Why read horror when the world is already so creepy? Maree Searle/Getty Images/EyeEm
Tom Lehrer famously said that satire became obsolete when Henry Kissinger won the Nobel Peace Prize. And yet here we are, still struggling to exaggerate the follies of power until power can’t get around us. Horror has much the same resilience. As terrifying as the world becomes, we still turn to imagined terrors to try and make sense of it. To quote another favorite entertainer, Neil Gaiman, “Fairy tales are more than true: Not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.” Horror, descended from those tales, tells us about more monsters — and more strategies for beating them.
The banal evils of the world — children shot, neighbors exiled, selves reframed in an instant as inhuman threats — these are horrible, but they aren’t horror. Horror promises that the plot arc will fall after it rises. Horror spins everyday evil to show its fantastical face, literalizing its corroded heart into something more dramatic, something easier to imagine facing down. Horror helps us name the original sins out of which horrible things are born.
Some of my favorite horror stories are those in which real-world terrors grow gradually into something stranger. Mariana Enriquez, recently translated into English in Things We Lost in the Fire, writes a Buenos Aires in which poverty and pollution inevitably swell into risen corpses and sacrificial cults. Stephen King’s Carrie only destroys her town because abuse and bullying feed her frustrated teenage telekinesis. Charlotte Perkins Gilman’s classic “The Yellow Wallpaper” starts from the simple psychological claustrophobia of well-meaning relations and deep-rooted sexism.
All of which gives horror the opportunity to be radically empowering, and to condemn these evils in the starkest of terms. But it doesn’t always do so. In too many stories the Thing That Should Not Happen is simply someone violating the status quo, or outsiders existing visibly. H. P. Lovecraft is a prototypical example — his world-shattering deities are worshipped primarily by those without other means to power: immigrants, rural folk, dark-skinned people trying to summon dreadful entities. His monsters are closely entwined with mental illness and “miscegenation.” His works insist, again and again, that civilization depends on keeping such creatures out of both sight and mind. Nor is Lovecraft (conveniently dead and ostensibly “of his time”) the only one. How much modern horror still draws frissons of fear from disabled villains, or the threat of “madness,” or whatever Other happens to be convenient? How many can only imagine threats as violations of white-picket-fence comfort, overcome when the monster’s defeat allows a return to that comfort for those who had it in the first place?
While it’s tempting to write horror from the perspective of those most easily shocked — those in a position to believe the universe dispenses comfort evenly to all — the best modern work depicts terrors fit for those already intimate with fear. Mira Grant (a.k.a. Seanan McGuire) is brilliant at this. Her Newsflesh trilogy amplifies the perils of political journalism, mindful that authorities’ response to disaster can make the difference between zombie apocalypse and zombie inconvenience. Victor Lavalle, another favorite, finds ways to faze protagonists who already face segregation, police violence, and the cosmic indifference of everyday prejudice.
Horror as a genre is built around one truth: that the world is full of fearful things. But the best horror tells us more. It tells us how to live with being afraid. It tells us how to distinguish real evil from harmless shadows. It tells us how to fight back. It tells us that we can fight the worst evils, whether or not we all survive them — and how to be worthy of having our tales told afterward.
Editor’s Note: Ruthanna Emrys is the author of the Innsmouth Legacy series and co-writes Tor.com’s Lovecraft Reread. She lives in a mysterious manor house on the outskirts of Washington, D.C. with her wife and their large, strange family. You can find her on Twitter as @r_emrys.
By RUTHANNA EMRYS, August 5, 2018, first appearing on Books : NPR
Lounge on the Book Heaven floor in Oodi, Helsinki’s stunning new library
Like a wave sweeping between the buildings of what is known as Citizens’ Square, Oodi (pronounced ‘awdi) is a veritable ode to Helsinki. The new central library breaks the boundaries of silence and invites children, tourists, contemplatives, rock bands, the whole world, in fact, to partake in its multi-faceted facilities and what’s more, it’s all for free!
In a country with the highest literacy rate in the world according to the UN in 2016, libraries are used by the 5.5 million locals at a rate of 68 million books per year. It is hardly surprising that the people of Finlandand residents of Helsinki, in particular, are delighted at the prospect of this communal space created by ALA Architects. Believe it or not, there will be 100,000 books for borrowing on the Book Heaven floor where you can lounge around on a sofa musing about your next read.
Hobby enthusiasts can practice their party numbers in the soundproof studios and even record them, sew a dress, recycle would-be throwaways, try out 3D printing or have a meeting. The cinema occupies space on the first floor where the large lobby area will be used for exhibitions and pop-up events. As is the case in so many public places, the Finns are never far from their coffee with this national need being catered for by the restaurant and café. The Citizen’s Balcony will be a hang-out for city view photographers and meet-ups in the summer months.
While the emphasis will always be on books, the diversity of this space will lend itself to social encounters, sharing of resources and ultimately the galvanising of community spirit. Oodi swings wide its doors at 8am on 5 December, the day before Independence Day, with a knock-out programme incorporating a 207-participant dance, a composition by Kimmo Pohjonen spanning more than one building, and plenty more.
By Violetta Teetor, NOVEMBER 21, 2018, first appearing on Lonely Planet
In case you haven’t heard, a climate disaster is looming. The effects of climate change—like rising seas and intensifying weather patterns—are already here. Even though the worst is yet to come, there are still things that we can do to fight for our planet. One thing you can do right now is to educate yourself by reading climate change books.
CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT SCIENCE
HOT, HUNGRY PLANET: THE FIGHT TO STOP A GLOBAL FOOD CRISIS IN THE FACE OF CLIMATE CHANGE BY LISA PALMER
By the year 2050, Earth’s population will be closing in on 10 billion people. That’s a lot of mouths to feed. Journalist Lisa Palmer’s book Hot Hungry Planet digs into the possibilities of famine and food scarcity and the innovations that might save us all from hunger.
THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: AN UNNATURAL HISTORY BY ELIZABETH KOLBERT
What will the future look like? The past may have a clue. Over the ages of our planet’s history, there have been five mass extinction events, one of which all but wiped out the dinosaurs. In the Anthropocene period, the next casualty may be us. In The Sixth Extinction, Elizabeth Kolbert takes a closer look at the past to tell us more about our future.
CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT HEALTH
FEVERED: WHY A HOTTER PLANET WILL HURT OUR HEALTH—AND HOW WE CAN SAVE OURSELVES BY LINDA MARSA
We’re getting more used seeing images of stranded polar bears and hearing about our dwindling bee population, but most reporting on climate change leaves out what it can do to our own health. Linda Marsa’s Fevered delves into the increasing rate of illnesses associated with global warming, like asthma, allergies, and mosquito-borne diseases, just to name a few.
THE GREAT DERANGEMENT: CLIMATE CHANGE AND THE UNTHINKABLE BY AMITAV GHOSH
The past few generations have taken advantage of the planet, polluting the oceans, ravaging the land, and filling our skies with smoke. What were we thinking? In The Great Derangement, Amitav Ghosh argues that we weren’t, we have been deliberately blind to the disasters looming in our future—until now.
CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT PEOPLE
PLASTIC: A TOXIC LOVE STORY BY SUSAN FREINKEL
One of the scariest things about plastic is that it’s kind of immortal. It can churn in the ocean for hundreds of years before it finally breaks down. Humans fell in love with this toxic material in 1950s, and since then, it has managed to work its way into almost everything we touch. Susan Freinkel recounts this love story in Plastic by digging deeper into the ways plastic affects our lives and the life of the planet.
STAYING ALIVE: WOMEN, ECOLOGY AND DEVELOPMENT BY VANDANA SHIVA
Originally published in 1988, activist Vandana Shiva’s seminal work, Staying Alive, explores the relationship between women and our natural world. In many places, the freedom of the women is directly related to a country’s outlook. More recent research has shown that women’s rights directly impacts sustainability. You could say that Shiva is the mother of that idea.
CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT POLITICS
THE MADHOUSE EFFECT: HOW CLIMATE CHANGE DENIAL IS THREATENING OUR PLANET, DESTROYING OUR POLITICS, AND DRIVING US CRAZY BY MICHAEL E. MANN AND TOM TOLES
Research has shown that climate denialists do, in fact, have brains. It’s just that they haven’t been using them. We have been manipulated, and logic has been twisted to distort the truth. In The Madhouse Effect, climate scientist Michael E. Mann comes together with cartoonist Tom Toles to create a funny, sad portrait of the mad world we’re living in.
THIS CHANGES EVERYTHING: CAPITALISM VS. THE CLIMATE BY NAOMI KLEIN
From the author of The Shock Doctrine, this book delves into the war between capitalism and the planet. In This Changes Everything, Naomi Klein argues something that many of us already know: we have to change our destructive habits that are rooted in capitalism. It may be the only way we can save our environment before it’s too late.
CLIMATE CHANGE BOOKS ABOUT RACISM
DUMPING IN DIXIE: RACE, CLASS, AND ENVIRONMENTAL QUALITY BY ROBERT D. BULLARD
Not everyone will experience climate change equally. The poor and working class are already disproportionately affected by the problems of climate change. In Dumping in Dixie, Robert D. Bullard, a professor and environmental justice activist, asserts that living in a healthy environment is a right for all Americans, regardless of their race, class, or social standing.
TOXIC COMMUNITIES: ENVIRONMENTAL RACISM, INDUSTRIAL POLLUTION, AND RESIDENTIAL MOBILITYBY DORCETA E. TAYLOR
For years, poor and minority communities have found themselves becoming the dumping ground for businesses hoping to get rid of waste on the path of least resistance. Shockingly, entrenched segregation and zoning laws have paved the way to make this possible, making communities of color sick for years—literally.
In late November, the Justice Department unsealed indictments against eight people accused of fleecing advertisers of $36 million in two of the largest digital ad-fraud operations ever uncovered. Digital advertisers tend to want two things: people to look at their ads and “premium” websites — i.e., established and legitimate publications — on which to host them.
The two schemes at issue in the case, dubbed Methbot and 3ve by the security researchers who found them, faked both. Hucksters infected 1.7 million computers with malware that remotely directed traffic to “spoofed” websites — “empty websites designed for bot traffic” that served up a video ad purchased from one of the internet’s vast programmatic ad-exchanges, but that were designed, according to the indictments, “to fool advertisers into thinking that an impression of their ad was served on a premium publisher site,” like that of Vogue or The Economist. Views, meanwhile, were faked by malware-infected computers with marvelously sophisticated techniques to imitate humans: bots “faked clicks, mouse movements, and social network login information to masquerade as engaged human consumers.” Some were sent to browse the internet to gather tracking cookies from other websites, just as a human visitor would have done through regular behavior. Fake people with fake cookies and fake social-media accounts, fake-moving their fake cursors, fake-clicking on fake websites — the fraudsters had essentially created a simulacrum of the internet, where the only real things were the ads.
