the Trump era, when stories about authoritarian rule, mass inequality, and climate devastation don't feel nearly so allegorical and have taken on the tinge of description instead.
Jemisin's sober assessment of Butler's legacy after three reads highlights how the novel lays out a plan for "smart resistance," grounded in an understanding of "the difference between good intentions and good outcomes." That's exactly right. Parable of the Sower has never been more relevant.
Parable of the Sower [Octavia Butler with an introduction by NK Jemisin/Grand Central]
(Image: Laura Hanifin, CC-BY-SA)
Tim Qian, a "full stack developer and open source activist," has published chart.xkcd, a free/open tool that lets you create interactive, "hand-drawn" charts in the style of XKCD comics. It's pretty fabulous! (via Four Short Links)
On Slate Star Codex (previously), Scott Alexander breaks down Invisible Designers: Brain Evolution Through the Lens of Parasite Manipulation, Marco Del Giudice's Quarterly Review of Biology paper that examines the measures that parasites take to influence their hosts' behaviors, and the countermeasures that hosts evolve to combat them.
Samuel R "Chip" Delany is a science fiction pioneer: a brilliant literary stylist with dazzling ideas who was one of the field's first openly queer writers, and one of the first Black writers accepted into the field. He is one of the fathers of afrofuturism.
If you’re marketing on the web, your Google-fu needs to be strong – and up to date. Without a firm grasp on what drives traffic, you’ll never be able to take the wheel. That’s why even if you know where to put your keywords, a little extra effort goes a long way on any marketer’s […]
Want to keep the dentist away? A little tooth care at morning and night isn’t bad, but it won’t keep the stains from smoking or fried foods at bay for long. If you enjoy your food and want to avoid the consequences, an upgrade from that old analog toothbrush can make a huge difference. Among […]
If your office works at all, it uses Microsoft Office. Those icons for Word, PowerPoint, and Outlook are as familiar around some workplaces as the coffee machine. So familiar, in fact, that they get taken for granted – and rarely used to their full potential. Whether you need a crash course in the essential tools […]