TNH's Particles
* Ron Mueck: disturbing humanity.
* Haven't you always wanted a Norden Bombsight?
* Why you shouldn't use a malachite stalactite as a dildo.
* Tiny jumping robot.
* A line of Hamlet.
* Me and Other People's Characters: A Love Story.
* The strange tale of Social Autopsy.
* Interlude (Rise Up).
* A History of Rock in 15 Minutes.
* James Joyce, first-person shooter.
PNH's Sidelights
* Our neighborhood is doomed
* The Negro Motorists' Green Book--and everything else in America. Read this astonishing article.
* Prescription Drug or Tolkien Elf?
* The College of Arms rules on heraldry for individuals in same-sex marriages
* Britons Demand to Live in Medieval Village Surrounded by a Wall
* How Should America Resist a Fascist?
* Political violence
* Bowiebranchia
* Dave Swarbrick, 1941-2016
* Medieval historian 1, racist nitwit 0
Abi's Parhelia
* Can we take a moment to just think about how incredibly scary magical healing is in-context?
* Hamilaria
* New York's Elevators Define the City
* Mapping the Sounds of Greek Byzantine Churches: How Researchers Are Creating "Museums of Lost Sound"
* No Wool, No Vikings
* How to Drop a Gulfstream IV into a Ravine: Habitual Noncompliance
* The Geek's Guide to Disability
* Fly like an eagle, die like a drone
* Upcycling
* Starships!
Jim's Diffraction
* Angelus ad virginem 14th century Irish carol
* Christmas on the Theremin
* Kinect eye patch for Xbox One will protect what's left of your privacy
* Real-Time Wind Map
* IS-907: Active Shooter: What You Can Do
* Smithsonian museum artifacts can now be 3D printed at home
* PunditFact
* A Display You Can Reach Through And Touch
* The Craigslist killers: the full story
* Proposed Museum of Science Fiction
Avram's Phosphenes
West Wing Cabinet Battle
Not throwin’ away my Spock
David Bowie — Lazarus
Dnipropetrovsk renames itself Dnipropetrovsk
You Know Nothing, Charlie Brown
“It’s actually the Puppies who are the Marxists.”
Wes Anderson’s The Shining
Thor gets a cellphone
Definitely-Not-Filthy Sailing Terminology
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“We are prophets of a future not our own.” (Oscar Romero)

“Peace means something different from ‘not fighting’. Those aren’t peace advocates, they’re ‘stop fighting’ advocates. Peace is an active and complex thing and sometimes fighting is part of what it takes to get it.” (Jo Walton)

“You really think that safety can be plucked from the arms of an evil deed?” (Darla, “Inside Out”)

“Forgiveness requires giving up on the possibility of a better past.” (unknown)

“The whole point of society is to be less unforgiving than nature.” (Arthur D. Hlavaty)

“Terror consists mostly of useless cruelties perpetrated by frightened people in order to reassure themselves.” (Friedrich Engels)

“Let me never fall into the vulgar mistake of believing that I am persecuted whenever I am contradicted.” (Ralph Waldo Emerson)

“You don't owe the internet your time. The internet does not know this, and will never learn.” (Quinn Norton)

“Great writing is the world's cheapest special effect.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Everyone gets so much information all day long that they lose their common sense.” (Gertrude Stein)

“Very few people are stupid. It’s just that the world really is that difficult and you can’t continually be careful.” (Quinn Norton)

“Armageddon is not around the corner. This is only what the people of violence want us to believe. The complexity and diversity of the world is the hope for the future.” (Michael Palin)

“Just because you’re on their side doesn’t mean they’re on your side.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“The fact that ‘there are only a handful of bad cops’ cuts no ice with me. If ‘only a handful of McDonald’s are spitting in your food,’ you’re not going to McDonald’s.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Young men and women, educated very carefully to be apolitical, to be technicians who thought they disliked politics, making them putty in the hands of their rulers, like always.” (Kim Stanley Robinson, Red Mars)

“The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists; they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government. The poor man really has a stake in the country. The rich man hasn’t; he can go away to New Guinea in a yacht. The poor have sometimes objected to being governed badly; the rich have always objected to being governed at all. Aristocrats were always anarchists.” (G. K. Chesterton, The Man Who Was Thursday)

