HYPOCRITE IDLER 2022

By: Joshua Glenn
December 30, 2022

To idle is to work on meaningful and varied projects — and to take it easy. The title of the series refers to this self-proclaimed idler’s inability to take it easy.

HILOBROW is a noncommercial blog! The info below should not be construed as a vulgar advertisement for SEMIOVOX, MIT PRESS’s RADIUM AGE SERIES, the LOST OBJECTS book, GO WEST, or any of my various more-or-less profitable projects. It is merely an update on my doings and undoings — in this case, during 2022.

MORE HYPOCRISY: 2010 | 2011 | 2012 | 2013 | 2014 | 2015 | 2016 | 2017 | 2018 | 2019 | 2020 | 2021 | 2022 | 2023 | 1Q2024 | 2Q2024.

Also see: HILOBROW 2022.

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LOST OBJECTS BOOK


This fall, Hat & Beard Press soft-launched LOST OBJECTS (design by HILOBROW friends Tony Leone Design, intro by Debbie Millman), a gorgeous book that evolved from nonfiction narratives and accompanying illustrations first published here at HILOBROW under the aegis of Project:Object. Rob Walker and I are the book’s editors, and the authors of its foreword and analytical appendix.

Is there a “Rosebud” object in your past? A long-vanished thing that lingers in your memory — whether you want it to or not? As much as we may treasure the stuff we own, perhaps just as significant are the objects we have lost. What is it about these bygone objects — why do they continue to haunt us long after they’ve vanished from our lives?

Lost Objects addresses these questions via 50 nonfiction narratives from a dazzling roster of writers, artists, thinkers, and storytellers, including Lucy Sante, Ben Katchor, Lydia Millet, Neil LaBute, Laura Lippman, Geoff Manaugh, Paola Antonelli, and Margaret Wertheim. The editors gathered a similarly impressive array of artists to illustrate these meaningful things that have gone missing. Visual contributors include Seth, Kate Bingaman-Burt, Oliver Munday, Lisa Congdon, Matt Wuerker, Anita Kunz, Alex Eben Meyer, Gary Panter, and Kelli Anderson.

“The contributors to this book have imbued a palpable, living soulfulness into the items that have disappeared or were misplaced or given away. Now — here in this book — that love can be discovered all over again.” — Debbie Millman | “This ridiculously entertaining book performs a neat conjuring trick. You will find your own lost objects flying back to you as you read about other people’s dearly departed things. The conceit is ingenious and the beautiful illustrations make each writer’s ‘rosebud’ flare into radiant life again.” — Jenny Offill | “These micro-tales are the best of the short confessional. They leave you with that same wonderful feeling you sometimes get on one of those special nights in the corner of a bar with a few friends.” — Air Mail | “Filled with exotic and eccentric things, this book proves that discarding hoarded items is not always the best way to take existential control of our lives.” — The Daily Heller

The book will officially be published in January 2023.

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Rob Walker (right) at October 14 LOST OBJECTS event in Brooklyn.

A complete list of Lost Objects authors and illustrators, as well as a look back at 2022 LO publicity, events, and excerpts, can be found here.

For news about 2023 LOST OBJECTS events, reviews, etc., please follow the LOST OBJECTS instagram feed.


RADIUM AGE PROTO-SF


Cover designed & illustrated by Seth

I’m editor of MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series, which launched this spring. The following RADIUM AGE series titles are now available!

  • VOICES FROM THE RADIUM AGE, a collection of stories — originally published between 1905 and 1931 — by Arthur Conan Doyle, W.E.B. DuBois, E.M. Forster, William Hope Hodgson, Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain, Neil R. Jones, and Jack London. Selected and introduced by Joshua Glenn. (Second volume forthcoming in 2023!) “For early SF buffs, this will be a substantial delight.” — Publisher’s Weekly. See this book at MIT Press.
  • J.D. Beresford’s A WORLD OF WOMEN (1913, with new intro by Astra Taylor). “A World of Women opens with a complacent civilization in collapse. The cause? A deadly virus, albeit one that attacks only men. […] Even a century after its first appearance, A World of Women remains highly readable and still sadly pertinent.” — Michael Dirda, The Washington Post. See this book at MIT Press.
  • H.G. Wells’s THE WORLD SET FREE (1914, with new intro by Sarah Cole & new afterword by Joshua Glenn). “After writing his pioneering scientific romances, H.G. Wells began a life-long project of writing utopian texts. This sustained and stubborn effort, over forty disastrous years, helped to shape a vision of a better world for those designing the postwar order. The World Set Free is a crucial novel in Wells’s amazing effort, and it’s great to see it in a new edition.” — Kim Stanley Robinson. See this book at MIT Press.
  • Cover designed & illustrated by Seth

