Ansible logo

Ansible 24, March 1982

PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (the editor's postal address has), prices and agents' credits are invalid, etc. • This issue was produced in my BWP or Before-Word-Processors era and lovingly rekeyed for the archives by Richard Brandt ... to whom many thanks! • Dave Langford, 1995.


ANSIBLE #24 (March 82) from Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW. Subs 5/£1 UK, 4/£1 elsewhere. Cartoon: Rob Hansen. [STARFAN strip] Mailing labels: Keith Freeman (please renew if yours says SUB DUE or *****). $US to Burns, 48 Lou Ave, NY, NY 11754, USA. Technical aid: John Harvey. Next issue will appear at Channelcon....


RETURN OF THE BSFA AWARD

Once again the ever-lovely BSFA has announced its award shortlist, compiled by vote of an undisclosed number of BSFA members. All members, and all Channelcon members, can now vote on the final ballot. Results at Channelcon itself. NOVEL: J.G. Ballard – Hello America (Cape), Rob Holdstock – Where Time Winds Blow (Faber), Chris Priest, The Affirmation (Faber), Gene Wolfe, The Shadow of the Torturer (Sidgwick, Arrow). Wolfe's The Claw of the Conciliator also received enough votes to reach the final ballot, but was withdrawn by Wolfe; it wasn't replaced on the ballot since the next three novels have an equal number of nominations and 'seven novels on one ballot is a bit too much, really.' SHORT: Rob Holdstock – 'Mythago Wood' (F&SF Sept), Keith Roberts – 'The Checkout' (F&SF Sept), Edward Shaver – 'The Killing Thought' (F&SF;May), Lisa Tuttle, 'Treading the Maze' (F&SF Nov), Ian Watson – 'A Cage for Death' (Omni Jan). MEDIA: Blake's 7 (BBC), Dr Who (BBC), Excalibur (Boorman/Warner), Stalker (Tarkovski/Mosfilm), Time Bandits (Gilliam/Handmade Films). 'As ever, mediocrity rules in the media category,' remarks informant Joe Nicholas. COVER ARTIST: Chris Achilleos, Pete Lyon, Chris Moore, Bruce Pennington, Tim White. All these awards are for doings in 1981 only.

