Friday, September 1, 2023

A.I. and the Writer

 A long and very interesting essay by Adam L.G. Nevill about the future for writers and the threats of A.I. 

Let's say that future AI software becomes sophisticated enough to write a new novel by Tolkien. Then, surely, there will be attempts to upload and sell the myriad results of new stories "in-the-style-of" [add any popular author's name], produced by the technology and its so called "authors" and "publishers". And immediately. 

 Read the full version here.

Wednesday, July 12, 2023

Don't Try This At Home!

Here's a publisher's advertisement from 1933.  Why anyone would think this a good way to advertise books is beyond me. 

Friday, June 30, 2023

Collecting Books

"Our literary past is under assault. Trigger warnings are being slapped on reissued classics. Long-dead writers are being called out for offending contemporary sensibilities. And sensitivity readers are relentlessly filleting books of anything that upsets their identitarian worldview."

So begins Philip Kiszely's essay "Collecting Old Books Is Now a Radical Act." It pinpoints a real problem, but Kiszely's solution is too passive and even silly--we must react, he says,  by collecting such books. Well, not only that, but there needs to be a vocal resistance. 

Wednesday, February 15, 2023

The Books That Made Me, by Penelope Lively

I enjoyed this essay, "The Books That Made me" by Penelope Lively. It has some nice insights.  It appeared at Unherd--the link is here.  I post a few quotations from it below.  

Books beget books. Intertextuality, the critics like to call it. I am at the end of a writing life; I just read now. So, the process whereby reading so often became writing is over, for me. It has been an almost unconscious process, from childhood on: I have read for enjoyment, for instruction, for education — but most of all in the serendipitous way that has supplied the essential prompts for 50 years of writing fiction.

About 3,000 books line the walls of my house. Most of them I shall never read again, but they must stay there. They define me; they remind me that I thought this, was interested in that; they reassure me, as I hurtle towards 90. Occasionally I shed a few books, but to get rid of many of them would be like discarding part of my mind.

Monday, December 12, 2022

Lord Dunsany's Re-Wilding: An Update

A year and a half ago, I noted the current Lord Dunsany, Randal Plunkett (the 21st Baron Dunsany), and his efforts at rewilding a portion of the Dunsany Estate. (The link is here.)  I found a few video updates recently about the continuing process. A short, six-minute one, "Lord of the Wild: Rewilding Dunsany Estate", can be found here.  A longer (22+ minutes) and more in-depth video, "Does Rewilding Work: Measuring Carbon and Biodiversity Gains at Dunsany Castle", can be found here. As an additional enticement to the rewilding study, I can recommend the many views of Dunsany Castle and the surrounding Estate.  Here the 18th Baron Dunsany wrote many masterpieces of fantasy literature.

Wednesday, December 7, 2022

Horribly low pay is pushing out my fellow authors – and yes, that really does matter

 This article by Joanne Harris is all too true.  The full article is here.  A few choice excerpts follow:

People are being paid less than half a living wage for their creative labour. The ALCS points to this as evidence of a global trend of the “devaluing of creative labour”. I agree – we see it everywhere: in the calls to work for nothing, in the initiatives to offer unfettered free access to creative work, in mass subscription models designed to serve corporations at the expense of creators.

Writing as a profession is becoming inaccessible and unsustainable for too many.

Monday, January 24, 2022

A Susan Cooper Interview

While it's nice to see a new (short) interview with Susan Cooper, it's a bit sad to see the interviewer focus mostly on the books she published fifty years or more ago, give or take.  Of course those are her classic and award-winning books, but still....  Here is the link at the School Library Journal.  The line from Tolkien she quotes comes from Note G in "On Fairy-stories":  “Fantasy does not blur the sharp outlines of the real world; for it depends on them”