February 2011 Links: Brian Jacques, Writing, Science Fiction, Innovation, Tea, and more

* Brian Jacques died. I met him once, briefly, during an otherwise dreadful study abroad experience at the University of East Anglia in England. His books haven’t held up especially well with time—unlike, say, Tolkien and Philip Pullman, he isn’t as easily enjoyed as an adult than as a child—but I still think his plotting, characters, and ethos are forever stamped in my mind because a fifth grade teacher read Redwall and Martin the Warrior to my class.

And Jacques was an astonishing performer, more like an actor than a writer. Maybe his material and audience demanded it. Nonetheless, it was easy to see the vitality in his books in his person. I’ve met enough authors to realize they’re often nothing like the books they write, but he was.

* A Classic ‘Nontextbook’ on Writing, the “Nontextbook” being Writing With Style: Conversations on the Art of Writing. Expect a review when I get my copy.

* The Purpose of Science Fiction: How it teaches governments—and citizens—how to understand the future of technology. Also, it might be fun.

* Space Stasis: What the strange persistence of rockets can teach us about innovation. Neal Stephenson wrote this, as he did “Turn On, Tune In, Veg Out.” Both are highly recommended.

* Bureaucrat acts like a jerk and attempts to silence smart guy, news at 11:00.

* Hilarious: how advertisers use to sex to get their ads banned from the SuperBowl, then viewed widely online.

* You Can’t Be Against Dense, Urban Development and Consider Yourself an Environmentalist.

* Tea: A Literary Tour. Sample: “I suspect that many of you, dear readers, are tea drinkers, too (tea and the literary life just seem to fit together, somehow). . .”

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