The War of Undoing by Alex Perry
Review Round-Up: Cardigan, Stormswift and Tregaron's Daughter

Starring Colson & The Olsens


Nintendo Virtual League Baseball, via the Museum of Obsolete Media

Appointing Death Panels for Science Fiction

Clarke winner Colson Whitehead seems pretty cool, via the Guardian:

The Underground Railroad “could not exist without the toolkit of fantastic literature.... Way back when I was 10 years old, it was science fiction and fantasy that made me want to be a writer,” said Whitehead, whose previous novel Zone One featured zombies. “If you were a writer, you could work from home, you didn’t have to talk to anybody, and you could just make up stuff all day. Stuff about robots and maybe zombies and maybe even miraculous railway lines. Fantasy, like realism, is a tool for describing the world.”

I have genuine appreciation for anyone that freely conflates fantasy and science fiction in his first post-Clarke interview. Somewhere out there, a rocketships-and-math genre pedant is spinning in (undoubtedly) his grave.

A Closed and Common Orbit

 A Closed and Common Orbit: #SpaceisforEveryone badge, via Hodderscape

Meanwhile in celebrity branding...

On the success of the Olsen Twins, via the Dry Down:

The Olsens occupy a strange position in pop culture, one that approaches opacity, a near impossibility in the digital age. Though they branded themselves ceaselessly long before everyone had a personal brand - they were on lunchboxes, trapper keepers, keyrings - when the twins turned 18 and took over full ownership of Dualstar, they started to slowly and deliberately erase their digital footprints. No Twitter, no Instagram, all mystery. They are so notoriously social media averse that their first selfie together (posted on the Sephora account) made international headlines.... This is all to say that the twins went a...different way than the rest of the Tanner gang, and made far more money-- and graduated to a different level of fashion-world prestige - as a result.

Not that the Olsens need another vote of affirmation for their success, but this brutal cultivation of their brand is strangely prescient. I do a lot of work with teens, and the way that they use social media. If you'll forgive the generational tagging, the Olsen's rather cleverly skipped the entire explosion of Millennial reach-equals-success mentality, and went straight to Gen Z's much more cautiously curated image.

Ministry of Stalking Amazon

Amazon's quarterly results fell short of expectations, but, to quote Quartz, "Wall Street barely cares". Why?

Perhaps because the market has finally started to regard Amazon as a monopoly. Amazon is, among other things, a massive e-tailer, a delivery and logistics network, a fashion designer, a data-storage and web-services provider, a TV and film producer, a grocer, a payment service, and a gadget maker. Its flagship Prime membership program is used by 85 million Americans, an estimated two-thirds of all US households. It can crush another company just by filing for a trademark.

It generated $38b in revenue this quarter (up from $30b the previous year), $4b came from Amazon Web Services. Also - and I had no idea - over half of Amazon customers now have Prime - effectively paying Amazon for the right to better pay Amazon:


$38b is a huge number in isolation. Here's a point of contrast: 2016 UK publishing had a record number for a year with £4.8b ($6.28) in sales. Meaning Amazon sells approximately (does math) 24x more than the entire British publishing industry. Which isn't a slur on the industry, as much as a note about how little Amazon needs to care about books any more.

Other links of interest

"Inside the weird world of Eve Online's corpse collectors" (Kotaku)

100% biodegradable fungi shoe packaging by designer Angelina Aleksandrovich

"The untold story of the teen hackers who transformed the early internet" (Gizmodo)

Binky: the weirdly soothing app that does nothing (The Atlantic)

Stunning visualisation of the daily life of Americans (Flowing Data)