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Fiction: Jade City (Extract) by Fonda Lee

Dragon-jade-from-BM

Even in the shade, sweat trickled down the backs and faces of the year-eight students. Ten of them stood nervously, each behind a short tower of hot bricks. “One more,” said the master, and the assistant year-threes hurried to the fire pit with tongs, carefully but quickly removing bricks from the flames and placing another on top of each of the ten smoldering stacks. One of the waiting year-eights, named Ton, muttered quietly, “Ah, what to choose, pain or failure?”

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Venus is a Man's World (1957)

Venus Transit

Thoughts Before Listening

This radio drama is called ‘Venus is a Man’s World’ or as Illustrious Acquaintance is calling it, “Weenus is a Man’s World LOL Weenus Hahahaha What a Funny Word is The Word Weenus”. I know I’m going to regret this, but I’m also wondering exactly how bad a show called ‘Venus is a Man’s World’ can be. And isn’t it racist or PC culture or something to assume this is going to be bad just because it is called ‘Venus is a Man’s World’? What if this is amazing? Let us find out.

It’s probably going to be really bad tho.

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50 Books on Imagining and Re-Imagining Cities

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Moil houses from China Miéville's Un Lun Dun

I've been thinking about cities - and how we imagine and definite and interpret them - since the panel at Nine Worlds was announced. The panel itself, chaired by architect Amy Butt, and featuring Verity Holloway and Al Robertson, was brilliant and free-ranging.

One thing we didn't do is lapse into 'here are some books about cities that I recommend'. I'm grateful we skipped that because a) that's boring on a panel and b) that makes cracking blog content. Listicles are good fun.

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Are independent bookshops the new conspicuous consumption?

Nom nom nom

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's new book looks at the changing consumption habits of the wealthy in the West (especially America):

Over the past 100 years, improvements in technology and globalization have made consumer goods increasingly accessible to the average American. Currid-Halkett says this led to the “democratization of conspicuous consumption,” which has made consumer products a less appealing way for the wealthy to show their class. Rather, acts of conspicuous consumption are now focused on limited edition versions of goods that are difficult to imitate, like $20,000 Birkin bags and rare vintage wines.

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Wargames for Girls? (1964)

Vol1i3_0000Recently, I found the archives of the Avalon Hill General, easily one of the most important publications when it came to the formation of modern wargaming.

Published by Avalon Hill, and devoted to their military games, it helped to link the many, many tiny cells of wargamers around the country.

As well as rules discussion, hints, tips and challenges, the General contained regional editors (fan volunteers), an index of local players and 'want ads' for play by mail games. From a pure marketing standpoint, it was brilliant: a collection of user-generated content that turned isolated players into a community of (Avalon-Hill-Buying) regulars.

It is also a really interesting look into the demographics - and the culture - of early wargamers. There are, as you might expect, a lot of high school boys, ex- or currently serving military men, and a few middle aged men. The list of active players in the newsletters is all male (although some women may be hiding behind initials), and virtually all with Western European surnames. Basically: white guys.

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