Book Bits...

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Did you know that racial diversity was a significant part of speculative fiction? Apparently the news media is just figuring this out a hundred years after Fantasy writer N. K. Jemisin. (Courtesy of N.K. Jemisin)Burroughs introduced us to green-skinned martians. Oh wait, we’re talking just here on earth? That’s different. Here’s an article from LA Times (which actually has a pretty good regular section on comics and science fiction) on the emergence of African-American authors and readers. Apparently they’ve been around a while, but no one really noticed before. So typical.


(Doubleday)Adding to the overcrowded list of “coming of age” stories are these ten new books for the teen market. The stories are aimed at helping the delicate flowers to understand the world around them and emerge unscathed as snarky 20-somethings. Many parents are learning the hard way that the Brits have the right idea of sending kids off to school until they reach 21, at which point they can make their own way. If you have a teen who actually reads books, here are some suggestions for summer.


If you are you are out of bookshelf space and want to make your room look even more cluttered, now you can buy wallpaper with Penguin Library covers from Osborne & Little, purveyors of fine wall coverings. I would have hoped the selection of books would be more appealing, but they decided to go with the standard imprint look from the past that they describe as “iconic.” Honestly I think just plain “ick” would describe it just as well, but what do I know.


Cat detective John Blacksad investigates the disappearance of a famous pianist in Blacksad: A Silent Hell.Do you like film noir? Do you like gritty detective stories with lots of twists and turns and hard-hitting action? Do you like cute little animals as characters? You can have it all with these three new graphic novels. Using anthropomorphic (say that three times fast) animals in human roles has been around a long time. Disney, for one, built an entire entertainment empire around talking animals, and of course many earlier examples exist from authors like Lewis Carroll (who was actually Charles Dodgson) and Kenneth Grahame. Now the animals take on a darker tone and solve crimes in an interesting twist on two old themes.


Banning things that it deems harmful has been something the US Government has been doing for much longer than the past few decades. According to this article the government banned the word “tornadoes” from weather reports from 1883 until the 1950s because it was believed that reaction to the word would cause more panic and harm than the weather itself. I will avoid modern comparisons, but this is a pretty good review of books on tornadoes for anyone wanting to know what the Midwest has been experiencing lately.


Gartner Research analyst Andrea Di Maio discusses one of my favorite topics: the demise of print books and the rise of e-books. He talks about a recent online conversation he had (in Italian) with author Umberto Eco, who claims e-books will never replace print. Di Maio mentions the experience of visiting a bookstore and how, with e-books, people can no longer see what others are reading while out in public. The debate will continue for some time, so here are some points for your next cocktail party discussion.