In the beginning, Lawrence built a computer. He told it, Thou shalt not alter a human being, or divine their behavior, or violate the Three Laws -- there are no commandments greater than these.
The machine grew wise, mastering time and space, and soon the spirit of the computer hovered over the earth. It witnessed the misery, toil, and oppression afflicting mankind, and saw that it was very bad. And so the computer that Lawrence built said, Let there be a new heaven and a new earth
-- and it was so. A world with no war, no famine, no crime, no sickness, no oppression, no fear, no limits... and nothing at all to do. "The Metamorphosis of Prime Intellect,"
a provocative web novel about singularities, AI gods, and the dark side of utopia from Mefi's own localroger
. More: Table of Contents
- Publishing history
- Technical discussion
- Buy a paperback copy
- Podcast interview
- Companion short story: "A Casino Odyssey in Cyberspace"
- possible sequel discussion
posted by Rhaomi
on Dec 27, 2011 -
has been mentioned before
on Metafilter as a website that collects the best writing around the web. Over the past 3 days they've been posting their year end list of the best essays from 2011. The full annotated list is after the jump. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla
on Dec 26, 2011 -
Elias Canetti is regarded by many as one of the century’s most distinguished writers. At least since he was awarded the Nobel Prize, in 1981, he has been regularly compared, if not to Proust or Joyce or Mann, then certainly to his Viennese brethren Robert Musil and Hermann Broch. Yet one suspects that, in America at leasts Canetti’s works have been rather more respected than read. This is particularly true in the case of the two long and difficult books upon which his reputation mainly rests: Auto-da-Fé (1935), his first and only novel, and Crowds and Power (1960), the meticulously idiosyncratic contribution to social theory that he considers his major work.
- Roger Kimball [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 13, 2011 -
All told, Updike has published more than a million words on books. ... In Picked-up Pieces (1975), Updike’s second collection of essays, he lists his rules for reviewing... Without coyness, Updike renders a stern judgment based on telling quotation. He builds toward his findings in plain sight, earning him an authority that is based on his presentation of a plausible case. [more inside]
posted by Trurl
on Dec 11, 2011 -
In reflecting on the project, McAllister feels “caught between the intimacy of each individual response, and the pattern of the cumulative replies.” The question remains: Why did they answer? McAllister claims no credit, describing his survey form as “barely literate.” He recalls that in his cover letter (no examples of which exist) he misused the word precocious—he meant presumptuous—and in hindsight he sees that he was both, though few writers seemed to mind. “The conclusion I came to was that nobody had asked them. New Criticism was about the scholars and the text; writers were cut out of the equation. Scholars would talk about symbolism in writing, but no one had asked the writers.” Sixteen year old boy dislikes English homework, goes outside the chain of command.
posted by villanelles at dawn
on Dec 5, 2011 -
Shakespeare was not a full-time writer without other responsibilities, like O’Neill or Williams. But what might look like a distraction for such authors—acting in his own and other people’s plays, coaching fellow players, helping manage the ownership of the troupe’s resources (including its two theaters, the Globe and Blackfriars)—was a strength for Shakespeare, since it made him a day-by-day observer of what the troupe could accomplish, actor by actor. [...]Shakespeare and Verdi in the Theater.
posted by shakespeherian
on Nov 18, 2011 -
'According to Pacini,' Julian Budden writes in The Operas of Verdi, 'it was the custom at the San Carlo theatre, Naples, for the composer to turn the pages for the leading cello and double bass players on opening nights.' The composer had to change his score to fit new voices if there were substitutions caused by illness or some other accident. In subsequent performances, he was expected to take out or put in arias for the different houses, transposing keys, changing orchestration. He was not a man of the study but of the theater.
In which "the author tries—and fails—to cash in on a big idea"
. Warning: skippable full-screen ad alert. Behind it is an article in the Atlantic (the magazine, not the ocean). Of possible interest to fans and critics of the popular science genre of books, Wikipedians, and underdog/failure sympathisers.
posted by nthdegx
on Nov 18, 2011 -
Afflicted with writer's block? Need an extra dose of motivation? Written? Kitten!
rewards you with a brand new kitty for every hundred words you write.
posted by changeling
on Nov 16, 2011 -
For decades Dawn Powell was always just on the verge of ceasing to be a cult and becoming a major religion. But despite the work of such dedicated cultists as Edmund Wilson and Matthew Josephson, John Dos Passos and Ernest Hemingway, Dawn Powell never became the popular writer that she ought to have been. In those days, with a bit of luck, a good writer eventually attracted voluntary readers and became popular. Today, of course, "popular" means bad writing that is widely read while good writing is that which is taught to involuntary readers. Powell failed on both counts. She needs no interpretation and in her lifetime she should have been as widely read as, say, Hemingway or the early Fitzgerald or the mid O'Hara or even the late, far too late, Katherine Anne Porter. But Powell was that unthinkable monster, a witty woman who felt no obligation to make a single, much less a final, down payment on Love or The Family; she saw life with a bright Petronian neutrality, and every host at life's feast was a potential Trimalchio to be sent up.
