(1) GETTING COVERS BACK OUT FRONT. Entrepreneur assesses “Why Book Covers Are Making a Comeback”.
…Driven by visual social media and digital reading innovations, book cover design is reclaiming significance. Publishers are investing more in illustrated covers over text-dominant designs. Authors are regaining control over cover direction. Book cover reveals have become standalone social media events driving buzz. In many ways, we are witnessing a renaissance in the aesthetics and art of book covers. Let’s examine the forces driving this comeback.
…. Another paradoxical force spurring the comeback of print-style covers is the rise of e-books. With e-readers like Kindle gaining adoption, publishers feared print covers would lose significance. But an unexpected opposite effect occurred.
E-readers triggered innovations in e-book cover design that looped back to influence print covers. Interactive e-book covers came to life through animation and video. Digital-first elements like neon textures or holographic finishes became popular. E-book-first series that went viral, like ambitious illustrated covers for epic fantasy novels, crossed back over to print.
Reading ecosystem convergence is also elevating covers. Services like Amazon Matchbook give e-book copies of print purchases, keeping hardcover artwork relevant. Companies popularized custom dust jackets as consumable cover accessories. Display-worthy book boxes and monthly subscription book packages rely on striking cover reveals….
(2) STINKERS ALSO EDUCATE THE PALATE. “Legendary writer Alan Moore explains why it’s important to read ‘terrible’ books not just good ones” at Upworthy.
…“As a prospective writer, I would urge you to not only read good books. Read terrible books as well, because they can be more inspiring than the good books,” Moore says in a clip taken from his BBC Maestro online storytelling course.
“If you are inspired by a good book, there’s always the danger of plagiarism, of doing something that is too much like that good book,” Moore says in the video. “Whereas, a genuinely helpful reaction to a piece of work that you’re reading is, ‘Jesus Christ, I could write this sh*t!’ That is immensely liberating — to find somebody who is published who is doing much, much worse than you.”
Moore also believes that being exposed to bad writing can help you learn from other writers’ mistakes. Knowing why something doesn’t work can be as valuable as understanding why something succeeds….
(3) BLAZING THE WAY. Slashfilm documents “How Twilight Zone’s Rod Serling Pioneered The Sci-Fi Genre For Years To Come”.
…On the PBS website for American Masters, several notable artists were put on the record as to their fandom of Serling’s show. One might easily guess that Jordan Peele was a fan of “The Twilight Zone” as he served as executive producer and narrator for the 2019 revival. It will also shock no one to learn that Stephen King and Guillermo delt Toro are massive fans. King said in Marc Scott Zicree’s sourcebook “The Twilight Zone Companion” that he was inspired by Matheson in particular, while del Toro, although a “Twilight” fan, was more fond of Serling’s follow-up series “Night Gallery.”
One might be a little more surprised to learn that comedian Mel Brooks was a fan. Brooks, of course, had taste in entertainment that extended far beyond the comedies he was known for writing, as the maker of “Blazing Saddles” also produced films like “The Elephant Man” and “The Fly.” Brooks clearly had a thing for the unusual and the macabre and was impressed by Serling’s mastery over his production. In Mark Dawidziak’s 2020 book “Everything I Need to Know I Learned in the Twilight Zone: A Fifth-Dimension Guide to Life,” Brooks offered the following observation:
“The greatest lesson I learned is that you need to reserve judgment and seriously buy into the creation and design of the filmmaker. You’ve got to give it all up and go along with the magic. Every time I watched ‘The Twilight Zone,’ I was completely ready to surrender to it. That’s what the mystery of creation is all about. Give yourself over to that wonderful, wonderful mystery.”…
(4) CAPED FUN. A small-town gathering uses superheroes to raise money for childhood cancer research: “Superhero day kicked off in Athens to raise money for childhood cancer” on WAFF in Athens, Alabama.
Every child wishes they could be a superhero, right? On Saturday, kids had the opportunity to take part in the action, as part of Eli’s Block Party.
Children were inspired and had some fun with superhero characters for the free family-friendly event hosted by Athens-Limestone Tourism for childhood cancer research.
The special day was established in 2011 for Eli Williams, who fought medulloblastoma for almost six years. In 2017 Williams passed away and his mother, Kristie Williams remains a vital part of keeping his memory alive through the organization, Eli’s Block Party.
