April 2012

Living Proof by Kira Peikoff

In the interest of full disclosure, here are the books we received in April.

The Restoration Game by Ken MacLeod
The Restoration Game
Ken MacLeod
Pyr
The Night Sessions by Ken MacLeod
The Night Sessions
Ken MacLeod
Pyr
Cowboy Angels by Paul McAuley
Cowboy Angels
Paul McAuley
Pyr
Living Proof by Kira Peikoff
Living Proof
Kira Peikoff
Tor Books

Yes, that’s prominent Objectivist Leonard Peikoff’s daughter.

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The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods

The Cabin in the Woods is a supernatural genre-bender penned by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard. It is a bizarre story that grows odder as it goes, but there is a focus on character, a decent atmosphere, success in keeping a young and handsome cast from becoming mere plastic eye candy, some intelligent dialogue and a few inspired approaches to scenes. There was enough skill involved in its creation to make a fine work. It had me at the opening; it kept me as events unfolded; it lost me at the end.

To summarize the plot past a certain point is to risk ruining a first viewing. At the beginning, five college students go to a cabin in a woods to spend a weekend drinking, playing games, and committing acts that many religions proscribe outside of matrimony. It is safe to share that the students are being monitored and manipulated, because this aspect is revealed from the outset. From the conversations of the monitors we piece together that the students are going to be put through some sort of gruesome trial, and that these students will, unwittingly, determine the nature of that trial. Beyond that I prefer to say only that beneath this bizarre surface is a whole lot more story to be uncovered.

There are a number of things the movie gets right. Despite the fact that the nature of the cabin is explained early on, there is still a mood of enigma about everything. The monitors become the mystery, rather than the cabin. The dialogue, despite Whedon’s continuing penchant for corny one-liners at the wrong moment, is streamlined, full of character, and delivers just enough information without talking directly to the audience. Tantalizing phrases suggest a deeper plot, hints of which are continuously doled out to us. Even one aspect that seemed initially disappointing, regarding the trite order in which characters must die in a horror movie, is given a surprising yet sufficient explanation later on.

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Tor Books

Tor Books

It’s been a news-heavy month. Here are a few more tidbits:

  • Yesterday, Tor/Forge announced that it will make all of its ebooks completely free of DRM by early July 2012. This is a momentous and welcome change. Tor/Forge is a genre imprint of Macmillan, one of the Big Six publishers. It’s the first of these publishers to cave to author and cusotmer pressure on DRM. It may have helped that Macmillan is not a publicly traded company. Cory Doctorow believes more Big Six publishers are sure to follow; he’s “had contact with very highly placed execs at two more of the big six publishers.”
  • Last month, James Cameron promoted private deep-sea exploration. He’s also partnered with Google’s Larry Page and Eric Schmidt, and Ross Perot Jr., to back private space company Planetary Resources. Immediate plans are to design and build low-cost robotic spacecraft for survey missions. The firm, founded and chaired by Peter Diamondis (creator of the X-Prize Foundation) and Eric Anderson, hopes to then build on this technology and begin mining Near-Earth Asteroids (NEAs) within the next ten years. For an extended explanation of how and why Planetary Resources can succeed, read Phil Plait’s post on the Bad Astronomy blog. We live in exciting times for the exploration and exploitation of space.

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Atlas Shrugged, Part II — Either-Or

Atlas Shrugged, Part II — Either-Or

Brian Doherty of Reason.com was able to visit the set of Atlas Shrugged, Part II — Either-Or, based on Ayn Rand’s inspiring novel, during part of its ongoing 31 day shoot. After poor box office sales and being panned by critics, including our own Matthew Alexander (read his review), many wondered whether the second and third installments would ever be filmed. Encouraging DVD and VOD sales convinced the wealthy “rights”-holder, John Aglialoro, to persevere and a few new Randian investors to hop on board. I’m not sure whether the budget is the same, but in a risky move two things certainly aren’t: the director and the entire cast.

Yes, you read that right. The director and the entire cast from the first film were not retained for the second and third installments. The irony is not lost on those of us who both recognize that so-called intellectual property is illegitimate and are painfully aware of how fiercely most followers of Ayn Rand cling to it that copyright appears to have played a major role in this potentially devastating turnover. As one of the producers, Harmon Kaslow, himself explains,

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NEWS | Laissez Faire Books Launches the Laissez Faire Club Thumbnail

Laissez Faire Books

Laissez Faire Books (LFB) is a seminal libertarian institution that dates back to 1972, six years before I was born. In its heyday, it played a central role in the libertarian movement as the largest libertarian bookseller, a publisher of libertarian books, and an old-school social network, hosting social gatherings and other events. This was before my time.

I’d never bought a book from LFB until yesterday (the 19th). By the time I became a libertarian in my undergraduate years at Louisiana State University, after reading the work of Ayn Rand (starting with The Fountainhead) at the urging of a friend, I was able to learn about libertarianism and Austrian economics from a large and growing sea of resources online. I bought books from Amazon and the Ludwig von Mises Institute (LvMI), read online articles and blogs, and took advantage of the growing library of digitized books and other media put online and hosted by the LvMI.

Laizzez Faire Books was fading into irrelevancy and, I think, in danger of being shuttered for good as it was passed from new owner to new owner. Enter Agora Financial, the latest owner of LFB, and hopefully the organization that will oversee its resuscitation and return to relevancy. With Jeffrey Tucker at the helm as executive editor, the prospects for profitability, innovation, and spreading the message of liberty are exciting indeed.

Many, if not most, of you know Jeffrey Tucker as the editorial vice president who led the LvMI into the digital age, building it into the open-source juggernaut with a vast online and free library of liberty and a thriving community that it is today. We were sad to see him leave that beloved institution, but eager to see what he would do in charge of a for-profit publisher and bookstore. Now we’ve been given the first taste.

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Books

Books

The unanimous winner of our vote for the first-ever Lightmonthly Read on Prometheus Unbound is:

In the Shadow of Ares (Amazon Kindle edition) — This young-adult first novel by Thomas L. James and Carl C. Carlsson focuses on a Mars-born female teenager in a near-future, small civilization on Mars, where hardworking citizens are constantly and unjustly constrained by a growing, centralized authority whose excessive power has led to corruption and conflict.

It’s available as a Kindle ebook only, so there’s no need to worry about delivery times. But there’s no reason to procrastinate either. Buy and download your copy today, via the affiliate link above, and help support our work here at Prometheus Unbound.

We’ll begin discussing the book on Tuesday, May 1st. Mark the date on your calendar!

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Book Publishing's Real Nemesis

Book Publishing’s Real Nemesis

Book Publishing's Real Nemesis
Book Publishing's Real Nemesis

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