Ansible 155, June 2000
From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU, UK. Fax 0705 080 1534. ISSN 0265-9816. E-mail ansible[at]cix.co.uk. Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Joe Mayhew. Available for SAE or the infernal desire machines of Dr Hoffman.
<plokta.con> (Leicester, 26-9 May) flaunted its superfluous technology from the outset: the programme book had a cover CD-ROM of which haggard John Dallman had spent a whole day making 150 copies, and the laminated, colour-printed badges showed our names in HUGE WHITE READABLE LETTERS. Well done, that cabal. From the general enjoyable blur I recall expensive food, silly games, real sf discussions, lots more Americans than expected at a small UK con, many new fanzines, high-pressure auctioneering, GoH Ken MacLeod propping up the bar in stakhanovite fashion, and the doom-laden inevitability of the 'UK in 2005' Worldcon bid presentation. There, building to his climax, Vince Docherty explained that the Cardiff convention centre has only 1,500 beds; the Birmingham NEC wants £600,000 for facilities, meaning £250 memberships; the Brighton centre is to be sold off, demolished and rebuilt 'some time after 2002'; and therefore ... Appropriate amazement at the final choice was duly simulated, even by those of us who all along could see the waiting stack of flyers showing the new 'Armadillo' complex at the SECC in Glasgow. Alison Freebairn summarizes: 'It was a good convention, with just the right amount of mad Swedes, adorable toddlers, and the very best of British.' With one reservation regarding legendary sot Tobes Valois in a dress, or rather struggling into a dress for the Swedish party: 'A more distressing sight I have never seen.'
Heroes and Villains
Greg Egan the Kurd Lasswitz Prize for Distress, as 1999's best foreign novel in German translation published, won. (Bernhard Kempen topped the Best Translation category for his efforts on the same book.)
Harry Harrison felt chirpy a month after what wasn't a quadruple bypass after all: 'Quintuple bypass. Veins from both legs and mammary vein in my chest. I walk 25 minutes every day, out of bed, getting better every day. Will celebrate at the WorldCon in Chicago.'
George Hay, were he still with us, would be hugely tickled by the European Space Agency's project to exploit ideas from sf. This was a long-term vision of George's, and one of his original aims for the SF Foundation (redirected by others towards 'respectable' sf criticism).
Frank Herbert, whose recent activities were thought confined to steady subterranean rotation after Dune: House Atreides, popped up unexpectedly with a cover endorsement – 'Superb detail ... shudderingly believable' – of the Niven/Pournelle The Burning City (Orbit, 2000).
Leslie What was represented at the Nebulas by deadly rival Bruce Holland Rogers, who picked up the award and subsequently 'started to bond with the Lucite (psychologists describe this a normal reaction, given the circumstances) and decided not to give it to me. When I asked him to describe it, he hinted that the Nebula was not nearly so impressive as I remembered and I should not be disappointed if it didn't look like everyone else's Nebulas.' Sure enough, BHR 'made a grand presentation of a small lumpy award, announcing it as the award for Short Fiction. To my untrained eyes, it looked like something made from oven-bake clay and cataracts.' The real thing was produced after copious pleas and threats: 'It looks fabulous, weighs about as much as a bowling ball; I could see why he was miffed at having been asked to haul it around. As Bruce says, "It's even heavier when it isn't yours."' Remember, Hugo voters, how old and frail Martin Hoare is these days.
To 1 Jul Dan Dare 50th anniversary exhibition, Atkinson Art Gallery, Lord St, Southport, Merseyside, PR8 1DB. £2.50 admission.
10 Jun British Fantasy Society Open Night, upstairs bar, Princess Louise pub, 208 High Holborn, London. 6:30pm onward.
10 Jun The Profession of SF, symposium plus SF Foundation AGM, in Gas Hall, Art Gallery, Birmingham, 11am-4pm. Details from SFF members £5; non-members £20 including a year's SFF membership and Foundation sub (two from same household £25). Advance booking essential. Contact 22 Addington Rd, Reading, RG1 5PT. 0118-926-3047.