COSMIC STUFF ON THE PUBLISHING FRONT

Hamish Hamilton and Beaver Books are sponsoring a Junior Fiction Competition, and no doubt many skiffy authors will be raising their sights to try a 'well written contemporary adventure story for 8 to 11 year olds' – rush your 25,000 to 30,000 words to HH by June 30. (Details: Michelle Oberman, HH, Garden House, 57-59 Long Acre, WC2). Tandy Corp. (Radio Shack) have 'announced the signing of the world famous science writer Isaac Asimov for extensive advertising and product promotion' (Everyday Electronics) – I hardly dare turn on my Tandy grotcomputer now, for fear that That Face will leer out of it at me.... Wall-To-Wall Aldiss: the author of Helliconia Spring has also been extensively advertised over the last week of February, bursting on the helpless public via numerous radio programmes and BBC-TV's Omnibus, while even Radio 4's Kaleidoscope broke its own stern rule by giving a good review of this sf book – not so surprising when you hear that the reviewer was P. Nicholls. Ansible is not running a colour picture of Mr Aldiss, out of pique at the Sunday Times mag for doing so first. Reports on the book's sales are so far confined to gloating noises from Rog Peyton, who flogged about £100 worth to fans still dazed from an Aldiss talk in Brum.... However: Science fiction is completely dead now, explained Kingsley Amis in the Radio Times (6-12 Feb) – anything, I suppose, rather than bring New Maps of Hell up to date.... FanzineTM: an italian firm, Fiorucci, has successfully filed to use the word 'fanzine' as a trademark in the US and Italy (at least). The law is apparently enough of an ass that the only way to oppose this grabbing of an established English-language word (cf. Concise OED, 1976 onward) is to spend thousands of dollars. Rob Hansen, who passed on the item, is off to copyright the word 'leg.' Meanwhile, still in Comics Journal, the $2M lawsuit continues, with Michael (cretin) Fleisher sueing CJ owing to – on balance – lavishly complimentary remarks passed about Fleisher by Harlan Ellison. Ellison himself has now been let out of the case because 'the New York court did not have jurisdiction over Ellison, a resident of California.' Good grief.... Hype: 'Dear SFWA member, In writing this letter to all of you, I am doing something I have done but rarely in my long career as a science fiction editor. [Most hype letters start like this for some reason.] I am asking you, directly, to pay attention to a book that my house has published. The book is The Sardonyx Net by Elizabeth A. Lynn, which Putnam published in hardcover in December 1981. [Bad time of year for the Hugo and Nebula, y'know.] I feel that because of the small printings and lack of exposure that most hardcover sf engenders, this book may be overlooked by potential readers.... [Synopsis of next few paragraphs: "Triffic book".] I wish I could offer reading copies to those of you who are unable to buy or borrow a copy from friend or library. [sic] Unfortunately (though it is a positive thing) the entire printing from Putnam has sold out, and there are virtually no copies available to us at this time. I hope you will make an effort to find yourself to one of the best reads of the year.... Best regards, Victoria Schochet, Editor-in-Chief, Science Fiction, Berkley/Jove'. This is hype on the cheap: the publishers of The Many-Colored Land printed extra copies for SFWA members, nice hardbacks suitable for resale.... (NB: TSN is among the works placed 17th on the preliminary Nebula ballot, with 5 votes.) Space Voyager: only half a line was given to this new mag last issue, it having come into my hands rather too late. The trial issue costs 95p and has been cobbled together by Model & Allied Publications Ltd: the only external contribution appears to be some routine Patrick Moore material. Unsurprisingly, SV approaches sf from the scale-modelling viewpoint ('The [Alien's] saliva is formed from any clear adhesive with a tendency to string and the dribbles from dollops of epoxy') – but one piece of (mediocre) fiction is included.... Nameless D&D Magazine: TSR Hobbies have been looking for a dynamic, go-ahead, hyperefficient organizer and editor for the appalling task of setting up their new UK games magazine from scratch. What princely salary is offered, you ask, panting hotly? £5500, that's what, and the poor sod has to move to Cambridge.... John Sladek writes: 'The second volume of Roderick is now called Roderick at Random; I'm hoping to sell a few copies to any Smollett scholars who happen to be buying books in a hurry'.... RIP: another delayed death notice. Harry Bates, the first editor of Astounding SF, died last September aged 80.... RIP, Sort Of: Starburst columnist 'John Bowles' – who has been known to write under the name Malcolm Edwards – expired in a blaze of glory and Extro/Interzone plugs in Starburst 43. Mr. B. is going into publishing (see also the top of A23's front page) instead.... The Patchin Review has gone quarterly with its third issue, editor C. Platt being unable to cope with the bimonthly schedule. It's improved since my (negative) comments on #1: its latest gossip column reports weird things like a forthcoming Samuel Delany fanzine, a Playboy Press 'sci-fi porn series (to be ghosted by Andy Offutt)' called 'Of Alien Bondage', and the story behind the Jove 'No Frills' generic-sf book. The last wasn't mentioned here because even I couldn't credit the publication of a paperback whose plan cover says only 'No-Frills Book: SCIENCE FICTION. Complete with everything: Aliens, Giant Ants, Space Cadets, Robots, One Plucky Girl'. The 20,000 appalling words within were dashed off by former Jove editor John Silbersack for 'a pittance (and no royalties)'.... No kidding.


