Monday Stepback: Even More Random Than Usual

The occasional links and opinion post, on the week that just was…

Links of Interest

In Slate, The Purpose of Science Fiction:

That said, our job is not to predict the future. Rather, it’s to suggest all the possible futures—so that society can make informed decisions about where we want to go. George Orwell’s science-fiction classic Nineteen Eighty-Four wasn’t a failure because the future it predicted failed to come to pass. Rather, it was a resounding success because it helped us prevent that future.

A response from The New Yorker’s Book Bench (Via @Book Bench)

Sawyer writes that it “raises profound questions about who should have the right to create living things and what responsibility the creators should have to their creations and to society.” This seems like a good prescription for writers of any sort, who are creators of “living” literature. Is Gary Shteyngart’s novel “Super Sad True Love Story” sci-fi or literary fiction? Who cares? In a reality increasingly permeated with science, as the lines between reality and manufactured reality, science and art, creator and created fade, it follows that genre lines should, too.

While I agree, I can’t help but find it interesting how literary types refuse to allow genre distinctions when they place anything good on the genre-only side of the divide.


Robin @Tuphlos Bradford posting at Lauren Dane’s blog about libraries(via @Mike Cane):

The book culture is about sharing. The book culture is about falling in (and sometimes out of) love with books. Readers talk, extensively, about breaking up with series and authors. There is a stop, though, between “I love this series” and “I’m done with this series” and that stop is: the library. Long running series would be a lot shorter without the library. When readers are tired of reading the same book June after June, they stop buying. New authors have come along they would rather spend their money on. But if the library has the book, they may make an effort to keep up if they still have some interest left in the tank. Maybe the last two books were horrible, but this one looks promising, so they’ll check it out from the library. If it works, interest may be re-ignited. If it doesn’t work, the breakup may be final. But do you really think people will keep buying books they have no interest in reading? Really?


I really enjoyed this Totally Hip Book Reviewer vid from WaPo book critic Ron Charles. My favorite bit is when Charles says: “Oh, I’ve just been handed a note by the 92nd Street Y asking me to speed things up” while a “Refunds available in the lobby” shows on screen. (via @mathitak)


In the NYTRB, philosopher Ronald Dworkin’s essay on What is a Good Life? I thought readers of this blog might appreciate this bit:

If we want to make sense of a life having meaning, we must take up the Romantics’ analogy. We find it natural to say that an artist gives meaning to his raw materials and that a pianist gives fresh meaning to what he plays. We can think of living well as giving meaning—ethical meaning, if we want a name—to a life. That is the only kind of meaning in life that can stand up to the fact and fear of death. Does all that strike you as silly? Just sentimental? When you do something smaller well—play a tune or a part or a hand, throw a curve or a compliment, make a chair or a sonnet or love—your satisfaction is complete in itself. Those are achievements within life. Why can’t a life also be an achievement complete in itself, with its own value in the art in living it displays.


Interesting: Author Pseudonyms: Helpful or Harmful, with lots of examples, at Don’t Talk Just Read.


Read a Book for Ten Minutes Each Night and Save Publishing? Author Sean Cummings thinks so. So does my son’s third grade teacher.


From the Online Education Database, the 50 Best Blogs for Humanities Scholars. Devoid of  the good feminist blogs, like Feministing or Feminist Philosophers, devoid of the good blogs devoted to race issues, like Racialicious, and a very heavy focus on blogs attached to print journalism. *sigh* (via Books Inq.)


An amusing critique of the concept of author branding. What Color is Your Font, by Steve Weddle. Good discussion in the comments, too:

Think about what makes you buy a book. It’s the postcards, right? The bookmarks left behind at the signings? You know, that’s how most of the books on my shelves were bought. I saw a catchy postcard near the register at the bookstore and said, “Damn. Look at that postcard. That’s the same font I saw on a bookmark last week. That author must tell a damn good story.”


Don’t ever interrupt me when I’m readin’ a book…


A different look at piracy from an author in the Phillipines. (via @cjewel):

The problem with discussions of eBook piracy, or simply giving away your work for free, is that it doesn’t affect everyone equally. If you’re popular like J.K. Rowling or Stephen King, then it’s mostly a loss to you, since you’re not really after fame but income (to say nothing of the futility of stamping out each and every pirate). To obscure writers, like say a genre writer in the Philippines, it’s probably more of a gain, since we’re not popular enough in the first place to acquire a sufficient following to earn a significant amount from our writing. My friend Lavie Tidhar laments that his books aren’t being pirated and to a certain extent, piracy is a popularity metric; if no one is pirating you, then there’s little demand for your writing.


A helpful video … How to Strip DRM from Your Kindle books (via @janel)


A fun contest (closes some time on Tuesday I think) from Smart Bitches celebrating 6 years of blogging. Sarah Wendell asked entrants to post their 6 favorite things about romance. Over 300 entries provide an interesting — and fairly consistent — list of top attractions, especially “escape”, “HEA”, and “the men”. Wendell may or may not have promised to devise a contest post mortem pie chart.


From Tricia of Literary Sluts, You’re Not a Traditionalist, You’re A Snob.


Someone started a rumor that Ellora’s Cave doesn’t publish forced seduction stories and Kelli Collins sets them straight.


Two authors make the case against writing reviews: Stacia Kane, demonstrating the fine art of digging a hole, here, here, here, and finally here. Also Jeanine Frost.


I noticed a romance website that was formerly flash free has succumbed to the allure of the flash ad. Finding these ads a huge distraction from content, I decided to reintroduce Flash block. I soon became greedy and upgraded to Adblock Plus. Bliss!



I spent the entire Sunday in bed, at first thinking I was hung over from my late night at the EURO LOUNGE (cue disco music and very bad martinis), and then, by 10:00am, realizing I was just sick. I read Michelle Reid’s The Italian’s Future Bride, at Tumperkin’s suggestion, which I found depressing, and we plan a post on it soon. I also hope to publish that post on Lover Awakened.

I also watched a few episodes of Spartacus: Blood and Sand. I can’t remember the last time the sheer power of good looking men kept me glued to the screen. But it sure happened yesterday:

Now that I am recovered, I am back to PBS of course.


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