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01/04/03 Magazine Mania - Fortean Times, Cemetery Dance and Locus

I got a few magazines in the mail in the past two days. Here are the scans...

Need I say more? Or, what more can one ask than a cover this delightful for the Latest Fortean Times? If you don't subscribe to this incredible magazine, hie thee hence to a subscription kiosk and sign up. It's by far the best news magazine you're likely to see and read. There are some great book reviews in there as well.

Before you leave the subscription kiosk, don't forget to sign up for Cemetery Dance. I've been a lifetimne subscriber for years now. It's definitely worth it, and mor so now that they're running an interview with Phil Rickman by yours truly. When you sign up, be sure to tell them you came for my fine interviewing skills.


And, in the 'know thy competition' category, here's the latest Locus. While I kind of like this magazine -- they do feature Edward Bryant -- I also have to kind of look at it through my fingers, so to speak. Really. I don't want to read their reviews of books I'm about to review. But the advertising is pretty informative. But I truly do read this standing up. Still, Connie Willis -- that's a big deal. That 'Doomsday Book', which I've alas never read is worth a boatload of money these days.



01/03/03 Doctor Larry Brilliant's "Smallpox: Why I will not vaccinate my family---yet.", The Apocalypse Door and The Darwin Awards

 Doctor Larry Brilliant's "Smallpox: why I will not vaccinate my family---yet."

San Francisco Chronicle columnist Jon Carroll (who once answered an email question I sent him about San Franscisco author Jerry Jay Carroll with a terse "I know him, but I ain't him.") published a column yesterday about Doctor Larry Brilliant's response to the smallpox vaccination program currently underway in our country. Readers will know that I have an interest in disease, and I wrote Doctor Brilliant and obtained the entire letter he wrote that Carroll had excerpted. Carroll kindly provided an email address and for this he is to be hailed. "Cabbie!"

I've reproduced Brilliant's letter (sans attachments, if you want them email me) here for you to read. It's important, compelling, exciting and scary as all get-out reading. Brilliant speaks for a huge silent majority here. But we're not silent -- we just don't get any news coverage. For those whose fingers are suffering from severe carpal tunnel syndrome, I'm going to ape Mr. Carroll and handout the highlights:

"Here is why I chose not to vaccinate my family:

To the best of my knowledge, there is no proof of any link between the experiments at Vector and either Al Qaeda or Saddam Hussein, but concern is understandable. If any proof of linkage arises, I might change my mind.

If Saddam Hussein has smallpox, I believe he might well be crazy or desperate enough to use it as a "doomsday weapon" if he were about to be destroyed; but it is also likely that Iraqi scientists have the ability to genetically alter the virus to make it vaccine-proof. If it is an end game, why we he use a virus that we have a vaccine against? It makes no sense.

If Al-Qaeda has the smallpox virus, I do not believe they would be willing to use it. Unlike Saddam Hussein, Al-Qaeda seeks the victory of an entire people, a culture, a religion---not the hegemony of any individual. Smallpox is the ultimate boomerang weapon. If it is released from its captivity at Chicago O'Hare airport, it is only a matter of days before it infects Mecca and Medina. It is not a likely weapon for a war that is a "Clash of Civilizations" unless a combatant sought the destruction of both civilizations.

Smallpox can be prevented if an exposed person is vaccinated as late as four or five days after exposure. While there is some risk that smallpox could be spread unseen for the first attack, within two weeks cases would start to appear and for nearly all Americans, there would be ample time and ample vaccine to be vaccinated after the first attack and still be safe.

I do not want to go into the fear that a small minority of Americans have that the Bush administration is prone to exaggerate the risks of terrorism in general and smallpox in particular as part of an attempt to frighten the public into accepting the erosion of civil liberties. As horrible as that allegation is, I simply have no information on which to make any comment other than to note the fear exists. And for my purposes here, it really does not matter. Based on the evidence I have seen to date, the risk of getting a case of vaccine-preventable smallpox today is just not as high as the risk of an adverse reaction to the smallpox vaccine.