SCOUSECON 1: Liverpool 12-14 Feb
ROG PEYTON

A multi-media con with Anne McCaffrey as Guest of Honour. After the lousy winter and the gigantic chore of moving shop, I needed a break – what better than a con? They'd invited me to do the traditional auction; it would be nice to see familiar faces and have a quiet weekend socializing.... I first suspected that the con would be somewhat chaotic two weeks before the event, when I discovered no-one had booked me into the hotel. Apparently the committee had done nothing up to that date, and Dot Owens – who has organized more than her fair share of Star Trek cons – had decided to step in at the last moment to salvage what she could. Meanwhile the remnants of the committee were doing something ... but weren't telling anybody. The chairman had decided that the numbers were too low, so went and got publicity on local radio. This explained why, on Friday evening, there were almost no familiar faces around. But I had an interesting evening, I think – hell, I must have done; I forgot to eat! During breakfast on Saturday I discovered that the programme was to be totally revised – Dot's new committee had found several things in it that wouldn't work, like more than one item scheduled in the same room at the same time. Seasoned con-goers will realize that this is not a Good Thing. Later I noticed that the new programme had slotted in my auction at 10am Saturday morning! That was changed. The book room was opened and we waited for customers ... and waited ... and waited. A few trickled in and walked out without buying. I'd taken loads of Star Trek material thinking the Trekkers would be there in force – I sold ten ST paperbacks and one copy of this year's calendar. This was going to be a great con. I sat there getting more depressed, waiting for evening when I could have some fun. The bar didn't open till 12.30 Saturday lunchtime, which threw me into an even bigger depression. But then came the Fancy Dress and the Disco – this was going to be a Great Evening! Hah. The fancy dress was fun, but led into one of those unannounced displays that occur far too frequently these days: this one was just a little different. Typical stormtrooper-type raid and battle against another troop of blaster-equipped m/o/r/o/n/s/ mercenaries. But this time, the clever little sods decided to go for realism. Bags of watered-down tomato ketchup had been strapped inside shirts with tiny charges inside them: when the blasters were fired, the charges went off, exploding 'blood' from the victim's stomach all over the disco floor. Exploding guts, simulated rape scenes and general violence followed. Somewhere there was a script but no-one could hear it. After the initial shock of the entrance, there was one violent act after another. Members of the audience were showered with 'blood' (and I'm not sure Brian Burgess's lights weren't in there somewhere): they started reacting. One girl near me suddenly went into hysterics; within minutes others followed; a chap went into shock and seriously thought he was having a heart attack. The 'act' finished and left. Most of the audience applauded; apparently the cases had been isolated. Suddenly people came rushing into the con hall, grabbing fire extinguishers while the fire alarm rang. With all this going on, no-one moved. It was only when a committee member took the mike and announced that this was for real that anyone got out of the room. So there we were, fans in skimpy fancy dress, others dressed in light clothing for the disco – all herded out of the hotel into cold, dreary Liverpool. Blue lights flashing everywhere from police cars and fire engines, while we were left to freeze for 15-20 minutes as the hotel was checked over. Apparently one charge from the ketchup act had failed to explode and had been taken to one of the bedrooms to be defused. It then exploded, producing lots of smoke, immediately under a smoke-detector.... Needless to say, this finished many people for the evening – only a handful stayed for the disco. Most must have needed a stiff drink by then – more than one drink each, I'd imagine, as the committee had to apologize to the hotel staff the next morning for the amount of vomit on the carpets. Sunday was, mercifully, a fairly uneventful day; the convention closed in the evening. The chairman and the committee did not get a vote of thanks, though Dot Owens did. And still the chairman stood up and announced that Scousecon 2 will take place next year!!! See you there? (Rog Peyton)


BSFA MEETINGS AND OTHER UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLIES

Eve Harvey Reveals All! 'New Year is traditionally the time to turn over a new leaf, and January 1982 saw the birth of the new-style BSFA monthly meetings. Not only are they under new management (me), they have moved to a new, informal venue in the Cellar Bar of the King of Diamonds [which in Doreyspeak translates to the Ace of Hearts – cf. Chairman Dorey's MATRIX 40 column], Greville St (Tube: Chancery Lane/Farringdon). A very pleasurable birth it was too, with 30 midwives (5 attending for the first time) and a lively discussion – ably assisted by Malcolm Edwards – on British SF magazines past and present. It emerged that many readers today do not feel the lack of such magazines: having arrived after the demise of New Worlds, they've had no experience of an sf magazine with high literary standards. The publication of Extro and Interzone does represent a reawakening of the British literary sf magazine; the general conclusion of the meeting was that we should all buy these two to give them a fair trial and, if we like them, help ensure their success. Perhaps then the large publishers and distributors will sit up and take notice of what the reader wants.' (Eve Harvey) • BSFA Meetings 1982: March 19 'What It's Like to Be a Deaf Fan' – mumbling Dave Langford puts you all through the experience; April 16 'The Human Race vs Alan Dorey' – open forum on the BSFA; May 1 BSFA Mastermind; June 18 'Disco SF or Is Robert Silverberg Really a BeeGee?' – Chris Priest; Aug 20 'Why I Hired Malcolm Edwards' – Gollancz managing director John Bush speaks out; Nov 19 'No Longer a Virgin' – Maxim Jakubowski tells it like it is, or was. (R. Tappen)

And now some updates to last issue's con list: –

Scousecon has happened, as noted by Rog Peyton: Anne Page was also in touch and painted a less grim picture – eg. the fire alarm debacle was the fault of the hotel, who'd been asked to turn off smoke detectors for a certain period but reactivated them rather too soon. H'm.