  • E.V. Odle’s THE CLOCKWORK MAN (1923, with new intro by Annalee Newitz). “Odle’s novel tells the story of a time traveling cyborg who arrives in the 1920s, deconstructing gender roles along the way.” — Tor.com’s list of Can’t Miss Indie Press Speculative Fiction. “Odle’s ominous, droll, and unforgettable The Clockwork Man is a missing link between Lewis Carroll and John Sladek or Philip K. Dick.” — Jonathan Lethem. See this book at MIT Press.
  • J.J. Connington’s NORDENHOLT’S MILLION (1923, with new intro by Matthew Battles and new afterword by Evan Hepler-Smith). “I can’t think of a more timely moment to reissue Nordenholt’s Million, a chilling prediction of eco-catastrophe and the authoritarian regimes that can and do arise during such periods of chaos.” — Douglas Rushkoff. “I’ve been particularly looking forward to this installment of the series.” — Transfer Orbit. See this book at MIT Press.
  • Pauline Hopkins’s OF ONE BLOOD (1902–1903, with new intro by Minister Faust). “Of One Blood returns in this new edition, celebrating a seminal work of Black speculative fiction. Over a century since its original publication, Hopkins’s classic remains as relevant today as ever.” — P. Djèlí Clark. “A fantastic reminder of the long (generally overlooked, ignored, and under-celebrated) legacy of Black speculative fiction!” — Arley Sorg, coeditor-in-chief of Fantasy and Senior Editor of Locus. See this book at MIT Press.
  • Rose Macaulay’s WHAT NOT (1918, with new intro by Matthew De Abaitua). “A satire of Britain after World War One, where mental improvement has its own powerful government department. A cross between Brave New World and Orwell’s ‘Ministry of Truth’ — all delivered with a sly wit and arch tongue.” — Philippa Levine, Walter Prescott Webb Chair in History and Ideas, University of Texas at Austin. See this book at MIT Press.
  • More 2022 info about the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE series (and my ongoing research and publicity efforts) here.

Next Chapter Books in St. Paul, MN

Forthcoming titles slated to roll out in 2023–2025 will include proto-sf novels that we’re having translated from Bangla and Russian, and a second story collection. Sf authors and scholars writing new intros include: Susan R. Grayzel, Conor Reid, Madeline Ashby, Erik Davis, Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay, Lisa Yaszek, Philippa Levine, Paul March-Russell, Ted Chiang, and S.L. Huang.

I’m very grateful to our series’ advisory board, for their counsel and assistance in 2022: Annalee Newitz, Anindita Banerjee, David M. Higgins, kara lynch, Ken Liu, Sean Guynes, and Sherryl Vint.

All series covers illustrated and decorated by the cartoonist Seth. Additional series info, including peeks at Seth’s cover art for next year’s titles, here.


SEMIOTIC ANALYSIS


Josh conducting field research

I’m cofounder of the semiotics-fueled consultancy SEMIOVOX. Our methodology provides insight and inspiration — to brand and organization strategy, marketing, design, innovation, and consumer insights teams, as well as to their agency partners — regarding the unspoken local/global “codes” that help shape perceptions of and guide behavior within product categories and/or sociocultural territories.

During 2022, our projects included the following.

