You invest so much in it, don't you? It's what elevates you above the beasts of the field, it's what makes you special. Homo sapiens, you call yourself. Wise Man. Do you even know what it is, this consciousness you cite in your own exaltation? Do you even know what it's for?Dr. Peter Watts is no stranger to MetaFilter. But look past his sardonic nuptials, heartbreaking eulogies, and agonizing run-ins with fascists (and fasciitis) and you'll find one of the most brilliant, compelling, and disquieting science fiction authors at work today. A marine biologist skilled at deep background research, his acclaimed 2006 novel Blindsight [full text] -- a cerebral "first contact" tale led by a diverse crew of bleeding-edge post-humans -- is diamond-hard and deeply horrifying, wringing profound existential dread from such abstruse concepts as the Chinese Room, the Philosophical Zombie, Chernoff faces, and the myriad quirks and blind spots that haunt the human mind. But Blindsight's last, shattering insight is not the end of the story -- along with crew/ship/"Firefall" notes, a blackly funny in-universe lecture on resurrecting sociopathic vampirism (PDF - prev.), and a rigorously-cited (and spoiler-laden) reference section, tomorrow will see the release of
SCENE I.[more inside]
An Anti-Chamber in the Palace.
Enter RIGDUM-FUNNIDOS and ALDIBORONTIPHOSCOPHORNIO, courtiers.
Where left you Chrononhotonthologos?
Lately, I've had some doubts about the level of discourse here on Metafilter. To remedy the situation, here is that great American essayist and thinker, Mr. Edgar Allan Poe, on diddling. [more inside]
What If Other Authors Had Written The Lord Of The Rings?...Wilde, Wodehouse, and more.
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
In the summer of 1897, the Devil transported a minor Decadent poet named Enoch Soames one hundred years into the future to see what posterity would make of his work. The only witness to the affair was the parodist Max Beerbohm, whose account of Soames and his journey ensured that at 2:10 P.M. on June 7, 1997, some dozen pilgrims waited in the Round Reading Room of the British Museum to see the poet appear...
"And, why," Lucy says, "a lamp post!" The lamp post shines like a monument to industry.Aslan Shrugged 1 2 3 4 [via a review of Atlas Shrugged in The Valve]
The Saint Turned Sinner, or the Dissenting Parson's Text Under the Quaker's Petticoats - the bawdy tale of "A Gospel Cushion thumper, who dearly loved a Bumper," from Blackletter Ballads, a small but fine collection of ballads with themes ranging from cutpurses to kings, all gleaned from 17th century broadsheets.
The literary voice of our generation...err...of his generation...umm...of your generation?