So I finally managed to purchase the science fiction issue of The New Yorker at the airport bookstore, which is the only place in town that carries the magazine. Had to pay twice the US cover price, too – wince.
Coincidentally, the airport bookstore also carried Fifty Shades of Grey, which caused me to beckon over the friend who was with me. “Come on, you’ve got to take a look at this. This is it. The book that sold ten million copies. The book that everybody is talking about. You know, the mother porn.”
My friend wrinkles his forehead: “That doesn’t look like erotic fiction.”
Me: “Well, apparently there isn’t any sex until page 80. But the Americans are all over it, because there’s some BDSM”, whereupon my friend giggled.
The airport was almost completely deserted, by the way, as deserted as it’s normally around five AM. Actually, it’s busier around five AM, because the passengers of the six something AM flights to Paris, Amsterdam and Frankfurt are checking in. And the few people that were there, a handful of passengers and personnel, were mostly cluttered around a plasma screen at the airport café where the opening game of the Euro 2012 was playing. Even the lone bookstore clerk kept running out to watch the game and only came back when it was clear that I was going to buy something. The match was Poland versus Greece, by the way, i.e. not exactly the most interesting match for German viewers, though we do have quite a few Poles and a handful of Greeks as well in Bremen.
And now for some other links:
Amal El-Mohtar posts about the problems of female exceptionalism, i.e. the fact that way too many female characters in books, films, TV shows, etc… are only there because they are the best ever at something or other and definitely better at it than the men. Now I adore awesome women as much as everybody else, though I agree that there should be a wider variety of female characters. As long as they let me have my awesome women who can outfight, outshoot, outdrink any man.
Apex Magazine has a great essay by Tansy Rayner Roberts about the gothic and why gothics are not necessarily romances.
The Atlantic has an article about how “the South” is probably the most important character in True Blood. Unfortunately, the author seems unaware that True Blood is based on the Southern Vampire novels by Charlaine Harris who – unlike True Blood producer Alan Ball – is a genuine Southerner. Plus, the author also falls into the trap of assuming that the supernatural must always be a metaphor for something (though True Blood really does use the supernatural as metaphor). Still a good article.
At The Baffler, David Graeber asks the old question that has been on the mind of every science fiction fan at some point, namely where are my flying cars and Mars bases and how come the future turned out to be so much less awesome than what we were promised. Graeber mainly blames capitalism, bureaucracy and those nasty neoliberals (and I can’t tell you how happy I am to see what appears to be an American article using “neoliberal” in the proper European sense). I’d definitely add the more strident and stupid parts of the ecological movement of the 1970s and 1980s, the sort of people who instead of trying to come up with alternative energy sources and more efficient forms of transport, thought that we should all rather ride bicycles instead and that we didn’t need all that progress anyway. Maybe this is my personal bias, but then I spent most of the late 1980s dueling with those people.