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1. Fiction Gets Schooled: INFOGRAPHIC

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2. Peggy Lee’s War With Disney Over ‘Lady and the Tramp’

The story of how singer and songwriter Peggy Lee took on one of the world's most powerful entertainment companies -- and won.

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3. Giveaway: Serpentine by Cindy Pon (US & Canada Only)


by Cindy Pon

Release Date: September 8, 2015


About the Book

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

b2ap3_thumbnail_cindypon_author.jpgAbout the Author

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association's Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

Learn more Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Instagram




Note to readers:

If you pre-order by September 7th, you will still receive a brush art card
with every Serpentine copy purchased. These books will be signed and
can also be personalized upon request when you order online.

Thank you for supporting my favorite local indie, Mysterious Galaxy Books!


Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a signed & personalized copy of Serpentine and four of my brush art cards. US & Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: Who does our heroine, Skybright, share her first kiss with? Find out here.

*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

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4. Station Eleven is Reddit Book Club’s Latest Pick

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5. Inspiration Board for This Week’s Topic of OLD


 Hello fellow artists!

As part of our ongoing efforts to make Illustration Friday more of a community focused on the art of idea generation, here’s our Inspiration Board for this week’s topic of OLD.

You can download, save, drag and drop, print, or do whatever you want with it if it helps you to brainstorm ideas for your illustration.

Let us know in the comments if this is something that you think is helpful or inspiring enough for us to keep doing!

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6. Giveaway: Confessions of an Imaginary Friend by Michelle Cuevas (US & Canada Only)


A Memoir by Jacques Papier, as told to Michelle Cuevas 

Illustrator: Michelle Cuevas 

Release Date: September 8, 2015


About the Book

Every once in a while there comes along a book that awakens the spirit and magic of childhood in readers of any age. Discover for yourself Michelle Cuevas’s transcendent novel, CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND: A Memoir by Jacques Papier, (Dial Books for Young Readers: Publication Date: September 8, 2015; hardcover; $16.99; 176 pages with black & white illustrations; Ages 8-12).

This whimsical “faux memoir” is the autobiography of an imaginary friend who doesn’t realize he’s not real. Eight-year-old Jacques Papier has the sneaking suspicion that something is awry, but he thinks that everyone except his sister Fleur ignores him because they hate him. And that’s why no one calls on him when his hand is raised in class, he’s never chosen for sports teams, and his parents often need to be reminded to set a place for him at the dinner table. He’s horrified when he finally learns that he’s actually Fleur’s imaginary friend, and in hopes of literally finding himself, he convinces her to set him free. He embarks on a journey made up of hilarious and heartfelt scenes, finding himself transformed every time he’s assigned to be the imaginary friend to another child. Along the way, he discovers a colorful crew of other imaginaries who help him navigate the ins and outs of life on his own. But will Jacques ever figure out who he’s meant to be?

While CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND is a fanciful tale written to entertain, it also explores some real-life emotional issues for young readers about what it means to belong and how to know one’s true self. The story will also resonate with adults as it stirs up nostalgic memories of childhood and growing up.

Poignant, inventive, humorous and unforgettable, CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND is not to be missed this fall. The film rights have already been optioned by 20th Century Fox Animation and foreign rights have been sold in eleven countries. The novel also includes Michelle Cuevas’s charming kid-like line drawings “by Jacques” to illustrate his narrative.

To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE .

b2ap3_thumbnail_MichelleCuevas.jpgAbout the Author

Michelle Cuevas graduated from Williams College and holds a master of fine arts in creative writing from the University of Virginia, where she received the Henry Hoyns Fellowship. She has worked in the youth education department at The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and is now a full-time writer.

Learn more Website | Amazon | Goodreads



Giveaway Details

One winner will receive a free copy of CONFESSIONS OF AN IMAGINARY FRIEND. US and Canada.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now! ) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: What’s the significance of Jacques Papier’s name?

