Taking the form of a local radio show, Welcome to Night Vale is a 30-minute, twice-monthly dispatch full of nightmarish community news conveyed in a tranquil manner. Imagine a municipality that features a sinister, five-headed dragon and occasional rifts in space-time, but whose citizens are often more concerned about, say, the dry scones at the last PTA meeting, and you’ll understand why Night Vale has been described as something akin to “if Stephen King and Neil Gaiman started a game of SIMS and then just left it running forever.”
Since its launch in 2012, Welcome to Night Vale has expanded into a sprawling, frightening universe with a lot of charm. In its three-year existence, the podcast has produced 79 episodes (and counting). It’s also spawned a successful live show and, as of October, a novel that debuted at No. 4 on the New York Times best-seller list. Along the way, its creators have demonstrated their ability to comfortably shift mediums while building one of the most immense and compelling fictional “worlds” in recent memory. READ MORE: The Welcome to Night Vale novel is as weird, existential, and addictive as the podcast that inspired it | Vox
Samim Winiger, whose work we’ve covered recently–sent along his latest experiment. He used an open-source neural network that was trained on 14 million passages of romance novels by Ryan Kiros, a University of Toronto PhD student specializing in machine learning. Called the Neural-Storyteller, the network was trained to analyze images and retrieve appropriate captions from its vast store of sexy knowledge, creating “little stories about images,” says Kiros.
In the French city of Grenoble, there are unusual vending machines that don’t dispense soda or snacks — they print out short stories that look like paper receipts instead. These machines were built by a publishing company called Short Édition, which placed eight of them in public locations (such as the city hall and libraries) as part of a pilot project. Each dispenser has 1-minute, 3-minute and 5-minute buttons, so readers can choose how long their stories are, all of which were written by members of the Short Édition community. SOURCE: Short story vending machine promises old-school distractions | Engadget
One of the best parts of science fiction and fantasy books is that they let our minds go to places where reality can’t follow. Recently creators have taken an interest in visually showing us these impossible places, and we love it. Here are 10 books that we think can’t be put on film, but we’re hoping that someone will prove us wrong. READ: The 10 Most Unfilmable Books (That Absolutely Must Be Made Into Films) | io9
We recently asked subscribers of the BuzzFeed Books newsletter to tell us about a book that would definitely make us cry. They gave us a lot to choose from, so take your pick — and maybe grab some tissues, too. READ MORE: 53 Books That Will Definitely Make You Cry | BuzzFeed
SINCE 1953, TO be nominated for a Hugo Award, among the highest honors in science fiction and fantasy writing, has been a dream come true for authors who love time travel, extraterrestrials and tales of the imagined future. Past winners of the rocket-shaped trophy—nominated and voted on by fans—include people like Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, Harlan Ellison, Philip K. Dick, and Robert A. Heinlein. In other words: the Gods of the genre.
But in recent years, as sci-fi has expanded to include storytellers who are women, gays and lesbians, and people of color, the Hugos have changed, too. At the presentation each August, the Gods with the rockets in their hands have been joined by Goddesses and those of other ethnicities and genders and sexual orientations, many of whom want to tell stories about more than just spaceships. READ MORE: Who Won Science Fiction’s Hugo Awards, and Why It Matters | WIRED.
Whether you’re a Swords and Sorcery type of fantasy reader, a fan of battles and betrayal, or you just want a few more goddamn elves in your life, there’s something for you here. These are the truly great fantasy series written in the last 50 years. READ: The 51 Best Fantasy Series Ever Written | BuzzFeed Books.