In Artificial Condition, Martha Well's soap opera loving rogue security AI remains cantankerous and awesome.
Murderbot is an AI security robot with a busted autonomy regulator. So long as they can keep the regulator a secret, they can remain fully aware and independent. Mostly they want to watch soap operas. Soap operas and to be left the hell alone.
I absolutely adore Murderbot. Murderbot wants quality time on their own.
In the second installment Murderbot sets out to learn about the event from which they named themselves, wherein many humans died and their AI regulator was broken. Murderbot has no direct recollection of what went on and believes this knowledge will change everything.
Murderbot teams up with an AI research ship named ART and heads off to the mining colony where it all went down.
Artificial Condition: The Murderbot Diaries Book 2 via Amazon Read the rest
Mr. Know-It-All: The Tarnished Wisdom of a Filth Elder, John Waters' new book, sounds like a demented must-have:
It “serves it up raw: how to fail upward in Hollywood; how to develop musical taste from Nervous Norvus to Maria Callas; how to build a home so ugly and trendy that no one but you would dare live in it; more important, how to tell someone you love them without emotional risk; and yes, how to cheat death itself. Through it all, Waters swears by one undeniable truth: ‘Whatever you might have heard, there is absolutely no downside to being famous. None at all.'”
He devotes an entire chapter in the book to dropping acid at age 70, which he describes in a recent interview with the Washington Blade:
That’s something that I did that I thoroughly enjoyed. I think if there’s a sentimental chapter in the book about friendship, then maybe that is that. If I had known how strong the LSD was that I took, I probably would have been uptight. But I didn’t and it was great. I spent eight months getting the right acid from the purest source I could find, practically from Timothy Leary’s asshole... But the provenance of it was high and it was great. I don’t have to ever do it again. Just like I don’t have to ever hitchhike across the country again. Why would I? I did it...
(RED) Read the rest
Chamber's second novel, A Closed and Common Orbit, in her Wayfarer series is so wonderful I cried several times.
A Closed and Common Orbit picks up immediately after Chambers' first story, Long Way to a Small and Angry Planet concludes but is barely an extension of that tale, beyond further expanding on Chambers' wonderful universe. This novel follows a newly created, but ultimately undesired, shipboard AI that is forced to leave its vessel and take up a fugitive residence in a human appearing shell.
Assisted by Pepper, a human who was genetically engineered as a slave, the AI has to find everything from a name to determining a purpose for itself. Completely out of the element for which it was designed, the AI struggles with friendships and body integrity disorder.
I cried several times.
The story alternates between that of the AI and Pepper, her human guardian. Briefly introduced as a very interesting Maz Kanata type in the first book, I wanted to learn more about Pepper. I was not disappointed, as her backstory is equally touching and tear-inducing. Genetically engineered to help sort and recycle junk, Pepper unwittingly escapes her keepers and spends years in a city-sized junkyard restoring a small spaceship.
This wonderful search for meaning and identity in a harsh, harsh world is a must-read.
A Closed and Common Orbit by Becky Chambers via Amazon
Previously on Boing Boing:
I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet' Read the rest
Despite showing its age, John Wyndham's Day of the Triffids continues to be a consuming post-apocalyptic tale. Read the rest
P Is for Pterodactyl: The Worst Alphabet Book Ever is a fun new alphabet book written by rapper Lushlife that shows kids just how nutty the English language really is (rules schmules!):
Turning the traditional idea of an alphabet book on its head, P is for Pterodactyl is perfect for anyone who has ever been stumped by silent letters or confused by absurd homophones. This whimsical, unique book takes silent letter entries like “K is for Knight” a step further with “The noble knight’s knife nicked the knave’s knee.” Lively illustrations provide context clues, and alliterative words help readers navigate text like “a bright white gnat is gnawing on my gnocchi” with ease. Everyone from early learners to grown-up grammarians will love this wacky book where “A is for Aisle” but “Y is definitely not for Why.”
(Blame it on the Voices) Read the rest
Stephen Hawking's final book, Brief Answers to the Big Questions, was released posthumously Tuesday by his children. Read the rest
The World's Most Beautiful Libraries is a lovely collection of some of the most awe-inspiring libraries ever built. Read the rest
A recent mishap sent me scrambling for info on how to dry a wet book. Luckily, Syracuse University Libraries has a handy how-to guide demonstrated by their preservation department. Read the rest
Vanishing Vernacular: Western Landmarks collects Steve Fitch's important photographic record of iconic imagery in the western United States: hotel neon, drive-in movie theaters, even ancient petroglyphs. Read the rest
I spy (a brand new junk portrait of) Pee-wee Herman at the :29 mark
Exciting news: Jason Mecier, the artist who makes celebrity mosaic portraits in junk (or other objects like candy or cereal) has announced his first book. It's called Pop Trash: The Amazing Art of Jason Mecier and it's due out July 17, 2018.
...Here is Amy Sedaris assembled from her own trash, David Bowie made out of cosmetics and feathers, Snoop Dogg sculpted out of weed, Justin Timberlake and Miley Cyrus crafted out of candy, Kevin Bacon bespoke in bacon, and many, many more. Fun process shots offer behind-the-scenes insights into the meticulous work required to create these candy-colored—and literally trashy—spotlights (how much licorice does it take to make Harry Potter?). With mesmerizing tributes to icons ranging from Stevie Nicks to Farrah Fawcett to Honey Boo Boo, this gallery of the famous and infamous is a visual treat for fans of pop culture and pop art alike.