“When liberty is mentioned, we must observe whether it is not really the assertion of private interests.” (Hegel)

“History is the trade secret of science fiction.” (Ken MacLeod)

“But isn’t all of human history simultaneously a disaster novel and a celebrity gossip column?” (Anonymous LJ commenter)

“I see now that keen interest can illuminate anything, and that anything, moreover, has something worth illuminating in it, and that without that interest gates carved by Benvenuto Cellini from two diamonds would merely look chilly.” (Lord Dunsany)

“I grieve for the spirit of Work, killed by her evil child, Workflow.” (Paul Ford)

“The opposite of ‘serious’ isn't ‘funny.’ The opposite of both ‘serious’ and ‘funny’ is ‘squalid.’” (R. A. Lafferty)

“Ki is, of course, mystical bullshit. That’s why it works so well, both as a teaching idiom and a tool of practice in martial arts. It’s as nonexistent as charm, leadership, or acting. Humans are all about bullshit.” (Andrew Plotkin)

“We act as though comfort and luxury were the chief requirements of life, when all that we need to make us happy is something to be enthusiastic about.” (Charles Kingsley)

“Nobody panics when things go according to plan. Even when the plan is horrifying.” (The Joker)

“Hope has two daughters, anger and courage. They are both lovely.” (attributed to St. Augustine)

“Plot is a literary convention. Story is a force of nature.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“This movie has way too much plot getting in the way of the story.” (Joe Bob Briggs)

“If there is no willingness to use force to defend civil society, it’s civil society that goes away, not force.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Always side with the truth. It’s much bigger than you are.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Listen, here’s the thing about politics: It’s not an expression of your moral purity and your ethics and your probity and your fond dreams of some utopian future. Progressive people constantly fail to get this.” (Tony Kushner)

“I don’t want politicians who are ‘above politics,’ any more then I want a plumber who’s ‘above toilets.’” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“Plans are nothing; planning is everything.” (Dwight D. Eisenhower)

“People never lie so much as after a hunt, during a war, or before an election.” (Otto von Bismarck)

“Every organization appears to be headed by secret agents of its opponents.” (Robert Conquest)

“Not forgiving is like drinking rat poison and then waiting for the rat to die.” (Anne Lamott)

“Nothing makes one so vain as being told that one is a sinner.” (Oscar Wilde)

“Life isn’t divided into genres. It’s a horrifying, romantic, tragic, comical science-fiction cowboy detective novel.” (Alan Moore)

“See everything, overlook a great deal, improve a little.” (John XXIII)

“You will never love art well, until you love what she mirrors better.” (John Ruskin)

“Having a smallpox vaccine scar is like walking around with the moon landing and the Sistine Chapel on your upper arm.” (Angus Johnston)

“They lied to you. The Devil is not the Prince of Matter; the Devil is the arrogance of the spirit, faith without smile, truth that is never seized by doubt. The Devil is grim because he knows where he is going, and, in moving, he always returns whence he came.” (Umberto Eco, The Name of the Rose)

“I can hire one half of the working class to kill the other half.” (Jay Gould)

“I’m a leftist. I don't argue with anyone unless they agree with me.” (Steven Brust)

“Adam was but human—this explains it all. He did not want the apple for the apple’s sake, he wanted it only because it was forbidden. The mistake was in not forbidding the serpent; then he would have eaten the serpent.” (Mark Twain)

“Details are all that matters; God dwells there, and you never get to see Him if you don’t struggle to get them right.” (Stephen Jay Gould)

“Tradition is not the worship of ashes, but the preservation of fire.” (Gustav Mahler)

“But this kind of deference, this attentive listening to every remark of his, required the words he uttered to be worthy of the attention they excited—a wearing state of affairs for a man accustomed to ordinary human conversation, with its perpetual interruption, contradiction, and plain disregard. Here everything he said was right; and presently his spirits began to sink under the burden.” (Patrick O’Brian, Master and Commander)

“Hatred is a banquet until you recognize you are the main course.” (Herbert Benson)

