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Syfy's fine new tv show, Alphas

The joy and X-Men like appeal of the tv show Alphas.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Sep 2, 2012 - 58 comments

 

The Drowned World

J.G. Ballard and the alchemy of memory
posted by Artw on Sep 1, 2012 - 24 comments

"What could possibly be wrong with this perfectly adorable X!"

In 1972, an early version of best-selling novelist Lois Gould's X: A Fabulous Children's Story was published in Ms. Magazine as part of its monthly "Stories for Free Children" feature. In 1978 it was expanded and turned into a wildly delightful children's book with a distinctive illustration style, critiquing gender expectations in infancy and childhood. The New York Times, for which she wrote, has more about her in her obituary, while Google Preview has some history on the publication of X, now in print only as part of the 2008 anthology Tales for Little Rebels: A Collection of Radical Children's Literature.
posted by DarlingBri on Aug 23, 2012 - 6 comments

From Reddit subreddit to Amazon bestseller.

"Penpal" - from Reddit subreddit to Amazon bestseller. When Dathan Auerbach, aka 1000vultures, posted the first in a series of beautifully told tales making sense of his unsettling childhood memories on the Reddit subreddit NoSleep ["a place where people post horror stories; there, 'everything is true, even if it isn’t'"], he could have had no idea that by May of this year he would have a Kickstarter project completed and be on the Amazon bestseller lists with Penpal and a range of beautifully produced artwork. [more inside]
posted by humph on Aug 21, 2012 - 20 comments

“You’re maybe going to take this journey with me for a spell, People aren’t stones.”

"... That’s the way with epiphanies: You can’t know in advance what they’ll be. Even me. I can see them coming, but I can’t understand something until I understand it.”
T he man who can see the future has a date with the woman who can see many possible futures.
posted by divabat on Aug 9, 2012 - 21 comments

Peter Cheyney, and the strange adventure of Lemmy Caution

Peter Cheyney was a prolific author of pulp thrillers, whose tin-eared appropriations of American hard-boiled detective fiction were nevertheless wildly popular in Britain and France in his mid-20th-century heyday. Among his creations were the cynical British detective Slim Callaghan; the debonair Belgian assassin Ernest Guelvada (one of the lead characters in the so-called ‘Dark’ series of spy novels), and the oddly-named, trenchcoat-wearing FBI tough-guy Lemmy Caution, played on-screen in a series of French movies by the American-born actor & singer Eddie Constantine, a role he would later reprise to striking effect in Jean-Luc Godard’s 1965 movie Alphaville.
posted by misteraitch on Aug 1, 2012 - 13 comments

James Salter's "A Sport and a Pastime"

James Salter's A Sport and a Pastime is one of those very rare novels that seems not so much to have been written as discovered. At its heart is a love story, an encounter, that transforms its relatively ordinary protagonists into beings around whom the entire cosmos shapes itself. The love story is delicate and ephemeral, put together out of bits and pieces, like a bird's nest. The vulnerable lovers tremble, in the most mundane circumstances, on the edge of catastrophe. Simply the way one of them moves across the room to meet the other seems miraculous and hazardous. Were they to become aware of themselves everything would be lost. But there is no danger of that. Oblivious, they tiptoe on a precipice. They do not and cannot know that their innocence cloaks them in a kind of divinity and infallibility. Actions and attitudes we expect to bring them down don't. They do things that seem so perfect, so poignant, without knowing they are doing anything at all. They arc beautifully across our path, and then vanish. - Michael Doliner (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen on Jul 31, 2012 - 8 comments

"Corn liquor by moonlight in a deserted aviation field in Alabama."

Last week, the New Yorker published a (previously rejected) F. Scott Fitzgerald short story, "Thank You for the Light", written in 1936. The magazine has also made available "A Short Autobiography," in which Fitzgerald gave a chronology of his life in terms of alcoholic beverages imbibed. [more inside]
posted by obscurator on Jul 31, 2012 - 16 comments

Neverending stories

Four Micro-Essays on League of Extraordinary Gentlemen: 2009 (contains spoilers), a look at the concluding part of Alan Moore and Kevin O'Neill's 3 part LoEG: Century series in which the league face off against a headline grabbing villain (extreme spoiler warning) and which spookily presaged some of last nights Olympic opening. Previous Moore and O'Neill. Obligatory annotations from Jess Nevins.
posted by Artw on Jul 28, 2012 - 37 comments

"Because we’re a smaller outfit, we can take some risks—find authors and manuscripts that are trying to move the genre forward."