14-17 Jun Wyrd Sisters, Wokingham Theatre, Twyford Rd, Wokingham, Berks. 7:45pm. £6, concessions £3. Bookings 0118 942 1144.
26 Jun Olaf Stapledon celebration, Royal Society for Encouragement of Arts, 8 John Adam St, London, WC2. 6:30pm. £3 at the door.
28 Jun BSFA Open Meeting, Florence Nightingale, on York Rd/Westminster Bridge Rd roundabout. 7pm on. With China Miéville.
30 Jun - 2 Jul Aliens Stole My Handbag (sf/humour), Shepperton Moat House Hotel. GoH Robert Rankin, others. Now £25 reg; £27.50 at door; £10 extra in advance for 'military vehicle excursion'. Contact 16 Dulverton Rd, Ruislip Manor, Middlesex, HA4 9AD.
7-9 Jul Nexus 2000 (media), Bristol Jarvis Hotel (name changed from Hilton). £46 reg or £41 Sat/Sun only, rising by £3 on 9 Jun. Contact (SAE) 280 Southmead Rd, Westbury on Trym, Bristol, BS10 5EN. 0117 983 9603. Official response to last issue's grumble: 'I know the costs are not on the web site like loads of other stuff but I know at least 2 con organisers who pour dozens of hours into there web sites and there cons are a shambles. A question of priorities me thinks.'
14 Jul - 11 Aug, SF/Fantasy Art Exhibition, Foyles, Charing Cross Rd. 10:30-17:30 daily. Info 0207 440 3249 (office hours).
18-20 Aug Lexicon (Unicon 2000), Exeter College, Oxford. GoH Philip Pullman. £28 reg, £15 student/unwaged, £18/day. Single rooms £29.38. Contact 18 Letchworth Ave, Bedfont, Middlesex, TW14 9RY.
26 Aug Gene Wolfe conference, Dept of English, U of Birmingham, UK. Proposals for papers by 20 Jun to Jonathan Laidlow, Modern Lang & Classics, U of Birmingham, Edgbaston, Birmingham, B15 2TT.
14-21 Oct Milford (UK) SF Writers' Conference, Torquay. For professionally published authors only. Contact Liz Williams, Top Flat, 8 Bedford St, Kemp Town, Brighton, BN2 1AN.
29 Dec - 1 Jan Hogmanaycon, Central Hotel, Glasgow. £45 reg, £15 supp. Contact 26 Avonbank Rd, Rutherglen, Glasgow, G73 2PA.
25-27 May 01 Seccond (Seccon 2), now negotiating with the De Vere Hotel, Swindon. £20 reg; may rise Nov. Cheques to Seccon. Contact 19 Hill Court, Cheltenham, Glos, GL52 3JJ.
29 Aug - 2 Sep 02 Conjosé (60th Worldcon), San José, California. $100 reg extended to 15 Jul 00; then $120, with further rise expected 1 Jan 01. $35 supp. Contact PO Box 61363, Sunnyvale, CA 94088-1363, USA; UK agents 52 Westbourne Tce, Reading, RG30 2RP.
Rumblings UK in 2005 worldcon bid: oh joy, it's Glasgow again. £5/$8 presupporting, £50/$80 'friend'. Contact 379 Myrtle Rd, Sheffield, S2 3HQ, or 23 Kensington Ct, New York, NY 11550-2125, USA.
Clarke Award. This was won by Bruce Sterling, for Distraction. Last year's winner Tricia Sullivan (looking very much happier than in 1999) presented the traditional bookend and £1,000 cheque to a Sterling stand-in closely resembling Malcolm Edwards. Some UK sf pundits had made it abundantly clear that the cool place to be was in New York for the Nebulas; one unattributable editor at the Clarke event nervously confessed he was 'half expecting Roz to pop up on the big video screen behind, saying "Sorry I can't be there in person, I am in New York...."'
