Read E.B. White's poignant explanation for writing Charlotte's Web

One of the greatest children's books ever written, E.B. White's Charlotte's Web is notable not just for its lovely prose but for its masterful handling of themes on death and dying. In a letter written to his editor a few weeks before the book's publication, White explains why a peculiar truth about farms makes them… » 3/08/14 11:55am 3/08/14 11:55am

Science Fiction Authors on Black History Month

"When there were people of color in these books, they were in the background, or they died quickly, or any number of other stereotypes. For the most part, they just weren't there. And in Octavia Butler's works, they not only were there, they were prominent; they were protagonists. The world looked like the world that I… » 2/14/14 6:35pm 2/14/14 6:35pm

The Real Reason Why You Pass Judgment on Other People's Taste in Books

Of course, your own taste in reading material is beyond reproach — but those Twilight fans, they're just stuffing their brains with garbage. And meanwhile, those literary snobs are judging you for liking military science fiction, without even having read any. If this is you or someone you know, then you ought to read… » 2/11/14 6:00pm 2/11/14 6:00pm

Twelve quotes from authors to remember when starting your first book

When working on your first book, you're faced with an extremely daunting task. Regardless of whatever training or practice you've had in the past, it's still your first novel. At times it will be a highly enjoyable venture, but much of it will be excruciating. There are moments where you might want to throw in the… » 1/15/14 9:00am 1/15/14 9:00am

A Plea to Keep Libraries Alive

As a child I was irascible — easily bored, prone to tantrums, and always on edge. Luckily for my parents, they discovered a cure early on: books. We’d make weekly trips to the library, where I’d fill up a tote bag with as many books as it could hold. The bag was always so heavy that I’d have to schlep it over my…

» 12/06/13 7:33pm 12/06/13 7:33pm

Penis reattachment, and other winners from the 2013 Ig Nobel Awards

Last night, scientists from around the world traveled (at their own expense!) to Harvard's iconic Sanders Theatre for the "23rd First Annual" Ig Nobel Awards – a ceremony created to recognize those achievements that first make people laugh, and then make them think. » 9/13/13 9:10am 9/13/13 9:10am

These Character Names Should be Banned Forever

So you're writing a vampire novel filled with interesting, dynamic characters. You've worked out the plot, and come up with an unexpected yet satisfying conclusion. Now you just have to give names to the characters that have been living in your head and you think you'll call this one . . . Lucy. No! Bad! There are some … » 1/22/13 12:00pm 1/22/13 12:00pm

What are the worst pseudoscientific myths you ever learned from pop…

Anyone who has read adventure novels, especially from certain time periods, has picked up a few questionable pieces of "scientifically proven" information. The James Bond novels alone left me believing a couple of different myths (though not the one about homosexuals being unable to whistle). » 11/15/12 12:40pm 11/15/12 12:40pm

How to keep colonoscopy patients from exploding, and other winners…

Colonoscopies sometimes end with intestinal detonation, or what's known in more official circles as a "colonic gas explosion." Never heard of it? Neither had we. That was until last night, when a team of international researchers was awarded an Ig Nobel Prize in Medicine for advising doctors who perform such procedures … » 9/21/12 2:10pm 9/21/12 2:10pm

Watch the 2012 Ig Nobel Prize Ceremony live, here on io9!

As of this posting we are just half an hour away from the start of this year's Ig Nobel Awards Ceremony. Don't know what the Ig Nobels are? Go educate yourself. Then come back here to watch the festivities, live. » 9/20/12 4:00pm 9/20/12 4:00pm

10 Literary Devices, And Where You Can Find Them in Science Fiction

For thousands of years, humans have been creating stories — and for just as long, they've been coming up with words to describe all the tools and techniques that make a story work. But these "literary devices" don't just show up in classical drama and Anglo-Saxon poetry. They also show up in today's science fiction.… » 8/06/12 11:02am 8/06/12 11:02am

Statistics proves once and for all that authors are a product of their …

You only have to pick up an old novel to realize that people write very differently than they did 100 years ago, or even a couple generations ago. But is it possible to quantify those differences? Could pick apart centuries' worth of literature, and track their age based only on the words on the page? » 5/04/12 12:20pm 5/04/12 12:20pm