April Foolishness

It has become a tradition. Reaction to today’s ‘special features’ has been mostly positive, though I did see an alarmed “could this be true??!” post on one of the message boards. Some have asked why the April 1st dateline is so explicit. It’s to deflect the occasional truly angry response we’ve gotten in previous years about how such a professional publication as Locus could run such irresponsible items about Norman Spinrad, or whoever. But you can’t tell a decent joke without risking that someone just won’t get it.

You can however fool the robots. Steve Silver sent an email this morning pointing out that searching for “science fiction” at Google News turned up several of Locus Online’s April 1st spoofs as apparently serious news articles. (Curious how the “April 1st Feature” subtitle that I pointedly planted in the html title tags–what’s displayed at the top of your browser window–of those pages got omitted from the Google output listings.)

Now if only Google could realize, and indicate, that those 5,271,009 obits of Robert Merle are really the *same* AP obit printed in that many papers.

Back to the April 1st items, I’m not sure that everyone realizes there are real–big name–contributors behind the funny bylines. I’m sacrificing marquee value for the sake of the jokes, I suppose. OK: the bylines are all anagrams. (I was Karl Kerrybot Lem a couple years ago, with my middle name added to the anagram mix.) There are extra clues in the brief bios at the bottom of each article. And the articles are indexed–just updated this afternoon–under the real names. No, I won’t give you the link to the index–you can do that much work yourself.

Meanwhile, I’ve been subscribing to more and more newsgroups lately, whose email posts now rival spam in my inbox (easily 250 items total a day now). One benefit is hearing about developing news stories before they’re ready for official release. One about a magazine; one about a bookstore; one about an award. Well, the award I’ve already mentioned: no Locus Awards at Westercon. Where will they be? I think I know, but I’m still awaiting an Official Response from Locus HQ before anything more can be said online.

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