Listened The Masque of the Red Death | Cory Doctorow’s by Cory Doctorow | Cory Doctorow’s

My novella “The Masque of the Red Death” is a tribute to Poe; it’s from my book Radicalized. It’s the story of a plute who brings his pals to his luxury bunker during civlizational collapse in the expectation of emerging once others have rebuilt.

In light of the coronavirus, Cory Doctorow shares a reading of his novella The Masque of the Red Death, a story of what happens after the ultra-rich have left their bunkers.

Naturally, they assume that when they do emerge, once their social inferiors have rebooted civilization, that their incredible finance-brains, their assault rifles, and their USBs full of BtC will allow them to command a harem and live a perpetual Frazetta-painting future.

Doctorow has also shared another story recently addressing global crisis “When Sysadmins Ruled the Earth“, as well as readings of Poe’s original 1842 story, “The Masque of the Red Death” and Mark Twain’s “Punch, Brothers, Punch”.

Continuing on the topic, Bryan Alexander has shared an extensive collection of readings on the plague.

Liked The first lines of 10 classic novels, rewritten for social distancing. (Literary Hub)

Of course, books can be a balm in these terrifying times—but as the surge in sales of plague-related literature reveals, sometimes all we want to read are books that speak directly to our terrifying times. Well, friends, with a little elbow grease, any book can be a coronavirus book. Behold: the first lines of 10 classic novels, rewritten for these times of social distancing.


It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be hoarding toilet paper. – Pride and Prejudice

Listened Audio from the Kelowna Canada Reads event with Sarah Penton | Cory Doctorow’s by Cory Doctorow | Cory Doctorow’s

I sat down for an interview and lively Q&A at the Kelowna Public Library with the CBC’s Sarah Penton as part of the Canada Reads national book prize, for which my book Radicalized is a finalist. Courtney Dickson was kind enough to send me raw audio from the board and to give me permission to post it and include it in my podcast feed. It was a genuinely wonderful night, with great and thoughtful questions, and I’m really glad that I get to share it with you!

Cory Doctorow responds to questions about fossil fuels, the green new deal, science fiction and libraries. A couple of poignant remarks that stood out were:

Rather than an optimist or pessimist I am a believer in hope.


Saying we don’t need libraries because we have the internet is like saying we don’t need doctors because we have the plague.

Watched True History of the Kelly Gang (2019) – IMDb from IMDb

Directed by Justin Kurzel. With George MacKay, Essie Davis, Nicholas Hoult, Orlando Schwerdt. Based on Peter Carey’s novel. The story of Australian bushranger Ned Kelly and his gang as they flee from authorities during the 1870s.

I am not sure what to think of Shaun Grant’s screenplay of Peter Carey’s novel. For me it stripped out a lot of the history to focus instead on character and story. It sacrificed the stark reality of having somebody else telling our story, with a picture of the hanging that ironically put out the call to continue to persist in telling our own story. I did like the focus on gender and some of the cinematoghy, however I was overall left disappointed.

Although it was enjoyable as a film, I did not feel that it was faithful as an adaptation.

Bookmarked How the Most Gruesome Western Ever Written Became an ‘Unfilmable’ Hollywood Legend by Todd Gilchrist

Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy’s fifth book, was first published in 1985 to lukewarm critical and commercial reception. It’s gone on, of course, to become recognized as McCarthy’s masterpiece and among the greatest American novels of all-time. 
All the while, it’s been the source of one tr…

Todd Gilchrist turned to Stacey Peebles, Noah Gallagher Shannon and Mark Pellegrino to discuss the challenge of bringing Cormac McCarthy’s class text, Blood Meridian, to the big screen. They reflect upon the narrative, casting and violence.

Peebles: I honestly believe that with the right spin, it’s got potentially huge appeal — because of McCarthy. You have one of the greatest living American authors. He’s won a Pulitzer, and this is arguably his master work. It also has this history of failed adaptations, which lends another cachet, like it’s so amazing that it’s never been brought to the screen! Plus, today’s political context doesn’t have to be a burden either. It can be an advantage.

This reminds me of the long running sage associated with filming Patrick White’s novel Voss.

Bookmarked Analysis | The novel that inspired ‘Blade Runner’ didn’t predict our current reality, but these writers did (Washington Post)

It’s not often a writer can throw a dart into the future and hit treble 20. Here are six who did.

From H.G. Wells to Sinclair Lewis, George Bass discusses six predictions for the future.
Bookmarked How William Gibson Keeps His Science Fiction Real (The New Yorker)

Midway through his career, the inventor of “cyberspace” turned his attention to a strange new world: the present.