How much of the internet is fake? Studies generally suggest that, year after year, less than 60 percent of web traffic is human; some years, according to some researchers, a healthy majority of it is bot. For a period of time in 2013, the Timesreported this year, a full half of YouTube traffic was “bots masquerading as people,” a portion so high that employees feared an inflection point after which YouTube’s systems for detecting fraudulent traffic would begin to regard bot traffic as real and human traffic as fake. They called this hypothetical event “the Inversion.”
In the future, when I look back from the high-tech gamer jail in which President PewDiePie will have imprisoned me, I will remember 2018 as the year the internet passed the Inversion, not in some strict numerical sense, since bots already outnumber humans online more years than not, but in the perceptual sense. The internet has always played host in its dark corners to schools of catfish and embassies of Nigerian princes, but that darkness now pervades its every aspect: Everything that once seemed definitively and unquestionably real now seems slightly fake; everything that once seemed slightly fake now has the power and presence of the real. The “fakeness” of the post-Inversion internet is less a calculable falsehood and more a particular quality of experience — the uncanny sense that what you encounter online is not “real” but is also undeniably not “fake,” and indeed may be both at once, or in succession, as you turn it over in your head.
The metrics are fake.
Take something as seemingly simple as how we measure web traffic. Metrics should be the most real thing on the internet: They are countable, trackable, and verifiable, and their existence undergirds the advertising business that drives our biggest social and search platforms. Yet not even Facebook, the world’s greatest data–gathering organization, seems able to produce genuine figures. In October, small advertisers filed suit against the social-media giant, accusing it of covering up, for a year, its significant overstatements of the time users spent watching videos on the platform (by 60 to 80 percent, Facebook says; by 150 to 900 percent, the plaintiffs say). According to an exhaustive list at MarketingLand, over the past two years Facebook has admitted to misreporting the reach of posts on Facebook Pages (in two different ways), the rate at which viewers complete ad videos, the average time spent reading its “Instant Articles,” the amount of referral traffic from Facebook to external websites, the number of views that videos received via Facebook’s mobile site, and the number of video views in Instant Articles.
And maybe we shouldn’t even assume that the people are real. Over at YouTube, the business of buying and selling video views is “flourishing,” as the Times reminded readers with a lengthy investigation in August. The company says only “a tiny fraction” of its traffic is fake, but fake subscribers are enough of a problem that the site undertook a purge of “spam accounts” in mid-December. These days, the Times found, you can buy 5,000 YouTube views — 30 seconds of a video counts as a view — for as low as $15; oftentimes, customers are led to believe that the views they purchase come from real people. More likely, they come from bots. On some platforms, video views and app downloads can be forged in lucrative industrial counterfeiting operations. If you want a picture of what the Inversion looks like, find a video of a “click farm”: hundreds of individual smartphones, arranged in rows on shelves or racks in professional-looking offices, each watching the same video or downloading the same app.This is obviously not real human traffic. But what would real human traffic look like? The Inversion gives rise to some odd philosophical quandaries: If a Russian troll using a Brazilian man’s photograph to masquerade as an American Trump supporter watches a video on Facebook, is that view “real”? Not only do we have bots masquerading as humans and humans masquerading as other humans, but also sometimes humans masquerading as bots, pretending to be “artificial-intelligence personal assistants,” like Facebook’s “M,” in order to help tech companies appear to possess cutting-edge AI. We even have whatever CGI Instagram influencer Lil Miquela is: a fake human with a real body, a fake face, and real influence. Even humans who aren’t masquerading can contort themselves through layers of diminishing reality: The Atlantic reports that non-CGI human influencers are posting fake sponsored content — that is, content meant to look like content that is meant to look authentic, for free — to attract attention from brand reps, who, they hope, will pay them real money.
The businesses are fake.
The money is usually real. Not always — ask someone who enthusiastically got into cryptocurrency this time last year — but often enough to be an engine of the Inversion. If the money is real, why does anything else need to be? Earlier this year, the writer and artist Jenny Odell began to look into an Amazon reseller that had bought goods from other Amazon resellers and resold them, again on Amazon, at higher prices. Odell discovered an elaborate network of fake price-gouging and copyright-stealing businesses connected to the cultlike Evangelical church whose followers resurrected Newsweek in 2013 as a zombie search-engine-optimized spam farm. She visited a strange bookstore operated by the resellers in San Francisco and found a stunted concrete reproduction of the dazzlingly phony storefronts she’d encountered on Amazon, arranged haphazardly with best-selling books, plastic tchotchkes, and beauty products apparently bought from wholesalers. “At some point I began to feel like I was in a dream,” she wrote. “Or that I was half-awake, unable to distinguish the virtual from the real, the local from the global, a product from a Photoshop image, the sincere from the insincere.”
The content is fake.
The only site that gives me that dizzying sensation of unreality as often as Amazon does is YouTube, which plays host to weeks’ worth of inverted, inhuman content. TV episodes that have been mirror-flipped to avoid copyright takedowns air next to huckster vloggers flogging merch who air next to anonymously produced videos that are ostensibly for children. An animated video of Spider-Man and Elsa from Frozen riding tractors is not, you know, not real: Some poor soul animated it and gave voice to its actors, and I have no doubt that some number (dozens? Hundreds? Millions? Sure, why not?) of kids have sat and watched it and found some mystifying, occult enjoyment in it. But it’s certainly not “official,” and it’s hard, watching it onscreen as an adult, to understand where it came from and what it means that the view count beneath it is continually ticking up.
