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Ansible 272, March 2010

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Web ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Bruce Townley. Available for SAE, berp-nuts, Centauran libalilil or vitalots.

The Days of March

Neil Gaiman's New Yorker profile revealed the secret of his allure: 'Pictures of his library, which contains some five thousand volumes, circulate on the Internet, propagating brainy crushes: "How could I not fall for this guy?? Honestly ... look at the sheer size of his ... library!"' (Dana Goodyear, 25 January) [MMW] Ansible dares not afflict John Clute with swarming groupies by flaunting his far vaster library size here.

Adrian Jacobs's Willy the Wizard: Livid Land (see A264) was in the news once more when his estate (fronted by a dodgy Australian publicist) added J.K. Rowling's name to the ongoing plagiarism suit against Bloomsbury and Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire. This case relies on several fallacies: that vague ideas like a wizard learning something in a bathroom are protected by copyright; that coincidence never happens; and that the appearance of any widespread fantasy motif in both Willy and Goblet is a smoking gun. Willy was poorly written, universally rejected, and appeared in 1987 from a seeming vanity press that never got it into bookshops. The unlikelihood of Rowling's having seen a copy is dealt with by an interestingly libellous claim that her agent Christopher Little, whom Jacobs is said to have approached but who never represented him, must obviously have slipped her the 36 epic pages of Willy with instructions to steal all those hot ideas like wizardly bathrooms, chess, food and drink, trains etc, that no other author could have invented. (NB: Adrian Jacobs died in 1997 and is not to blame for this greedfest.)

Maura McHugh blew the whistle again (see A267), pointing out the near-total invisibility of women in February's SFX horror special – ironically published during Women in Horror Recognition Month.

Sigourney Weaver was amazed to learn the true nature of Avatar: 'Jim [Cameron] was telling someone about how sci-fi had always gotten a bad rap, and that maybe now that would change [...] And I thought, "Science fiction? Really? Is that what this movie is?" Because to me it's just a great story that happens to take place in another time.' (USA Today, 23 February) [NA] What are its Oscar chances? 'With that label, "sci-fi," I think it'll be tough [...] But of course, to look at these movies with that label is to miss the points they are trying to make. These movies ask us to look at what it means to be human.' No talking squid?


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

Until 1 Apr • Crash: Homage to J.G. Ballard (art show), Gagosian Gallery, 6-24 Britannia St, London, WC1X 9JD. 10am-6pm Tue-Sat,

5-6 Mar • Microcon, Devonshire House, University of Exeter. Several guests as usual. Doors open 9:30am Sat, ?12:30am Sun. £10 reg at the door; XSF (Exeter U SF Soc) members £4, other students £7.

5-7 Mar • Phoenix Con (P-Con) 7, Central Hotel, Exchequer St, Dublin. €30 reg, students €15; €35 at door or €20/day. Cheques to Peter McClean. Contact c/o 6 Weston Ave, Lucan, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

7 Mar • The Early Days of a Better future, sf event at Aye Write! book festival, Mitchell Library, Glasgow, G3 7DN. Ken MacLeod, Richard Morgan, others. 8-9:30pm. £7/£6. Bookings 0844 847 1683.

19-21 Mar • Corflu Cobalt, Winchester Hotel, Winchester. £50/$75 reg. £10/$15 supp. Advance booking closes 13 March. Day rates £10 Fri, £25 Sat, £20 Sun (not including brunch banquet). Sterling to 45 Kimberley Gardens, London, N4 1LD. US$: Robert Lichtman, 11037 Broadway Tce, Oakland, CA 94611-1948, USA.

24 Mar • BSFA Open Meeting, The Antelope, 22 Eaton Tce, London, SW1W 8EZ. 5pm for 6pm. BSFA Awards discussion panel.

25-28 Mar • World Horror Convention, Royal Albion Hotel, Brighton. £100 reg, but sold out. No at-door/day memberships, no press passes. Waiting list for membership transfers: info at whc2010 dot org.

