Oct 262012

The Verge comments on the typos found in ebooks with increasing frequency. I’ve noticed that typos seem more common in older books that have been scanned to create digital versions. The Kindle edition of Mark Helprin’s Winter’s Tale is so rife with typos that I couldn’t be bothered to finish the book. These are still the early days of ebooks and I expect publishers will eventually fix these problems. But now that I read ebooks almost exclusively, it troubles me that I may be purchasing a shoddier product in comparison to the printed edition.

Oct 172012

If you’ve ever thought  to yourself “I really like The 19th Floor, but I wish there was a more book-ish version,” you’re in luck. Written in Slow Motion: Thoughts on Disability and Other Random Topics will be released in Spring 2013 by Think Piece Publishing, a new imprint founded by my good friend Adam Wahlberg. The book is a series of essays inspired by, and sometimes borrowing from, the posts on this blog. It focuses on my experiences as a person with a disability, but will touch on many of the topics familiar to my blog readers: technology, pop culture, geekery, and politics. I may even mention fishnets once or twice.

I have no idea if a market exists for this book. After all, I’m no Justin Bieber’s mom. But I’m really curious to see how this project turns out. I’ll blog in the coming months about the process of getting a book to market and the challenges encountered along the way. I don’t anticipate any changes to my regular blogging schedule, but I apologize in advance for posting the occasional YouTube video because I’m struggling to meet a deadline.

I look forward to seeing many of you at the release party next spring!

Aug 242012

Do you like videogames? Do you like 80s pop culture references? Do you like books about videogames replete with 80s pop culture references? Then Ready Player One might be for you. It tells the story of Wade, a teen living in the American Midwest circa 2041. Things are not going well in Wade’s future America; the economy is in permanent recession, the climate is wrecked, and most people live in miserable poverty. Wade lives in a suburban ghetto built from old trailer homes and cars. His only escape is OASIS, a highly sophisticated online environment that has its origins in games like World of Warcraft. Wade spends nearly every waking moment in OASIS, attending school, playing games, and hanging out with the avatars of friends he has never met in person. And like millions of other OASIS denizens, he is trying to solve a series of puzzles left behind by OASIS’ deceased founder, a reclusive genius. The first person to successfully complete the puzzle sequence wins complete control of OASIS and unimaginable wealth. Nobody has managed to determine the significance of the first clue in the years since the founder’s death until Wade experiences a pivotal eureka moment.

Author Ernest Cline isn’t afraid to let his geek flag fly and writes an affectionate tribute to gaming and pop culture obsessives. This is probably the only novel you’ll read that references Family Ties, Ladyhawke, and Cyndi Lauper. Much of the book is set OASIS, which allows for all sorts of narrative pyrotechnics. Cline sometimes makes the mistake of pushing the reader to be as enamored with the mechanics of his invented world as Cline so plainly is, but it’s a forgivable sin. Cline’s workmanlike prose keeps the tale of disaffected youth and nefarious corporations breezing along to a saatisfying end.

Aug 022012

Any review or commentary regarding Game of Thrones and the subsequent books in the series is almost certain to mention sex. Violence and cruelty permeates almost every chapter, but it’s the sex that gets the attention and, occasionally, the condemnation. Author George R.R. Martin has this observation on our bipolar attitudes regarding sex and violence in popular culture:

I can describe an axe entering a human skull in great explicit detail and no one will blink twice at it. I provide a similar description, just as detailed, of a penis entering a vagina, and I get letters about it and people swearing off. To my mind this is kind of frustrating, it’s madness. Ultimately, in the history of [the] world, penises entering vaginas have given a lot of people a lot of pleasure; axes entering skulls, well, not so much.

I’m guessing that the libidinous Tyrion will be one of the few characters left standing when the series reaches its conclusion. But given Martin’s history of executing main characters, I’m hesitant to place any bets.

Thanks to BoingBoing for the link.

Jun 062012

Ray Bradbury didn’t introduce me to science fiction. Asimov and L’Engle took care of that. Bradbury showed me that science fiction could be poetic and rich with metaphor. The lyricism of the opening paragraphs of Fahrenheit 451 captivated me and I tried to emulate it in my juvenile efforts at writing. The Martian Chronicles, with its separate but linked stories, helped me understand the importance of perspective and voice when telling a story. Reading Bradbury gave me my my first inkling that there was a difference between good writing and not-so-good. And I’ll always associate him Awith warm summer days at the kitchen table and slightly musty library books.

Apr 092012

Literary blog The Awl has a fun post featuring authors who discuss the sometimes-embarrassing reading selections from their adolescence. I’m only slightly ashamed to admit that I devoured a metric ton of Star Trek tie-in novels during my misspent youth, along with generous helpings of Stephen King and Isaac Asimov. I keep meaning to re-read Asimov, but I’m a little worried he might not hold up well (although I’m still waiting for a robot as sophisticated as Daneel Olivaw to show up on the scene).

What was the print-based crack of your teen years?