Someone explains The Secret Root, without even realizing it!
(Source: amandaonwriting, via booknymph)
And perhaps the biggest problem with labeling books by gender is all the readers we alienate: by labeling something “for boys,” we imply it is not for girls, and Girl books are not meant for boys. Rather than the market striving to organize books into recognizable genres, we’re instead marketing the gender distinction first, and then pitching that distinction to our intended audience. We determine whether a book is for boys or girls long before the reader gets a chance to decide: we package them with soldiers and ballet slippers on their covers, war machines and glittering gowns. —
Marie Lu, “Writing a Book for Boy” (via schoollibraryjournal)
…for a middle school girl who is a great reader, and finding so much of what she sees “too easy” and not challenging. This is the list I came up with of books I’d recommend for this advanced reader/sophisticated kid. Let me know if you have any suggestions too, or if you think I’m out of my mind:
(1) Shadow and Bone, Leigh Bardugo
(2) Divergent, Veronica Roth
(3) Graceling, Kristin Cashore
(4) Prodigy, Marie Lu
(5) The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing
(6) Enclave, Ann Aguirre
(7) Beautiful Creatures, Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
(8) Pure, Julianna Baggott
(9) The Foresaken, Lisa Stasse
(10) Zoe’s Tale, John Scalzi
(11) The Night Circus, Erin Morgenstern
(12) Incarceron, Catherine Fisher
(13) Maze Runner, James Dashner
(14) Ender’s Game, Orson Scott Card
(15) Insignia, SJ Kincaid
(16) The Amulet of Samarkand, Jonathan Stroud
(17) The Golden Compass, Phillip Pullman
(18) The Fault in Our Stars, John Green (actually my favorite book of last year, period).
(19) Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist, Rachel Cohen and David Levithan
I sat for a short Q&A recently about The Secret Root, and it was a lot of fun! Here’s the result:
· What led you to write The Secret Root?
DC: As a teenager, I promised myself that I would write a novel “someday.” As the years passed, my life as an adult grew busier, and no novel appeared. The memory of that promise grew hazier, and was eventually forgotten. But when I had a son of my own, and found myself reading to him each night before he went to sleep, I remembered that promise. I also began to realize that my “job” as a lawyer was all about telling stories as well – the key to litigation is in establishing a narrative. It dawned on me that I had been practicing to write a novel for two decades, without even realizing it. Then, one day, the first line of the book simply came to me. One I wrote it down, the rest of the novel poured out.
· What was the most challenging part of writing a full-length novel?
DC: Patience. A novel is about more than a story – it’s about the details that make it a believable universe. The Secret Root requires a suspension of disbelief, and any stray detail that pulls you out of that world because it seems “wrong” will kill the story. So you have to take your time, read and re-read, and re-write until it is exactly right. I probably read the manuscript well over 100 times before it was done, and it took me seven years to write it. Of course, I had a day job, and I was getting up early in the morning to do it, but that’s still a long time to do anything.
· Are Jared and Edie based on people you know?
DC: Yes, but only because I stole details about them from everyone I had ever met, including myself (although I tried to do that as little as possible!)
· It must have been fun, if not somewhat daunting, to “create” the future. Did you have to curb your imagination or did it run wild?
DC: That was the best part! When I began practicing law, the Internet as we know it today did not really exist – the first web browser came into being the same year I started at the firm 20 years ago. And look how much the world has changed in that short period of time! Trying to fast-forward the world another 20 years, given the technology we have today and the research currently being done forces you to realize that future shock is simply going to be the “new normal” for the foreseeable future. I let my imagination run wild, but I tried to ground it in the real things that people are trying to do right now.
· How much scientific research went into writing this book?
DC: I actually did quite a bit of research – reading every book I could think of on time travel, the current state of physics, quantum mechanics, Kurt Godel…I tried to understand it all as well as I could from a layman’s perspective. When I’m involved in litigating a patent case, I figure that I need to understand the science well enough to explain it to other non-scientists, and I took the same approach here.
· Which part of Jared and Edie’s alternate dimension do you wish were real??
DC: I really wish the Network – a place where your consciousness can “go” and live an alternative world – was real, because then the possibilities of our lives would be infinite, and unrestrained by the physics of our world. And, of course, it would be unbelievably fun!
