Scenes from the Bangalore Literature Festival

I still have Indian dust on my shoes from the city of Bangalore, where I spent almost a week at the international literary festival.

I was mind-boggled at the scale of this national Indian event: literature, politics, activism, feminism. There was music and even street art, but what a crowd. Sixteen thousand highly literate participants, roaming from one outdoor stage to another, and engaged with every atom of their souls.

Literary culture persists in this part of the world, where people still believe that leafing through books is a transformative spiritual experience that can change the world.

Authors of the first world, beset with Internet and economic crisis, often seem like plastic vanity-toys kept past their sell-by date, but maybe what they lack most keenly is a creative readership. As a passionate reader, I often claim it is more difficult to read a book well than it is to to write one. As a less passionate writer, I know that even one ideal reader is enough to motivate a decent book.

The beautiful literary carnival -- held on the broad, leafy grounds of one of Bangalore’s finest hotels, an oasis of glamor and privilege -- contrasted with the crooked streets of Bangalore where the sacred cows, pariah dogs and torrents of honking traffic live with a passion for survival. This was not my first visit to India, so I was ready for the epic scale of grandeur and abject poverty, but it was still a culture shock.

The jet-set’s digitized skyscrapers tower like phantoms over vast bazaars seething with a seize-the-day human vitality. Read the rest

Europe's massive plan to require open access for all science gets two new backers: Wellcome Trust and the Gates Foundation

In September, a consortium of 11 of Europe's largest science funders announced, "Plan S," whereby they would no longer fund research unless the grantees promised that the results would be published in an open access journal, which anyone could read and copy for free. Two more funders quickly signed up after the announcements, bringing the total to 13. Read the rest

Swedish ISP punishes Elsevier for forcing it to block Sci-Hub by also blocking Elsevier

The Swedish ISP Bahnhof has a strong historic commitment to free speech, so when the notoriously corrupt science publishing giant Elsevier (previously) sought to force the ISP to censor connections to the open access site Sci-Hub (previously), the ISP went to court to resist the order. Read the rest

New issue of Faesthetic, the lavish and mindbending art 'zine

Boing Boing pal Dustin "UPSO" Hostetler has published the fifteenth issue of his long-running print 'zine Faesthetic, the exquisitely-produced visual wunderkammer of art/illustration/design. Faesthetic #15 is themed "Convergent Visions" and I was delighted to contribute an essay about the Voyager Golden Record as an iconic artifact of futures thinking. The issue features work by all of these incredible creators: Christan Mendoza, Jon Contino, Adam Griffiths, Adrian Cox, Alex Barrett, Caitlin Russell, Chris Nickels, Dang Olsen, Elaine Miller, Gabrielle Rosenstein, Janne Iivonen, Prate™, Jeremyville, Jim O’Boyle, John Szot, Josh Row, Julian Glander, Justin Harris, Karen Ingram & Nicola Patron, Kyle Knapp, Leanna Perry, Loc Huynh, Maggie Chiang, Marta Piaseczynska, Max Löffler, Okell Lee, Pedro Nekoi, Tara McPherson, Thayer Bray, Bryan C. Lee Jr, and Alison Conway.

Buy Faesthetic for just $10. Here's the story behind this edition:

The idea for “Convergent Visions” took root in the halls of South By South West in 2017. After a mind-boggling keynote delivered by biochemist Jennifer Doudna, Faesthetic publisher Dustin Hostetler and creative director Karen Ingram bumped into Hugh Forrest, Chief Programming Officer of SXSW. This chance meeting sparked a conversation between Karen and Dustin that became a collaborative effort with the 2018 SXSW Art Program.

“Convergent Visions” probes various areas in science and technology through an artistic lens. Overarching themes include Design, Health and Wellness, Social Impact and the Intelligent Future become realized through the creativity vibrating and flowing from the minds and fingers of 30 international artists and designers.

With a nod to Donna Haraway’s characterization of the emerging and many-tentacled epoch of the Chthulucene, “Convergent Visions” showcases the visions of these talented creatives.

Read the rest

Printer refuses humor magazine because "Christian owners" want to protect "the kids"

Solderer writes, "Old-school humor Magazine The American Bystander was dropped by its printer, citing prurient content (i.e. humor). Publisher Michael Gerber describes the ongoing situation in terms that would doubtless please Benjamin 'Fart Proudly' Franklin." Read the rest

A sensible, free guide to negotiating book contracts

The Authors Alliance is a nonprofit that advocates for authors, libraries, readers and scholars (I'm on their advisory board); they've done a ton of great work, notably a tool for authors to claim their copyrights back from publishers, even when the original contract specified that the rights were signed away "in perpetuity." Read the rest

UPDATED: The US Patent and Trademark Office is ready to hand over an exclusive trademark for "Dragon Slayer" for fantasy novels

Update: The USPTO has withdrawn this from publication for "further review."

Michael-Scott Earle, a self-publisher of "pulp harem fantasies" is seeking a trademark on the use of "Dragon Slayer" in connection with fantasy novels. Read the rest

"Radicalized" will be my next book!

