virus: Meme update!

Richard Brodie (
Fri, 22 Nov 1996 11:03:38 -0800

This is Richard Brodie's Meme Central Newsletter. To
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I have a movie and a couple of new books to recommend and a schedule
change for my next Seattle "Getting Past OK" evening seminar. But

Meme Central now comes with delightful background music! In fact, all my
pages do. Check it out at

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


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.

The 3-hour GETTING PAST OK seminar scheduled for January 21, 1997, has
been moved to Thursday, Feb. 13, 1997 from 6:30-9:30 p.m. Call Discover
U at 206-443-0447 to register.

I've got to get back to work on my next book. By the way, the most
interesting discussion of memetics going on currently is in the Church
of Virus mailing list. You can subscribe from Meme Central -

All the best memes,


Richard Brodie +1.206.688.8600
CEO, Brodie Technology Group, Inc., Bellevue, WA, USA
Do you know what a "meme" is?