“For a Westerner to trash Western culture is like criticizing our nitrogen/oxygen atmosphere on the grounds that it sometimes gets windy, and besides, Jupiter’s is much prettier. You may not realize its advantages until you’re trying to breathe liquid methane.” (Neal Stephenson)

“‘There are no atheists in foxholes’ isn’t an argument against atheism, it’s an argument against foxholes.” (James Morrow)

“And after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:12)

“The man who tries to make the flag an object of a single party is a greater traitor to that flag than any man who fires at it.” (Lloyd George)

“The United States behaves like a salesman with a fantastic product who tries to force people to buy it at gunpoint.” (Emma of Late Night Thoughts)

“I’m a fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberal, and I think fuzzy-headed warm-hearted liberalism is an ideological stance that needs defending—if necessary, with a hob-nailed boot-kick to the bollocks of budding totalitarianism.” (Charles Stross)

“The real test of any claim about freedom, I’ve decided, is how far you’re willing to go in letting people be wrong about it.” (Bruce Baugh)

“As with bad breath, ideology is always what the other person has.” (Terry Eagleton)

“Only he who in the face of all this can say ‘In spite of all!’ has the calling for politics.” (Max Weber)

“No, it’s not fair. You’re in the wrong universe for fair.” (John Scalzi)

“I don’t understand death, but I got hot dish down pretty good.” (Marissa Lingen)

“Skepticism is the worst form of gullibility.” (John “adamsj” Adams)

“We have a backstage view of ourselves and a third-row view of everybody else.” (Garrison Keillor)

“The Reign of Sin is more universal, the influence of unconscious error is less, than historians tell us.” (Lord Acton)

“All human progress, even in morals, has been the work of men who have doubted the current moral values, not of men who have whooped them up and tried to enforce them.” (H. L. Mencken)

“Tomorrow never happens. It’s all the same fucking day, man.” (Janis Joplin)

“Words are always getting conventionalized to some secondary meaning. It is one of the works of poetry to take the truants in custody and bring them back to their right senses.” (W. B. Yeats)

“It is a little embarrassing that, after 45 years of research and study, the best advice I can give to people is to be a little kinder to each other.” (Aldous Huxley)

“Never believe in a meritocracy in which no one is funny-looking.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

“Probably no man has ever troubled to imagine how strange his life would appear to himself if it were unrelentingly assessed in terms of his maleness; if everything he wore, said, or did had to be justified by reference to female approval [...] If he gave an interview to a reporter, or performed any unusual exploit, he would find it recorded in such terms as these: ‘Professor Bract, although a distinguished botanist, is not in any way an unmanly man. He has, in fact, a wife and seven children. Tall and burly, the hands with which he handles his delicate specimens are as gnarled and powerful as those of a Canadian lumberjack, and when I swilled beer with him in his laboratory, he bawled his conclusions at me in a strong, gruff voice that implemented the promise of his swaggering moustache.’” (Dorothy L. Sayers)

“Grown ups are what’s left when skool is finished.” (Nigel Molesworth)

“If you don't like the ‘blame game,’ it’s usually because you’re to blame.” (Jon Stewart)

“Slang is for a war of signals.” (Unknown semiotician/palindromist)

“Science fiction is an argument with the world. When it becomes (solely) an argument within science fiction, it breathes recycled air.” (Ken MacLeod)

“All worthy work is open to interpretation the author didn’t intend. Art isn’t your pet—it’s your kid. It grows up and talks back.” (Joss Whedon)

“I really don’t know what you do about the ‘taxes is theft’ crowd, except possibly enter a gambling pool regarding just how long after their no-tax utopia comes true that their generally white, generally entitled, generally soft and pudgy asses are turned into thin strips of Objectivist Jerky by the sort of pitiless sociopath who is actually prepped and ready to live in the world that logically follows these people’s fondest desires.” (John Scalzi)

“So whenever a libertarian says that capitalism is at odds with the state, laugh at him. It’s like saying that the NFL is ‘at war’ with football fields. To be a libertarian is to say that God or the universe marked up that field, squirted out the pigskins from the bowels of the earth, and handed down the playbooks from Mt. Sinai.” (Connor Kilpatrick)

“True religion invites us to become better people. False religion tells us that this has already occurred.” (Abdal-Hakim Murad)

