A new Florida law redefines the reach of beachfront property owners' claims to "the land above the mean high-tide level." This seemingly innocuous change means that private property owners -- and their patrolling rent-a-cops -- will have vastly expanded powers to kick members of the public off of public beaches.
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Steven Brust is a literary treasure
and his longrunning Vlad Taltos series
, now nearing its final volume, is a good example of where his strengths lie: hardboiled plotting, snappy dialog, weirdly realistic and plausible depictions of magic, and a sensitive eye for power relationships and their depiction, all of which are on display in his latest, outstanding novel, Good Guys
, about the minimum-wage sorcerers who investigate magical crimes on behalf of a secret society.
I have been reading Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos novels since I was a pre-teen and singing their praises on Boing Boing since 2006
, and with the occasion of the publication of Vallista
, the fifteenth and nearly final volume in the series, I want to spend some time explaining to you why goddamnit you should really consider reading 15 books, get caught up, and finish this sucker with me, because if there was any justice in this world, the Vlad books would have a following to shame The Dark Tower at its peak.
Glenn Greenwald frames what I've been trying to articulate: as neoliberalism and its handmaiden, corruption, have swept the globe, making the rich richer, the poor poorer, and everyone in the middle more precarious; as elites demonized and dismissed the left-behinds who said something was wrong; as the social instability of inequality has been countered with increasingly invasive domestic "war on terror" policing, millions of people are ready to revolt, and will support anyone who promises no more business as usual. Read the rest
Laurie Penny weighs in with an important addition to the discussion about privilege and pain, making the important point that privilege is not the absence of pain, discrimination or hellish conditions -- but that doesn't mean that the nerds who suffered through school bullying are without it. Read the rest
, the 14th book in Steven Brust's Vlad Taltos
series, is a moving, funny and tantalizing end-game glimpse of the assassin, reluctant revolutionary and epic wisecracker. Cory Doctorow
explains why he's been reading this generation-spanning series
of Hungarian mythology, revolutionary politics, and gastronomy for more than 30 years.
Steven Brust and Skyler White's The Incrementalists is a spectacular new contemporary fantasy novel about an immortal cabal of dysfunctional do-gooders who use their subtle, near-wizardly powers of persuasion to alter the course of history, and change bodies by implanting their memories into the bodies of successors chosen from the population at large.
Though I'm new to Skyler White, I am a gigantic fan of Steven Brust, and this book was an absolute home-run for me. Thematically, it's close to The Sun, the Moon and the Stars -- to my mind, his great, neglected masterpiece -- in its philosophical depth, emotional range, and sense of deep, fabled magic. But the collaboration with White is extremely fruitful: the authors trade off writing from different points-of-view within chapters, providing a glimpse of the godhead-like group mind of the Incrementalists themselves. After the first couple of switches, I stopped trying to guess who was writing what -- it felt like a style that was neither Brust's, nor White's, but a superior hybrid of both. Read the rest
There's a new special-edition audiobook of Welcome to Bordertown, the YA reboot of the amazing, classic urban fantasy shared-world anthologies that practically invented the genre. The special edition includes lots of new material, such as Neil Gaiman's reading of his poem "The Song of the Song" and Steven Brust fronting a musical version of his "Run Back Across the Border" -- there's lots more, and its all available as a DRM-free MP3CD.
I grew up on the Bordertown books and was delighted to be asked to contribute a story: Shannon's Law. Read the rest
Steven Brust nails what it feels like after you send a book in to your editor:
It has now been over an hour since I sent my [email/query/story submission/250 thousand word novel] and I have heard nothing. Nothing. I now understand Lee’s frustration at Gettysburg when Stuart didn’t show up. Has there been a fire? Has someone died? If so, I’d think you could at least drop me a note explaining the delay. It is almost as if there are things you do that don’t involve me. In fact, I could almost believe that I am not the most important person in the world to you. No, I don’t accuse you of that; but can you see how you might be giving that impression?
Have you considered what would happen if everyone behaved the way you are? I would have to learn deferred gratification. And, as you know, deferred gratification is a slippery slope that can lead to me not getting everything I want.