ChiZine Publications (CZP) is an independent Toronto-based book publisher that is single-handedly changing the face of genre fiction in Canada. Though CZP was founded just four years ago and put out just twelve books per year, they are responsible for four of the six nominees for the the 2012 Best Novel Prix Aurora (Canada's highest honour in genre fiction). CZP grew out of the self-styled "dark fiction" 'zine The Chiaroscuro which has been publishing free genre fiction online since 1997. Their most recent release is David Nickle's tale of cold war psionic operatives gone rogue, Rasputin's Bastards.
posted by 256 on Jul 19, 2012 - 6 comments

Erotic classics

"Explosive sex with Mr Rochester," anyone? A publisher decides to add more sex to Jane Eyre and other classics.
posted by anothermug on Jul 18, 2012 - 83 comments

Safari

Jennifer Egan's short story Safari can be read at NewYorker.com (~6600 words), or can be read to you in a wonderful performance by Hope Davis (59:00). Jennifer Egan previously.
posted by davidjmcgee on Jul 16, 2012 - 20 comments

Lee Child on writing rules

Break common writing rules, Lee Child says. The author of the Jack Reacher thrillers tells us to ignore that advice about "Show, don't tell." [more inside]
posted by BibiRose on Jul 13, 2012 - 98 comments

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury

Letter from the Pulitzer Fiction Jury: What Really Happened This Year. Michael Cunningham on what it was like to serve on the fiction jury for the 2012 Pulitzer Prize, when no prize was awarded. Part 2. (Previously.)
posted by OmieWise on Jul 12, 2012 - 63 comments

Could the SHIELD Hellicarrier actually fly?

Could the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier from The Avengers movie actually fly? Last link does the math and has homework.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Jul 10, 2012 - 58 comments

I prefer a ruin to a monument.

A liquor store in Amsterdam. A veteran in Bagdad. A family in Rome. A WWII veterans memorial in Berlin. A house in Oxford. Edouard Levé photographed towns in the United States that shared names with famous cities. He photographed fully-clothed actors reenacting scenes from rugby and pornography [nsfw]. He also wrote some novels, influenced by Oulipo. Autoportrait, describes his life in 120 pages of unordered vignettes and brief, declarative sentences—"The girl whom I loved the most left me. [...] I am uneasy in rooms with small windows." and so on. His fourth novel, Suicide, is a one-sided conversation between an anonymous narrator ("I") and his friend ("you"), who committed suicide twenty years ago. It's a painfully intimate meditation on the act and its fallout on its own merits—"Your life was hypothesis. Those who die old are made of the past. Thinking of them, one thinks of what they have done. Thinking of you, one thinks of what you could have become. You were, and you will remain, made up of possibilities."—but few will read Suicide unburdened with the knowledge that Edouard Levé killed himself several days after completing it, at the age of 47. [more inside]
posted by spanishbombs on Jul 7, 2012 - 7 comments

The frantic career of the eyes

Picturing Books: What do we see when we read? (Other than words on a page.) What do we picture in our minds? A consideration by Knopf's senior designer Peter Mendulsund. [more inside]
posted by shakespeherian on Jun 27, 2012 - 22 comments

Author interviews

"Book TV's After Words features the author of a recently published hardback non-fiction book interviewed by a guest host with some knowledge, background, or connection to the subject matter of the book." There's also a podcast version (link goes to XML feed), for those who'd rather listen. Many more non-fiction author interviews can be found at Booknotes (transcripts and streaming video). If your tastes run to interviews with authors of fiction, check out the BBC's Modern Writers archive. (BookTV (but not specifically After Words) previously, Booknotes (but before the series ended) previously.)
posted by cog_nate on Jun 22, 2012 - 7 comments

This is my book. There are many like it, but this is mine.

In 1989 the Japanese Government passed the Media Betterment Act, permitting censorship of any media deemed to be harmful to society. On the basis of the imperative for libraries to resist any attempts at suppression of free speech, local governments created an armed resistance force to combat censorship. The conflict between the government and library forces continues to 2019, where the story of Library War begins. [more inside]
posted by 23 on Jun 15, 2012 - 12 comments

Gingerbread House

"There was a time when the woods near Duva ate girls. It’s been many years since any child was taken. But still, on nights like these, when the wind comes cold from Tsibeya, mothers hold their daughters tight and warn them not to stray too far from home. “Be back before dark,” they whisper. “The trees are hungry tonight.” Tor.com brings us some short horror/fairy tale fiction from Leigh Bardugo, "The Witch of Duva: A Ravkan Folk Tale."
posted by The Whelk on Jun 8, 2012 - 29 comments

