2013 was a great year for my encounters with debut novels -- first novels from new authors, and first-time excursions into young adult fiction from established adult fic authors, and even an editorial debut. Starting with Leonard Richardson's incredible Constellation Games, and moving onto books like Mur Lafferty's long-awaited major press debut The Shambling Guide to New York City, Richard Kadrey's YA debut Dead Set, and many others. Click through for the full list -- it makes great holiday reading! Read the rest
Welcome to this year's Boing Boing Gift Guide
, a piling-high of our most loved stuff from 2013 and beyond. There are books, gadgets, toys, music and much else besides: click the categories at the top to filter what you're most interested in—and offer your own suggestions and links!
I've known that Leonard Richardson was a good writer for half a decade, since he was my student at Viable Paradise.
I just finished Leonard's debut novel, Constellation Games and I'm literally trembling with excitement. Because Constellation Games IS AN AMAZING BOOK.
Here's the plot: Ariel Blum is an Austin-based game-developer with a crappy job making Pony franchise collectible content games for the ten-year-old Brazilian girl market. Then aliens invade the Earth. The Constellation is a coalition of many alien species who have travelled unimaginable distances to invite the Earth to join their loose-knit, non-coercive, freewheeling anarcho-syndicalist collective civilization, which has more than 100 million years' worth of history.
Ariel send the aliens an email. He has a snarky game-review blog where he writes entertainingly about crummy games. Do the aliens have any crappy games they can send him? Turns out they do. From the Constellation space-station (built out of nanocomputers and moon-dust), an alien called Curic drop-ships Ariel a bunch of alien video-games, wrapped in re-entry foam. The aliens are sending stuff like this to a lot of people, and in America, the new Bureau of Extraterrestrial Affairs (made up of ambitious jerks from the DHS) are scrambling to get it all under control.
Ariel has access to the Constellation Database of Games of a Certain Complexity, which contains user-rankings for every game invented by every alien species in the Constellation, including ones that (ominously) are now extinct. He starts mining it for interesting games to download, play and review. Read the rest
Sumana sez, "Scifi author Leonard Richardson and his spouse Sumana Harihareswara are pleding up to $10,000 from their own pockets to match donations to the Ada Initiative made before November 1st. They say: 'This is make-or-break time for the Ada Initiative. Leonard and I make our living through open source and we want to pay it forward.; TAI supports women in open source and open culture."
The Ada Initiative works to increase the participation of women in open technology and culture. They gave me the wording and support I needed to create Wikimedia Foundation's Friendly Space Policy for technical events, which helps everyone at a Wikimedia hackathon feel safer so they can concentrate on rockin' out. If you liked "Be Bold: An Origin Story", the keynote I delivered at Open Source Bridge this year, thank the Ada Initiative, whose advisors helped me shape it. Everyone who wants to grow the open source community benefits from the Ada Initiative's work, and so donating to TAI is like investing in a good piece of machinery; TAI's going to make my work easier for a long time to come.
Please join us in donating to the Ada Initiative, especially if you've also gotten a good career out of open source.
Leonard And I Will Match Ten Thousand Dollars Of Your Ada Initiative Donations
(Thanks, Sumana!) Read the rest
Sumana sez, "'Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs' is this week's fiction offering from Strange Horizons. Leonard Richardson got tired of editors saying 'this story didn't grab me,' so 'Let Us...' starts off with a thymomenoraptor trying to buy a gun. Reviews are calling it 'The best dino-related fiction to come out since Overdrift,' 'everything that daredevil dinosaurs from Mars should be,' and 'Finally, the first Infernokrusher story!'"
"I want to buy a gun," said the Thymomenoraptor. He moved his foreclaw along the glass case of pistols, counting them off: one, two, three, four. "That one." He tapped the case; the glass squeaked.
"Why would a dinosaur need a gun?" asked the shop owner.
The owner's gaze dropped to the three-inch claw that had chipped his display case.
