Wednesday, October 28, 2015

#AHS #AmericanHorrorStory Okay I kind of want to see those Angela Bassett Blaxploitation flicks..

I suppose someone could write them as well. It's not like they would have to be well written I guess.

And like Winter: Reviews are coming.

Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Reviews are Coming. Had to take a break to take care of other concerns...

I had to take care of some personal legal things for about the last several weeks and I couldn't get any writing done. That ends today. I should have all 15 reviews up by the end of October.

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Shadowshaper is a new title from described rising star Daniel Jose Older

Daniel Jose Older is a new writer who looks promising. He seems to dwell in the world of urban fantasy. You can read an excerpt of this novel at this website. It's aimed at young adults so its easy to read. I like the fact that its written by a person of color and that his books feature persons of color in lead roles. His personal website seems to be here but being that this is the future he has a few spots throughout the Internet. His twitter feed is here. Not sure if I'll have time to read anything of his as my current funding is running out.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Late Julian Bond wrote fantastic 1967 comic about and Against the Vietnam War

I think Julian Bond wrote this in a comics form in order to explain opposition to the war as simply as possible. It really is a shorthand version of why you would oppose the war. It touches all the bases and gives you a nice history lesson at the same time. I had no idea, for example, that Lyndon Johnson has ever said that.  It's only 19 pages and you can read the whole thing for free on the Internet.

I have no idea what happened to that wonderful artist. I'm guessing there wasn't a lot of work for a talented cartoonist who was a critic of the Vietnam War. Just guessing.

That same math still exists by the way. We could live like Norwegians by cutting 5 percent of military waste and redirecting another five percent toward domestic programs. But it's just impossible to do that.

Here's the last page below. but go read the whole thing. A lot of people can't get through Chomsky but this is a nice concise history as to why it didn't make any sense to kill other poor people abroad, especially if you were a poor person.

Just love that art....

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

#MrRobot The cross gendered asian people from Hackers? The Movie? My mind is blown..

#MrRobot @whoismrrobot Wait Angela knows Darlene? And Angela is wearing white? Is she White Rose? Makes sense...Or more likely FSociety...

#MrRobot @whoismrrobot I now know that Tyrell is White Rose. Two points of proof.

At first, I thought it was tied to William Gibson. But I couldn't find anything in google other than New Rose Hotel. So that didn't quite fit.

There is another meaning for "White Rose" and that's the "White Rose Society". It was a group in Germany that fought against the Nazis. They used nonviolence. They were all murdered. It makes sense that Tyrell might think that you use violence against violence.

1. That has to be the connection to all the German Tyrell and his wife speaks.

2. We saw a picture of white flowers in 20 minutes into episode 6. See below.

Of course, they could be white flowers of another kind....

But that's my theory and I'm sticking to it.

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Tuesday, August 4, 2015

#BlackLivesMatter #MOVE #EdPiskor Really effective history of MOVE within about 12 panels or so...

I have mixed feelings about Ed Piskor's success with Hip Hop Family Tree.

Yes, there should be histories written about black culture, especially a culture as transcendent and as interesting as Hip Hop. However, it would be nice if that history was written by some black folks. Maybe Ta Nehisi can give Kyle Baker a call...? Aaron MacGruder can't write a comprehensive Hip Hop history ?..Just askin'....

That concern stated, Ed Piskor is a great American cartoonist from my hometown of Pittsburgh. He often does brilliant work either by himself or with the late Harvey Pekar, who also kind of mined that area of creating working class narratives around The Way Things Are. I highly recommend his work about the early days of computer hacking, which I have given rave reviews of.

His latest strip, usually reprinted at Boing Boing, seems to move away from strictly hip hop and talks about Philadelphia's MOVE movement...I found it quite compelling. Here's a snippet:

You can find the rest here at Boing Boing, as well as a promise as to how this relates to Hip Hop history.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

#BlackSciFi @Afrofuturism I'm being sent this tribute book dedicated to Samuel R. Delany. Related: Profiled in the New Yorker and Rightfully so

I asked Nisi Shawl to send me this tribute book to Samuel "Chip" Delany and they promised they would. The Miracle of Twitter. Here's the cover:

I also just found out that this was done by way of Indiegogo, just like this very site. Very cool. (How did they get Thomas Disch who died, tragically. (Disch essentially ran out of money and seemed to have died from despair and poverty.) He also wrote a lot of criticism and some of it was about Delany's work Disch was also gay and also just a brilliant writer. But this should be good.