Language of Origin

"You are a junior spelling champion. Your parents have been teaching you at home since you were four." Bee: a choose-your-own-bittersweet-coming-of-age novella by Emily Short. [more inside]
posted by Iridic on Jun 5, 2012 - 36 comments

Life in the mist

Tove Jansson's short stories about artistic creation are often chillingly cold. The artists she portrays have become lost in their isolated solitude, their creativity, which shuts other people out. Portraits of such loneliness are drawn in three short stories in the collection Lyssnerskan ('The listener', 1971), 'Ekorren' ('The squirrel'), 'Svart & vitt' ('Black & white') and 'Vargen' ('The wolf’), which probably frightened many readers - particularly those who knew and loved her Moomin books - away from Jansson's work. In their cosmos, warmth is unknown; their landscapes are frozen, just like the people who seek expression for their artistic dreams. [more inside]
posted by smcg on May 31, 2012 - 19 comments

Stan's Report

Stan's Report (a short story). Stan waited for me to ask him a question, hoping to tease some curiosity out of me, I suppose, though I don’t want to make assumptions about Stan’s intentions. Whatever his intent, I chose not to ask anything about it, not wanting to start my thinking down that road. It wouldn’t have been fair to B. to talk about him and what he said or meant since he wasn’t there to defend himself or to amend the tone or the full context. I preferred to turn my attention to my e-mail, but I didn’t want to ignore Stan or imply that I disapproved of his interest in sharing his news with me. He had a right to say whatever he wanted and it was up to me to choose how I’d deal with it.
posted by shivohum on May 27, 2012 - 24 comments

I just wanted us to be safe

Spoiler.

The zombie apocalypse happened -- and we won.

But though society has recovered, the threat of infection is always there -- and Los Angeles coroner Tommy Rossman is the man they call when things go wrong.
posted by Drexen on May 27, 2012 - 44 comments

Can You Jam With The Console Cowboys In Cyberspace?

Around 1992 Mondo 2000 magazine asked: "R.U A Cyperpunk?"
posted by The Whelk on May 24, 2012 - 123 comments

Where Do We Go From Here?

SF author and Mefi's Own Charles Stross talks about the future of "big idea" Science Fiction: If SF's core message (to the extent that it ever had one) is obsolete, what do we do next?
posted by The Whelk on May 23, 2012 - 71 comments

On Why Soup Is So Bad for Diurnal Rhythms

On Why Soup Is So Bad for Diurnal Rhythms: “Certainly. Carrot soup mimetically resembles a carrot only in color.” John was worried by the mainstream diet of soup. Not only is frantic chewing part of the joy of feeding, but widespread and protracted ingestion with minimal effort could derail diurnal cycles. Originally food was partly invented for sustenance, and partly to pass time and to mark it, and so John, in any given day, would scrupulously observe all nine meals: an early breakfast on rising; a second breakfast, in the German tradition, as rumbling recurred around nine; brunch, closely followed by elevensies, or vice versa if you favor Bohr’s algorithm; lunch; tiffin at four, with the focus on small savory sandwiches rather than cake, to avoid a mid-afternoon sugar coma; dinner; supper, and, of course, a final midnight feast to salute the day as it retires. Each meal consists of one, two, or three courses, plus intercourses where appropriate, and the main cycle might be accessorized with any number of subcycles of casual snacking.
posted by shivohum on May 22, 2012 - 33 comments

The Man Who Thought He Was King

"I want to know how I am a small press, if I am outselling Robin Hobb and Terry Goodkind and Tolkien?" Fantasy author M.R. Mathias has a disagreement with Fantasy-Faction.com.
posted by Avenger50 on May 21, 2012 - 68 comments

James Joyce's "Finnegans Wake"

simply read Finnegans Wake. Since it is said to make more sense when recited aloud, you could start with this recording of James Joyce performing a passage from the "Anna Livia Plurabelle" section - which has been described as "one of the most beautiful prose-poems in English". [more inside]
posted by Trurl on May 18, 2012 - 40 comments

"The beauty of [science fiction] is—the whole point of it is—that humans are the same."

