Any graph of my reading habits over the past 10 years would reveal vertiginous spikes in April and May. These are the months of my self-imposed, manic preparations for Hay Festival. This 10-day literature event (23 May to 2 June) is a high point in my calendar despite the obligation to camp on a sloping, […]
I’ve set aside time this week to plug the gaps in my knowledge of B S Johnson, thanks to a splendid new compendium of his plays, short prose and journalism (including On Football). Three of the plays have never been published before including One Sodding Thing After Another. Such is the lot of an experimentalist.This year is already shaping up to be a Big Year for the late-B S Johnson. This month sees the 80th anniversary of his birth and so far there’s been: Read more
I’m wearing my artist’s hat this morning and I’m chuffed that Flashlight Worthy Books has published my list of recommended art-related novels: Novels on Art, Artists and Art World Shenanigans.
FLW operates from the US and brings together ‘Handpicked Book Recommendations on Hundreds of Topics.’
As many of you know, I’m a fan of the Russian writer Yevgeny Zamyatin and I decided on the title of my novel A Calculated Life when I read this sentence from his science fiction dystopia, We:
But a thought swarmed in me; what if he, this yellow-eyed being – in his ridiculous, dirty bundle of trees, in his uncalculated life – is happier than us?
The ‘yellow-eyed being’ was a human, one of many, excluded from the perfect world of ‘One State’.An article in io9 this week, Did the very first science fiction magazine appear in Russia in 1894?, gives fascinating insights into Zamyatin and the emergence of Scientific Fantasy, Nauchnaia Fantastika, in the years before the Russian Revolution. It includes exclusive extracts from We Modern People: Science Fiction and the Making of Russian Modernity by Cornell University Professor Anindita Banerjee (Kindle edition more expensive than the paperback!) She delves into the history of early Russian science fiction and explains the Russian obsession with all-things-modern.
photo: Marcos Takamatsu
I’m so excited. Nassim Nicholas Taleb’s follow-up to The Black Swan is now available in the UK – entitled Antifragile: How to Live in a World We Don’t Understand. My hardback copy is winging its way to me. Hardback? Yes, I simply can’t wait for the paperback release. And I don’t want an eBook because I want to underline all the good bits (and the eBook costs more).
As I’ve mentioned before, The Black Swan – The Impact of the Highly Improbable was a goldmine resource when I wrote A Calculated Life. In a nutshell, if I dare, Taleb argues that people, corporations, financial institutions make serious blunders because they disregard highly improbable events. They concern themselves with the likely range of possibilities and make no allowance for so-called black swans – events they have not encountered before. Read more
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