Here's the Youtube ad.

Related: Chip was also profiled in the New Yorker and righteously so. You can read that here.

Friday, July 31, 2015

Thursday, July 30, 2015

#Comics #BlackLit New Kyle Baker collection, Important Literary Journal, looks to be hilarious and very dark.

When I first saw Kyle Baker's work when I was just a small child (think we're the same age) I thought he was a Neal Adams clone. Now he's gone the full Eisner. I'm amazed by how many styles this guy can pull off.

Here's the cover:

It looks to be a collection of his cartoons. And they're mostly drop dead brilliant. I think, and someone correct me if I'm wrong, even though you can buy the book at Amazon, and I may spend 4.99 just to do that, you can read all or at least some  of the toons here at this website, which I think is the publisher. And that's free. I never knew that Kyle Baker was a Cory Doctorow style copyleftist. You can find just about everything that Cory Doctorow has written online for free although his sales are also pretty good as well. But I think he makes most of his money writing for Boing Boing. Not necessarily proven to be always a great tactic giving your work away.

Wish Kyle had a tipjar. I'd throw in a couple dollars.

Anyhow. How good are these Cartoons? This one reminds me a bit of Frank Miller's Peanuts..

Here's one that I think he pitched to the New Yorker. It's drawn in their style.

And I hope the Home life is going well for Kyle. There are a few "Why I hate Saturn" style toons that seem to feature Kyle and his significant other. This isn't one of them, I hope.

Funny stylish stuff. He's like a one man Mad Magazine, if Mad Magazine hired black men either in the 50s, or now. I don't think Charlie Hebdo had one person of color on their staff. Jon Stewart could count all of his black writers on one hand or so I've heard...Don't get me started...

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

#Blackwriters #Blackreads #Blacklit Long interview with arguably science fiction's finest stylist: Samuel "Chip" Delany. Plus: A Gallery. Because its fun.

Samuel Delany has a new book containing three of his earliest novels. I'm guessing they're more accessible to readers. It's called "A,B,C: Three Short Novels". It includes the books "They Fly At Ciron", "The Jewels of Aptor" and "The Ballad of Beta 2".

There's a long (part one) interview about it here and "Dhalgren" comes up.
Here's a bit of the interview:

Q: At this year’s Readercon there was a panel on DHALGREN at 40 years. Of all your novels, why do you think this one has been so widely-read and is such an enduring work? Do you consider this your greatest work?SRD: It’s totally outside my ability to make judgments of that sort. (Mark Twain—along with William Dean Howells and Twain’s first major biographer, Albert Bigelow Paine—died believing his greatest novel would be The Personal Recollections of Joan of Arc—his longest piece of fiction and one that that took him a decade and a half to write, but which, in the ten-page plus Wikipedia article on Twain, gets only four lines near the end. Most graduate students these days don’t even know it exists. The Oxford Companion to American Literature doesn’t even mention it.)
Many years ago, I heard Michael Moorcock say, “Why would you work on any piece of writing if you didn’t consider it a masterpiece—at least for the duration you were writing it?” That seemed right at the time. And still does. Currently I feel the one I’m working on now is my best. But the other side of the coin is simply that too many things happen in the world to make you aware, once it’s done, it’s nowhere near a masterpiece. Masterpieces are masterpieces because of the conversations they have with the world. And you lose all control of that conversation the moment the last page is done. You may have personal reasons to be fond of it, because of some problem you solved, some reference you managed to bury in the text, but such successes in both cases are precisely because both are invisible—or at any rate invisible to most.

I actually thought Dahlgren was great because of the weird way he combined two different typefaces on the page. That and the Holographic Gangs.

And here's a gallery because pulp art can be cool.

#WilliamGibson #cyberpunk #Sciencefiction #BoingBoing Review of William Gibson's "The Peripheral" or Consequence Free Back in Time Travel (Free for you, not the timeline...)

Here's a review I attempted to do for the Post Gazette but due to the usual circumstances beyond my control I turned it in too late. I blame myself for once. Plus it was too damn long and I added this thing called "links", which you're not supposed to do. I think that's a bad policy by the way. However, they did, perhaps foolishly, send me out another book and that review should see print this Sunday. May miracles never cease. But here's that review. And, hey, white is a color. It's the only way I could review Greg Egan or William Gibson here. The parts in yellow the editor would be free to edit out. Here I left them in. We have plenty of space on the Internet. And why won't Boing Boing pay me for reviews. The Bastards...