Each morning at 9am for the next two weeks, (Mefi's Own) scifi and fantasy author John Scalzi will be chatting with musician Jonathan Coulton about one of his science fiction songs -- a different song each morning, -- in a daily podcast over at Tor.com called Journey to Planet JoCo. Series index. On May 29th, they'll be premiering a brand new, previously unheard Coulton song.
posted by zarq on May 17, 2012 - 3 comments

Player of Games

Iain M. Banks talks about his favorite games.
posted by Artw on May 9, 2012 - 72 comments

O'Sullivan: Master of the Fallen Years

"As the Nazis approached Paris, the American Colony broke camp & abandoned the city like rats from a sinking ship. Behind them they left a frail, elderly, impoverished, homeless Irish-American who, as a young man, had been an heir to wealth, a close friend to Beardsley & Wilde, & the only important American in the 1890s Aesthetic movement of England & France. He was Vincent O'Sullivan, one of the world's great authors of horror fiction..." [more inside]
posted by Iridic on May 7, 2012 - 9 comments

“How do you know the moment when you cease to be human?"

We are the artistically creative authors of the truths we live by. We must then, if we are honest, live more tentatively in relation to the security and consistency we achieve through language. The effect of this conclusion, at least for me, at least most of the time, is bracing.

It is not bracing for everyone.


Scott Abbott examines the violent, funny, and philosophically distressing fictions of Brian Evenson, one of our most accomplished dark fantasists and genre-bending authors. [more inside]
posted by Idler King on May 2, 2012 - 6 comments

It's a good life

"It's a Good Life" is a 1953 story by Jerome Bixby, who also wrote It! The Terror From Beyond Space, said to be the inspiration for Alien, and the Star Trek episode "Mirror, Mirror" (the one with evil bearded Spock.) It was made into a famous Twilight Zone episode, and is generally considered among the greatest SF stories ever written. Is "It's a Good Life" about God? Communism? 1950s suburban conformity? Or just about the horror of the self-contained world it creates in its few pages and the terrible realization that it would be possible to survive inside it, for a while?
posted by escabeche on May 1, 2012 - 106 comments

Why fiction is good for you

Why fiction, even trashy TV, is good for you, by Jonathan Gottschall related to the book The Storytelling Animal: How Stories Make Us Human (book trailers), more at Scientific American, and a video presentation (6-min).
posted by stbalbach on Apr 30, 2012 - 10 comments

Hand On The Shoulder

Hand On The Shoulder, a short story by Ian McEwan. My name is Serena Frome (rhymes with "plume"), and forty years ago, in my final year at Cambridge, I was recruited by the British security service.
posted by shivohum on Apr 23, 2012 - 17 comments

"...information based in part on theory and conjecture."

In 1973 and 1975, two one-hour television documentaries aired in the US: In Search of Ancient Astronauts (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6) and In Search of Ancient Mysteries (Parts: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6). The same producers also put out The Outer Space Connection (Parts 1 and 2) in 1975. All were narrated by Twilight Zone's Rod Serling. In 1976 a series was developed. Since Serling had passed away in 1975, popular actor Leonard Nimoy was chosen as host. In Search of... ran for six seasons, from 1976 - 1982, and was devoted to discussing unusual mysteries and phenomena. All 144 episodes can be seen on YouTube. Playlists: Seasons 1 and 2. Seasons 3 and 4. Seasons 5 and 6.
posted by zarq on Apr 23, 2012 - 51 comments

Marcel Proust's "A La Recherche Du Temps Perdu"

"The Threat to Proust" by Roger Shattuck: When Proust’s novel fell into the public domain in 1987, three Paris publishing houses were ready with new editions that had been in preparation for several years. They all carry the same basic 3,000-page text with few variations. The differences lie in packaging and presentation. Laffont-Bouquins chose to publish three fat volumes prefaced by elaborate historical and biographical materials. Garnier-Flammarion produced ten pocket-sized volumes competently edited by Jean Milly. The new Pléiade edition, published by the original copyright holder, Gallimard, made the boldest, most ambitious, and most expensive bid to claim the market. In a combination of editorial, literary, and commercial decisions, Gallimard proposed to influence the way we read Proust and, to some degree, the way we approach all great literary works. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Apr 19, 2012 - 32 comments

Leggete Nanni Balestrini

"An imprecation to read an avant-garde novelist is not something you often see written in spray-paint". And why should we pay attention? Because it "will fill your spine with gunpowder and light a match in your brain". Verso republishes Nanni Balestrini's The Unseen (with a brand new foreword by Antonio Negri), an epic monument to the struggle of the Italian Autonomia movement of the 1970s.
posted by hydatius on Apr 17, 2012 - 23 comments

Guess who won the 2012 Pulitzer for Fiction.

