NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY BUZZFEED Karen Lord’s debut novel, the multiple-award-winning Redemption in Indigo, announced the appearance of a major new talent—a strong, brilliantly innovative voice fusing Caribbean storytelling traditions and speculative fiction with subversive wit and incisive intellect. Compared by critics to such heavyweights as Nalo Hopkinson, China Miéville, and Ursula K. Le Guin, Lord does indeed belong in such select company—yet, like them, she boldly blazes her own trail. Now Lord returns with a second novel that exceeds the promise of her first. The Best of All Possible Worlds is a stunning science fiction epic that is also a beautifully wrought, deeply moving love story. A proud and reserved alien society finds its homeland destroyed in an unprovoked act of aggression, and the survivors have no choice but to reach out to the indigenous humanoids of their adopted world, to whom they are distantly related. They wish to preserve their cherished way of life but come to discover that in order to preserve their culture, they may have to change it forever. Now a man and a woman from these two clashing societies must work together to save this vanishing race—and end up uncovering ancient mysteries with far-reaching ramifications. As their mission hangs in the balance, this unlikely team—one cool and cerebral, the other fiery and impulsive—just may find in each other their own destinies . . . and a force that transcends all. Praise for The Best of All Possible Worlds “An engrossing picaresque quest, a love story, and a moving character study . . . [Karen] Lord is on a par with Ursula K. Le Guin.”—The Guardian “[A] fascinating and thoughtful science fiction novel that examines] adaptation, social change, and human relationships. I’ve not read anything quite like it, which makes it that rare beast: a true original.”—Kate Elliott, author of the Crown of Stars series and The Spiritwalker Trilogy “Reads like smooth jazz comfort food, deceptively familiar and easy going down, but subtly subversive . . . [puts] me in mind of Junot Díaz’s brilliant novel The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao.”—Nalo Hopkinson, Los Angeles Review of Books “If you want to see science fiction doing something new and fascinating . . . then you shouldn’t sleep on The Best of All Possible Worlds.”—io9 “Rewarding science fiction for emotional grown-ups.”—Mysterious Galaxy “[A] marvelously formed universe.”—The A.V. Club “A rewarding, touching and often funny exploration of the forms and functions of human culture.”—SFX “The Best of All Possible Worlds . . . poses an interesting question: What parts of you do you fight to preserve when everything you know suddenly changes?”—Associated Press From the Hardcover edition.
“Bacharach has a great comic voice— shrewd, deadpan, and dirty—and The Bend of the World fears no weirdness.”—Sam Lipsyte “Mighty strange doings” mark the Pittsburgh of Jacob Bacharach’s audacious and hilarious debut novel, a town where “yeti, UFOs, rumors of orgiastic rites, intimations of the Mayan apocalypse and ‘psycho-temporal distortions’ add that extra zing to the bustling night life” (James Wolcott). On the edge of thirty, and comfortably adrift in life, Peter Morrison finds his personal and professional life taking a turn for the weird as his attempts to transition into adulthood are thwarted by conspiracies both real and imagined. In this madcap coming-of-age novel, where no one quite comes of age, Bacharach brings an “immensely entertaining” and “Vonnegut-like sensibility” (Library Journal ) to the “aptly surreal satire” (Dan Chaon) of hipsters, corporations, and American life in the adolescent years of the twenty-first century. “A disarming, intelligent and seriously funny debut,” The Bend of the World “marks the arrival of Jacob Bacharach as a writer to watch” (Bob Hoover, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette).
This novel, set in Amherst, Massachusetts, tells the story of a promising philosophy PHD student, Sam O'Connor, who takes a life-changing journey to Switzerland to attend an advanced ten-week curse on Transcendental Meditation as taught by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. Sam is challenged by Maharishi to create and teach a class on Being which integrates Eastern and Western philosophies. The subsequent success of Sam's lectures at Amherst College propels him onto the national stage, but midway through a book tour tragedy strikes, and in its wake Sam fades quickly into obscurity and nine years of deep introspection. Sam has a chance encounter with Julian Driscoll, a philosophy major at Amherst College, and they begin meeting at a local cafe to discuss enlightenment, consciousness, and the causes of suffering. Julian coaxes Sam to once again confront his destiny.