These, at least, are mostly bootleg videos of popular fictional characters, i.e., counterfeit unreality. Counterfeit reality is still more difficult to find—for now. In January 2018, an anonymous Redditor created a relatively easy-to-use desktop-app implementation of “deepfakes,” the now-infamous technology that uses artificial-intelligence image processing to replace one face in a video with another — putting, say, a politician’s over a porn star’s. A recent academic paper from researchers at the graphics-card company Nvidia demonstrates a similar technique used to create images of computer-generated “human” faces that look shockingly like photographs of real people. (Next time Russians want to puppeteer a group of invented Americans on Facebook, they won’t even need to steal photos of real people.) Contrary to what you might expect, a world suffused with deepfakes and other artificially generated photographic images won’t be one in which “fake” images are routinely believed to be real, but one in which “real” images are routinely believed to be fake — simply because, in the wake of the Inversion, who’ll be able to tell the difference?
Our politics are fake.
Such a loss of any anchoring “reality” only makes us pine for it more. Our politics have been inverted along with everything else, suffused with a Gnostic sense that we’re being scammed and defrauded and lied to but that a “real truth” still lurks somewhere. Adolescents are deeply engaged by YouTube videos that promise to show the hard reality beneath the “scams” of feminism and diversity — a process they call “red-pilling” after the scene in The Matrix when the computer simulation falls away and reality appears. Political arguments now involve trading accusations of “virtue signaling” — the idea that liberals are faking their politics for social reward — against charges of being Russian bots. The only thing anyone can agree on is that everyone online is lying and fake.
We ourselves are fake.
Which, well. Everywhere I went online this year, I was asked to prove I’m a human. Can you retype this distorted word? Can you transcribe this house number? Can you select the images that contain a motorcycle? I found myself prostrate daily at the feet of robot bouncers, frantically showing off my highly developed pattern-matching skills — does a Vespa count as a motorcycle, even? — so I could get into nightclubs I’m not even sure I want to enter. Once inside, I was directed by dopamine-feedback loops to scroll well past any healthy point, manipulated by emotionally charged headlines and posts to click on things I didn’t care about, and harried and hectored and sweet-talked into arguments and purchases and relationships so algorithmically determined it was hard to describe them as real.
Where does that leave us? I’m not sure the solution is to seek out some pre-Inversion authenticity — to red-pill ourselves back to “reality.” What’s gone from the internet, after all, isn’t “truth,” but trust: the sense that the people and things we encounter are what they represent themselves to be. Years of metrics-driven growth, lucrative manipulative systems, and unregulated platform marketplaces, have created an environment where it makes more sense to be fake online — to be disingenuous and cynical, to lie and cheat, to misrepresent and distort — than it does to be real. Fixing that would require cultural and political reform in Silicon Valley and around the world, but it’s our only choice. Otherwise we’ll all end up on the bot internet of fake people, fake clicks, fake sites, and fake computers, where the only real thing is the ads.
Rejoice! Works created in 1923 are finally entering the public domain in 2019!
Don’t really know what that means? I didn’t either! Copyright law is weird and messy and super confusing! Smithsonian Magazine and the New York Times break it down for us:
“The sudden deluge of available works traces back to legislation Congress passed in 1998, which extended copyright protections by 20 years. The law reset the copyright term for works published from 1923 to 1977 — lengthening it from 75 years to 95 years after publication — essentially freezing their protected status. (The law is often referred to by skeptics as the “Mickey Mouse Protection Act,” since it has kept “Steamboat Willie,” the first Disney film featuring Mickey, under copyright until 2024.)”
There’s an added level of confusion that comes in when authors or publishers didn’t secure or renew copyright. Or when a new edition appears with a new copyright for an introduction or illustration. Oh, and all this applies only to American works with American copyright.
For 20 years, we’ve been missing out on books, poems, films, songs, and articles entering the public domain. When a work is in the public domain, it’s free for use by anyone, whether it’s inspiration for song lyrics or a new, cheaper edition of a book. Or a retelling, like good ol’ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. Google Books and Kindle will be loading up with free digital editions of these books.
LibriVox, an app for free public domain audiobooks, and Serial Reader, an app that breaks public domain works into daily bite-sized chunks, also should have an exciting year ahead of them. I can’t wait to see what they do with the new collection headed their way.
So long as Disney doesn’t rewrite the law again, we will now get yearly dumps of greatness as a New Year’s present. Hooray for us!
Here are some highlights of books from 1923 entering the public domain in 2019. Synopses are from Goodreads, because I haven’t read any of these yet. Goodreads has a complete list of books entering the public domain, and Duke Law has a list of everything entering the public domain in 2019. Note: This list is very white.
Marian Forrester is the symbolic flower of the Old American West. She draws her strength from that solid foundation, bringing delight and beauty to her elderly husband, to the small town of Sweet Water where they live, to the prairie land itself, and to the young narrator of her story, Neil Herbert. All are bewitched by her brilliance and grace, and all are ultimately betrayed. For Marian longs for “life on any terms,” and in fulfilling herself, she loses all she loved and all who loved her.
‘One can see by his face that he was stabbed in the back’ said Poirot.