You can pre-order it now for $29.95.
Read the rest
Candles that smell like a bookstore, old books, or a musty old cellar? Pal, you sure like books!
My home is filled with books, and pets. Guess which one lends more to the olfactory nature of my domicile? Frequently, especially after running the carpet deep-cleaner, I'll want to light a candle... or burn a sage Great Pyrenees in effigy.
Candle store candles, or simply walking into one of those mall candle-shops, makes me sick-to-my-stomach. Finding candles that help clear the air, rather than fill it with a chemical scent worse than hospital, is pretty tough. Bookstore is working well for me, tho I am not sure which bookstore it is supposed to be. Most of them now smell like their coffee counter.
Bookstore - Book Lovers' Soy Candle - 8oz Jar via Amazon
Image via Amazon Read the rest
What follows is the most mind-altering first chapter I've read in a long time, from biomechanist Katy Bowman’s latest book Movement Matters: Essays on movement science, movement ecology, and the nature of movement.
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These items —an electronic car unlocker and a tea bag— are convenient. But what I’ve realized is, when we say or think “convenience,” it’s not as much about saving time as it is about reducing movement. We can grasp sedentary behaviour as it related to exercise because it’s easy to see the difference between exercising one hour a day and not exercising one hour a day. My work, in the past, has been about challenging people to also be able to see the difference between exercising one hour a day and not exercising the other twenty-three. More subtle still—and what I’m asking you to do now—is to see how the choice to move is presented to you every moment of the day, but how most often we select the most sedentary choice without even realizing it.
Our daily life is composed of a lot of seemingly innocuous ways we’ve outsourced our body’s work. One of the reasons I’ve begun focusing just as much on non-exercisey movements as I do on exercise-type movements is that I feel that the ten thousand outsourcing a day during the 23/24ths of your time hold the most potential for radical change. Be on the lookout for these things. To avoid the movements necessary to walk around to all the car doors, or just to avoid turning your wrist, or to avoid gathering your tea strainer and dumping the leaves and cleaning the strainer (in your dishwasher?), you have accepted a handful of garbage, plastic (future landfill), and a battery.
Harry Connolly's Twenty Palaces series is one of my favorite new storylines in science fiction. After a several year hiatus Harry has brought back Ray Lilly, and all the magic in The Twisted Path.
The Twenty Palaces series tells the tale of Ray Lilly, a former convict turned into a magician's decoy, or Wooden Man. It is Lilly's job to distract evil creatures from the deep and dark, while his master Annalise burns them with primal green fire. They keep on saving the world from some pretty nasty demons that have crossed over.
Wooden Men aren't supposed to last more than one mission, but somehow Ray keeps on surviving. The Twenty Palaces Society has taken notice and calls Ray and Annalise to Europe, this does not bode well.
Connolly's Lovecraft-ian/Geiger-style lore and world building is amazing. I have enjoyed all of his novels and novellas, but none have been as anticipated as The Twisted Path. If you are new to this series, I highly recommend starting with Child of Fire, the which was also Harry's debut novel.
Ray and Annalise' return is every bit as exciting as I'd hoped.
The Twisted Path: A Twenty Palaces Novella by Harry Connolly via Amazon Read the rest
Michael Wolff's book about Trump, featuring treason accusations from former ally Steve Bannon and reports of the president's dementia, is being released early. Fire And Fury: Inside The Trump White House can be bought immediately at Amazon.
"Due to unprecedented demand," the book about President Trump's White House by Michael Wolff will be released Friday, four days ahead of schedule, according to the book's publisher. The announcement comes hours after President Trump's personal lawyer issued a cease and desist letter over "Fire and Fury: Inside Trump's White House" to Wolff and Wolff's publisher, Henry Holt and Company. Wolff, too, confirmed the early on-sale date on Twitter.
Wolff provides a wealth of new details about the chaos in the Oval Office. Among the revelations:
-- What President Trump’s staff really thinks of him
-- What inspired Trump to claim he was wire-tapped by President Obama
-- Why FBI director James Comey was really fired
-- Why chief strategist Steve Bannon and Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner couldn’t be in the same room
-- Who is really directing the Trump administration’s strategy in the wake of Bannon’s firing
-- What the secret to communicating with Trump is
-- What the Trump administration has in common with the movie The Producers
Evidently, Trump's threats were to no avail.
Previously: Bannon: Trump Jr and Kushner meeting with Russians was "treasonous" Read the rest
Martin Salisbury's The Illustrated Dust Jacket, 1920-1970 is a wonderful overview of the innovative illustrators who prompted many a book purchase with their lovely design work. Read the rest
Creator of the Cherpumple (and other retro-fabulous foods) Charles Phoenix has a new book that celebrates "classic & kitschy American life & style." It's titled Addicted to Americana and it looks amazing!
Here's a look inside the book (click on image to embiggen):
The book is available for $22.32 on Amazon.
Charles is also on a book signing and comedy slide show tour (mostly in California). If you've never seen him perform, please do yourself a favor and get thee to one of his shows. They are a hoot. Read the rest
The British Library has scanned an anthology of herbal remedies published in the 11th century. It was translated to Old English and illustrated throughout from an original Latin document attributed to the 4th-century scholar Pseudo-Apuleius. Read the rest