Type Travels: The Sword of Welleran

Frontispiece

Recently, I’ve become more and more inte­res­ted in book design and type­setting, and I deci­ded that I wanted to become better at it, and offer it as a service to other people. In the growing world of e-books and digi­tal reading, there is some­thing of a dearth of good design, and the aes­the­tics that I admire in prin­ted books have for the most part not found their way into the digi­tal realm. As an exer­cise, I’ve star­ted play­ing around with some public domain fantasy lite­ra­ture that I wanted to read anyway, such as the (early) works of Lord Dun­sany. In that spirit, I’ve recent­ly com­pleted a PDF setting of The Sword of Welle­ran And Other Stories, origi­nally pu­blished in 1908. […Read more…]

Nordic Larp (Book Review)

Review-Nordic-LARP-700x250

Over on First Person Scholar, I’ve published an extensive book review of Nordic Larp, an im­pressive and beautiful over­view of the Nordic live-action role­playing scene. In it I discuss how the book shows the diversity and experi­mental drive of the LARP scene in Scan­dinavia, and approach it briefly from a play-theoretical perspective. […Read more…]

On Norbert Wiener’s ‘God & Golem, Inc.’

wiener_godandgolem

While reading Annalee Newitz’ intriguing blog post on io9 about the history of the word cyber, I came across the name Norbert Wiener (not Weiner — get it straight, you Englishers) who had introduced the term Cybernetics as “the study of control and communication in machines and living beings”. His other works include the book God and Golem, Inc.: A Comment on Certain Points Where Cybernetics Impinges on Religion, and that title immediately caught my eye. Studies of the interaction between science, technology, and religion always interest me a lot, as do Golems and Jewish folklore, so Wiener had sold it to me easily. […Read more…]

No Control: on The Wasp Factory

thewaspfactory

Few novels com­pelled me as much to imme­diate­ly write my thoughts down as The Wasp Factory by Iain Banks. Usually I enjoy novels a lot while reading them (or not), but quick­ly dive into a new one after­wards. In this case, I felt the need to spend some words on it be­fore moving on. I’m pretty sure this means that the book has some sort of cla­rity and com­pact­ness of style that brings across its messa­ges very directly. I sure wasn’t the only one rea­ding The Wasp Factory this month. Banks passed away after a battle with cancer on June 9th, and a num­ber of my online friends and ac­quain­tances made a grab towards his debut novel, like I did. […Read more…]

Living Through Our Errors

vital_error

It’s been a while since I wrote anything serious about literature, but recently I was reminded of an essay I wrote in 2008, about the question of authorship in the cyberpunk works of Kenji Siratori. I never did anything with the piece at the time, but felt it was interesting enough to brush it up and give it another chance. In short, I question how we should apply the “death of the author” as proclaimed by Roland Barthes to literature that provokes strong questions about the nature of its own author. […Read more…]

2012: A Year in Books

Lori Nix - 'Library' (2007)

What did I read in 2012? I’ve found looking back at my last year in books helps me chart some themes and developments in my (mental life), so I’ve decided to do it again this year. I read 92 books in 2012, a little fewer than in 2011, but they were bigger books, and my page total ended up higher. This doesn’t count all the articles I’ve read, but we’ve got to draw the reading nerdage line somewhere. It’s all slightly arbitrary anyway. […Read more…]

Right Up Yonder

södergran_mirror

Throughout human history, in art and religion, we find a longing for deliverance, the view of a promised land just out of our current reach, whether somewhere else on some part of (mythologised) Earth, or in a world beyond. […Read more…]

Science Stories: The Mythology of Evolution

cover

Most people will be at least passingly familiar with the ‘war’ between ‘science’ and ‘religion’ that has been a central theme in the history of the West in the past few centuries. My quotes are intentional because each of these concepts is far more complicated than common usage would suggest. The problem is: most, if […Read more…]

FATALE & the History of Salomé

FATALE-herodiaswatchesoversalome

This is the third time I’m wri­ting about a digi­tal work by Fle­mish duo Tale of Tales, and that alone says some­thing about the capa­city of their releases to in­spire dis­cussion. I started with the peaceful MMO The End­less Forest, and also did a short bit on The Grave­yard. Conti­nuing the chrono­logical trend would leave The Path as my next sub­ject – argu­ably their best and most game-like work – but writing about that fasci­nating psycho­logical horror piece still seems rather daun­ting. Instead, I’m stick­ing to the slightly more manage­able FATALE and explo­ring a bit of what it has to say about the figure of Salomé and how she’s been treated through­out history. […Read more…]

The Viewpoint of Eternity

time scale

I came across the schema below in Olaf Staple­don’s book Star Maker. The book in gene­ral made a very favour­able im­press­ion on me, as you can read in the short review I wrote on Good­reads. How­ever, this one bit in par­ticular I wanted to high­light on this blog, as it speaks direct­ly to the title, Sub Specie. […Read more…]