“There is a machine. Its program is ‘profit’. This is not a myth.” (Joss Whedon)

“There's always romance at the top of a system.” (Will Shetterly)

“Power always thinks it has a great soul and vast views, beyond the comprehension of the weak.” (John “Second US President” Adams)

“There is a document that records God’s endless, dispiriting struggle with organized religion, known as the Bible.” (Terry Eagleton)

“There comes a time when the operation of the machine becomes so odious, makes you so sick at heart, that you can’t take part, you can’t even passively take part; and you’ve got to put your bodies upon the gears and upon the wheels, upon all the apparatus, and you’ve got to make it stop, And you’ve got to indicate to the people who run it, the people who own it, that unless you’re free the machine will be prevented from working at all.” (Mario Savio)

“Racism is not merely a simplistic hatred. It is, more often, broad sympathy toward some and broader skepticism toward others.” (Ta-Nehisi Coates)

“To live is to war against the trolls.” (Henrik Ibsen)

“There is at the back of all our lives an abyss of light, more blinding and unfathomable than any abyss of darkness; and it is the abyss of actuality, of existence, of the fact that things truly are, and that we are ourselves incredibly and sometimes almost incredulously real.” (G. K. Chesterton)

“Perhaps all the dragons in our lives are princesses who are only waiting to see us act, just once, with beauty and courage. Perhaps everything that frightens us is, in its deepest essence, something helpless that wants our love.” (Rainer Maria Rilke)

“It’s just a ride and we can change it any time we want. It’s only a choice. No effort, no work, no job, no savings and money, a choice right now, between fear and love. The eyes of fear want you to put bigger locks on your door, buy guns, close yourself off. The eyes of love instead see all of us as one.” (Bill Hicks)

“I don’t think we have a language, will ever have a language, that can describe transcendence in any useful way and I am aware that that transcendence may be nothing more than the illusory aspiration of a decaying piece of meat on a random rock. The thing is to be humble enough to be content with that while acting to other people as generously as if better things were true, and making art as if it might survive and do good in the world. Because what else are we going to do with the few short years of our life?” (Roz Kaveney)

“I hate living in a satirical dystopia.” (Arthur Hlavaty)

“No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” (Samuel Beckett)

“Fuck every cause that ends in murder and children crying.” (Iain Banks)

“If it doesn’t connect with people around you who aren’t like you, it isn’t politics.” (Teresa Nielsen Hayden)

July 01, 2016
“The nation must be taught to bear losses.”
Posted by Teresa at 05:29 PM * 2 comments

The Battle of the Somme began 100 years ago today: June 1st, 1916. The British took 57,470 casualties the first day, and lost roughly 420K men by the time the battle ended 141 days later. Total French losses were lower, 200K - 250K, but that’s because so much of the French army was busy manning the meatgrinder at Verdun. German losses were roughly half a million.

It’s hard to wrap your mind around the fighting in 1916. The major European offensives were conceived of as wars of attrition, meant to force the other side to bring in troops from other battlefields where they were fighting other wars of attrition. All of them went on as long as the weather permitted. Verdun was the longest, at 303 days. The Brusilov Offensive was the largest — the Russian army attacked German and Austro-Hungarian forces along a 150-mile front — and killed the most people.

But it’s the Somme that haunts our memories, at least in the English-speaking world. July 01 was the single worst day the British military ever had. Inexperienced troops scrambled out of their trenches, advanced across no-man’s-land, and got mowed down by machine-gun fire.

Some quotes from their commander, General Sir Douglas Haig:

“Success in battle depends mainly on morale and determination.”

“The way to capture machine guns is by grit and determination.”

“The machine gun is a much over rated weapon.”

“The nation must be taught to bear losses. No amount of skill on the part of the higher commanders, no training, however good, on the part of the officers and men, no superiority of arms and ammunition, however great, will enable victories to be won without the sacrifice of men’s lives. The nation must be prepared to see heavy casualty lists.”

I dislike Haig. It strikes me as unkind and unnecessary to tell troops their attack will succeed if only they try hard enough. Grit and determination haven’t reliably beaten superior firing rates since the Napoleonic Wars.


An extraordinary observance of the Battle of the Somme took place today in the UK.