An Open Letter To My Editor Read the rest
I love rediscovering cool things. I'm sure I learned, at some point, that the Soviet Union had once sent probes to land on the surface of Venus. But I had completely forgotten this fact until today.
This photo comes from Venera 9, which landed on Venus on October 22, 1975. The lander remained operational for 53 minutes, which isn't bad considering we're talking about a planet with hydrochloric acid and hydrofluoric acid in the atmosphere, and a surface temperature (as measured by Venera 9) of 905° F.
The photo — at three different phases of processing — comes from the website of Don Mitchell, an enthusiast of Soviet space history. Mitchell did the processing that resulted in the clear, bottom image in this stack.
The upper image is the raw 6-bit data. The center images include the telemetry brust replacements, with remaining bursts blacked out. The 6-bit values have been transformed to linear brightness, using the published photometric function of the camera, and then converted to sRGB standard form (gamma 2.2). In the final version, I filled in missing regions, using Bertalmio's inpainting algorithm.
• Read more about these photos at Don Mitchell's website
• Read more about the Venera landers and how they survived on Venus
Thanks to OMG Facts for reminding me of this cool bit of history
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Inspired by some of the more pathological behaviors on display in the comment section of John Scalzi's blog Whatever, author Steven Brust has created a doggerel epic entitled "John Scalzi’s Blog." Here's a sample:
I’ve done my work for the day,
I’ve twittered random shit.
I’ve whined about immigration;
And I’m sure I displayed my wit.
I’ve drunk my supper, watched some porn,
And even fed the dog.
Now it’s time to be an idiot on John Scalzi’s blog.
He’s the president of SFWA
His comment strings are long.
Lots of people pay attention,
SO I HAVE TO PROVE HIM WRONG!
He wouldn’t dare delete my words,
Or the comment chain I’ll clog.
So I’m free to be an idiot on John Scalzi’s blog.
John Scalzi’s Blog Read the rest
Steven Brust's Tiassa is the thirteenth volume in the long-running Vlad Taltos series, a fantasy epic that combines hard-boiled crime-writing with economic critique, revolutionary war, fine cookery, and (naturally) swashbuckling sword and sorcery. Vlad Taltos is an Easterner (a human like us) among Drageareans (immortal, magical faerie folk who belong to one of several noble "houses" that influence their character and profession). At the series' start, Vlad is an assassin within the Jhereg house (which controls the crime in Brust's world), working through his fury and shame at having grown up in the Easterner underclass by killing Dragareans with gusto. Over the series' many volumes, Vlad gets entangled in revolutionary politics, is married and divorced, meddles in the affairs of the empire, dies and is brought back from the dead, and more. Brust clearly delights in writing this character and this world, and each volume has some clever structural trick that enhances the story -- for example, previous volumes have been organized around explaining the items listed on a laundry ticket and the dishes served on an elaborate menu.
Tiassa is structured in three novellas, spanning ten years of Vlad's life, with some interstitial matter. The first novella, "Tag," is a caper story set in the early part of the series and is told in the Chandleresque, hard-boiled style that characterized the first few books. The middle novella, "Whitecrest," is a story of political intrigue set during Vlad's exile, told with expert timing and a lot of wit. The final novella, "Special Tasks" is told in the style of The Phoenix Guards and its sequels, a highly mannered, absurdist adventure story in the mode of Alexander Dumas. Read the rest
Bestselling author Patrick Rothfuss has pledged to help actor Nathan Fillion buy the rights to Firefly from Fox. Fillion, who starred in the series, has publicly said that if he had the money to get Firefly back from Murdoch and Co, he'd make it free and release it on the net:
Here's the deal. My second book is about to come out. My publisher tells me there's a decent chance of us selling a truly ridiculous number of copies. If this happens, I will have more money than I'll know what to do with.
Except that's not exactly true. I know exactly what I'd like to do with that money. I'd like to help you buy the rights to Firefly back from Fox.
I'm only a fledgling author. But by a strange twist of fate, I happen to be a fledgling author who is also an international bestseller.
Left to my own devices, I will probably spend my royalty money on useless bullshit. I will buy rare books and narwhal horns. If the book sells extremely well, I expect I'll probably do something like buy an abandoned missile silo and convert it into my secret underground lair.