“The goal for Superhero Day is to honor this decade-long annual event by preserving it and continuing it,” said Tina Morrison, Athens-Limestone County Tourism Association Event Coordinator. “This kids event makes a positive change for children by providing a fun, free environment for all kids of all economic backgrounds. While having fun, they will also learn the importance of serving in their community, the importance of saving and donating money, and the opportunity to inquire with caring, professional adults about becoming community leaders when they grow up.”…
(5) A RED LETTER DAY. The date of next year’s LA Vintage Paperback Show has been set: Sunday, March 17, 2024.
(6) SURPASSING THE MASTER. ScreenRant stands behind “The Orville & 10 Other Sci-Fi Parodies As Good As The Franchises They’re Based On”.
Even though they’re often mocking their source material, sci-fi parodies can be as good as the franchises they’re based on. The Orville is better than modern Star Trek to some fans, and similar series have actually contributed to the genre as a whole with fun plots, memorable characters, and engaging visuals, with a moral lesson or two for good measure. Far from spoofing George Lucas’s original Star Wars trilogy, movies like Spaceballs actually elevate it, making its rich lore and world-building come across as even more distinct and iconic within the pop culture zeitgeist.
Unexpectedly in first place:
1. Star Trek: Lower Decks
Star Trek: Lower Decks focuses on the goings-on of the lower decks of Starfleet’s USS Cerritos, an unimportant vessel often called upon to engage in extraordinary adventures despite the mediocre nature of its crew. This animated series is actually a part of Star Trek canon but does an ingenious job of subverting it with humor. Everything fans have made fun of about the franchise for years is lovingly incorporated into jokes about cleaning bodily fluids from the holodeck, and this sci-fi parody is now touted as one of the best new Star Trek series of the last ten years.
(7) TODAY’S BIRTHDAYS.
[Compiled by Cat Eldridge.]
- Born September 10, 1914 — Robert Wise. Film director, producer, and editor. Among his accomplishments are directing The Curse of The Cat People, The Day the Earth Stood Still, The Haunting, The Andromeda Strain and Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Though not at all genre, he also directed West Side Story and edited Citizen Kane, two exemplary accomplishments indeed. (Died 2005.)
- Born September 10, 1952 — Gerry Conway, 71. Writer who’s best known for co-creating with John Romita Sr. and Ross Andru the Punisher character and scripting the death of Gwen Stacy during his long run on The Amazing Spider-Man. (ThePunisher comic is far, far better than any the three films is. I broke my vow of not watching anything I like and deeply regret it. I really mean that.) I’m also fond of his work on Weird Western Tales at DC. A truly odd and deeply entertaining series. At DC, he created a number of characters including Firestorm, Count Vertigo and Killer Croc. Not genre at all, but he wrote a lot of scripts for Law and Order: Criminal Intent, one of my favorite series.
- Born September 10, 1953 — Pat Cadigan, 70. Tea from an Empty Cup and Dervish is Digital are both amazing works. And I’m fascinated that she co-wrote with Paul Dini, creator of Batman: The Animated Series, a DCU novel called Harley Quinn: Mad Love. In many ways, it was better than the damn series is which I’ll discuss with anyone here.
- Born September 10, 1955 — Victoria Strauss, 68. Author of the Burning Land trilogy, she should be praised for being founder along with AC Crispin for being founder of the Committee on Writing Scams. She maintains the Writer Beware website and blog.
- Born September 10, 1958 — Nancy A. Collins, 65. Author of the Sonja Blue vampire novels, some of the best of that genre I’ve ever had the pleasure to read. She had a long run on Swamp Thing from issues 110 to 138, and it is generally considered a very good period in that narrative. She also wrote Vampirella, the Forrest J Ackerman and Trina Robbins creation, for awhile.
- Born September 10, 1964 — Chip Kidd, 58. Graphic designer. And isn’t that an understatement. He did Batman: Death by Design which was illustrated by Dave Taylor, and there’s his amazing homage to Plastic Man with Art Spiegelman, Jack Cole and Plastic Man: Forms Stretched to Their Limits. He also created the Tyrannosaurus rex skeleton design for the original Jurassic park novel which was later carried over into the film franchise. Neat. Really neat.
- Born September 10, 1968 — Guy Ritchie, 55. Director of Sherlock Holmes and its sequel Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows, both of each I rather liked, and the live-action Aladdin. He did also directed / wrote / produced the rebooted The Man from U.N.C.L.E. which got rather nice reviews to my surprise as well as King Arthur: Legend of the Sword which apparently is quite excellent as audience reviewers at Rotten Tomatoes give it a seventy percent rating.
(8) COMICS SECTION.
- In case you wondered, Tom Gauld shows it’s harder to find the right book than the right porridge.
