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 13, 2017
by Dan
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Dystopia

Tom Gauld for The Guardian.

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. 

January 19, 2017
by Dan
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Philip K. Dick’s Vision of Fascism in America

I have to confess that I haven’t seen the TV adaptation of Philip K. Dick’s The Man in the High Castle, but I found Aaron Bady’s discussion of the series — and how it differs from the book — at The New Yorker, quite … Continue reading

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

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
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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

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.

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