Thanks to everyone who made THE SECRET ROOT launch party such a success tonight! So many people came, and it was so fantastic to see how many people were excited to read the book (and how many of them had already read the book, and liked it!) It was a thrill for me, and I can’t thank everyone enough
Wow, it’s almost like The Secret Root was predicting something big…
Biological transistor enables computing within living cells
When Charles Babbage prototyped the first computing machine in the 19th century, he imagined using mechanical gears and latches to control information. ENIAC, the first modern computer developed in the 1940s, used vacuum tubes and electricity. Today, computers use transistors made from highly engineered semiconducting materials to carry out their logical operations.
And now a team of Stanford University bioengineers has taken computing beyond mechanics and electronics into the living realm of biology. In a paper to be published March 28 in Science, the team details a biological transistor made from genetic material — DNA and RNA — in place of gears or electrons. The team calls its biological transistor the “transcriptor.”
“Transcriptors are the key component behind amplifying genetic logic — akin to the transistor and electronics,” said Jerome Bonnet, PhD, a postdoctoral scholar in bioengineering and the paper’s lead author.
The creation of the transcriptor allows engineers to compute inside living cells to record, for instance, when cells have been exposed to certain external stimuli or environmental factors, or even to turn on and off cell reproduction as needed.
“Biological computers can be used to study and reprogram living systems, monitor environments and improve cellular therapeutics,” said Drew Endy, PhD, assistant professor of bioengineering and the paper’s senior author.
The biological computer
In electronics, a transistor controls the flow of electrons along a circuit. Similarly, in biologics, a transcriptor controls the flow of a specific protein, RNA polymerase, as it travels along a strand of DNA.
“We have repurposed a group of natural proteins, called integrases, to realize digital control over the flow of RNA polymerase along DNA, which in turn allowed us to engineer amplifying genetic logic,” said Endy.
Using transcriptors, the team has created what are known in electrical engineering as logic gates that can derive true-false answers to virtually any biochemical question that might be posed within a cell.
They refer to their transcriptor-based logic gates as “Boolean Integrase Logic,” or “BIL gates” for short.
Transcriptor-based gates alone do not constitute a computer, but they are the third and final component of a biological computer that could operate within individual living cells.
Despite their outward differences, all modern computers, from ENIAC to Apple, share three basic functions: storing, transmitting and performing logical operations on information.
Last year, Endy and his team made news in delivering the other two core components of a fully functional genetic computer. The first was a type of rewritable digital data storage within DNA. They also developed a mechanism for transmitting genetic information from cell to cell, a sort of biological Internet.
It all adds up to creating a computer inside a living cell.
Digital logic is often referred to as “Boolean logic,” after George Boole, the mathematician who proposed the system in 1854. Today, Boolean logic typically takes the form of 1s and 0s within a computer. Answer true, gate open; answer false, gate closed. Open. Closed. On. Off. 1. 0. It’s that basic. But it turns out that with just these simple tools and ways of thinking you can accomplish quite a lot.
“AND” and “OR” are just two of the most basic Boolean logic gates. An “AND” gate, for instance, is “true” when both of its inputs are true — when “a” and “b” are true. An “OR” gate, on the other hand, is true when either or both of its inputs are true.
In a biological setting, the possibilities for logic are as limitless as in electronics, Bonnet explained. “You could test whether a given cell had been exposed to any number of external stimuli — the presence of glucose and caffeine, for instance. BIL gates would allow you to make that determination and to store that information so you could easily identify those which had been exposed and which had not,” he said.
By the same token, you could tell the cell to start or stop reproducing if certain factors were present. And, by coupling BIL gates with the team’s biological Internet, it is possible to communicate genetic information from cell to cell to orchestrate the behavior of a group of cells.
“The potential applications are limited only by the imagination of the researcher,” said co-author Monica Ortiz, a PhD candidate in bioengineering who demonstrated autonomous cell-to-cell communication of DNA encoding various BIL gates.
Building a transcriptor
To create transcriptors and logic gates, the team used carefully calibrated combinations of enzymes — the integrases mentioned earlier — that control the flow of RNA polymerase along strands of DNA. If this were electronics, DNA is the wire and RNA polymerase is the electron.
