A Guide to Cubes

Mother Box, DCU

There’s no way of escaping it—a lot of the most important magical and powerful items in the multiverse are cubes. There are ship cubes and prison cubes and knowledge cubes and doomsday cubes and pain cubes and friend cubes and oh-so-many other kinds of cubes.

Would you like to meet them? We had a feeling you would.

 

Borg Cube (Star Trek)

Star Trek, Borg cube

The Borg loved cubes so much, they made their ships into cubes. It’s an odd shape for a spaceship, but you have to give them credit—it makes them distinctive. When they’re way off in the distance, and you’re wondering who is coming at you, that silhouette will clear things up right quick.

 

Incarceron (Incarceron by Catherine Fisher)

Incarceron

[This part contains major spoilers for the book, so if you’re planning to read it, don’t continue!] This cube hanging from a pocket watch is actually an entire ...

Hellraiser box
Animorphs cube
The Key to Time, Doctor Who
The Pandorica, Doctor Who
Cubes, Doctor Who, The Power of Three
Portal, Companion Cube
Pain Box, Dune
The Tesseract, MCU
Cube, Cube movie
Star Wars, Holocron
DC Comics, Mother Box

The Library of Lost Things

Welcome to the Library of Lost Things, where the shelves are stuffed with books that have fallen through the cracks—from volumes of lovelorn teenage poetry to famous works of literature long destroyed or lost. They’re all here, pulled from history and watched over by the Librarian, curated by the Collectors, nibbled on by the rats. Filed away, never to be read. At least, until Thomas, the boy with the secret, comes to the Library.

 

The Librarian turned his eyes upon me, reversed the single sheet of paper once, then neatly back again.

“An excellent candidate,” he said.

And:

“Thomas Hardy. An apropos name. We have one of his, you know? No relation, I assume?”

And:

“‘Favourite grammatical form: passive voice.’” He looked me up and down, pinprick eyes narrowed, and licked his dry bottom lip. “Marvellous.”

“Sir?” I said.

The Librarian’s tongue flickered. “So wonderfully ...

Top 10 books about tyrants

The novelist Christopher Wilson assembles a rogues’ gallery of despots and dictators from fact and fiction

The emergence of a dictator tends to be seen as a unique coincidence of character and circumstance – yet there are clear consistencies. As a tyrant, you’re almost certainly male. You’ll survive much longer in power than a democrat, possibly for 30 to 40 years. Then you’ll die or get toppled. Retirement (more time with the family) isn’t an option. Whether you’re of the left or the right, you’ll have organised repression, mass arrests, routine torture, summary trials, prison camps and a secret police force, and you will have made a cult of your personality. There will be mass murder rationalised as defence of the state. The victims will be described as disposable things.

My latest novel, The Zoo, is set in the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics in 1953. It is a time ...

Michael Chabon webchat – post your questions now

The Pulitzer-winning author of The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay and this month’s reading group pick, The Mysteries of Pittsburgh, will be answering your questions on Wednesday 30 August

I’m very pleased to announce that Michael Chabon is going to join us for a live online question-and-answer session on Wednesday 30 August at 5.30pm BST.

Chabon is the author of The Mysteries Of Pittsburgh, Wonder Boys, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier & Clay, The Final Solution, Gentlemen Of The Road, The Yiddish Policemen’s Union, Telegraph Avenue and, most recently, Moonglow (coming out in paperback in September). His books span many forms of genre, theme and voice – but they are all wonderful. That their author will be joining us is an honour and delight.

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Basket of Deplorables by Tom Rachman review – enjoyable short cuts from Trump’s America

The novelist and former journalist skewers both left and right in a highly topical collection of tales

Billed as “almost true stories for a post-truth world”, Tom Rachman’s masterful collection provides an early literary look at Trump-era America. From a Manhattan clique whose smug election party heads rapidly south, to the tale of an arms-trading sociopath with some familiar linguistic quirks (“So I contact my old friend Baz Grimaldi; great guy”), these slick, entertaining hot takes from a former journalist sacrifice nothing in sophistication despite their speedy turnaround. Rachman draws on George Saunders with “Leakzilla”, the (highly plausible) tale of a hack that dumps everyone’s email history online, while creepy tech parable “How the End Begins” imagines a website that reveals how users will die – yielding the ominous “asphyxiation” for every child. Throw in a superbly choreographed farce about fake mourners out-hamming each other at a memorial and you have a collection that ...

Madness Is Better than Defeat by Ned Beauman review – hijinks in the Honduran jungle

The author’s fourth novel features his usual comic riffs and quips, but are they enough to carry this hammy tale?

Ned Beauman gets around. His three novels to date have travelled everywhere in space and time, from Weimar Germany to the London rave scene, and have starred all sorts, from bobbed female fascists to corporate thugs. Each one sounds smarter than the last. In his 2010 debut, Boxer, Beetle, shortlisted for the Guardian first book award, a burly man’s laughter “could have torn the stitches out of a straitjacket”; in The Teleportation Accident, customs officers root through a case “like organ harvesters through a torso”; in Glow, being blocked online makes you “feel disproportionately spooked and bereft, as if the birds outside your window have fallen silent all at once”.

Occasionally you would ask hesitant questions about the daftness of the plotting – how would all those ...

Humankind by Timothy Morton review – no more leftist defeatism, everything is connected

A bracing book from the fashionably wild thinker embraces anarchist and Buddhist ideas in an argument for solidarity with all that exists

In 2015, Cecil the lion was shot with an arrow by a big-game hunting American called Walter Palmer. Facebook and Twitter erupted in outrage against the insouciant dentist, UN resolutions were passed, Palmer was stalked and his extradition to face charges in Zimbabwe demanded.

Timothy Morton takes Palmer’s flash-mob shaming as a hopeful sign. We may be living in dark times – the epoch he and other radical thinkers call the Anthropocene, in which our species has committed ecological devastation, presided over the sixth mass extinction event (animal populations across the planet have decreased by as much as 80% since 1900) and got our degraded kicks by offing lovely lions. But, in a dialectical twist, humans are becoming so aware of what we’ve done that we are now ...