Last October, Penguin released its Galaxy boxed set
, a $133 set of six hardcover reprints of some of science fiction's most canonical titles: The Left Hand of Darkness
by Ursula K LeGuin; Stranger in a Strange Land
by Robert A Heinlein; 2001: A Space Odyssey
by Arthur C Clarke; Dune
by Frank Herbert; The Once and Future King
by TH White; and Neuromancer
, by William Gibson.
Margaret Thatcher's 1979 declaration that "there is no alternative" to neoliberal capitalism is more than a rallying cry: it's a straitjacket on our imaginations, constraining our ability to imagine what kinds of other worlds we might live in. But in science fiction, alternatives to market economies abound (and a surprising number of them are awarded prestigious awards by the Libertarian Futurist Society
!), and it is through these tales that sociologist Peter Frase asks us to think through four different ways things could go, in a slim, sprightly book called Four Futures
-- a book that assures us that there is no more business as usual, and an alternative must
Ever since I found
the Unfuck Your Habitat Tumblr
, I've been addicted to its brand of frank, compassionate, sweary advice for people who want to be organized but don't know where to start. Now, unfucker-in-chief Rachel Hoffman has distilled the UFyH philosophy into a brilliant, breezy book that is a must-read for people who are terrified by Marie Kondo
but intrigued by being able to see their floors again: Unf*ck Your Habitat: You're Better Than Your Mess
. Read the rest
I've been writing about genius hardware hackers Andrew "bunnie" Huang since 2003, when MIT hung him out to dry
over his book explaining how he hacked the original Xbox; the book
he wrote about that hack has become a significant engineering classic, and his own life has taken a thousand odd turns that we've chronicled here as he's founded companies, hacked hardware, become a China manufacturing guru, and sued the US government
over the anti-hacking provisions of the DMCA.
Kirkus Reviews is one of the publishing industry's toughest gauntlets, used by librarians and bookstore buyers to help sort through the avalanche of new titles, and its reviews often have a sting in their tails aimed at this audience, a pitiless rehearsal of the reasons you wouldn't want to stock this book -- vital intelligence for people making hard choices.
Read the rest
In the first act, we visit planet after planet without any sense of place or structure. I almost tuned out in fear of ending up at BOOP CHOWBAH, IMPERIAL WASTEWATER TREATMENT MOON. But once the Death Star fires its first shot, we're off to the races: Rogue One is fast, focused action sci-fi given space to get its hands dirtier than usual Star Wars stuff.
Yet it so loves and respects that universe, treating it with great reverence. In particular, I loved how the "primitive" computer displays of the original Star Wars era were convincingly upgraded into an intentional UI aesthetic. Now the 1977 original looks like a faithful low-budget sequel to a beloved classic. Read the rest
Brian K Vaughan is one of my very favorite comics creators, though the erratic schedule of Saga
, the psychedelic, sexy space opera he and Fiona Staples created has frustrated me at times -- and then I remember that Vaughan is so erratic because he's so busy
, creating new titles like 2015's Paper Girls, which Image Comics began to collect in two volumes this year: Book 1
last April, and Book 2
on December 6.
When ex-CIA agent Tom King teamed up with a group of extremely talented writers to reboot Marvel's "Vision" in 2015, he had a lot of material to work with -- the character had begun as a kind of super-android in the 1940s and had been reincarnated many times, through many twists and turns: what King & Co did with Vision both incorporated and transcended all that backstory, in an astounding tale that Ta-Nehisi Coates called "the best comic going right now." With the whole run collected in two volumes
, there's never been a better time to see just how far comic storytelling can go.
I first started writing about the remarkable Joi Ito in 2002
, and over the decade and a half since, I've marvelled at his polymath abilities -- running international Creative Commons, starting and investing in remarkable tech businesses, getting Timothy Leary's ashes shot into space, backing Mondo 2000, using a sprawling Warcraft raiding guild to experiment with leadership and team structures, and now, running MIT's storied Media Lab -- and I've watched with excitement as he's distilled his seemingly impossible-to-characterize approach to life in a set of 9 compact principles
, which he and Jeff Howe have turned into Whiplash
, a voraciously readable, extremely exciting, and eminently sensible book.
A flashlight review that begins with the promise "I'm about to hike through a remote canyon to an abandoned mine, and I gotta tell you there's a storm raging outside" should end on an interesting note, and this one does. [via]
Disturbing, strange sounds. That's exactly what I caught on video while filming and documenting the abandoned Waldeck Mine using the ThruNite TN12 flashlight. The Waldeck Mine is an abandoned gold mine located deep in a forested canyon in the high country. I went there on a stormy night in order to document the mine while reviewing and demonstrating ThruNite's excellent TN12 handheld flashlight. The abandoned mine itself is over 150 years old and still has a lot of awesome yet dangerous timbering in its furthest reaches. There are upper levels in the Waldeck Mine, but I only explored and documented the main haulage tunnel.
The ghostly AMSR action starts about 12:15 in.
Witchgadget.com is available! Read the rest
Last summer, Warren Ellis serialized a novel
, "Normal," as a series of four novellas; today, they're collected in a single, short book
that mainlines a month's worth of terrifying futuristic fiction in one go.
Victoria Jamieson's 2015 graphic novel Roller Girl
won the prestigious Newberry Honor Award and it's easy to see why: Jamieson's story of a young teen's interest in roller derby is the perfect vehicle to explore the difficult and even traumatic way that girls' friendships change as they become teenagers, while never losing sight of the core story, about personal excellence, teamwork, and hard-hitting, girl-positive roller derby.
Looking into my options for a compact, inexpensive home server, I chanced across PC Magazine's May 2016 review of the Dell Optiplex 3040. In the middle of it, reviewer and PC Magazine Lead Analyst Joel Santo Domingo is seen very briefly to caress the Dell. Pack it in, gadget reviewers: the best 2 seconds in the history of reviewing servers is over.
I added the music.
Here's the full review:
Read the rest
I first encountered Noelle Stevenson's work through her groundbreaking
, but before the 'Janes, Stevenson was tearing up the webcomics world with Nimona
, which was collected and published by Harper Teen
Between 1920 and 1924, the Free State of Fiume
was a real-world "pirate utopia
," an ungoverned place of blazing futurism, military triumphalism, transgression, sex, art, dada, and high weirdness. In Bruce Sterling's equally blazing dieselpunk novella Pirate Utopia
, the author turns the same wry and gimlet eye that found the keen edges for steampunk's seminal The Difference Engine
to the strange business of futurism.
Tim Harford's Messy: The Power of Disorder to Transform Our Lives
plays to Harford's prodigious strengths: the ability to tell engrossing human stories, and the ability to use those stories to convey complex, statistical ideas that make your life better.
Last week, the National Coalition Against Censorship
honored Rainbow Rowell for her refusal to be back down
on the frequent challenges to her multiple-award-winning, bestselling 2013 novel Eleanor & Park
. I was there, and got a copy of the novel, and have read nothing since, and now that I've finished it, I find myself profoundly moved.