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Science, Fiction, and points in between

• Are publishers responsible for the veracity of nonfiction books they publish? Apparently not, says Brill's Content. [Locus Online wonders how whole categories of books, you know which ones, could be published, otherwise.] The magazine considers the question in general (this article) and specifically in the case of J.H. Hatfield, author of the recently discredited biography of George W. Bush. (Slender SF-connection: Hatfield was previously author of trivia books about X-Files and Lost in Space, and claimed the ''prestigious international Isaac Asimov Foundation Literary Award'' for a biography of actor Patrick Stewart.) — Brill's Content February 2000
[The January issue, by the way, had a handy fold-out chart of who-owns-who in the media-conglomerate corporate world; of course, with AOL-Time Warner, it's already out of date.]

(Fri 28 Jan 2000)

• Saul Bellow's first major work in a decade, Ravelstein (Viking, April), is based on the life Allan (Closing of the American Mind) Bloom. — NY Times 27 Jan

• Speaking of prestigious mainstream writers, John Updike is prequelizing ''Hamlet'' in Gertrude and Claudius (Knopf, February). — Book Magazine January-February

(Thu 27 Jan 2000)

• Charles Krauthammer editorializes on Mars — The Weekly Standard 31 Jan

• Writers confess to classics they haven't read — Booksonline 22 Jan [via Robot Wisdom]

• An excerpt from Robert Wright's Nonzero: The Logic of Human Destiny: ''The words on this page--indeed, words, period--are a product of non-zero-sumness. The game theorist Thomas Schelling has noted that in a purely zero-sum game there is no rational reason to communicate. ... At the risk of sounding species-centric, I think words are cooler than pheromones. Words lent vital impetus to a whole new kind of evolution, a cultural evolution through which politics and religion and technology develop.''Time Magazine 24 Jan

• From the same issue of Time, an article about self-publishing on the web: Publish Thyself; and a Roger Rosenblatt essay on Why Writers Attack Writers.

• The worst nonfiction book of the century? Margaret Mead. — CNN 21 Jan.

• Tom Wolfe vs. the literary world — Salon 21 Jan

Salon on literary plagiarism — Salon 18 Jan

• David Mamet on genre novels and Patrick O'Brian — NY Times 17 Jan

• A profile of controversial philosopher Peter Singer, who has been in the news for several months now, since his relocation from Melbourne to Princeton University; a ''passionate believer in euthanasia, Singer's most shocking argument is that it's not wrong for parents to kill severely disabled infants.'' — New Scientist 8 Jan

• James Fallows went to work for Microsoft for six months, as a consultant to offer advice on new features for the next release of Microsoft Word that might be especially useful for writers. Unfortunately, he isn't allowed by contractual agreement to discuss what recommendations he made, or if they were incorporated, but his observations on the Microsoft culture are nevertheless fascinating. — The Atlantic Monthly Feb 2000

• Steven Weinberg considers ''Five and Half Utopias'' (the article begins ''I used to read a good deal of science fiction when I was a boy'') -- the free-market utopia; the best-and-brightest utopia; the religious utopia; the green utopia; the technological utopia; the civilized egalitarian capitalist utopia. — The Atlantic Monthly Jan 2000

• Tomorrow's garbage is everything we love today, says Bruce SterlingNewsweek 1 Jan. In the same issue, an article by John Leland about How the Future Looked in 1899.

• Obit: Nuclear physicist Robert Rathbun Wilson, designer of Fermilab — LA Times 21 Jan

Albert Einstein is the Person of the Century. Also in this issue: a Robert Wright essay on historical predecessors to the Internet. And: Stephen Hawking explains relativity. — Time 31 Dec 1999

Nonfiction book reviews:
Mary Lefkowitz reviews Felipe Fernandez-Armesto's Truth: A History and a Guide for the Perplexed (New York Times 23 Jan); and David Goodstein reviews John and Mary Gribbin's Almost Everyone's Guide to Science: The Universe, Life and Everything; and Anne Magurran reviews Sarah Blaffer Hrdy's Mother Nature: A History of Mothers, Infants, and Natural Selection.

• The New York Times Magazine millennial issue for December 5, 1999, ''The Times Capsule'', includes a panel discussion on the issues of building a time capsule, with Gregory Benford among others; selections by various writers, among them J.K. Rowling, William Gibson, and Christopher Buckley, of the Words that might survive to the next millennium; an essay on war by Robert Wright; a discussion of extinctions by Niles Eldredge; a speculation on who might find a time capsulte, by Jared Diamond; among many other things (not to mention a David Letterman Top 10 List).

— Inprint (not Online, at least not yet) —

• Skeptical Inquirer, January/February 2000
Among the 10 Outstanding Skeptics of the Century: Isaac Asimov (6th), Carl Sagan (3rd), Martin Gardner (2nd).

(Tue 25 Jan 2000)

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