An open letter to Nathan Fillion
Copyright protects critics, but leaves fans out in the cold ...
Steven Brust's unauthorized Firefly fanfic novel - Boing Boing
Firefly fans trying to raise enough dough to produce a new season ... Read the rest
Growing up, some of my absolute favorite books were the Borderlands anthologies -- shared-world stories set in a ficton in which the realm of faerie has returned to Earth, in a city called Bordertown where elves and humans mixed freely and magic and technology worked erratically. These were the precursor of today's urban fantasy, and they were brilliant, bohemian escapist literature that has stood up to many re-readings over the years.
So I was incredibly excited when Holly Black and Ellen Kushner invited me to contribute a story to Welcome to Bordertown, the first Borderlands book in decades. This is a young adult volume, and I wrote a story for it called "Shannon's Law," about Bordertown's first hacker, who decides to use TCP over Carrier Pigeon to route a packet through the Border and break the information singularity that divides the two realities.
Now Holly and Ellen have published the full table of contents to Welcome, which will be out next May 24, from Random House. I've read most of these stories, and let me tell you, you're in for a treat.
Introduction - Terri Windling
Introduction - Holly Black
Bordertown Basics (Letter from the Diggers)
Welcome to Bordertown - Terri Windling & Ellen Kushner
Shannon's Law - Cory Doctorow
Cruel Sister (poem) - Patricia A. McKillip
Voice Like a Hole - Catherynne M. Valente
Stairs in Her Hair (song*) - Amal El-Mohtar
Incunabulum - Emma Bull
Run Back to the Border (song) - Steven Brust
Prince of Thirteen Days - Alaya Dawn Johnson
The Sages of Elsewhere - Will Shetterly
Soulja Grrrl: A Long Line Rap (song) - Jane Yolen
Crossings - Janni Lee Simner
Fair Trade (Comic) - Sara Ryan & Dylan Meconis
Lullabye: Night Song for a Halfie (song) - Jane Yolen
Our Stars, Our Selves - Tim Pratt
Elf Blood - Annette Curtis Klause
The Wall (poem) - Delia Sherman
Ours is the Prettiest - Nalo Hopkinson
We Do Not Come in Peace - Christopher Barzak
A Borderland Jump-Rope Rhyme (poem) - Jane Yolen
The Rowan Gentleman - Cassandra Clare & Holly Black
The Song of the Song (song) - Neil Gaiman
A Tangle of Green Men - Charles de Lint
WELCOME TO BORDERTOWN Table of Contents Read the rest
Fish is Popular Science writer Gregory Mone's debut young adult novel. It's a short, quick, immensely fun pirate novel about treasure hunting, questioning authority, and coming of age.
Maurice "Fish" Reidy is sent to Dublin at the age of 11 when his family's farm-horse dies; he's to earn the money to buy a new one by working for his mysterious uncle as a courier. Quickly, Fish -- so-called because of his facility for swimming -- finds himself robbed (and then conscripted!) by a crew of pirates, where his adventures begin in earnest.
As one of the few kids on board the ship, Fish is in constant danger of inadvertently offending one of its many factions -- the hungry Scalawags for Sausage, the maimed One-Eyed Willies, the taciturn Over-and-Unders, and the terrifying and mutinous unnamed faction that is bossed by the cruel first mate, Scar.
As the Scurvy Mistress sails the seas, Fish learns the art of nonviolent fighting, helps to solve a damned clever treasure-map riddle, and finds himself square in the middle of the battle for control over the Scurvy Mistress.
Chock full of real historic curiosities about pirates, sly humor for grownups, excellent action scenes and general quantities of swash and buckle, Fish is a great, self-contained addition to the canon of fun pirate fiction. Perfect for young readers, even better for reading aloud at bed-time, thanks to the plentiful cliff-hangers.
Boneshaker: Cherie Priest's swashbuckling steampunk Seattle story ...
Steven Brust's Dzur: witty and exciting heroic fantasy
Buckell's Sly Mongoose: character-driven, exciting space opera ... Read the rest