26-28 Mar • Festival in the Shire (Tolkien art show) preview, Wynnstay Hotel, Machynlleth. Noon-8pm. Free, but numbers are limited so check first: info at festivalintheshire dot com.

1-30 Apr • Dublin: One City, One Book events. The 2010 book is The Picture of Dorian Gray. See

1 Apr • Life on the Sun, Lecture Theatre, National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, SE10 9NF. 7:30-8:30pm. 'Lighthearted lecture'. £8 (£6 concessions) from bookings at nmm ac uk or 020 8312 6608

2-5 Apr • Odyssey 2010 (Eastercon), Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. £65 reg, £55 unwaged (£60 and £50 for BSFA members), £30 supporting and under-17s; £75, £65 and £30 at the door. £5 child (<11), £1 infant (<5). Contact: Fiona Marshall c/o Coton House, Conference Centre, Rugby, CV23 0AA.

28 Apr • Clarke Award ceremony, London – by invitation. (To avoid a clash, April's BSFA meeting will be on the 21st, not the 28th.)

28 Apr - 3 May • Sci-Fi London (film), Apollo Piccadilly Cinema, 19 Regent St, London, SW1Y 4LY. Enquiries 020 3239 9277.

8 May • Write Fantastic event, Jacqueline Du Pré Bldg, St Hilda's Coll, Oxford. £15 reg; students £12. Contact/cheques: Write Fantastic c/o Newcon Press, 41 Wheatsheaf Rd, Alconbury Weston, PE28 4LF.

POSTPONED FROM MARCH: 13-29 Aug • Edge of the Wild (Tolkien art exhibition), Redesdale Hall, Moreton-in-Marsh, GL56 0AW. GoH Ted Nasmith, others. 9am-5pm. Free. Contact malcx at adcbooks co uk.

27-30 Aug • Discworld Convention. Now £60 reg, £39 concessions. £20 supp as before. Contact PO Box 4101, Shepton Mallett, Somerset, BA4 9AJ; info at dwcon dot org.

17-19 Sep • Fantasycon, Britannia Hotel, 1 St James St, Nottingham. £55 reg, rising to £65 on 1 April (BFS members £10 less); £45 Sat only. Online booking only: Contact fcon at britishfantasysociety dot org.

24-26 Sep • Oxonmoot (Tolkien Society), Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. Cost TBA. Details to follow at

16-17 Oct • British International Comics Show, Think Tank, Millennium Point, Curzon St, Birmingham, B4 7XG. 10:30am-5:30pm. £20 reg; £12/day. Contact info at thecomicsshow dot co dot uk.

4-6 Feb 11 • Cre2c3ndo (filk), Ramada Hotel, Grantham. £32/$50 reg; £20/$30 unwaged; 5-18s £1/$1.50 per year of age on joining; <5 £1. Cheques to UK Filk Con, 16 Ann's Rd, Cambridge, CB5 8TN.

17-21 Aug 11 • Renovation (69th Worldcon), Reno-Sparks Convention Center, Reno, NV, USA. $140 reg to 30 April 2010; $50 supp; under-21s $100 (new YA rate); under-17s $75; under-7s free. See for presupp/voter discounts. Contact PO Box 13278, Portland, OR 97213-0278, USA; or info at renovationsf dot org.

