February 21st, 2003

rivka as ww

(no subject)

Really funny analysis, from an information design perspective, of the government’s new terrorism-preparedness website, here.

Books: William P. Alford’s To Steal a Book Is an Elegant Offense: Intellectual Property Law in Chinese Civilization is a short, well-written look at why China hasn’t responded to Western concepts of IP with the enthusiasm hoped for by the RIAA, the MPAA, and other business interests long before them. Alford seems wryly cognizant of the potential for Monty Python-esque absurdity in explaining what effects the Cultural Revolution had on patents, and it’s a neat read that challenges Western assumptions about the sources of creativity.

I picked up The Vampire Sextette, an anthology of six vampire stories featuring sex in one way or another. Though really, aren’t those last seven words redundant? The authors are Nancy Collins, Tanith Lee, Kim Newman, S.P. Somtow, Brian Stableford, and Chelsea Quinn Yarbro, and I can’t honestly say that any of these stories are even solid base hits. I would read almost anything by Kim Newman, and unfortunately his story here is proof. It’s about Orson Welles, and Dracula, and dreams, and has a great cameo by Barbie the Vampire Slayer and her Overlooker. If you like Newman’s style and care little for plot, you’ll be happy with the story. The other stories – with the exception of Somtow’s, about which more in a moment – are just as wispy, competently executed but not stirring or strongly plotted.

Somtow. I read a few books of his years ago, but this is my first adult exposure. From his biography I gather that he’s not a native American English speaker. Nothing wrong with that, but he shouldn’t try to do Southern teens or Southern lawyers and judges unless he has a native editor and listens to her advice. His redneck high-schoolers veer from laughable dialect to equally laughable purple prose – and, for a story told only in dialogue, this is an even worse problem than usual. It’s a pointless story of sex and violence, unredeemed by any eroticism, any style, or any moral vision (even nihilism). I won’t get into the so-called courtroom procedure. I’m just mad that the editor of this book thought that this story was worth wasting actual paper and ink on.

I just began Jennifer Government, by Max Barry, and it’s looking pretty good.


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