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No. 24

No. 24 The Jig Is Up!

Hey, it’s our play issue, in which David Graeber hopscotches over the robotic universe of contemporary science and winds up inventing a new law of reality. Barbara Ehrenreich calls for a science that can explain why fun is fun. John Summers reports from “The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan”—once known as the liberal community of Cambridge, Massachusetts, now a playground for startup science and tech professionals. Gene Seymour rescues science fiction from the warped real-world utopias of certain plutocratic cybervisionaries. Andrew Bacevich dances on the grave of Tom Clancy, the recently departed hack thriller writer. Ian Bogost analyzes the addiction economy lurking behind cutting-edge free-to-play videogames, while Rhonda Lieberman walks us through the trophy rooms of leisure-class art hoarders.

And that’s only the half of it. Look here for head-spinning salvos by Chris Lehmann, Susan Faludi, William T. Vollmann, George Scialabba, and Heather Havrilesky on history, politics, feminism, and literature. Anne Elizabeth Moore makes sport of Vice magazine. Alex Pareene practices journalism on the New York Times’ DealBook. Fiction by Paul Maliszewski and J. Wagner; short prose by Jaron Lanier, Gabriel Zaid, and Erik Simon; poetry by Thomas Sayers Ellis; and hilarious graphic art by Brad Holland, Mark Dancey, and David McLimans, who gave us the cover. Not to win or lose the game, but to be free of the system of winners and losers—that’s the spirit.

Table of Contents


John Summers

Against Merit
Gabriel Zaid

Nerds on the Knife Edge
Jaron Lanier


God’s Game
Erik Simon


The Real Toy Story
Michael Wolf


The People’s Republic of Zuckerstan
John Summers

What’s the Point If We Can’t Have Fun?
David Graeber

A Thing or Two about a Thing or Two, a.k.a. Science
Barbara Ehrenreich

The Billionaires’ Fantasia
Gene Seymour

Hoard d’Oeuvres: Art of the 1 Percent
Rhonda Lieberman

Play, Dammit!
Heather Havrilesky

Rage Against the Machines
Ian Bogost


Neoliberalism, the Revolution in Reverse
Chris Lehmann


Deal Me Out: A stacked deck at the New York Times
Alex Pareene

The Vertically Integrated Rape Joke: The triumph of Vice
Anne Elizabeth Moore


Bcc: Dridge
Paul Maliszewski and J. Wagner


Chemical Life
Timothy Donnelly

Fanny Howe

Narcissus Tweets
Airea D. Matthews

Concerned Possibly Overly Concerned with the Eagle Warehouse & Storage Company of Brooklyn 1893
Dara Wier

It was the year we turned to dragons
Metta Sáma

What It Look Like
Terrance Hayes

A Poet’s Guide to the Assassination of JFK [The assassination of poetry]
Thomas Sayers Ellis


Feminism for Them?
Susan Faludi

Tom Clancy, Military Man
Andrew Bacevich

Decently Downward: An appointment with John O’Hara
William T. Vollmann


How Sweet Is It?
George Scialabba


Feminism for Men
Floyd Dell


The front cover is illustrated by David McLimans; the photograph on the back cover was made by Lewis Koch.

Melinda Beck, William Bengston, Joseph Ciardiello, Mark Dancey, Henrik Drescher, Michael Duffy, Mark S. Fisher, Mary Flatley, Patrick JB Flynn, Stuart Goldenberg, Brad Holland, David Johnson, Victor Juhasz, Lewis Koch, Stephen Kroninger, Zohar Lazar, David McLimans, P. S. Mueller, Chris Mullen, Alain Pilon, Jonathon Rosen, Laurie Rosenwald, David Sandlin, Katherine Streeter, Mark Wagner, and Michael Wolf.

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