The Casual Optimist

Books, Design and Culture

October 5, 2017
by Dan
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Blade Runner 2049

I am very skeptical about the necessity of making a sequel to Blade Runner, but I liked Denis Villeneuve’s previous movie Arrival a lot, and Peter Bradshaw’s review of Blade Runner 2049 for The Guardian has piqued my curiosity… The … Continue reading

April 27, 2017
by Dan
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The Prophet of Dystopia

I am terribly late to this, but Rachel Mead, author of My Life in Middlemarch, profiled Margaret Atwood for The New Yorker earlier this month. Atwood’s dystopian novel The Handmaid’s Tale has just been released as a TV series starring Elizabeth Moss: … Continue reading

April 4, 2017
by Dan
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The Last London

The London Review of Books has a brilliant, sprawling, melancholy essay by author and psychogeographer Iain Sinclair titled ‘The Last London’. It’s difficult to know what to quote from the essay as it touches on so many interesting, diverse things, but this … Continue reading

March 20, 2017
by Dan
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Will You Help Us Destroy the Evil Galactic Empire?

Tom Gauld for The Guardian. (I’m working on my sardonically witty literary novel as we speak.)

February 10, 2017
by Dan
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The Martian Invasion of 1894

Tom Gauld for The Guardian. 

October 17, 2016
by Dan
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The Fantastic Ursula K. Le Guin

Julie Phillips long profile of author Ursula K. Le Guin for The New Yorker is wonderful: Starting in the nineteen-eighties, [Le Guin] published some of her most accomplished work—fiction that was realist, magic realist, postmodernist, and sui generis. She wrote the Borgesian feminist parable “She … Continue reading

October 3, 2016
by Dan
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Stanislaw Lem Penguin Modern Classics

A new Penguin Modern Classic edition of Mortal Engines by Polish science fiction writer Stanislaw Lem is available in the UK this week. Art directed by Jim Stoddart, this is the third of Lem’s books in the Penguin Modern Classics … Continue reading

May 20, 2016
by Dan
2 Comments

A Dirge for a New World

Andrew F. Sullivan, author of ultra-violent urban noir WASTE, reviews Ben Wheatley’s adaptation of High-Rise by J.G. Ballard for TIFF.Net: Wheatley and Ballard point to a pattern—a dissolution of social order that cannot be prevented by technology or progress. Even … Continue reading

April 25, 2016
by Dan
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Penguin Galaxy Series design by Alex Trochut

Following on from their horror classics series selected by Guillermo Del Toro, Penguin US is publishing six hardcover science fiction and fantasy classics this fall with introductions from Neil Gaiman, and (more importantly!) brilliant typographic covers by Brooklyn-based Spanish designer Alex … Continue reading

February 19, 2016
by Dan
2 Comments

J.G. Ballard Series by Stanley Donwood

Some how I missed these when they were first published in 2014, but British publisher Fourth Estate has reissued 21 books by J.G. Ballard with covers designed Stanley Donwood. Donwood, who is perhaps best known for his artwork for Radiohead, talked about … Continue reading

October 4, 2015
by Dan
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The Inner-Space of J. G. Ballard’s High-Rise

With the release of the Ben Wheatley movie adaptation starring Tom Hiddleston imminent, Chris Hall looks at High-Rise and the ‘inner-space’ of J. G. Ballard’s science fiction for The Guardian: High-Rise is the final part of a quartet of novels … Continue reading

June 29, 2015
by Dan
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The Scientist’s Dilemma

In his latest cartoon for New Scientist magazine, Tom Gauld illustrates the temptations of science fiction: In related news, Drawn & Quarterly are going to publish Tom’s new book Mooncop next year. It looks amazing:

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