Optimists believe this is the best of all possible worlds. And pessimists fear that might really be the case. But what is the best of all possible worlds? How do we define it? Is it the world that operates the most efficiently? Or the one in which most people are comfortable and content? Questions such as these have preoccupied philosophers and theologians for ages, but there was a time, during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, when scientists and mathematicians felt they could provide the answer. This book is their story. Ivar Ekeland here takes the reader on a journey through scientific attempts to envision the best of all possible worlds. He begins with the French physicist Maupertuis, whose least action principle asserted that everything in nature occurs in the way that requires the least possible action. This idea, Ekeland shows, was a pivotal breakthrough in mathematics, because it was the first expression of the concept of optimization, or the creation of systems that are the most efficient or functional. Although the least action principle was later elaborated on and overshadowed by the theories of Leonhard Euler and Gottfried Leibniz, the concept of optimization that emerged from it is an important one that touches virtually every scientific discipline today. Tracing the profound impact of optimization and the unexpected ways in which it has influenced the study of mathematics, biology, economics, and even politics, Ekeland reveals throughout how the idea of optimization has driven some of our greatest intellectual breakthroughs. The result is a dazzling display of erudition—one that will be essential reading for popular-science buffs and historians of science alike.
Texts on Texts and Textuality argues the case for an American phenomenology as applied to works of literary artworks. The argument is made by a surrounding frame (the Preface and the Afterword) that encloses ten chapters. The chapters are divided into two parts: the phenomenological theory and practical criticism. In making his case, Kaelin traces the development in the American academic tradition from the American New Criticism through structuralism to the French nouvelle critique. He calls his theory phenomenological structuralism, and shows its derivation from American pragmatism (contextualism) to an unabashed phenomenology through the criticisms of Roman Ingarden, Martin Heidegger, and Paul Ricoeur. The structuralism derives from the work of Ferdinand de Saussure, as incorporated into the philosophical linguistics of Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Part II contains five chapters, each concerned with either direct application of the theory in acts of criticism, or in the metacriticism of accepted critical theories, such as the Aristotelians of early dramatic critics (Chapter 6), or of applied procedures in recent academic critical circles (Chapter 10). The argument is concluded in the author's Afterword, where pedagogical issues are introduced to suggest the future applicability of the theory. A glossary of technical and new terms is added, and a double index - of names and a subject matter - is included to map out the author's own interpretation of his bibliographic references.
This book offers an introduction to the analysis of meaning. Our outstanding ability to communicate is a distinguishing feature of our species. To communicate is to convey meaning, but what is meaning? How do words combine to give us the meanings of sentences? And what makes a statement ambiguous or nonsensical? These questions and many others are addressed in Paul Elbourne's fascinating guide. He opens by asking what kinds of things the meanings of words and sentences could be: are they, for example, abstract objects or psychological entities? He then looks at how we understand a sequence of words we have never heard before; he considers to what extent the meaning of a sentence can be derived from the words it contains and how to account for the meanings that can't be; and he examines the roles played by time, place, and the shared and unshared assumptions of speakers and hearers. He looks at how language interacts with thought and the intriguing question of whether what language we speak affects the way we see the world. Meaning, as might be expected, is far from simple. Paul Elbourne explores its complex issues in crystal clear language. He draws on approaches developed in linguistics, philosophy, and psychology - assuming a knowledge of none of them -in a manner that will appeal to everyone interested in this essential element of human psychology and culture.
The depiction of personal and collective suffering in modern Chinese novels differs significantly from standard Communist accounts and many Eastern and Western historical narratives. Writers such as Yu Hua, Su Tong, Wang Anyi, Mo Yan, Han Shaogong, Ge Fei, Li Rui, and Zhang Wei skew and scramble common conceptions of China's modern development, deploying avant-garde narrative techniques from Latin American and Euro-American modernism to project a surprisingly "un-Chinese" dystopian vision and critical view of human culture and ethics. The epic narratives of modern Chinese fiction make rich use of magical realism, surrealism, and unusual treatments of historical time. Also featuring graphic depictions of sex and violence, as well as dark, raunchy comedy, these novels reflect China's recent history re-presenting the overthrow of the monarchy in the early twentieth century and the resulting chaos of revolution and war; the recurring miseries perpetrated by class warfare during the dictatorship of Mao Zedong; and the social dislocations caused by China's industrialization and rise as a global power. This book casts China's highbrow historical novels from the late 1980s to the first decade of the twenty-first century as a distinctively Chinese contribution to the form of the global dystopian novel and, consequently, to global thinking about the interrelations of utopia and dystopia.
DIVVoltaire's brilliant satire on the follies of man, in the original French, with a new and exacting English translation on the opposing page. Weller's critical introduction illuminates the satire's enduring appeal. /div