The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

January 12, 2017
by Dan
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Future Shock

A decade after its first release, Vulture looks back at the terrifying new relevance of Alfonso Cuarón’s 2006 film (based loosely on a novel by P. D. James), Children of Men: Children of Men is having a remarkable resurgence — not just because of its … Continue reading

December 15, 2015
by Dan
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Ever Wanted Something More?

Although the early reviews have not been especially kind to the Ben Wheatley film adaptation of J.G. Ballard’s High-Rise, the trailer looks amazing.  The Anthony Royal Architecture website is also a nice touch. I can’t wait.

November 12, 2014
by Dan
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Describing the Indescribable: Jeff VanderMeer and Peter Mendelsund in Conversation

If you only bookmark one long(ish) thing to read today, make sure it’s the slightly bonkers conversation between Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach Trilogy, and book designer Peter Mendelsund at Boing Boing: JV: I very much like how … Continue reading

July 21, 2012
by Dan
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Tough Times

One day, I might stop posting everything Tom Gauld does. But that day is not today… (via The Guardian)

July 13, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Isolation — Martin Amis on J.G. Ballard’s novel The Drowned World, at The Guardian: Ballard gives The Drowned World the trappings of a conventional novel (hero, heroine, authority figure, villain), and equips it with a plot (jeopardy, climax, resolution, coda); but all … Continue reading

March 16, 2012
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Tim Maughan on the influence of  the Jean Giraud on science fiction for Tor.com: [The] combination of neon-lit noir streets, cramped towering city blocks, airborne traffic jams and scruffy characters seems almost a cliche today. But this was the first … Continue reading

November 25, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Jacob Covey’s stunning cover for Nancy Is Happy: Complete Dailies 1943-1945 due in March 2012 from Fantagraphics. Anxiety and Time — Adam Roberts, author of By Light Alone, on science fiction at The Browser: The common belief that SF is … Continue reading

October 7, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

Innovation Starvation— SF author Neal Stephenson at World Policy Journal on why the big stuff doesn’t get done: SF has changed… from the 1950s (the era of the development of nuclear power, jet airplanes, the space race, and the computer) … Continue reading

September 6, 2011
by Dan
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Ursula K. Le Guin | Writers & Co.

Author Ursula K. Le Guin talks to Eleanor Wachtel about writing, science fiction and short stories in this archive interview for CBC Radio show Writers & Co. from 1993: CBC Radio Writers & Co: Ursula K. Le Guin  At the … Continue reading

August 12, 2011
by Dan
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Something for the Weekend

John Gall’s new cover for the paperback edition of C by Tom McCarthy. It can’t have been easy following this monster of cover. NPR listeners pick their 100 favourite science fiction and fantasy books. On first glance, it looks like a … Continue reading

June 29, 2011
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Cartoonist and illustrator Tom Gauld chats with the Angry Robot blog: I find [robots] almost endlessly interesting. There is tragedy in their place between sentient beings and disposable products. And … they are much easier to draw than real people. … Continue reading

May 18, 2011
by Dan
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Midweek Miscellany

Juggling — The multi-tasking Charlotte Strick,  art editor of The Paris Review, art director at Faber & Faber and Farrar, Straus & Giroux, and book designer,  interviewed at From The Desk Of… Genre — China Miéville, on his new book … Continue reading

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