Capitalism is self-annihilating, not self-perpetuating

Umair Haque (previously) is on fire: If the Point of Capitalism is to Escape Capitalism, Then What’s the Point of Capitalism? "You can see it in stark, comic terms. What are Bezos and Musk doing? Trying to flee to Mars. What’s Gates doing? Recommending you books to read, and trying to save the world with charity. LOL — how ironic. These are different forms of freedom from capitalism. Maybe on Mars, we can build a better world. Maybe through ideas and philanthropy, we can solve the problems that corporations can’t. All the capitalists I see are trying to win freedom from capitalism, in one way or another. Aren’t they?" (via Kottke) Read the rest

Mind-bending supercut of computer simulation existence theories

What is Life? collects some of the more interesting takes on whether we may be living in a computer simulation. Read the rest

Six Wakes: a locked-room science fiction murder mystery, delightfully confounded by cloning and memory backups

Readers of Boing Boing have joined me in chronicling the variegated science fiction career of Mur Lafferty: novelist, podcast pioneer, editor -- today, she publishes her latest novel, a hard sf murder mystery called Six Wakes, in which the crew of a generation ship awake in a blood-drenched shipboard cloning bay, in fresh bodies to replace their murdered selves floating in the alarming null-gee, memories restored to the backup they made just before launch, a quarter-century before.

Are you really the universe itself? Alan Watts set to film clips

Many Alan Watts fans try to help others connect with his ideas by layering them with images and music. This worthy entry by David Lindberg examines the nature of the self and our relationship to the universe, set to a number of recent philosophically-minded films. Read the rest

Play it now: Loss

How long can you hold onto something good? Is all pleasure fleeting? Is this a comic element of being alive, or a tragic one?

A treadmill for Slinky toys, for your infinite Slinky-torturing pleasure

It's a powerful metaphor for something or other, from the good folks at woodgears.ca, with build notes for your own Slinky-torturing pleasure. (via JWZ)

Read the rest

Memento Mori: the beautiful ways we have kept the dead among the living

Art historian Paul Koudounaris travelled the world, visiting 30 countries to document the practices—ancient to modern, solemn to joyous—by which human remains are displayed. From good luck charms to genocide memorials, his gorgeous art book Memento Mori collects the finds.

Play it now: I FIND MYSELF [________]

This is a game about things on a table. I'm not even sure what I find so lovable about it—the time I went to put a cassette in its player and bluntly knocked the player clean out the window, maybe. And how, after that, I decided to throw everything out the window.

A coffee cup tumbles onto the floor, spilling its contents. The culprit: The piece of donut I was trying to dunk. I'll never know what would have happened if I had successfully dunked it; after all, I'm nothing but a disembodied hand that can be raised and lowered slightly. Maybe the very idea that I can dunk is an existential delusion.

I love the artwork; it reminds me a little bit of Torahhorse's Donut County, a flat, appealing approach to color that in my mind makes a good palette against which to consider materialism. And the moment I finally did pinch a cassette tape, get it into the small, flat player on the tabletop and a piquant tune filled the room, I felt I found myself.

I FIND MYSELF [________], by Lovely Rev, is available to download for free or for a suggested donation. Read the rest

Existential risks: RPGs versus real life

In 2012, Jim Henley got tongue cancer, but it was the good kind -- his odds are like making a save-against-death throw on a D8 and needing to beat a one. Read the rest

Drowning in Problems: Notch's surprisingly moving text game

Notch, the celebrated creator of Minecraft, has a new, existential webgame: Drowning in Problems. It's a pretty damned great example of telling stories with interactivity, and how the medium can evoke emotion without resorting to the clumsy trickery of narrative. It takes about ten minutes to play through, and by the time I was done, I felt like I'd gone through a journey that made me thoughtful and reflective about the very meaning of life. (via Mefi) Read the rest

One Soul: 18 interwoven lives in a graphic novel that pushes the boundaries

Ray Fawkes's One Soul is a moving, challenging and ambitious graphic novel that attempts -- with great success -- to do something genuinely new with the comics form, telling a story that literally could not be told in any other way. Each two-page spread in One Soul is split into 18 panels, and each of those panels tells the life story, from conception to death (and beyond) of a different person, in a different time and place. Read the rest

This is How You Die: the sequel to Machine of Death

David Malki ! writes, "After poring over 2,000 story submissions, commissioning dozens of illustrations, and waiting ever-so-eagerly, we're so pleased that the sequel to Machine of Death is out now! It's called THIS IS HOW YOU DIE and it's published by Grand Central.

We've put a 90-page free PDF preview on our site, and we also made a really cool short film to introduce people to the MOD concept."

