Sunday, 10 January 2016

Book Marks: Wondermark, Missing Booksellers

How the heck I've lived without Wondermark? I learnt about this comic from sci-fi author John Scalzi (I think) who tweeted about the practice of sealioning by some Twitter users over Republican presidential nominee Ted Cruz (seriously?).

I've gone through the archives and found this (I think it's about people who want to write but don't get down to it) and this (I think it's about fairy tales, but I was wowed by the punch line).

So. Bookmarking. This.

The mystery over some Hong Kong booksellers' disappearances deepens. Though there was talk that Chinese agents were responsible, one blogger (whose post I just linked, and who's talking about this more than I think he does - perhaps for good reason) thinks it might be a PR stunt by the publisher in question.

Thing is, the net effect of these alleged abductions is probably what China's government wanted to achieve. A chill seems to have descended upon the bookstores in Hong Kong. "Bookshops are removing political works from their shelves," goes the AFP report in The Malay Mail Online, "while publishers and store owners selling titles banned in mainland China say they now feel under threat."

Other stuff:

  • The deputy PM wants Malaysia to take the Nobel Prize winner for literature by or around 2057. A commenter has issued a retort, pointing out - among other things - that the arts is still not seen as a viable (read: profitable) career choice in this country. I've nothing to add. Malas nak komen.
  • So that guy's book, Mein Kampf, has entered public domain. So did Anne Frank's diary, by the way - an interesting parallel. I've made notes of Mein Kampf's impending entry into public domain, so I'll just leave this one here. I still think attempts to block its publication is futile, even more so now.
  • No taboo should be off limits when writing for teenagers, says author Non Pratt. And here's Pratt sharing her "helpful" post on how she edits her work, which she wrote for the blog Author Allsorts.
  • "It turns out that fantasy—the established domain of British children’s literature—is critical to childhood development." Why the British tell better children's stories.
  • With the sale of Author Solutions, Penguin Random House exits self-publishing, sticks to "traditional publishing". Does that mean Amazon is now the dominant force in the multibillion-dollar self-publishing market?
  • The Dag Hammarskj√∂ld Library at the United Nations announced its most-checked-out publication of 2015: a volume (or, more accurately, a thesis) on how to avoid war crime charges (awkwaaaaard). Any bets this will also be a popular item this year?
  • Used bookstores are, it seems, making a comeback. Many factors have been cited, but none that's probably more compelling "than the experience of browsing — getting lost in the stacks, making serendipitous finds, having chance conversations with interesting people. And with information so easy to find these days, used bookstores offer the thrill of the hunt." Coming back from the recent Big Bad Wolf Book Sale, I'm inclined to agree.
  • There's a discussion on Quora about the absence of science fiction from Chinese culture. Quite a few good arguments. I'm more inclined to concur with the fact that the Chinese tend to look backward - towards history, mythology and maybe old wuxia (martial arts pugilist) novels - for anything related to the fantastical for inspiration. With such a huge trove going back centuries, why look forward?

    But I think such a tendency might hamper attempts to, say, visualise the future, or lead to oversaturation of related genres (look at the numerous adaptations of Jin Yong's and Gu Long's works).
  • After 66 years, light is shed on "Francis Duncan", author of a Christmas murder mystery that's being reissued and getting critical acclaim.
  • So, you want to work in publishing? Here's some advice from an editor at Chronicle Books. Quite a few salient points.


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