"These are killing claws," said the dinosaur, whose name was Tark. "For sheep, or cows. I merely want to disable an attacker with a precision shot to the leg or other uh, limbal region."
"Uh-huh," the owner said. "Or maybe you figure humans shoot each other all the time, but if someone turns up ripped in half the cops are gonna start lookin' for dinosaurs."
Tark carefully pounded the counter. "There used to be a time," he said, "when gun dealers would actually sell people guns! A time . . . called America. I miss that time."
"I don't sell to foreign nationals."
Let Us Now Praise Awesome Dinosaurs
(Thanks, Sumana!) Read the rest
Sumana sez, "Sumana Harihareswara and Leonard Richardson selected nine mind-squibbling SF and fantasy stories from the slush pile, commissioned five works of art, paid the authors and artists, and packaged the whole thing as a high-quality anthology that you're free to copy and remix. Artists include E-Sheep's Patrick Farley and fanfic darling Erin Ptah; authors include Mary Anne Mohanraj, Carole Lanham, and Ken Liu. We also wrote an essay describing the process, which you can read if you're interested in how we did it or what the SF/fantasy market looks like from the editor's perspective."
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Futurismic just published Leonard Richardson's stupendous, colossal, monumentally geeky story "Mallory," which reads like the first three paragraphs of Snow Crash, but extended, remixed, and oh, so sweetly.
Futurismic editor Paul Raven sums it up, "Seriously - geek hackers and classic arcade games, electronic Darwinism and domestic espionage, venture capital and Valley-esque start-ups … and a healthy dose of intellectual property panic."
Leonard was one of my writing students at Viable Paradise a couple years back and he made a great impression then. And this is just the kind of story I love Futurismic for publishing. Run, don't walk -- and expect great things from Leonard Richardson.
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Thanks to the General Arcade Machine Emulator, Vijay now inhabited a golden age. His laptop held every arcade game ever released, or at least the important ones, the ones written before games started getting ridiculous peripherals like drum kits and full-scale Army tanks. The only hard part had been finding the seedy web site that offered all the games as a graph. Because these games, even the forgotten ones, are still under copyright, and that eight kilobytes of data can’t go on your laptop unless you’ve got the two-hundred-pound cabinet to go with it.
Even three thousand games weren’t enough for Vijay, because none of them were perfect. So he’d built the Selfish GAME, which bred mutants with barbarians, spaceships, and wizards. It had been fun for two years and now it had stopped working. A week after the Pyromancy deadline, while all the cool people were converging on a field in Idaho with their machines and duct tape, Vijay was doing the most boring thing he could think of: making a spreadsheet.
Jim Theis's horrible sword-and-sorcery tale, "The Eye of Argon," has inconsistent characterization, turgid pacing, and sentences like, "Hence, he may have been imprisoned for ten minutes or ten years, he did not know, resulting in a disheartened emotion deep within his being." Its only saving grace: the plot does in fact go somewhere, eventually.
Leonard Richardson destroys that distraction by randomly rearranging its sentences in "The Cut-Up Eye," so you can better appreciate Theis's unique diction. Changes every 5 minutes, "the wench stated whimsicoracally."
Note about "The Eye of Argon" (From UKSFA):
"The Eye of Argon" was published in 1970 in OSFAN, the journal of the Ozark SF Society, issue number 10. Photocopies -- invariably with the last page missing -- circulated for decades, and it became a regular sf convention challenge to read Jim Theis's mangled prose with a straight face. This HTML document is based on the standard ASCII text of the story, widely available on line. In the January 2005 issue of The New York Review of Science Fiction it was revealed that a complete copy of OSFAN #10 had been unearthed in the Jack Williamson SF Library at Eastern New Mexico University... Jim Theis himself, who was 16 when "The Eye of Argon" first appeared, reportedly died circa 2001 at age 48. He will be long remembered in sf fandom.
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