RumblingsEastercon 2012: two bids emerged in mid-February. Olympicon (name may change owing to famous IOC litigiousness) plans a Brighton venue; the London-based Olympus 2012 (safer?) includes Orbital and Odyssey veterans and is presumably aiming for Heathrow.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us, Worriedly. The New Yorker on the company kept by Paul Krugman: 'Last August, Krugman decided that [...] he would take a couple of days to speak at the sixty-seventh world science-fiction convention, to be held in Montreal. (Krugman has been a science-fiction fan since he was a boy.) At the convention, there was a lot of extremely long hair, a lot of blue hair, and a lot of capes. There was a woman dressed as a cat, there was a woman with a green brain attached to her head with wire, there was a person in a green face mask, there was a young woman spinning wool. There was a Jedi and a Storm Trooper. Those participants who were not dressed as cats were wearing T-shirts with something written on them [...] Sitting up onstage at the science-fiction convention, Krugman looked happy to be there. It seemed that these were, in some worrying sense, his people.' (1 March) [GF]

Awards. BAFTA. Genre winners: Avatar, special Effects, production design; Duncan Jones/Moon, outstanding UK debut; UP, animated film, music. Orange Rising Star award: Kirsten Stewart of Twilight etc. [MPJ]
Dwarf Star (SFPA short verse): Geoffrey A. Landis, 'Fireflies' (Asimov's 6/08).
Bram Stoker (HWA life achievement): Brian Lumley and William F. Nolan. Also HWA Specialty Press Award: Tartarus Press.
London Film Critics Circle: best film maker Duncan Jones for Moon; foreign language film Let The Right One In. [MPJ]
Shortlists see below.

Confound Their Politicks. As UK parties vie to collect celebrity endorsements, Labour is wooing the sf/fantasy vote with J.K. Rowling and David Tennant. (Telegraph, 15 February) But apparently the chap who plays Harry Potter on screen favours the Lib Dems.... (Mail, 2009) [MPJ] H'mm: how would Albus Dumbledore vote? Meanwhile, fannish harassment of George R.R. Martin for not writing fast enough has inspired another spoof David Cameron poster: 'Vote for us and we will ensure A Dance with Dragons is released in 2010.' (Guardian, 16 February) [AIP]

R.I.P. Hisashi Asakura (real name Zenji Otani), Japanese sf translator whose translations included Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, died on 14 February aged 79. [GVG]
Ian Carmichael (1920-2010), veteran UK actor whose genre films include Ghost Ship (1952) and From Beyond the Grave (1973), died on 5 February aged 89. [AW]
Cy Grant (1919-2010), Guyana-born actor who was the first black person to be a familiar face on UK television, died on 13 February; he was 90. Genre appearances included Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (30 episodes as Lt Green), Doppelgänger, At the Earth's Core and Blake's 7. [MPJ]
Jim Harmon (1933-2010), US fan, author and radio producer who published some 40 sf stories, mostly for Galaxy and If in the 1950s-60s, died on 16 February; he was 76. His nonfiction included The Great Radio Heroes (1967) and other studies in genre nostalgia. [PDF]
Lionel Jeffries (1926-2010), UK actor whose genre roles ranged from The Quatermass Xperiment (1955) through First Men in the Moon (1964) and Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968) to Lexx (2001), died on 19 February; he was 83. He directed The Amazing Mr Blunden (1972) and The Water Babies (1978). [O]
Mervyn Jones (1922-2010), UK author and journalist whose 29 novels include the sf future-war story On the Last Day (1958), died on 23 February aged 87. [JC]
Richard Jones (1945-2009), scientist, artist and occasional film extra – the four-foot man inside R2D2 in Return of the Jedi – died on 18 November aged 64. [JE] Other genre credits included Dreamchild (1985), Labyrinth and Willow.
Robert McCall (1919-2010), US artist who did much NASA work and painted posters for 2001, Star Trek: TMP and other sf films, died on February 26 aged 90.
Donald Pickering (1933-2009), UK character actor seen in Doctor Who (three times, with different Doctors), The Avengers, The Champions and Truffaut's Fahrenheit 451 (1966), died on 19 December; he was 76. [MPJ]
David Severn (David Storr Unwin, 1918-2010), author of YA novels of which several – like the memorably dystopian The Future Took Us (1957) – involved timeslips, died on 11 February; he was 91. [JC]
William Tenn (Philip Klass, 1920-2010), US author of many fine satirical sf stories – collected in several volumes – and two novels including Of Men and Monsters (1968), died on 7 February. He was 89. Unforgettably iconoclastic shorts include 'Brooklyn Project' (1948) and the prescient 'The Liberation of Earth' (1953). SFWA honoured him as Author Emeritus in 1999. Tenn was much loved, a popular convention guest – notably, a GoH at the 2004 Worldcon – with a vast fund of witty anecdotes.
Eric C. Williams (1918-2010), old-time UK fan active in the 1930s, and author of ten sf novels 1968-1981 (mostly published by Robert Hale Ltd), has died at the age of 91. [PW]

