Friendship is Optimal
is not a "My Little Pony" fanfic, but a SF story that starts with a procedurally-generated MLP MMO, and crescendos to what could very well be the Best Possible Outcome if self-optimizing algorithms are given /almost/ the right goals.
Some readers are horrified by the implications; some want to move into "Equestria Online" anyway. Whichever camp you fall in, you'll never forget the phrase "satisfy human values through friendship and ponies".
posted by DataPacRat
on Nov 28, 2012 -
Just when you thought it was safe to open a book... it's the Literary Review's annual Bad Sex Award
) This year's nominees include works by Tom Wolfe
, Ben Masters
, Nicola Barker
, Paul Mason
, Nancy Huston
, Craig Raine
, Nicholas Coleridge
, and Sam Mills
. Not on the list? J.K. Rowling's The Casual Vacancy
--despite "a couple of queasy moments," in the words
of TLR senior editor Jonathan Beckman--and E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey, since the award "is not intended to cover pornographic or expressly erotic literature." Snippets from the nominated books can be found at the Guardian link.
posted by Cash4Lead
on Nov 21, 2012 -
... [Thomas] Ligotti's stories tend to have a profound emotional impact. His vision is exceedingly dark, and it is possible for his stories to infect the reader with a mild-to-severe case of depression. It is even possible for them to effect a change in the reader's self-perception and view of the universe. This warning is not meant to be sensationalistic, nor is it meant to turn new readers away. It is simply a statement of fact based upon the experiences of actual readers. Ligotti writes about the darkest of themes with an amazing power, and he means what he says. Often his stories seem to communicate a message below their surface, a sort of subliminal statement that should not rightly be able to traverse the barrier of verbal language.
- Matt Cardin (previously) [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Nov 15, 2012 -
Readers of literature from "small" languages treasure their translators, who are rarely recognized and poorly compensated for their months and sometimes years of lonely labor.
Two of the best translators from Czech died in the last month or so. Michael Heim
translated not only from Czech but also Russian
, Croatian, Serbian
, German, French and Dutch. Less well-known and less polyglotish, Peter Kussi
translated Milan Kundera
as well as Jiri Grusa
, Karel Capek
, Josef Skvorecky
, Bohumil Hrabal
and others whose works might otherwise be lost to English readers. [more inside]
posted by RandlePatrickMcMurphy
on Nov 12, 2012 -
"You sit down and pull the visor over your head. The visor interior is soft and enveloping. You squeeze the drip tube between your teeth and sickly sweet fluid floods your mouth. Pulses fire into your retinas." howling dogs
is a work of interactive fiction by game designer Porpentine
. It is a strange story about a person who lives in a cell and imagines strange scenes for a living. Endorsed by Emily Short
, and made with Twine
. Takes about 10 to 15 minutes with multiple endings. Via.
posted by codacorolla
on Nov 9, 2012 -
A small piece of Truman Capote’s famously unfinished novel Answered Prayers has come to light. The six-page story, “Yachts and Things,” found among Capote’s papers in the Manuscripts and Archives Division of the New York Public Library, is published in the December issue of Vanity Fair, out now in New York and nationally next week. The story will be available online in mid-November. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Nov 1, 2012 -
She sat zazen, concentrating on not concentrating, until it was time to prepare for the appointment. Sitting seemed to produce the usual serenity, put everything in perspective. Her hand did not tremble as she applied her make-up; tranquil features looked back at her from the mirror. She was mildly surprised, in fact, at just how calm she was, until she got out of the hotel elevator at the garage level and the mugger made his play. She killed him instead of disabling him. Which was obviously not a measured, balanced action--the official fuss and paperwork could make her late. Annoyed at herself, she stuffed the corpse under a shiny new Westinghouse roadable whose owner she knew to be in Luna, and continued on to her own car. This would have to be squared later, and it would cost. No help for it--she fought to regain at least the semblance of tranquillity as her car emerged from the garage and turned north. Nothing must interfere with this meeting, or with her role in it. "Melancholy Elephants,"
an enthralling, Hugo Award-winning short story by Spider Robinson about a disciplined operative, a powerful senator, and a crucial mission to preserve humanity's most precious resource. (some spoilers inside) [more inside]
posted by Rhaomi
on Oct 27, 2012 -
The universe (which others call The Twitter) is composed of every word
in the English language; Shakespeare's folios
, line-by-line-by-line; the Exegesis of Philip K. Dick
, exploded; Constantine XI
, in 140 character chunks; Sun Tzu's Art of War
, in its entirety; the chapter headings of JG Ballard
, in abundance; and definitive discographies
of Every. Artist. Ever...
