There’s a duck with one broken wing and questionable allegiances in Dead Astronauts, so it’s a little disconcerting that the cover of The Restless Clock features the diagram of a duck with its own questionable behaviors.

It was a duck, and what the Duck did, though unremarkable in a duck, was so extraordinary in a machine that it immediately seized center stage. Like Reisel’s artificial man and certain other machines had been purported to do—but this time in live performance—the Duck shat. It did so, appropriately, in response to being presented with a meal. First it gobbled up and gulped down some bits of corn and grain; then it took a pregnant pause; and at last it relieved itself, through its tail end, of an authentic-looking burden.

‪Two things right off the bat about Jeff VanderMeer’s Dead Astronauts: (1) I’m going to get a headache from this book, probably; and (2) his wordsmithing is at its most rhythmically seductive here — or, not just seductive: gravitational, like you don’t quite have entire control over your body stumble-stepping down a hill.

It’s slow going in the beginning of The Seep by Chana Porter, and a bit like a kid quick-tripping through telling a story in an “and then this happened, and then this happened, and then this happened” way, but it settles down. I’d think that if you liked the James Tynion IV and Eryk Donovan triptych of Memetic, Cognetic, and Eugenic, you’d probably find this worth reading. Parenthetically, having just started in on Dead Astronauts by Jeff VanderMeer, I already can tell this one is going to give me a headache.

Reading through Pratik’s jottings about Goodreads made me realize that the biggest obstacle to me switching to any alternative book-tracking site (existing or forthcoming) is that while I don’t really make use of the social aspects (I don’t have Goodreads friends), I do use it to follow authors so that I’m alerted when they have new books coming out. Any potential Goodreads substitute would need to replicate that feature, or figure its way to something analogous, to entice me into switching. I’d love to take one more step away from large ecosystems like Amazon, but alternatives need to think hard not just about avoiding the bad things about the attention economies of scale such ecosystems offer but about finding substitutes for the good things they offer.

Just signed up for the Literal waiting list. I’m down for a minimalist book-tracking site that runs on recommendations from trusted people rather than algorithms, and that intends to support local bookstores.. Found it via this Micro.blog thread. You can browse a founder’s profile to get a sense of its current state. It looks like you can import your Goodreads data and pick up where you left off, too.

Sometimes I lose track of where I found a thing, and that’s the case with Nathan J. Robinson’s exploration for Current Affairs of J.K. Rowling’s literature in the face of J.K. Rowling’s bigoted personhood. I’ve never read the Harry Potter books; it’s not a genre in which I’m interested. I’m interested, though, in this sort of retrospective in light of a creator’s personal beliefs or behavior. I was surprised among other things to learn the books apparently just sort of brush off slavery as a sort of “eh, what’re you going to do” thing. Then there’s this brutal bit.

[…] I was recently reading Langston Hughes’ memoir The Big Sea, and he discusses a wealthy white woman who served as his patron during the Harlem Renaissance. She simply adored him, but she also expected him to produce a very particular kind of writing that would capture the spirit of the “savage” and “African” that so entranced her about him. When he didn’t conform to her expectations, she cut him loose. She was a racist, it is obvious to any of us, but every word out of her mouth was about how important she felt it was to support Black literature and Black people, all the writers she loved and how wonderful their art was. I hear echoes of this when J.K. Rowling talks about the charming transsexual she met.

My biggest surprise in reading Jessica Riskin’s The Restless Clock is that the 17th and 18th centuries apparently somewhat were awash with automata. It’s vaguely like reading a history from a parallel world. I’ve read any number of books on various topics that cover some portion or another of the same period, some of which I’d have expected to make at least a passing reference to such a fact, but other than now and then encountering reference to Wolfgang von Kempelen’s Mechnical Turk I’ve simply never heard of this.

Unless I’m reading things wrong, it turns out people can scan existing 3D objects in order to generate models that then can be 3D-printed? So if I could find somewhere that could scan this hard plastic Kobo case (absent the book-like cover), a model could be generated to then print it in thermoplastic (or other printable rubber-like material), giving me the Kobo cover I want?

I’m reaching that point in an OverDrive borrow from Multnomah County Library at which I need to decide if I’m going to pause reading a book until the next time I can borrow it or if I’m going to buy it in order to keep reading. I dislike pausing books, but of course in this instance the book in question isn’t like a $9.99 fiction read; it’s a $21.59 nonfiction read. It’s also possible that there’s no queue for it, and I’ll be able to just borrow it again, as currently there’s no one waiting for it. We’ll see.