Asimov’s Guide To Shakespeare Exists, and You Need It

“So, she pulls out this book…” The way my friend turns on his barstool and smiles tells me this is going to be something good.

We’re sitting at a quiet bar, chatting about his latest acting gig—Much Ado About Nothing. The ‘she’ in question is the director, and the book is Asimov’s Guide to Shakespeare. Being well aware of my proclivities, he assumed I would want to know that Isaac Asimov once wrote a two-volume handbook to understanding each and every single one of the Bard’s plays (plus two of his poems), including plot summaries, fact-checks against historical events, definitions of outdated terms, and explanations of the jokes that don’t make as much sense after four centuries; in short, everything an obsessive word nerd could want as a companion to Shakespeare. I bought a copy online it immediately and then ordered another beer.

While I had heard nothing about ...


OK, Google: Ken Liu’s “The Perfect Match”

HER Our cyberpunk near-future has a voice in my head, and it’s Ken Liu’s fault. My phone, the black-mirrored device that connects me to everything and everyone at all times, sent a digital file through the air to my car’s audio system as I drove to work one bright morning. It was a short fiction podcast from Lightspeed featuring “The Perfect Match” by Ken Liu. The story is about a law office employee and his kooky neighbor. And it’s about a personal assistant app called Centillion which may or may not be the end of the human experience as we know it. “Tilly” is the name she goes by, the name people use when they ask her what today’s weather will be, ask her to play that one song from the bar a couple weeks ago, ask her to order dinner for them based on how they feel. Tilly is the ...