  • RTD COFFEE PACK STRUCTURE across markets including China, Japan, the UK and the USA, on behalf of a European coffeeshop chain. A complex audit that also included semio-informed consumer research in all markets. We relied on our global network of semiotic agencies — in this case, Labbrand (China), Salt (Japan), and Visual Signo (UK) — for local insights. Packaging structure optimization.
  • ITALIAN COFFEE BRAND ASSETS — analyzing an Italian coffee brand’s semiotic assets (through the lens of a global study we’d undertaken last year) on behalf of the multinational beverage company that has acquired it. Positioning strategy and portfolio optimization.
  • The LUXURY JEWELRY CATEGORY in China, on behalf of one of the world’s largest jewelry companies — via our friends at a UK branding agency. We relied on the semiotic agency Labbrand (China) for local insights. Brand elevation and marketing optimization.
  • The BUSINESS INSURANCE CATEGORY (US brand comms and pack design), on behalf of a European underwriter — via our friends at the UK agency Creative Semiotics. Brand elevation and marketing optimization.
  • The PERSONAL CARE & BEAUTY BENEFITS SPACE (US brand comms), on behalf of one of the world’s largest oral care companies — via our friends at a UK brand and marketing agency. New brand innovation.
  • OCCULT CODES. A US-centric historical analysis of occult codes — one piece of a global study conducted (by a French agency) on behalf of one of the highest-selling videogame franchises of all time. Gameworld, storyline, and character design. Via our friends at a French brand and marketing agency.
  • NON-DAIRY & DAIRY MILK CODES in the US. An audit of codes communicated via brand communications in the coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, oat milk, as well as the dairy milk space. Conducted on behalf of one of the world’s largest producers of non-dairy milk products. Packaging and logo redesign, as well as optimizing brand comms across all marketing channels.
  • FUTURE OF LUXURY. A US-centric analysis of emergent trends in the semiotics of luxury — one piece of a global study conducted on behalf of a company famous for its travel guides. Horizon scanning and trend analysis. Via our friends at a French brand and marketing agency.

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In September, I participated in a “Future of Brand Building” webcast hosted by JP Kuehlwein, on the Conference Board platform. Rachel Lawes, author of Using Semiotics in Retail, was the other guest.

This winter, I’ll resume my role as “convener” for SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, a series of teleconference get-togethers — which I helped launch last year — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community.

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On December 30, Routledge published Fascinating Rhythms: Shakespeare, Theory, Culture, and the Legacy of Terence Hawkes (ed. John Drakakis). Malcolm Evans, a former student of Hawkes — whose Structuralism and Semiotics, published in 1977 as the first volume in Hawkes’s New Accents series, helped make critical theory accessible to the English-speaking world — contributes the final essay. Malcolm was kind enough to quote me on the topic of Structuralism and Semiotics, as follows:

Hawkes’ book is helpful in letting you know what it should feel like to do this work — the necessary alienation from the grip of the quotidian, the sense of ‘x-ray’ vision into the invisible web of relations in which all apparently independently existing objects exist (and which helps constitute those objects). The imperative is to get your hands dirty and struggle with the model, and the importance of recognizing that whatever you come up with is at best temporary and tentative. The sense that it’s both a science and an art. […] He inveighs against “mystifying theoretical jargon” in his 2003 afterword to the book. My kind of theorist.

Though we never met, Hawkes was an important influence on me; I’m grateful to be included if even for a single paragraph.

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To see what we’ve published at SEMIOVOX’s website during 2022, please take a look below.


HILOBROW


HILOBROW is published by King Mixer LLC; I’m the editor. To see what we’ve published this past year, please check out the HILOBROW 2022 post. Here, I’ll just mention two series that I edited.

Contributors to KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM enthused about favorite sidekicks — whether real-life or fictional. Here’s a selection of installments from the series: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Sara Ryan on SWIFT WIND | Carlo Rotella on BELT BEARERS | Douglas Wolk on VOLSTAGG | Flourish Klink on THE APOSTLE PETER | Adam Netburn on SENKETSU.

Contributors to KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM waxed enthusiastic about a favorite TV show of the cultural era known as the Seventies (1974–1983). Here’s a selection of installments from the series: INTRODUCTION by Josh Glenn | Carlo Rotella on BARNEY MILLER | Lucy Sante on POLICE WOMAN | Peggy Nelson on THE BIONIC WOMAN | Tom Nealon on BUCK ROGERS | Gordon Dahlquist on THE STREETS OF SAN FRANCISCO | Kio Stark on WONDER WOMAN.

