—I participated in a great podcast last night for SF Signal. It will go live early next week, I believe. Patrick Hester, Functional Nerd extraordinaire, guided a fun and fascinating discussion. I am really looking forward to hearing it. At one point I mention a fine new essay by Karen Burnham over at Clarkesworld that deals with the possibility of the physical laws being subject to change over time. She discusses both the science and the fiction that deal with this, and provides a lot of ideas to digest. I highly recommend the essay.
—Paul Jessup wrote a thoughtful post on the evocative aspects of physical books this morning. I agree with his points about memory and nostalgia and the distinctive experience that can (but doesn’t always) emerge from reading a physical book. It is especially potent when the reader gleans emotional satisfaction from the text, or connects that particular moment of reading with something else profound. A lot of customers that come into the bookstore comment on how they enjoy the smell and feel of books, and I think this relates to what Paul is saying, although they characterize it more diffusively.
I am not sure I agree with the idea of a promotional commercial, but that’s because I am suspicious of advertising, and because our bookstore is quite successful without it. I do agree that bookstores need to get the message out that physical books are not going away and that they provide pleasures and profundities that an e-book may not. I’m just not sure of the best way to do that.
—My new column is now up at the aforementioned SF Signal. I had planned to write about recent short fiction and talk a bit about what’s emerging from the vast story-cauldron of fantastika, but after a request for stories to read I put that off for a week to read more broadly and more carefully (note: still happy to accept suggestions for stories written in the last few months). I had thought about writing a bit about the problems that rigid genre formations can create here at the blog, but I quickly realized I had more to say than I initially realized. Genre is used in many ways, some of which are restrictive and troubling, and the column is my initial effort to make sense of that hypothesis.