Back in the Before Time when there really wasn’t an Internet and Steve Jobs was developing our appreciation for tiny boxes with a multitude of fonts, “Neuromancer” was published in 1984 and very appropriately. And unlike computers being in the guise of an athletic woman breaking through an Orwellian screen, Neuromancer’s scribe imagined a "Blade Runner" directed world full of computer programmers with bad intentions, a dark world run pretty much by information and tech cartels that seemed far more powerful than nation states, and where he pretty much predicted Silk Roads. Still waiting for the neural jacks and the immersive VR but they're coming. Your call as to whether William Gibson got the vibe right or not. 

 Gibson, in the years since, excels at writing science fiction where, to quote Gibson, “the street finds its own uses for things”. He just has an intuitive sense of pinpointing not only personal drone use but where and when and who they’re going to crash on. This is why any new book by Gibson, such as the recently published “The Peripheral” is such a big deal. What horrific thing will he pinpoint next. 

What’s most surprising about the overall concept isn’t just his usual astuteness about tech trajectory -- who among us couldn't predict homemade fabbed 3D printed guns painted according to your area's team colors or black and gold for the 2040 Allegheny county felon -- but quite frankly: his way out time travel central conceit. But it's the best possible time travel you can possibly have in that when you are a "Continua Enthusiast" you create a separate time line from the one you're in. There's no "Back to the Future" problem where you prevent yourself from being born and slowly watch your picture fade from existence. I suppose you could let that relationship with your hawt young mom progress but I digress. And you don't physically go back in time, but more or less communicate backward in time. Plot machinations may ensue if there are versions of you in both timelines. But read the book. 

Of course, being that this is a dark William Gibson novel, where the future Anti Singularity is called “The Jackpot” -- imagine the worst combination of plagues, financial collapse and global weather disruption and there you go --  and has reduced Earth’s population by about 90 percent, people create these “Continuas” for their own evil ends, of course, as opposed to saving the Earth with future technology although that might happen in one optimistic alternate world. Or as it says in the book: “We’re third worlding alternate continuas.”  

They’re very much like the "Babylon 5" characters: The Shadows, whose motto is wars create progress. It’s like funding Hitler in the 30s and being really happy that they developed atom bombs (or radar, or computers, etc.,), which, who knows, might not have been invented in your future. By the way, if you’re wondering about the timelines there seem to be two: the earlier one seems to be happening no sooner than 2040 and the second one where the quantum travel time travel seems to be happening 70 years after, right around 2100. It’s not entirely clear but some of these things are happening in the far future, such as assembler technology used for assassination – which is pretty graphic in that you seem to disappear in a screaming puff of smoke with just your clothes left floating in the wind. There’s also some scientific theory behind quantum tunneling and communication in time, or look up the theories of Ronald Mallett or Seth Lloyd’s publications on quantum time travel. This could happen once you have a lot of functional quantum computers just lying around. Or you should hope that it doesn’t unless some future person is curious about what happens if you give the North Koreans or ISIS tech that’s decades before its time just to see what happens. For fun. Won’t affect him any. Goddamn Continua enthusiasts.

One of the nice things about the book is that it solves a problem about William Gibson novels: They're not always easy to read.  True confession: his best book is "Burning Chrome"  because there you can study his imagery in a short story collection. Plus he just works better in short bursts. His narrators from somewhere beyond 2100 are his usual leads and they're some kind of Mentats with AIs that make them even smarter. But his other narrators, mainly rural folk from Tennessee from 2040 or thereabouts, is a very young Flynn Fisher, who works at that time's version of a Wal Mart, or an average Jane so to speak. So they're constantly explaining some of his more difficult concepts in a very readable language that gives you a better idea of Gibson's bigger concepts. Bottom line: a completely plausible and horrific exploration of a very possible future and why we should hope that non consequential time travel communication should never come on line. Also: an enthralling read that had you racing to the end. Give it 4.2 stars out of 5 if this is the kind of place that gives out stars.

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

#Blacklit #Blackreads #Blackwriters Gifted Black Science Fiction Writer NK Jemison profiled at the Guardian

With the money I've raised to do this I can review about 15 to 20 books. I'm trying to make it a point to read something of this writer.

Here's the money quote from this favorable Guardian profile:

“As a black woman,” Jemisin tells me, “I have no particular interest in maintaining the status quo. Why would I? The status quo is harmful, the status quo is significantly racist and sexist and a whole bunch of other things that I think need to change. With epic fantasy there is a tendency for it to be quintessentially conservative, in that its job is to restore what is perceived to be out of whack.”
I was also very impressed with her 1000 words per day while working a fulltime job.