But the strangest feature of the case was where they found the body — in an open grave!
Hercule Poirot had answered an appeal for help — but he was too late!
MURDER — bizarre and baffling — had come to the Villa Genevieve.
KANGAROO BY D.H. LAWRENCE
Kangaroo is D. H. Lawrence’s eighth novel, set in Australia. He wrote the first draft in just forty-five days while living south of Sydney, in 1922, and revised it three months later in New Mexico. The descriptions of the country are vivid and sympathetic and the book fuses lightly disguised autobiography with an exploration of political ideas at an immensely personal level.
Wharton’s antiwar masterpiece probes the devastation of World War I on the home front. Interweaving her own experiences of the Great War with themes of parental and filial love, art and self-sacrifice, national loyalties and class privilege, Wharton tells an intimate and captivating story of war behind the lines.
Virginia Woolf’s first distinguished work, Jacob’s Room is the story of a sensitive young man named Jacob Flanders. The life story, character and friends of Jacob are presented in a series for separate scenes and moments from his childhood, through college at Cambridge, love affairs in London, and travels in Greece, to his death in the war.
The Prophet is a collection of poetic essays that are philosophical, spiritual, and, above all, inspirational. Gibran’s musings are divided into twenty-eight chapters covering such sprawling topics as love, marriage, children, giving, eating, work, joy, and sorrow.
TULIPS & CHIMNEYS BY E.E. CUMMINGS
Fresh and candid, by turns earthy, tender, defiant, and romantic, Cummings’s poems celebrate the uniqueness of each individual, the need to protest the dehumanizing force of organizations, and the exuberant power of love.
NEW HAMPSHIRE BY ROBERT FROST
New Hampshire features Frost’s meditations on rural life, love, and death, delivered in the voice of a soft-spoken New Englander. This compilation includes several of his best-known poems: “Stopping by Woods on a Snowy Evening,” “Nothing Gold Can Stay,” and “Fire and Ice” as well as verse based on such traditional songs as “I Will Sing You One-O.”
THE HARP-WEAVER, AND OTHER POEMS BY EDNA ST. VINCENT MILLAY
Edna St. Vincent Millay burst onto the literary scene at a very young age and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1923. Her passionate lyrics and superbly crafted sonnets have thrilled generations of readers long after the notoriously bohemian lifestyle she led in Greenwich Village in the 1920s ceased to shock them. Millay’s refreshing frankness and cynicism and her ardent appetite for life still burn brightly on the page.
THREE STORIES AND TEN POEMS BY ERNEST HEMINGWAY
Only 300 copies were made in the first and only printing of Hemingway’s first book. These three stories represent all that remained of Hemingway’s early work after the suitcase full of his manuscripts was stolen in the Gare de Lyon.
THE LURKING FEAR AND OTHER STORIES BY H.P. LOVECRAFT
Twelve soul-chilling stories by the master of horror will leave you shivering in your boots and afraid to go out in the night. Only H.P. Lovecraft can send your heart racing faster than it’s ever gone before.
MRS. DALLOWAY’S PARTY: A SHORT STORY SEQUENCE BY VIRGINIA WOOLF
The landmark modern novel Mrs. Dalloway creates a portrait of a single day in the life of Clarissa Dalloway as she orchestrates the last-minute details of a grand party. But before Virginia Woolf wrote this masterwork, she explored in a series of fascinating stories a similar revelry in the mental and physical excitement of a party.
CALL TO ARMS BY LU XUN
Call to Arms is a collection of revolutionary Chinese writer Lu Xun’s most famous and most important short stories. Featuring “A Madman’s Diary,” a scathing attack of traditional Confucian civilization and “The True Story of Ah Q,” a poignant satire about the hypocrisy of Chinese national character and the first work written entirely in the Chinese vernacular.
A coast-to-coast roundup of efforts to restore the open internet
The Federal Communications Commission’s (FCC) Restoring Internet Freedom Order (RIFO) took effect June 11, 2018, overturning the net neutrality rules the agency established with 2015’s Open Internet Order. Since then, many individual states and other entities have taken it upon themselves to try to restore net neutrality protections. The following is a review of those efforts—successful, failed, and in progress—around the US.
More than 35 states have introduced legislation to protect net neutrality, although only four (California, Oregon, Vermont, and Washington) have passed laws. Several governors have also issued executive orders related to net neutrality.
The details of state net neutrality actions vary significantly, but common provisions are:
prohibiting all internet service providers (ISPs) in a state from blocking lawful content, applications, services, or devices; impairing or degrading the speed of lawful internet traffic based on content, application, service, or device; engaging in paid prioritization of traffic; or unreasonably interfering with a user’s ability to select, access, or use broadband internet service
requiring ISPs to meet the net neutrality provisions above to be considered for state contracts (in some cases, these acts apply to contracts for municipalities as well)
requiring ISPs to transparently disclose their network management principles
establishing certification systems or registries of ISPs that meet net neutrality requirements
issuing resolutions urging the US Congress to implement net neutrality requirements but having no regulatory power on their own
“Having 50 different approaches to net neutrality is not optimal for anybody,” observes Larra Clark, deputy director of public policy for the American Library Association’s Washington Office and the Public Library Association. However, in addition to providing net neutrality in the states where they’ve been implemented, state activities are valuable in advocating for meaningful protections nationally.
