Friday Five: 5 Jaunty Jolts of Joe R. Lansdale
The Mirror Empire by Kameron Hurley

Weirdness Rodeo

image from Andreas FeiningerSay hi to our newest contributor - Becky Chambers! Becky's Extended Memory column involves her reviewing all those wonderful (we hope) classic PC games, and she's kicked off by returning to her very first game - Beyond Dark Castle.

New short stories are coming from William Curnow, Jennifer Moore, David W Pomerico, Marie Vibbert, Michal Wojcik, Olivia Wood and JY Yang.

Meanwhile, on the rest of the internet...

A study out of the University of Colorado reports on an interesting trend:

The study examined in detail the yearly top 30 Billboard songs from 1960 to 2013 – a total of 1,583 – and found a steep increase in `advertainment’ or the use of product placement, branding and name dropping among the most popular music in the nation.

[The study] found a total of 1,544 product references in the five decades of songs he analyzed with more than half occurring between 2000 and 2010. The study also showed a direct link between product placement and brand awareness. For example, after the 2002 Busta Rhymes hit single `Pass the Courvoisier,’ sales of the cognac jumped 10 to 20 percent that year. 

Movies have already 'sold out' to product placement, music doesn't seem to be far behind... how long until some far-sighted marketer starts flogging products through literature? 

On the other end of the spectrum, Ron Perlman rules out crowd-funding for Hellboy 3:

I don't think its the fans' job to fund a movie. I think it's up to the people who do it professionally. I think it's the fans' job is to sit back, buy popcorn and Coke, and watch the movie and enjoy it.

And, on the topic of gleaning money from creative work, this ESPN piece on the brutal science behind freemium gaming is harrowing and fascinating:

The pull of games that involve strategy and world building, like Clash of Clans, is less analogous to that of slot machines - but their developers are no less devoted to leveraging every bit of data their players produce into profit. Whether King or Supercell, video game companies have built their entire business on one premise: lengthening our stay within their virtual worlds.

(Nods head in sage agreement. Then goes off to play Avengers Alliance for six hours.)

I'm not messy, I'm creative. (Science says so!):

When we analyzed the responses, we found that the subjects in both types of rooms came up with about the same number of ideas, which meant they put about the same effort into the task. Nonetheless, the messy room subjects were more creative, as we expected. Not only were their ideas 28 percent more creative on average, but when we analyzed the ideas that judges scored as “highly creative,” we found a remarkable boost from being in the messy room — these subjects came up with almost five times the number of highly creative responses as did their tidy-room counterparts.

The joy of reading RPGs:

By putting aside simple narrative storytelling and replacing it with detailed description, the RPG offers the total immersion in an imaginary world so valued by geek readers. The elaboration of leading characters, political factions and major historical events is sometimes a very dry exercise in world building, but done with enough skill it can spark a deeply satisfying response.

This sounds really sad as well (it isn't), but part of the 'reading the RPG' experience also had to do with the pre-MMORPG days, wherein finding people to play a game with was really hard. Doubly so if you needed your mom to drive you. Reading RPGs was often the closest you got to playing.

Instagram magazines are now a thing - kind of? Maybe? Starting with Ballantine's W. Good idea? Terrible idea? You decide. 

Pornokitsch people elsewhere

Molly and Jesse's Four Seasons in The Floating World™ is free this weekend on Amazon and 

Rock and Hill are the latest to give Vermilion five stars.

Seems a good time to share this again: Becky's inspiring advice for her fellow writers.

Mahvesh reviews Frances Hardinge's The Lie Tree for Strange Horizons and interviews the spectacular Naomi Novik for Midnight in Karachi.

Mahvesh and Jared also get the show back on the road with the Dragonlance reread - Solace is screwed, guys.

Rob explains why calling for free speech in Saudi Arabia isn't "meddling".

And finally

Explore the Star Wars galaxy. In detail.

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