Dropping on the 30 October.
Abraham Riesman interviewed William Gibson for Vulture and they talked about dystopias:
How do you account for the recent surge in popular fiction about the collapse of civilization into dystopia or Armageddon?
This could be a case of consumers of a particular kind of pop culture trying to tell us something, alas. Seriously, what I find far more ominous is how seldom, today, we see the phrase “the 22nd century.” Almost never. Compare this with the frequency with which the 21st century was evoked in popular culture during, say, the 1920s.
Do you mean it’s ominous because people are so pessimistic that they can’t even imagine a future?
Well, that’s the question — why don’t we? I don’t know.
Gibson, along with Michael St. John Smith, released a new graphic novel on November 1st called Archangel. It’s illustrated by Butch Guice, Alejandro Barrionuevo, and Wagner Reis.
UPDATE: The reviews on Goodreads seem polarized between people who really liked the book and people who hated it.
The Verge interviewed Andy Weir, author of The Martian, about his new book, Artemis:
I started by developing the city itself. I really wanted to write a story that takes place on humanity’s first off-world home, the beginnings of humanity’s colonization of the Solar System, that kind of thing. I wanted to define the city on the Moon. First thing, I had to ask myself why there’s a city on the Moon. Why would anybody go live there? What’s the point? There’s a lot of fiction out there about this, and there are a lot of unsatisfying answers: “We’re there to mine it!” So send robots. “Earth is overpopulated!” Well, colonize the Sahara or the ocean floor. Literally every location on Earth is easier to colonize than anywhere on the Moon.
So I asked: what about tourism? Tourism is by definition people being somewhere. Okay, so that will only happen when the price to low Earth orbit is low enough that little people can afford to go. That’s kind of the conceit of Artemis, where the commercial space industry has driven that price down far enough that it’s affordable. It’s not not cheap, by any stretch of the imagination, but doable. So I designed the city with that in mind. I built it from the ground up, figuring that they’d need to be efficient, they wouldn’t want to waste a huge amount of money or resources. Once I was done with that, I had a setting, then set about working on story ideas. The contents of the book are actually the third story revision. I came up with two completely unrelated stories with different characters before this version.
I read The Martian a few years ago. It’s very suspenseful but it’s also deeply flawed. The narration/internal dialog of the main character is extremely annoying and corny.
But hey, who the fuck am I? The Martian hit #1 on The New York Times Best Seller List and was turned into a movie with Matt Damon.
The brain, it seems, does not make much of a distinction between reading about an experience and encountering it in real life; in each case, the same neurological regions are stimulated. Keith Oatley, an emeritus professor of cognitive psychology at the University of Toronto (and a published novelist), has proposed that reading produces a vivid simulation of reality, one that “runs on minds of readers just as computer simulations run on computers.” Fiction — with its redolent details, imaginative metaphors and attentive descriptions of people and their actions — offers an especially rich replica. Indeed, in one respect novels go beyond simulating reality to give readers an experience unavailable off the page: the opportunity to enter fully into other people’s thoughts and feelings.
I love reading but over years I haven’t been doing a great job at keeping my brain muscles in shape with books, so last year I started making concerted efforts to change that.
So far this year I’ve read 20 books and I use Goodreads to review and keep track of them all.
John Biggs sees the tipping point for self-publishing coming soon:
I’ve gone all in with the Indie publishing movement – I’ve released three books myself and I’ve done relatively well with all of them. But the fact still remains that the entire business of books is stacked against the Indie author. While the tools are far simpler than they have ever been, the perception that an Indie book is an inferior product, at least in the eyes of established media, is strong. But that’s about to change.
Progress has been made, but there’s still more work to be done.
What’s the point of contributing to a website if you can’t use it to sell your shit? With that in mind, I hereby announce that my second book, The Blasted Lands, is now available in the Kindle store for $3.99 in the U.S., and adjusted in other markets.
The Blasted Lands is a followup to last year’s Impact Winter, a sci-fi novel where the earth has been enshrouded in ejecta from a meteorite impact in northern Canada. This latest novel is a standalone tale, not a direct sequel to the first, but it does take place in the same area of central Pennsylvania, and features some of the same characters.
In writing this book and the one before, I did my best to imagine what would happen to the land and the people after a significant impact. What would the seismic effects be? How much damage would the air blast do? And what about the most lasting effect; the dust flung into the stratosphere, blocking out all light from the sun for an extended period? There are no good answers as to what would befall civilization were an event like this to take place.
In this novel, some time has passed since the impact, and dusky light has managed to penetrate the shroud, giving the land an eerie countenance. Edward Gray and his small group have weathered the worst of the collapse of society and government, and are now, like other survivors, preparing for the time when the sun will shine once more. They have claimed a small farm in rural Pennsylvania and have set about readying house and field. But, a land with no laws can snatch away plans and dreams without warning. Edward and his people learn that lesson, much to their hardship.
Check it out.
We may now have a new “most unread best seller of all time.”