All this, I repeat
, is true, but one hundred forty characters of inalterable wwwtext
cannot correspond to any language, no matter how dialectical or rudimentary it may be. [more inside]
posted by 0bvious
on Oct 27, 2012 -
wrote some of the best ghost stories of the last fifty years. He also edited one of the finest genre anthology series of his time: The Fontana Book of Great Ghost Stories
. Between 1964 and 1972, he curated eight volumes of horror fiction without repeating an author, favoring always the subtle, the psychological, the poetic, the rare, the neglected. 59 of his selections can be found online. [more inside]
posted by Iridic
on Oct 25, 2012 -
On the day he turned thirty-eight, Michel Eyquem de Montaigne
retired from public life to the tower of the Château de Montaigne
, there to spend the next ten years composing an assay
of his life's experience. That his mind might thrive, he turned the tower into a "Solitarium"
and its top floor into a sumptuous library
, lining its round walls with some 1,500 books
. Even the roof beams were made to bear his thoughts: on them he inscribed 46 quotations, here
collected and translated.
posted by Iridic
on Oct 11, 2012 -
Tapes on Books:
Mixtape soundtracks for beloved classics. Some obvious ("Runaway" by Del Shannon for Ralph Macchio's escape after stabbing Johnny Cade in The Outsiders
), some clever ("If You Got the Money" by Lefty Frizzell as Daisy Buchanan's theme song in The Great Gatsby
), with witty rationales throughout ("If Sauron's evil flaming eye was actually a evil flaming mouth, then it would sing with Lemmy’s voice").
posted by goatdog
on Oct 4, 2012 -
. "I hope you may enjoy these glimpses at some of the long-gone poets and literary figures, etc., in the form of scratchy old movies, as if they had been filmed by candle light."
posted by Iridic
on Sep 20, 2012 -
In [a series of notes to Noel Moore, the oft-sickly son of her former governess], Potter punctuates her words with small, sweet illustrations: 'I have come a very long way in a puff-puff …' (next to a train), a straightforward, 'Here are some rabbits throwing snow balls,' and, of course, Peter’s debut in a special dispatch from 1893.
- Beatrix Potter’s Picture Letters, The Birthplace Of Peter Rabbit [more inside]
posted by SugarAndSass
on Sep 10, 2012 -
An “Infinite Jest” atlas.
The Infinite Atlas Project is an independent research and art project seeking to identify, place and describe every possible location in David Foster Wallace's Infinite Jest. The project includes: Infinite Map
- a cartographic infographic poster identifying 250 of the most interesting locations from the novel. Infinite Boston
-a ruminative travelogue and photographic tour of key locations in and around Boston, Massachusetts. [Previously]
posted by Fizz
on Sep 7, 2012 -
Cynthia Ozick on Henry James: The Lesson of the Master: ...in earlier days I felt I had been betrayed by Henry James. I was like the youthful writer in “The Lesson of the Master” who believed in the Master’s call to live immaculately, unspoiled by what we mean when we say “life”—relationship, family mess, distraction, exhaustion, anxiety, above all disappointment.
posted by shivohum
on Aug 21, 2012 -
Akhmatova's work ranges from short lyric poems to intricately structured cycles, such as Requiem (1935–40), her tragic masterpiece about the Stalinist terror. Her style, characterised by its economy and emotional restraint, was strikingly original and distinctive to her contemporaries. The strong and clear leading female voice struck a new chord in Russian poetry. Her writing can be said to fall into two periods – the early work (1912–25) and her later work (from around 1936 until her death), divided by a decade of reduced literary output. Her work was condemned and censored by Stalinist authorities and she is notable for choosing not to emigrate, and remaining in Russia, acting as witness to the atrocities around her. [more inside]
posted by Egg Shen
on Aug 20, 2012 -