"Lauren McLaughlin"

Send Pics: ripping, brutal, amazing novel about teens, sextortion, revenge and justice

Over the past decade or so, Lauren McLaughin (previously) has written a handful of outstanding YA novels, each dealing with difficult issues of gender, personal autonomy and the casual cruelty of teens, starting with Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) (a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month); Scored (a class-conscious surveillance dystopia); The Free (a desperate novel about a teen car-thief in juvie) and now, her best book yet: Send Pics, a gripping thriller about sextortion, high school, revenge and justice.

Boing Boing Gift Guide 2017

Here's this year's complete Boing Boing Gift Guide: dozens of great ideas for stocking stuffers, brain-hammers, mind-expanders, terrible toys, badass books and more. Where available, we use Amazon Affiliate links to help keep the world's greatest neurozine online.

The Free: unflinching YA novel about juvie, desperation and empathy

Lauren McLaughlin is no stranger to hard-hitting, unflinching young adult novels: her debut, Cycler (and its sequel, Re-Cycler) was about a teenaged girl who turned into a boy for four days every month; Scored was a class-conscious surveillance dystopia; now, in The Free, McLaughlin sheds any fantastic or futuristic elements and mainlines a pure, angry, relentless and stripped-down story about a kid whose desperate circumstances become almost unbearable when he takes a fall for a car-theft and goes to juvenile prison.

Young adult writers take the SAT, reflect on writing instruction

Katie sez,

Does perfecting the art of the 5-paragraph analytical essay make you a better creative writer? How important are things like grammar, spelling, and syntax for a fiction stylist? Do test scores or grades in high school English class reflect your chances for creative success later on? As part of an on-going conversation examining the relationship between writing in school and writing professionally, Figment asked two acclaimed YA authors, Lauren McLaughlin (Scored) and Scott Westerfeld (Uglies,Leviathan) to subject themselves to the essay portion of the SAT. Boomie Aglietti, a writer who has tutored hundreds of kids on the SAT for Revolution Prep, scored and evaluated how the professionals stacked up. On Thursday, December 8 at 7 p.m. ET, McLaughlin and Westerfeld will be joined by their colleagues David Levithan(Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist; Will Grayson, Will Grayson) and Robin Wasserman (the Cold Awakening series) to continue the conversation in a live group chat, taking questions from thousands of young writers around the country about what they learned about writing when they were in high school -- and what, if any of it, was useful.

Lauren McLaughlin & Scott Westerfeld Take the SAT | Figment Blog

(Thanks, Katie!) Read the rest

Scored: pulse-pounding/thought-provoking YA novel about surveillance

Scored is Lauren McLaughlin's latest YA science fiction novel, a remarkable book about surveillance, class, and culture. It's McLaughlin's third novel, and her best so far (though the previous two were very good).

In Scored, the American middle class is no more, wiped out by economic catastrophe. Social entrepreneurs bent on restoring class mobility have established "scoring," filling whole towns with spy-eyes that watch kids' every move, publicly assigning aggregate scores to their behavior according to secret, self-modifying algorithms. The top-scoring kids get full ride scholarships to top universities, and are on their way to social mobility. Bottom scorers are frozen out entirely, while those a little farther up are able to find work in the military.

Imani LeMonde is a high-school kid in small-town New England, a poor kid whose parents scrape by with a tiny, marginal marina that serves the ultra-rich who holiday there. When the story opens, Imani is a "90," scored in the highest band of children, and on her way to a better life. But Imani refuses to cut off ties with her childhood best friend, a girl who has taken up romantically with an "unscored" -- someone whose parents have not opted for the surveillance system -- and her association with an anti-social element causes her score to plummet.