Small groups of reenactors — really excellent reenactors — quietly appeared in public places, looking just like they’d have looked in 1916. They didn’t speak, but if approached they’d give you a small card with the name, rank, unit, and age at death of the man they were recalling to memory, 100 years after his death.

Photographs of them have accumulated at Pinterest, and probably elsewhere as well. Go look.

June 13, 2016
Pulse, and the days that follow
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 05:14 PM * 97 comments

I had a hundred fragmentary reactions when I heard the news. I’m still having them.

I knew it would be someone the press could call a Muslim when they used the word terrorist. I reread In This Hour, Mike Ford’s recommendations for coping after Katrina. I knew Twitter would be awful, TV would be awful, the papers would be awful. I was half right; they were both awful and full of kindness.

I recognized consciously what I’d always unconsciously known, that these nightclubs are a sanctuary, a hearth where community is kindled, where love is nurtured and given a place to grow. Those of us who honor sacredness and the spaces it inhabits must honor them.

And I cried about the phone calls to parents, both because they were made and because they were answered, listened for, hoped for. If there’s one thing that makes me realize that this gunman was too late, a generation too late, for any kind of victory, it was that.

But I’m white and straight and far away, safe in every fashion. I’ll give the floor to the people who have more to talk about than me.

Message from Idumea: Be gentle with one another, dear people. Be careful and give space for complexity, for pain, for disagreement about means to our shared ends. Write carefully and listen generously. Seek to make each other smarter, wiser, and more joyful.

May 18, 2016
Too Like the SPOILERS
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 04:29 PM * 47 comments

The day was May the eighteenth. Making Light had loaded full of strength that day, for May the eighteenth was the birthday of Omar Khayyám and the Day of Revival, Unity, and the Poetry of Magtymguly Pyragy, a day on which written works honored their Creators in ages past, and still do today.

And this May the eighteenth was the day that a spoiler thread was to be inaugurated on Making Light. Do you know, Reader, the delight and the torment of spoiler threads? Do they exist in your time, as they do in ours, when there is such a wealth of reading matter in the world, so high-piled To Be Read stacks and long library hold lists, that people may sometimes be unprepared for a discussion of literature? And when they exist amid such an abundance of intellect and curiosity, a richness of communication and connectivity, that literary discussions abound in whatever venue they choose to frequent, abound in such quantity that that those imprisoned (for prisoners they are, though it be of wealth) by the former must be freed from the latter?

And this, in short, is the purpose of a spoiler thread: to spare the rich in both unread literature (happy souls! with such delights ahead of them!) and brilliant company (fortunate minds! surrounded by such pleasures!) the consequences of their doubled wealth. Within the threads, the greatest freedom exists: the freedom to openly discuss all the aspects of a work, to analyze and dissect it in intimate detail, to treat it as the dearest and longest-held of lovers. At the same time, outside of the thread, the work may be held at a remove, regarded with the reserve and the respect one grants an acquaintance not yet become a true friend.

Understanding then, O Reader, the nature of spoiler threads, you may choose whether to venture inward on this one or to hold yourself apart from it. Only choose wisely, and do not regret the choice you make.

May 16, 2016
On sale now: Ada Palmer’s debut novel Too Like the Lightning
Posted by Patrick at 10:18 AM * 26 comments

too-like-the-lightning.jpg On sale now in hardcover and e-book. Excerpts here: chapters 1 and 2, chapter 3, and chapter 4. Author websites: and Ex Urbe.

Some recent online author appearances:

My flap copy:

Mycroft Canner is a convict. For his crimes he is required, as is the custom of the 25th century, to wander the world being as useful as he can to all he meets. Carlyle Foster is a sensayer—a spiritual counselor in a world that has outlawed the public practice of religion, but which also knows that the inner lives of humans cannot be wished away.

The world into which Mycroft and Carlyle have been born is as strange to our 21st-century eyes as ours would be to a native of the 1500s. It is a hard-won utopia built on technologically-generated abundance, and also on complex and mandatory systems of labelling all public writing and speech. What seem to us normal gender distinctions are now distinctly taboo in most social situations. And most of the world’s population is affiliated with globe-girdling clans of the like-minded, whose endless economic and cultural competion is carefully managed by central planners of inestimable subtlety. To us it seems like a mad combination of heaven and hell. To them, it seems like normal life.

