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Meme Update #1

In this issue:
Book/Movie Reviews


Outstanding performances by Jeff Bridges and Barbara Streisand highlight
this female romantic fantasy about an irresistible man (Bridges) who wants
everything but sex from his willing and devoted inamorata (Streisand).
Looked at through the lens of evolutionary psychology, this film attempts
to resolve the female's twin mating drives (power and security) at least
for one glorious, musical moment. NOTE TO VIRIONS: Be prepared to stifle a
chuckle when you see the title of the book Bridges's character has written.

Memetic Science Fiction:

Barnes, John. Kaleidoscope Century (Tor, 1996). It's the (not-so?) far
future and Earth has been transformed into a battleground for viruses of
the mind, commonly known as Memes with a capital M. Our hero and his fellow
commandos work as mercenaries in the employ of one Meme or another, surfing
through life as they struggle to re-create memories periodically lost to
them--the price they pay for a secret treatment that gives them eternal
youth. Can an all-American boy find love and happiness in a universe where
an innocent conversation may leave you infected by a mind virus such as One
True, doomed to spend the rest of your existence in its service? Not the
tightest or best SF ever written, but a graphic illustration of one
possible outcome of meme evolution.

Stephenson, Neal. Snow Crash (Spectra, 1993). More than a dozen people
recommended this science-fiction novel to me as a work of fiction dealing
with memes, so I finally read it. I .have to say it's one of the best SF
novels I have ever read. Stephenson really seems to grok viruses of the
mind, and paints a future in which cultural viruses such as franchising,
religious cults, pizza delivery, and the Mafia have spread wildly at the
expense of today's laws and governments. Meanwhile, is someone trying to
come up with the perfect designer virus that will allow them to take over
the world? This fast-paced, literate story is a must-read.


Feynman, Richard P. 'Surely You're Joking, Mr. Feynman': Adventures of a
Curious Character (Bantam, 1990). Richard Feynman, winner of the Nobel
prize in physics and member of the Los Alamos them that built The Bomb,
shares what it's like to live life at Level 3 in this hilarious and
touching autobiographical collection of anecdotes. I laughed out loud a
dozen times while reading this short book, which covers everything from how
he fooled people into thinking he was even smarter than he really was to
how he learned to pick up Las Vegas showgirls. One of my favorite books
ever. And if you loved this one and are hungry for more, read the sequel,
'What Do You Care What Other People Think?' : Further Adventures of a
Curious Character (Bantam, 1992). The highlight is a detailed description
of his solving of the space shuttle Challenger disaster, demonstrated by
dipping a defective O-ring in ice-water on national TV.