Our computer modelling shows that should atomic annihilation be on the cards, one of the safest places to live would be Antarctica. Not only is this sub-zero continent miles from anywhere, it was also the sight of the world’s first nuclear arms agreement in 1959. The Antarctic Treaty banned the detonation of all nuclear weapons and dedicated this frozen landscape as a space for peaceful research. But who’d want to live there? It wouldn’t be the first time polar regions have been used as nuclear hideouts: in perhaps the coolest mission of the Cold War, codenamed ‘Project Iceworm’, a huge nuclear base was secretly buried deep within the Arctic Circle. Known as “the city under the ice”, this vast bunker, which is now full of abandoned toxic waste and radioactive coolant, will soon be disentombed from its frozen lair as the icecaps continue to melt. So if Antarctica doesn’t take your fancy, where else?
Content with their pockets, men have little to say about them, but women have been complaining about the inadequacy of their pockets for more than a century. "One supremacy there is in men’s clothing… its adaptation to pockets," Charlotte P. Gilman wrote for the New York Times in 1905. She continues, "Women have from time to time carried bags, sometimes sewn in, sometimes tied on, sometimes brandished in the hand, but a bag is not a pocket."
Hustvedt speaks here both as a writer of fiction (she’s got six novels under her belt) and as a serious autodidact who has spent the last decade reading and writing about neurobiology in hopes that she herself might become that marvelously integrated citizen Snow was calling for: a person who has developed a mind-set that moves with ease between understanding derived from the emotional imagination as well as the analytic intellect. The book we have in hand, however, made me wonder whether anyone can develop a sensibility so flexible it can address both sorts of experience with equal intimacy.
Jodie Archer, formerly a publisher, and Matthew Jockers, an American academic specialising in Irish literature, approached bestsellers by teaching a computer to read. Predictions are based on established patterns and so there must, they reasoned, be a pattern to these books. The Bestseller Code lays bare nothing less than the DNA of bestsellers, which makes Archer and Jockers the Watson and Crick of their age.
Adaptability is the byword for authors in the technological age; to flip at warp speed from print to digital, bookstores to algorithms, while dealing with a flood of competing product not seen since Noah. But there will always be the “external factor,” as they say in marketing, that rocks your world.