I’m very grateful to the series’ contributors, many of whom donated their honoraria to Covenant House, which provides housing and supportive services to youth facing homelessness.

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I’ll also mention two 2022 HILOBROW series of my own, here:

Frantisek Kupka’s The First Step (1910 – c.1913). A diagram of the heavens and a nonrepresentational, antidirectional image referring to infinity.

RADIUM AGE: TIMELINE: I wrote a weekly HILOBROW series offering notes towards a comprehensive account of the emerging science fiction genre’s 1900–1935 era. Here’s the complete series:

[1900 | 1901 | 1902 | 1903] | 1904 | 1905 | 1906 | 1907 | 1908 | 1909 | 1910 | 1911 | 1912 | 1913 | 1914 | 1915 | 1916 | 1917 | 1918 | 1919 | 1920 | 1921 | 1922 | 1923 | 1924 | 1925 | 1926 | 1927 | 1928 | 1929 | 1930 | 1931 | 1932 | 1933 | [1934 | 1935].

(The brackets, here, indicate “interregnum” years — i.e., periods of overlap between sf’s Radium Age and its Scientific Romance and so-called Golden Age eras.)

IN CAHOOTS is a short series offering anecdotes and advice from my creative career. Here’s the lineup:

GOING INDIE | MATERIAL CULTURE | COMMUNITY BUILDING | WALKING THE TIGHTROPE | OBJECT-ORIENTED | PARTNERING | CAMARADERIE.

For additional 2022 HILOBROW series and posts of mine, please see below.

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What’s coming up at HILOBROW? Check out SNEAK PEEK 1Q2023.


SEMIOVOX.COM


SEMIOVOX, my branding consultancy’s eponymous website, is published by SEMIOVOX LLC; I’m the editor. Here’s what we published during 2022.

Last month, SEMIOVOX began publishing MAKING SENSE WITH…, a new series of Q&As dedicated to understanding what makes semioticians tick. I’ve persuaded a couple dozen (so far) of my commercial-semiotics colleagues from around the world to answer the same 10 questions. Here’s the 2022 lineup:

SAMUEL GRANGE (France) | GABRIELA PEDRANTI (Spain) | CHARLES LEECH (Canada) | HAMSINI SHIVAKUMAR (India) | CHRIS ARNING (England) | LUCA MARCHETTI (France) | MALCOLM EVANS (England) | JOSH GLENN (USA).

Excerpt from my own Q&A:

As a “semiotician” — it was a long time before I’d apply that moniker to myself, and I continue to do so self-consciously — I am utterly un-credentialed. I learned on the job. But perhaps that’s my superpower?

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From the code STAY SEXY

SEMIOVOX continued to offer glimpses into various audits we’ve done — via installments in the series CODE-X. CODE-X installments from 2022 include:

LEADERSHIP: IN IT TO WIN IT | CONVENING: THOUGHT STARTERS | LESSONS LEARNED | BIG PICTURE | NETWORK BUILDING | STORY TELLING | PARADIGM SHIFT | KEEP IT CASUAL | BRAIN STORM | DREAMTIME | SCI-FI VISION | RALLY AROUND | CALL TO ACTION | EASY AS ABC | MEXICAN-NESS: SUPER SOCIAL | ULTRA-DRAMA | HEART ON SLEEVE | OPULENT IMPUNITY | DARK FANTASTIC | ABSURDIST PROTEST | MAKING A BIG CHANGE: SNAP OUT OF IT | THE BRIGHT SIDE | STEP BY STEP | YOU’LL GET THERE | YOU’RE COVERED | STAY SEXY | DREAM ON | FAR-OUT SCIENCE | NEVER SETTLE | OPEN UP | NURTURING | CHANGE AGENT | LUXURY: MUSEUM QUALITY | LUCID DREAM | KICK BACK | OUTLAW TRIBE | FERAL & FELINE | BREAK OUT | GET GRANULAR | SAMURAI STYLE | CODE BREAKER | ANTIHERO.