“The choice of enzymes is important,” Bonnet said. “We have been careful to select enzymes that function in bacteria, fungi, plants and animals, so that bio-computers can be engineered within a variety of organisms.”
On the technical side, the transcriptor achieves a key similarity between the biological transistor and its semiconducting cousin: signal amplification.
With transcriptors, a very small change in the expression of an integrase can create a very large change in the expression of any two other genes.
To understand the importance of amplification, consider that the transistor was first conceived as a way to replace expensive, inefficient and unreliable vacuum tubes in the amplification of telephone signals for transcontinental phone calls. Electrical signals traveling along wires get weaker the farther they travel, but if you put an amplifier every so often along the way, you can relay the signal across a great distance. The same would hold in biological systems as signals get transmitted among a group of cells.
“It is a concept similar to transistor radios,” said Pakpoom Subsoontorn, a PhD candidate in bioengineering and co-author of the study who developed theoretical models to predict the behavior of BIL gates. “Relatively weak radio waves traveling through the air can get amplified into sound.”
To bring the age of the biological computer to a much speedier reality, Endy and his team have contributed all of BIL gates to the public domain so that others can immediately harness and improve upon the tools.
“Most of biotechnology has not yet been imagined, let alone made true. By freely sharing important basic tools everyone can work better together,” Bonnet said.
(Source: med.stanford.edu, via emergentfutures)
And the fact that she quotes me with approval shows her infinite good taste! http://rebekahfaubionbooks.wordpress.com/2013/04/23/its-a-reading-thing-not-a-girl-of-boy-thing/#comment-525
(1) Secret Root Book Release Party, April 24! (2) Dr. Bombay plays House of Blues to support City of Hope, April 25! (3) I visit Hannah Beardsley Middle School, April 26! Definitely an improvement over last week! So much excitement that I can barely handle it….
Apologies: What, When and How -
Apologies are an art - as John Scalzi teaches.
I don’t typically engage in public complaints about the marketing of a book, especially a book by an author I adore, but something about the marketing of Leigh Bardugo’s Siege and Storm just rubbed me the wrong way. As a YA reader and author, and the father of a teenage boy who reads YA, the publishing industry presumption that all readers of YA are teenage girls drives me nuts. And in fact, there is little question that my son’s rapid evolution away from YA into more adult fiction is partially due to the fact that so much of what is out there is directed to girls - even when the stories themselves would undoubtedly appeal to boys.
The reaction I received to my little outburst was gratifying in some respects and amusing in others. Gratiying in that Leigh Bardugo herself actually responded, in a thoughful and engaging fashion. She understood the issue, and understood why it was important, even if I think she is a bit dismissive of the impact of the specific promotion at issue (nail polish as the main giveaway for preorders of Siege and Storm). In any event, she understood that I was trying to start a conversation, and that’s all I can ask for. And I’m looking forward to reading the book when it comes out in June!
It was amusing, however, in seeing how many folks completely missed the point. Either they acted like this was an absurd concern (boys, they say, will take anything free, even if it is nail polish - a preposterous suggestion that had me and my son in tears) or they acted like I was trying to attack Bardugo for doing something nice for them. Most bizarre, some others believed that I was suggesting that YA be marketed in a gender neutral fashion - of course I don’t think that is necessary, or wise. Most readers of YA are, in fact, girls. The idea is that publishers should expand their thinking and realize that certain types of promotions are more exclusionary than others (in that they send a message that you are not wanted).
Regardless, an interesting experience and I’m glad that so many people engaged and thought about it.
Loveborne Illnesses: thesecretroot: Loveborne Illnesses: Angry Rant: Publishers think only... -
This is the most thickheaded person on the Internet. I am not calling for marketing that does not focus on one gender or another. I am complaining about the fact that many books that would appeal to boys are being segregated away from them. Also, telling people to read a book by giving them a baseball would send the same fricking message, except in reverse. There are ways to do this in a way that doesn’t seem exclusionary, and this person is so unaware of the research on the topic and is so clueless about the behavior of ACTUAL TEENAGERS that I am done. Thank you for proving my point.
