The End of the World(s) as We Know It

I'm fascinated by instances where the creators of video games, RPGs, or comics change their worlds. The joy of fantasy is that everything is completely malleable. The history, the politics, the very physics of the universe - all can be changed at the creators' whim.

But what happens to the readers and players who are committed to that world? How do they deal with the upheaval?

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What if Apple bought publishing?

Chocolate Dinosaur
If you're going to be a dinosaur, be a chocolate one! (via Reddit)

Apple announced a $1b 'war chest' for original content (Wall Street Journal). This is still much, much less than its rivals - Netflix spends an estimated $6b each year, and Amazon Video $4.5b. Let's face it. That's a lot of money, but the world's richest company may be critically far behind. They can't follow in their rivals' footsteps with any hopes of catching up.

So, here's a lateral way of approaching it. What if they just bought the entire British fiction publishing industry?

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Stark Reviews: A Fistful of Fingers (1995)

Fistful of Fingers

Stark says:

“What are you digging for?”

“Fuck knows!”

"Don’t you call me a Fuck Nose!” *Punch*

Somewhere in London, at the very back of a filing cabinet in my agent's office, there's novel that – if I can help it – will never see the light of day. Thinking about it makes me squirm with embarrassment. It's my debut and it's a mess; a big, insane mash-up of influences that were swimming around my nineteen-year old head and which scatter-gunned mercilessly onto the page.

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Amazon is a Slytherpuff and Other Revelations

The brand that lived

The managing director of the Licensing Industry Merchandising Association nails it in a guest piece for Campaign

Harry Potter is more than the films, more than the books. It is a genuine lifestyle brand.... Along the way its brand DNA has grown to encompass imagination in all its infinite possibilities, outdoing conventional fashion brands at their own game.

I've argued in the past that Batman, Superman, Spider-man are all t-shirt brands with comic book spinoffs. I think Harry Potter belongs in that pantheon as well: geek culture brands where the identification is now so embedded that they're part of the visual vernacular. It isn't just about a nerd franchise being in Primark, it is about a nerd franchise being in Primark and coverage in the Sun.

If anything, Harry Potter's gone a step further and given us four lifestyle brands. Superhero logos say, generously, something about you. But the four Hogwarts houses have become a socially-accepted Meyers-Briggs self-classification

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50 Books on Imagining and Re-Imagining Cities

image from https://s3.amazonaws.com/feather-client-files-aviary-prod-us-east-1/2017-08-12/8cef1c9a-0c5b-4709-8d9f-88c5b1bf0a13.png
Moil houses from China Miéville's Un Lun Dun

I've been thinking about cities - and how we imagine and definite and interpret them - since the panel at Nine Worlds was announced. The panel itself, chaired by architect Amy Butt, and featuring Verity Holloway and Al Robertson, was brilliant and free-ranging.

One thing we didn't do is lapse into 'here are some books about cities that I recommend'. I'm grateful we skipped that because a) that's boring on a panel and b) that makes cracking blog content. Listicles are good fun.

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Tolkien, Potter, and Pulps

Abandoned Spaces by Stefan Hoenerloh
Photograph by Stefan Hoenerloh

#MordorisforEveryone

Adam Roberts on the global success of Tolkien:

One reason Tolkien’s imaginary realm has proved so successful is precisely its structural non-specificity. What I mean is: Tolkien treats material that has deep roots in, and deep appeal to, various cultural traditions; but he does so in a way—as fictionalised worldbuilding rather than denominated myth—that drains away much of the poisonous nationalist, racist and belligerent associations those traditions have accumulated over the centuries.

This is very similar to what Henry Jenkins has to say about Harry Potter, where he argues (my paraphrasing) there is a world broad and shallow enough to include the potential of every individual reader's inclusion. 

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Mouseburster

Gigers_alien

Tomorrowland 2055 was to be an updated version of Tomorrowland..... One of the main attractions that was to be added was Alien Encounter. Initially Disney owned the right to the alien from the movie Alien and planned to use that as the alien, but some Imagineers thought that it would be too scary. There was debate over it and the Imagineers got George Lucas to convince Michael Eisner that it was too scary for Disney.

- Chris Ware, Disney Unbuilt: A Pocket Guide to the Disney Imagineering Graveyard (2016)

The book itself is not particularly well-written (I think, despite the Amazon/GR tagging, this is not Jimmy Corrigan-Chris-Ware), but there are a lot of interesting fun facts in here. As well as the Alien inclusion in Tomorrowland, there were also plans for a separate Nostromo ride. Other fun facts include the Black Cauldron and TRON attractions that never happened (but design fragments from the former wound up in, of all things, a Cinderella ride), as well as MYST Island, because, ... MYST.

Other, slightly creepier, ideas include the various country pavilions (all with planned corporate sponsorship!), with the Soviet Union Pavilion a baffling highlight, and about 10,000 different creative re-imaginings of 'American Mythology', including a Civil War themed attraction that is about sixteen types of terrible idea. Walt Disney's original scheme for Epcot - a Utopian micro-city - is also included, and would make an excellent backdrop for fiction.


Are independent bookshops the new conspicuous consumption?

Nom nom nom

Elizabeth Currid-Halkett's new book looks at the changing consumption habits of the wealthy in the West (especially America):

Over the past 100 years, improvements in technology and globalization have made consumer goods increasingly accessible to the average American. Currid-Halkett says this led to the “democratization of conspicuous consumption,” which has made consumer products a less appealing way for the wealthy to show their class. Rather, acts of conspicuous consumption are now focused on limited edition versions of goods that are difficult to imitate, like $20,000 Birkin bags and rare vintage wines.

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Heavens to Betsy (1955)

UFO sighting in Oregon (1950)

Listen along here.

Thoughts Before Listening

I was actually going to watch a movie called End of the World with Christopher Lee in it because it had Christopher Lee in it. But I kept falling asleep while watching and then I started to feel homesick for the radio drama of yesteryear, if one can feel homesick for that sort of thing. So here we go with a radio drama called "Heavens to Betsy" which I’m going to listen to because it’s called "Heavens to Betsy".

 

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