BEST ADVENTURES


HADRON AGE SF is a weekly series via which I aim to identify my 75 favorite sf adventures published between 2004 and 2023. The list in progress is here. Here’s the 2022 lineup:

Iain M. Banks’ THE ALGEBRAIST | Matthew Sharpe’s JAMESTOWN | Becky Chambers’ THE LONG WAY TO A SMALL, ANGRY PLANET | Nnedi Okorafor’s LAGOON | Matthew De Abaitua’s THE RED MEN | Ann Leckie’s ANCILLARY JUSTICE | Annie Nocenti’s THE SEEDS | Charles Stross’ GLASSHOUSE | Michel Fiffe’s COPRA | Charlie Jane Anders’ ALL THE BIRDS IN THE SKY | China Miéville’s EMBASSYTOWN | Annalee Newitz’s AUTONOMOUS | Iain M. Banks’ SURFACE DETAIL | Lauren Beukes’ MOXYLAND | Janelle Monáe’s THE ARCHANDROID | Daniel Clowes’s THE DEATH-RAY | Jeff VanderMeer’s ANNIHILATION | William Gibson’s THE PERIPHERAL | N.K. Jemisin’s THE FIFTH SEASON | Kim Stanley Robinson’s AURORA | Madeline Ashby’s COMPANY TOWN | Lydia Millet’s A CHILDREN’S BIBLE | Octavia E. Butler’s FLEDGLING | Gordon Dahlquist’s THE DIFFERENT GIRL | Theo Ellsworth’s CAPACITY | Minister Faust’s THE COYOTE KINGS OF THE SPACE AGE BACHELOR PAD | Geoff Ryman’s AIR | Cormac McCarthy’s THE ROAD | Elizabeth Bear’s CARNIVAL | Charles Burns’s X-ED OUT | Charles Stross’s HALTING STATE | Jonathan Lethem & Farel Dalrymple’s OMEGA THE UNKNOWN | Iain M. Banks’s MATTER | Paolo Bacigalupi’s THE WINDUP GIRL | Kazuo Ishiguro’s NEVER LET ME GO | Cherie Priest’s BONESHAKER | Hannu Rajaniemi’s THE QUANTUM THIEF | Liu Cixin’s THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM | Gary Shteyngart’s SUPER SAD TRUE LOVE STORY | Alix E. Harrow’s THE TEN THOUSAND DOORS OF JANUARY | David Mitchell’s CLOUD ATLAS | Charles Stross’s ACCELERANDO | Kim Stanley Robinson’s GALILEO’S DREAM | James S.A. Corey’s LEVIATHAN WAKES | Iain M. Banks’s THE HYDROGEN SONATA | John Scalzi’s REDSHIRTS | Madeline Ashby’s VN | Brian K. Vaughan with Marcos Martín and Muntsa Vicente’s THE PRIVATE EYE | Margaret Atwood’s MADDADAM | M.R. Carey’s THE GIRL WITH ALL THE GIFTS | Emily St. John Mandel’s STATION ELEVEN | Matthew De Abaitua’s IF THEN.

The HADRON AGE SF series will wrap up (for obvious reasons) in 2023.

ALSO SEE THESE LISTS: 100 BEST OUGHTS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST RADIUM AGE (PROTO-)SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TEENS ADVENTURES | 100 BEST TWENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST THIRTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST GOLDEN AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FORTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST FIFTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SIXTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST NEW WAVE SCI FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST SEVENTIES ADVENTURES | 100 BEST EIGHTIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST DIAMOND AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | 100 BEST NINETIES ADVENTURES | 75 BEST HADRON AGE SCI-FI ADVENTURES | NOTES ON 21st-CENTURY ADVENTURES.


WRITING


In addition to the various HILOBROW series mentioned above, not to mention the Introduction (“The Quiet Sense of Something Lost”) and Appendix (“Lost in Thought”) that Rob and I coauthored for the LOST OBJECTS book, during 2022 I published the following:

