Re: Fools Circel 9wys

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This appears to be a guiding principle of NPR -- to be fair and balanced. Where balance looks at first glance to be difficult to achieve, due to the unbalanced nature of the facts as they exist in the world, apparently the policy is to remediate the situation by omitting facts, or making them up.


Posted by: jms | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:26 PM
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A news media that pointed out when people were lying or speaking in bad faith would be worth one hundred Airs America.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:39 PM
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I almost drove off the road in rage while listening to that NPR bit.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:45 PM
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3: I actually screamed obscenities at my radio.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:55 PM
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I guess it's a good thing I didn't listen to it. Why would NPR be doing this, pray? Funding, I suppose.

Anyway, the people influencing matters -- which I think are actually the constituents, that'd be citizens -- don't listen to NPR. They listen to (read), what? USA Today? Actually I don't know. Fox News. My freakin' brother watches Fox.

Our national narrative is seriously fucked up.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:56 PM
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They listen to (read), what?

Nothing.


Posted by: teofilo | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:58 PM
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And after she gave the long explanation of how both sides were right (which made plain that, no, the Democrats were right except for a small group of people who would pay more for better coverage), the other guy summed it up as "Short version: it's complicated."

No you halfwit, it isn't really. And to what extent it is, it's your goddamn job to explain it. We really are fucked.


Posted by: apostropher | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:59 PM
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Our national narrative is seriously fucked up.

Fortunately it will be over soon.


Posted by: k-sky | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 6:59 PM
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1: They didn't omit facts or make them up. All the information required to disprove the claim that the Democrats and Republicans were "both right" was right there in the story. It was a simple case of the story lead giving a spin that isn't at all supported by the facts in the body of the story.

This is how reputable news outlets work. They reply more on gaps in reasoning than distortion of fact. The headline says what they want you to believe, and they assume that most people won't read far enough into the article to see that the facts don't add up, or if they do read that far, they won't put two and two together. These may be good assumptions on the writer's part.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:03 PM
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8: Do you know something I don't?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:03 PM
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They listen to (read), what?

The things their relatives and friends are saying. But if you trace the chain of sources far enough back, you will get to Fox News.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:05 PM
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the other guy summed it up as "Short version: it's complicated."

When did this cutesy-coy thing become fashionable?

Fucking A. With a g.

Assholes. But seriously, what interests are they protecting by being coy in this way? It's either funding entities, or some notion that by bowing to the potential rightness of both sides, they're serving bipartisanship.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:08 PM
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NPR actually had a good story about how, pace the republicans, every big health care reform in the past few decades has been passed via reconciliation.


Posted by: oudemia | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:09 PM
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Fortunately it will be over soon.

Ominous!


Posted by: essear | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:10 PM
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for NPR, it's important that every 'wrong' is balanced by another 'wrong'. even if they have to walk around a Mobius strip to find the second one. otherwise, they aren't balanced.


Posted by: cleek | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:10 PM
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But seriously, what interests are they protecting by being coy in this way?

You can't explain it using the financial interests of the institution. It is more a matter of the cultural bias of the reporters and analysts. Cokie Roberts is the daughter of a senator and lives in a mansion so big it has a ballroom.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:12 PM
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I sometimes wonder who the market for the news networks is. I'm a full on news junkie, but even when I had a TV the only news programs I watched on a frequent basis were the News Hour and BBC World News. I only turned to the other channels in major breaking news situations. They seemed to be a mix of fluff and very shallow punditry. The first I have little interest in, the second I can find at a much higher quality online.


Posted by: teraz kurwa my | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:14 PM
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16: Yes, but Cokie Roberts isn't really an NPR correspondent any more, exactly, is she? I mean, she's moved on up, and deigns to provide NPR blather now and then, but I don't think of her as one of the NPR people any more. I could just be not noticing her, I guess.

It is more a matter of the cultural bias of the reporters and analysts

I don't buy this, if it means that it's driven by the individuals. There's an institutional culture, and, no doubt, a policy, which seems in recent years to be increasingly reluctant to appear flagrantly liberal, perhaps because the L-word is such a bad word.

No?


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:21 PM
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Every prof at Heebie U adores NPR. Unfogged is the only place that I ever hear people call them out on this fucking bullshit.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:23 PM
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13:
Every now and then, NPR gets something correct.