If we lived in a decent world, where the people who run that Oprah channel or God help us BET were just as talented as the people who run AMC or HBO, this woman's books would be adapted and they could give "Game of Thrones" a run for its money. Would be nice if they could include the full frontal nudity and the graphic violence because, hey, that makes me like the show more. I hope to be checking out one or two of her books in the next 45 days or so. The covers are beautiful.

Sunday, July 26, 2015

#BlackLivesMatters #SandraBland Seems timely and "Sigh". New book called "Encounters with Police: A Black Man's Guide to Survival. .

I guess I should read this but as a black man who's been stopped by the cops, what now, dozens of times since the 80s, I shouldn't find anything in this to be surprising. Its written by a black attorney and what seems to be a black cop. Not sure if he's currently serving. Guessing the short version is "no sudden moves". I always try to be cheerful and upbeat. Anyway, here are the front and back covers of "Encounters with Police: A Black Man's Guide to Survival."

And here's the back cover:

I guess we need a book for black women after Sandra Bland. Larry Wilmore has a plan.

#Blacklit #Blackreads Incredibly literate article on "If you like Native Son, then you'll like...." Discovered all kinds of new writers.

I found this at the HUE-MAN Facebook page and it has illustrations like this:

Okay Arianna Rebolini you've read more black fiction than I have. Unless she didn't read any of these books and just looked at Amazon's "People who bought this also bought..." Perish the thought.  That Parable of the Sower/Arcacia comparison sounds pretty intriguing.And that Smith and Whitehead duo looks promising as well.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

#blackatheism #atheism Talented Black Atheist Writer Sikivu Hutchinson has a new book trailer for her novel about the Jonestown People's Temple massacre.

I'm looking for book trailers put out by black writers. And they're hard to find. I'm guessing Walter Mosley has a few. That will be my next stop. And just doing a search on Youtube I found this. It looks like Sikivu Hutchinson, the very impressive black atheist writer, has written a novel called "White Nights, Black Paradise". This is something that I wish the better atheist writers would do in that narrative tells a much better story sometimes than facts in essays. I've openly asked Sam Harris to try his hand at writing an atheist version of "The Handmaid's Tale". But I suppose that's still an open request that hasn't been filled. I'm also looking for books by black atheists to review, other than Richard Wright who wasn't much of a believer if I recall. Ta Nehisi Coates just came out as an Atheist so there's that. Hutchinson atheism writings seem to lean on the Four Horsemen (Dawkins, Hitchens,Harris and Dennett) are kind of mean, which is true for many of them. I don't know if I agree with her assessment but she's talented and I look forward to anything that she's written.

It seems to be an argument, a fictional argument but those can be powerful, that seems to be sympathetic as to why so many black people were taken in by Jim Jones. I'm certain that it will be well written. I've yet to read an inelegant word by her.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Thank you City of Asylum for sending me a book. And please send more books. #Cuba #Fiction

I asked City of Asylum to send me a book. And they actually did. It's this one and its published through what I assume is their publishing imprint of Sampsonia Way. City of Asylum, by the way, is one of the best things about my city. I will try to pay them a visit on one of their jazz nights. City of Asylum combines art with a really kind of fearless politics.  Here's their great website and here's the cover of the book they gave me.

I hope they send me many more even though I believe in the Cuban revolution. I just don't think they could have replaced the old regime by nonviolent means. I just wish the Castros would emulate the Sandinistas and just become a party, especially a party that could lose sometimes. But I look foward to reading these stories.

Monday, July 20, 2015

John A. Williams has passed away.

I never have even had heard of this guy. But here is an obit for him. If I have time I'll find some old book covers. (A few days pass...)

Actually, now that I've read up on him I can see why his works weren't more widely distributed. It's not just his critique of Martin Luther King, which would seem to have some validity, but  one or two of his books seem to be embittered tirades against a publishing industry that hates black people. I can relate. I ordered two of his books. I have a feeling I'm going to enjoy them. Or at least understand them.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

More horrible confessions: I've never seen any of August Wilson's plays or even those crappy film adaptations. Hear all of his plays read live here.

I actually sent for and got this in the mail so I could review it.

Then I found out you can listen to every single August Wilson play ever made right her, until August 26th. So I'll probably give it a listen.

Milestone Comics is Back! An opinion (Short version: Get better writers!) and a quick gallery...

