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Deus Est Machina

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 - 39 comments

Save as new

Matthew Kirschenbaum, an English professor at the University of Maryland, is exploring the literary history of word processing. In a lecture at the New York Public Library entitled Stephen King's Wang, Kirschenbaum asks "When did literary writers begin using word processors? Who were the early adopters? How did the technology change their relation to their craft? Was the computer just a better typewriter, or was it something more?"
posted by Horace Rumpole on Dec 27, 2011 - 41 comments

The Year in Writing

The Browser 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 - 20 comments

Lists are the curse of the age.

Fifty things I've learned about the literary life
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Dec 20, 2011 - 63 comments

There is a pulse

The Eye That Never Blinks -- Internet Obsession [more inside]
posted by Potomac Avenue on Dec 19, 2011 - 16 comments

Never go with a cultist to a second location

Alan Moore talks about HP Lovecraft, The Courtyard and Neonomicon (audio)
posted by Artw on Dec 17, 2011 - 39 comments

MURDER METHOD FOR VILLAIN TO USE: _SCORPIONS_

Want to write a pulp novel full of two fisted tales of action and adventure in the mode of Doc Savage but don't know where to start? You need the Lester Dent Pulp Paper Master Fiction Plot! "No yarn of mine written to the formula has yet failed to sell."
posted by Artw on Dec 15, 2011 - 37 comments

Elias Canetti

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 - 13 comments

John Updike's book reviews

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 - 6 comments

JJS the new DFW

John Jeremiah Sullivan is the working writer most frequently compared to David Foster Wallace (he's also sometimes compared to a young Tom Wolfe). He has a new essay collection out, and many of its pieces are available online (see inside). [more inside]
posted by AceRock on Dec 11, 2011 - 35 comments

“This is not a definition, it is not true—and, therefore, your questions do not make sense.”

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 - 55 comments

This is the Classical

Kickstarter-funded sports site The Classical launched over the weekend. [more inside]
posted by troika on Dec 5, 2011 - 14 comments

Kitty Lit 101

Comediva is having a Cat Week, and one of the features is "Kitty Lit 101".
posted by reenum on Dec 4, 2011 - 9 comments

"Science writing tackles big ideas, important issues. It’s ambitious, creative, hard to do—yet utterly compelling."

SCOPE is the all-online student publication for MIT's Graduate Program in Science Writing. [more inside]
posted by kagredon on Dec 3, 2011 - 4 comments

Beattitudes

The Nation's William Deresiewicz looks at Ann Beattie's evolution as a writer.
posted by reenum on Nov 28, 2011 - 5 comments

Animals Talking in All Caps

Sometimes animals talk in ALL CAPS. [more inside]
posted by pts on Nov 28, 2011 - 49 comments

"The blonde hadn't showed. She was smarter than I thought. I went outside to poison myself, with cigarettes and whisky."

Reader, I marinated it. [independent.co.uk] What if Virginia Woolf, Geoffrey Chaucer or Raymond Chandler had turned their talents to food writing? Mark Crick imagines the contents of the celebrity cookbooks of yesteryear.
posted by Fizz on Nov 28, 2011 - 26 comments

Oh sugar!

It's that time of year again... the contenders for the Literary Review Bad Sex Award have been announced. [more inside]
posted by fearfulsymmetry on Nov 25, 2011 - 44 comments

The Open Notebook

The Open Notebook looks at how science writers, and some general nonfiction writers, practice their craft. Their Story-Behind-the-Story interviews are especially interesting, showing how projects like Rebecca Skloot's The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks and David Dobbs Atavist story "My Mother's Lover" developed from start to finish. For writers, there's also a database of successful story pitches.
posted by gottabefunky on Nov 23, 2011 - 3 comments

Anne McCaffrey, 1926-2011

Anne McCaffrey, author of Dragonriders of Pern, the first woman to win a Hugo award, is reported dead.
posted by Zarkonnen on Nov 22, 2011 - 222 comments

Before you ask, no, it's not eponysterical.

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. [...]

'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.
Shakespeare and Verdi in the Theater.
posted by shakespeherian on Nov 18, 2011 - 48 comments

Meme Weaver

Meme Weaver 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 - 7 comments

written? kitten!

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 - 51 comments

Dawn Powell

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 - 38 comments

Shapecatcher: draw to explore Unicode characters

Shapecatcher let's you draw a picture to find the matching Unicode characters. via
posted by Foci for Analysis on Nov 11, 2011 - 33 comments

Stories made from: microspores, fog maps, infected bass samples, mathematics, patterns of decay, broken machines, blood, code bugs…

Sparkletown, the twitter stories of Jeff Noon.
posted by Artw on Nov 10, 2011 - 19 comments

Career assassination

Q.R. Markham's just-published Assassin of Secrets, hailed as an "instant classic" by at least one blurber, has been withdrawn by its publisher. Why? Extensive plagiarism. The author who blurbed the book explains how he was duped.
posted by mothershock on Nov 8, 2011 - 87 comments

Ashes to Ashes

"See, lots of people love comics. Lots of people make comics. Most of us aren’t included in the mainstream. Now with our own books, we can reach a far broader audience than capes comics or art/autobiographical comics can." Comics creator Alex de Campi talks about digital comics, the realities of funding indie comics, and bypassing the mainstream - finding the Self-Publishing Holy Grail. De Campi is not new to digital comics, and has written at length about the nuts and bolts of publishing a story in a dizzying array of languages and formats. She is now using crowdfunding to publish Ashes, the follow-up to her Eisner nominated graphic novel Smoke.
posted by Artw on Nov 8, 2011 - 9 comments

Asymptote Journal

"Asymptote 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 - 12 comments

On Handwriting.

