All Atwitter About The Fake AP Stylebook

Twitter is bringing the literary world new sensations, but none so delectably satisfying as The Fake AP Stylebook. The page is very similar in appearance to the real AP Stylebook, with the exception of "If you use this you will get fired!" in the corner. This hilarious site pokes fun at the stodgy, stuffy and restricting real AP Stylebook that journalists are so familiar with.

Editorial rules are tweeted and each one seems funnier than the next. A few examples of my favorites:
@hanged/hung - Hanged refers to an execution. You know what hung refers to. We're all adults here.
@STAR WARS Episodes IV-VI are to be referred to as "The Original Trilogy." Episodes I-III are not to be referred to at all.
@Use "gay" or "lesbian" to refer to people, "alternative lifestyle" to refer to Trekkies and Twilight fans.
@Don't confuse "philanthropist" and "philanderer," no matter how much they both put stuff in people's pockets.

Of course, the success of this site, even Twitter itself, leads to the inevitable discussion of print vs. viral. To most, if not all, it seems as if the print world is suffering. Newspaper circulation is declining, books are published electronically and getting your creative voice heard now only requires texting 140 characters. Indeed, the trend implies that literary print will be a thing of the past.

But to this I say, Nay! The two main men who run the Fake AP Stylebook page and manage the online contributors, Ken Lowery and Mark Hale, have been offered a book deal. A physical editor will critique and improve their tweets, form them into a cohesive whole and then place it on bookstore shelves. Their viral success has landed them success in the print world. There is further proof that print is viable and kicking still; this whole site would have failed if not for the copyeditors who find it so humorous, such as myself. If it weren't for the editors who used the book religiously for their print publications, there would be no market for the online parody. 

The brilliance of this site is twofold. First, it is hilarious and original. It offers relief from the constant pressure of correct punctuation that its more serious companion dictates. Second, the Fake AP Stylebook accomplishes something much bigger, almost unintentionally. This page illustrates the possibilities for the future of writing, both online and in print. It embraces the print world while it jabs companionably at it, and leads by example on bringing the two worlds together.

Her Fearful Sophomoric Attempt

Seldom do I buy a book sight unseen, on only author’s name and fame alone, but I decided to take a chance on Her Fearful Symmetry by Audrey Niffenegger, because her first book of fame, The Time Traveler’s Wife is one of my favorite books of all time. I will not make that mistake again.

Her Fearful Symmetry isn’t a bad book, but it’s not brilliant. It’s readable, but I won’t tell anyone about it. The basic premise is about two sets of twins, the older set being mother/aunt to the younger set. The story opens with the death of Elspeth, one of the older twins. She has left her apartment in London to her nieces, upon the condition that they live there for a year before they sell it. The nieces, Julia and Valentina, move into their aunt’s house as she haunts it. Then the story gets completely convoluted.

In the end, all the characters got what they wanted, but weren’t happy about it. This could have been a lesson, but as a reader, apathy overtook any other emotion. Niffenegger did have her moments of brilliance, but having the characters comment on that brilliance reduces its impact significantly. The climactic moments were so heavily foreshadowed that they were obvious and disappointing. If she had spent less time adoring herself and a little longer creating characters we could fall in love with, there might have been a ghost of a chance for Her Fearful Symmetry.

The Robot Detective

"I sat down to write a story that would be a classic mystery and that would not cheat the reader - and yet would be a true science fiction story," Isaac Asimov states in the beginning of Caves of Steel.  And he succeeded.

It's difficult to write a science fiction book that creates a viable and breathing world; it's a completely different skill to create a world that is scientifically relevant 60 years later. In Asimov's Earth, humans live in enclosed, self-contained Cities of millions, live off of yeast rations and fear entering open air. Other planets have been colonized and warred with Earth for their freedom. His ideas pulse in worlds where daily things are made strange and miraculous; the crunchiness of an apple, the whispering sensation of wind, night falling. But I wouldn't expect any less from the man who coined the term "robotics."

In this strange future, Earth detective Elijah Baley has to solve the murder of a prominent man from the Outer Worlds, a Spacer. The City bubbles with anti-robot riots and churns with contempt for the occupying Spacers. To maintain the delicate balance of peace between the Spacers and Earthmen, Baley must solve the murder before his Spacer partner does. Daneel Olivaw, a robot, is his only aid as he investigates, interviews and instigates discord until something breaks. His friends, Spacers, his fellow officers, his robot partner, even his wife are caught up in the investigation.

Completely apart from brilliant time-tested science fiction, this novel stands up as a well written mystery. The reader can make guesses, but it's only in the last 5 pages, when Asimov decides, that the mystery unravels. All the twists, wrong guesses, turns and near misses crystallize into that moment of realization that makes a mystery worth the adventure. To those who say a good science fiction mystery is a contradiction in terms, I challenge them to read Caves of Steel. Upon closing the pages, you will not only be convinced, but addicted.
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