Ive found that NPR is no longer soothing for me. It makes me agitated to hear them repeat Republican talking points as journalism.


Ug Where is the next Bill Moyers!>!??!??


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:30 PM
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The other thing NPR has done well is a few of their recent five-part serieses. The one on the insanity surrounding prison bail and the bail bondsman industry was very good, as well as the one on border informants.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:36 PM
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Looking at the rundown for today's episode of All Things Considered, I notice they gave 6 minutes to a piece called "GOP Leader Weighs in on Health Summit."

I'm wondering if the lack of corresponding coverage from the perspective of the Democratic side was NPR's fuckup, or the Democrats' fuckup.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:52 PM
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i didnt hear the bail one. What impression were you left with?


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:52 PM
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There was a post and ensuing thread here about the bail bondsman thing - I leave it to someone else to find it.


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:56 PM
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You know, I listed to a fuck of a lot of NPR for someone who gets frustrated with it as much as I do.

Also, I've never really been drawn in by Pacifica, Air America, Democracy Now, or any of the full blown leftist radio networks. I listen, I agree, I'm bored. I think this is because they don't have the story telling talent, and not because I actively need to listen to things that make me frustrated.


Posted by: rob helpy-chalk | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:57 PM
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23:
1. That a huge number of people are waiting in jail because they can't afford bail, and suffering way disproportionate consequences like loss of job for absenteeism, while they await trial,

2. That there have been incredibly successful programs to do away with bail altogether for nonviolent offenders, and either put an ankle bracelet on them or just plain trust them, with huge financial savings to the local jurisdiction, and

3. That the bail bondman industry is systematically buying off local politicians and getting these programs undone, unfunded, and off the table. Instead, new prisons are being built to warehouse nonviolent people who have not yet gone to trial.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 7:59 PM
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26 - California's prison guard union is a close second to the GOP as the most malign force in state politics.


Posted by: snarkout | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:00 PM
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The BBC World Service kicks the shit out of NPR, and I generally find "As it Happens" - that Canadian show - to be interesting. But those broadcasts are only played on local stations late at night, so I hardly ever get to hear them.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:02 PM
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CSPAN Radio is totally cool to listen to, rob. You may be bored from time to time (Toyota hearings, anyone?), but otherwise, it's like: there's no story-telling! It's primary sources!


Posted by: parsimon | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:02 PM
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Why would NPR be doing this, pray? Funding, I suppose.

As usual, Jay Rosen for the win:

This is a post about a single line in a recent article in the New York Times: Tea Party Lights Fuse for Rebellion on Right.... Reporter David Barstow spent five months--five months!--reporting and researching the Tea Party phenomenon.
Based not on a subjective assessment of the Tea Party's viability or his opinion of its desirability but only on facts he knows about the state of politics and government since Obama's election, is there any substantial likelihood of a tyranny replacing the American republic in the near future?
I think it's obvious....that the answers are "no." For if the answers were "yes" it would have been a huge story! No fair description of the current situation, nothing in what the Washington bureau and investigative staff of the New York Times has picked up from its reporting, would support a characterization like "impending tyranny."
In a word, the Times editors and Barstow know this narrative is nuts, but something stops them from saying so-- despite the fact that they must have spent over $100,000 on this one story. And whatever that thing is, it's not the reluctance to voice an opinion in the news columns, but a reluctance to report a fact in the news columns, the fact that the "narrative of impending tyranny" is ungrounded in any observable reality, even though the sense of grievance within the Tea Party movement is truly felt and politically consequential.
My claim: We have come upon something interfering with political journalism's "sense of reality" as the philosopher Isaiah Berlin called it (see section 5.1) And I think I have a term for the confusing factor: a quest for innocence in reportage and dispute description. Innocence, meaning a determination not to be implicated, enlisted, or seen by the public as involved. That's what created the pattern I've called "regression to a phony mean." That's what motivated the rise of he said, she said reporting.

There's also his classic He Said, She Said: False Balance.

