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Alex von Thorn on Senator Rick Santorum

Several readers echoed Haydn Rawlinson's comment: "As of now, former Senator Rick Santorum. Gosh. Could the belaboured analogy included in the election-day Ansible mailing have had anything to do with his resounding defeat?" Alex von Thorn analysed it further:

So if I understand Senator Santorum's metaphor, Iraq is where the outnumbered and overpowered forces of good do battle against a technologically superior superpower, distracting the Eye of Dubyon from his own doorstep while a team of suicide hobbits is stealthily creeping towards Mount Doom-on-the-Potomac to ensure the final victory against evil. Where Shi'ite dwarves and Ba'athist elves stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the heroic warriors led by Aragorn bin Laden and Faramir al-Sadr? Can the entish Liberal Democrats stop talking and rise up against Isengard-by-the-Thames? Will Cheney's men take over the Shire after the fall of Dubyon, will the suicide hobbits rise for one last mission against the occupation of their own homeland, or will Cheney be stabbed in the back by his minion Don Rummy in a post-war denouement? In the final chapter, after the heroic suicide hobbits have completed their task, will they be carried off on wings to a Valinorian paradise?

I'd rather wait for Aslan to defeat the evil sovereign and return a summertime of civil liberties and alert-level greens throughout the land.

(Thanks for a much-needed election-day laugh.) .

Alex von Thorn

A letter from Convoy

The committee has been forced to cancel Convoy, and will be returning the money for all attending, supporting, junior and infant and cuddly toy memberships of the convention. We feel that you, who showed your support for Convoy by joining, are owed an explanation for this decision as well as just money. Please excuse this being a "form letter"; it's a bit of a busy time just now, and we want to refund your money by December.

At the time of the bid, and during the months after it, some fans expressed concerns about security at the Adelphi, and we promised to address those concerns. In order to do this we asked the Adelphi for various assurances, which they gave us. In July 2006 a story appeared in a local Liverpool newspaper which seemed to indicate that none of our concerns were being met; we went to the Adelphi and talked with the manager, and established that in fact and contrary to the story in the paper, their security staff had not been got rid of, new secure storage had already been bought and installed, a survey of the building for new CCTV was taking place ten days after our visit, and plans to install new locks on every bedroom door were already in hand. Unfortunately this last work was not actually to be done until later this year but the manager had been given a date in October for the work to start, and we agreed that we would inspect the locks in situ at the beginning of November.

Quite reasonably, she required something from us in return for their jumping through hoops for us. and we said that we would be in a position at the time of that November visit to give her a guarantee that Convoy would fill every bedroom in the hotel over Easter 2007. In the absence of that assurance in November, she would not be able to undertake to reserve all the bedrooms for us, but would expect to release them to members of the public from a month before the convention.

By the middle of October not enough people had joined Convoy for us to be able to feel confident that we would fill the Adelphi. We were coming to the conclusion that we would almost certainly have to cancel Convoy, but still hoped to be able to get a lot of members in the run-up to Christmas, particularly since we expected to be able to tell everyone loud and clear at the beginning of November about the new locks and CCTV and so on. Unfortunately the work on the locks was put back until December 9th by the chain's management.

Since we could not tell Convoy's potential members that we were entirely satisfied with the new security arrangements when we had not actually seen the new locks and tested them, and so would not be able to hope for a significant rise in membership, we could not guarantee that Convoy would fill all the bedrooms at the Adelphi. We decided that many people would consider that having the general public booked in over Easter would be an unacceptable security risk, as well as making the convention a less relaxed and pleasant event, and very reluctantly told the Adelphi that we would not be able to run Convoy there. We had already failed to find any other hotel prepared to offer us sole occupancy over Easter 2007, and felt that given the strong expressions of anxiety about security we'd already heard, we could not run Convoy in any site that was potentially unsecurable because of the presence of the general public.

We are extremely sorry to have let down those people – you – who supported Convoy and did want to go to the Adelphi, but in the circumstances it simply couldn't be done.

