Sunday Links for September 4, 2011

To my astonishment, it’s September already. Where did the summer go? I suspect it’ll be back as quickly as it passed, given that time flies faster and faster as you age – and I seem to be aging fast! But I’ve always looked forward to September. When I lived in the Midwest, it was those lovely cool days, perfect weather in which to sit outside and read, that I loved. When I was a child, it was returning to school (yes, my nerd credentials go back to my earliest youth). Now, it’s the new fall books. Here’s a preview that should get any reader salivating.

Lovers of weird fiction, and especially of the renaissance of Weird Tales, were dismayed to read that Marvin Kaye has purchased and will become of the editor of the magazine with the next issue. Ann VanderMeer basically resurrected the magazine into a position of prominence in the field, with excellent works of nonfiction accompanying stories that pushed the envelope of the New Weird. Kaye is well-known as a backwards-looking editor, so many – including me – fear that this does not bode well for the magazine. I hope we’re wrong. I’ve reviewed a couple of issues of the magazine, the Summer 2011 issue here and the Summer 2010 issue here, and even when I didn’t like every story in the magazine, I thought the really good stories were thick in the pages.

Do you know about the Los Angeles Review of Books? It’s a fairly new publication, online only so far as I can tell, and it doesn’t publish all at once, but posts reviews every now and then, or so it seems. To my delight, there is a good deal of emphasis on science fiction and fantasy. Here is one of the best reviews of China Mieville’s Embassytown I’ve read (and I’ve read some very good ones). This piece on David Mitchell’s work is also very good. And this, on Karen Joy Fowler’s What I Didn't See: Stories, is also excellent. You’ll want to bookmark this site.

Fred’s ordered us a copy of Nicholson Baker’s new book, House of Holes: A Book of Raunch, which sounds obscene – and is, apparently (it hasn’t arrived yet, so I can’t verify that for myself, but I suspect I’ll be blushing as I read). This profile of Baker is a great read. I loved The Anthologist, which I reviewed here; it seems like this new book couldn’t be more different.

I confess that I wish J.K. Rowling were working on a new project, rather than continuing to delve into the world of Harry Potter, but apparently Pottermore is worth your time. Have you given it a look yet? If so, did you like it?

Here’s something cool: NASA and science fiction writers are collaborating. I want to read what comes out of this project! The Guardian offers its take on the project as well.

>a href=http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/04/sunday-review/novelists-predict-future-with-eerie-accuracy.html?_r=1>The perennial article about writers predicting the future seems the obvious follow-up to the news of the NASA/writer pairing. What seems strangest about this article, though, is how genre writers have been shoved to the rear (mentioned, but glancingly), while mainstream writers get most of the attention. That seems odd to me; why not ask those who are immersed in science what they think, before you ask those who float and dream? Not that there’s anything wrong with floating and dreaming, mind you, but why not go to those who have some grounding?

Want to get really depressed about the future of books? Then read this article from the Guardian discussing the end of authorship as we know it. The end of the advance could well mean the end of publishing in any traditional sense, and then all we have is a mass of written words on screens, with no ability to tell good from bad. I guess that means that the book reviewer’s job becomes all the more important, but it also means we book reviewers have to wade through an awful lot of crap to come across a single pearl – work that used to be done by agents and publishers. I hope this author Is being far too pessimistic, but I wonder.

Also in the category of depressing news about publishing: publishers who want certain writers to help pay for the publication of their books. This seems to bear out what the Guardian piece about suggests is happening, and definitely makes for some sad reading.

If you’re a book collector as well as a reader, this report on the most sought after out-of-print books will fascinate you. Me, not so much. I love owning rare books, but not solely because they’re rare; I only buy books that I truly want to read, and I usually hope to get them early just because they’re good. Certainly when I picked up a first edition of Neal Stephenson’s Snow Crash from a remainder table, I wasn’t expecting it to increase in value by several thousand percent; sometimes I just hit it lucky.

Here’s a recipe for a lovely warm brown rice and grilled vegetable salad, but that’s not all you’ll get out of reading this blog post. It was the second post I’d read in a few days about how female bloggers are hounded about everything they write, from their appearance to how they care for their children to what the hell are you doing writing when you should be taking care of your husband?! There are trolls everywhere, but it seems they find particular joy in harassing women. Sigh. The more things change….

What’s the best way to read a book? How better to answer that question than to read succeeding chapters of the same book on different devices, including the tried-and-true paperback? I rather doubt I would have reached the same conclusion as the writer of this article, but then, I’m the one who just spent thousands of dollars to move 12,000 to 15,000 books 120 miles. As John Clute has been known to say, “I’m a book collector. There is no twelve-step program. Pray for me.”