And from all the way back in 2004: Journalism is a Religion. Highlights:

1.) J-School as School of Theology
2.) The Journalist's Creed
3.) The Orthodoxy of No Orthodoxy
4.) Practicing Journalism But Not Understanding It
5.) The First Amendment as Press Religion
6.) The God Term of Journalism is the Public
7.) A Breakaway Church in the Press
8.) Interview at the Axis of Evil

Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:09 PM
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Re: news sources, it's not audio, but I recently came across this foundation-funded investigative journalism project, which seems interesting. Not entirely sure I know where all of their biases are coming from, but still bookmarked (figuratively).


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:14 PM
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26:

Excellent, Heebie.

Because, as someone who deals with this issue a lot, I completely agree with those conclusions.
Shame on the local gov'ts for listening (ie being bought off) by the bail bondsmen.


Posted by: Will | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:56 PM
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Now, as a liberal, I naturally have certain dogmatic beliefs which I haven't really thought about much. You look like a cool guy, Libertarian Economist. Can you open my eyes to the possiblity that things are more complicated than I realize?


Posted by: Planet Money | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:57 PM
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Ned, I don't even listen to that show and you're making me grind my teeth.


Posted by: Witt | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 8:58 PM
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You fuckers.

I remember when I was in contact with a lot of reporters. It was astonishing how much all of them got wrong all the time -- even the really good ones! If you knew what the actual deal was, a story where 60% or more of the facts were plausibly correct was astonishingly accurate.

Which is all a way of saying do none of you degenerate garment-renders care at all about the perfectly fascinating first paragraph of this post?

I'd like to know about Riddley Walker! It sounds awesome. I've never heard of it! It's really so different from A Canticle for Liebowitz? I certainly did love the shit out of that one. And I do enjoy it when neb recommends a sci-fi novel.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:06 PM
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Ned, I don't even listen to that show and you're making me grind my teeth.

Oh, they do their best. I listen to almost every episode. They just set themselves up to end every story with the following dialogue:
Adam or Alex 1: So (pause)...what should the government do about this?
Adam or Alex 2: Well (laughter)...nobody can really be sure.
Adam or Alex 1: (laughter) I was hoping things would become a little bit clearer than that. Not really?
Adam or Alex 2: Not really. But we know one thing -- whoever deals with this problem is going to have to make their choices carefully.

Which is all a way of saying do none of you degenerate garment-renders care at all about the perfectly fascinating first paragraph of this post?

I guess no one else has read it.


Posted by: Cryptic ned | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:15 PM
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I also had the pleasure of listening to Marketplace today, featuring a couple business school professor/jackasses talking about how the reason health care is so expensive in this country is because not enough of the cost of it comes out of pocket, so people consume more than they otherwise would. Apparently, if people weren't spoiled by insurance companies picking up so much of the cost, they would choose to use less heath care/be more sick, and so the cost would go down!

Somebody needs to tell all those countries with cradle to grave health care and low out-of-pocket costs that they are doing it wrong.


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:28 PM
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Yay, Riddley Walker! By the author of the Frances the Badger books, oddly enough, and The Mouse and His Child, less oddly. Have you read Cloud Atlas, Sifu? The apex chapter of that references RW. The wacky future-English takes a little getting used to, but not too much.


Posted by: redfoxtailshrub | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:38 PM
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I have not read Cloud Atlas. My personal sci-fi history is weird; it basically peters out except for a Wiliam Gibson book here and there in about 1995, but I've read a shit-ton of 40s-mid80s SF. But then I had somehow never read A Canticle For Liebowitz until neb wouldn't shut up about it, and by gum, it was terrific.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:48 PM
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And I gather that the "SF" appellation may not be appropriate to Cloud Atlas.

Okay, will do as I'm told and read it.


Posted by: Sifu Tweety | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:49 PM
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A Canticle For Liebowitz

My favorite book in 10th grade. I was very annoying about it for a while.


Posted by: A White Bear | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 9:51 PM
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My personal sci-fi history is weird

Your experience matches mine (except that I've kept up with Iain M. Banks as well as Gibson). Personally, I blame too much interaction online with SF fans.


Posted by: Josh | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 10:30 PM
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It's really so different from A Canticle for Liebowitz?

Thematically it's quite similar; some things are a lot more similar than you might otherwise expect (the survival and reinterpretation of Leibowitz' shopping list and the St. Eustace stained glass window, e.g., though that has a larger role in RW), but realized in a much different way, and on a much smaller timescale—as if it all took place in the first third of Canticle, basically. And the language is magnificent; rfts is right that the weirdness recedes, but just enough for you to read it without being puzzled. It's still weird enough (and the different weirdness of the older text is a great touch).

