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#5: ALIEN HAND SYNDROME!

A title like that deserves all caps.

Anyhow, I finished Alien Ha--sorry, ALIEN HAND SYNDROME, the paperback release from the excellent website Damn Interesting that compiles a bunch of its online stories with some new material. The website's focus is on odd, intriguing aspects of science, human history, and the natural world, but there's usually a twist beyond the odd premise - a man who had his sight restored after a lifetime of blindness gradually finds his new world frustrating and unrewarding; the history of the completely ungoverned city of Kowloon delves takes an intriguing turn into the mechanics of how an utterly lawless society would function. The tales take much more interest in the human complications of these intriguing phenomena than the average trivia site - and they're much better-written as well, structured as mysteries and eschewing snark for intellectual curiosity. (As an introduction, I'd recommend the excellent story on a man's unusual - and unusually suspicious - winning streak on the game show Press Your Luck, available on the website.)

The book's a big paperback, slightly smaller than the size of a college notebook (but much thicker), and has kind of a coffee-table layout that's well-done. One drawback of print vs. digital, though, is that the seamlier stories are right out in the open instead of safely hidden behind the cut. There's no escaping Mike the Headless Chicken (which is actually intriguing but, y'know, still about a headless chicken). There aren't many of the grosser stories on the website, but they got a slightly disproportionate representation in the paperback. Still, the book is well worth a look for the intellectual curious - and the website is a winner.

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