From here, McLaughlin launches into a tale that is simultaneously adventurous and thought-provoking. McLaughlin's characters -- a tenured refusenik social studies teacher, a crusading lawyer, a driven principal, and a collection of kids from across the score-tribes and outside the scoring system -- all serve to illuminate the pros and cons of surveillance and "meritocracy." Read the rest

(Re)cycler: YA science fiction that tackles sex, gender with a lot of smarts

(Re)Cycler: genderbending sf

Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part four: Comics, graphic novels and funnybooks

Here's part four of our week-long "Best of Boing Boing" holiday gift guide: basically, it's a list of the bestselling items from among the stuff we reviewed this year, reflecting your favorite items from among our picks. Today's list is comics, graphic novels, funnybooks and the like.

Don't miss the previous installments: kids' stuff, fiction and gadgets!

Tomorrow's nonfiction day, and Monday'll finish up the series with DVDs and CDs.

Laika (Nick Abadzis) Graphic novel tells the sweet and sad story of the first space-dog Original Boing Boing post

The Perry Bible Fellowship: The Trial of Colonel Sweeto and Other Stories (Nicholas Gurewitch) Hilarious, surreal webcomic Original Boing Boing post

Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznik) Award-winning steampunk graphic novel for kids Original Boing Boing post

Good as Lily (Derek Kirk Kim) Ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers Original Boing Boing post

The Plain Janes (Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg) Funny, spirited little story about a gang of girls named Jane at a strait-laced high-school, rejected by the mainstream, and their art adventures. Original Boing Boing post

100 Days Of Monsters (Stefan G. Bucher) Book showcases blob-to-monster art Original Boing Boing post

Army @ Love Vol. 1: The Hot Zone Club (Rick Veitch) Romance/war comic deals out the offensive yuks Original Boing Boing post

Three Shadows (Cyril Pedrosa) Haunting and dreamlike graphic novel of love, bravery and sacrifice Original Boing Boing post

St. Trinian's: The Entire Appalling Business (Ronald Searle) Ronald Searle's original dark, weird and hilarious St Trinian's comics Original Boing Boing post

The Adventures of Johnny Bunko: The Last Career Guide You'll Ever Need (Daniel H. Read the rest

Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part two: Fiction

Here's part two of my Boing Boing Holiday Gift Guide -- wherein I list the bestselling items that have been reviewed here in the past twelve months. Today, it's fiction. Don't miss yesterday's Kids' stuff and stuff about kids post, too! (Note that some of these titles appeared on yesterday's kids' list -- I wasn't sure how to handle cross-referencing for items that qualified for more than one list, so I just duplicated them for people who wanted to dive straight into the fiction list -- say -- rather than picking through the kids' list too)

Rewired: The Post-Cyberpunk Anthology (John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly) Post-Cyberpunk Anthology shows how sf has changed since the Mirroshades era Original Boing Boing post

Halting State (Charles Stross) Halting State: Heist novel about an MMORPG Original Boing Boing post

Interface (Neal Stephenson) Neal Stephenson's underappreciated masterpiece Original Boing Boing post

Wastelands: Stories of the Apocalypse (John Joseph Adams) Anthology of apocalyptic fiction Original Boing Boing post

Futures from Nature (Henry Gee) 100 short-short sf stories from Nature Magazine Original Boing Boing post

The SFWA European Hall of Fame: Sixteen Contemporary Masterpieces of Science Fiction from the Continent (James Morrow and Kathryn Morrow) A chance to read sf from outside of the Anglo Bubble Original Boing Boing post

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow) My bestselling young adult novel about kids who hack for freedom Original Boing Boing post

The Starry Rift (Jonathan Strahan) Science fiction anthology for teens Original Boing Boing post

Steampunk (Ann and Jeff VanderMeer) Steampunk: the anthology Original Boing Boing post

Distraction (Bruce Sterling) Bruce Sterling's visionary novel Distraction: still brilliant a decade later Original Boing Boing post

The Yiddish Policemen's Union: A Novel (Michael Chabon) Wonderful blend of hard-boiled and Yiddish ironies Original Boing Boing post

Cory Doctorow's Futuristic Tales Of The Here And Now (Cory Doctorow) A six-edition series of comics adapted from my short stories by an incredibly talented crew of writers, artists, inkers and letterers Original Boing Boing post

