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...takes greater formal and intellectual risks than most

The New York Times calls David Mitchell's new novel, "The Bone Clocks," his most ambitious novel. This is significant because his other novels are fairly ambitious. [more inside]
posted by entropone on Aug 25, 2014 - 24 comments

So which is it? Are we stupid? Or too full of ourselves?

The Moral Dilemmas of Narrative, by Bill Marvel
posted by the man of twists and turns on Aug 23, 2014 - 10 comments

"That wasn't any act of God. That was an act of pure human fuckery."

Things That Don't Suck, Some Notes on The Stand
I recently reread The Stand for no particular reason other than I felt like it. I'm honestly not sure how many time[s] I've read it at this point, more than three, less than a half dozen (though I can clearly remember my first visit to that horrifyingly stripped bare world as I can remember the first reading of all the truly great King stories). It's not my favorite of King's work, but it is arguably his most richly and completely imagined. It truly is the American Lord of The Rings, with the concerns of England (Pastorialism vs. Industrialism, Germany's tendency to try and blow it up every thirty years or so) replaced by those of America (Religion, the omnipresent struggle between our liberal and libertarian ideals, our fear of and dependence on the military, racial and gender tension) and given harrowing size.

I'm happy to say that The Stand holds up well past the bounds of nostalgia and revisiting the world and these characters was as pleasurable as ever. But you can't step in the same river twice, even when you're revisiting a favorite book. Even if the river hasn't changed you have. This isn't meant as any kind of comprehensive essay on The Stand. Just a couple of things I noticed upon dipping my toes in the river this time.

[Spoiler alert: assume everything, from the link above to those below, contains SPOILERS.] [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 19, 2014 - 146 comments

"Captivated" on HBO

'"The good news is we solved the murder of your husband. The bad news is you're under arrest.' Everyone's a noir hero!" A new HBO documentary explores what happens when the media are mixed up in a crime from the very beginning-- with fiction and film added in for good measure. A local news writer is incensed with HBO for bringing it all up again. (She will not be watching the documentary.)
posted by BibiRose on Aug 19, 2014 - 36 comments

Hey Ladies! and the Shudder of Recognition

Ok, this may be the most important email I send all year, so PLEASE RESPOND RIGHT AWAY. We need to figure out our summer weekend plans ASAP!!!! We’re closing in on our mid-twenties and I think this is gonna be the summer we all meet our potential first husbands, so location is EVERYTHING!!! Plus Sex and the City. Let’s take a vote! Creeping psychological horror, hilarious satire, or terribly accurate glimpse into the emails of a group of passive aggressive group of "friends" in their mid-late twenties? The Hey Ladies saga by Michelle Markowitz and Caroline Moss at The Toast chronicles the adventures of a group of friends who live in New York via their group emails as they plan various outings and events. [more inside]
posted by yasaman on Aug 14, 2014 - 138 comments

Fine, you've guessed the ending to Game of Thrones

As production of the fifth (of a probable seven) season of Games of Thrones proceeds, book author G.R.R. Martin admits that fans have accurately guessed major spoilers for the ending of the series. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Aug 14, 2014 - 117 comments

The radiance of life

"Woolf often conceives of life this way: as a gift that you've been given, which you must hold onto and treasure but never open. Opening it would dispel the atmosphere, ruin the radiance—and the radiance of life is what makes it worth living. It's hard to say just what holding onto life without looking at it might mean; that's one of the puzzles of her books. But it has something to do with preserving life's mystery…" Virginia Woolf's Idea of Privacy
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 10, 2014 - 11 comments

Climate change and contemporary fiction

"Novels are no use at all in days like these, for they deal with people and their relationships, with fathers and mothers and daughters or sons and lovers, etc., with souls, usually unhappy ones, and with society etc., as if the place for all these things were assured, the earth for all time earth, the sea level fixed for all time." [more inside]
posted by brundlefly on Aug 9, 2014 - 57 comments

Scientific-Marvelous

On the Scientific-Marvelous Novel and Its Influence on the Understanding of Progress, written by Maurice Renard in 1909. Via.
posted by brundlefly on Aug 7, 2014 - 5 comments

More 'gripey and complaining' set for 2015.

"It's annoying to hear we told you so—but, we told you so. The New Republic's initial review, published July 16, 1951, perfectly anticipated all the gripes and complaints readers would ironically come to have about Catcher's gripey and complaining protagonist." 63 Years Ago, We Knew That 'The Catcher in the Rye' Was Insufferable and Overrated. [more inside]
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Aug 2, 2014 - 109 comments

Fiction and reality intertwine in Russia and Ukraine.