Fantasycon VII July 2-4, Grand Hotel, Birmingham; GoH Tanith Lee, 'guest artist' Eddie Jones. 'Pre registration', whatever that may be, £1.50/$3 – cheques to British Fantasy Conventions c/o 53 Glencoe St, Anlaby Rd, Hull, N. Humberside, HU3 6HR. I always find it mysteriously difficult to get information on Fantasycon. Mole this time: Chris Morgan.

At The Edge Of The World Aug 7-8, The Bull, Upper Richmond Rd W, East Sheen, London, SW.14. Blake's 7 affair. £8 att to 26 Stanlake Rd, Shepherd's Bush, London, W1 7HP (cheques to con name); four 9x6 SAEs for PRs demanded.

Galileocon Aug 27-29, Newcastle; GoHs Theodore Sturgeon, Judy Blish; Star Trek con. Details: Tina Pole, 11F Priors Terrace, Tynemouth, North Shields, Tyne & Wear, NE30 4BE, phone 0632-596850. Note that this clashes with –

Silicon 6 Aug 27-30, data as before except that the £3 rose after Silicon 5, and is now £3.50. PR1 out around now. Beneluxcon 82/SFancon 12 Sept 3-5; most data as before. GoHs include Colin Wilson and Herbert W Franke; 350 Fr (Belgian) att, ditto nightly for B&B; send no money yet.

Unicon 3 ,Sept 10-12, Keele U; £6 att £3 supp to Unicon 3 c/o 18a Ivel Gdns, Biggleswade, Beds, SG18 0AN; rooms £8/person/night (provisional) without breakfast. 'Third and final SF con to be held at the University of Keele.'

Cymrucon 2 Nov 26-8, Central Hotel, Cardiff; GoH Lionel Fanthorpe (celebrating the anniversary of his first sale), also Brian Stableford, Ian Watson, me (FGoH!); £5 att £2 supp to Dale McCarthy, 28 Claud Rd, Roath, Cardiff; no memberships will be taken at the door.

Xmascon Dec 24-6 (???): the inarguable Naveed Khan has muttered of this idea for diverting 200 fans from the bosoms or otherwise of their families, but no solid informations, like the name of the hotel, has emerged. GoH: Santa.

SF/Comics Marts: Simon Bostock enthuses about 'Creation Convention' events in the Central Hotel, New St, Brum: noon to 5pm, 20p; Mar 20, May 2, July 17, Sept 18, Nov 6. Nothing but dealers, I gather, although a bar is promised.

COA

KEN MANN, Jennerlaan 9, 5644 DT Eindhoven, The Netherlands / PATRICK & TERESA NIELSEN HAYDEN, 4714 36th Ave NE, Seattle, WA 98105, USA / DAVE RIKE, Box 11, Crockett, CA 94525, USA / DAVE & HAZEL LANGFORD: this year, maybe.