Data from Amazon Kindles suggests that that honor may go to Thomas Piketty’s “Capital in the Twenty-First Century,” which reached No. 1 on the best-seller list this year. Jordan Ellenberg, a professor of mathematics at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, wrote in The Wall Street Journal that Piketty’s book seems to eclipse its rivals in losing readers: All five of the passages that readers on Kindle have highlighted most are in the first 26 pages of a tome that runs 685 pages.
The rush to purchase Piketty’s book suggested that Americans must have wanted to understand inequality. The apparent rush to put it down suggests that, well, we’re human.
—Nicholas Kristof, An Idiot’s Guide to Inequality
I’m guilty of going a step farther: I acquire tons of e-books with the intention of reading them, but takes years for me to get around to reading them (if ever).
I’ll admit that upon seeing the cover of Stan Parish’s debut, Down the Shore, I was unsure I’d peel the cover back to see what was inside. The silhouettes of two surfers carrying their boards had me thinking that, at best, this would be the story of some dudes finding themselves in some sort of Endless Summer-type setting. Another book about dudes written by a dude. Dudes and their problems. Poor dudes. And to some extent, yes, Down the Shore is a book about dudes. It’s a book about young men with privilege getting into trouble, and I’d say the age of the protagonist could qualify Parish’s novel as a “coming-of-age” book; yet Parish deftly defies all the pitfalls many dude writers (usually named Jonathan or Joshua) tend to get mired in when dealing with any or all of those things. It isn’t totally a book about a straight white dude who doesn’t know how good he has it, but it isn’t far from that either. Instead, Down the Shore is a look at how we screw up, try to redeem ourselves, and inevitably screw up again.
—Jason Diamond on the book, Down the Shore, by Stan Parish
As someone raised in (northwestern) New Jersey, that is exactly the term we used: you weren’t ‘going to the beach,’ you were ‘going down the shore’ (not ‘to-the-shore’).
—attributed to George Orwell by Steve Almond in yesterday’s Sunday Times Magazine
seen in Kurt Vonnegut’s Timequake, but thanks goes to sharp-eyed reader Patricia Miller, who correctly attributed these lines to Richard Rodgers and Lorenz Hart.
Speaking of poetry and code, below is my favorite poem by e.e. cummings.
My wife bought me a Kindle when it first came out. While I’m an early adopter of new technologies, gadgets and services (or at the very least, keeping a close eye on the more intriguing ones), I wasn’t anxious to get one. I had the same beef with DRM on books as I did with music. Information wants to be free, etc, etc… you know the deal. I thought it looked like a well thought out product (and product ecosystem), but it wasn’t for me. It would be another year before Apple would announce an end to copy-protection on their music, but it had also been a year since Steve Jobs posted his Thoughts On Music on Apple.com. So I was mentally primed for a DRM-free (music) future. Then the Kindle comes along with their copy-protected media and we’re back to square one. I wasn’t naive to think they’d use open file formats, but I was still bummed. Now let’s fast forward 2 years to today. I still have my first gen Kindle and I still use it somewhat often although I usually prefer to use the Kindle app on my iPhone, especially during my day-to-day commuting on the Manhattan subway. But my Kindle still can’t do two things that are important when I read – scribbling down notes and flipping pages. These actions were important while I read the new book by Steve Johnson, Where Good Ideas Come From.
Some might look disapprovingly at image above, with all those crude lines and chicken scratch writing, but for me, being able to underline chunks of text, scribble notes and circle words I want to look up later opens up a deeper level of comprehension into the book I’m reading. Of course this method can be adapted with an e-reader by simply pairing it with a physical notebook, but it’s a little more effort and not well-spent effort. I’m not a psychologist but something about physically interacting with a book takes reading beyond simple consumption. It becomes a form of creation. By the time you reach the end of your book you’re not left with the same pages you started with. No, no … these are my pages now. Sure, the author is making his points, but I’m deciding which ones are important. Once I’ve read through and made sufficient notes I can begin the fun game of flipping back and reading over the passages I marked up.
This might seem like a minor point, but the fact that I can’t easily flip between pages on a Kindle is a huge frustration. No, this doesn’t mean I’m not able to remember what I’ve read, but sometimes I want to reread passages. Great books, like great movies, are meant to be read over and over (unless you’re satisfied watching a Kubrick movie once). I’m completely confident this technological limitation of e-books will be resolved but until then, my thumbs rule.
This is more my beef with the airline industry than with e-books, but it’s relevant to this post. If we’re going to live comfortably/efficiently/normally in the 21st century, we need to start adapting our procedures to technologies and devices our generation is creating. Gadgets like iPods, iPads and Kindles are useless if I’m not allowed to use them during takeoff and landing. I’m waiting to hear of a plane that went down because 5 or 20 or 50 Kindles or iPhones were on during takeoff. It’s very likely many people never turn off their devices when they’re instructed anyway (not me of course). So to recap, I’m not giving up on technology. I love technology. I love tinkering, hacking and experimenting with new gadgets, but I encourage everyone to grab a printed version of the next great book you read. Don’t be afraid to get dirty and really make it yours.