Nebulas. NOVEL Octavia E. Butler, Parable of the Talents. NOVELLA Ted Chiang, 'Story of Your Life'. NOVELETTE Mary A. Turzillo, 'Mars Is No Place for Children'. SHORT Leslie What, 'The Cost of Doing Business'. SCRIPT The Sixth Sense, M. Night Shyamalan. AUTHOR EMERITUS Daniel Keyes. GRAND MASTER (as previously announced) Brian Aldiss.
Random Fandom. Alyson Abramowitz, elected to the Santa Clara County Democratic Central Committee, 24th AD, reveals: 'The official title of office is Hon. Alyson L. Abramowitz. I keep wondering what that means the rest of you are.' Bob Devney unveiled his fanwriter Hugo victory scheme: 'It was a tough decision to speak out about how you never see Dave Langford and Whitley Strieber together, but I felt I owed it to the SF community to come forward with what information I had ...' Anthony Hilbert was arrested in early May, kept all day in a police cell, and charged with 'incitement to rape' because his website (BDSM-oriented, I gather) had something about a male slave being able to 'rape his slave girl'. As usual, it's evil if it's on the net: when was a steamy novelist last indicted for describing wicked fantasies? AH is out on bail. [MC] Joe Mayhew, much-loved fan cartoonist, is in George Washington University Hospital with 'undiagnosed neurological problems'. [DH] Fan visitors are appreciated despite Joe's worsening speech difficulty, but check this web page first: home.att.net/~disclave.
Publishers and Sinners. Science Fiction Chronicle has been bought by Warren Lapine's DNA Publications. Former publisher Andrew I. Porter continues as News Editor, now able to focus on actual news while DNA minions scurry around doing all the tiresome paperwork. Marion Zimmer Bradley's Fantasy Magazine, having survived its founder's death by several months, is reportedly to fold at issue 50. [CG]
R.I.P. Sir John Gielgud (1904-2000), celebrated actor, died on 22 May aged 96. His best-known fantastic movie role was as Shakespeare's mage in Prospero's Books (1991). Ann O'Neill, UK fan active in fanzine, media, slash and con-running circles for over 20 years, committed suicide on 6 or 7 May after two years of clinical depression. She was 42. [TH] Dick Sprang (1915-2000), popular 1950s Batman comics artist, died on 10 May. Karel Thole (1914-2000), Dutch-born artist long considered the most distinguished creator of sf covers in continental Europe from the 1950s to 1986 (when failing eyesight slowed him), died on 26 March aged 86. His surreal paintings were visibly influenced by Dali, Ernst and Magritte. An extremely pleasant man, he will be sadly missed. Rex Vinson (1935-2000), UK art teacher who as Vincent King wrote four sf novels 1969-1976 (Light a Last Candle, Another End, Candy Man, Time Snake and Superclown), died in late May aged 64. [IA]
Thogissimus. Ansible is always filled with reverence on discovering an entire book that's pervaded with the special aura of Thog. One such is Future Tense (1987) by Desmond Wilcox, a feast of futuristic spelling which opens: 'in richblu drume Diplomatic Oficer Kunt arives in Luria at the Wesylian embassy where safron and beryl tints prevail + with more discretion than melodius panolply he travels in his aureolin autobar from the adjacent prome bringing with him his companion astals + he is welsuited to his invidius ocupation = his amenabl body is host to an unctuously pleasing disposition +' Besides his many euphonious character names, Wilcox is ever-inventive in ways to avoid that boring verb 'said'. From a 3-page passage picked at random: 'Lere taunts ... Hotus hyperbolizes ... Lere teases with agravating reluctance ... Lere obstreperusly vacilates ... Hotus inveighs ... Lere calously vituperates ... Lere tantalizes ... Lere embraces ... Bude mopes ... Lere ineptly soothes ... Lere umbrageously suports ... Gune ponders with uplifted eyes and suspicion of deprivation ... Hotus expatiates ... Clut disfavors ... Hotus jeeringly provokes ... Clut sapiently alows ... Gune hapily afirms ... Hotus brilliantly quashes ... Lere darkly chastizes ... Lere cantankerusly dehorts ...' Enough, enough. Brian Ameringen sold me this. Blame him.