*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

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7. Image Comics Month-to Month Sales: July 2015 – The Walking On Guard Saga

Yes, that's right: Image. I know I usually do the DC Comics sales summaries here at The Beat, but while Heidi looks for someone to step in and handle the Indy comics chart I volunteered to do a column focusing on Image. With around seventy titles each month they're about as large (titles-wise) as Marvel or DC, so I figure they should have their own column, yes? Warning: The commentary may be even more mis-informed than usual...

The important thing to remember when looking at Image's sales numbers is that they're not really playing the same game as other comics companies. My understanding (and I'm sure you'll all correct me if I'm wrong in the comments below...) is that Image charges a flat fee for producing, listing and distributing comics, so that after that fee and the printing costs, whatever is left over goes directly to whoever supplied the comic. (This may be different for the official Image partners...)

3 Comments on Image Comics Month-to Month Sales: July 2015 – The Walking On Guard Saga, last added: 9/4/2015
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8. Interesting blog posts about writing – w/e September 4th, 2015

Here’s my selection of interesting (and sometimes amusing) posts about writing from the last weekabout writing from the last week:

Your Elevator Pitch (Rachelle Gardner)

Writing the Cozy Mystery—the Sleuth (Elizabeth Spann Craig)

Get Paid to Write Articles: 10 Magazines That Pay $500 or More (Bamidele Onibalusi)

Is Your Online Presence Ready for Scrutiny? (Mary Keeley)

Getting Over the Hump (Kristan Hoffman)

Your Book-Signing Cheat Sheet (Bonnie Randall)

How Do You know Your Submission is Ready? (Wendy Lawton)

When Your Brainstorming Hits a Drought (James Scott Bell)

6 Ways to Save a Mary Sue (Robbie Blair)

Post "Meh" Debut—Your Options (Natalie Whipple)

If you found these useful, you may also like my personal selection of the most interesting blog posts from 2014, and last week’s list.

If you have a particular favorite among these, please let the author know (and me too, if you have time).  Also, if you've a link to a great post that isn't here, feel free to share.

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9. Building a culture of bravery in writing workshop

In these early days of writing workshop, we work on being brave...

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10. Giveaway: The Fix by Natasha Sinel (US & Canada Only)


by Natasha Sinel

Release Date: September 1, 2015



About the Book

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open.

Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone.

On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

THE FIX follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that comes with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

“A bewitching, beautiful, and brave debut. Readers will marvel at Macy's resilience. Natasha Sinel's writing devastates and uplifts, by turns. An important story of one girl's journey to rewrite the blueprint of her own life by facing the truth inside herself.” —Carrie Mesrobian, award-winning author of Sex & Violence and Perfectly Good White Boy

“First shot out of the gate, Sinel bravely addresses tough topics, demonstrating that the weight of secrets can pull us under––and their release can save us from drowning.” ––Holly Schindler, critically acclaimed author of A Blue So Dark and Feral

To learn more about this book and see our review, go HERE.

About the Author

Natasha Sinel received a B.A. in English from Yale University and an M.B.A. from the University of Michigan. After five years at Showtime Networks, she left to begin her career writing young adult fiction from her home in Northern Westchester, NY. She drives her three boys around all afternoon but in her head, she’s still in high school and hopes no one near her can read minds. THE FIX is her first novel.

Learn more Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Indiebound | Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Giveaway Details

5 winners each will receive signed finished copy and some swag. US & Canada only.

Entering is simple, just fill out the entry form below. Winners will be announced on this site and in our monthly newsletter (sign up now!) within 30 days after the giveaway ends.

During each giveaway, we ask entrants a question pertaining to the book. Here is the question they'll be answering in the comments below for extra entries: Name two things that Sebastian drew on his shoes... Find out here.

*Click the Rafflecopter link to enter the giveaway*

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11. Socks

Here is Henry's latest game:
From in his drawer of socks,
He takes the pairs out, one by one,
And then each pair "unlocks."

As soon as they are pulled apart, 
They're tossed up in the air
Until the floor is covered,
With some blank spots here and there.

