Here’s a look at the undying machine behind teen serialized novels. Atlantic:
Eighty-five years have passed since readers first encountered both the Hardy Boys and their teen-detective counterpart, Nancy Drew, yet new books continue to be released several times a year. The novels bear the same pseudonyms as the originals: Franklin W. Dixon and Carolyn Keene.
Tom Swift, Jr.'s Cold War-era adventures and inventions are often motivated by patriotism, as Tom repeatedly defeats the evil agents of the fictional "Kranjovia" and "Brungaria", the latter a place that critic Francis Molson describes as "a vaguely Eastern European country, which is strongly opposed to the Swifts and the U.S. Hence, the Swifts' opposition to and competition with the Brungarians is both personal and patriotic.
When I was a kid I couldn’t figure out why they used fictional countries. Same with “Mission: Impossible.” The USSR would be insulted? Who cared? Anyway, the wikipedia article says “The Tom Swift books have been credited with laying the foundations for success of American science fiction and with establishing the edisonade (stories focusing on brilliant scientists and inventors) as a basic cultural myth.” Well . . . no. They may have reinforced the idea, but Tom Swift came along in 1910, decades after Frank Reade. You know, the inventor of this thing:
He was literally the father of the genre: after a while they started a Frank Reade Jr. series, and steam-powered men and horses gave way to electrical miracles. Tom Swift grew out of those books.
HELL ON EARTH Conor Friesdorf has a great piece in the Atlantic about the moral quandaries of uploading consciousness to computers. Would we punish Hitler for 6 million years? Or:
Ghengis Khan, who perpetrated all manner of atrocity less than a millenia ago, would inspire some sympathy, I think, if it were discovered that his contemporaries had imprisoned his consciousness upon his death as punishment for mass murder. Were he discovered in mental chains after eight centuries of suffering, there would be demands for his release and debates about applying morality across time. And utilitarians would debate the consequences of his military victories across the centuries. Perhaps he’d be freed due to his unfathomably long punishment and the fact that his victims seem so remote to us. Or maybe he’d be forgotten in prison, as is done to so many individuals in our existing system. These are wild thought experiments, but with them I only mean to illustrate a narrow point: Radical life extension would so scramble and confound our normal notions of justice that there’s no telling how future Americans would react to the new reality.
It’s like consigning Zod to the Phantom Zone.
ART This has bothered me for a long time. There are some old games I’d love to play again, but you just can’t. Do companies feel any obligation to keep their stories and plays from vanishing forever, with only a few YouTube clips and screenshots as evidence they ever existed? You know the answer to that. The vast, unplayable history of video games, on BoingBoing.