It’s spooky season, after all
The end of October looms near, which can only mean one thing: it’s time to haunt your shelves with our spookiest works. For the occasion we are dusting off our books on death, setting out our sinister sci-fi, offering titles on the occult, and taking out our tarot. Explore these and more of the creepiest selections from the Press below; just don’t forget your costumes.
Frankenbook is a collective reading and collaborative annotation experience of the original 1818 text of Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. The project launched in January 2018, as part of Arizona State University’s celebration of the novel’s 200th anniversary. Even two centuries later, Shelley’s modern myth continues to shape the way people imagine science, technology, and their moral consequences. Frankenbook gives readers the opportunity to trace the scientific, technological, political, and ethical dimensions of the novel, and to learn more about its historical context and enduring legacy.
The Truth and Other Stories by Stanisław Lem
Of these twelve short stories by science fiction master Stanisław Lem, only three have previously appeared in English, making this the first “new” book of fiction by Lem since the late 1980s. The stories display the full range of Lem’s intense curiosity about scientific ideas as well as his sardonic approach to human nature, presenting as multifarious a collection of mad scientists as any reader could wish for. In the title story, “The Truth,” a scientist in an insane asylum theorizes that the sun is alive; “The Journal” appears to be an account by an omnipotent being describing the creation of infinite universes—until, in a classic Lem twist, it turns out to be no such thing; in “An Enigma,” beings debate whether offspring can be created without advanced degrees and design templates. Many of these stories feature artificial intelligences or artificial life forms, long a Lem preoccupation; some feature quite insane theories of cosmology or evolution. All are thought provoking and scathingly funny.
“As our world changes faster than we can make sense of it, Lem’s prescient imagination shows the power of science fiction for peering into the future.” —Scientific American
Read an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader: The Truth, by Stanisław Lem
Extraterrestrials by Wade Roush
Everything we know about how planets form and how life arises suggests that human civilization on Earth should not be unique. We ought to see abundant evidence of extraterrestrial activity—but we don’t. Where is everybody? In this volume in the MIT Press Essential Knowledge series, science and technology writer Wade Roush examines one of the great unsolved problems in science: is there life, intelligent or otherwise, on other planets?
“A handy, easy-to-read guide to what E.T. might look like, and how we’re going about finding him.” —Daily Beast
Read and listen to an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader: Alien Dreams: The Surprisingly Long History of Speculation About Extraterrestrials
A Hole in the Head: More Tales in the History of Neuroscience by Charles G. Gross
Neuroscientist Charles Gross has been interested in the history of his field since his days as an undergraduate. A Hole in the Head is the second collection of essays in which he illuminates the study of the brain with fascinating episodes from the past. This volume’s tales range from the history of trepanation (drilling a hole in the skull) to neurosurgery as painted by Hieronymus Bosch to the discovery that bats navigate using echolocation.
“A delight and a treasure-trove.” —Lawrence Weiskrantz, University of Oxford
Read an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader: A Hole in the Head: A History of Trepanation
Architects’ Gravesites: A Serendipitous Guide by Henry H. Kuehn
All working architects leave behind a string of monuments to themselves in the form of buildings they have designed. But what about the final spaces that architects themselves will occupy? Are architects’ gravesites more monumental—more architectural—than others? This unique book provides an illustrated guide to more than 200 gravesites of famous architects, almost all of them in the United States. Led by our intrepid author, Henry Kuehn, we find that most graves of architects are not monumental but rather modest, that many architects did not design their final resting places, and that a surprising number had their ashes scattered.
“Thumbing through can prove oddly infectious.” —ARTnews
Read and listen to an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader: A Guide to the Gravesites of Architects
Music from Elsewhere: Haunting Tunes from the Afterlife, Alien Worlds and Occult Realms by Doug Skinner
This unique collection of esoteric earworms gathers, and reproduces, music from other worlds. Here you’ll find tunes hummed, strummed, and sung by spirits, sprites, and fairies, extraterrestrial elevator music, dreamed ditties, marches for occult ceremonies, secret musical codes and languages, music made by animals, and more. Each entry contains an explanatory text on its origins and purpose, and also reproduces the musical notation, in facsimile where possible, so that you can play along at home. An in-depth introductory essay by musician, historian, and collector Doug Skinner rounds out this wondrous musical cabinet of curiosities.
Technologies of the Human Corpse by John Troyer
Death and the dead body have never been more alive in the public imagination—not least because of current debates over modern medical technology that is deployed, it seems, expressly to keep human bodies from dying, blurring the boundary between alive and dead. In this book, John Troyer examines the relationship of the dead body with technology, both material and conceptual: the physical machines, political concepts, and sovereign institutions that humans use to classify, organize, repurpose, and transform the human corpse. Doing so, he asks readers to think about death, dying, and dead bodies in radically different ways.
“Troyer is one of our greatest thinkers on the ways technology and capitalism continue to transform the idea of the human corpse.” —Caitlin Doughty, mortician and bestselling author of Smoke Gets in Your Eyes
Read and listen to an excerpt from the book in the MIT Press Reader: On the Politics of Death
Read a Q&A with the author in the MIT Press Reader: On Death, Dying, and Writing: In Conversation With John Troyer
Haunted Bauhaus: Occult Spirituality, Gender Fluidity, Queer Identities, and Radical Politics by Elizabeth Otto
The Bauhaus (1919–1933) is widely regarded as the twentieth century’s most influential art, architecture, and design school, celebrated as the archetypal movement of rational modernism and famous for bringing functional and elegant design to the masses. In Haunted Bauhaus, art historian Elizabeth Otto liberates Bauhaus history, uncovering a movement that is vastly more diverse and paradoxical than previously assumed. Otto traces the surprising trajectories of the school’s engagement with occult spirituality, gender fluidity, queer identities, and radical politics. The Bauhaus, she shows us, is haunted by these untold stories.
“Haunted Bauhaus is as eye-opening as it is door-opening… Haunted by utopian aspirations and its own history, the Bauhaus helped remake (and unmake) the world in ways its founders could never have anticipated.” —J. Hoberman, Artforum
Women of Science Tarot by Massive Science
The Women of Science Tarot Deck is a card game that helps us tell stories about our future based on principles of science. Each major arcana card features a fundamental scientific concept like extinction, diversity, or gravity. The 56 minor arcana cards feature inspirational women who have changed the course of STEM. The lively illustrations are by neuroscientist and comic artist Matteo Farinella. For readers new to tarot or those who want to learn more about women in STEM, accompanying the deck is a guidebook with biographies of all the women featured on the cards as well as information about the major arcana cards.
“Farinelli’s illustrations are truly amazing.” —Boing Boing
Revolutionary Demonology by Gruppo di Nun
The End Times are here. The Digital Middle Ages approaches, the plague reaps its deadly harvest, climate apocalypse is around the corner, and fanaticism, fascism, and madness are rampant. The idea that we might gain the upper hand over the dark abyss into which the planet is tumbling is a form of magical thinking, laboring under the delusion that we can subdue eternity with relentless bloodlust, brutish exploitation, abuse of power, and violence. Revolutionary Demonology responds to this ritual of control, typical of what esoteric tradition calls the “Dogma of the Right Hand,” by reactivating the occult forces of a Left Hand Path that strives for the entropic disintegration of all creation, so as to make peace with the darkness and nourish the Great Beast that will finally break the seals of Cosmic Love.