“Few in the speculative fiction community were surprised that the 2016 Hugo Award for Excellence in Science Fiction and Fantasy ballot was beleaguered for the second year in a row by a slate of trolls calling themselves the Sad Puppies, with their right-wing pals the Rabid Puppies in tow (seriously, these names).”
“My parents were both village teachers. The village was full of women. And they had to work very hard during the day, there were no men left in the village, and after they were done with work – the village was full of benches – they would all come outside and they would talk. It was scary to listen to them, but it was also very interesting. They talked about war about death about loss, because some lost their husbands recently and this was much more exciting and much more interesting than reading the books that we had in the house.”
“After undergoing a vicious attack by caste leaders in his home state of Tamil Nadu, his novel One Part Woman last month was the subject of a landmark court decision defending the right of artists to critically depict their own communities. Recent interest in [Perumal] Murugan’s work has exploded, with five novels coming out, translated into English from the original Tamil. But Mr. Murugan seems unsure of what kind of writer he will be now.”
“If we think of a library as a city and a book as an individual house in that city, each sentence becomes one tiny component of that house. Some are mostly functional – the load-bearing wall, the grout between the bathroom tiles – while others are the details we remember and take away, perhaps recalling their texture and colour when we assemble our own verbal dwelling-place.”
“Siloe, which specialises in making facsimiles of old manuscripts, has bought the rights to make 898 exact replicas of the Voynich – so faithful that every stain, hole, sewn-up tear in the parchment will be reproduced.”
“Before there can be books, there has to be work: cleaning, sanding, painting, moving.”
“The immediate takeaway from last night’s awards is that like last year, a slate of works pushed onto the ballot by a coordinated campaign has considerable trouble actually succeeding, and where it does, it’s where slated works are considered universally popular.”
“I’m removed from the city but I can see it, hear it, smell it. When I first started to work here I thought it would be a good place to meet interviewers or have research discussions, but that idea quickly evaporated. I like it that no one else comes here.”
“I live on these borders – and these borders that allow me to see from multiple perspectives and kind of take things in and then kind of process certain ideas and certain stories in a very unique way. And that has led me to write this strange fiction that I write, which really isn’t that strange if you really look at it through a sort of skewed lens.”
“With the Trump campaign and Brexit getting credit for drawing on populist angst, Coriolanus deserves a second look.The play can help us reconsider what populism is and the ways a ‘populist’ movement can be fostered by, yet not necessarily conducive to, democracy.”
Even the first person to read “The Road Not Taken” first understood it the way generations of schoolteachers have explained it; Frost himself had to explain (several times) what he meant. Other readers have taken the poem to be a parody of the lofty individualistic sentiments of the interpretation we learned in grade school. David Orr takes apart both those readings, and provides alternative versions of the poem that would actually fit them, to highlight what Frost actually did write.
Scholars have suspected for decades that the Codex Selden (also called the Codex Anute), a Mixtec document in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, had an earlier document underneath the one visible, but modern hyperspectral imaging technology has now confirmed it.
“The first three titles, to be released on Sept. 6 by her publishing platform Pottermore, will focus on the Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The e-books, each about 10,000 words long, will include new material as well as writing previously published on Pottermore.com.”
“The punctuation mark of the ellipsis is perhaps the most unusual mark in the English language, for punctuation marks are designed to convey meaning by indicating relationships between ideas, but the ellipsis does the exact opposite.” What’s more, those three little dots date back centuries before Shakespeare.
“In a terse statement that lacked any attempt at corporate spin, the company said that ‘the board of directors determined that Mr. Boire is not a good fit for the organization and that it was in the best interest of all parties for him to leave the company.’ … [He] is the third chief executive to leave the troubled company in just three years.”
“In short, if English should lose its surprisingly small profane vocabulary set through overusage, we would be forced to invent new obscenities. That would be no easy task, given the polished perfection of what biology, time and chance has already bequeathed us.”
What’s more, Stein gave advice on reading the book that fits almost everything she ever wrote: “Don’t bother about the commas which aren’t there, read the words. Don’t worry about the sense that is there, read the words. If you have any trouble, read faster and faster until you don’t.”
English is as much of an international language as we have today. But its spelling and syntax and just about everything else about it is inconsistent and capricious. So how did English get to be English?
“The PEN/Nabokov award, supported by the Vladimir Nabokov Literary Foundation, replaces another award with the same name but a different remit. It will go to a writer born or residing outside the US, either writing in or translated into English to honor ‘an outstanding body of work over a sustained career’. “
“Forget medals, Wheaties boxes, interviews on Good Morning America, or corporate sponsorships: The ancient Greeks celebrated their Olympic champions with poetry.”
“A crop of bookshops is rebelling against frenzied online engagement and is creating environments where the real-life, internet-free book browse is the most effective way to expand your social and professional networks. And in countering the internet overload, some stores are proving to be among London’s hottest hangouts.”
“After I’m finished working, I always do my exercise, and then I’ll eat something, usually after midnight. The main problem with that routine is all these people who want to do things in the morning.”
“Are you having a good week?”
“Yeah, the best week of my professional career, so.”
“I called AAA and waited for them to arrive and fix my flat tire. I waited. And I waited. And I waited some more. And suddenly I realized, to my horror, that I didn’t have any reading material in the car.”
“People are often surprised to learn that books, those bulky, fact-rich forever things, frequently receive less scrutiny from an independent fact checker than the stories they skim in magazines before tossing them in the recycling bin.”
“Shortlisted for the Man Booker prize in 2004, Cloud Atlas is already complicated enough: telling the story of six interlocking lives and hopping back and forth across centuries and genres. But differences between the US and UK editions highlighted by [a professor] in a journal article published on Wednesday on the Open Library of Humanities run to 30 pages of examples.”
“What about telling a story? Not like cookie-cutter data chunks turned into sentences, but a tale with a lot of context and information. Could an algorithm someday write a breezy 2,000-word article like this one? Nobody can currently claim that throne, but one company that appears to be closer to that goal than most is an Israeli firm called Articoolo.”
The leader of the effort to preserve Hawaiian Sign Language is being led by its last native user. But there are conflicts – cultural and personal as well as practical – making the job even more difficult.
“One line member tells Atwood she doesn’t know who she is, hasn’t read any of her books, and wants to know which she should start with. The author shoots her that stare. ‘So you want me to say who I am. Well, I’m secretly Glinda the Good Witch in disguise, and the best novel that I wrote is called the Iliad,’ Atwood says, deadpan. ‘What?’ the woman asks.”
“For some word purists, the singular they is the linguistic equivalent of an ingrown hair, but for others, the solutions for getting around the problem are way messier. … It may be the most controversial word use in the English language – because it highlights a hole in the language where a better-fitting word should go. … And there has been a lot written about it. Here’s another piece of tinder to throw on the fire.”