Guess who won the 2012 Pulitzer for Fiction. Nobody. Finalists Nominated as finalists in this category were: "Train Dreams," by Denis Johnson (Farrar, Straus and Giroux), a novella about a day laborer in the old American West, bearing witness to terrors and glories with compassionate, heartbreaking calm; "Swamplandia!" by Karen Russell (Alfred A. Knopf), an adventure tale about an eccentric family adrift in its failing alligator-wrestling theme park, told by a 13-year-old heroine wise beyond her years; and "The Pale King," by the late David Foster Wallace (Little, Brown and Company), a posthumously completed novel, animated by grand ambition, that explores boredom and bureaucracy in the American workplace.
posted by kenaldo on Apr 16, 2012 - 85 comments

CRASH AND BURN

The Onion's AV Club Asks: Just How Prescient Was Hackers Anyway?
posted by The Whelk on Apr 13, 2012 - 111 comments

Just sit right back and you'll hear a tale...

In 1984, The Voyage of the Mimi set sail on PBS, exploring the ocean off the coast of Massachusetts to study humpback whales. The educational series was made up of thirteen episodes intended to teach middle schoolers about science and math. The first fifteen minutes of each episode were a fictional adventure starring a young Ben Affleck. The second 15 minutes were an "expedition documentary" that would explore the scientific concepts behind the show's plot points. A sequel with the same format, The Second Voyage of the Mimi aired in 1988, and featured the crew of the Mimi exploring Mayan ruins in Mexico. [more inside]
posted by zarq on Apr 9, 2012 - 36 comments

"Perhaps in American cinema, women have typically been reduced to types like mom, girlfriend, or victim. But in the Y.A. books of our youth, they are far more complex, and more thoroughly drawn."

'The Atlantic Wire' kicks off its new YA For Grownups series with The Greatest Girl Characters of Young Adult Literature.
posted by box on Apr 9, 2012 - 54 comments

Say It With Safty Pins

The SAFETY PIN REVIEW is a new, weekly literary magazine featuring fiction of less than 30 words, with a major D.I.Y. twist: in addition to being published online, each story is hand-painted onto a cloth back patch, which is attached (via safety pins) to one of our operatives—a collective network of authors, punks, thieves and anarchists—who wear it everywhere they go for a week. [more inside]
posted by Sailormom on Apr 6, 2012 - 23 comments

"Science fiction is, after all, the art of extrapolation." ~ Michael Dirda

Daily Science Fiction: Original Science Fiction and Fantasy every weekday. Welcome to Daily Science Fiction, an online magazine of science fiction short stories. We publish "science fiction" in the broad sense of the word: This includes sci-fi, fantasy, slipstream—whatever you'd likely find in the science fiction section of your local bookstore. Our stories are mostly short short fiction each Monday through Thursday, hopefully the right length to read on a coffee break, over lunch, or as a bedtime tale. Friday's weekend stories are longer.
posted by Fizz on Apr 2, 2012 - 18 comments

Louise Fitzhugh's "Harriet the Spy"

In December 1974, there was a memorial service at St. James Episcopal Church on Madison Avenue for Louise Fitzhugh, author and illustrator of Harriet the Spy, the groundbreaking children's novel that has sold 2.5 million copies since its publication in 1964. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Mar 26, 2012 - 45 comments

What will be the next possible trend in Dystopian Literature? Robotics? Climate change? Insect overlords?

The Dystopian Timeline to The Hunger Games [INFOGRAPHIC] .
posted by Fizz on Mar 24, 2012 - 91 comments

... because reality won’t cut it, isn’t outrageous enough, we must sex up the story for it to get any traction, and it must get traction, it MUST.

The Jimmy McNulty Gambit: Joseph Kony, Foxconn, and "The Wire" [more inside]
posted by OverlappingElvis on Mar 20, 2012 - 48 comments

The wizard under the hill

Alan Garner's Weirdstone of Brisingamen trilogy is to be concluded with Boneland, over 50 years after it started.
posted by Artw on Mar 16, 2012 - 30 comments

Yes, but do they have a secret plan to fight inflation?

"It’s been nearly 6 years since the series finale of The West Wing, and more than 12 since the one-hour drama, which [Aaron] Sorkin created and largely wrote, first walked and talked its way through NBC’s Wednesday-night lineup; and yet you might think the series never ended, given the currency it still seems to enjoy in Washington, the frequency with which it comes up in D.C. conversations and is quoted or referenced on political blogs. In part this is because the smart, nerdy—they might prefer “precocious”—kids who grew up in the early part of the last decade worshipping the cool, technocratic charm of Sorkin’s characters have today matured into the young policy prodigies and press operatives who advise, brief, and excuse the behavior of the most powerful people in the country."
posted by zarq on Mar 11, 2012 - 134 comments

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