A Bit More Detail

Assorted Personal Notations, Essays, and Other Jottings

Posts Tagged ‘popular literature

[FORUM] What are you reading?

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Written by Randy McDonald

September 4, 2016 at 9:59 pm

Posted in Forum, Popular Culture

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[BLOG] Some Sunday links

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  • Antipope’s Charlie Stross looks at some outrageous but real figures from history.
  • Bad Astronomy’s Phil Plait notes UGC 1382, a huge galaxy that looks small to the naked eye.
  • blogTO lists some destinations for Torontonians on Labour Day.
  • The Dragon’s Tales notes Finland’s launching of a guaranteed minimum income experiment.
  • Language Log looks at a multilingual restaurant advertisement in Japan.
  • Marginal Revolution considers the issue of interest rates in the United States.
  • The Planetary Society Blog shares photos that Juno took of Jupiter.
  • Otto Pohl links to an old article of his on black Eurasia.
  • Savage Minds considers ways anthropologists can archive for the longue durée.
  • Window on Eurasia looks on Russian public opinion on Russian policy in Ukraine, and reports on speculation about Western policy towards Russia if Russia goes further into Ukraine.
  • Arnold Zwicky links to a New York Times article on spam E-mail.

[WRITING] “The interactive novel is an old-fashioned and unpopular idea”

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Russell Smith’s essay published in an issue of The Globe and Mail last month is certainly forthright. Is he necessarily correct, or is this simply a form that could stand better editors?

About once a month I receive an excited press release about a new “interactive” or “immersive” book – a multimedia thing to be experienced on an electronic device – and every single one claims to be the FIRST INTERACTIVE BOOK EVER.

I have been getting these, with the same claim, for about a dozen years now. I cannot think of a single one that has become successful. I cannot think of one that I have actually wanted to read.

They usually contain some kind of sci-fi or fantasy story, and music and video that pops up on your screen as you read. Sometimes alternate storylines can be followed. This is always supposed to represent an entirely new paradigm of entertainment and a vastly different experience from simply reading or watching TV or playing a game. These projects do not come, on the whole, from publishing houses: they come from individual creators or teams.

In other words, they are forms of self-publishing. Frequently, they come from people whose background is the world of technology or advertising rather than the world of art. Why do they, I wonder, persist in pursuing this old-fashioned, unpopular and unwieldy idea?

Written by Randy McDonald

August 29, 2016 at 4:45 pm

[BLOG] Some Saturday links

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  • blogTO notes that Suspect Video is liquidating its stock.
  • James Bow likes a portable USB adaptor.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze links to an analysis of the spectrum of a Luhman 16 brown dwarf.
  • Language Log notes Sino-Western characters.
  • The Map Room Blog reports on a Twitter bot that randomly generates maps of fantasy settings.
  • Maximos62 notes the terrible pollution produced by the Indonesian forest burning.
  • Otto Pohl reports from Kurdistan.
  • Torontoist shares a photo of a graffiti alley near Trinity Bellwoods.
  • Window on Eurasia reports on current trends in Russian migration from Kazakhstan.
  • Arnold Zwicky describes the female gaze of the paintings of men done by Sylvia Sleigh.

[URBAN NOTE] Daily Xtra on the sale of Little Sister’s

Daily Xtra‘s Jeremy Hainsworth notes the end of an era in Vancouver.

Vancouver’s iconic gay bookstore Little Sister’s has been sold.

Jim Deva and Bruce Smyth opened the store in 1983, when they had trouble finding gay books for sale anywhere else.

Within two years, Canada Customs agents were seizing their shipments, leaving the store’s shelves increasingly bare and jeopardizing its very ability to survive as a business. Undeterred, the couple fought back and very publicly took Canada Customs to court.

The court battles that ensued spanned nearly two decades, as Little Sister’s championed gay voices, challenged censorship, fought for our stories and sexual freedom and became a key community gathering space in Vancouver.

But now it’s time to sell, Smyth tells Daily Xtra.

Written by Randy McDonald

August 19, 2016 at 7:00 pm

[BLOG] Some Monday links

  • At Antipope, Charlie Stross describes how Brexit has forced him to rewrite his latest novel.
  • D-Brief suggests early Venus was once habitable, and notes the rumour of an Earth-like planet found around Proxima Centauri.
  • The Dragon’s Gaze notes the detection of storms of brown dwarfs.
  • The Dragon’s Tales reports on more signs of water on Mars.
  • False Steps notes an early American proposal for a space station in orbit of the Moon.
  • Language Hat talks about lost books, titles deserving broader readership.
  • The LRB Blog talks about the EU and Brexit.
  • Marginal Revolution notes a study suggesting Trump support is concentrated among people close to those who have lost out from trade.
  • Neuroskeptic reports on the story of H.M., a man who lost the ability to form new memories following a brain surgery.
  • The Volokh Conspiracy engages the idea of voting with a lesser evil.
  • Window on Eurasia notes the role of immigrants in Moscow’s economy.

[FORUM] What do you think about the future of Star Trek?

Friday night, I watched Star Trek: Beyond with my friend Jonathan and was pleased. This film, third in the reboot series, easily felt the Trekkiest of the three, and the most fun of the three. The plot works (compliments to star and co-writer Simon Pegg), all the major characters got development, canon was referenced without overpowering the plot, and Beyond at its best did capture a sense of wonder. The film’s relative underperformance aside, I would say it promises good things for the future of the franchise.

I am a fan. In recent years, my participation has been limited to reading the tie-in fiction of the Star Trek expanded universe, since that’s all we’ve had since the end of Enterprise a decade ago. I am quite excited by the impending Toronto-filmedseries Discovery. Showrunner Bryan Fuller’s reputation, that of the writers he is bringing with him, and the promises he has made about settings and representation, promise good things.

What do you think? Does Star Trek still have a future? Or do you think otherwise? This is the fiftieth anniversary of the franchise, after all. Is it time for something new?

What say you all?

Written by Randy McDonald

August 13, 2016 at 10:00 pm