H II Regions, 17 July 2012

Welcome to the H II Regions, a weekly compilation of SF, publishing and political news. Send thoughts and story tips to cosmicvinegar@gmail.com. July issue of Cosmic Vinegar: T-minus two days.

Crowdfunded Patronage

As Kickstarter and its brethren have offered an increasingly successful avenue for launching creative projects, it has become more and more plausible to create art outside the Old Model–which is advertising and its associated playing-to-the-majority philosophy. One of the pioneers of art on the Internet, Penny Arcade, is returning to their “donations only” model if they get enough funding via Kickstarter. I have no doubt they’ll succeed in the effort, and disclaimers ahoy because I backed the project. Their program description is pretty inspiring, such as:

We intend to be a company that succeeds by making things, specifically things for you, and are orienting ourselves toward that goal.

It’ll be supremely exciting to see where this takes them. [Kickstarter]

Corporate Sponsors

Late addition to the post today–article in this week’s New Yorker about corporate sponsorships in dystopian fiction. The article is brief, terrifying, and worth your 10 minutes. If nothing else, it serves to give us SF writers a pat on the back:

…as time progresses, the world rightly, and often unfortunately, begins to resemble what was predicted by the most brilliant and imaginative artists of the past.

The article doesn’t offer much specific advice, but does serve as a pep-talk for those of us pointing fingers at the corporatocracy all around us. And it serves to remind us just what literature can accomplish when taken as a complete art, full of characters themes ideas and language. [Ian Crouch in The New Yorker]

Our Dessicated Debate

Jeffrey Sachs, once a former Reaganite and now converted progressive, has a blistering article that examines why the two sides of the current American economic debate (free markets v. stimulus) is stale and damaging. One side focuses on regulation-free extremism, while the other side expounds on “government spending forever” blindness. He then explains our unique set of problems, highlighting how the old debate won’t fix any of them. Useful reading. [Financial Times]

Price of Knowledge

The British government is ready to unveil plans that will allow publicly funded research to be available for free to the public. If you’re a regular reader of Cosmic Vinegar, you’ll know this a cause that I’ve mentioned in the past, pointing the finger specifically at Elsevier (but there are other publishers guilty of this as well). Simply put, if the public pay for the research, the research should be available to the public. Any other system is theft. [Ian Sample in The Guardian]

Grantland: Redemption?

I don’t like ESPN’s spin-off “longread” website Grantland, although it has managed the impressive feat of merging most things I don’t like about popular culture into a monolithic shitfest. (At least they haven’t published an essay by some wide-eyed college graduate who says things like “why haven’t I struggled more?“)

So imagine my surprise when they posted one of the best video game reviews I’ve ever read. It’s a serious, thoughtful piece about shooter games; most importantly, it’s self-reflective, and through that reflection the author demands you reflect too. [Tom Bissell in Grantland]

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