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David Arnold - The Electric Kingdom
April 15, 2021 11:15 AM PDT
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When a deadly Fly Flu sweeps the globe, it leaves a shell of the world that once was. Among the survivors are eighteen-year-old Nico and her dog, on a voyage devised by Nico's father to find a mythical portal; a young artist named Kit, raised in an old abandoned cinema; and the enigmatic Deliverer, who lives Life after Life in an attempt to put the world back together. As swarms of infected Flies roam the earth, these few survivors navigate the woods of post-apocalyptic New England, meeting others along the way, each on their own quest to find life and love in a world gone dark. The Electric Kingdom is a sweeping exploration of art, storytelling, eternal life, and above all, a testament to the notion that even in an exterminated world, one person might find beauty in another.

Nicole Perlroth - This Is How They Tell Me The World Ends
April 14, 2021 06:18 AM PDT
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Zero day: a software bug that allows a hacker to break into your devices and move around undetected. One of the most coveted tools in a spy's arsenal, a zero day has the power to silently spy on your iPhone, dismantle the safety controls at a chemical plant, alter an election, and shut down the electric grid (just ask Ukraine).

For decades, under cover of classification levels and non-disclosure agreements, the United States government became the world's dominant hoarder of zero days. U.S. government agents paid top dollar-first thousands, and later millions of dollars- to hackers willing to sell their lock-picking code and their silence.

Then the United States lost control of its hoard and the market.

Now those zero days are in the hands of hostile nations and mercenaries who do not care if your vote goes missing, your clean water is contaminated, or our nuclear plants melt down.

Filled with spies, hackers, arms dealers, and a few unsung heroes, written like a thriller and a reference, This Is How They Tell Me the World Ends is an astonishing feat of journalism. Based on years of reporting and hundreds of interviews, The New York Times reporter Nicole Perlroth lifts the curtain on a market in shadow, revealing the urgent threat faced by us all if we cannot bring the global cyber arms race to heel.

Blake Bailey - The Biography of Philip Roth
April 09, 2021 09:52 AM PDT
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The renowned biographer’s definitive portrait of a literary titan.

Appointed by Philip Roth and granted independence and complete access, Blake Bailey spent years poring over Roth’s personal archive, interviewing his friends, lovers, and colleagues, and engaging Roth himself in breathtakingly candid conversations. The result is an indelible portrait of an American master and of the postwar literary scene.

Bailey shows how Roth emerged from a lower-middle-class Jewish milieu to achieve the heights of literary fame, how his career was nearly derailed by his catastrophic first marriage, and how he championed the work of dissident novelists behind the Iron Curtain.

Bailey examines Roth’s rivalrous friendships with Saul Bellow, John Updike, and William Styron, and reveals the truths of his florid love life, culminating in his almost-twenty-year relationship with actress Claire Bloom, who pilloried Roth in her 1996 memoir, Leaving a Doll’s House.

Tracing Roth’s path from realism to farce to metafiction to the tragic masterpieces of the American Trilogy, Bailey explores Roth’s engagement with nearly every aspect of postwar American culture.

D. Eric Maikranz - The Reincarnationist Papers
April 09, 2021 09:50 AM PDT
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Discovered as three notebooks in an antique store in Rome at the turn of the millennium, The Reincarnationist Papers offers a tantalizing glimpse into the Cognomina, a secret society of people who possess total recall of their past lives.

Evan Michaels struggles with being different, with having the complete memories of two other people who lived sequentially before him. He fights loneliness and believes he is unique until he meets Poppy. She recognizes his struggle because she is like him, except that she is much older, remembering seven consecutive lives. But there is something else she must share with Evan—she is a member of the secretive Cognomina. They are, in effect, immortals—compiling experiences and skills over lifetimes into near superhuman abilities that they have used to drive history over centuries.

Poppy invites Evan into the Cognomina, but he must face their tests before entering this mysterious society as their equal.

