Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 2

image of cory doctorow courtesy of joiLibrarians like Cory Doctorow a lot, not least of all because we both tend to think that information wants to be free, and we both get a kick out of giving books away. However, if you want his actual analog pen-and-ink signature on his latest book – Little Brother – Cory will be appearing at the library’s Ballard Branch on Sunday, March 18 at 2 p.m, where he can oblige you. Generous guy that he is, he recently obliged us with a mind-expanding phone call, and here’s some more of that conversation (here’s part one):

Q: Congratulations on your latest project, your new daughter.

Oh yeah – my wife just sent me the world’s most awesomely cute one minute video clip of getting ready for bath time and I swear to god its just hypnotic, I’ve watched it a hundred and fifty times.

Q: (In addition to the effect this experience will have on your writing), how do you think having a child will effect your views on your creative children, and giving them away on the Internet?

…you know, it did get me thinking. I wrote a column for Locus magazine that just came out called Think Like a Dandelion – actually the title’s an homage to a James Patrick Kelly book called Think Like a Dinosaur – and its about the different reproduction strategies of plants and mammals. And I understand why as a mammal my intuition is that I need to be really closely attuned to the disposition of my reproductions, of my offspring. That is our reproductive strategy. But it’s not the reproductive strategy of a dandelion. The reproductive strategy of a dandelion is to be just utterly profligate to just blow your seeds Continue reading “Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 2”

Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1

Cory Doctorow is coming to Seattle this weekend, on tour to promote his latest book – Little Brother – a smart dystopic thriller aimed at young adults, but with something to say to everyone. (Comparisons are odious, but if Gene Shalit were here he might say 1984 meets Catcher in the Rye. I’d add in Eric Frank Russell’s Wasp.) He’ll be appearing at the library’s Ballard Branch this Sunday at 2 p.m (in collaboration with our good friends at the Secret Garden Bookshop). Of all the great things that have been said about Little Brother, here’s a bit from Neil Gaiman: “I’d recommend Little Brother over pretty much any book I’ve read this year, and I’d want to get it into the hands of as many smart 13 year olds, male and female, as I can. Because I think it’ll change lives…”

If you’re unfamiliar with Doctorow, popular editor and blogger at BoingBoing.net, author and outspoken advocate for intellectual freedom and the creative commons movement, a few hours spent surfing through his prolific work and thought may change your life too, or at least the way you view your rights to information, to privacy, and to making a contribution to this world. It is also a bracing tonic for the mind: Doctorow’s range of interests – from hacks to cool gadgets to public policy – are head-spinning.  I had a chance to talk with Cory the other day, and wanted to share some of what he said.

Q: Little Brother seems to bring together a lot of your diverse interests in one place. When did you know this was going to be a book for younger readers?

It was absolutely conceived of as a young adult book… I had friends who went and done successful – artistically, commercially – young adult books… and they really sold me on the idea that it was just a lot of fun, and that particularly that Continue reading “Shelf Talk(s) with Cory Doctorow, pt. 1”

A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files

The Dresden Files series by Jim Butcher chronicles the adventures of Harry Dresden, the world’s only wizard-for-hire, as he investigates crimes with a magical twist and saves the city of Chicago from assorted minions of evil, including vampires, demons and fiendish goats.

While some of the basics mechanics of this series aren’t new — magical man investigates mabook cover Small Favorgical crimes in a big city — there are a few key details that set the Dresden Files apart from the rest of the “urban fantasy” books out there. Most of those details can be found in minor characters like Bob the Talking Skull, perhaps the best magical assistant ever devised. Keep an eye out for Ivy the Archive, Mab the Winter Queen, and a dewdrop faerie known as Toot-toot. In the Dresden Files, it is often the little guys who make the biggest difference, or at least add the greatest moments of comic relief.

The Dresden Files was made into a short-lived television show on cable’s Continue reading “A Chicago-based wizard turns hard-boiled detective in The Dresden Files”

Attack of the Evil Scary Children!

image of child courtesy of cx1uk

Quick: what is more frightening than circus clowns? Okay, sure – scary dolls with eyes that follow you across the room are even worse – but what can strike fear into the hearts of even creepy clowns and disconcerting dolls?

Children – that’s what! Don’t think children are scary? Here are some books and movies that might just have you thinking otherwise.

 

Arthur C. Clarke’s best books

When I was in third grade, in the early 1970s, I encountered Arthur C. Clarke on a classroom book spinner.  I was intrigued by the cover and the title and promptly took the book home and devoured it, thus beginning a lifelong love of hard science fiction.  My tastes have broadened considerable since, but most of my teen years were spent reading Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Frank Herbert, Robert Heinlein and others.  Clarke, who wrote more than 100 books and 1,000 short stories and essays,  died on March 18 at age 90 at his home in Colombo, Sri Lanka (see this excellent obituary from the Washington Post).  Here are my favorite four Arthur C. Clarke titles, with thanks to the late master.

image-of-2001-space-odyssey-book-cover.jpg2001: A Space Odyssey  His best-known work, and one of the best movies of the century, this story deals with humanity’s first encounter with an alien intelligence beyond our comprehension. 

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Childhood’s End One of his first works, in which giant silver ships appear in Earth’s skies and take up the best and brightest humans for future evolution while eliminating the rest, with an ending that is positively Wagnerian.

image-of-fountains-of-paradise-book-cover.jpgThe Fountains of Paradise No aliens in this one! This story contemplates the construction of elevators from equatorial Earth to space – an idea which is under serious consideration among scientists today. It must be noted that Clarke was the first to imagine communications satellites orbiting the Earth, so the plausibility of the story makes it all the more fascinating.

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 Rendezvous with Rama tells of humanity’s first encounter with alien life, in the form of a huge cylinder approaching Earth that poses more questions than answers.