Kindness and Wonder: Mr Rogers biography is a study in empathy and a deep, genuine love for children

History has been kind to Fred Rogers' legacy; the beloved children's entertainer does not have the intergenerational staying power of Sesame Street (thanks in large part to Rogers' relentless focus on making programming aimed exclusively at small children, without any pretense to entertaining their grownups), but touchstones like his Congressional testimony on public TV funding, his remarks after 9/11 and his look for the helpers speech continue to bring a smile and a tear to all who see them, whether for the first time or the five hundredth; Mr Rogers was exactly what he appeared to be, incredibly, and the riddle of how someone could be so sincere and loving has sent rumormongers off to the land of conspiracy looking for an answer. But the real Mr Rogers story -- as chronicled in Gavin Edwards' new book, Kindness and Wonder: Why Mister Rogers Matters Now More Than Ever -- is both more mundane and more amazing than any outlandish story.

Out today: a two-volume, slipcased edition of Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents, introduced by Gloria Steinem and Toshi Reagon

As part of the renaissance in interest in the glorious science fiction novels of afrofuturist pioneer Octavia Butler (previously), Seven Stories press has just released a two-volume, slipcased set of Butler's fantastic post-apocalyptic adventure novels The Parable of the Sower (with an introduction by Gloria Steinem) and The Parable of the Talents (with an introduction by Toshi Reagon). Read the rest

All hail The Crap Hound Big Book of Unhappiness by Sean Tejaratchi

The Crap Hound Big Book of Unhappiness is a 544-page compendium of vintage ads and archival ephemera  selected and arranged by designer Sean Tejaratchi, publisher of the Crap Hound zine. I've been a huge fan of Sean's work for many years, and have every issue of Crap Hound. I made the video above to give you a taste of just how astounding this book is - it will provide a lifetime of browsing enjoyment.

Sean and the publisher Feral House, kindly gave me permission to several spreads from the book.

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The second book in Martha Well's 'Murderbot Diaries' is wonderful

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

A visual history of Soviet anti-religious artwork

Inspired by Marx's aphorism that "Religion is the opium of the people," the USSR commissioned a wealth of anti-religious artwork, much of it very clever and striking. A new book called Godless Utopia: Soviet Anti-Religious Propaganda, edited by Roland Elliott Brown, Damon Murray and Stephen Sorrell collects the most striking examples of the form. The Guardian has a tremendous gallery of excerpts from the book. Read the rest

The Internet Archive's Open Library will let you sponsor a book, paying for it to be scanned

The Internet Archive's Open Library scans books that they have physical copies of, then lends the resulting ebooks to its patrons, building on the precedent set in 2014's Hathi Trust ruling. Read the rest

Publisher cans Naomi Wolf book about homosexuality in Victorian England

Naomi Wolf's formerly forthcoming book, "Outrages", is about the emergence of homosexuality as a concept and its criminalization in 19th-century England. When review copies went out, though, a serious problem emerged for its claim that many gay men were sent to the gallows by Victorian judges: they were alive after their supposed executions. Wolf had misunderstood the legal term "death was recorded" (which actually means they were pardoned), failed to realize that child rape was also charged as "sodomy" (thereby accounting for some actual executions), and the resulting lack of verifiably gay corpses threatened the book's thesis. The book was temporarily withdrawn for revisions. Four months on, however, the publisher is cutting it loose.

The NYT:

In June, days before the book was expected to go on sale in the United States, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt postponed the publication and recalled copies from retailers, an unusual and costly move. The publisher said at the time that “new questions have arisen that require more time to explore.” Now, it has pulled the book altogether.

On Monday, a spokeswoman for Houghton Mifflin Harcourt said in an email that Ms. Wolf and the publisher “mutually and amicably agreed to part company.”

This suggests the book can't be rescued as credible nonfiction, a common outcome for attempts to contemporize historical interactions between sexuality and society. But Wolf's been on thin ice a long time and has few defenders. Read the rest

Margaret Atwood's "The Testaments": a long-awaited Handmaid's Tale sequel fulfills its promise

When Margaret Atwood published "The Handmaid's Tale" back in 1985, it was at the dawn of the Reagan era, when the gains made by feminism and other liberation movements trembled before an all-out assault mounted by a bizarre coalition of the super-rich and the (historically apolitical) evangelical movement; 35 years later, even more ground has been lost and in many ways it's hard to imagine a more apt moment for Atwood to have published a sequel: The Testaments.