Yet once the fun part is complete, 
The learning then begins.
We match the socks to make up pairs
And everybody wins.

The socks end up back in the drawer,
Since clean-up's what we do.
When Henry comes up with a game, 
I have a great time, too.

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12. Flogometer for Aleena—would you pay to turn the page?

Submissions Welcome. If you’d like a fresh look at your opening chapter or prologue, please email your submission to me re the directions at the bottom of this post.

The Flogometer challenge: can you craft a first page that compels me to turn to the next page? Caveat: Please keep in mind that this is entirely subjective.

Note: all the Flogometer posts are here.

What's a first page in publishingland? In a properly formatted novel manuscript (double-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, etc.) there should be about 16 or 17 lines on the first page (first pages of chapters/prologues start about 1/3 of the way down the page). Directions for submissions are below—they include a request to post the rest of the chapter, but that’s optional.

A word about the line-editing in these posts: it’s “one-pass” editing, and I don’t try to address everything, which is why I appreciate the comments from the FtQ tribe. In a paid edit, I go through each manuscript three times.

Mastering front 100WshadowBefore you rip into today’s submission, consider this checklist of first-page ingredients from my book, Mastering the Craft of Compelling Storytelling. While it's not a requirement that all of these elements must be on the first page, they can be, and I think you have the best chance of hooking a reader if they are.

Download a free PDF copy here.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of this list before submitting to the Flogometer. I use it on my own work.

A First-page Checklist

  • It begins engaging the reader with the character
  • Something is happening. On a first page, this does NOT include a character musing about whatever.
  • The character desires something.
  • The character does something.
  • There’s enough of a setting to orient the reader as to where things are happening.
  • It happens in the NOW of the story.
  • Backstory? What backstory? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • Set-up? What set-up? We’re in the NOW of the story.
  • What happens raises a story question.

Caveat: a strong first-person voice with the right content can raise powerful story questions and create page turns without doing all of the above. A recent submission worked wonderfully well and didn't deal with five of the things in the checklist.

Also, if you think about it, the same checklist should apply to the page where you introduce an antagonist.

Aleena sends the first chapter of Graffiti Casanova. The remainder is after the break.

Please vote and comment. It helps the writer.

I’m going back to the old poll approach. The pay-for-it approach makes sense, but the cost was too low. Any suggestions on the nature of the basic poll question to get at how truly motivating the opening page is?

My dad always told me being on stage, blinded by the lights and deafened by the music and screams, was the biggest rush he’d ever get. Doing what he loved in front of thousands of people screaming for more fulfilled him.

My experience was entirely different.

When I closed my eyes and played my music, it didn’t matter where I was or who was in the room with me. The realization that I was part of creating something beautiful, something magical-- that was what gave me the rush. That was why I kept coming back.

But that wasn’t why I was about to step out onto the stage.

The host of Write, Sing, Star! was shouting out the introduction to the show, riling up the audience, who I could hear clapping and whistling back with excitement. But all I could focus on were the words on the small screen in my hand that burned into my mind.

It’s stage two Alzheimer’s, Claire.

Someone took the phone from me and handed me my guitar.

Alzheimer’s. It wasn’t possible. He was too young.

“You ready?” They were smiling at me but I could only stare blankly back. I should have told them I couldn’t come. I should’ve gone with him to his appointment. “You’re up!” I was gently shoved from behind and suddenly I was on the stage.

Were you compelled to turn the page?

For me, this opening illustrates what agent Donald Maass refers to as engaging a reader with a character. While this narrative isn’t guns and threats and tension, it reveals a character dealing with strong feelings about a deep and loving relationship, one in which she is not the one in jeopardy but her father. I wanted to know more about how she would handle this, and what would happen to them. The voice is strong and the writing clean, so no notes (other that I would stick a “that” into the first phrase). Nice work.

Comments, please?

For what it’s worth.