“States taking these leadership roles makes it more likely that the FCC will come to the table and the telecommunications companies that have fought us on this issue will work to find a compromise,” she says.
State legislation passed
On September 30, Gov. Jerry Brown signed Senate Bill (S.B.) 822, requiring ISPs in the state to comply with net neutrality principles and disclose network management practices. The bill goes beyond the Obama-era regulations by also limiting certain forms of “zero rating,” in which ISPs favor certain information by not counting content or websites they own against data limits.
The bill’s author, Sen. Scott Wiener (D-San Francisco) called it “the strongest in the nation.” However, the US Justice Department filed suit against the law the same day Brown signed it. This suit has been postponed, and California has agreed not to enforce its law until the D.C. District Court decides on the state attorneys general suit on RIFO.
Brown also signed Assembly Bill (A.B.) 1999 on September 30, requiring broadband networks created by local governments to follow net neutrality.
Gov. Kate Brown signed House Bill (H.B.) 4155 on April 9. The law prohibits public bodies from contracting with ISPs that do not abide by net neutrality.
May 22 Gov. Phil Scott signed S.B. 289, requiring state agencies to contract only with ISPs that practice net neutrality, directing the state Secretary of Administration to develop a process to certify ISPs that practice net neutrality, and directing the state attorney general to study the extent to which the state should enact net neutrality rules. It also requires ISPs to disclose their network management practices. The law followed Executive Order 2-18, issued February 15, that required state agencies to contract only with ISPs that follow net neutrality.
Even though the scope of this law is narrower than California’s, industry groups filed suit to block it October 18 in the US District Court in Vermont.
Gov. Jay Inslee signed H.B. 2282 on March 5. The law requires ISPs to practice net neutrality and to accurately disclose network management practices.
In addition to Vermont, governors in the following states have issued executive orders related to net neutrality. Each of these orders requires ISPs to follow net neutrality principles to receive state contracts.
Gov. David Ige issued Executive Order 18-02 on February 5.
Gov. Steve Bullock issued Executive Order 3-2018 on January 22.
Gov. Philip D. Murphy issued Executive Order 9 on February 5.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo issued Executive Order 175 on January 24.
Gov. Gina Raimondo issued Executive Order 18-02 on April 24.
Bills introduced but not enacted
Neither of the proposed bills requiring ISPs to practice net neutrality (H.B. 277 and S.B. 160), nor House Joint Resolution 31 and Senate Joint Resolution 12 urging the US Congress to overturn the FCC’s order, were acted on in committee.
H.B. 18-1312 would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality to receive money from the High Cost Support Mechanism, the state’s implementation of the FCC’s Connect America Fund, which provides funds for deploying broadband in rural areas. The bill passed the house but failed in the Senate Committee on State, Veterans, and Military Affairs.
The senate passed S.B. 366, requiring ISPs in the state to practice net neutrality and disclose network management practices. However, the house did not vote on the measure. H.B. 5260 and S.B. 2, which would have required ISPs to adopt net neutrality policies to qualify for state contracts, both failed in committee.
Neither of the bills related to net neutrality introduced in the house or senate progressed out of committee. S.B. 310 would have required all ISPs to follow net neutrality, while H.B. 1066 would have prohibited the state from contracting with ISPs that don’t provide a certification of net neutrality.
S.B. 2644, which would require ISPs to follow net neutrality and disclose network management practices, passed the senate unanimously, but its house companion, H.B. 2256, stalled in committee. The similar S.B. 2088 was deferred in committee.
In addition to requiring net neutrality, H.B. 1995 would have established a task force to examine the costs and benefits of a state-owned public utility to provide broadband internet service. Two of three house committees recommended passage of the bill, but the Finance Committee did not act on it.
H.B. 425, which would require ISPs to comply with net neutrality, was not acted on in committee.
H.B. 4819, which would have required state contractors to comply with net neutrality and other ISPs to notify consumers of any deviations from those principles, passed out of the House Cybersecurity, Data Analytics, and IT Committee, but the house re-referred it to the Rules Committee and did not vote on it.
Two other measures did not advance out of committee: H.B. 5094, which would have required ISPs in the state to abide by net neutrality, and S.B. 2816, which would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality to qualify for state contracts.
Neither Senate File 2286 nor House File 2287, which would have required ISPs to provide service in accordance with net neutrality, advanced out of committee.
H.B. 2682, which would have prohibited state contracts with ISPs that do not follow net neutrality, died in committee.
The Small Business and Information Technology committee did not act on H.B. 418, which would have required state contractors to practice net neutrality.
H.B. 1654, which would prohibit state agencies from contracting with ISPs that do not follow net neutrality and require ISPs to notify customers about the types of personal data they collect and disclose, passed the house, but the senate did not vote on it. The similar H.B. 1655, which would also authorize local governments to grant franchises for broadband internet service, did not pass out of committee.
S.B. 287, which would require the state to only contract with ISPs that follow net neutrality, did not pass out of committee.
Senate Order S2263, establishing a special senate committee on net neutrality and consumer protection to review RIFO, was adopted January 18. The committee issued its report March 23 as S.B. 2376. This report accompanied S.B. 2336, a bill that would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality.
S.B. 2336 was replaced by S.B. 2610, which would direct the state Department of Telecommunications and Cable to create standards for a Massachusetts Net Neutrality and Consumer Privacy Seal to identify ISPs that abide by net neutrality and provide consumers with an easy way to opt out of providing third parties access to personal information. It would also establish a registry of broadband service providers in the state and list their network management practices and privacy policies. The bill passed the senate July 19 and has been referred to the House Ways and Means committee.
