Gollancz has published its first anthology of South Asian Science Fiction

South Asia is a hotbed of brilliant science fiction writing, as well as writings in all the related genres capture by the Bengali word "kalpabigyan (encompassing literature that is "science-dependent," "science-based," "science mystery" and "science"), and there have been many brilliant anthologies of science fiction from the region; the latest entry to the field is Gollancz's new Book of South Asian Science Fiction, edited by Tarun K. Saint, the subject of a fascinating review by Gautham Shenoy in Factor Daily. Read the rest

For sale: home that inspired Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights

Ponden Hall, a nine bedroom house in Stanbury, West Yorkshire, England, is considered to be the inspiration for Emily Brontë's Wuthering Heights and sister Anne's Wildfell Hall. The Brontës spent a great deal of time on the property in the early 1800s. Now it could be yours. Current owner and Brontë superfan Julie Akhurst and her husband have put it on the market for £1.25m. In their twenty years of ownership, they've completed a major, yet careful, renovation and opened it as a B&B for other Brontë geeks. From the Yorkshire Post:

The most popular B&B room at Ponden Hall is the Earnshaw room. It features a tiny east gable window that exactly fits Emily Brontë’s description in Wuthering Heights of Cathy’s ghost scratching furiously at the glass trying to get in...

“We think that Emily based that scene on this room because old documents relating to the house describe a box bed in a room across from the library and you can see where it was bolted to the wall by the window. It is just how it is described in Wuthering Heights.

“Plus the date plaque above the main entrance identifies the hall as being rebuilt in 1801 and Emily’s story starts with that exact date,” says Julie who has had a replica box bed made for the room.

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World Citizen Comics: a new line of graphic novels for young activists

Firstsecond Books (previously, publisher of In Real Life, which I created with Jen Wang) has announced a new line of YA-oriented graphic novels called "World Citizen Comics," on contemporary activist themes like "how to fight corruption in elections, blast fake news with truth-telling, and even battle would-be dictators both near and far through a better understanding of constitutions and the rule of law." Read the rest

I absolutely loved Becky Chambers' 'The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet'

Recently, I noticed Becky Chambers' runaway hit The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet was available via Kindle Unlimited. I regret having waited so long to read this widely acclaimed novel.

A Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet is every 'meet the crew of a special spaceship' space opera you've read. The phenomenal world-building and super-fantastic characters are perfect for the genre. Chambers, however, addresses issues of race, gender and civil rights in such a straight-forward 'Welcome to a galaxy full of everything and everyone!' manner, with such sensitivity, honesty and insight, that I immediately recommended this book to my sci-fi loving, but very mid-teenaged niece.

Chambers shifts storytelling point-of-view every chapter, and the novel begins with Rosemary Harper. Rosemary is fleeing her wealthy family, and safe planet-side existence, out of some sort of shame-to-be-disclosed-later. She is joining the crew of the Wayfarer, a slapped together spacecraft that helps tunnel worm-holes for interstellar travel. Chambers has named the series after the ship, so you know Wayfarer is special. There are a Human captain and a multi-species crew that does the space family cooped together in a not-actually-that-small-sounding-box routine quite well.

Who they all are is actually far less interesting than how they regard one another and interact, and these are some interesting beings. Chambers excels at describing interspecies relations, methods and mannerisms that allow their society, both onboard the ship and across the galaxy, to work.

I immediately dove into the second book in ther series, A Closed and Common Orbit. Read the rest

2001: A Space Odyssey presented as a children's read-along book

This is the audio track from a 1984 children's read-along book adaptation of 2001: A Space Odyssey. The person who posted this to Reddit said, "If the abstract themes of this deep sci-fi classic escaped you watching the film, wait till you hear it crammed into 15 minutes for kids!" Here are photos of the pages from the book. Read the rest

Critical praise for RADICALIZED, my next book, from Booklist and Publishers Weekly

My next book of science fiction for adults is Radicalized, which will be published on March 19 (I'll be making tour appearances across the US, Canada and Germany starting on March 18); the early critical notices have started to come in and gosh, they are embarrassingly effusive! Read the rest

The People's Republic of Walmart: how late-stage capitalism gives way to early-stage fully automated luxury communism