MORE CONS

Jerucon (Israel, June/July) will not be featuring most of the famous guests listed in its flier. Chairman Sheldon Teitelbaum complains that he's been let down by rotten pros who went back on their word; John Brunner, one such rotter, observes that it's one thing to accept the invitation to be a guest, but another to find oneself expected to attend entirely at one's own expense. The 3rd International Conference On The Fantastic In The Arts (Florida, March) was even more inept: an invitation sent to SFWA members neglected to mention the date of the event. When I wrote to ask this, I got a form letter explaining that the fame and glory should be enough, without money. Soon after came a letter asking for the title of the work I planned to read, plus a list of featured authors which included me.... Eurocon 84 Bid: a flyer is enclosed where postage permits, and a discussion is scheduled for Channelcon. A British minibus to Eurocon 82 in Switzerland is envisaged. John Brunner (reeling after correcting 848 of 1700 pages of copyedited MS for the Ballantine publication of his Steamboats on the River) is worried by reports that many UK fans are hostile to the notion of combining Eastercon with Eurocon. 'For the price of 2-3 pints of beer at a hotel bar, we can reasonably expect the chance to see foreign sf films never likely to be released on Britain (even on TV); to see the work of foreign sf artists and the products of foreign sf publishers; to meet and talk with a great many new friends most of whom have learnt to speak English in order to read UK and US sf [...] and, in sum, to broaden our horizons in every direction. [...] Of course, there are people who had set their hearts on a 1984 Eastercon perhaps even before this project was mooted. There are also some for whom the world stops at the Channel coast, or the North Sea, or the Atlantic....' (JB) Pre-Supporting Memberships: what happens to the money (writes Jeremy Crampton)? As far as I'm concerned, the idea is that presupporters endorse a convention bid and help pay for bidding publicity. Back a loser and, in general, you lose your quid. (Though Albacon II and Metrocon have more or less agreed that the losing bid will pass spare money to defray the memberships of presupporters who 'backed a loser'.) Unicon 3 had 'presupporters' who refused to reclaim their room-key deposits at Unicon 2, in the hope that Unicon 3 would be organized; I don't understand why Ra Con in Edinburgh has 'presupporters' when there was never a question of bidding against some rival Edinburgh convention.

INFINITELY IMPROBABLE

Bob Shaw has an offer you can't refuse: 'YOU WANT TO MAKE MONEY FROM WRITING? I WILL PAY YOU £20/£30 PER PARAGRAPH! ... If you want to make quick cash by writing, forget about Omni. Forget about those 253 publications to which Dave Langford is consulting editor....' For some while Bob has been writing storylines for European Disney comics (slightly more adult than the US originals); having swiped the plots of his own books and millions of others in Disneyland form, he needs yet more ideas – paragraphs suitable for expansion into two-page storylines. Contact him directly for further details (3pp closely typed). 'Better than catching your pudenda in a rat trap,' he observes. Meanwhile, an amateur drama group called The Artisans (Ongar-based) is adapting Bob's Who Goes Here? as their 1983 summer production.... Pete Lyon also has an appeal, and has bribed me with artwork donations for TAFF to insert a request that owners of Lyon paintings contact him to say what they've got (2 New Row, Old Micklefield, Leeds, LS25 4AJ) – publishers are making 'interested noises' but he's lost track of some works.... The Dorian Calendar: Which BSFA chairman, in which recent Matrix, scheduled a BSFA envelope-stuffing session in Reading at the same time as Channelcon in Brighton? My lips are sealed.... Roz Kaveney, it says in Books & Bookmen (after her glowing review of the unforgettable Helliconia Whatsit), is working on a history of sf.... Faircon 82 has scored something of a coup by luring Naomi Mitchison along as a special guest (her first con, though she attended a Dublin SF writers' conference in the late 70s).... Patrick Nielsen Hayden has finalized the contents of his fanthology of 1981 writing, which will contain at least one British item.... Geoff Rippington has lost his Arts Council grant for Arena SF (reason: 'government cutbacks'); he'll be doing an issue of Channelcon with a smaller printrun, and may well take over as editor of Vector.... Comical Matters: 'The Daily Star were so happy with the Saturday Judge Dredd strip (from 2000 AD) that they've renewed their contract for another year; Eagle returns March 20 at 20p, initial print run 340,000....' (Simon Bostock – whose apa is folding with the next mailing).... Ratcon purports to be an Australian Worldcon bid for 2002, and publicity manager James Styles (342 Barkly St, Ararat, Vic 3377) has been asked to expand his knowledge of overseas fandom: This Means You.... Joe Nicholas, our expert on, er, Australian affairs, is distributing Melbourne in 85 literature – he's now UK agent. He'd like you to send him the equivalent of A$10 as a two-year sub to The Antipodean Announcer (newsletter on the wonders of Aussie fandom) and Kanga Ruse (detailed bid info) – Rm 9, 94 St George's Sq, Pimlico, SW1Y 3QY.... TAFF has approx £1050 in the UK kitty; deadline is still 17 April and an announcement of the victor will follow shortly after.... DUFF (Oz – >US) is also running currently, with famed Aussie fans Derrick Ashby, Damian Brennan, Daryl Mannell and Peter Toluzzi all on the ballot.... Cyril Simsa's lack of activity in fandom is because he's found true happiness playing the synthesizer in a band called Somewhere a Voice (devoted, no doubt, to the Eric Frank Russell sound). Cyril would like you to buy a studio compilation album with a track by his mob, £2.50 plus p&p from him at 18 Muswell Ave, N10 2EG – but he warns that their track is the only good one.... Joyce Scrivner (who with Fran Skene should be at Channelcon) reveals that even as G. Scithers left IASFM at great speed, his pals Barry Longyear, Sharon Webb and Jeff Duntemann all left the Cult apa. 'It's enough to make a fan wonder,' says Joyce.... Key In 357489805 On Prestel to see the first fruits of George Hay's 'mapping system for microtechnology education', says George.... Avedon Carol is feeling unwell ('Hashimoto's Thyroiditis.... I feel like a little old lady or something ... can't walk on my left leg half the time either') but would like to hear from British fans who may attend the 83 worldcon – 4409 Woodfield Rd, Kensington, MD 20895, USA. Extro persists, and has fiction from Bob Shaw, Richard Cowper, Brian Aldiss, John Sladek and many more.... Millington Folds? Their BSFA mailing came back: 'gone away'. Stop Press: Philip Dick died on 2/3 March in California, aged 53. RIP. (Steve Green)


