Well Done God. Revisiting Cult Novelist B S Johnson

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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

Flashlight Worthy: 10 Novels on Art, Artists and Art World Shenanigans

Art_list_flwI’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.’

Here’s the full list, not exhaustive, but it covers a broad range from historically based novels to others with a contemporary setting. This list first appeared on The Huffington Post. Read more

Did the First SF Magazine Appear in Russia in 1894?

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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.
Banerjee says:

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Nassim N Taleb on the Source of All Blunders

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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