Tuesday various

  • Ken Jennings thinks about Tetris way more than I ever have.
  • Although I don’t see my own corner among them — did he bypass Madison Avenue altogether? — Richard Howe’s block-by-block photographs of Manhattan street corners are strangely fascinating. Thirty-ninth and 40th are my neck of the woods, if you’re curious. [via]
  • Some really terrific-looking 1930s pop-up books. [via]
  • A cute interactive YouTube adventure. [via]
  • Caitlin R. Kiernan writes of Steven Spielberg’s A.I.: Artificial Intelligence that
  • …it appears as an sf story (and, I would say, works well as sf), it’s truly a fairy tale. Many things happen for fairy-tale reasons. Fairy-tale logic governs much of the film, and it strikes out, often, with all the cruelty and viciousness of the best fairy tales. I was very pleased that it’s aged so well. However, this is probably not a film for the sort of sf reader/audience who actually thinks that science fiction is (or, at least “should” be) concerned mainly with science and predictions of the future of man and technology.

    I may have to revisit the film in that context. But I don’t think the problems I had with it originally stemmed from a too-rigid definition of what science fiction is, or an idea in my head of how the film should or should not reflect that. I think it’s a very good movie and one of Spielberg’s most complex and mature. But I also think it’s deeply flawed on several levels. Fairy tales can be flawed just as easily as science fiction.

Monday various

  • Last week saw a rough couple of days in the publishing world. Thankfully, we haven’t been quite so hard hit where I work, but the troubled economy has made things tough all over. I encourage you all to take John Scalzi‘s advice: buy more books! Or, y’know, zines… Every little bit helps.
  • Now probably isn’t a good time for publishers to start moving out of New York en masse. But generally speaking, I don’t know that it’s such a bad idea. Rents are probably much cheaper outside Manhattan, and there’s few reasons beyond tradition for New York to be the publishing capital of the United States. Then again, maybe that’s coming from the part of me that’s still not convinced this is where I want to live and work. But if you want to work in publishing, this is sort of the only town in game.
  • It’s nice to see someone is optimistic, if not necessarily about publishing or bookselling, then certainly about the future of books in general:

    But I don’t see it that way. I think, on the contrary, we’ve reached a shining moment for this ancient technology. Publishers may or may not figure out how to make money again (it was never a good way to get rich), but their product has a chance for new life: as a physical object, and as an idea, and as a set of literary forms.

    This is something I’ve heard before — namely that the publishing industry’s woes stem largely from its abandonment of the midlist in favor of the blockbuster model, i.e. the occasional Harry Potter in favor of the 90+% of the list where the real money and good books come from.

  • An interesting take on why John Wyndham’s Day of the Triffids is still relevant. Although I take issue with the BBC’s contention that “Horrorphiles may trace the zombie lineage back to Richard Matheson’s 1954 novel I Am Legend…” — given that the creatures in the book are vampires, not zombies, and that zombie lineage goes back considerably further. [via]
  • I didn’t think it needed to be said, but: Amanda Palmer is not fat. And hey, so what if she was?
  • “It’s quite hard to get embarrassed with art as you let people see whatever you want them to see.” – Dave Gibbons