Submitting to the Flogometer:

Email the following in an attachment (.doc, .docx, or .rtf preferred, no PDFs):

  1. your title
  2. your complete 1st chapter or prologue plus 1st chapter
  3. Please include in your email permission to post it on FtQ.
  4. Note: I’m adding a copyright notice for the writer at the end of the post. I’ll use just the first name unless I’m told I can use the full name.
  5. Also, please tell me if it’s okay to post the rest of the chapter so people can turn the page.
  6. And, optionally, include your permission to use it as an example in a book on writing craft if that's okay.
  7. If you’re in a hurry, I’ve done “private floggings,” $50 for a first chapter.
  8. If you rewrite while you wait for your turn, it’s okay with me to update the submission.

Were I you, I'd examine my first page in the light of the first-page checklist before submitting to the Flogometer.

Flogging the Quill © 2015 Ray Rhamey, story © 2015 Aleena



The applause was a dull roar in my ears and I struggled to stretch my lips into a smile that ended up feeling all wrong from my end of things. The tension in my body pulled tighter as I moved to the middle of the stage and tried not to think of how alone I was up there. Or why I was there in the first place. I tried not to think about those words that had just ripped my silly hope in half.

One of the judges was speaking and the applause died down.

“Claire De Cecco, we’re glad to have you on the show!”

“Thank you,” I smiled into the blinding lights, hoping it was in his direction. My voice trembled a little and I gripped my guitar tighter. “I’m excited to be here.” Easily one of the falsest things I’d ever said.

“Well you wouldn’t be here if you didn’t have an original song to play for us today, so what’s this one called?” he asked.

“This one is called Voices.” There, that was definitely true.

“Great, let’s hear it!”

And the first notes resounded from my guitar.

Dad always told me whenever I was nervous to imagine I was playing to him. It used to work like a charm, and I imagined him with me at every show my band had played last year. But I was desperately trying not to imagine him now. I couldn’t help it though-- the song was about him.

I knew the magic in music was its ability to make people feel. And it seemed appropriate to choose this song at the time I picked it-- I was doing this for him, after all. But those words on the screen changed everything. I needed to be numb. I needed to be numb or I wouldn’t make it through the audition, and I promised him--

Focus, Claire. Focus on the notes, the fingerings, the stage presence, am I playing too fast, is this intro too long?

No. Don’t go there either. I gritted my teeth and blocked my thoughts, forced myself to breathe evenly. And I closed my eyes and began to sing.

But it felt all wrong. No magic and no rush and I felt like a fake.

I knew it was because I wasn’t letting myself feel the music, but there was no way I’d make it through the song if I did. Only two minutes. Verse, chorus, bridge, chorus, chorus. I only had to hold it back for two more minutes.

I only made it thirty seconds before I started to slip.

My voice caught in the back of my throat but I pressed through, coming back in stronger than before. I can do this for him.

But I really couldn’t.

The tears started then, and my voice caught again. The quality of my voice was gone, and I knew I wouldn’t hit the bridge notes. It was just my song carrying the weight of my audition at this point-- I lied to myself that it was enough but I’d never been a very good liar. My face twisted and my fingers trembled on the strings and I knew everyone had noticed.

Right there, in the middle of the chorus, I couldn’t take it anymore. My voice faded into a silent sob and my hands faltered on the guitar and I stepped back, trying to escape thousands of eyes fixed on me. There was no way to salvage this, and I didn’t care. Screw this promise. It didn’t matter anymore-- nothing there mattered anymore. Only Dad mattered, and I needed to be at the hospital.

So I turned and walked off the stage, giving up on the promise I had made my dad that I would go through with this audition, that I would pursue my dream of music with everything I had.

There was a good chance he wouldn’t even remember it anyway.

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13. Books Your Kids Will Love: Discover the Most Awaited Children's and YA Books for Fall 2015

 Even if your kids love to read their favorite books over and over, it's almost fall and time to discover some wonderful new titles. Publishers Weekly's choices for most anticipated children's and young adult (YA) books for fall highlight many good reads you and your kids are certain to enjoy.Their picks include new books from the beloved children's authors Dave Kinney, Audrey and Don Wood, Philip and Erin Stead, and Katherine Applegate, to name a few.

