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Time March 29th
The latest issue in the magazine's series about the 20th century's most influential people is about the century's greatest minds -- Freud, Einstein, Wittgenstein, Gödel, Piaget, Turing -- with essays about them by Bill Gates (on the Wright Brothers), James Gleick, Daniel Dennett, Douglas Hofstadter, Robert Wright, etc. Plus, an essay about science fiction by Bruce Sterling, with the angle, presumably at editorial direction, being on the genre's predictive track record. (A sidebar compiles famous bad predictions: ''Everything that can be invented has been invented'' -- 1899.) Sterling passes through Huxley and Orwell, considers Heinlein's prescient forecast for the late 20th century, and concludes --

If the tag end of the century resembles the work of any single SF writer, it must surely be J.G. Ballard. ... While most SF writers of his generation were down at the Jet Propulsion Laboratory cheering on the moon landings, Ballard was in a London art gallery throwing a Pop Art happening with a crashed car and a topless model. Ballard's approach to the future was never rooted in engineering, physics or rocket science but rather in medicine, psychology and Surrealism. Time has been kind to him. ... A bizarre contemporary event like the paparazzi car-crash of Princess Diana is perfectly Ballardian.
Also in the issue: profiles of ''cranks, villains and unsung heroes'' compiled, according to the editorial, at Sterling's suggestion; a speculation on future discoveries by John Maddox (What Remains to Be Discovered); and, in the regular part of the magazine, a review of the latest literary novel to take place at the end of 1999, Gail Godwin's Evensong (Ballantine).

The New Yorker March 22nd
Ian Watson on Stanley Kubrick:

For nearly two decades, Stanley Kubrick was intermittently obsessed with developing a science-fiction movie from a short story by Brian Aldiss called ''Super-Toys Last All Summer Long.'' It was about the adventures of a robot toddler who yearns to be a real boy and his interactive Teddy bear. Stanley gave the project the working title of ''A.I.'' -- for ''artificial intelligence'' ...

Next stop: the billiard room, where Stanley and I held our story conferences. These sessions were like constructing a castle of wooden blocks which was often doomed to collapse toward the end of the afternoon, just as I was hoping to make my departure with some definite scenes to write up. Stanley never knew exactly what he was after, though he was remorseless at finding a hairline crack in a scene which, under his scrutiny, would rapidly widen into an uncrossable chasm.

Also in this issue: three poems by Jorge Luis Borges, and a one-page short story by Nadine Gordimer, ''Loot'', about an earthquake that uncovers a secret world.

People Weekly March 15-22
A special issue commemorating the magazine's 25th anniversary. Among the top ''25 Legends of the Past 25 Years'': Stephen King.

By the late '80s he was taking in some $20 million a year and now cooks along at an estimated $40 million annually. ... The author is slowing down and feels he's close to the end of his novel writing. ''I don't want to be the 'grand ol' man','' he says. ''I don't want to be led up to accept any grand master awards on somebody's arm. I certainly don't want to descend into self-parody.'' Still, he expects his work to resonate even after he switches off the word processor. ''Scary books,'' he says, ''have this long life. They're like vampires themselves. They stick around.''
(posted Tue 23 Mar 1999)

The Telegraph 13 March
Brian Aldiss on Stanley Kubrick. They worked together for about six months in 1991 on an adaptation of Aldiss' story ''Super-Toys Last All Summer Long''.

I was fed up by then. I'd written the equivalent of three novels, and developed various story lines, and it was all rejected out of hand. I do, however, remember Kubrick with great affection. I think of him roaming about through his endless rooms of machinery at night. Despite everything, despite his wife, despite the henchmen he had working for him there, I think it was a lonely existence.

Slate 18 March
The webzine polled its readers to assemble a list of the century's 100 Silliest Books Taken Seriously (By Serious People). Such as Charles R. Reich's The Greening of America, Paul Ehrlich's The Population Bomb, and ''various works of Ayn Rand''. Rand won the most votes of any single author.

New York Times 15 March
An article about an effort to create an online store for independent booksellers: Book Sense, to open this summer.

Salon 15 March
A review of Bruce Bagemihl's Biological Exuberance: Animal Homosexuality and Natural Diversity (St. Martin's). If human scientists have such difficulty overcoming their preconceptions when dealing with animals on Earth, what hope is there for understanding aliens from other worlds?

Besides showing the prevalence of alternative sexuality, Bagemihl tells a fascinating story of the suppression of this vast body of information. "Zoology is a very conservative profession," and focusing on animal homosexuality is not the road to success. One researcher documented homosexuality in sheep, but didn't publish until she got tenure.

Surprisingly often, observers don't know what they're seeing. If males and females look alike, researchers assume that when they see animals mating, they are seeing a male and a female, and the one on top is the male. Thus, the penguin Eric, later renamed Erica. If they switch positions, no doubt it's just confusion.

(posted Fri 19 Mar 1999)

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