Tomb It May Concern. A no doubt particularly curvaceous new road in Derby is, after a public vote, to be named Lara Croft Way. [IC]

Outraged Letters. Harry Harrison on Philip Klass: 'Phil and I were quite good friends in NY after the war. He was quite clear about his pen name – despite what Jonas [the NY times obituarist] says. He liked SF but was quite critical of it. He felt he would be a mainstream author one day. So used a pen name for SF – saving his real name for his literary success. Alas – he was one of the most original SF writers – who, unhappily, stopped producing. And never published in mainstream....'
Martyn P. Jackson:: 'I saw a live satellite broadcast at the Tyneside Cinema in Newcastle of the National Theatre adaptation of Terry Pratchett's Nation. A lively, enjoyable and thought-provoking production, though I would have opted for a puppet, rather than a bizarrely costumed actor, in the role of Milton the foul-mouthed parrot (before I twigged the actor was meant to be the parrot I mistook him for a cabin boy with Tourette's syndrome). / You would have thought that having worked on this production, Mark Ravenhill (who adapted the novel for the stage) and director Melly Still might also admire the Discworld novels, but no. Asked about Discworld by the Telegraph, Still said, "They don't appeal in the slightest I'm afraid, although I admit I don't know very much about them. I'm not a follower." Ravenhill responded, "That fantasy world isn't really my kind of thing." Good to know that Nation's giant mystical talking grandfather birds and the death-god Locaha aren't anything to do with fantasy then.'

Thermodynamics Masterclass. Dept of Survival on Venus; or, Maxwell's Demon Lives! 'The tubes grabbed the rushing air and separated fast and slow molecules; the cooler part went into a refrigeration system which kept the city at a temperature men could stand – outside, it hovered around the boiling point of water; the smaller volume of super-heated air was conducted to the maintenance plant where it helped run the city's pumps and generators.' (Poul Anderson, 'The Big Rain', Astounding, 1954) [TMcD]

Nebula Shortlist. SHORT Saladin Ahmed, 'Hooves and the Hovel of Abdel Jameela' (Clockwork Phoenix 2); Michael A. Burstein, 'I Remember the Future' (I Remember the Future); N.K. Jemisin, 'Non-Zero Probabilities' (Clarkesworld 11/09); Kij Johnson, 'Spar' (Clarkesworld, 10/09); James Patrick Kelly, 'Going Deep' (Asimov's 6/09); Will McIntosh, 'Bridesicle' (Asimov's 1/09).
NOVELETTE Paolo Bacigalupi, 'The Gambler' (Fast Forward 2); Michael Bishop, 'Vinegar Peace, or the Wrong-Way Used-Adult Orphanage' (Asimov's 7/08); Richard Bowes, 'I Needs Must Part, The Policeman Said' (F&SF 12/09); Eugie Foster, 'Sinner, Baker, Fabulist, Priest; Red Mask, Black Mask, Gentleman, Beast' (Interzone 2/09); Ted Kosmatka, 'Divining Light' (Asimov's 8/08); Rachel Swirsky, 'A Memory of Wind' ( 11/09).
NOVELLA Kage Baker, The Women of Nell Gwynne's; Carolyn Ives Gilman, 'Arkfall' (F&SF 9/09); Nancy Kress, 'Act One' (Asimov's 3/09); James Morrow, Shambling Towards Hiroshima; Jason Sanford, 'Sublimation Angels' (Interzone 10/09); John Scalzi, The God Engines.
NOVEL Paolo Bacigalupi, The Windup Girl; Christopher Barzak, The Love We Share Without Knowing; Laura Anne Gilman, Flesh and Fire; China ville, The City & The City; Cherie Priest, Boneshaker; Jeff VanderMeer, Finch.
BRADBURY (DRAMATIC) Star Trek, District 9, Avatar, Moon, Up, Coraline.
ANDRE NORTON (YA) Kage Baker, Hotel Under the Sand; Sarah Beth Durst, Ice; Malinda Lo, Ash; Lisa Mantchev, Eyes Like Stars; John Scalzi, Zoe's Tale; Rebecca Stead, When You Reach Me; Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland In A Ship Of Her Own Making; Scott Westerfeld, Leviathan.
• There were last-minute Twitter pleas for extra nominations to ensure the late Kage Baker appeared on the ballot.

