Critical Linking for August 25th, 2015


Contemporary literature is filled with grim classics that reward readers with incredibly imagery, thoughtful plots, and a penchant for making you look at your fellow human beings and think “Jesus, you lot are terrible!” Included below are five books that will entertain and drop you into the depths of despair.

Just me, or is it sorta weird that we love books like those on this list of 5 Books That Will Dump You Into a Pit of Despair.


But it also suggests that the way to succeed is a matter of a writer’s being observant, intelligent, and creative, with a sense that the more cliché the characters are, the more likely (but not certainly) they are to be unbelievable, while at the same time they can’t be so idiosyncratic as to be irrelevant, and that is more important than the race of the writer.

Wonderful, wide-ranging interview with Samuel Delany. 


The tension finally broke this weekend when the winners were announced — to the extent that there were any. In five different categories (including big ones like Best Novella and Best Short Story), no award was given at all. That’s right, voters managed to swamp the categories most afflicted by the online campaign which had hoped to turn the night into a victory for straight, white, male authors. Whether or not they continue to be a battleground in identity politics in years to come, one thing is certain: the Hugos will never be quite the same.

I have a feeling though that this isn’t over.


Through the CCF, as well as by more direct means, the CIA became a major player in intellectual life during the Cold War—the closest thing that the U.S. government had to a Ministry of Culture. This left a complex legacy. During the Cold War, it was commonplace to draw the distinction between “totalitarian” and “free” societies by noting that only in the free ones could groups self-organize independently of the state. But many of the groups that made that argument—including the magazines on this left—were often covertly-sponsored instruments of state power, at least in part. 

Fascinating look at the sponsorship, cover or otherwise, of cultural publications by the US government.


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