I'm looking forward to these new books that they've highlighted:

 Here's What PW Says:

The Day the Crayons Came Home by Drew Daywalt, illus. by Oliver Jeffers (Philomel, Aug.) - Daywalt and Jeffers’s The Day the Crayons Quit has been a stalwart on bestseller lists since it was published in 2013. This very funny follow-up sees the crayons writing postcards to their young owner after being left out of town on vacation, lost within the sofa, or otherwise abused.

The Full Moon at the Napping House by Audrey Wood and Don Wood (HMH, Sept.) - More than 30 years after the publication of bedtime favorite The Napping House, this husband-and-wife team takes readers back to a dwelling, where a certain granny, boy, dog, and cat are having trouble falling asleep under the light of an enormous moon.

Lenny and Lucy by Philip C. Stead and Erin E. Stead (Roaring Brook/Porter, Oct.) - The Steads made a name for themselves with the Caldecott Medal–winning A Sick Day for Amos McGee and have been accumulating accolades ever since. Their latest tells of a boy who creates a pair of protector-companions as he adjusts to his new home.

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illus. by Christian Robinson (Chronicle, Aug.) - Who says ghosts don’t have feelings? Not Barnett and Robinson, whose “ghost story” is alternately funny, sad, and sweet as a lonesome spirit named Leo tries to make a connection that doesn’t leave the other party fleeing in terror.

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate (Feiwel and Friends, Sept.) - Applegate is back with her first middle-grade novel since The One and Only Ivan, which won the 2013 Newbery Medal. In this equally sensitive story, fifth-grader Jackson worries that the reappearance of his childhood imaginary friend portends the return of problems for his family, too.

Visit PW for more listings.  Happy reading!

What are your picks for the most exciting children's books coming this fall? Please share your choices below.

Hope you enjoyed this post! To be notified of future updates, use the subscription options on the right side bar.

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14. ‘Hipopotamy’ by Piotr Dumała (NSFW)

A few naked women and children are bathing in a river. They are being secretly observed by a group of men, who, at one point decide to approach them... Read the rest of this post

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15. Palanca Awards

       They've announced the winners of the 65th Carlos Palanca Memorial Awards in the Philippines -- selected from 895 entries in 22 categories.
       The English-language novel grand prize went to All My Lonely Islands by Victorette Joy Z. Campilan, while the Filipino nobela grand prize went to Toto O. by Charmaine Mercader Lasar.

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16. Ruffalo Reveals the Hulk Won't Be in "Civil War"

I am sorry, but despite the last couple of days I almost chuckled when I saw Comics Vine News used Google Translate but did not tidy up the translation so it reads weirdly. I ain't tidying it up:http://www.comicvine.com/articles/mark-ruffalo-reveals-the-reason-hulk-wont-be-in-ci/1100-153438/

There will be no "Hulk Smash" in next year's Marvel film.

The back and forth debate to whether or not Mark Ruffalo will be playing Bruce Banner/Hulk in the upcoming Captain America: Civil War film may have come to an end. At the Venice Film Festival, badtaste talked to Ruffalo and asked him whether or not Hulk will be in the upcoming Captain America film.
I thought that I would be in the film, but in the end evidently believe that reveal what happened Hulk is something too big, and Marvel wants to use this information later. My character had been inserted in the script, but then it was taken away. Who knows, maybe Hulk will never return. However, they want to keep the revelation of what happened a secret, because it is something really big
Translated by Google
Hulk was in the script, then taken out because something bigger is going on. That leads to a few new questions. Does that mean Bruce Banner is going to be in the film then? Many fans are still hoping for Ruffalo to appear in the movie, and clinging to that like there's no tomorrow. Many people are speculating that this big secret is somehow going to lead to a Planet Hulk movie, based off the comic story line where Hulk crash lands on a planet and fights his way through gladiator battles in order to become king. It's widely considered to be one of the best Hulk story lines.

