It’s 2014, but we still don’t have self-driving cars despite Isaac Asimov’s predictions. In 1964, Asimov contemplated what the world would be like 50 years later. He was fairly accurate according to David Wogan at Scientific American. “Asimov got a lot right…about how technology keeps advancing at a rapid clip, freeing humans from mundane and routine tasks. It’s the Google-fication of everything.”
In the spring of 2006, John Unsworth taught a graduate seminar on “Twentieth-Century American Bestsellers.” It led to one of history’s finest class projects–a browsable database of bestsellers, 337 in all. As with any bestseller lists, you’ll find a range of titles, everything from Thomas Wolfe to Tom Clancy, but click through and find that each entry includes an extremely detailed description of the book’s history (these were compiled by graduate students, after all); a mini-essay on its reception; images of covers, page layouts, and even some ads; and more. It is, in short, bibliophilic crack. (Thanks Craig)
In true Seinfeldian fashion, Arthur Martine, the Victorian writer behind Martine’s Handbook of Etiquette, drew up a detailed taxonomy of the various species of bore. These include the Loud Talker, who “silences a whole party by his sole power of lungs;” the Malaprop, who masters the art of inappropriate conversation; and the Life-Sharer, who may be familiar to the Facebook addicts of today.
Comics fans will know that a new Marvel storyline may — just possibly — reunite Peter Parker and Mary Jane Watson. This has, understandably, produced a range of reactions, not least of which is this piece by Ta-Nehisi Coates, who argues that the two embody a healthy marriage. “[Their] marriage was a rejection of the macho ideal of romance—which reigns even among nerds—and it mirrored and confirmed my own budding sense of what love was at a very young age,” he writes. You could also read Paul Morton on the character of Peter Parker.
“Always practice basic online etiquette, or ‘netiquette.’ Consider including emoticons to help add personality to your message and set the right tone. Also, be sure to stay on topic in a conversation and avoid writing in all caps, which is the online equivalent to shouting.” The Amazon Author Insights blog (full disclosure: Amazon helps us keep the lights on around here!) has a list of guidelines for authors looking to engage with their fans (and critics) on Goodreads. More recommended reading: our own Emily St. John Mandel on how to respond to your critics.