(9) WEAK AND OTHER AI. Rich Horton reviews “Machinehood, by S. B. Divya” at Strange at Ecbatan.
…The novel is told primarily from the POV of Welga Ramírez, with a number of chapters from the POV of her sister-in-law Nithya. It is set in 2095, and its themes are stated to some extent in extracts from the Machinehood Manifesto, a document issued during the action of the novel. The first two declarations from the manifesto we see are: “All forms of intelligence have the right to exist without persecution or slavery.” and “No form of intelligence may own another.” We are quickly aware that this is a significant issue in this future, as the society is heavily reliant on bots of various forms — a fairly obtuse vendor bot is immediately introduced — and by WAIs, or “weak artificial intelligences”, such as Welga’s personal aide Por Qué. A key issue, clearly, is “what is intelligence?” (The Machinehood defines it very expansively.) Another issue, already fraught for this future society, is labor rights — the economy is largely a gig economy, and humans have struggled to compete for jobs as many jobs are performed by bots or WAIs….
(10) FOCUSED HISTORY. From Paul Weimer at Nerds of a Feather: “Review: The Lion House: The Coming of a King by Christopher de Bellaigue”.
…I have been speaking in terms as if this were a historical novel rather than an actual piece of non fiction, and I do think that this book really does borrow a lot from the novel tradition. The tradition expansive and sometimes dry history book of the past that turned off as many or more readers than they drew in is not so much a thing in modern history and non fiction. The rage these days is for the microhistory, for the history of sometimes not even just a particular person, but a moment in time, a decision, a small aspect of the world that can be illuminated, described and brought to life. Capturing Suleyman the Magnificent at the beginning of his reign, when he rising to his power and the crest of his reign (and arguably the height of the entire Ottoman Empire) is definitely in that microhistorical frame….
(11) ANOTHER SIDE OF TOM GAULD. In “Microreview: Mooncop” at Nerds of a Feather, Alex Wallace shows “Tom Gauld has more up his sleeve than just funny cartoons.”
…Mooncop is a slim volume; I read it in a single sitting, and I think most people could do it in a rather short amount of time. It is, in a sense, exactly what it says on the tin, being about a policeman on a lunar colony sometime in the not-too-distant future. Even the title feels like Gauld, in some way, with a bluntness that only obscures the greater depths of the work with a seeming irreverence towards standard titles….
(12) AND COME OUT FIGHTING. The Guardian referees the “Battle of the AIs: rival tech teams clash over who painted ‘Raphael’ in UK gallery”.
…Both studies used state-of-the art AI technology. Months after one study proclaimed that the so-called de Brécy Tondo, currently on display at Bradford council’s Cartwright Hall Art Gallery, is “undoubtedly” by Raphael, another has found that it cannot be by the Renaissance master.
In January, research teams from the universities of Nottingham and Bradford announced the findings of facial recognition technology, which compared the faces in the Tondo with those in Raphael’s Sistine Madonna altarpiece, commissioned in 1512.
Having used “millions of faces to train an algorithm to recognise and compare facial features”, they stated: “The similarity between the madonnas was found to be 97%, while comparison of the child in both paintings produced an 86% similarity.”
They added: “This means that the two paintings are highly likely to have been created by the same artist.”
But algorithms involved in a new study by Dr Carina Popovici, a scientist with Art Recognition, a Swiss company based near Zurich, have now returned an 85% probability for the painting not to be painted by Raphael….
(13) PLANKING THE SCRIPTURES. Thanks to AI you can own the Pirate Bible: The Whole Bible in Pirate Speak.
The Pirate Bible is a full translation of the Bible (including Old and New Testaments). It was translated using a complex algorithm and artificial intelligence to create a realistic translation of the Holy Book while striving to maintain content accuracy. We hope it inspires you to engage with the Bible in new and meaningful ways.
What’s the difference? Compare how the King James Version and the Pirate Bible render this verse:
Matthew 6:3 (KJV)
But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
Matthew 6:3 (Pirate Bible)
But when ye scuttle booty, let not yer port hand know what yer starboard hand be doin’!
(14) VIDEO OF THE DAY. Ryan George plays the entire Solar System when “The Planets Hold An Intervention For Earth”. I mean, the Earth is just crawling with you-know-whats!
[Thanks to Chris Barkley, Cat Eldridge, SF Concatenation’s Jonathan Cowie, Steven French, Mike Kennedy, Andrew Porter, and John King Tarpinian for some of these stories. Title credit belongs to File 770 contributing editor of the day Joe H.]