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Other posts by Paul St John Mackintosh

Book review: The Imago Sequence and Other Stories, by Laird Barron, Night Shade Books
September 30, 2014 | 12:47 pm

Public health warning: This book has been known to induce anomie, despair, alienation, disenchantment, toxic doubt, and pervasive crawling fear. It has also been known to make people write about it ecstatically. I'm not the first to succumb. And this isn't a new book review: The Imago Sequence has been around spreading terror and acedia since 2007, picking up a Shirley Jackson Award along the way. It also, incidentally, put its author on the map - in the same way that the 1883 eruption put Krakatoa on the map. The geography of horror would never be the same again. Rather, this...

R.I.P. Eugie Foster
September 29, 2014 | 2:41 pm

Nebula Award-winning writer and editor Eugie Foster died on September 27th of respiratory failure after a long and hard-fought battle against aggressive cancer of the sinuses. Full details can be found on her blog, with a short obituary from her husband Matthew M. Foster, here. Eugie won the 2009 Nebula Award for Best Novelette for her novelette "Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast," and a whole series of other awards for her work as writer and editor. She was also a regular participant in conventions and science fiction/fantasy events. In the course of her struggle and treatment, Eugie...

The world’s largest ever indoor photo – and it’s a library
September 29, 2014 | 12:25 pm

One of the most monumental photographs ever made, and still apparently the largest single indoor image (by information density) ever created, is in fact the interior of a library. The Strahov Philosophical Library in Prague dates back to the 18th century, part of an older monastery complex founded in the early Middle Ages, and contains "approximately 200,000 volumes, estimated to hold 260,000 works," as well as rare manuscripts and other treasures. And it's also the subject of a huge 40-gigapixel panoramic view, "the largest indoor Photo in the world as of March 2011," put together from a mosaic of images that...

Why people still prefer print – in pictures
September 28, 2014 | 3:29 pm

books_infographic-674x1030Here's an interesting infographic from UK new-era second-hand book trading platform FatBrain on why people still prefer print books to ebooks - all down in pretty pictures for those who reading onscreen has left comprehensionally challenged. And of course, FatBrain, whose business depends on people emailing barcodes or ISBNs from print books, has a strong vested interest in people opting for print. But take a look at the pretty pictures that are almost as easy to follow as ink ant trails pressed into woodpulp, and enjoy.  ...

Book review: Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War, by Alexander Watson, Basic Books
September 27, 2014 | 11:07 am

The centenary of the outbreak of World War 1 in 1914 is naturally bringing out a lot of commemorative publications of varying kinds, as well as all the events and documentaries, etc., and Alexander Watson's Ring of Steel: Germany and Austria-Hungary in World War 1, is one of the more interesting and revisionist, and the most challenging to preconceptions and received wisdom among English-speaking readers. It dives deep into German and Austria-Hungarian social history in the war years, using a vast amount of documentary evidence from war leaders to teenage girls, delivering a whole herd of sacred cows to the...

Civilization began when humans invented fire – and storytelling
September 26, 2014 | 12:25 pm

For a writer, it's heartening to learn that the first invention to set the human race on its triumphal march towards global ecocide - fire - is intimately linked to the development of storytelling. According to a study just published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America (PNAS), and widely reported in Science Magazine and elsewhere, "comparison of 174 day and nighttime conversations among the Ju/’hoan (!Kung) Bushmen of southern Africa, supplemented by 68 translated texts," suggests a major dichotomy between daytime talk and nighttime banter around the campfire, with the latter given...

Follow the Scott trail through Scotland
September 26, 2014 | 10:25 am

With interest in Scotland and Scottish culture still riding high post the Scottish independence referendum, here's welcome information for anyone wishing to delve into the background and landmarks of one of Scotland's greatest writers, Sir Walter Scott. Visit Scotland, "Scotland's National Tourism Organization," has put together a Sir Walter Scott Itinerary to take visitors around the sites and settings most associated with Scott and his novels, starting with his slightly fantastic creation of Abbotsford, the house which dramatized the historical and Romantic themes in stone and in a huge collection of curios. Then there's Sir Walter Scott’s Courtroom, the Sheriff Court at Selkirk...

David Gaughran catches the stench wafting from the publishing industry
September 23, 2014 | 6:00 pm

David GaughranNo one could accuse David Gaughran of being afraid to take a stand, or of supine impartiality in his readiness to listen to every side. And the author of Let's Get Digital and Let's Get Visible doesn't leave much room for ambiguity in his latest title: "Publishing Is Rotten To The Core." Admittedly, this is a post as much about media bias as about the publishing industry itself - or rather, the partiality of mainstream media to anti-Amazon, pro-trad publishing stories - as it is about conditions where print meets paper. But there's plenty to go around nonetheless. Gaughran doesn't mince words...

Android One strengthens Google’s emerging markets armlock
September 22, 2014 | 12:25 pm

androidone5-600x400Announced at the the Google I/O 2014 development conference in June 2014, Android One is Google's new reference platform for emerging markets, with a sub-$100 price tag and solid hardware specs, including a 4.5″ screen, dual SIM slots, SD card port, FM radio, etc. Wasting no time, Google has already brought the new platform to market, via initial product releases in India from Karbonn, Micromax and Spice Smart Phones. The new handsets are already attracting some good reviews, with strong marks for the critical areas of screens, performance, and above all, the solid qualities of the stock Android OS iteration basic to Android One. "Always the latest...

Android accelerates away from Apple
September 22, 2014 | 10:25 am

switch from ios to androidA recent article on Android Central entitled "The Insane Pace of Android" encapsulates a lot of what's going on in the Android ecosystem - and why that should be a first concern among anyone looking to buy or upgrade a mobile device. Apple is basically eating Android's dust. Especially in dusty Third World countries outside the U.S., which may not be the first concern among Wall Street money guys - either in their stock picks or their buying choices - but which add up to a user base that is dwarfing iOS, and outdistancing it more every day. "There's an entirely...

Scottish literature after the referendum
September 21, 2014 | 2:29 pm

The referendum on Scottish independence gave Scottish literature, and Scottish culture, greater prominence as a separate force in the English-speaking world than at any time in recent decades. Arguably, that's no less than the post-war generations of writers that have numbered Iain Banks, Alasdair Gray, Edwin Morgan, and Irvine Welsh deserves. But the dissipation of all the hope and optimism of the Yes campaign on September 18th, and the recriminations afterwards against the British establishment, are darkening the mood and cbecking a lot of that impetus. Alasdair Gray himself described the result in Scotland's The Herald as "a great pity"...

Inside the Swedish Writers’ Union
September 20, 2014 | 10:22 am

While at this year's Edinburgh International Book Festival, I met with the vice chair of the Swedish Writers' Union (Sveriges Författarförbund), Sweden's formal and officially sanctioned support institution for writers, in the context of discussions on official support for writers. The Swedish Writers' Union is "the central professional organisation for writers and literary translators in Sweden," as their materials state. "We safeguard the economic and moral interests of our members by defending freedom of expression and of the press, and keeping up to date with copyright stipulations and the laws regulating copyright." This is the feedback they gave me on how their body operates. "To become a...