RADIUM AGE SF

Cover designed & illustrated by Seth

  • Series Foreword — in all RADIUM AGE series titles published by the MIT Press. Excerpt: “More cynical than its Victorian precursor yet less hard-boiled than the Golden Age sf that followed, in the writings of these visionaries we find acerbic social commentary, shock tactics, and also a sense of frustrated idealism—and reactionary cynicism, too—regarding humankind’s trajectory.”
  • Introduction to Voices from the Radium Age, ed. Joshua Glenn (MIT Press, March 2022). Excerpt: “Is Vashti a prisoner? By no means: She’s at liberty to leave her condo underneath Sumatra, and travel the world. Like most of her contemporaries, though, she prefers not to. Twenty years before Aldous Huxley would write Brave New World, Forster gives us a dystopian utopia in which one’s every physiological, safety, esteem, and self-actualization need is met… yet one’s social life has been reduced to the equivalent of Snapchat, YouTube, and TED Talks.”
  • “Shall We Play a Game?” — afterword to H.G. Wells’s The World Set Free (MIT Press, May 2022). Excerpt: “If Wittgenstein believed that Wells, along with his fellow optimists Albert Einstein and Bertrand Russell, was one of the greatest vendors of nonsense of the era, it is because Wells insisted that thought could indeed precede inherited concepts, that reality could precede the map.”

ENTHUSIASMS

  • KOJAK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series intro. Excerpt: “Things were falling apart; the centre could not hold; mere anarchy was loosed upon the world during the Seventies. But Kermit, Julie, and other everyman types had what it took to survive and thrive.”
  • SHAZAM! installment in the KOJAK series. Excerpt: “I was transfixed by what I’d now call the show’s neo-Platonic aspect.”
  • LUPUS LUPUM NON MORDET, an installment in the BLURB YOUR ENTHUSIASM series. Excerpt: “Passionate, resolute loyalty to one’s fellow misfits and rebels questioning the received assumptions of the day is no vice, but is in fact perhaps the greatest of virtues.”
  • CHUCKLES THE CLOWN is an installment in the KILL YOUR ENTHUSIASM series. Excerpt: “We can’t help but laugh along with [Mary], and at her, as she attempts to keep not merely a straight face but a somber one. At the same time, this is a moment of growth for Mary; her narrow worldview is widening.”
  • RAWHIDE, an installment in the KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series (on favorite sidekicks). Excerpt: “Portrayed by Clancy Brown in the 1984 cult film The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the Eighth Dimension, Rawhide is the most omnicompetent and stalwart of the Hong Kong Cavaliers.”
  • KICK YOUR ENTHUSIASM series introduction. Excerpt: “A 100% biddable companion is a goon, a flunky, a lackey, a yes-man… which is not the same thing, exactly, as a sidekick. Many sidekicks are to a greater or lesser degree refractory, obstreperous, willful.”

OTHER HILOBROW POSTS

  • RADIUM AGE AI points out a few Radium Age proto-sf stories and novels depicting machines that mimic human intelligence to perform tasks and that can iteratively improve based on the information they collect.
  • TOLKIEN GREEN installment in the COLOR CODE series. Excerpt: “The little box on those Ballantine books, for me, serves as a kind of portal — out of drab everyday reality and into a bright, mysterious, inviting, far more colorful dimension.”
  • A four-part installment (BUMPTIOUS FROGS | RAPSCALLION FROGS | FREE-SPIRIT FROGS | PALIMPSEST FROGS), in Matthew Battles’ BESTIARY series, on how pop-culture frogs have evolved over the course of the twentieth century. Excerpt: “An anthropomorphic frog is cute, to be sure… but also creepy, freaky, even monstrous. Too much! But too much in what way?”

Also… for one hour (almost) every weekday during 2021, I convened with James Parker, Matthew Battles, and Charlie Mitchell in a virtual environment known as THE SPACE, where we each toiled away at our own long-form fiction projects.


UNBORED


Tony sketching pack architecture ideas for the new UNBORED kit…

During 4Q2022, I reunited with UNBORED collaborators Elizabeth Foy Larsen and Tony Leone to begin work on a new family activity kit for the “brainy toy and game” company Mindware — our sixth kit! (See the first five here.) More info on the DELUXE DISGUISE KIT to come….


OTHER PROJECTS


“Grateful Dead logo drawn by Jack Kirby” (9/22/22). Click for larger version.

