At Lit Hub, Gabrielle Bellot examines “The Machine Stops,” the sole science-fiction story written by E.M. Forster, which contains eerie echos of today’s socially distanced world. “‘The Machine Stops’ would become famous a century after its publication for supposedly having envisioned technologies like social media—and the dangers thereof—long before they appeared,” Bellot writes. “People live in isolation in chambers, where they can call up music and real-time video-chatting at a click; the Earth’s surface is, authorities declare, uninhabitable, so people are advised to stay in their cozy rooms, which everyone has adapted to as their standard for normality.”
Year in Reading alum Jacqueline Woodson has been named the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Gene Luen Yang was the previous ambassador. The program is sponsored by the Library of Congress and the official ceremony is January 9th. Congratulations Jacqueline!
“Poe’s verses illustrate an intense faculty for technical and abstract beauty, with the rhyming art to excess, an incorrigible propensity toward nocturnal themes, a demoniac undertone behind every page—and, by final judgment, probably belong among the electric lights of imaginative literature, brilliant and dazzling, but with no heat.” – Walt Whitman on Edgar Allan Poe’s significance, circa 1880.
Recommended listening: 19 Rare Recordings of Famous Authors Reading, as compiled by Mental Floss, including the likes of Virginia Woolf, Walt Whitman, Ernest Hemingway and Flannery O’Connor. For a different perspective on the word “rare” as applied to digital culture, be sure to read Rex Sorgatz‘s recent piece for Medium, “You Need to Hear this Extremely Rare Recording.”
The Los Angeles Review will start reviewing one self-published book each month. They plan on applying “the same standards of good literature” to their reviews of self-published content as they do to traditionally published content.