Anyway, it's great.

I also like The Lion of Boaz-Jachin and Jachin-Boaz, which is like his transitional YA novel, between Mouse (I infer; I haven't read it, that I can recall) and RW and Turtle Diary (also good!).


Posted by: nosflow | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 10:53 PM
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Canticle for Liebowitz sounded so awesome when i first heard of it, but then i read it and it sucked.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 11:00 PM
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RW is terrific.

I don't know what can be done about journalism. I try to avoid it, for the most part.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-25-10 11:40 PM
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On the radio topic, Ian Masters is IMO absolutely, bar none the best radio political journalist out there -- left, smart, gets good guests, is a good radio host. Much better than Amy Goodman of Democracy Now, who I also like, but who is kind of fraudulent (fraudulent in the service of a good cause, but still). Unfortunately I think that Ian Masters' show is available only on the Pacifica station in Los Angeles, so the rest of you are out of luck.

NPR is often maddening, but all it takes is one listen to the horrific Canadian imitataion All Things Considered ("As it Happens") to realize that things could be a lot worse.


Posted by: Robert Halford | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 12:08 AM
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i think i had 'walker riddley' and 'chronicles of riddick' sort of aggregated as a single entity in my mind.


Posted by: yoyo | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 12:23 AM
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The first third of CfL was amazing; the rest progressively less so. But the beginning was so good I didn't notice till after I'd finished it.

RW is solid gold all the way through, right to the last line.

Is NPR actually any worse as a news source than the commercial networks?


Posted by: OFE | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 1:19 AM
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I'll forgive NPR three hours' worth of horrible healthcare bullshit for its talking-up of Riddley Walker, no matter how ill-informed. I thought that book had been lost to the ages.


Posted by: va | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 1:21 AM
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I haven't listened to it for years, but CBC's Ideas used to have some great programming.


Posted by: fake accent | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 1:46 AM
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3,4: I was flipping my radio off hard, with both hands. Fortunately, I was stopped at a traffic light, so noone was directly endangered by my eloquent display of dissent.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 6:11 AM
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Is NPR actually any worse as a news source than the commercial networks?

It's much better---so much so that apparently people are regularly disappointed that it is not Ours.


Posted by: Jackmormon | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 6:24 AM
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52: Yeah, it's the knowing how good it can be juxtaposed with the inane stuff, which really does seem to be getting worse these last couple of years or so, that brings the rage.


Posted by: M/tch M/lls | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 6:41 AM
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Canadian imitataion All Things Considered ("As it Happens")

That is hilarious that knock-off All Things Considered is called As It Happens.


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:16 AM
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54 -- What's even funnier is knowing which came first.


Posted by: CharleyCarp | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:23 AM
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55: ME!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CHICKEN | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:24 AM
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56: That's just your opinion.


Posted by: Unopinionated Egg | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:34 AM
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55: As it happens, As It Happens?


Posted by: heebie-geebie | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:38 AM
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57: THAT'S ENOUGH CRACKS OUT OF YOU! NOW SCRAM!


Posted by: OPINIONATED CHICKEN | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:39 AM
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What Sifu said. I just saw journalism at work first hand, and it's amazing how the facts got garbled. Granted, we're just talking about a fluffy piece of boosterism in a free arts weekly. But how can a simple fact from a freaking email interview get so hopelessly twisted into wrongness?


Posted by: Mo MacArbie | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 7:56 AM
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58: Now broadcasting on WVOQ, all Quine all the time.


Posted by: ajay | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 8:42 AM
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I like As it Happens. Where else can I go to get stories of impoverished Newfoundland fisherman bitching about their catch limits?


Posted by: Spike | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 9:35 AM
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Cloud Atlas is great. I'm pretty comfortable calling it SF, but then I don't get as worked up about that appelation as some do. It has a lot of similarities to If On A Winter's Night A Traveller, which I definitely wouldn't call SF.

I'd never heard of Riddley Walker until this post. I'm a terrible English graduate and a terrible SF fan.


Posted by: Ginger Yellow | Link to this comment | 02-26-10 9:36 AM
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