Science writer Leigh Phillips's 2016 book Austerity Ecology and the Collapse-Porn Addicts was one of the most important, angry and inspiring books I read that year, a passionate argument for a high-tech just and sustainable world that celebrated materialism and comfort, rather than calling for a return to a world of three billion people scratching potatoes in the dirt; so when Phillips sent me a manuscript for his new book, The People's Republic of Walmart: How the World's Biggest Corporations are Laying the Foundation for Socialism last year, I dropped everything and read it, and I haven't stopped thinking about it since. Read the rest

Tim Maughan's Infinite Detail: a debut sf novel about counterculture, resistance, and the post-internet apocalypse

Tim Maughan has long been one of the most promising up-and-coming, avante garde UK science fiction writers, whose post-cyberpunk short fiction mixed radical politics with a love of graffiti and a postmodern filmmaker's eye: now, with his debut novel Infinite Detail, Maughan shows that he has what it takes to work at longer lengths, and can sustain a first-rate adventure story that grabs and never lets go, without sacrificing the political and technological insights that give his work depth that will stay with you long after the book is done. Read the rest

Zachary Knoles imagines video games as pulp novel covers

Artist Zachary Knoles created a wonderful series of illustrations that pay tribute to video games by imagining them as pulp novel covers, with the game writers' names in the by-line slots (a very nice touch indeed!). (via Gameraboy) Read the rest

More promising news about phages, the parasites that prey on parasites

For many years, we've been following the research on phages, viruses that kill bacteria, once a staple of Soviet medicine and now touted as a possible answer to the worrying rise of antibiotic-resistant strains of bacteria. Read the rest

AOC is the star of a new superhero comic

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and the Freshman Force is a new one-off graphic novel anthology from Chicago's highly topical Devil's Due comics, featuring Josh Blaylock, Tim Seeley, Hoyt Silva, Marguerite Dabaie, Dean Haspiel, Jill Thompson, Jose Garibaldi, Christa Cassano, Travis Hymel, Pat Shand, ​K. Lynn Smith, Kit Caoagas, Larry Watts, Bob Sikoryak, Adam McGovern, Nick Accardi, Shawn DePasquale, Elizabeth Marley Kim, Jason Goungor, Sherard Jackson, Peter Rostovsky, Jeffrey Burandt and Sean Von Gorman; the title is a tribute to one of her greatest Twitter moments to date. Ships in May, pre-order now (there's also a variant cover!) Read the rest

"London Cries": the merchants' patter of 19th Century London

One genre of 19th Cen illustrated pamphlet was the "Cries of London" (previously), which celebrated the market traders' characteristic sales patter, which were catalogued as a kind of urban birdsong. Read the rest

童絵解万国噺: a wonderfully bizarre 19th century Japanese fanfic history of America

Japanese historian Nick Kapur unearthed "Osanaetoki Bankokubanashi" (童絵解万国噺), a wonderfully bizarre illustrated Japanese history of the USA from 1861, filled with fanciful depictions of allegedly great moments in US history, like "George Washington defending his wife 'Carol' from a British official named 'Asura' (same characters as the Buddhist deity)." Read the rest

Who can forget those scenes in Count Zero where they all stand around eating soup?

Back in the 1980s, the giant German sf publisher Heyne tried out an experimental partnership with a soup company Maggi (they're still around), and it was bonkers. Read the rest

LA Times demands that reporters sign away rights to books, movies and other works they create while working at the paper

The LA Times Guild has been negotiating a new contract with the newspaper, but has hit a wall thanks to an unprecedented demand from the paper's owners: they want writers to sign away the rights to nonfiction books, novels, movies and other works they create separate from their reporting for the paper. The newspaper is also demanding the right to use reporters "byline, biography and likeness" to market these works. Read the rest

The WPA's horseback librarians

During the 1930s, the WPA sponsored horseback librarians -- all women -- to visit rural Americans, bringing them books; the librarians were only allowed to make deliveries in counties that had existing libraries, so schools and other institutions donated materials to establish libraries that would make their counties eligible. Read the rest

Matt Taibbi on Chris Christie's "agonizing" memoir: "an epic literary self-own"

Chris Christie's got a new memoir, "Let Me Finish," and Matt Taibbi (previously), Rolling Stone's most incandescent and relentless writer, has done us all the mercy of reading Christie so we don't have to. Read the rest

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