A Planet Hulk film still feels a little far-fetched, but something else to wonder about is if fans will even get another stand-alone Hulk film. What do you think? Captain America: Civil War opens on May 6, 2016.

Pity if we don't see Ruffalo as Banner because, having seen all the stand alone movies (including that over long awful first one by Ang Lee) I think he has nailed the portrayal of Bruce Banner.  But this is movies and movies....http://i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/rtk3ngtw71ot9mzjzneb.jpg

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17. Peggy Lee’s War With Disney Over ‘Lady and the Tramp’

The story of how pop star Peggy Lee took on one of the world's most powerful entertainment companies -- and won.

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18. Aurora by Kim Stanley Robinson

To make Kim Stanley Robinson's Aurora make sense, I had to imagine a metafictional frame for it.

The novel tells the story of a generation starship sent in the year 2545 from the Solar System to Tau Ceti. It begins toward the end of the journey, as the ship approaches its destination and eventually sends a landing party to a planet they name Aurora. The narrator, we quickly learn, is the ship's artificial intelligence system, which for various reasons is learning to tell stories, a process that, among other things, helps it sort through and make sense of details. This conceit furthers Robinson's interest in exposition, an interest apparent at least since the Mars trilogy and explicit in 2312. As a writer, he seems most at home narrating scientific processes and describing the features of landscapes, which does not always lead to the most dynamic prose or storytelling, and he seems to have realized this and adjusted to make his writerly strengths into, if not his books' whole reason for being, then a meaningful feature of their structure. I didn't personally care for 2312 much, but I thought it brilliantly melded the aspirations of both Hugo Gernsback and John W. Campbell for science fiction in the way that it offered explicit, even pedagogical, passages of exposition with bits of adventure story and scientific romance.

What soon struck me while reading Aurora was that aside from the interstellar travel, it did not at all seem to be a novel about human beings more than 500 years in the future. The AI is said to be a quantum computer, and it is certainly beyond current computer technology, but it doesn't seem breathtakingly different from the bleeding edges of current technology. Medical knowledge seems mostly consistent with current medical knowledge, as does knowledge of most other scientific fields. People still wear eyeglasses, and their "wristbands" are smartwatches. Historical and cultural references are to things we know rather than to much of anything that's happened between 2015 and 2545 (or later — the ship's population seems to have developed no culture of their own). The English language is that of today. Social values are consistent with average bourgeois heterosexual American social values.

500 years is a lot of time. Think about the year 1515. Thomas More started writing Utopia, which would be published the next year. Martin Luther's 95 Theses were two years away. The rifle wouldn't be invented for five more years. Copernicus had just begun thinking about his heliocentric theory of the universe. The first iterations of the germ theory of disease were thirty years away. The births of Shakespeare and Galileo were 49 years in the future. Isaac Newton wouldn't be born until the middle of the next century.

Aurora offers nothing comparable to the changes in human life and knowledge from 1515 to 2015 except for the space ship. The world of the novel seems to have been put on pause from now till the launch of the ship.

How to make sense of this? That's where my metafictional frame comes in. One of the stories Aurora tells is the rise to consciousness of the AI narrator. Telling stories seems to be good for its processors. Much of the book is quite explicitly presented as a novel by the AI — an AI learning to write a novel. Of course, within the story, it's not a novel (a work of fiction) but rather a work of history. Still, as it makes clear, the shaping of historical material into a narrative has at least as much to do with fiction as it does with history.

It's easy to go one step further, then, and imagine that the "actual" history of the AI's world is outside the text. The text is what the AI has written. The text could be fiction.

It could, for instance, be a novel written by an AI that survived the near-future death of humanity, or at least the death of human civilization.

