In Stanislaw Lem's 1968 novel His Master's Voice, a message bubbles up from an underground fringe community that comes to be regarded as a message from an alien civilization.
A group of scientists are secretly assembled by the United States government to crack the message. For the most part, they fail. They run through some math, come up with a genome, use it to pop out a useless goop that can sort of kind of teleport things with absolutely no precision, and continue to search for meaning in the message. They fail.
The book served as a sort of treatise on the problem of communication with an extraterrestrial society. Such [...]
I moved to New York City, and I needed to make money. I wasn’t having luck getting a job. It's a common tale.
My solution was to grab my typewriter that I bought at a yard sale for 10 dollars and bring it to a park. I’d write stories for people, on the spot—I wouldn’t set a price. People could pay me whatever they wanted. I knew that I had the gift of writing creatively, very quickly, and my anachronistic typewriter (and explanatory sign) would be enough to catch the eye of passersby. Someone might want something specific; they might just want a story straight from my imagination. I [...]
On November 24, 1948, Vernon Sullivan disappeared. Two years earlier he had caused a scandal in Paris when Editions du Scorpion published his first novel, I Spit on Your Graves. Sullivan was black, but passed as white. He was tired of reading about "good blacks" in American novels, "the type that whites affectionately pat on the back" and he wanted to write something that portrayed a harder world, the one he knew from life. His book was brutal, sexually explicit, and racially taboo. Its protagonist is Lee Anderson, a blond, blue-eyed black man who arrives in the Midwestern town of Buckton intent on avenging the lynching of his baby brother. [...]
The dust was everywhere. It nestled into crevices of wood and fabric, into the plush fur of bears and tigers and dogs and rabbits and indeterminate species of stuffed toys. It settled over dried flowers: Red roses burnt black, white carnations leavened into dusky repose. Candles, curved faces flush with saints and saviors, towered in ashy, extinct clusters. Gusts coughed up low, dirty clouds through which visitors shuffled, trance-like. A town of prairie dogs peeked up and around from their burrows of the stuff, surveying the shrines and memorials, eye-level with the human feet and ankles and shoes and sandals and boots. Buses, climbing an adjacent grade, wheezed into chalky [...]
William Shawn began work at The New Yorker in 1933, was appointed managing editor in 1939 and, quite shortly after the death of founding editor Harold Ross, became the magazine's editor in 1951.
In 1985, 34 years later, Shawn was still the editor, but Peter Fleischmann, the son of founding partner Raoul Fleischmann, owned only 25% of shares in The New Yorker. Paine Webber owned the next largest share, and the Newhouse family's Advance Publications already owned around 17% of the publication. Advance wanted, and got, the rest, for a price something like 20 times current revenues, according to the Times.
The employees, however, were not happy [...]
There aren’t a lot of people who specialize in spotting flaws in the ethical logic for veganism. That’s quite possibly because no one cares about obscure intellectual discourses over animal rights. I certainly didn’t while I was a vegan. After I saw the light and stopped eating animal products my first year at The University of Texas, I read bits of Tom Regan’s The Case for Animal Rights, Peter Singer’s Animal Liberation and Carol Adams’ The Sexual Politics of Meat, but I could never get into them. I rejected animal farming because it was violent, gruesome, cruel and needless. I didn’t need academic theorizing to keep me convinced.
But after [...]
A note in Barbara Pym's diary instructs: "Read some of Jane Austen's last chapters and find out how she manages all the loose ends." Next entry, a fairly typical one: "The Riviera Cafe, St. Austell is decorated in shades of chocolate brown. Very tasteless, as are the cakes." This was written in 1952. She was 38, had published two novels, Some Tame Gazelle and the resplendent Excellent Women, and was at work on the next. It had taken 15 years of dutiful revising and circulating it around for Some Tame Gazelle to find a publisher. During the rewrites she had tried to heed her agent's advice to "be more wicked, [...]