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Hippo Eats Dwarf: A Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S.    by Alex Boese order for
Hippo Eats Dwarf
by Alex Boese
Order:  USA  Can
Harvest, 2006 (2006)
* *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

If the title and front cover did not make clear to you the tone of this amusing 'Field Guide to Hoaxes and Other B.S.', the first sentence would - 'We live in a hippo-eats-dwarf world.' Alex Boese then proceeds to explain the hippo-eats-dwarf news item reported in certain UK and Australian newspapers, and of course regularly regurgitated on the Internet, in this 'world that's fake and growing faker every day, in increasingly bizarre ways.'

In Hippo Eats Dwarf, Boese (who also wrote Museum of Hoaxes) tells us 'how to survive in an insane world in which the line between truth and fiction has completely blurred.' Along the way he tosses out a glossary of terminology like Tanorexia which is just what it sounds like, or Magic Mouse Diet - 'Virtual weight loss achieved through the click of a mouse (digital alteration of a photo), rather than a reduction in calories.'

The author organizes his material into chapters ranging from Birth, Bodies, and Romance to Politics, War, and Death (there's even one on eBay). Interspersed with accounts of hippo hoaxes are Reality Rules, such as 'Extraordinary claims about advances in reproductive science require extraordinary proof. Demonstration of the ability to hold a press conference does not constitute extraordinary proof' or 'News is what people want to keep hidden; everything else is publicity.'

Specific hoaxes include familiar Phony Clones and faux blogs. The Fake CNN News Generator - which must have caused all kinds of confusion - was new to me. I plan to check out the Flatulent Technologies website, and - as an avid SF fan - I'm disappointed I never received the Time Travel Spammer email or the one about flesh-eating bananas. But real-life fakery also fascinates; we're told of Japanese who hire actors as friends for social occasions. And then there's the American Trekkie who wanted Klingon to be his son's first language!

On the surface, Hippo Eats Dwarf is hilarious, but this modern blurring of reality is also disturbing - it's not SARS or avian 'flu we need to watch out for in this millennium, but - wildly infectious and spreading at net-speeds - the Gullibility Virus.

Listen to a podcast interview with Alex Boese at

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