Machine of Death is part of the current Humble Ebook Bundle, which closes in about a day -- that is, you've got a day to name your price for Machine of Death, along with books like Peter Beagle's The Last Unicorn, Cherie Priest's Boneshaker, Wil Wheaton's Just a Geek, Louis McMaster Bujold's Shards of Honor, XKCD Vol 0, Robert Charles Wilson's Spin, my novel Little Brother, Holly Black's Poison Eaters, and Neil Gaiman's Signal to Noise -- a seriously kick-ass deal.

This Is How You Die Read the rest

What is death?

What a treat! The BBC Radio 4 science show The Infinite Monkey Cage has started its new season, and the first episode is a corker, asking whether a strawberry is dead, and what is death, anyway? Podcast feed, MP3 Read the rest

Mouldering city built of bread is a metaphor for Earth without humans

Swedish artist Johanna Mårtensson created this installation depicting a cityscape made of bread in 2009, and photographed it as it decayed, creating a series of pictures representing the destiny of all human folly come the day that we make ourselves extinct and vanish from the face of the Earth:

I was inspired by an article about how well the earth would do without us. Within 500 years all buildings would be half fallen or fallen, perfect homes for animals and plants. The forrest would soon grow in cities. After hand buildings as well as pollutions would be taken care of by bacterias and micro-organisms. An ufo that came here in a couple of of hundred thousand years would not see many signs of that a gang of primates ones thought that they where the lords of the planet.

Decor Photoinstallation by Johanna Mårtensson

(via Crazy Abalone) Read the rest

Patrick "Electric Sheep" Farley returns with a new webcomic: Steve & Steve

Stefan Jones sez, "Web comic master Patrick "Electric Sheep" Farley switches styles with frightening ease. The First Word, an enigmatic story about australopithecine, was done in lovely photorealistic CGI.

His new work, Steve and Steve, is sharp line art with sepia-tones. It's about . . . Steve and Steve. Jobs and Wozniak, BSing about evolution, witchcraft, and the cold war under the skeleton of a ruined geodesic dome.

I hope he can keep this one going."

Steve & Steve | Prelude: Electric Funeral

(Thanks, Stefan!) Read the rest

Boyett's Mortality Bridge, now in paperback

Steven Boyett is one of my favorite authors (and has been for decades, since I was wowed by his debut novel Ariel). I reviewed his latest, Mortality Bridge , back in November, when it came out in a limited-edition hardcover. The book's out as an (admittedly pricey) print-on-demand paperback and ebook now. It is worth every penny.

Superficially, Mortality Bridge is a very different novel from Boyett's earlier work, an existential horror novel about a man who goes to hell to rescue his lover, but like Boyett's best work, Mortality Bridge is a gutwrenching novel about loss and redemption, deserved guilt and betrayal, with an antihero whose quest is at once the stuff of cracking adventure stories and a tragic tale of facing up to one's own cowardice and weakness.

Niko is the antihero in question. Once a junkie rock-star who'd hit bottom, Niko signed a deal with the devil that rocketed him back to stardom, got him clean of his addictions, and brought back Jemma, the love of his life, whom he'd chased away with his doping and mercurial temper. What Niko didn't spot in the fine print of his diabolical deal was that his "chattels" were also forfeit to Hell, and now that Jemma has given him her heart, it has become his chattel, and so when Jemma begins a slow, agonizing death from cancer, Niko realizes that he has damned her along with himself.

Niko -- who has already been lost and redeemed once -- can't bear to let this come to pass.

Read the rest

Forming: dirty Gnostic creation-myth comic of high and lavish weirdness

Forming is Jesse Moynihan's ultra-weird graphic novel about the creation of the universe, filled with cursing, inexplicable violence, grotesque sexual acts, and primitive and strange illustrations. Set in the "Third Age of Total Bullshit," the story tells the tale of powerful aliens who visit Earth in the time of giants, set up camp in Atlantis, and enslave the indigenous giants to mine rare minerals for the galactic empire. These aliens are also involved with Noah, Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Lucifer and the Archangel Michael, and a cast of personages more obscure and weird than any book of the apocrypha.

To understand Forming (assuming "understand" is the correct verb here), picture some lost Gnostic text translated by Jay (of Jay and Silent Bob) at his cussin-est, under commission by a delusional would-be cult-founder who cut his teeth on the work of Fletcher Hanks and who really liked drawings of weiners and boobies.

Moynihan walks a fine line between "weird" and "incomprehensible" and between "clever" and "dumb," and manages to stay on the right side of it through almost every one of these bizarre, demented panels. I can't say that I've ever read anything quite like this (though it did call to mind the weirder bits of The Incal). I'm glad I did.

Forming is published by London's NOBROW, whose books are fantastically well-made, beautifully cloth-bound and printed on high-quality, sustainably produced paper (they also publish the much-more-kid-friendly Hilda comics). It's a quality product.

Forming (Amazon)

Forming (Nobrow) Read the rest

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