And in this world, Mycroft and Carlyle have stumbled on the wild card that may destablize the system: the boy Bridger, who can effortlessly make his wishes come true. Who can, it would seem, bring inanimate objects to life…

Some notice:

“Mindblowingly great…Too Like the Lightning is a very difficult book to talk about to people who haven’t read it. It’s a huge complex book introducing a huge complex world, and it’s bursting with fascinating ideas. But there’s no simple elevator pitch explanation for it. I’ve spent the last four years dying to talk about it. As people have been reading the ARCs and loving it and posting about it on Twitter—Karl Schroeder (‘most exciting SF future I’ve encountered in years’), Fran Wilde (‘AMAZEBALLS. GET. READ.’), Ken Liu (‘reflective, analytical, smart, beautiful.’), Ellen Kushner (‘stylistically wacky and daring’), Max Gladstone (‘I’m kind of in love with this book’)—I’ve been bubbling over with ‘I told you you’d like it!’”
—Jo Walton,

“The difficult part (as I see it as a reader) of writing really good science fiction is that you need to make your society and your story strange enough to alienate and to provoke that sense of wonder, but familiar enough to be comprehensible. Palmer does this in an entirely novel way. Her imagined society misremembers and misinterprets the Enlightenment as does ours; it puts Enlightenment ideas to its own uses. These twin acts of misinterpretation are what create the bridge between the reader and a 25th century that is thoroughly unlike her own—it is the radically different uses of the Enlightenment that both make this future seem comprehensible and make it seem so dazzlingly strange. Again and again, her world seems familiar, when the reader encounters some scrap of an idea, or social practice or argument that builds on thinkers whom we think we know. But again and again, the rug is yanked away from beneath the reader as she realizes that no—this isn’t what it looked like at first glance, or that it is, but that it fits very differently because it has been cut to match the needs of a different world. The reader is looking into a mirror of misprisions. Too Like the Lightning is an Enlightenment book, but one that takes and radicalizes the lesson of a Romantic writer - to make the strange familiar and the familiar strange.”
—Henry Farrell, Crooked Timber

“It’s a thrilling feat of speculative worldbuilding, on par with those of masters like Gene Wolfe and Neal Stephenson. Her eye for political dynamics goes all the way down to the personal: Gender-specific pronouns are considered obscene and have become taboo. Yet as Mycroft tells the story, he consistently uses gendered pronouns—unreliably, it turns out—and what seems at first to be a minor detail winds up having more profound consequences. Not to mention plenty important to say about our current debate on the issue….One of the most maddening, majestic, ambitious novels—in any genre—in recent years.”
—Jason Heller,

“Astonishingly dense, accomplished and well-realized, with a future that feels real in both its strangeness and its familiarity….In the year 2454, in a world where technology has rendered countries obsolete and history has rendered genders and churches dangerous, the most reviled criminal of his age, now a slave to emperors, kings, CEOs and other powers, recounts a story to his readers. It’s a tale of how this world, freshly influenced by the philosophy of the Enlightenment, sees flying cars and most-influential-people lists, technology and politics, theology and sex, swirling around a plot, or plots, to either save the world or destabilize it back into bloody madness. And unknown to most of those plotting is the real secret our criminal is hiding: a boy who can make miracles in a world that’s outlawed conversion.”
RT Book Reviews

“More intricate, more plausible, more significant than any debut I can recall….Palmer writes science fiction like a historian, maneuvering vast historical forces deftly, plunging effortlessly into their minutae and detail, zooming out to dizzying heights to show how they all fit together. Her acknowledgements cite Alfred Bester as an influence, and that’s no surprise—few writers can trump Bester for the sense of a world that contains within it all the other worlds of all its inhabitants. Palmer, though, may have exceeded the master….Too Like the Lightning manages to be several books at once: a serious philosophical treatise; a murder-mystery whose surprises buffet the reader like cold slaps out of nowhere that feel inevitable in hindsight; a piece of historical theory in narrative form; a thought-experiment about gender, nationality, identity and bigotry; and a gripping personal story whose players are likable, flawed, sexy, and sometimes terrifying. If you read a debut novel this year, make it Too Like the Lightning.
—Cory Doctorow, Boing Boing

May 15, 2016
Serving and protecting
Posted by Patrick at 12:27 PM * 76 comments

Another day, another video of police beating and tasing civilians, in this case a 15-year-old Tacoma girl who cut across a mall parking lot while riding her bike home. The incident actually happened two years ago; the girl is suing, and good for her.