Goodnight Bush: A Parody (Gan Golan, Erich Origen) A Goodnight Moon satire for the electoral season Original Boing Boing post

Saturn's Children (Charles Stross) Stross's robopervy tribute to the late late Heinlein Original Boing Boing post

Crooked Little Vein: A Novel (Warren Ellis) Comic net-perv novel that would make Goatse blush Original Boing Boing post

Random Acts of Senseless Violence (Jack Womack) Unflinching, engrossing, difficult coming-of-age story Original Boing Boing post

Boy Proof (Cecil Castellucci) A compassionate young adult novel about a weird, smart, angry girl Original Boing Boing post

Cycler (Lauren McLaughlin) Smart YA novel about sex and sexuality Original Boing Boing post

Anathem (Neal Stephenson) A great story, set in an alternative reality where people take long-term thinking seriously Original Boing Boing post

The Armageddon Rag (George R.R. Read the rest

Boing Boing's Holiday Gift Guide part one: Kids

Well, it's coming up to the holidays and I've started to make my list and fill it in. As a starting point, I went through all the books and DVDs and gadgets I'd reviewed on Boing Boing since last November and looked at what had been the best-sellers among BB's readership, figuring you folks have pretty good taste! As I was taking a walk down old review lane, I realized that many of you would probably be interested in seeing these lists too, so I've turned them into a series of blog-posts that I'll be sticking up, one per day, for the next week or so. Today I'm starting with kids' media and media about kids and child-rearing. Later this week, I'll do fiction, nonfiction, comics and graphic novels, CDs and DVDs and gadgets and everything else, one a day. Hope this helps you with your holiday shopping as much as it's helped me with mine!

Baby's First Mythos (C.J. Henderson) Cthluhoid picture book Original Boing Boing post

Invention of Hugo Cabret (Brian Selznik) Award-winning steampunk graphic novel for kids Original Boing Boing post

Good as Lily (Derek Kirk Kim) Ass-kicking girl-positive graphic novel for young readers Original Boing Boing post

The Plain Janes (Cecil Castellucci, Jim Rugg) Funny, spirited little story about a gang of girls named Jane at a strait-laced high-school, rejected by the mainstream, and their art adventures. Original Boing Boing post

Little Brother (Cory Doctorow) My bestselling young adult novel about kids who hack for freedom Original Boing Boing post

The Starry Rift (Jonathan Strahan) Science fiction anthology for teens Original Boing Boing post

St. Read the rest

Young adult authors for Obama

Lauren McLaughlin sez, "Young Adult author Maureen Johnson launches new Obama social networking website. Many YA authors will be blogging there, including Judy Blume, Scott Westerfeld, Meg Cabot, Holly Black and many more. From the mission statement:"

YA for Obama is a community of YA writers and readers and friends who have joined together because of our commitment to Future United States President Barack Obama...This is a social networking site, which means that when you join (it’s free! easy! takes about a minute!) you can do LOADS of stuff around here. You can make your own page, contribute to the forum, upload your own photos and videos, and make friends who love Obama as much as you do.

I wouldn't say I loved Obama (his vote to allow the continued illegal wiretapping of the entire nation destroyed any chance of that), but I do support him. If I got a vote (I'm Canadian), that's who I'd vote for.

YA for Obama

(Thanks, Lauren!) Read the rest

Cycler: smart YA novel about sex and sexuality

Screenwriter/producer Lauren McLaughlin's YA novel debut, Cycler is just out, and just in time -- this is a book that the kids in your life really need to read, a gender-bending piece of speculative fiction aimed at young people that manages to say novel, useful, and challenging things about gender and sexuality without ever descending into squicky fluid-exchange or soapy romance.

Jill McTeague has a secret: every 28 days, at the start of her menstrual cycle, she...changes. Painful, graphically, her body transforms into an adolescent male form, and her mind is remade as Jack McTeague, an angry, horny teenaged boy who stays locked in Jill's room for four days until she comes back to reclaim her body and mind. Her stepfordwife mom is mortified by this, and bent on ensuring that none of their neighbors in their affluent Massachusetts suburb discover their family's dark secret, and her absentee father (moved into the basement years ago to practice meditation and yoga) is no help either.

