Friday, May 21, 2004

A fraud exposed, and a true thing...

This one left me blinking. Not so much because it was a fraud, as why anyone would bother to create such a fraud...

Found this on the forum - thought you might find it interesting. You'd wonder why somebody would go to the lengths to fake something like this.

Chornobyl "Ghost Town" story is a fabrication TOP
e-POSHTA subscriber Mary Mycio writes:

I am based in Kyiv and writing a book about Chornobyl for the Joseph Henry Press. Several sources have sent me links to the "Ghost Town" photo essay included in the last e-POSHTA mailing. Though it was full of factual errors, I did find the notion of lone young woman riding her motorcycle through the evacuated Zone of Alienation to be intriguing and asked about it when I visited there two days ago.

I am sorry to report that much of Elena's story is not true. She did not travel around the zone by herself on a motorcycle. Motorcycles are banned in the zone, as is wandering around alone, without an escort from the zone administration. She made one trip there with her husband and a friend. They traveled in a Chornobyl car that picked them up in Kyiv.

She did, however, bring a motorcycle helmet. They organized their trip through a Kyiv travel agency and the administration of the Chornobyl zone (and not her father). They were given the same standard excursion that most Chernobyl tourists receive. When the Web site appeared, Zone Administration personnel were in an uproar over who approved a motorcycle trip in the zone. When it turned out that the motorcycle story was an invention, they were even less pleased about this fantasy Web site.

Because of those problems, Elena and her husband have changed the Web site and the story considerably in the last few days. Earlier versions of the narrative lied more blatantly about Elena taking lone motorcycle trips in the zone. That has been changed to merely suggest that she does so, which is still misleading.

I would not normally bother to correct someone's silly Chornobyl fantasy. Indeed, correcting all the factual errors and falsehoods in "Ghost Town" would consume as much space as the Web site itself. But the motorcycle story was such an outrageous fiction that I thought the readers of e-Poshta should know.

Mary Mycio, J.D.

Legal Program Director
IREX U-Media
Shota Rustaveli St. 38b, No. 16
Kyiv 01023, Ukraine
Tel: (380-44) 220-6374, 228-6147
Fax: 227-7543

See also which includes more information from people who actually did go to Chernobyl...

Meanwhile lots of you pointed out that SNOPES.COM has just weighed in on the "Childless married couple told to have sex" story ( they think it's an urban legend. I wasn't very clear when I posted yesterday -- I think what I meant was that that story looked like an Urban Legend (due to being written like an urban legend -- the no spokesperson being named for a start), and I expect that this version of it is, but that I was assured that this has happened by Jack Cohen and thus I believe it.

And lots of you also wrote in to assure me that lizards have two penises, which was nice of you, but I already believed it because Jack Cohen told me. I even believe the thing about the mill-foreman.

Hi Neil,

In case you hadn't heard, Wil Wheaton'ss second book "Just a Geek" a story based partly on some of his blogging is coming out in early July. Wil showed a cover shot on his site with a link to the Amazon pre-order page, and JAG is now #23 on Amazon's orders page. As a huge fan of yours, I think he would find it too cool to get a congratulatory note from you, an established author and someone he admires greatly.


Craig Steffen

Well, yes, he'd probably like a congratulatory note, but I think he'll be a lot happier if I finish and send him the introduction instead. (I told him that a Patrick Stewart introduction would probably sell more copies.) It's an eminently readable book, anyway, honest and good-natured. When I post this journal entry (which has sat here unfinished for two days now) I shall go upstairs, bang on one of the recent DVD arrivals, the kind that I can watch with half an eye, and I shall write an introduction.

(Yesterday I wrote an 800 word introduction to a 200 word Harlan Ellison short story. And I got 1000 words of novel done too. Then again, so far today I've done nothing noteworthy, except survive a test-drive of my son's new car-to-be.)

Hey Neil, have you seen Reed Waller's new blog at

I hadn't but I was pleased you sent this in.

Kate Worley (who wrote, among other things, the very wonderful graphic novel/comics sequence Omaha the Cat Dancer, which Reed Waller drew) is married to Jim Vance (who wrote, among other things Kings in Disguise). They have two young children. As Reed mentions in his blog, Kate, who is working on Omaha again for the first time in many years, has cancer. It's not good. You can read some more details at this thread.

The news that she had there's going to be a collection in French, of the complete story, and, seeing the the story was left incomplete, Kate and Reed are going to finish it

Jim and Kate are pretty much up against the wall right now, with wolves baying at the door. If they can keep going for a few more months, the wolves may calm down -- the new Omaha material will start coming out and so on. But right now she's fighting cancer and fighting to stay in the place they're living, and they're out at the edges of losing their home while Kate's working very hard to write and to get through this. (It can't be much fun for Jim or the kids, for that matter.)

I spoke to Kate, who confirmed just how bad things are right now, and said, yes, they need help, badly. Donations can be paypalled to Jim at Donations, get well-cards, or nice things of any kind can be sent to Jim and Kate at 323 S Yorktown, Tulsa OK, 74104. Kate's e-mail is And if some well-intentioned person with more time and ability than I have decided to do a benefit comic or something to help them, I think that would be an excellent idea.

(And feel very free to pass the word along.)