The Ansible Late Supplement • Thursday 4 March 1982

Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW, UK. – I didn't know, when I typed the 'stop press' item yesterday, that I'd add this sheet today. An extra word, then, about Philip Dick. It's particularly sad that a writer should die when his talent was still alive, his work evolving and changing: that, all the same, is a good epitaph for any writer – and in addition, Dick's mastery was recognized in his own lifetime. Graham James, I understand, plans a special memorial feature in Matrix: good for him. Onward....

Nebula Awards Final Ballot: the awards will be presented at the Nebula Banquet in Berkeley, California, on 24 April 1982. Voting deadline is 31 March or earlier.

NOVEL: Radix – A.A. Attanasio; The Vampire Tapestry – Suzy McKee Charnas; Little, Big – John Crowley; Riddley Walker – Russell Hoban; The Many-Colored Land – Julian May; The Claw of the Conciliator – Gene Wolfe.

NOVELLA: 'The Saturn Game' – Poul Anderson (Analog Feb); 'Swarmer, Skimmer' – Greg Benford (SFD Oct/Nov); 'Amnesia' Jack Dann (Berkley Showcase 3); 'In the Western Tradition' – Phyllis Eisenstein (F&SF Mar); 'True Names' – Vernor Vinge (Binary Stars 5); 'The Winter Beach' – Kate Wilhelm (Listen, Listen).

NOVELETTE: 'The Quickening' – Michael Bishop (Universe 11); 'Sea Changeling' – Mildred Downey Broxon (IASFM Aug); 'The Thermals of August' – Ed Bryant (F&SF May); 'The Fire When It Comes' – Parke Godwin (F&SF May); 'Mummer Kiss' – Michael Swanwick (Universe 11); 'Lirios: A Tale of the Quintana Roo' – James Tiptree Jr (IASFM Sept).

SHORT STORY: 'Going Under' – Jack Dann (Omni Sept); 'Disciples' – Gardner Dozois (Penthouse Nov); 'The Quiet' – George Florance-Guthridge (F&SF July); 'Johnny Mnemonic' – William Gibson (Omni May); 'Venice Drowned' – Kim Stanley Robinson (Universe 11); 'Zeke' – Timothy R. Sullivan (Twilight Zone Oct); 'The Bone Flute' – Lisa Tuttle (F&SF May); 'The Pusher' – John Varley (F&SF Oct).

NOTES: (1) Don't blame me: almost everything I voted for has been ignored by other SFWA fools; (2) A tie is responsible for the plethora of short stories. (DRL)


Hazel's Language Lessons Number Sixteen: Esperanto
(contributed by John Brunner)

fibopatriningo: a container into which you insert one end of an unpleasant mother-in-law.

ANSIBLE TWENTY-FOUR
Editor: Dave Langford
22 Northumberland Avenue, Reading,
Berkshire, RG2 7PW, UK. (3-3-82)