In other news, FBI director James Comey is worried that all these pesky videos are making it hard for cops to do their jobs. It’s not every day that a law-enforcement figure of Comey’s eminence admits so plainly that one of the actual jobs of the police is to regularly beat up randomly-chosen people in order to make sure the rest of us stay in line. But there you go.

(Yes, Not All Police, etc. But we really do need to stop talking about these events as if they represent failures of the system, or a “few bad apples.” This kind of police behavior is part of how our society is organized. It’s built into the spec.)

On sale, um, now, Harry Turtledove’s The House of Daniel
Posted by Patrick at 11:15 AM * 21 comments

houseofdaniel.jpg [Yes, this post should have gone up on April 21. See comment #1.]

Available in hardcover and e-book. Excerpt here.

My flap copy:

Since the Big Bubble popped in 1929, life in the United States hasn’t been the same. Hotshot wizards will tell you nothing’s really changed, but then again, hotshot wizards aren’t looking for honest work in Enid, Oklahoma. No paying jobs at the mill, because zombies will work for nothing. The diner on Main Street is seeing hard times as well, because a lot fewer folks can afford to fly carpets in from miles away.

Jack Spivey’s just another down-and-out trying to stay alive, doing a little of this and a little of that. Sometimes that means making a few bucks playing ball with the Enid Eagles, against teams from as many as two counties away. And somethimes it means roughing up rival thugs for Big Stu, the guy who calls the shots in Enid.

But one day Jack knocks on the door of the person he’s supposed to “deal with”—and realizes that he’s not going to do any such thing to the young lady who answers. This means he needs to get out of the reach of Big Stu, who didn’t get to where he is by letting defiance go unpunished.

Then the House of Daniel comes to town—a brash band of barnstormers who’ll take on any team, and whose antics never fail to entertain. Against the odds Jack secures a berth with them. Now they’re off to tour an America that’s as shot through with magic as it is dead broke. Jack will never be the same—nor will baseball.

Some notice:

“In a loving callback to the early days of a quintessential American sport, Turtledove takes readers on a scenic tour of the highways and byways of an alternate United States in 1934…Turtledove’s feel for historical accuracy brings Jack’s era to life.”
Publishers Weekly

“Part picaresque novel, part supernatural drama…Turtledove does a good job evoking the world of the barnstormer, and captures the rhythm of a life punctuated by baseball.”
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

“Mr. Turtledove drops sly allusions to genre classics, including his own werewolf stories (written as Eric Iverson). But most of the time this is a story about baseball, the ‘game for historians,’ written by an obsessive fan who remembers leagues and teams and players from long ago.”
—Tom Shippey, The Wall Street Journal

“Pitch-perfect. Harry Turtledove crafts a richly detailed portrait of barnstorming baseball in the 1930s, stitches it around a supernatural orb, and smashes this quintessentially American story over the fence for a home run. Read it!”
—Scott Simkus, author of Outsider Baseball: The Weird World of Hardball on the Fringe, 1876-1950

May 14, 2016
Open thread 212
Posted by Abi Sutherland at 06:51 AM * 731 comments

There’s a stand at the street market in Waterlooplein that sells old postcards. Sometimes what a person finds there is a delightful, insoluble mystery.

I don’t know (and will never know) what these three couples were doing in Vienna that evening in February of 1903, but I kinda wish I were there with them. Particularly that fellow in the middle. They remind me of these folks.




May 06, 2016
Civil War spoiler thread
Posted by Teresa at 05:01 AM * 96 comments

Apprehensions, reviews, or rants, MCU or 616.

If you think it’s just the latest fun Marvel superhero movie, that’s fine.

If you’ve been in an obsessive state of argument with the storyline since you first read it, that’s fine too.

(And by the way, Cap was completely wrong about Registration.)