James White Award for best short sf story by a non-professional author: judges are Morgan Llewelyn, Michael Scott, Michael Carroll, David Pringle, and me. Winner to appear in Interzone. Up to 3 unpublished submissions per author, 2,000-4,000 words, in English; deadline 23 Aug 2000. £3/$4 entry fee per story. SAE to the submission address for full rules: 211 Blackhorse Avenue, Dublin 7, Ireland.
Hatched and Matched. Lori Meltzer & Morris Keesan were forced to miss plokta.con owing to the unexpected early arrival of offspring Joseph in the previous week. Omega & Harry Payne announced the birth of Jodie Mei Payne on 5 May. SMS & Eira Latham married on 15 April in an all-day marathon of Methodist, pagan and civic ceremonies. The celebrated artist's full name briefly emerged but was savagely excised by him from all reports and transcripts. Congrats to all!
BSFA Horror! A fan described as 'a sad git with nothing better to do than look up on-line databases' (all right, me) found that the masthead ISSN of the BSFA's Vector has been wrong by one digit ever since the then editors Kev McVeigh and Boyd Parkinson mistyped it in 1989.
Fanfundery. TAFF. Sue Mason won the westbound TransAtlantic Fan Fund race to Chicon by a first-round majority. Voting: Tommy Ferguson 22 Europe + 22 N America = 44 total, Sue Mason 88+52=140, Tobes Valois 30+4=34, Hold Over Funds 1+2=3, No Preference 1+7=8, total ballots 142+87=229 (i.e. healthy interest shown). DUFF. The winner is Cathy Cupitt, also by a first-round majority, and she will travel from Australia to Chicon. Voting: Sue Batho 36, Cathy Cupitt 68, HOF 5, write-in 2, No Preference 22, total ballots 133. (Figures from Janice Gelb. Ignore minor variations from Terry Frost.) plokta.con's fan fund auction raised £482 for TAFF, GUFF, etc. [B]
Outraged Letters. Erik Arthur, with a book dealer's quaint and unworldly sense of time, begs this June Ansible to warn the world that Fantasy Centre closes on 29-30 May to wrestle with a just-bought collection of 5,000 N. American paperbacks. 'We have sweated blood to take 90% of our old stock off the shelves and putting new stuff to replace ... at least 3000 titles we did not have before.' John Bangsund sends this eulogy:
Farewell, dear Gielgud!
O man of rare delight!
He acted rielgud,
Made me fielgud,
Now gone, that gentle good knight.
Dick Geis writes: 'I go under the knife for spine surgery on May 31. My surgeon calls it a "roto-rooter job" to free up my spinal cord from inward growing calcium spurs. Prey for me.' Diana Wynne Jones, after being sought by a Well Known Fan with such urgency that she'd hoped for something to her advantage, fumed: 'He wants me to put him in touch with J.K. Rowling!!!!!' Joe McNally endorses US critics' views of that Battlefield Earth movie: 'Having now seen this abomination, I can confirm that it is indeed less fun than arse gangrene – as with the book, it never becomes bad enough to amuse, even briefly. And there's no sign of the fabled subliminal programming, unless it's intended to make the viewer feel a strong desire to throw a bin through the window of the Tottenham Court Road Co$ shop screaming "GIVE ME MY TWO HOURS BACK YOU BASTARDS!"' Terry Pratchett rolled his eyes skyward at the Times report of his plans for a garden observatory with '4.5 metre' telescope: 'The paper you can trust. Jeez. From those wonderful people who gave you the silicone chip. I don't think the size of the scope (a modest 8" mirror) was ever mentioned in the application. Unlike a Times journalist, your readers will of course spot that 4.5 metres would make me the owner of a scope only marginally smaller than the big one at Mt Palomar.... On a different note, Neil Gaiman and I are both mightily peeved that the one time in our lives we get nominated for a Hugo (for a spin-off work in both cases) it's against each other, and we feel that the Minicon restaurant guide definitely deserves to win.'
