Penguin Books has decided to use the uncanny valley as a book marketing tool. Or so it seems, from their new cover for an edition of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. So wrong:
Three notes about this.
The cover has nothing to do with the book. Maybe, if you stretch things, the book does feature a girl, and the doll represents a girl, sort of. As child of Infocult notes, "Veruca Salt isn't even a main character! The book isn't about dolls!" Otherwise, zero connection. No Willie Wonka, no factory, no Bucket family, etc.
Perhaps it's a shameless ploy to market a book with a boy's name to the female market.
Anything can be a marketing implement, and we know the Gothic has always been available. Watch for more Infocult materials as ad fodder.
Here's a passage from a murder mystery offers a very nice take on uncanny media.
It begins with a police officer listening to another one over a wire:
Her voice was low and even, expressionless. The speakers hollowed it out, underlaid it with a whispery echo, and in the background there was a rushing sound like some faraway high wind.
I thought of those ghost stories where the voices of the dead come to their loved ones from crackly radios or down telephone lines, borne on some lost wavelength across the laws of nature and the wild spaces of the universe.
The essays collected in this book are as humorous as they are thoughtful, as culturally relevant as they are economically sound, and provide an accessible link between a popular culture phenomenon and the key concepts necessary to building one’s understanding of economic systems large and small. It is the first book to combine economics with our society’s fascination with the undead,
Here's the table of contents:
Introduction: Living Dead in the Modern Economy, by Glen Whitman and James Dow
Part I: Soulless Mates
1. Human Girls and Vampire Boys, Part 1: Looking for Mr. Goodbite, by Glen Whitman 2. Human Girls and Vampire Boys, Part 2: ’Til Death Do Us Part, by Glen Whitman
Part II: Apocalyptonomics
3. Packing for the Zombie Apocalypse, by James Dow 4. Eating Brains and Breaking Windows, by Steven Horwitz and Sarah Skwire 5. To Truck, Barter… And Eat Your Brains!!! Pursuing Prosperity in a Post-Productive World, by Brian Hollar 6. What Happens Next? Endgames of a Zombie Apocalypse, by Kyle William Bishop, David Tufte, and Mary Jo Tufte 7. Order, Coordination, and Collective Action among the Undead, by Jean-Baptiste Fleury and Alain Marciano
Part III: Blood Money
8. Investing Secrets of the Undead, by James Dow 9. Zombification Insurance, by Eleanor Brown and Robert Prag 10. Monsters of Capital: Vampires, Zombies, and Consumerism, by Lorna Piatti-Farnell 11. Trading with the Undead: A Study in Specialization and Comparative Advantage, by Darwyyn Deyo and David T. Mitchell 12. Buy or Bite?, by Enrique Guerra-Pujol 13. To Shoot or to Stake, That Is the Question: The Market for Anti-Vampire Weapons, by Charlotte Weil and Sébastien Lecou 14. Taxation of the Undead: Non-Sentient Entities, by Joseph Mandarino
Part IV: The Dead Body Politic
15. Tragedy of the Blood Commons: The Case for Privatizing the Humans, by Glen Whitman 16. Zombies as an Invasive Species, by Michael E. O’Hara 17. What Would the Reasonable Man Do in a World Gone Mad?, by Brian Hollar 18. Brain-Dead vs. Undead: Public Ignorance and the Political Economy of Responses to Vampires and Zombies, by Ilya Somin 19. Sinking Our Teeth into Public Policy Economics: A Taste of Immortality, by Fabien Medvecky 20. Where Oh Where Have the Vampires Gone? An Extension of the Tiebout Hypothesis to the Undead, by A.L. Phillips, M.C. Phillips, and G.M. Phillips
Part V: Brain Food
21. The Economics of Bloodlust, by Ian Chadd 22. Between Gods and Monsters: Reason, Instinct, and the Artificial Vampire, by Daniel Farhat 23. Killing Time: Dracula and Social Discoordination, by Hollis Robbins
Here's a nice fearsome internet passage from Thomas Pynchon's most recent novel, Bleeding Edge.
The speaker is the heroine's father, and you could understand this as part of the venerable "old man shaking fist at sky" trope:
"[Y]our Internet... this magical convenience that creeps now like a smell through the smallest details of our lives, the shopping, the housework, the homework, the taxes, absorbing our energy, eating up our precious time. And there's no innocence. Anywhere. Never was. It was conceived in sin, the worst possible. As it kept growing, it never stopped carrying in its heart a bitter-cold death wish for the planet, and don't think anything has changed, kid." (420)
But this is also a Cold War thing. This passage stems from a rant about the 1950s:
"Everyone thinks now the Eisenhower years were so quaint and cute and boring, but all that had a price, just underneath was pure terror. Midnight forever. If you stopped even for a minute to think, there it was and you could fall into it so easily. Some went nuts, some even took their own lives."
And those "some" are the ones who created the internet: "Yep, and your Internet was their invention..."
There's been some web buzz about anthropodermic bibliopegy at Harvard this week. This Atlantic piece is a good example, offering some good images and quotes.
"On examination of the bookbinding, numerous follicular ostia are clearly visible and provide a raised, coarse texture to the front and back covers," Harvard dermatologist Vinod Nambudiri writes. "The pages are gilt-edged. The bookbinding has an even, golden-brown background hue."
"Focal areas of darker brown pigmentation likely reflect variation in the literal 'skin tanning' process underlying the binding’s production and consequences of handling over the book’s existence rather than melanocytic proliferations in the native skin based on examination with epiluminescence microscopy."
a media firestorm in the U.K, with major news outlets like the Daily Mail, The Guardian, and the BBC reporting on the “sales of sick ebooks.”
Some U.K.-based ebook retailers responded with public apologies, and WHSmith went so far as to shut down its website altogether, releasing a statement saying that it would reopen "once all self-published eBooks have been removed and we are totally sure that there are no offending titles available."
Amazon and Paypal also took turns, as the article explores. Which leads authors to responses, like disguise:
"My covers are pretty classy," she says. "It's all a facade, of course. My plots are depraved."
One highlight of the article: the idea of 50 Shades of Gray fans being horrified by monster erotica.
A representative from Valerie Hoskins Associates in London, the literary agency that reps E.L. James, was apparently so opposed to being included in a story about the genre that they responded to requests for comment with "We know nothing about self publishing or erotica."
Another fun item: considering the blurry line between bestiality and beast smut.
Is crypto-smut the same thing as bestiality lit? It may seem like a fine distinction to the uninitiated, but for many authors, it’s crucial. "Is a werewolf an animal? What about a minotaur?” asks Mark Coker, the founder and CEO of Smashwords—one of the few ebook self-publishing platforms that didn't clean house in October. “Where do you draw the line? Sex with beasts is a common theme in paranormal romance. Do dinosaurs need to be a protected class of animal? What about a Sasquatch? When are they real, when are they not, when can you have sex with them and when can you not?"
Let's see if ebooks in general receive a hairier darker reputation.