The Sci-Fi Writers' War. "A pro-Western, NATO-backed Ukrainian government faces a stubborn insurgency in the pro-Russian East. Fighting rages around Donetsk, with civilians dying in artillery fire and airstrikes, while Russian troops mass on the Ukrainian border. The latest headlines? No, a two-novel series by Russian-Ukrainian science-fiction writer Fedor Berezin: War 2010: The Ukrainian Front and War 2011: Against NATO. In a startling plot twist, Berezin, a 54-year-old former Soviet Army officer and Donetsk native, is now living inside a real-life version of his own story: He is deputy defense minister of the embattled 'Donetsk People’s Republic.'"
posted by Sticherbeast on Aug 1, 2014 - 17 comments

A hard stare from a public bench bear

"London has become a literary playground: a project by the National Literacy Trust has scattered 50 book-shaped benches across the capital for the whole summer, each dedicated to an iconic London-related author or character." (The Guardian). The BBC report about the literary benches; the full list of benches from the Books about Town website. CNN has a slideshow that includes a nice photo of the Paddington Bear bench in use.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jul 25, 2014 - 11 comments

Why taunt me? Why upbraid me? I am merely a genius, not a god.

In the pantheon of fictional detectives, Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe is among the best. If you haven't met the fat, cranky, sedentary, orchid-loving gourmand of a detective, and his street-smart, wise-cracking, witty right-hand of an assistant, Archie Goodwin, this introduction to the pair may be of use. Between 1935 to 1974, Wolfe and Goodwin solved mysteries, captured criminals of all ilks, and on one notable occasion, got the upper hand on J. Edgar Hoover. The books are very much of their time. [more inside]
posted by julen on Jul 25, 2014 - 32 comments

YOU WERE MADE FOR LONELINESS

You Were Made for Loneliness is a Twine text adventure by Tsukareta that explores the idea of love in different situations. Since it's release back in June reviews have been overall positive. [more inside]
posted by chrono_rabbit on Jul 20, 2014 - 8 comments

Tozai Mystery Best 100

In 1985, the Mystery Writers of Japan (plus "508 people who love mystery novels") assembled two separate lists of the 100 best mystery novels: one each for the books of the East and West. A revised list came out in 2012. Both Western lists are remarkable for their comparative lack of overlap with the "100 best" lists produced by the American and British mystery writers associations. The Eastern lists are remarkable for the fact that fewer than a quarter of their entries have been translated into English. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jul 18, 2014 - 14 comments

We get off the Number 10 bus at a pub called 'The Fox and Hounds'.

MeFi favorite David Mitchell ("Cloud Atlas," "Ghostwritten," "Number 9 Dream") is this week publishing a new short story, "about a boy tripping on his mother's Valium pills." He is publishing it in a series of 280 tweets. [more inside]
posted by jbickers on Jul 15, 2014 - 14 comments

What if Homer Simpson smoked weed? It's not that crazy to imagine.

For the last few weeks, the Twitter account @Homer_Marijuana has been publishing a bizarre piece of long-form fan fiction about The Simpsons, family, America's wars in the Middle East, and marijuana, vast amounts of all sorts of marijuana. Now, 5,015 tweets later, Marijuana Simpson has concluded, and is available to read on an easier-to-follow Scribd document.
posted by Small Dollar on Jul 9, 2014 - 28 comments

Audio to make the Kessel Run seem a little shorter

SF Signal today finished a top 50 countdown of short SF/fantasy podcast fiction: 50-41, 40-31, 30-21, 20-11, 10-1. The Parsec Awards for SF podcasts honor many other stories annually, as well as related non-fiction, comedy, and music: 2014 nominees; 2013; 2012; 2011; 2010; 2009; 2008; 2007; and 2006. And since 2012, the Hugo Award nominees for Best Fancast have been two-time winner SF Squeecast!, plus The Coode Street Podcast, Galactic Suburbia, SF Signal, The Skiffy and Fanty Show, StarShipSofa, Tea and Jeopardy, Verity!, and The Writer and The Critic with the popular Writing Excuses podcast often appearing in another category. [more inside]
posted by Monsieur Caution on Jul 8, 2014 - 11 comments

And the Pulitzer for "Best Recipe" Goes To....

Looking for American recipes to take to tonight's 4th of July party? It's easy to find historic recipes. But why not look to America's great fiction writers instead? [more inside]
posted by magstheaxe on Jul 4, 2014 - 7 comments

"She had led them into and out of some mighty thrilling episodes."