Joshua Rothman speaks with William Gibson about science fiction, his new novel Agency and the present. This lengthy profile provides an insight into the mind of the writer.


Gibson doesn’t have a name for his method; he knows only that it isn’t about prediction. It proceeds, instead, from a deep engagement with the present.

Most science fiction takes place in a world in which “the future” has definitively arrived; the locomotive filmed by the Lumière brothers has finally burst through the screen. But in “Neuromancer” there was only a continuous arrival—an ongoing, alarming present. “Things aren’t different. Things are things,” an A.I. reports, after achieving a new level of consciousness. “You can’t let the little pricks generation-gap you,” one protagonist tells another, after an unnerving encounter with a teen-ager. In its uncertain sense of temporality—are we living in the future, or not?—“Neuromancer” was science fiction for the modern age. The novel’s influence has increased with time, establishing Gibson as an authority on the world to come.

Gibson’s strategy of extreme presentness reflects his belief that the current moment is itself science-fictional.

“The future is already here,” he has said. “It’s just not very evenly distributed.”The further Gibson developed his present-tense sci-fi, the more mysterious and resonant his novels became.

Gibson has a bemused, gentle, curious vibe. He is not a dystopian writer; he aims to see change in a flat, even light. “Every so often—and I bet a lot of people do this but don’t mention it—I have an experience unique in my life, of going, ‘This is so bad—could this possibly be real?’ ” he said, laughing. “Because it really looks very dire. If we were merely looking at the possible collapse of democracy in the United States of America—that’s pretty fucked. But if we’re looking at the collapse of democracy in the United States of America within the context of our failure to do anything that means shit about global warming over the next decade . . . I don’t know.”

Some speculative writers are architects: they build orderly worlds. But Gibson has a collagist’s mind. He has depicted himself as “burrowing from surface to previously unconnected surface.”

His plots are Tetris-like, their components snapping together at the last possible moment until the space of the novel is filled.

Liked The Guardian view on George Eliot: a novelist for now | Editorial (the Guardian)

Middlemarch itself is the true hero – the fictional small town that gives the book its title. The name suggests a place that is geographically and metaphorically central (Middle-) and also peripheral (-march, as in marches or borderlands). It is a book that absolutely belongs to the English Midlands, but its author breathed into it all the sensibilities of a life marinated in European culture (an important section is set in Rome). Eliot was a European intellectual with a working knowledge of five ancient and modern languages, who translated important works of German theology; Middlemarch was compared to Sand, Balzac and Flaubert by 19th-century critics.

Bookmarked Harold Bloom on Cormac McCarthy, True Heir to Melville and Faulkner (Literary Hub)

If there is a pragmatic tradition of the American Sublime, then Cormac McCarthy’s fictions are its culmination. Moby-Dick and Faulkner’s major, early novels are McCarthy’s prime precursors. Melville’s Ahab fuses together Shakespeare’s tragic protagonists—Hamlet, Lear, Macbeth—and crosses them with a quest both Promethean and American. Even as Montaigne’s Plato became Emerson’s, so Melville’s Shakespeare becomes Cormac McCarthy’s. Though critics will go on associating McCarthy with Faulkner, who certainly affected McCarthy’s style in Suttree (1979), the visionary of Blood Meridian (1985) and The Border Trilogy (1992, 1994, 1998) has much less in common with Faulkner, and shares more profoundly in Melville’s debt to Shakespeare.

Harold Bloom discusses Cormac McCarthy’s novel Blood Meridian. He traces the connections to Shakespeare, Melville and Faulkner.
Bookmarked BBC Radio 4 – In Our Time – Downloads (BBC)

Podcast downloads for In Our Time

I remember listening to Melvyn Bragg and In Our Time when I first got into podcasts ten years ago. For some reason I stopped following. I was however reminded of the podcast recently by Bryan Alexander. There is something about Bragg’s ability to carry the conversation and question the experts.
Replied to On Patrick White, Australia’s Great Unread Novelist (Literary Hub)

When I was 22 I was in love with a man who had a framed photograph of Patrick White hanging above his bed. I had grown up with my father’s used copies of White’s novels, and had studied some of tho…

I have read a few Patrick White novels, even saw one of his plays performed. However, I will never forget growing up listening to Tony Delroy’s Nightlife quiz where if you did not know the answer it was always ‘Patrick White’.
Bookmarked William Blake: The greatest visionary in 200 years by an author (

Freed from the tethers of its own inception, the work opens a conversation with its most obvious precursor, Leonardo’s Vitruvian Man, which celebrates the exquisite proportions of the human body by illustrating the Roman architect Vitruvius’s observation that the anatomical extent of man conforms to a circle created by “a pair of compasses centred at his navel”. But Blake refuses to be trapped by the geometries of a fallen world and dissolves the fetters of the offending compasses by erasing altogether the circle (and square) with which Leonardo ensnares his subject, allowing the young boy to step out unshackled into a limitless world. Always original, always breaking free, Blake’s truest genius lies in his ability to help us dream outside the sphere.