Walter Isaacson - The Code Breaker
April 05, 2021 01:03 PM PDT
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When Jennifer Doudna was in sixth grade, she came home one day to find that her dad had left a paperback titled The Double Helix on her bed. She put it aside, thinking it was one of those detective tales she loved. When she read it on a rainy Saturday, she discovered she was right, in a way. As she sped through the pages, she became enthralled by the intense drama behind the competition to discover the code of life. Even though her high school counselor told her girls didn’t become scientists, she decided she would.

Driven by a passion to understand how nature works and to turn discoveries into inventions, she would help to make what the book’s author, James Watson, told her was the most important biological advance since his co-discovery of the structure of DNA. She and her collaborators turned ​a curiosity ​of nature into an invention that will transform the human race: an easy-to-use tool that can edit DNA. Known as CRISPR, it opened a brave new world of medical miracles and moral questions.

Michael Spitzer - The Musical Human: A History of Life on Earth
April 01, 2021 12:16 PM PDT
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Today music fills our lives. How we have created, performed and listened to this music throughout history has defined what our species is and how we understand who we are. Yet music is an overlooked part of our origin story. The Musical Human takes us on an exhilarating journey across the ages – from Bach to BTS and back – to explore the vibrant relationship between music and the human species. With insights from a wealth of disciplines, world-leading musicologist Michael Spitzer renders a global history of music on the widest possible canvas, looking at music in our everyday lives; music in world history; and music in evolution, from insects to apes, humans to AI. Through this journey we begin to understand how music is central to the distinctly human experiences of cognition, feeling and even biology, both widening and closing the evolutionary gaps between ourselves and animals in surprising ways.

The Musical Human boldly puts the case that music is the most important thing we ever did; it is a fundamental part of what makes us human.

Rose Szabo - What Big Teeth
April 01, 2021 12:15 PM PDT
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Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together—in order to save them all, Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Rose Szabo's thrilling debut is a dark fantasy novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls. This exquisitely terrifying and beautiful tale will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

1Q1A with Rose Szabo - What Big Teeth
April 01, 2021 12:12 PM PDT
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Sam asks Rose about when they first discovered T.S. Eliot in this episode of 1Q1A. If you enjoy this bit then be sure to listen to the full episode where Sam and Rose discuss their book "What Big Teeth".

Steven Hall - Maxwell's Demon
March 30, 2021 12:38 PM PDT
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Today our guest is Steven Hall, author of The Raw Sharks Texts a seminal and amazing book that was released almost 14 years ago and published in pretty much every language in the world. It won the Somerset Maugham Award and should be a movie soon. Steven has written for Granta and Lonely Planet and build tons of video games.

But today we will be talking about Maxwell’s Demon, Steven’s new book which is being released on April 6th in the US by Grove.

Thomas Quinn is having a hard time. A failed novelist, he's stuck writing short stories and audio scripts for other people's characters. His wife, Imogen, is working on a remote island halfway around the world, and talking to her over the webcam isn't the same. The bills are piling up, the dirty dishes are stacking in the sink, and the whole world seems to be hurtling towards entropic collapse. Then he gets a voicemail from his father, who has been dead for seven years.

Thomas's relationship with Stanley Quinn--a world-famous writer and erstwhile absent father--was always shaky, not least because Stanley always seemed to prefer his enigmatic assistant and prot g Andrew Black to his own son. Yet after Black published his first book, Cupid's Engine, which went on to sell over a million copies, he disappeared completely. Now strange things are happening to Thomas, and he can't help but wonder if Black is tugging at the seams of his world behind the scenes.

Absurdly brilliant, wildly entertaining, and utterly mind-bending, Maxwell's Demon triumphantly excavates the ways we construct meaning in a world where chaotic collapse looms closer every day.

1Q1A Steven Hall - Maxwell's Demon
March 30, 2021 12:36 PM PDT
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Sam asks Steven if he still reads the back of cereal boxes. Listen to what Steven has to say.
Check out Sam's full interview with Steven on his latest novel, Maxwell's Demon.

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