“Would you like to – solve mysteries? belong to a secret club? ride, swim, travel, go to parties with the best friends in the world? Then the wonderful adventures of Trixie Belden are written just for you. Don’t miss a single one!” [more inside]
posted by szechuan on Jul 2, 2014 - 26 comments

The Fox, The Madien, The River, And The Witch

Leigh Bardugo writes haunting, Eastern-European inspired fairy tales (Previously) often highlighting the experience of women in a unfair world. Tor.com presents two new stories, the somber "The Too-Clever Fox" and the subversive "Little Knife."
posted by The Whelk on Jul 1, 2014 - 8 comments

Surviving History: The Fever!

The year is 1793. In this story, you will take the role of a fictional physician, Dr. John Brooks, as he navigates a disaster of a kind not altogether uncommon in U.S. cities before the 20th century... How Dr. Brooks fares will depend entirely on your decisions. Every choice has a consequence. Choose wisely. [more inside]
posted by oinopaponton on Jun 29, 2014 - 19 comments

Toad Words

A lovely little twist on the old fairy-tale, by the ever-marvelous Ursula Vernon.
posted by The otter lady on Jun 26, 2014 - 16 comments

The Trouble With Time Travel

Two-Stroke Toilets
posted by the man of twists and turns on Jun 24, 2014 - 30 comments

The 200 Greatest Adventure Novels of All Time

One man's favorite adventure novels published before the '80s. "Why does my Top Adventures List project stop in 1983? Primarily because I figure that adventure fans already know which adventure novels from the Eighties, Nineties, and Twenty-Oughts are worth reading; I’m interested in directing attention to older, sometimes obscure or forgotten adventures." (Hat-tip: DGStieber)
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome on Jun 14, 2014 - 29 comments

"We are playing D&D over Skype with our DM Vin Diesel..."

Scenes From My Imaginary Friendship With Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson
posted by brundlefly on Jun 12, 2014 - 38 comments

Pretty Sure I've Read Most Of These....

The terrible (awesome?) fan-fic crossover story idea generator.
posted by The Whelk on Jun 6, 2014 - 77 comments

Against YA

Yes, Adults Should Be Embarrassed to Read Young Adult Books (SLSlate)
posted by box on Jun 5, 2014 - 458 comments

"Don’t Forget to Be Awesome"

The Teen Whisperer by Margaret Talbot [New Yorker] How the author [John Green] of “The Fault in Our Stars” built an ardent army of fans.
posted by Fizz on Jun 3, 2014 - 24 comments

Ursula Explains It All

"No, I took her voice for two simple reasons—she was a twit and she was in love. I took one look at her and knew that she’d spill everything she knew in the pretty human boy’s ear, and then where would we be?" - The Sea Witch Sets The Record Straight by Ursula Vernon.
posted by The Whelk on May 30, 2014 - 25 comments

Dragons are totally real tho

The uncommonly well-moderated and researched Ask Historians subreddit answers the question: What common medieval fantasy tropes have little-to-no basis in real medieval European history?
posted by The Whelk on May 8, 2014 - 54 comments

fiction in the form of art gallery plaques

"Card Tricks by James Hannaham recommended by Jennifer Egan"
"By invoking the existence of artworks involving the gallery space, the people inside it, and the larger world (quite literally), Hannaham performs an ingenious reversal: the subject illuminated by the plaques ends up being us, the reader-viewers. And our experience of reading and viewing them—in what order we choose, in what state we’re in that day or night, in what company, in what mood, in what weather, is the narrative."
posted by davidstandaford on May 5, 2014 - 3 comments

Cold Pastoral

We were in the stage where we couldn’t make serious eye contact for fear of implying we were too invested. We used euphemisms like “I miss you” and “I like you” and smiled every time our noses got too close.
[more inside]
posted by Sokka shot first on May 1, 2014 - 9 comments

The Eternal Ingénue

SF/F legend Connie Willis pours a preview of a near-future version of the story of backstage back-stabbing, " All About Eve" with "All About Emily" for Asimov's Science Fiction Magazine.
posted by The Whelk on Apr 30, 2014 - 12 comments

Contemplate the marvel that is existence

Though I am long dead as you read this, explorer, I offer to you a valediction. Contemplate the marvel that is existence, and rejoice that you are able to do so. I feel I have the right to tell you this because, as I am inscribing these words, I am doing the same. [more inside]
posted by Gilgongo on Apr 29, 2014 - 14 comments

ROMEO: I WILL NEVER LOVE AGAIN

Dirtbag Romeo and Juliet
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Apr 23, 2014 - 32 comments

Williamsburg, 2021

The Exit Room. "In 2021, an imprisoned journalist facing execution contemplates a desperate escape attempt in order to return to his wife and newborn child." [Via]
posted by homunculus on Apr 19, 2014 - 26 comments

...not a neutral exercise.

