It’s been a rough year, 2016. So at the beginning of this last full month before the official onset of the apocalypse, we’re grateful at least that everything’s coming up normal. As in Normal, by Warren Ellis. Which is, perhaps, appropriate—Ellis is after all the man now being credited for having predicted Trump, etc, twenty years ago in Transmetropolitan.
But Normal is actually a book of right now. And while we can’t promise that the future now looks incredibly rosy for us humans (and others), there are few bright spots for us to point out: The book made the Indie Next List for December (it’s “1984 meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” says Randy Schiller of Left Bank Books in St Louis—see, rosy!) and one of Amazon’s Best Books of December (“a mind-blowing morsel of paranoia…or prescience” according to Amazon’s Adrian Liang)—and, in fact, one of Amazon’s Top 100 Best Books of the Year!
But for all you internet nerds actually visiting our website, the brightest spot of all is the news that the one and only John Hodgman agreed to lend his dulcet tones to the audiobook edition of Normal.
Two pieces of very exciting news for FSG Originals authors: Catherine Lacey wins a Whiting Award and Amelia Gray is a finalist for the New York Public Library’s Young Lions Award!
In a world of short attention spans and instant updates it’s remarkable when you come across something on the internet that stays with you, sitting in your brain, waiting to be digested. But that’s the specialty of FSG Originals author Robin Sloan.
“The Counselor” is a piece of fiction he wrote for the “Intelligence & Autonomy” project, hosted by “the think/do tank” Data & Society. Initially intended exclusively for the participants of the “I&A” forum, who gathered to (hang on, it’s a mouthful) “identify the core set of challenges that consistently arise in deploying intelligent systems regardless of arena,” it has now been published by Vice’s Motherboard.
At least as we read it, the story does just what Data & Society was after: It grabs onto a fantasy, mixes it with a strong taste of reality, and lets your imagination do the rest. Hungry for more, we tracked Sloan down on the World Wide Web to ask him a few questions about the project…
“Calm down,” [Dale] said. “Nobody has to go if they’d rather not. To be clear, the labyrinth is known to possess magic. Some say in the center you discover the one thing you most desire in the world. Others claim that God sits beyond the last bend. Individuals must find out for themselves. Go check out the jam contest if you’re not feeling up to it.”
Are you feeling up to it? Then start the story here and keep going.
Accompanying the piece is an interview with Gray by John McElwee, where the two cover everything from the “natural mix of horror and humor” to the power of brevity.
George Lopez and Jamie Lee Curtis, Carlos Penevega, and Marisa Tomei…straight out of the movie version of Spare Parts! It hits screens this month. Obviously, you should read the book first—the book, that is, that the Washington Post calls “a delightful book…a great American story” and Nature’s reviewer Noel Sharkey calls “perhaps the most gripping popular-science book I have read.”
Well maybe you can watch the official theatrical trailer first (above). Then read the book. And then in good conscience you can check out the movie’s website and join the #SPAREPARTS movement—we’re partial to The Brain ourselves, but there are other solid choices.