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Scifi author Jeff VanderMeer goes into a hyper-frenzy

15/01/2009. Contributed by Jessica Martin

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Only a handful of writings have survived to be considered true classics of great thought: tomes that have provoked discussion, revolution and changed the world and madcap scifi author Jeff VanderMeer has just decided to read them all.

Well, not all of them, exactly: just the 60 in Penguin Books' Great Ideas series. But he's decided to read them and review them all in just 60 days, while blogging the results.

VanderMeer, the author of City of Saints & Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword and Veniss Underground and co-editor along with his wife, Ann, of numerous anthologies including Steampunk, The New Weird and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, started this crash course with the classics on December 15 with Seneca's On the Shortness of Life.

VanderMeer found Seneca's advice on using one's time wisely and avoiding life's many distractions of particular relevance in the increasingly connected world of the modern author.

"If alive today," VanderMeer mused, "Seneca would not have wasted time Googling himself."

Among others, VanderMeer has reviewed and responded to works by Confucius, Marcus Aurelius, Frederick Nietzsche and Jonathan Swift, prompting vigorous discussion and comments from all quarters.

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