Translating Homer's Odyssey into limericks

Emily Wilson is the author of a new "lean, fleet-footed translation" of Homer's Odyssey that "recaptures Homer's 'nimble gallop.'" Read the rest

Medallion Status: comparison is the thief of joy, and John Hodgman is the thief-taker

John Hodgman's last book, Vacationland, was a kind of absurdist memoir of a weird kid who'd grown up to the kind of self-aware grownup who really wanted to dig into how he got to where he was, with bone-dry wit and real heart (I compared it to Steve Martin's Cruel Shoes, but for adults who'd outgrown it); in his new book, Medallion Status: True Stories from Secret Rooms, Hodgman offers something much more uncomfortable (if no less funny), a series of vignettes that explore the hollowness of privilege, the toxicity of comparison, and the melancholy of accomplishment. Read the rest

Kickstarting a deluxe "Dracula" edition in a suitcase full of "primary source materials" from the novel

Josh O'Neill writes, "We're doing a box set edition of Dracula in which we reconstitute the novel into the primary source documents from which it's drawn: Mina's diary, Lucy's letters, Dailygraph newspaper clippings, even an actual phonograph record from Dr. Seward. It comes in a suitcase. Or a wooden casket or stone crypt, depending on the edition." Read the rest

Celebrate tomorrow's Day Against DRM with a dustjacket that demands the right to read

Greg from the Free Software Foundation writes, "Celebrate Saturday's International Day Against DRM with this shareable "dead tree" book dust jacket!" Read the rest

Kelly Link and Gavin Grant have bought a bookstore!

Macarthur "Genius" Kelly Link and her husband Gavin Grant are the forces-of-nature behind the amazing Small Beer Press (previously). Read the rest

Deluxe edition of Philip K. Dick’s Ubik

Folio Society has produced a special illustrated edition of Philip K. Dick's novel Ubik, featuring several illustrations and a foreword by Kim Stanley Robinson:

This video describes the creation of the edition, including hiding a secret in the slipcase:

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'Lodestar' is Shannon Messenger's fifth novel in the Keeper of Lost Cities series

I can not put down Shannon Messenger's Keeper of Lost Cities series. Lodestar continues Sophie Foster's waking nightmare.

Sophie Foster thought she was human pre-teen. Sophie loved her family and her pet cat. She had no idea that in reality she was a genetically tweaked elf with super super-powers! Ever since she found out things have been off the hook bad, but somehow she perseveres. No matter how bad it gets, Sophie rises to the occasion and then it gets worse.

After nearly destroying the Ogre capitol city in the last book,Lodestar picks up with one of Sophie's best friends, and budding love interests, betraying the cause and joining with the bad guys. He claims to be doing it for Sophie, and all living creates, but his Mom was the leader of the baddies and who knows what he is really up to!

Sophie makes ridiculous decisions about who to trust and why. Much like W, she goes with her gut.

Destroying the elf school where elf kids all learn their magical powers is just a start. Torture, immolation and wanton destruction follow as Lodestar leaves Sophie with little new information and several fewer people she can trust.

More parents and parental figures lie to Sophie than die on her in book 5, so there is that.

The novels are dancing towards Sophie picking a boyfriend! This seems to be momentous and cruel as elves apparently pick only once and are immortal. Big choice for a 12 or 13-year-old being constantly flirted with by every remotely age-appropriate boy. Read the rest

Mike Monteiro put a pro-union message for Amazon workers on his new book's cover

Designer/activist Mike Monteiro added a pointed pro-Union message to the cover of his new, print-on-demand book that Amazon workers would perhaps see when they print copies to ship to customers. The Amazon-specific cover to Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It made it through their approval process and is visible on the product page, for the moment anyway.

From The Verge:

While Monteiro says he’s sold over 10,000 copies of the book so far, only 150 paperbacks have been printed since he changed the cover, which isn’t a lot of opportunities for it to catch the right person’s eye.

Monteiro says he was working on some union organizing when he came up with the idea: “We were discussing how to get messages in front of people and I realized ‘Oh, huh. I have this thing that Amazon workers see every time a book gets ordered. Let’s put a message there.’”

Ruined by Design: How Designers Destroyed the World, and What We Can Do to Fix It (Amazon)

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Kickstarting a new feminist bicycle science fiction: this one's about dragons!

Elly Blue has kickstarted a series of successful feminist bicycle science fiction anthologies; her latest is Dragon Bike: Fantastical feminist bicycle stories, for which she is seeking $6,000 ($10 gets you an ebook, $13 gets you a printed book, $15 gets you a book and a poster). Read the rest

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