Placing Literature maps book scenes in the real world

One of the first things I did when I visited London a few years ago was to go on a Sherlock Holmes walking tour. I'm not the only avid reader compelled to seek out the real-life settings found in books. This desire is what has brought about Placing Literature, an interactive site dedicated to plotting scenes from books onto real-world maps. It's like a heady mixture of a database, Google Maps, and the efforts of a bunch of literature geeks.

Placing Literature started with a conversation between co-founders Andrew Bardin Williams (an author) and his sister-in-law Kathleen Colin Williams (a geographer). "I use a lot of real-world locations in my novels. We decided there was this great intersection between geography and literature that hadn't been explored before," says Andrew Bardin Williams.… Read more

Edgar Allan Poe's deliciously creepy storybook app

Forget Stephen King; if you like the macabre, you gotta go Poe.

iPoe for iOS brings to creepy, illustrated life four of Edgar Allan Poe's works.

As with Alice for iPad and other famous literary works given the app treatment, iPoe transforms the author's text into lavishly illustrated pages enhanced with music, animation, and interactive touches.

The app comes with four tales: "Annabel Lee," "The Masque of the Red Death," "The Oval Portrait," and "The Tell-Tale Heart." You also get a brief biography of the author.… Read more

Getting started with SparkNotes for Android

SparkNotes started out as a Web site called The Spark in 1999, and was developed by a group of students trying to make it easier to understand literature. Known today as SparkNotes, the site features hundreds of guides to help aid students, teachers, and those wishing to brush up on a subject.

According to SparkNotes, its intent was not to have students skip out on their reading assignments and just read the SparkNotes instead. Instead, it wanted to create a fun and educational Web site that helps give further explanations on topics.

So far just the literature guides are available … Read more

Police-sketch software puts faces on fiction characters

What if your favorite sci-fi or fantasy character broke loose from the book you were reading and went on a rampage?

Your first step (after scrambling under the bed) might be to call the police. And they, of course, would want the suspect's description--to hand off to their sketch artist.

That's where Brian Joseph Davis comes in.

In a mashup of high and low culture, the writer and artist has been creating police composites based on descriptions of characters in novels: Dr. Robert Vaughn from J.G. Ballard's "Crash," Gary from Colson Whitehead's "Zone One," Aomame from Haruki Murakami's "1Q84," even Humbert Humbert from Nabokov's "Lolita" and Edward Rochester from Charlotte Bronte's "Jane Eyre."

The unconventional portraits form the basis of Davis' Tumblr blog/crowd-sourced art project "The Composites." … Read more

The site that likens Zuckerberg to Douglas Adams

We all have a writer within us. The only question is, which one?

A quite mesmerizing site called I Write Like allows you to enter a piece of your writing and discover whose style it most closely resembles. Naturally, this is a source of huge amusement. And, after a week of stress, family troubles, and dropped calls, how can one not turn to this site for a little innocent joy?

I first thought I'd look at other people's writing, just to see who their conscious or subconscious influences might have been. So I reached for a random speech … Read more

Nintendo DS gets romantic

Finally, they were alone.

He looked at her with those eyes, even more piercing than the epee he used when fencing. He took her in his arms. In an instant, Michiko's nose was but an inch from his and her fate seemed even more closely entwined with that of the man she loved, Beaulieu Riddenbacher.

Just as she thought he was going to kiss her with those big lips as soft as the pillows at the love hotel, he whispered in her ear: "Did you know we're being ranked?"

She felt her heart hit her shirt with all the strength of a torrid tsunami. She knew people out there would be registering their opinions about their tryst. She was a lover of technology as well as a lover of men. She had always had her own secret affair with her Nintendo DS. It didn't make her attractive to men necessarily, but it brought her to a heightened state of being every time.

That's why her thyroid pounded like a murderous hippopotamus' conscience when she heard that Harlequin Books, publisher of such romantic novels as "Tough To Tame" and "His Convenient Virgin Bride," was to be the first non-Japanese publisher to be inserted into Nintendo DS in Japan.

Michiko, with technology as the negligee to the naked vulnerability of her heart, shivered at the thought that "DS Harlequin Selection: Love Stories for Grown-Ups" would comprise 33 of the finest romantic novels penned by Harlequin authors and the New York Times best-selling novelists. … Read more

'Colossal' collection: 2,222 short stories for iPhone

Great news for fans of short fiction: The Colossal Short Stories Collection just landed in the App Store packing a whopping 2,222 public-domain works.

There are, of course, other story collections available for the iPhone and iPod Touch, but this is by far the largest one.

You'll find authors ranging from H.G. Wells and Mark Twain to Leo Tolstoy and Ring Lardner. All the greats are here, along with plenty of authors known mostly in scholarly circles.

The app lists them alphabetically by last name. Unfortunately, that's the only way to peruse the collection: you can'… Read more

Does Kindle stop you buying a book by its cover?

I confess I have not yet been warmed by the kindle of Kindle.

Somehow, the presence of yet another machine in my already messed-up world might make me entirely unserviceable.

However, an increasing number of literate beings are finding themselves rather aroused by their Kindle experience.

Tuesday, seated at a rather friendly bar sipping something Spanish, I was regaled with the story of a rather happily married couple who believe that Kindle has changed not only the convenience of reading but actually their choice of books.

The wife, a suave, cool lady of aristocratic bearing, decided to buy her more … Read more

JG Ballard dies: Science fiction writer of the now

They called him a science fiction writer.

JG Ballard, who died last weekend, hated that. For him, once you were smeared with the sci-fi label (rather than the syfy label) you were condemned to the world of spacecraft, monsters, and goo.

And, though he began his writing career in the science fiction genre, his style made him, for some, his own very brilliant kind of monster.

Though many associate his name first with the Spielberg movie, made from Ballard's book about life in a Japanese concentration camp, "Empire of the Sun" and then for the eroto-rubberneckrophilia of … Read more

The 404 320: Where we're cleaning up this pigsty

Jason Howell, from Bore Out Loud, keeps us classy in this very special episode of The 404. We make our big videocasting announcement. That's right! The 404, podcast of the future, is going to become a video podcast, so you'll be able to watch as Wilson looks deeply/creeply into the camera every morning. Plus, we get into some studio shenanigans as we prepare to revamp this place. And CNET TV is nominated for a Webby!

On today's show, find out why you should never eat Domino's pizza, especially if you live in New York City. It's all about the Ray'z Pizza, man. Also, Amazon says it had a homophobic "glitch" that caused several LGBT books to be removed from its listings. We think Nazis did it.

On the second half of the show, it's Tuna Tuesday! (Please listen to the show to find out what that means.) Nintendo releases an add-on to the Wiimote that makes it even longer and more precise. TWSS. Also, a 79-year-old Japanese man has the greatest job in the world.

By the by, is Miramax sending the right message to a girl who couldn't find a copy of "Adventureland" on bittorrent by giving her free tickets to see the movie? Or is it all a ploy to get her arrested? Finally, be sure to check out your RSS and iTunes feeds for our little "404 presents."

Keep sending in your best survival stories and character voices to the show at 1-866-404-CNET (2638). Be sure to RSVP for The 404 and Buzz Out Loud Meetup here in New York City. Alison Rosen, Jason Howell, Natali Del Conte, Kenley Bradstreet, and so many more are going to be making their appearance. Maybe you can buy them a drink? (Be warned: Jason is ours though.)

EPISODE 320 Download today's podcast Subscribe in iTunes Subscribe in RSSRead more