Kelly Grovier discusses William Blake in light of the new retrospective at London’s Tate Britain. For something different, Stephen J. Valentine provides a roadmap to the work of William Blake in response to a post from Austin Kleon. Kleon discusses doing what you are supposed to do
Bookmarked Australian author Morris Gleitzman says adults shouldn’t censor controversial kids’ books (ABC News)

Children’s authors are now writing about dark, complex and controversial issues. But is that what kids should be reading?

Morris Gleitzman and Jo Lampert spoke as part of a panel discussion for Latrobe University’s Bold Thinking series. It was recorded and broadcast by RN’s Big Ideas. In it they discussed the place of literature to tackle complex topics. For Gleitzman, this has included homosexuality, refugees and the holocaust. Lampert explains that one of the challenges with topics that are considered taboo is that they are often heavily mediated before they reach the child,

There’s the author, but there is the publisher and there’s the editor and there’s the publicist and there’s the librarian and there’s the parent and there’s the teacher.

The challenge is that although we can seemingly protect children from such ideas, they are bombarded with them on a daily basis through the media.

Replied to Freud thought philosophers were deluded. But was he one himself? – ABC News (Australian Broadcasting Corporation)

It’s difficult to know where to place Sigmund Freud in the canon of Western thinkers.

This is an interesting discussion David. I Like the idea that Sigmund Freud has contributed to both literature in regards to his particular narrative style:

More significantly, Freud has given us resonant narratives that stretch culturally far beyond the point where we argue the toss over whether or not they’re “true”.

Subconscious desire, ego, death wish, anal retentive: if you’ve ever used these terms — and who hasn’t? — then you’ve referenced stories authored by Freud, stories about the human condition that have burrowed as deep into the collective unconscious (there’s another one) as anything found in Shakespeare or the Bible.

To rate these stories in terms of scientific accuracy seems like a category error, in the same way that it would seem a little off to dismiss the psychological insights of a Jane Austen or an Edith Wharton on the grounds that they’d just made it all up.

And philosophy:

There’s a strong — and perhaps surprising — case to be made that Freud’s most fertile legacy has been a philosophical one.

Surprising, because you might expect that professional philosophers, unkindly cast as delusional psychotics, would be a bit sniffy about admitting Freud into their ranks.

But in fact Freud has been a key figure in the development of what’s been dubbed the “school of suspicion” — a line of philosophical descent that originally linked Freud with Nietzsche with Karl Marx, but has since been expanded into a broader tradition connecting such later figures as Martin Heidegger, Jacques Derrida and Michel Foucault.

My question is whether we anchor on the idea of who ‘Sigmund Freud’ was or is? Is there a core truth to Freud’s work? I would argue that his thinking evolved overtime? To talk about Freud (or Marx or Derrida) is to make an assumption about who or what we are in fact talking about. This is what I touched on in my thesis, wondering whether it was useful to read Freud as a text that is continually interpreted overtime?

Liked Inside the archives — and mind — of sci-fi legend Philip K. Dick (Los Angeles Times)

Kaleidoscopic? Yes. Brain-bending? Without question. At the same time, where are we now if not in the world Dick made, a world of social media and virtual reality, screens and simulacra and avatars? Fake news, revisionist histories, internet hoaxes and deepfake videos: Ours is a society defined by its own artifice, which is what Dick was trying to tell us all along.

Liked How “Peanuts” Created a Space for Thinking (The New Yorker)

Charles Schulz’s beloved comic strip invited readers to contemplate the big picture on a small scale.

This essay is drawn from the anthology “The Peanuts Papers: Writers and Cartoonists on Charlie Brown, Snoopy & the Gang, and the Meaning of Life,” edited by Andrew Blauner.
Liked From everyteen to annoying: are today’s young readers turning on The Catcher in the Rye? (the Guardian)

I’m closer now to 40 than to 17. I no longer read to find friends in literature – I read for the writing. So when I recently read the book for the fourth time, I saw something brand new and I think closer to what Salinger intended: a perfectly written portrait of an imperfect character. Every syllable sings. Much of what I saw in this fourth reading, I had completely missed before.