Chris Bell pp the Convoy Committee

Martin Sketchley on the cancelled Eastercon

I was sorry to read about Convoy's cancellation. The Adelphi has been a lucky place for me. I attended my first SF convention there in 1997. Chris Priest had advised me that such conventions were the place to be if one wanted to get somewhere (although where that might be, he didn't say), so off I went. I was nervous, knew no-one, nothing about conventions, what to do or when. However, one of the good things about the Adelphi is it's size: a nervous con newcomer can wander around looking as if they're looking for someone, walking into the bar or book room, glancing around and walking out again, without attracting too much attention. That was what I did.

Chris had advised me that the bar was the best place to meet people, so that's where I went most frequently. On one visit I recognised two people: David Garnett and Rog Peyton. Both their glasses were empty, so I sidled up to them, cleared my throat and whispered the magic words: "Can I buy you a drink?" They were both very friendly, and I spent the evening being introduced to writers, artists and editors. I didn't look back. A couple of years later the 1999 Eastercon was again at the Adelphi. At this con I was introduced to John Parker of MBA Literary Agents. We talked, he told me to send him something, and a few months later he agreed to represent me. Then things really started to happen.

The 2007 Eastercon would have been the 10th anniversary of my first, and just a month or so after the publication of my third novel – The Liberty Gun. It's a shame I won't be able to return to complete the circle, and perhaps give something back.

Martin Sketchley

Earl Kemp has the right of it

Dave, you're running far too many obituaries. Please take a break for a bit.

Earl Kemp

John Sisson provided a late obit

Denis Gifford (1927-2000) was more on the comic book side of fandom but he loved his space heroes and wrote a book about the comic space heroes of the 40s and 50s: Space Aces! Comic Book Heroes from the Forties and Fifties (1992). When reading that book he mentioned a pamphlet he put out on a whim in the early 1950s. He also mentioned that he thought there were no copies left anymore. About 6 months ago I managed to find a copy of this "mythical" (or obscure) pamphlet. I thought your readers might enjoy the nostalgia of this (some may have even purchased it) but I think most have never seen this wonderful amateur effort.

John Sisson

Ro Pardoe noted Ansible's eerie power

The appearance of the November Ansible has reminded me to let you know a bit of news which happened as a result of the previous issue. You announced there that a special British Fantasy Award had been presented at Fantasycon to the founders (in 1971) of the British Fantasy Society: Keith Walker, Dave Sutton, Phil Spencer and me. Unfortunately Phil Spencer had long since disappeared from the scene (by which I mean about thirty years ago!) and no one knew how to locate him. However unbeknownst to everyone, he still keeps some contact with the fantasy/SF world by reading Ansible. Having seen the news of the award in the October issue, he's now come forward to claim his (and I've also had a nice e-mail from him). So, when all else fails, go to Ansible – I shall remember that in future.

Ro Pardoe

Carolyn Doyle remembered Bob Tucker

So many of the Tucker tributes I have read have sounded similar, I suppose because Bob was consistently friendly to people. One thing I haven't read much about was his impish spirit ... he loved to play little jokes, to fool people in a fun-loving way. Here is one of a handful I recall, from about 1978:

Bob had made it to Indianapolis, where I lived, on his way to a convention, and Indiana fan Ray Beam and picked Bob and I up there and took us to the house he and his wife, Mary Ann, shared in Galveston, Ind. (I believe we were all heading to Octocon the next day.) On the way to Galveston, we stopped and had dinner at a Chinese restaurant, and then Ray explained he needed to stop by his sister's house and drop something off – she was gone, but he had a key.

Bob and I wandered into the house with him, and noticed stacks and stacks of paperback books piled in the enclosed front porch. "My sister's church is having a big rummage sale," Ray explained.

Almost at the same time, Bob and I noticed one of his mysteries – it might have been Procession of the Damned – on the top of one of the stacks. We turned and looked at each other, and before I could even suggest it, he had whipped out his pen. "Ray," hollared Bob, "What's your sister's name?"

"Agnes."

"To Agnes, with fond memories of our wonderful times together – Wilson 'Bob' Tucker," Bob wrote on the title page, before replacing the book carefully on its stack.

We never heard if Ray's sister – or some member of her church – noticed the newly autographed tome ...

Carolyn Doyle