I’ve been spending enough time monkeying around with Midjourney, an AI-powered system that creates images based on user prompts, that I think we have to count doing so as one of my 2022 projects. The HILOBROW series JOSH’S MIDJOURNEY presents a sampling of the hundreds of Josh Glenn-assisted artworks that Midjourney has generated this year. Here’s the lineup:

TOTORO-ZELIG | RUNNING LINES | GORILLAS vs. ROBOTS | RUN DMC AT THE BEACH | ASTRONAUTS AMONG US | DANGEROUS VISIONS | GENIUS OF WORKS | MASHUPS | TANTALIZING TEXTURES | MOSHPITS | WTF.

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Czechoslovakian paperback (detail), c. 1967.

POPSZTÁR SAMIZDAT: In 1964, a clandestine pan-Eastern European samizdat collective began cranking out popsztár-bűnök (“popstar-crime/sin”) novels starring the likes of Mik Džeger, Jerzy Harrisón, and Dayana Ros. Though only midjourney in my efforts to excavate this outré para-literary subgenre, during 2022 I shared the following examples here at HILOBROW:

ICH WILL DEINE HANDGRANATE HALTEN | TEN CHŁOPIEC | KÉRLEK, KÉRLEK, KÉRLEK | SUFLET CU OCHI ALBAȘTRI | СПРИ СЕ! В ИМЕТО НА ЛЮБОВТА | ИГРАЈТЕ СЕ ВАТРОМ | NIKDE ČLOVĚČE | SHKRIMTAR ME FLETË LETRE | AŠ ESU VĖPLIAŽAS | ALISTUMINE.

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At the request of the MIT Press Reader, in March I wrote an essay on “The Brilliant Vision of Rokeya Sakhawat Hossain’s ‘Sultana’s Dream'”. “Sultana’s Dream” is one of the stories collected in Voices from the Radium Age; this essay is an expanded version of what I wrote in my intro to that volume.

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Even if I hadn’t taken on the MIT Press and Lost Objects book projects, etc., etc., 2022 would have been a jam-packed year. Lots going on — including moving my mother into assisted living, investigating and then assuming control of her financial and medical life, and clearing out and selling her home of 55 years. Mom is doing very well, I’m pleased to report. Here she is installing guerrilla signage in the public woods behind her new residence….


GOOD VIBRATIONS


For lack of a better term…

TALKING HEAD

MICKEY: THE STORY OF A MOUSE, directed by Jeff Malmberg and produced by Morgan Neville, premiered on November 18th on Disney+. (After screening at US film festivals, earlier in the year.) In my role as a cultural semiotician and historian, I make a few appearances in this documentary that “explores Mickey’s significance, getting to the core of what Mickey’s cultural impact says about each of us and about our world.” Here’s the official trailer.

Josh in Mickey: The Story of a Mouse

PS: At the prompting of Jeff and Meghan, in 2020 I embarked on a deep-dive course of research and analysis that resulted in the HILOBROW series TAKING THE MICKEY.

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Rob Walker and I make a brief appearance or two in the documentary Objects, directed by Vin Liota (above). The film’s premiere was at DOC NYC in 2021. In February, Objects was screened at BigSkyDocFest in Missoula; and in July it was screened at the LA International Film Festival.

EVENTS

Dan Fox, Mimi Lipson, Debbie Millman, Stephen O’Connor, Josh, and Lucy Sante at McNally Jackson. PHOTO: Yvonne Brooks.

In June, I convened with several Lost Objects contributors — Dan Fox, Mimi Lipson, Debbie Millman, Stephen O’Connor, and Lucy Sante — for a reading (and lost-objects chautauqua, of sorts) at McNally Jackson Seaport in Manhattan. Other fun events included: Brookline Booksmith (September, in Brookline, Mass.) with Alex Gerasev, Seth Mnookin, Dante Ramos, and the book’s designer Tony Leone; and the ChaShaMa art gallery (October, in Brooklyn) with Ben Katchor, Paola Antonelli, Ben Greenman, Mandy Keifetz, and Becky Stern.

