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Cory Doctorow, Aaron Swartz and Homeland

zerode:

doctorowCory Doctorow‘s article on Tor/Forge echoes the remarks he’s been making on his soon to conclude book tour in support of Homeland.

I think it’s great that he’s focusing so much on what happened with Aaron Swartz, and also talking about the issues of depression and suicide, though I could wish that there was enough time on his tour to also talk more about the book, which is great, but also a slightly different proposition from Little Brother, the book for which it is ostensibly a sequel.

Homeland seems to take place earlier in time/history, and in an world very much more like our own than Little Brother, which was a cool, near-future dystopian reflection on trends in technology and the “war against terrorism.”

Homeland reads much more like one of Cory’s (excellent) articles or op ed pieces than did Little Brother – or any of his other fiction. It practically feels like non-fiction, and that’s both good and bad. It isn’t as satisfying a read, purely as a novel, as Little Brother, For the Win or Pirate Cinema. On the other hand, it’s extremely satisfying and effective as a political and social intervention. I want to go out and find Joe Noss and work on his campaign. I’m much more attentive to Alameda County’s attempt to buy drones than I might have been. I’ve been thinking about the issues it raises.

That’s great: Cory knows what he is talking about, and the issues that he is addressing are vital ones. But I still wanted a bit more fiction than I got. And along those lines, I certainly feel like the tween girl in the audience for Cory’s reading at The Booksmith on Haight Street last week: is there going to be a sequel to Pirate Cinema? I love Cory’s articles, op ed pieces, and his activism. I also love his novels. We were lucky over the past year to get three novels from Cory in pretty rapid succession: Pirate Cinema, Rapture of the Nerds, and Homeland. And based on his remarks about what he’s working on, we might continue to see something like that output in the future.

Originally posted on Tor/Forge Blog:

Written by Cory Doctorow

On January 11, a young hacker, hacktivist and entrepreneur named Aaron Swartz took his own life. He was 26, and I had known him since he was 14. He was facing 50 years in prison. His crime was to walk into an unsecured computer closet at MIT, near the Harvard campus where he had a fellowship, and plug a laptop into the campus network, with which he proceeded to download a large amount of paywalled academic journal articles from JSTOR, an online repository of scholarly works. It is widely speculated that he planned on making these available for free, though it may be that no one will ever know what he really intended.

Here’s what we do know: Aaron didn’t care about the freedom of information. Aaron cared about the freedom of *people* to make use of information. When I met Aaron, he was already someone…

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Filed under: Literature, Tech, ,

A Conversation with Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross

zerode:

Wow – two of my favorite science fiction and technology writers in conversation…

Originally posted on Tor/Forge Blog:

Cory Doctorow and Charles Stross recall the nine year writing process that resulted in The Rapture of the Nerds.

Cory Doctorow: Charlie, do you remember what you had in mind when you wrote the opening passage to Jury Service? Were you explicitly thinking of Ken Macleod’s idea that the Singularity was like a rapturous, transcendant end-time for nerds?

Charlie Stross: Actually, no! I just had this stub of a story—only a couple of thousand words, if that—about this ordinary Joe, waking up in the bathtub after a raucous party, and finding a biohazard tattoo on his anatomy. It was one of a bunch of story-stubs I’d started and didn’t know what to do with. The “rapture of the nerds” idea was in my head at the time, but I was still working over the Accelerando stories when I wrote it. So it languished in development hell for a…

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Filed under: Literature,

Poodle moth, Venezuela

Poodle moth, Venezuela by artour_a
Poodle moth, Venezuela, a photo by artour_a on Flickr.

Filed under: Science,

zerode:

Two great things that go great together: books and cities. The art (architecture?) is really appealing, but I also like the way it makes me think about the connections between cities and books—how you don’t get books until you have cities, and how cities have a powerful influence on the books that come out of them.

Originally posted on Grist:

I’ll admit that I attended one TINY textbook fire as a teenager. It was somebody’s math book, and we just stuck it in a park barbecue and then melted some cups over it, nothing particularly Fahrenheit 451. But there are better ways to dispose of textbooks that you hate, or just don’t need anymore, but for whatever reason can’t sell back. Chinese artist Liu Wei, for instance, does it by making spectacular carved-book cityscapes.

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Filed under: Art,

Nerdware: Even Nerds Stand Up for Justice

Warning: This product is not safe to wear in any jurisdiction with “Stand Your Ground” legislation.  Or, you know, “walking while black” legislation…

How To Be Black Pullover $50.00

This American Apparel pullover has 20% more pocket space and 100% less zipper than the zip-up, choose accordingly. (via How To Be Black – Shop.)

#trayvonmartin

Filed under: Nerdware, Politics, , , ,

World Book Night

What a terrific idea: on one night, people around the world go around giving books to strangers:

Become a Giver for World Book Night 2012 | DIESEL, A Bookstore.

World Book Night 2012!  The idea is that on one night, throughout America, 1 million books will be given away by hand by tens of thousands of people.  Authors and publishers have enthusiastically agreed to print over 30 thousand copies of 30 different titles, to be delivered to pick-up locations throughout the country — mostly independent bookstores and libraries.  Individual readers will sign up to be Givers who agree to hand deliver 20 copies of a title of their choice to strangers in locations outside of their homes, their bookstores, and their libraries.  It may be a park, a prison, a school, a hospital, an intersection, an airplane, a bus.

The first World Book Night was held in the UK last year, and the idea obviously really caught on:  this year it is being held in the UK, Ireland and the United States.  The goal is to have 50,000 people hand out 20 copies of a book – for a total of one million books given away in the one evening.