H.B. 4151, which would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality, was replaced by House Order 4684, authorizing the Committee on Telecommunications, Utilities, and Energy to study documents concerning several bills, including those on net neutrality. This order also covered H.B. 4222, requiring ISPs to follow net neutrality and establishing the Massachusetts Internet Service Provider Registry to provide service quality and pricing information to customers.
Two bills have been introduced in both the house and the senate that would require ISPs to follow net neutrality and prohibit state agencies and political subdivisions from contracting with ISPs that do not. None of the bills—S.B. 2880, S.B. 3968, H.B. 3033, and H.B. 4411—has been acted on in committee.
H.B. 1994, which would require ISPs to follow net neutrality and publicly disclose their network management practices, was not acted on in committee.
Legislative Bill 856, which would require net neutrality, was indefinitely postponed.
S.B. 1577 and A.B. 1767, identical bills that would require all ISPs in the state to abide by net neutrality, have not been acted on by their respective committees.
A.B. 2131, which would prohibit the installation of broadband telecommunications infrastructure on public rights-of-way or underground facilities owned by public utilities or cable television companies unless the ISP follows net neutrality, was favorably reported out of committee. The senate has not acted on the identical S.B. 2458.
A.B. 2132, which would require state agencies to reject all contract bids from ISPs that do not follow net neutrality, was reported out of committee. The senate companion, S.B. 1802, has not been acted on in committee.
A.B. 2139, which would require cable companies that provide internet service to follow net neutrality principles, passed out of committee.
H.B. 95 and S.B. 39 would amend the state Unfair Practices Act to require ISPs to follow net neutrality; both have been postponed indefinitely.
S.B. 155, which was similar to those bills but would also allocate $250,000 to the state attorney general in FY2018 and FY2019 to review RIFO and to file or join a lawsuit challenging the decision, was also postponed indefinitely.
A.B. 8882, which would direct the state Public Service Commission to develop a plan for monitoring broadband ISPs and create a certification for ISPs that comply with net neutrality, passed the assembly June 19. Under this bill, only certified ISPs would be eligible for state agency contracts. The senate has not acted on its version, S.B. 7183.
Other bills have not made it out of committee, including: S.B. 8321, which would require net neutrality, provide regulatory control by the state Public Service Commission, prohibit zero-rating of certain content in a category but not the entire category, and require ISPs to comply with net neutrality to be granted permission to attach broadband infrastructure to utility poles; S.B. 7175 and A.B. 9057, which would require state agencies to contract only with ISPs that adhere to net neutrality and appropriate $250 million to a fund to establish municipal ISPs; and A.B. 9059, which would establish a commission to study and report on potential implementation of net neutrality rules.
Neither S.B. 736, which would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality, nor H.B. 1016, which would have applied only to state contractors, passed out of committee.
S.B. 1543, which would have required state agencies to contract only with ISPs that follow net neutrality and created a fund to support municipalities attempting to create their own ISPs, was not acted on in committee.
H.B. 2062, which would have required ISPs to abide by net neutrality, did not make it out of committee. The same fate befell S.B. 1033, which also would have prohibited state contracts with ISPs that don’t follow net neutrality and required ISPs to disclose network management practices.
S.B. 2008, which would have required state agencies to award contracts only to ISPs that follow net neutrality, passed the senate June 19. The House Corporations Committee has not acted on it.
That committee recommended that H.B. 7076, which would require ISPs to follow net neutrality and require the state Division of Public Utilities and Carriers to annually certify ISPs, be held for further study. It made the same recommendation for H.B. 7422, which would require net neutrality and obligate ISPs to disclose their network management practices.
Neither H.B. 4614 nor H.B. 4706, which would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality and disclose their network management practices, passed out of committee.
The Senate Commerce and Energy Committee voted February 6 not to send S.B. 195 to the full senate, killing the measure. The bill would have required ISPs to abide by net neutrality and disclose network management practices to receive contracts from the state.
Several bills were introduced but did not pass out of committee, including H.B. 1755 and S.B. 1756, which would have required ISPs to abide by net neutrality and disclose their network management practices, and prohibit state agencies or local governments from contracting with ISPs that do not follow net neutrality; S.B. 2183 and H.B. 2253, which would have prohibited state governmental entities from contracting with ISPs that do not follow net neutrality; and H.B. 2405 and S.B. 2449, which would have created a task force to study issues relating to RIFO.
H.B. 705, which would have required ISPs to practice net neutrality, stalled in the Commerce and Labor Committee.
S.B. 948, which would have required ISPs to practice net neutrality and prohibited them from knowingly disclosing personally identifiable information about customers, did not pass out of committee.
Neither H.B. 4399, which would have required ISPs to practice net neutrality and disclose network management practices to receive state contracts, nor S.B. 396, which would have applied to all ISPs in the state, passed out of committee.
The assembly voted against taking up A.B. 909, which would have required ISPs to follow net neutrality and limited disclosure of personally identifying information. Senate counterpart S.B. 743 did not pass out of committee.
Neither S.B. 740 nor A.B. 908, which would have applied only to state contractors, were acted on by committee.
In February, Senate Resolution (S.R.) 74, urging the US Congress to reinstate the 2015 rules, passed.