Also…

  • In October, Lydia Millet appeared at the Harvard Book Store to promote her excellent new novel, Dinosaurs (W.W. Norton). I served as Lydia’s interlocutor. We’ve known each other for years, but this is the first time we’d ever met in person.
  • In September, I enjoyed speaking about Radium Age sf with Stephanie Burt’s Harvard class English 182: Science Fiction.
  • The August 14 episode of Slate’s podcast WORKING features Rob and Josh discussing Lost Objects, as well as their long-term creative partnership.
  • Also in August, I recorded an episode of Graham Culbertson’s AI-oriented podcast, AIdeas, “the show about ideas for AI that sit halfway between poetry and mathematics.”
  • In July, I was interviewed by Debbie Millman as part of her WHAT MATTERS series — an effort to understand the interior life of artists, designers, and creative thinkers — at the website PRINT.
  • In May, I was interviewed about my 1990s zine/journal Hermenaut by Lucas Gelfond’s ZINE MUNCH newsletter.

MIT PRESS RADIUM AGE

I’m editor of MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series, which launched this spring. Here’s what they’re saying about the series:

“Joshua Glenn’s admirable Radium Age series [is] devoted to early- 20th-century science fiction and fantasy.” — Michael Dirda, Washington Post | “Neglected classics of early 20th-century sci-fi in spiffily designed paperback editions.” — The Financial Times | “New editions of a host of under-discussed classics of the genre.” — Tor.com | “The best proto-science fiction novels and stories from 1900 to 1935.” — The Washington Post. | “Long live the Radium Age.” — Scott Bradfield, Los Angeles Times | “Shows that ‘proto-sf’ was being published much more widely, alongside other kinds of fiction, in a world before it emerged as a genre and became ghettoised.” — BSFA Review. | “A huge effort to help define a new era of science fiction.” — Transfer Orbit | “An excellent start at showcasing the strange wonders offered by the Radium Age.” — Maximum Shelf | “What’s incredible about looking back on the Radium Age is that you realize so many of the science fiction themes we think of as solidly contemporary — from post-humans and the singularity, to zombie-populated dystopias — actually got their start way back in the early 1900s.” — Ars Technica | “I didn’t know there was a Radium Age, but I’ve long loved the stories.” — Neil Gaiman.

Lots more info on the series here.

Also…

  • In July, I was on a panel of presenters for the Booklist webinar “New Worlds, New Books: Upcoming Fantasy and Adventure Titles.” Booklist is a book-review publication of the American Library Association. You can view it here.
  • In March, Annalee Newitz (who has contributed an Introduction to one of the Spring 2022 Radium Age series titles, and who serves on the series’ panel of advisors) and I chatted about MITP’s new series — in a virtual event hosted by Chicago’s Madison Street Books.

LOST OBJECTS

Although its official publication date isn’t until January 2023, Lost Objects received some nice attention. For example:

“This ridiculously entertaining book performs a neat conjuring trick. You will find your own lost objects flying back to you as you read about other people’s dearly departed things. The conceit is ingenious and the beautiful illustrations make each writer’s ‘rosebud’ flare into radiant life again.” — Jenny Offill | “Nothing is worse than losing a prize possession. Nothing is better than reading witty, intelligent, elegant writers elegizing and celebrating those prizes.” — Steven Heller | “These micro-tales are the best of the short confessional. They leave you with that same wonderful feeling you sometimes get on one of those special nights in the corner of a bar with a few friends.” — Air Mail | “Filled with exotic and eccentric things, this book proves that discarding hoarded items is not always the best way to take existential control of our lives.” — The Daily Heller

Also…

Here’s a complete list of 2022 Lost Objects publicity, events, and excerpts.

OTHER STUFF

They never investigated a mystery without it.

THE ADVENTURER’S GLOSSARY, my third collaboration with Mark Kingwell and Seth, was published in late 2021 by McGill-Queen’s University Press. We received nice publicity at the time, and one more review, from the Times Literary Supplement, this year:

With this recent volume… [the authors] drag the reluctant reader into the world of the curly wolf and discourage them from being a half-stepper. Stand ready, they say, to chance your arm or chance the ducks. Be on the look-out for gonnifs and goons — and have the savvy to cry sauve-qui-peut and punch out or vamoose, as required.

Looking for a book gift? Please check out these ideas.


GO WEST


Josh, Rick, and Tony. PHOTO: Ben Gebo Photography

I continue to oversee operations at GO WEST, the coworking space that I cofounded in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood. It’s a pleasure to share an office with friends and collaborators Tony Leone, Rick Pinchera, and (for a few hours a week) James Parker.

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On to 2023…

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