By: Joshua Glenn
December 24, 2023

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, SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, GO WEST, or any of my other more-or-less profitable projects. It is merely an update on my doings and undoings — in this case, during 4Q2023.

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

Also see: HILOBROW 4Q2023.


Josh conducting research in the field.

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 4Q2023, our projects included (but were not limited to) the following.

    Not necessarily the client.

  • COLA CODES: We analyzed the codes of the Cola category in two global markets, on behalf of a multinational beverage company. Positioning strategy and marketing optimization for multiple Cola brands, as well as Cola portfolio rationalization.
  • Not necessarily the client.

  • MULTISENSORIAL EXPERIENCE: On behalf of a multinational beverage company, we analyzed codes of multisensorial experience — covering multiple categories — in six markets including China, India, and Mexico. A combination of semiotic analysis and consumer research (which we conducted via our sister agency, Consumer Eyes). Marketing optimization across all channels, including pack design.

Phew! It’s been a busy quarter.


I’ve been invited to speak at the forthcoming SEMIOFEST — which will be held in Porto (Portugal), this May 22nd—24th. I’ll discuss LIMINALITY IN FANTASY NARRATIVES, a topic growing out of my recent work on a French videogame company’s fantasy franchise. Here’s info on the Porto session.

Also see: SEMIOVOX 4Q2023.


This semester, Monica Nelson and I were responsible for two sections of GRADUATE THESIS MAPPING & NARRATIVE I in the Rhode Island School of Design’s MID (Master of Industrial Design) program. Here’s my faculty page.

Shown above: One of my students sharing her research journal.


I’m editor of the MIT Press’s RADIUM AGE proto-sf reissue series, which launched in 2022. Here are a few highlights from 4Q2023.

During 4Q2023, we sent the following Spring 2024 titles to press: THE INHUMANS AND OTHER STORIES: A SELECTION OF BENGALI SCIENCE FICTION (March 12, edited and translated by Bodhisattva Chattopadhyay) and Charlotte Haldane’s MAN’S WORLD (March 12, introduced by Philippa Levine).

Also during 4Q2023, the following Fall 2024 titles went through the copy-editing and proof-reading process: Edward Shanks’s THE PEOPLE OF THE RUINS (August 6, introduced by Paul March-Russell), and Francis Stevens’s THE HEADS OF CERBERUS AND OTHER STORIES (Sept. 17, edited and introduced by Lisa Yaszek).

Our 2025 titles are also in the works…

For recent press, please see the GOOD VIBRATIONS section below.

RADIUM AGE series updates: 2022 | 1Q2023 | 2Q2023 | 3Q2023 | 4Q2023. FULL SERIES INFO.


René Magritte’s Le Double Secret, 1927

Here at HILOBROW, I’ve continued to share my Radium Age-related research. For example, here’s a selection of the poems reprinted during 4Q2023 via the series RADIUM AGE POETRY:

Valery Bryusov’s DUSK | John Lehmann’s THIS EXCELLENT MACHINE | Jean Toomer’s HER LIPS ARE COPPER WIRE | D.H. Lawrence’s RELATIVITY | Clark Ashton Smith’s AFTERWARDS | Rudyard Kipling’s MACDONOUGH’S SONG | Archibald MacLeish’s EPISTLE TO BE LEFT TO THE EARTH | and others.

To see the full lineup from this series, organized into such categories as CATASTROPHE and FAR-OUT MATHEMATICS, visit this page.


HILOBROW is published by King Mixer LLC; I’m the editor. To see everything that we’ve published recently, please check out the post HILOBROW 4Q2023. Here, I’ll just mention one series that I edited…

STOOGE YOUR ENTHUSIASM is a series of 25 enthusiastic posts, contributed by 25 HILOBROW friends and regulars, on the topic of proto-punk records from the Sixties (1964–1973). Here’s a sampling of the lineup:

Mandy Keifetz on The Trashmen’s SURFIN’ BIRD | Nicholas Rombes on Yoko Ono’s MOVE ON FAST | David Cantwell on ? and the Mysterians’ 96 TEARS | James Parker on The Modern Lovers’ SHE CRACKED | Lynn Peril on The Pleasure Seekers’ WHAT A WAY TO DIE | Lucy Sante on The Count Five’s PSYCHOTIC REACTION | Jonathan Lethem on The Monkees’ YOUR AUNTIE GRIZELDA.

I’m the STOOGE series editor. I am 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.


To see my solo HILOBROW series and posts from 4Q2023, please check out the WRITING (HILOBROW) section of this post; to see what’s coming up soon, please see the post 1Q2024 SNEAK PEEK.


SEMIOVOX, my branding consultancy’s eponymous website, is published by SEMIOVOX LLC; I’m the editor. For a full update on what we’ve published recently, please see the post SEMIOVOX 4Q2023. Here, I’ll just mention a few highlights.

The MAKING SENSE WITH… series of Q&As is dedicated to understanding what makes semioticians tick. Here are a few examples of the 4Q2023 series lineup:



Image by darkness_s from Pixabay

The series COLOR CODEX, which explores the unexpected associations evoked for us by specific colors found in the material world, wrapped up in 4Q2023. Here are a few final examples:

Tim Spencer (England) on ELECTRO-EROTIC COBALT | William Liu (China) on PINING GREEN | Audrey Bartis (France) on KYOTO MOSS.


