The unwritten rules of steampunk declare that in every steampunk story, the Hindenburg never caught fire, the world never lost its desire for blimp travel and the skies are dotted with hot air balloons and zeppelins. As it happens, this element of the genre stems from old utopian narratives, many of which depicted a future of widespread balloon travel. At Salon, Kyle Minor reviews the audiobook of a new history of the hot air balloon, written by Richard Holmes, that shows how the rise of air travel changed the world’s imaginative territory.
Not sure what’s honest and what’s not in your life? Then consult Carl Sagan’s Baloney Detection Kit, which handily lays out seven tools for identifying bad ideas. The astronomer also provided a list of common fallacies in his 1995 book, The Demon-Haunted World.
“It is not normal for the President of the United States to refuse to offer even passing respect to the idea that telling the truth matters. It is not normal for the President to pretend that any news coverage he dislikes is ‘fake news’ that has been fabricated by the reporters who made up the story as well as their sources.”Because this is where we are, PEN America has issued Trump the Truth, a report on free expression during the President’s first 100 days. And in case you missed it, you must read our own Adam Boretz‘s review of Mark Lamont Hill‘s Nobody.
“A few weeks ago, I texted my writing group, ‘All I really want is to be just famous enough to have my own celebrity book club.’ I was kind of kidding. But I kind of wasn’t. Because, like portion-packaged organic snacks delivered to your door, isn’t book club ownership one step closer to having it all?” Laura Briskman on the faux intimacy of celebrity book clubs, as more and more celebrities start their own post Oprah.
Over at The Paris Review, Hannah Tennant-Moore defends the merits of disturbing literature. We are fascinated with the disturbing, because, as Tennant-Moore asserts, “wonder, disgust: both feelings are true.” Here’s a bonus piece on A.M. Homes‘ darkly comic May We Be Forgiven and on comforting the disturbed — or is it disturbing the comforted?