Rare centuries-old book with intricate unfolding plates

Philosopher Jacob Böhme had a small but enthusiastic following who created stunning fan art of his ideas. The William Law editions of his writing have beautifully designed plates that open up thirteen successive layers of illustrations nested inside one another. Read the rest

A gorgeous history of the mid-century modernism by Disney's finest illustrators of the 1950s

Didier Ghez is a dedicated Disney historian who has embarked on a massive, multi-volume history of the art of Disney in his They Drew As They Pleased series from Chronicle Books; I enjoyed the first three volumes of the series, but volume 4, The Hidden Art of Disney's Mid-Century Era: The 1950s took my breath away.

Coffee lids: new book on the elegant design of a modern scourge

Coffee Lids: Peel, Pinch, Pucker, Puncture is a beautifully-shot new book showcasing the world's largest collection of plastic coffee lids. Read the rest

Cat Wishes: a picture book about being a wish come true

Calista Brill is a legendary comics and picture-book editor, part of the powerhouse team at Firstsecond (she's my editor!), and with Cat Wishes, a picture book that's sweet and surprising, she shows just how well she understands the form she practices.

Pay what you like for DRM-free, award-winning Canadian sf

The Aurora Award Bundle 4 includes ten books that were finalists for, or won, Canada's Aurora Award for excellence in science fiction and fantasy, including the outstanding Napier's Bones and Sean Stewart's monumental Resurrection Man. (Thanks, Derryl!) Read the rest

Google launches a DRM-free audiobook store: finally, a writer- and listener-friendly Audible alternative!

A decade ago, when Amazon acquired Audible, the two companies promised that they'd phase out their DRM, which locked listeners into using their proprietary software and devices to enjoy the books they purchased. Audible never made good on that promise, and stonewalled press queries and industry requests about when, exactly, this fairtrade version of their industry-dominating audiobook store would finally emerge.

The future will be feminist and pedal-powered: kickstarting a fifth "Bikes Not Rockets" sf anthology

Elly Blue (previously) writes, "Will toilet paper be a valuable commodity after society collapses? Who will help you with your reproductive rights in the coming patriarchal dystopia? Why are humans so obsessed with gender? Are bots human? These questions and many more are answered with bicycles (and feminism!) in the eleven stories found in Bikes Not Rockets, the fifth volume in the Bikes in Space series. More relevant than ever, stories in this genre inspire visions of a future beyond the narrow status quo." Read the rest

The magical book art of fore-edge painting

For centuries, many fine books have held a magical secret not within their pages but on the edges. Stunning fore-edge paintings are only visible when the book's pages are slightly fanned. Great Big Story introduces us to Martin Frost, one of the world's last fore-edge painters.

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When to stop reading a bad book?

It wasn't until she became an adult and a librarian, Nancy Pearl writes, that she "began to question my commitment to finishing each and every book that I began." Now she has a simple method for dropping a bad one, one obvious and plain and yet fair enough: the Rule of 50.

Give a book 50 pages. When you get to the bottom of Page 50, ask yourself if you're really liking the book. If you are, of course, then great, keep on reading. But if you're not, then put it down and look for another. (Always keep in mind that there's nothing to stop you from going back to it later, whether that might be in six days or six years. Or 60 years. There is many a book that I couldn't get into the first time, or even two, that I tried to read it, and then, giving it one more chance, totally fell under its spell. The book obviously hadn't changed - but I had.)

All my books will henceforth be 50 pages long, thereby obligating Nancy Pearl to read them in their entirety.

Photo: Nancy Pearl by Seattle Civic Council (CC0 1.0) Read the rest

Bookstore photo series perfectly juxtaposes patrons with book covers

Librairie Mollat has a lovely ongoing project where they try to match patrons and staff with book covers, and the results are often inspired. Read the rest

Strong Female Protagonist, Book Two: the hard philosophical questions of superheroism and compassion

It's been nearly four years since the first crowdfunded collection of Brennan Lee Mulligan and Molly Ostertag's webcomic Strong Female Protagonist was published; the second volume, published this week, traces not just the evolution of its protagonist, the superhero Alison "Mega Girl" Green, but of its creators, who have found new and amazing depths to plumb and heights to soar to.

Mother American Night: John Perry Barlow's posthumous memoir

John Perry Barlow lived many lives: small-time Wyoming Republican operative (and regional campaign director for Dick Cheney!), junior lyricist for the Grateful Dead, father-figure to John Kennedy Jr, co-founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation, inspirational culture hero for the likes of Aaron Swartz and Ed Snowden (and, not incidentally, me), semi-successful biofuels entrepreneur... He died this year, shortly after completing his memoir Mother American Night, and many commenters have noted that Barlow comes across as a kind of counterculture cyberculture Zelig, present at so many pivotal moments in our culture, and that's true, but that's not what I got from my read of the book -- instead, I came to know someone I counted as a friend much better, and realized that every flaw and very virtue he exhibited in his interpersonal dealings stemmed from the flaws and virtues of his relationship with himself.

Watch: "Horse destroys the universe"

Cyriak Harris is writing a novel titled "Horse Destroys the Universe." Cyriak has been creating strange animated GIFs and videos for more than a decade so he made a promo animation for his book-in-progress. Guess what? It's incredibly weird and amazing. From the novel description:

Life was simple for Buttercup the horse. Chewing grass in a field, gazing dreamily at passing clouds or standing at a hedge to watch the world go by. Perhaps a light nap followed by a gentle canter and more grazing, and then off to the stable for a programme of psychological tests designed to expand the boundaries of horse consciousness.

For Betty and Tim, life was also simple. Or at least as simple as life could be when you are scientists conducting neurological experiments on a horse. That is until the day they discovered their horse was conducting an experiment of its own.

Life became rather more complicated after that for Tim, Betty and Buttercup, and the ensuing struggle for control over one horse's destiny results in an intellectual arms race that takes all three of them to the edge of reality and beyond. It is a struggle that threatens to shake the foundations of civilisation and unravel the fabric of time and space. Can anyone stop this horse from destroying the universe?

Pledge on Unbound to support the completion of "Horse Destroys the Universe"

(Thanks, Paul Di Filippo!) Read the rest

History's most productive geniuses goofed off like crazy

In Rest: Why You Get More Done When You Work Less (published in 2016, just out in paperback), Alex Soojung-Kim Pang painstakingly investigates the working lives of the likes of Charles Darwin and finds that history's most productive high-performers were working about four hours a day and slacking off the rest of the time: napping, strolling, having leisurely lunches. Read the rest

SON OF COCKY: a writer is trying to trademark "DRAGON SLAYER" for fantasy novels

Back in May, the romance writing community was rocked by a scandal after author Faleena Hopkins started enforcing a trademark over the common word "COCKY" in the titles of romance novels; I predicted then that there would be some sociopaths who would observe the controversy and decide that it was an inspiration, rather than a warning, and start trying to use trademark to steal other words from writers and their titles. Read the rest

The Open Revolution: the vital struggle of open vs closed, free vs unfree

Rufus Pollock’s new book The Open Revolution: rewriting the rules of the information age, reimagines ownership in a digital age and its implications from the power of tech monopolies to control how we think and vote , to unaffordable medicines, to growing inequality. Get the book and find out more at openrevolution.net. - Cory

The Freeze-Frame Revolution: mutineers unstuck in time, strung out across an aeon

Peter Watts (previously) is a brilliant bastard of a science fiction writer, whose grim scenarios are matched by their scientific speculation; in his latest, a novella called The Freeze-Frame Revolution, Watts imagines a mutiny that stretches out across aeons, fought against a seemingly omnipotent AI.

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