Ann Wroe takes some time from her day job as The Economist's obituaries editor to write about handwriting.
posted by WalterMitty on Oct 28, 2011 - 59 comments

You’ve probably read all the stories you ever want to about killer sows from outer space, but mine is a little different …

The Sobering Saga of Myrtle the Manuscript. A cautionary tale.
posted by Think_Long on Oct 19, 2011 - 10 comments

"Big Bang" in Belarus

Watched every episode of the "Big Bang Theory" and still want more? There's always Belarus's unauthorized copy of the show, titled "The Theorists".
posted by reenum on Oct 13, 2011 - 94 comments

Emma Frost can be a problem

The results of the Women Working in Comics survey are in. Meanwhile Comics Alliance has asked creators how comics can do better at female characters. (previously, previously)
posted by Artw on Oct 13, 2011 - 71 comments

Well, sure, it's all downhill that way

"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 - 47 comments

"Even if you ignore the embarrassing ceremony and clichéd platitudes, few of these awards actually reflected genuine quality or what is happening in mainstream genre publishing today."

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 - 27 comments

What happened to hypertext fiction?

What happened to hypertext fiction?
posted by Trurl on Oct 5, 2011 - 51 comments

Top ten American columns in history

John Avlon, senior political columnist for Newsweek-The Daily Beast, created an informal poll listing 15 historically vital columns, basing the sample on research for his new book, Deadline Artists: America’s Greatest Newspaper Columns. He passed the list around the National Society of Newspaper Columnists, and they and a public poll on their web site ranked the top 10. The winner was Ernie Pyle's The Death of Captain Waskow. All 15 columns are available for download in a PDF file.
posted by Harald74 on Oct 5, 2011 - 16 comments

Phil Collins' solo efforts seem to be more commercial and therefore more satisfying in a narrower way, especially No Jacket Required and songs like "In the Air Tonight" and "Against All Odds"

"Patrick Bateman was me. I was Patrick Bateman…" - Bret Easton Ellis interviewed.
posted by Artw on Oct 4, 2011 - 151 comments

Bioshock

Scientist and Science Fiction author Joan Slonczewski, author of A Door Into The Ocean, guest blogs about science fictional and microbiology on Charles Stross's site: Salt Beings, Microbes grow the starship, Synthetic Babies
posted by Artw on Sep 30, 2011 - 13 comments

Use the hints. Find me!

A playful mystery has been unfolding in Atlanta for a few months now, and has spread to other cities. Packages have been anonymously mailed to various writers, bookstores, publications and organizations around the city. [more inside]
posted by Maaik on Sep 24, 2011 - 15 comments

"A new space for writers to share, read and sell"

Jottify is "a new space for writers to share, read and sell". [more inside]
posted by Acey on Sep 16, 2011 - 36 comments

Most everyone visits his shop to have a look at his queer door

Anyone who was anyone in the literary world of 1920s New York signed the door of Frank Shay's Christopher Street bookshop. The door is now in the collection of the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, and they'd like your help identifying the remaining unknown signatures.
posted by Horace Rumpole on Sep 4, 2011 - 13 comments

The 10 Most Ridiculously Difficult Encyclopedia Brown Mysteries

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 - 137 comments

“Did... did that tree just blow up?” Rainbow Dash asked, confused.

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 - 38 comments

Harold Brodkey

[Harold] Brodkey produced fiction that was epic too, but chiefly in its elaboration of human intimacy. To read his prose is to be incarcerated in the situations of his characters; indeed, it is to be very nearly overwhelmed by them. ... Brodkey moved forward with new forms for rendering human consciousness. His protagonist was, almost always, "a mind shaped like a person." The action consisted of that mind discovering its thoughts. [more inside]
posted by Trurl on Aug 23, 2011 - 11 comments

"Or don't you like to write letters. I do because it's such a swell way to keep from working and yet feel you've done something." ~Ernest Hemingway

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 - 18 comments

Helen DeWitt

AM: Do you have a favorite kanji character? HD: 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. An interview 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 - 48 comments

Writing Faster

A writer in Slate examines the scientific literature for clues that will help him to write faster.
posted by chrchr on Aug 11, 2011 - 69 comments

Does digital writing leave fingerprints?

"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 - 13 comments

Perspectives on Therapy as a Practitioner and client

Dr. Rob Dobrienski is a Manhattan therapist who blogs with honesty and humor on shrinktalk.net about his practice and topics interesting to both laypersons with an interest in psychology and therapy as well as therapists in current practice. [more inside]
posted by sweetkid on Jul 31, 2011 - 19 comments

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