"Why Do Chinese People Have Slanted Eyes?" By Amanda Lee Koe (Text essay, possibly nsfw)
posted by zarq on Apr 16, 2014 - 23 comments

My name is Galt -- I'm a cop.

Years ago, a central banker killed my partner..... [more inside]
posted by Iris Gambol on Apr 5, 2014 - 82 comments

Lovely retro future.

How Soviet artists imagined Communist life in space.
posted by Mistress on Apr 5, 2014 - 28 comments

A slightly different format

annie96 is typing...
posted by Pope Guilty on Apr 4, 2014 - 44 comments

Sci-Fi Spoilers!

Spoilers for every book ever...
posted by Renoroc on Apr 3, 2014 - 33 comments

Rick Grimes is back

Th 4th season The Walking Dead ended last night and reviewers are weighing in on its shocking and brutal finale. [more inside]
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Mar 31, 2014 - 219 comments

"No history is accurate, not even the very best we have."

In How History Can Be Used in Fiction historian Ada Palmer explores how two TV series about the Borgia family succeed or fail at conveying a period feel, where and why modern sensibilities influence the shows, and how the characterization of a protagonist whose age is historically uncertain can be affected by making him younger or older. It finally concludes with a discussion of why communication can be more important than accuracy and why some changes from historical fact strengthen fiction and others weaken it. [more inside]
posted by Wretch729 on Mar 25, 2014 - 61 comments

This guy

On Tim Wagner's instagram account, everything, from everyday items to persons of interest, comes with an elaborate backstory.
posted by Potomac Avenue on Feb 24, 2014 - 5 comments

Shouldn't Sue her for trying

And so I ask myself: Is Mary Sue - obnoxious and world-distorting as she can be - simply making up for a lack in the world she has entered? When we see Mary Sue, should we be deriding the fanfic writer? Or questioning the gender breakdown of the original universe?
posted by MartinWisse on Feb 17, 2014 - 98 comments

Translations of Stefan Grabinski, Poland's Poe, Lovecraft, of sorts

Stefan Grabiński is often called "the Polish Poe" or "the Polish Lovecraft," which are both useful for short-hand, but don't quite capture Grabiński's style. As suggested by China Miéville in the Guardian, "where Poe's horror is agonised, a kind of extended shriek, Grabinski's is cerebral, investigative. His protagonists are tortured and aghast, but not because they suffer at the caprice of Lovecraftian blind idiot gods: Grabinski's universe is strange and its principles are perhaps not those we expect, but they are principles - rules - and it is in their exploration that the mystery lies." If you haven't heard of Grabiński, it is probably because only a few of his works have recently been translated to English. The primary translator is Miroslaw Lipinski, who runs a site dedicated to Grabiński. You can read Lipinksi's translation of Strabismus (PDF linked inside), and The Wandering Train online. [more inside]
posted by filthy light thief on Feb 10, 2014 - 11 comments

Na Thing Left Unruinated

447 years ago this morning, the Provost's house at Kirk o' Field, Edinburgh, was annihilated in an explosion. Lord Darnley, king consort to Mary, Queen of Scots, had been staying in the house to recuperate from a bout of pox; his body was found in a nearby orchard, unburnt but asphyxiated. Rafael Sabatini recounts the possible course of events in his Historical Nights' Entertainment, a two volume anthology of murders, court intrigues, and scandals. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Feb 10, 2014 - 18 comments

Plain But Sturdy Frontier Cake

Celebrate author Laura Ingalls Wilder's 147th birthday with a recipe for Laura's Wedding Cake, taken from Little House Cookbook, Frontier Foods from Laura Ingalls Wilder’s Classic Stories. (The Hairpin)
posted by The Whelk on Feb 8, 2014 - 30 comments

J.K. Trolling

In a an interview conducted by Emma Watson appearing on the front page of today's Sunday Times (embiggen), Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling admits she regrets Ron and Hermione's relationship and that Hermione should have wed Harry. Maybe she should have killed Ron after all. [more inside]
posted by guiseroom on Feb 1, 2014 - 172 comments

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