Loveborne Illnesses: Angry Rant: Publishers think only girls read YA, and it is ruining boys
This is a person who doesn’t know what they are talking about. If he thinks that my post was about the cover of novels, then he/she isn’t really paying attention, either. Everyone…
Loveborne Illnesses: Angry Rant: Publishers think only girls read YA, and it is ruining boys -
This is a person who doesn’t know what they are talking about. If he thinks that my post was about the cover of novels, then he/she isn’t really paying attention, either. Everyone in the industry knows that the publishing world believes that boys are an afterthought (just follow the book bloggers in YA or the industry publications if you doubt that for even a second), and if you think that boys will be even slightly interested in a book that pushes nail polish then you really haven’t been hanging out with teenage boys recently. Also, I was using Divergent and Hunger Games as examples of non-gendered covers, and take a look at the covers of nearly every book in the YA section to see what I mean. Like, go to a bookstore. Seriously.
Look, I don’t want to get really bitchy, but you’re about to get some bitchy, f3nn3kln style.
I understand that you’re using the nail polish promotion to prove your point that publishers market to girls and not to boys, thus discouraging boys from reading. I understood that this is your point, so I’m going to systematically shit on every plank of your platform.
First, you’re talking about the books Graceling and Incarceron, and saying that their covers deter boys from reading them. As I have never read either of these books, I have no idea what they’re about, so I’ll just analyze the covers (which you provided in the link) and point out anything that makes me believe this is a girly girly froo froo book that I wouldn’t want to read.
Here’s Graceling’s cover
There’s some sort of knife/dagger/athame, and a reflection of an eye in it. The eye is blue. There’s some flowery stuff in the corner. Nothing that really screams “Unless you have a vagina don’t read this.” If you believe that the flowery design in the bottom corner makes this cover girly then get off of tumblr.
There’s a key and a whole bunch of gears and wheels or something. The key has some wings in the handle-y part. The tribute says “One of the best fantasy novels written for a long time” not the best GIRL NOVELS. Not the best young women’s novels.
So just in case you’re talking about Shadow and Bone, here’s that cover too.
There is a tower looking thing in front of some black squiggles and some white squiggles that I’m assuming are some sort of deer antlers (I haven’t finished S&B yet so don’t spoil it for me. I stopped reading to respond to this.) and that’s about it.. I’m a boy and i thought this cover was pretty fantastic, it’s one of the things that caught my eye and convinced me to read it.
Here’s Siege and Storm’s cover.
Okay wow did that castle thing move or something? And look the deer antlers are gone AND THERE’S CLOUDS AND A DRAGON OMG. Fascinating, but no definite gender.
I could do the same for Divergent and The Hunger games, but I don’t think it’s necessary. One if a ring of fire and one is a ring with a bird and an arrow in it. I’m a boy and I own both books.
Time to talk about teenagers for a minute. If you tell a teenager he or she will receive something free, HE OR SHE WILL TAKE IT NO MATTER WHAT IT IS. Example, when I was in 7th grade, my teacher held something up and asked for the owner. Without looking up, seven people (including me) all yelled “I’ll take it.” As it turns out, my teacher was holding a condom that was opened but thankfully not used. Kids will take that nail polish even if they’re allergic to it.
So later in your post talked about how the publishers of Divergent and THG promoted their respective books in a way that went “over the top in making their books sound and appear feminine” NONE of the promotions said “EY LADIES, GET SOME OF DIS BOOK RITE HERE.” I mean, maybe since Josh Hutcherson is incredibly attractive you’re thinking that’s how THG got their promotion, but I know plenty of men who want him in their bed too.
Okay some talking about your book (thanks for promoting yourself, that’s fabulous, good for you) and the Barbie vs Bratz thing, but that didn’t really help your point.. You said you watched a lawsuit and now you magically know how marketing works for boys and girls. (We still haven’t heard exactly what it is you know. We just know that you know)
Okay, that’s your entire post. And, with all of that, you claim that publishers market exclusively to girls and not at all to boys with their girly covers and their promotions and their witchcraft!
SORRY. STILL DON’T SEE IT.
(Source: thesecretroot, via permafrostforest)