The process is simple: you sign up with your personal details, and pick the three books you would most like to hand out from the list of available titles, then say a bit about who you want to give them to and why you want to give out those books.  The teams behind World Book Night will select (somehow) from among the applicants, hopefully so as to maximize the spread of books.  Books will be delivered to local bookstores for pick-up by the selected applicants.

I picked as my three choices (in order) The Book Thief, The Hunger Games and Housekeeping with the goal of distributing these to street kids and young people in the Haight Ashbury neighborhood.  The Book Thief was just too obvious a title for a free book program to pass up – but fortunately it’s also a great read.

Go, sign up, pick your own top titles to give to strangers.  It could be the beginning of all sorts of things – a friendship, someone’s love of literature, a social movement…

Filed under: Literature, ,

We love… moss graffiti

Mosstika’s living graffiti is amazing | Grist.

Filed under: Feel Good, Urbanismo, , ,

Conversation with Sir Terry Pratchett

“I’m fascinated by the way folklore is entwined with truth in people’s lives”
– Terry Pratchett

Sir Terry Pratchett in conversation with Jacqueline Simpson:

Sir Terry Pratchett and Dr Jacqueline Simpson met many years ago at a book signing in Worthing and have since worked together as co-authors. Jacqueline is a member of the Folklore Editorial Board and is also on the Committee of The Folklore Society, of which Sir Terry is a lifetime member.

On 26th August 2010 at the Annual Discworld Convention in Birmingham, Sir Terry and Jacqueline sat down to record a discussion on the topic of folklore and its significance to them…

A three part podcast is available on the website for the journal Folklore, as well as an excerpt of the conversation and also a transcript of the discussion which contains links to related articles.

Filed under: Literature, , , ,

20 Classic Opening Lines In Books

“All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” ANNA KARENINA (1877), Leo Tolstoy  (via 20 Classic Opening Lines In Books | EW.com.)

I don’t know if I necessarily agree with all of Entertainment Weekly‘s picks for classics, but who could argue with that opening from Anna Karenina?

What opening lines would you pick as your “twenty best/favorite opening lines”? Conversely, what are the opening lines of your twenty favorite books? What’s the opening line of the book(s) you’re reading right now? Mine is:

“Inchmale hailed a cab for her, the kind that had always been black, when she’d first known this city.”

Interesting to think about what we know from first lines, from this first line. That we are—probably—in London (with those big black taxis), but what else? A certain tone perhaps—wistful maybe, somewhat detached and observant. Hard for me to be sure now what might be just in that line, as opposed to what I know from all the subsequent lines I’ve read.

It might be interesting to collect the opening lines of my books – the ones I’ve read, that I own, the ones I love. Even the ones I’ve lost—the collected opening lines like the ghost of my former library.

What would I do with a collection of opening lines? I can imagine alphabetizing my books not by author or by title but by those first lines, as is done in the index of collections of poetry. Or creating some kind of taxonomy of opening lines and using that as an organizing principle… An exercise in collectorship, connoisseurship, like Rob Fleming organizing his record collection by the order in which he bought them.

Not the Rob Fleming who is a Canadian politician, nor the other one who is an architect. The one from Nick Hornby’s High Fidelity.  I googled the name and those other ones came up first. How many of you are there on Google? How many of you are like you? One of me lived in the same small town I used to live in. Another worked with Macintosh computers, like me, here in the Bay Area, like me. My doppleganger, but younger. A younger me. I should call him up and warn him about the rocky years ahead.

Filed under: Autobiography, Literature

Image of Megacanyon on Mars

Something for fans of Kim Stanley Robinson’s Mars Trilogy:

Evidence of water in megacanyon on Mars: “Melas Chasma, a huge canyon forming part of the 4000 km Valles Marineris rift valley on Mars, plunges 9 km below the surrounding plains in this image, which was taken by the High Resolution Stereo Camera on the European Space Agency’s Mars Express orbiter, making it one of the deepest depressions on the planet…” (via NewScientist.)

Filed under: Science, ,

The Suck Fairy

The Suck Fairy is an artefact of re-reading. If you read a book for the first time and it sucks, it’s nothing to do with her. It just sucks. Some books do. The Suck Fairy comes in when you come back to a book that you liked when you read it before, and on re-reading—well, it sucks. You can say that you have changed, you can hit your forehead dramatically and ask yourself how you could possibly have missed the suckiness the first time—or you can say that the Suck Fairy has been through while the book was sitting on the shelf and inserted the suck..”. (via Tor.com / Science fiction and fantasy.)

Filed under: Ideas

Feel Good: Beautiful Summer house in Skåne

Swedish summer house, located in the region of Skåne (via My Scandinavian Retreat.) Those of us who’ve enjoyed the terrific, but dark and wintery Wallander mystery novels by Henning Mankell would never have expected to see something so full of light in Skåne.

For more..

Filed under: Architecture, Feel Good, ,

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zerode

is an over-caffeinated and under-employed grad school dropout, aspiring leftwing intellectual and cultural studies academic, film buff and occasional reviewer, and former private detective. Raised in San Francisco on classic film, radical politics, burritos and soul music, then set loose upon the world. He spends his time in coffee shops with his laptop and headphones, caffeinating and trying to construct a post-whatever life.

 

What's in a name... The handle "zerode" is a contraction of Zéro de Conduite, the title of Jean Vigo's 1933 movie masterpiece about schoolboy rebellion.

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