I've just closed a new book deal: Tor Books will publish "Radicalized," which tells four stories of hope, conflict, technology and justice in the modern world and near future in March 2019; along with the book deal is a major audiobook deal with Macmillan Audio and a screen deal with Topic Studios (a sister company to The Intercept) for one of the tales, "Unauthorized Bread." Read the rest

Kickstarting a seminar series with Ada Palmer and me about the history of censorship and information control

Science fiction author, librettist, singer and historian Ada Palmer (previously), science and piracy historian Adrian Johns, and I have teamed up to create a seminar series at the University of Chicago called Censorship and Information Control During Information Revolutions, which compares and contrasts the censorship regimes and moral panics that flourished after the invention of the printing press with modern, computerized efforts to control and suppress information. Read the rest

Free ebook! Charlie Jane Anders' award winning debut novel "All the Birds in the Sky"

Charlie Jane Anders' Nebula-award-winning 2016 debut novel All the Birds in the Sky is the next Tor.com Ebook Club selection: that means you can get a free ebook, and then participate in a group discussion with Tor.com's most excellent and perspicacious readers. Read the rest

This is the golden age of Chinese science fiction

We've been covering the rise and rise of Chinese science fiction here since the early part of the decade, as Chinese authors have been successfully exported to the English-speaking world (a rare feat, as there are enough books written in English to satisfy demand, leading to a real poverty of literature translated into English), which broke through in 2016, when authors like Hao Jingfang took home Hugo awards, along with the incredible Cixin Liu. Read the rest

Consortium of the largest science funders in Europe announce that they'll only fund open access research

Eleven of Europe's largest scientific research funders, responsible for €7.6B in annual grants, have announced "Plan S," whereby scientists will only be able to get research grants if they promise to first publish all their work in open access, no-cost journals. Read the rest

Alt-right publisher founds ComicsGate comic imprint

We must secure the existence of white people and a future for white ... comics?

Theodore "Vox Day" Beale, the Nazi-quoting nationalist most famous for gaming the Hugo Awards with bloc voting campaigns, has appropriated the "ComicsGate" name for a new comics publishing company. But adherents of the ComicsGate movement, though sharing his distate for diversity, are far from pleased.

Richard Meyer, who runs the "Diversity & Comics" YouTube channel, offered a one-word response: "NOPE."

"VOX DAY tried to steal #ComicsGate," wrote pro-ComicsGate artist Ethan Van Sciver. "ComicsGate destroyed him tonight, live."

ComicsGate's followers are notorious for online harassment, from abuse aimed at women Marvel employees to recent attacks on Marsha Cooke, who had debunked the movement's attempt to claim her late husband Darwyn as an adherent. In recent weeks, major comics industry figures denounced it as a hate group.

ComicsGate's leading lights have now drawn a line in the sand at overt affiliation with white supremacists. It's Beale's commercial grab at the word, though, that really threatens to upset the apple cart.

Meyer recently raised nearly $400,000 crowdfunding a graphic novel marketed explicitly as a ComicsGate response to "SJWs", but it's an open question as to whether it amounted to a media stunt or a sustainable market for reactionary comics.

Beale plans to answer it first, beating Meyer and co. to the market as a fully-fledged, operating imprint. Asked by an interviewer if he planned to launch a crowdfunding campaign, Beale replied "I expect we will do so, yes."

Also raising ire among ComicsGaters was Beale's use of the GamerGate green-and-purple color scheme in the company's logo. Read the rest

Kickstarting the Mexicanx Initiative Anthology, spotlighting Mexicanx creators who won scholarships to this year's Worldcon

Pablo Defendini (previously) writes, "Fireside Magazine’s editor, Julia Rios, is part of The Mexicanx Initiative, a scholarship fund John Picacio put together for sending Mexicanx and Mexican-American sf/f authors to Worldcon. A few of the Mexicanx Initiative authors decided to create an anthology to commemorate the occasion, and had been planning on subsidizing the cost of printing and shipping themselves. When Fireside got word of this last week, we decided to pitch in, and we put together a Kickstarter campaign to raise the $1500 they needed.

"Well, we blew past our funding goal, and we decided that any money left over would be split evenly among all the participants (Fireside isn't making a cent off this). So now we're trying to reach a stretch goal of $7500 by the end of the campaign this Friday, so that we can not only cover their production costs, but pay every author, artist, designer, translator, and editor who donated their work a SFWA-qualifying pro rate."

Mexicanx Initiative Anthology [Fireside/Kickstarter] Read the rest

Re/Search press releases its first-ever merch, only available for a few more hours

For cyberpunks of a certain vintage, Re/Search press (previously) was absolutely formative -- books like Incredibly Strange Films, Zines!, and, of course, Modern Primitives (RIP, Fakir) were incredibly influential material for the modern happy mutant. Read the rest

Audible puts the screws to indie authors

Audible -- Amazon's audiobook company -- dominates audiobooks, controlling 90% or more of the market; their ACX platform is tailored to indie, self-published authors, and, until recently, it paid them handsomely for any new customers they brought into Audible's fold. Read the rest

Kickstarting a new edition of Steve Jackson's long-lost masterpiece "Melee"

Stefan Jones writes, "While Dungeons & Dragons (1973) had its roots in miniatures wargaming, it really didn't coherently integrate boardgame-style maneuvers into its combat system. Steve Jackson changed that a few years later with Melee, the first segment in what would be a full-fledged fantasy role playing game system, The Fantasy Trip. It was a lot better developed than D&D, and was supported by GMd adventures and solotaire adventures." Read the rest

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