Senate Concurrent Resolution 44, expressing the state assembly’s opposition to RIFO and urging the US Congress to enact legislation preserving net neutrality, passed the senate in January.
District of Columbia
A round table hearing was held in January 2018 on Proposed Resolution 22-0691 opposing RIFO. While it was cosponsored by all 13 members of the council, no vote has been taken.
House Resolution 1161, a resolution that would have encouraged state agencies to establish policies requiring contract recipients to adhere to net neutrality, was introduced, but it did not progress out of committee.
S.R. 1196, which would have urged the US Congress and the Trump administration to advocate for permanent adoption of net neutrality rules, did not advance out of committee.
S.R. 131, which would have urged the governor to issue an executive order requiring ISPs with state contracts to abide by net neutrality, has not been acted on in committee.
House Concurrent Resolution (H.C.R.) 84, which would urge the US Congress to pass legislation restoring net neutrality, has not been acted on in committee.
Senate Joint Memorial 17, urging the US Congress to review RIFO, passed, but the house postponed action indefinitely.
The Committee on Federalism and Interstate Relations did not act on H.C.R. 18, which would have urged the president and US Congress to protect net neutrality and open internet access.
Michael Wolff is the first nonfiction author on the list in 11 years.PHOTO: RALF JUERGENS/GETTY IMAGES. DESIGN: NICK DESANTIS, FORBES STAFF
“Once a day, I cast my eyes heavenward and say, ‘Thank you for Donald Trump,’” Michael Wolff said last spring.
He has good reason to thank the president. Without Trump, Wolff would not have made this year’s rankings of the world’s highest-paid authors.
After The Guardian published leaked quotes from Wolff’s explosive tell-all Fire and Fury in January, Trump’s attorney sent the author and his publisher Henry Holt a cease-and-desist letter, alleging the book contained libelous and defamatory information. Trump, unsurprisingly, also attacked Wolff on Twitter: “Michael Wolff is a total loser who made up stories in order to sell this really boring and untruthful book.”
Far from deterred, Henry Holt took advantage of the free publicity and moved up the release date of Fire and Fury. The “really boring and untruthful book” flew off the shelves, topping 1.7 million copies sold across hardcover, e-book and audio formats in its first three weeks. In our 12-month scoring period, it sold 1,015,000 hardcover copies in the U.S. alone, in addition to tremendous e-book, audio and international sales.
Thanks to Fire and Fury—and Trump—Wolff earned an estimated $13 million from June 1, 2017, to June 1, 2018, before taxes and fees, placing seventh among publishing’s top moneymakers. The only newcomer and nonfiction writer on the list, Wolff supplemented his massive royalties with seven-figure deals for a sequel to Fire and Fury and the film and television rights; a series is in the works with Endeavor Content.
James Patterson is back on top after J.K. Rowling nabbed the title of highest-paid author last year. GETTY
The world’s 11 highest-paid authors sold 24.5 million print books combined in the U.S. during our scoring period, logging $283 million. The prolific James Patterson takes first place, earning $86 million and selling 4.8 million books in the U.S. alone, according to NPD BookScan, which tracks 85% of the domestic print market.
Patterson’s earnings are likely to surge next year thanks to The President Is Missing, which was released just outside our scoring period. The political thriller, co-written with Bill Clinton, has sold more than 660,000 copies since its June release.
This is the 10th time that Patterson has ranked first in the list’s two-decade history. Patterson’s secret to his success is persistence; 31 publishers turned down his first book, but he refused to give up. “Don’t take ‘no’ when your gut tells you ‘yes,’” Patterson told Forbeslast year.
J.K. Rowling still made $54 million without releasing a new Harry Potter book. SAMIR HUSSEIN/WIREIMAGE
J.K. Rowling takes second place with $54 million, a $41 million drop from last year, when she briefly took the top spot from Patterson. The Harry Potter scribe’s book sales plummeted without a new book about The Boy Who Lived, but Rowling earned plenty from back-catalog sales—Rowling sold 2.9 million copies in the U.S.—as well as theme parks and the Harry Potter and the Cursed Child productions on Broadway and in London’s West End. Although the latest Fantastic Beasts film was poorly received by critics and will almost certainly end up the lowest-grossing Harry Potter film to date, the franchise is far from over; three more Fantastic Beasts movies are planned, for a total of five.
The king of horror, boosted by the success of It, has several television adaptations in the works. GETTY
Stephen King rounds out the top three with $27 million. The king of horror sold 2.7 million domestic books, boosted by the success of the movie version of It, adapted from his 1986 novel of the same name. King nearly doubled his earnings by collecting an eight-figure paycheck from the film, which grossed $700 million worldwide on a $35 million budget. The clown-centric movie became the highest-grossing R-rated horror movie at the domestic box office, and the sequel, planned for next fall, could break that record again.
This year, The Girl on the Train author Paula Hawkins went missing from the list. The British author first made the rankings in 2016 with earnings of $10 million from her debut novel, but her latest thriller, Into The Water, failed to live up to its predecessor. In the U.K., the paperback edition of The Girl on the Train outsoldInto the Water by nearly 100,000 copies last year.
We close the covers on Hawkins—for now, at least.
After all, everyone loves a comeback story.
All earnings estimates are from June 1, 2017, through June 1, 2018. Figures are pretax; fees for agents, managers and lawyers are not deducted. Earnings estimates are based on data from NPD BookScan and Box Office Mojo, as well as interviews with industry insiders, including some of the authors themselves.