The series DECODER, which explores fictional semiotician-esque action as depicted in books, movies, TV shows, etc., kicked off during 4Q2023. Here are a few examples of the series lineup, thus far:

Adelina Vaca (Mexico) on ARRIVAL | William Liu (China) on A.I. ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE | Tim Spencer (England) on VURT | Ramona Lyons (USA) on BABEL-17 | Rachel Lawes (England) on NICE WORK.


I’m coordinator for SEMIOFEST SESSIONS, a series of online get-togethers — intended not only to share best practices among, but to nurture collegiality and friendship within the global semio community.

For a full update on recent Semiofest Sessions, please see the post SEMIOVOX 4Q2023. Here are two examples:

OCTOBER: SEMIOTICS & THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD. Session host Vijay Parthasarathy led a discussion — with Román Esqueda, Jamin Pelkey, and Hamsini Shivakumar — on the following questions. Does commercial semiotics lack scientific rigor? Is the approach too ad hoc? How should commercial semioticians counter perceived “expert” bias? What is the optimal balance to strike between “science” and “art”?

NOVEMBER: ANALYZING THE UN-ANALYZABLE. Session host Luca Marchetti asked Jean-François Augoyard, Tonino Griffero, and Colette Sensier to share their tools and methodologies for analyzing ambiances, atmospheres, sensory experiences, aesthetics, and other seemingly subjective phenomena.

We are working on scheduling 2024’s sessions now.


During 4Q2023, I wrote the following solo HILOBROW series and posts.

Ron Asheton of The Stooges


Characteristic works of proto-Punk are harder to locate, classify, and even appreciate, precisely because of the looser, more immediate, and ephemeral nature of proto-Punk itself. Punk left more traces, partly because its effects were intended to be deeper and more transformative.


STOOGE series installment on Gillian Hills’ TUT, TUT, TUT, TUT…. Excerpt:

Hills grew up fast, and we can hear it in “Tut, Tut, Tut, Tut…,” the protagonist of which — like the protagonist of The Queen’s Gambit, in which this song appears — seems blasé, yet not depressed, about her chances of ever finding fulfillment. Who needs it?


Also, I’ve continued to add new installments in the solo series SCHEMATIZING, SCREENSHOTS, and PHOTO DUMP.


In 4Q2023, I wrapped up the series HADRON AGE 75 — about the 75 best sf adventures published during the genre’s Hadron Age era (from 2004–2023, according to HILOBROW’s periodization scheme). Here’s the lineup:

R.F. Kuang’s BABEL | Charlie Jane Anders’s VICTORIES GREATER THAN DEATH | Ann Leckie’s TRANSLATION STATE | Ray Nayler’s THE MOUNTAIN IN THE SEA | Aliette de Bodard’s THE RED SCHOLAR’S WAKE | Annalee Newitz’s THE TERRAFORMERS.

And here’s the full list.


SEMIOPUNK is an irregular series dedicated to surfacing examples (and predecessors) of the sf subgenre that HILOBROW was the first to name “semiopunk.” Here’s the 4Q2023 lineup:



Getting the word out, during 4Q2023…


For a full update on recent Radium Age series publicity, please see the post RADIUM AGE 4Q2023. Here are a few examples:

  • In a Halloween roundup of spooky stories, Michael Dirda of The Washington Post included More Voices from the Radium Age (“Reprints, among other good things, A. Merritt’s ‘The People of the Pit,’ a story that could have served as the template for half of Lovecraft’s contributions to Weird Tales“) and The Night Land (“William Hope Hodgson’s extravagantly baroque vision of a desolate future Earth”).
  • In November, I was interviewed by Miranda Melcher for England’s NEW BOOKS NETWORK podcast. Excerpt:

    Let me also mention Francis Stevens’s novella The Heads of Cerberus, in which three characters travel from the present time to a far-future Philadelphia, which has become a kind of fascist city-state. I bring this up because we recently had some poll results from Pennsylvania about the next presidential contest that make me quite worried about where that state is headed.

  • In the December issue of England’s Fortean Times, a magazine that “chronicles the stranger side of life,” David V. Barrett reviews The Napoleon of Notting Hill like so: “A fascinating study of arrogance and folly, of progress and tradition and, oddly, of human nature itself.”


Rob Walker and I make few appearances in the 2021 documentary Objects, which explores how objects can help people “preserve memories, conjure experiences, and find meaning in their lives.” During 4Q2023, Objects became available for streaming.


Lost Objects (Josh Glenn and Rob Walker, eds., Hat & Beard Press, 2022) was written up by Products of Design, a newsletter published by the School of Visual Arts (SVA)’s Product Design Master’s Program, in November. The POD 2023 Ultimate Gift Guide says: “We have all lost something that was meaningful — and that we’ll never forget. While we may never recover it, Lost Objects will teach us something new about why it mattered in the first place, and matters still.”


I continue to oversee operations at GO WEST, the coworking space that I cofounded in Boston’s West Roxbury neighborhood. Shown here, Tito with a pile of outgoing orders from 1587 Sneakers — a startup shoe brand headquartered here.


From left: Josh, Lucy Sante, Annie Nocenti

In October, Susan and I spent a considerable amount of time in Kingston, NY — where we visited with local friends.


Around Thanksgiving, we spent some quality time with our friends — and Max’s friends too.

In December, Susan and I enjoyed a fun weekend in the Hudson River Valley with our friends the Parkers and the Klees.


On to 1Q2024…

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


About Josh, Idleness