Jill does everything she can to pretend that her four-day absences just don't happen, while Jack seethes and rages against his captivity, in chapters that alternate between both points of view. Both characters are flawed and likable, smart but dumb about emotional stuff in exactly the way I was when I was a teenager. McLaughlin does an admirable job of nailing the voice of Jack -- I know that hormone-addled, enraged teenaged boy. I was that boy.

McLaughlin's screenwriting background carries through well, too: the plot is faultless, building from the weird premise (and the concomitant weirdness) to a series of ever-more-desperate scenarios that have you rooting for Jack and Jill even as you facepalm yourself and peer between your fingers at the wreck they're making of their lives. Read the rest

Lauren McLaughlin talks about her debut YA novel CYCLER

Sybil's Garage magazine has an interview with Lauren McLaughlin, a new young adult writer whose debut novel, Cycler, will be published in September. I've known Lauren for some years now and she inevitably says the smartest stuff about writing in any conversation around the table. I've enjoyed her short fiction and the films she wrote immensely, and can't wait to read this book.

Storytelling is the foundation of any good novel and I think it's actually a very rare talent. Plenty of writers get by on killer premises and witty style. But effective storytelling is all about structure. It's very mechanical, almost architectural. When you can marry that structure to a framework of ideas, then the novel can transcend pure entertainment. The trick, in my opinion, is to weave these ideas invisibly into the story so that they are discovered, unraveled by the reader. My goal is to seduce my reader into a compelling narrative that whittles away at some preconceived idea and leaves them with an uncomfortable but somehow intriguing gap in their sense of the world. I want them to close the book and have a head full of questions. I'm not interested in merely diverting them for a while or helping them fall asleep. Nor do I want that from the books I read. I want to be unsettled, challenged. I want to close a book and say “I never thought of that before.”


(Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest

NYC makes gender declaration a personal choice

Lauren McLaughlin says,

The New York Times ran a story this week about New York City's plan to permit people to change the gender on their birth certificates even if they haven’t had sex reassignment surgery. The move comes after much advocacy by transgender groups who believe that gender has to do with much more than anatomy. For many transgendered people, in fact, anatomy is itself a mixed bag. This new move allows individuals to decide for themselves whether they are male or female.

Link Read the rest

SF story about AI-human love

My friend Lauren McLaughlin, an excellent new sf writer, has a story up on today's Salon -- "The perfect man" -- the story of a woman who found true love by designing an AI, and then turning him loose.

Martin was a mouth breather. Jim lacked ambition. Rennie's head was too big. Craig licked my face like a dog.

But Pritchard. Pritchard is everything I want. And I'm not going to apologize about the way I met him. Especially not to my friends still slugging it out on LovePlanet.com. I did LovePlanet. Seventy-four dates with sixty-two men. You know what I learned? People lie. Sylvester was fifty-five, not thirty-five. Jacob was an unemployed bartender with halitosis, not a financial planner with a beach house. I admit I lied about my weight. All women lie about their weight.

But I can laugh at all of this now because I am off the roster. I am no longer "out there," as they say. And I didn't have to lower my standards or search outside my geographic region either. What I had to do was stop searching and start designing. That's right. I designed my boyfriend. I'm a busy woman. I don't have time for the Toms, Dicks, and Harrys the world keeps throwing at me.


Update: Here's a great interview that Lauren McLaughlin conducted with Kelly Link, the award-winning author of Stranger Things Happen and Magic for Beginners -- thanks, Matthew! Read the rest

Sybil's Garage, new sf magazine

Sybil's Garage is a new print science fiction magazine -- just published issue 2 -- which is running some spectacular sf, including my friend Lauren McLaughlin's fantastic "New York City vs the World."


(Thanks, Matthew!) Read the rest