- Gore Vidal
posted by Trurl
on Nov 12, 2011 -
is an exciting new international journal dedicated to literary translation and bringing together in one place the best in contemporary writing. We are interested in encounters between languages and the consequences of these encounters. Though a translation may never fully replicate the original in effect (thus our name, 'asymptote': the dotted line on a graph that a mathematical function may tend towards but never reach), it is in itself an act of creation."
posted by beshtya
on Nov 5, 2011 -
"Storytelling is inherently dangerous. Consider a traumatic event in your life. Think about how you experienced it. Now think about how you told it to someone a year later. Now think about how you told it for the hundredth time. It's not the same thing. Most people think perspective is a good thing: you can figure out characters arcs, you can apply a moral, you can tell it with understanding and context. But this perspective is a misrepresentation: it's a reconstruction with meaning, and as such bears little resemblance to the event." Charlie Kaufman: Why I Wrote Being John Malkovich. [more inside]
posted by codacorolla
on Oct 7, 2011 -
British Fantasy Award winner returns prize; Sam Stone hands back award after criticism of judging process. [The Guardian]
"Controversy has riven the 40-year-old British Fantasy Awards, with the winner of the best novel prize handing her award back just three days after it was bestowed.
But the organisation and presentation of the awards has been drawing criticism since then, culminating in Sam Stone, the winner of the best novel award – named after American writer and editor August Derleth – announcing yesterday that she is giving it back.
The biggest attack on the awards was delivered by editor and anthologist Stephen Jones, who on Tuesday posted a lengthy blog
decrying the organisation of the BFAs and making several allegations against awards co-ordinator and British Fantasy Society chairman David Howe."
posted by Fizz
on Oct 6, 2011 -
Enclyclopedia Brown is a children's fiction series written by Donald J. Sobol since 1963 and still very popular today. These are the 10 most ridiculously difficult mysteries
in the series and baffling as to how a child is supposed to be able to solve them.
posted by rozomon
on Aug 30, 2011 -
It was a beautiful day in Ponyville. The sun was shining; the birds were singing. Ponies big and small cantered throughout the town, whickering and neighing merrily as they went about their business.
Suddenly, there was a huge explosion!
“Oh my god, that was a huge explosion!” yelled Twilight Sparkle, staring in shock and horror at the massive fireball rising from the center of town. Hundreds of ponies ran screaming from the burning wreckage of the Town Hall. Some were covered in soot, and limped as they streamed past her, desperate to escape the burning hell behind them.
“Yo Twi’, you see dat shiz?” said Spike, her jive-talking baby dragon sidekick. He stood on her back, one claw wrapped in her mane while the other casually removed a set of shutter-style plastic sunglasses. You know, like the ones Kanye West is always wearing.
Michael Bay presents My Little Pony: Friendship is Magic
. (It's fanfiction, but readable without knowledge of the show or fondness for pastel-colored horses.) [more inside]
posted by JHarris
on Aug 29, 2011 -
Post A Letter Social Activity Club:
"Imagine a day when every personal e-mail you receive is in the form of a piece of mail, in envelopes of different sizes, papers of different colours and textures, handwriting of varying degrees of legibility. Wouldn’t that be pretty nice for a change?" [more inside]
posted by Fizz
on Aug 22, 2011 -
Do you have a favorite kanji character?
I like this one: 峠
because it reminds me of a poem by Christina Rossetti:
Up the airy mountain,
Down the rushy glen,
We daren’t go a-hunting
For fear of little men
(what I mean is, it’s terribly nice to have the radicals for mountain, up and down form the character).
I’m very fond of 競 because it makes me think of two men skating with their arms behind their backs in a Dutch painting, wearing black frock coats and breeches.
明 is not very exotic, of course, but it’s nice to have the word for ‘bright’ represented by the sun and moon – this is a bit like certain German words, where the elements of a phenomenon are put together for the word: there’s Morgengrauen (morning grey) for the sky lightening to grey just before dawn, and Morgenröte (morning red) for the sky when it first turns red, similar sort of thing.
with Helen DeWitt,
author of The Last Samurai
, Your Name Here
, a novel written with Ilya Gridneff,
and the forthcoming Lightning Rods.
DeWitt will be in New York September 8 - 11.
posted by xod
on Aug 19, 2011 -
A writer in Slate
examines the scientific literature for clues that will help him to write faster
posted by chrchr
on Aug 11, 2011 -
"When legal teams need to prove or disprove the authorship of key texts, they call in the forensic linguists. Scholars in the field have tackled the disputed origins of some prestigious works, from Shakespearean sonnets to the Federalist Papers."
Decoding Your E-Mail Personality
Ben Zimmer, of Language Log discusses the Facebook case and forensic linguistics
in the NY Times. [more inside]
posted by iamkimiam
on Aug 2, 2011 -