That is the conclusion that I have reached as of today. And unless or until that changes, I will not vaccinate my family and the ones that I love. "

Do read the whole letter -- there's not much more and it's fascinating stuff. You can write Brilliant yourself and subscribe to his newsletter, Boffa.

The Apocalypse Door

Slim, sleek and silly, 'The Apocalypse Door' mixes high-tech spy intrigue with the Knights Templar in an alternate present where Evil is very Real. What I want to know is how that's different from current consensus reality.

Their timing could not have been better. A recent release from Tor just arrived, and I have to mention it as it looks to be right up the alley of the average Agony Column reader. James D. Macdonald's 'The Apocalypse Door' is the tale of Knights Templar, CIA spies, imminent doom and UN inspectors. I could not resist this bit of fiction,k and I'm heartened to find it's short as well as silly. It also looks to take itself seriously enough to not fall into the joke-a-minute trap. I'll report on this very, very soon. In the interim, if you're looking for a way to spend your time and money, this one looks like agreat bet.

The Darwin Awards  

Also arriving yesterday as a gift from thoughtful relative was this lovely boxed set of both 'Darwin Awards' books by Wendy Northcutt. These are great 'sit around and poke through 'em' books, though at times they start to seem a bit like 'America's Cruelest Home Videos'. But it's pretty amazing to think that not too many years ago, we were all reading about these incidents on Usenet Newsgroups. Then they become a website, and now they're bestsellers. Who said you can't make money on the web?

01/02/03 Living in the Past, Rummaging About the remainder bin, Spookycon Signup, Escaping from the Ten Best

 Living in the Past

Yes, I admit that by filing this news under the 2002 banner, I'm living in the past. I'm currently restructuring the site, so that I can more easily administer the various years that I plan to run it. If you encounter any problems, please email me immediately.

Rummaging About the remainder bin

I nearly bought this for full price a mere three months ago at Worldcon when it was widely expected to win the Hugo Award.
I've been searching for this hardcover since I read the trade paperback. The paperback has some embarrassing reading club questions and even in interview that this does not include.
On New Year's Day, Bookshop Santa Cruz had a very nice sale that offered 25% off all hardcovers, even remaindered titles as it turned out. I had seen the Hugh Laurie title earlier and had passed it by, but decided to pick it up while I still had the chance. It's a wonderful book, and one of the more re-read titles I have. It's one of those books that you can dip into at any time and find something funny and enjoyable to read.

I was shocked to see the Bujold title in a substantial pile on the tables as well. It was a hot and heavy favorite to win the Hugo at Worldcon, but Gaiman pulled through in what to me was something of a surprise. I wonder if I'd be able to pick up 'American Gods' as a remainder had he not won. As it stands, I'm glad I bought a couple extra copies of the signed, limited edition that BSC sold last June.


Spookycon Signup  

I've just signed up to attend Spookycon. It's running from January 9-12 in San Francisco, and apparently I'll be staying at the Chinatown Hilton. Ramsey Campbell, Poppy Z. Brite, David J. Schow and Caitlin Kiernan will be in attendance. I may have various reports as time goes by -- it depends what Internet access costs in the damn hotel. Any questions? Any requests? Let me know.

Escaping from the Ten Best 

I'll be reading this novel for a March or April interview with the author. All this talk of Silicon valley skullduggery resonates with this refugee from the Info Wars.

Here's my only point of congruence with the top-ten list I found in the Chronicle. I haven't yet read this, but intend to for a march or April interview with the author. If it hadn't been handed to me, I would have actually bought this book. A close friend spent much of the 1980's and some of the 1990's working for the Aerospace Corporation, a company that didn't so far as I could understand, actually produce anything other than reference reports and some database work. He had some pretty high clearance and told some pretty tall tales, but it looks as if the gray hand of bureaucracy hangs heavily everywhere. He lived and worked in LA/SoCal, while this is set in Silicon Valley. I spent a bit of time near the latter myself doing things that are likely to be referenced in this novel. I'll of course report on what I find here. Sometimes too close to home is, uh, too close to home.