International Horror Guild Awards for 1999 were presented on 12 May. NOVEL Stewart O'Nan, A Prayer for the Dying. FIRST NOVEL Michael Cisco, The Divinity Student. LONG FICTION Lucius Shepard, 'Crocodile Rock' (F&SF Oct). SHORT Gemma Files, 'The Emperor's Old Bones' (Northern Frights 5). COLLECTION Douglas Clegg, The Nightmare Chronicles. ANTHOLOGY Richard Chizmar & William Schafer, eds, Subterranean Gallery. NONFICTION Neil Barron, ed, Fantasy and Horror: A Critical and Historical Guide to Literature, Illustration, Film, TV, Radio, and the Internet. GRAPHIC Axel Alonso & Joan Hilty, eds, Flinch #1-7. ARTIST Charles Burns. FILM Stir of Echoes. PUBLICATION DarkEcho. TV The Storm of the Century (written Stephen King, directed Craig E. Baxley).
C.o.A. John Bangsund, 1/5 Tasman St, Preston, Vic 3072, Australia. Tanya Brown, Flat 8, Century House, Armoury Rd, London, SE8 4LH. Hogmanaycon, see convention list. Curt Phillips, 19310 Pleasant View Dr, Abingdon, VA 24210, USA. Naomi Saunders, 603 Newmarket Rd, Cambridge, CB5 8PA. Welsh SF Association, Gardd Lelog, Stuart St, Treherbert, Rhondda-Cynon-Taff, CF42 5PR.
I Dreamt I Dwelt In Marble Halls. Writers entering the SF & Fantasy Hall of Fame on 7 July are Poul Anderson, Gordon R. Dickson, and (posthumously) Theodore Sturgeon and Eric Frank Russell. [KS]
Small Press. Dr Plokta's Lonely Hearts Club Band, the plokta.con CD-ROM, lavishly features '593 photos, 42 different issues of seven different fanzines (including two Hugo nominees and a Trilby winner), 296 illos [mainly Atom and Sue Mason], con reports, newsletters and more.' Availability now uncertain, but try some serious grovelling.
20 Years Ago. Rob Holdstock bragged, 'I'm better than John Fowles at science fiction ... I've published more sf than he has.' One Ansible poll vote for Chris Priest's spiffy fanzine Deadloss was disqualified, being signed by the unknown fan 'Persi Strich'. (Ansible 10, June 1980)
Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Carnivorous Weather. 'Rain came as a wet drizzle that clings to your face like a hungry leech fighting to hang on, only to slip down over the scars and dive into the abyss of excrement and refuse at your feet.' (Bradley Snow, Andy, 1990) [AB] 'They clung to her, those eyes, but again, no one could reasonably have faulted that.' (David Weber, Ashes of Victory, 2000) [FM] Dept of Good Moods. 'It was as if her insides put italics on the feeling of superb.' (Stanley Crouch, Don't the Moon Look Lonesome, 2000) [MMW] Dept of Planetary Physics. As a Velikovskian doomsday impact is threatened, our hero has a nice snooze and wakes to find the morning mysteriously dark: 'Switching on the searchlight, Joseph Brock saw, caught in its brilliant beam, Jupiter. It was hovering a few thousand miles up. He had reckoned that the planet would come with an extra rush as it drew within the gravity of the Earth, or vice-versa. But the gravities of both planets seemed ineffective.' (Desmond Wilcox, Into Existence, 1941)
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Andrew Faulds, the actor who long ago played sf hero Jet Morgan in Charles Chilton's three Journey Into Space series (BBC Radio 1954-1960), was reported on 1 June as having died aged 77.
Ansible 155 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2000. Thanks to Ian Abrahams, Bug, Andy Butler, Mike Cule, Chuck Gee, Teresa Hehir, Dan Hoey, Farah Mendlesohn, Chris O'Shea, Robert (Null-J) Sneddon, Keith Stokes, plokta.con, Chris & Leigh Priest, Martin Morse Wooster, and Hero Distributors: Janice Murray (NA), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Oz), Brum Group News. 1 Jun 00.