Lilith’s Brood, a science fiction trilogy by Octavia Butler, tells a post- and pre-apocalyptic story, where a few humans survive a nuclear apocalypse only to face the end of their species in a very different way.
(Some spoilers after the cut, which I figure is probably OK since these books have been out in the world almost as long as I have.)
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Liu Cixin’s space-opera trilogy Remembrance of Earth’s Past revolutionized Chinese science-fiction, and creates a vision of the future as relevant and communicative as any in the history of the genre.
Liu’s avowed poetics for the work, at least as represented for English-speaking audiences, are given in an essay published in 2014, around when the first part of the the trilogy, The Three-Body Problem, was first translated. The essay concludes with his claim, “I wrote about the worst of all possible universes in Three Body out of hope that we can strive for the best of all possible Earths.”
The trilogy certainly takes a dark view of some of the ways humans relate to one another and to their world, but human nature is what Liu takes for granted: humans would act this way even in a Liebnitzian “best of all possible universes.” The “worst” universe Liu creates isn’t the human characters, it is the plot he embeds them in, which is so full of misfortunes that it borders on sadistic. Humans’ difficulties with one another and with their world are the subject that he wants to examine, and hopefully improve, if our actual universe turns out to be less awful than the fictional one he has drawn.
The center of the awfulness is the game-theoretic principle (invented by Liu) that gives the second book in the trilogy its title: Dark Forest Theory. Spoilers follow.
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This woman has been slowly eating Infinite Jest for a year. We don’t really know why, but we support it.
If you, like us, are always just a few days behind on The Handmaid’s Tale, you may have missed Variety‘s fun, engaging interview with Elizabeth Moss about the finale.
Or, you might want to check out a pair of what I can only describe as cerebral fanwanks about hair and music in The Handmaid’s Tale at LA Review of Books.
Damon Lindelof might be doing a Watchmen series on HBO! And before you get upset, Zack Snyder he is not. He did wonders with The Leftovers by departing from the source material in meaningful ways.
This is the best tweet about the news, which came out right around the time Lord and Miller dropped out of the Han Solo prequel:
At Book Riot via The Millions, five writers inspired by Octavia Butler, whose birthday was Thursday, write about her influence on them. I happen to be in the middle of Fledgling and I’m loving it, so it’s a timely topic for me!
First, a PSA: We have a Facebook page, go on over there and hit like if you want to get updates from us!
OK, now get ready to die of cuteness… Vulture has a detailed history of the best friendship of Busy Phillips and Michelle Williams, formerly of Dawson’s, who also went to the Oscars together last week and HELD HANDS (picture via Yahoo):
The Millions has a fun list of genre fiction to check out if you have enjoyed literary/genre crossovers like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell or Never Let Me Go. A lot of the suggestions sound great!
We are so psyched for the Beauty and the Beast movie. Disney has promised an “exclusively gay moment,” and a writer from Vulture dove in and analyzed how exclusively gay this moment actually is (answer: not very. I know I’m shocked). Worth reading just for the hilariously inappropriate closing line.
Feel like reading a little light Foucauldian analysis of Lena Dunham’s thighs? Come on, I know you do. Head to the LA Review of Books.
Before I get started, a few things to clarify. First, I’m going to spoil absolutely everything; personally, I think I’m doing people who haven’t yet subjected themselves to this movie a favor, but make responsible choices. Second, this is definitely a case of trying-and-failing being worse than not-trying-at-all. Arrival does definitely try, but it’s hard to name anything that it succeeds at.
Let’s dive in.
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Sons and Lovers by D.H. Lawrence
I’ll be honest: I expected to hate Sons and Lovers. I wanted to finally read D.H. Lawrence for the first time, but a 19th century novel about a young man who is emotionally stunted by his overbearing mother sounded far too pseudo-Freudian for my taste. But I was surprised to find that within the first fifty pages, all of the characters were meticulously drawn at a nearly Jamesian level of psychological nuance, and that the “overbearing mother” was the most sympathetic and fascinating character of the piece. Sons and Lovers is, ostensibly, the story of a young man’s coming-of-age, but really, it’s a story about the fallibility of family bonds, in which they are as fragile yet sticky as strands in a spider web.
Acquired: at a flea market in Iceland, where Sons and Lovers was the only Lawrence novel they had. Continue reading →
Previously on Braindead: Everything I wrote was wrong. Or at least, the part where I said Laurel obviously did not have a spacebug infection. The previouslies song is very slow and sad and informs us that indeed, Laurel has bugs in her brain. At least he agrees with me that “this isn’t supposed to happen to the main character.” He also sings briefly about Abby’s death, Stacie’s infection, Gareth’s crush on Laurel, and that time Laurel beat Anthony up with her brass knuckles.
Laurel sits up in bed, panicked and in pain, grabbing her head. Don’t freak out, Laurel! That’ll just make your head explode! She writhes out of bed, holding her head, and calls 911. Sucks for her that the dispatcher is also infected (she’s the lady from apartment 304 in episode 4), so she pulls out a carrot and snacks calmly on it with no sense of urgency at all. It’s pretty much what Laurel deserves for thinking 9-1-1 can help her with spacebugs in her brain, like, does she not remember when that dude’s head exploded in the ambulance in the presence of half a dozen completely helpless EMTs? Why is she not calling Rochelle? Luckily, Gustav is knocking on her door to warn her. She opens the door and informs him dramatically, “They’re in.”
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