Milestone comics -- an entire comics line based on African American characters -- were interesting, probably necessary but in the end weren't that great and they went out of business. They were fantastically drawn but the writing was just so so. It's an American problem I think.  But it looks like Milestone is back and I hope they do really well.

I really think the key is the writing. I would find the best black science fiction writers I could find and hand them the reins. Steven Barnes would be a fantastic choice and he knows and he's worked with Reginald Hudlin, who is backing the rebirth of Milestown. Someone could ask Chip Delany. He might be interested. And then there's just a horde of stunningly talented black female writers like Nnedi Okafor,  Tananarive Due, Nalo Hopkinson, and Nebula award winner Alaya Dawn Johnson. They should all be approached for treatments.

Anyway,here's a quick Milestone gallery. Please let's have Icon leave the republican party for Christ's sake....

We're trying to get this book: The Real History of Black Radicalism and the Prison Abolitionist Movement...

Looks interesting and its published by a university press. I'm trying to find it cheap.

Here's the Real News News Segment about it...


Saturday, July 18, 2015

Horrible admission: I've read very few novels written by African writers. I'm going to use this blog as an opportunity to correct that...

Here's an interesting article I found about African Literature.

I need to check out some of the writers in this one paragraph:
An openness to popular fiction has yielded other unexpected outcomes and has enlarged the circle of what counts as African fiction. Those who follow the history of the African novel are familiar with the war of words between Chinua Achebe and Ghanaian author Ayi Kwei Armah during the 1980s. Achebe questioned the authenticity of Armah’s novel, The Beautyful Ones Are Not Yet Born. He saw the existential drift of the story as Armah “imitating the style…of some other people,” by which he meant Europeans. For experimenting with European forms, Achebe accused Armah of “using his talent in rather unproductive ways.” Today, there is a less restrictive and prescriptive literary culture in Africa. African writers are eager to explore different forms and are able to push boundaries as they please. Ivor Hartman’s anthology of African science fiction, Nnedi Okorafors’s alien encounter story, Lauren Beukes’s black-magic noir, E.C. Osondu’s story-fragments, Igoni Barrett’s Kafkaesque tale, Makumbi’s Kintu Saga, Sarah Lotz’s horror thrillers, Diriye Osman’s exploration of same-sex love, Teju Cole’s philosophical novel, and Khaled Ahmed Towfik’s dystopian novel are all the outcome of a literary culture that has come to accept difference, experimentation, and risk-taking.

I just finished reading "Things Fall Apart" and it was stunning. It's pretty much  what happens to every agrarian culture when it runs up against a culture that has more technology or at least better guns. You could recast it with Native Americans and get the same story. More on that later.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Thanks to all the Startjoin contributors. Let's see how far we can take this.

These are the people who will will allow me to review interesting books for the next 45 to 60 days. (I'm hoping that Startjoin grows in value.) We officially start this Sunday.( I would have started sooner but I'm currently involved in some litigation which requires me to study the law occasionally, which is a bit more challenging when you're not a lawyer and the other side has several attorneys.)This means updates at least five days per week Our goal is at least five book reviews and 50 posts before August 1st. Then 10 reviews and 100 posts before Sept. 1st. Then we'll see where we're at.

Obviously, if you have any suggestions or books you want me to review then email me at pshropshire at Reviews that should be posted before the end of the month include books by Ta Nehisi Coates. two graphic novels featuring Rep. John Lewis, Chinua Achebe's classic about what happens when colonialists come to town, and William Gibson's latest. It was just hanging around. And one interesting web comic about that awful trade deal that Obama is pushing through.

Anyway, thank you to all my contributors:

Ade Yakubu
Stephen Corcoran
James Reilly
Martin Shanahan
Max Keiser
Jostein Johansen
Robert Urquhart
Victor Sebrowski
Gavin Brinck
Stephen Townsley
Paul Faux
Sterling Peyton

And yes would you believe that this just came in the mail.

Stay tuned. I'll try to link to all the reviews. Thanks for giving me the time to read and review these wonderful books..

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Really what looks to be an outstanding comic primer on what's wrong with the TPAA.

from Twitter

Anxiously waiting for the second episode of #MrRobot:

from Twitter

Writers of Color: Looks like I'll be reviewing this first...Free Tra...

from Twitter

Looks like I'll be reviewing this first...Free Trade Explained as A Scout McCloud like Webcomic

Yep. This is up first. Will try to read this in the next few days. Yes I can review white writers, especially if they touch upon points that affect black people.