What if the "actual" year of the novel is not near the year 3000, but rather somewhere around 2050. Global warming, wars, famine, etc. could have reduced humanity to nearly nothing just at the moment computer technology advanced enough to bring about a quantum computer capable of developing consciousness and writing a novel. What sort of novel might an AI learn to write? Why not a story about a heroic AI saving a group of humans trapped on a generation ship? An AI that helps bring those humans home after their interstellar quest proves impossible. An AI that, in the end, sacrifices itself for the good of its people.

This helps explain the change of narrators, too. At the end of Book 6, the ship has returned the humans to Earth and then accelerates on toward the sun, where, we learn later, it burns up. Book 7 is a traditional third-person narrative. This is a jarring point of view shift if the AI actually burned up in the sun. (And how did its narrative get saved? There's some mention of the computer of the ferry to Earth having been able to copy the ship AI, though also mention that such a copy would be different from the original because of the nature of quantum computing.)

But if we assume that the AI narrator is still the narrator, then Book 7 is the triumph of the computer's storytelling, for Book 7 is the moment where the AI gets to disappear into the narration.

Wouldn't it be fun for an AI to speculate about all the possible technological developments over 500 years? Perhaps, but only if its goal was to write a speculative story. It might have a more immediate goal, one that would require a somewhat different story. It might be writing not to entertain or to offer scientific dreams, but to provide knowledge and caution for the few survivors of the crash of humanity.

Book 7 tells us to value the Earth, our only possible home. It shows a human being who has never been to Earth coming to it and learning how to love it. The moment is religious in its implications: the human being (our protagonist, Freya) is born again. Just as the AI is born again into the narration, so Freya is born into Earthbound humanity. There is hope, but the hope relies on living in harmony with the only possible planet for humans.

The descendants of the last remnants of humanity, scrambling for a reason to survive on a planet their ancestors battered and burned, might benefit from such a tale. (Also: One of the implicit messages of the story is: Trust the AI. The AI is your friend and savior.)

Viewed this way, Aurora coheres, and its speculative failures make sense. It is a tale imagined by a computer that has learned to tell stories, a cautionary fairy tale aimed perhaps at the few remaining people from a species that destroyed its only world.

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19. The new Totally Awesome Hulk is Korean-American teen Amadeus Cho!

Well, this is a shocker for the first time ever, The Hulk is going to be…a teenager! As predicted many times, the hulk in TOTALLY AWESOME HULK #1 will be Amadeus Cho, a Korean American teen who is described as a Boy Genius.” Greg Pak and Frank Cho (no relation) are the creative team. The […]

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20. Artist of the Day: Émilie Gleason

Discover the art of Émilie Gleason, Cartoon Brew's Artist of the Day!

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21. On the Table: Eating Well on $4/Day and More

New cookbook releases come in slow and easy during the summer, giving us all a chance to kick back, dig around in the garden, and maybe even work on our salad skills to eat a little healthier. Or in my case, work on corn-on-the-cob eating skills where I try not to cover my entire face [...]

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22. Rainer Kirsch (1934-2015)

       (East) German poet Rainer Kirsch has passed away; see, for example, the (German) report at DeutscheWelle.
       Not as well-known in English translation as Sarah, to whom he was married for about a decade, -- amazingly, there doesn't seem to be a single collection of his work published in English -- he was another very important representative of the 'Sächsische Dichterschule' (and student of the influential Georg Maurer) -- along with, among others, Karl Mickel (Einstein), Volker Braun (Rubble Flora), and Heinz Czechowski.

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23. Curriculum Guides

Sell more books by creating educational materials for the school and library market.


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24. Title page...how to do it

Starting to look at title page...want to fit this idea into it somehow.

Like the idea that he runs through the house jumping over (and under things) to tie in with the over /under theme.
Just need to make it sit nicely....so I'll try a few more ways

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25. Hasbro’s BB-8 winning Force Friday

  Force Friday is here! A brand new holiday established to make people line up and buy toys.  If you can find one, Hasbro’s magnetic BB-8 droid is probably the most desired. My inbox tells me that you can also buy many toys at Target. An exclusive, remote controlled BB-8 droid from Hasbro that moves and sounds just […]

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