C.o.A. Mike Cule, 3 Barratt Place, Easton Street, High Wycombe, HP11 1XS. J.N. Fenn is the Novelist Formerly Known As Jaine Fenn.

Cry Wolf! An open letter to Universal Studios from a Twilight fan exposed the infamy of The Wolf Man (1941, now remade): '... it was a COMPLETE remaking of the Wolf Pack from the Twilight Saga: New Moon. It gives the werewolves a bad name ...' Stephenie Meyer was born in 1973. [ML]

Fanfundery. Down Under Fan Fund: candidates for the 2010 race from North America to the Australian Worldcon are Jeffrey Boman, Terry Fong and Janny Shea (joint), John Hertz, Melanie Herz and John Purcell. Online voting and downloadable ballot at
GUFF voting reminder: the deadline is 5 April. See

Batman Defeats Superman is the inevitable headline, as foretold in The Dark Knight Returns: Batman's debut issue, Detective Comics 27, sold at auction for $1,075,000 on 25 February, just three days after the Superman debut issue of Action Comics went for $1m. (Independent)

Thog's Masterclass. Long Drop Dept. 'The screams of the injured man followed him as he fell to the concrete an infinite distance below' (E.C. Tubb, Veruchia, 1973) [AR]
Still More Historical Research Dept. It is 1889: '"You must give him this note ... He must hurry! ... And for your trouble – " Irene produced a five-pence piece.' 'Irene was stuffing a formidable roll of pound notes into her reticule.' (both Carole Nelson Douglas, Irene at Large, 1993) [BA]
Dept of Pointy Things. 'Her interest was as pointed as the breasts on which she gently splashed cold water ...' (Robert Holdstock, Merlin's Wood, 1994) [SB]
Violent Imagery Dept. 'Gabriel didn't hear the shot, but he saw Carter's brains when they jumped from his skull onto the wall.' 'Lydia flapped around on the ground like a wounded fish as Flag tried to fry her.' 'Riel twirled like a helicopter that had gone out of control, destroying everything in his path.' (all Kris Greene, The Dark Storm, 2010) [JB/BS]
Erotica Dept. 'My potential for ecstasy was such that the lightest touch of his fingertip on my nipple was pure rape!' 'Penway became keenly aware of his nakedness when he realized he had no place to carry the smallest scrap of food.' 'He sat in the roof garden deliberately training his mind on a chess problem, but Jenka Wale's breasts kept blurring his mental vision. Her pubic mound was a glowing enticement on the visualised chessboard.' 'Why not lose himself in the ecstasy of her body? But then, realizing the trend of his thoughts, he stiffened and took hold of himself.' (all Paul W. Fairman, I, The Machine, 1968) [AR]

Geeks' Corner

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• 12 March 2010: Brum Group, Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham city centre): 7:30pm for 8pm. With Jo Fletcher. £4; members £3. Contact 07845 897760 or bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Future meetings: 9 April TBA; 14 May, Jasper Fforde; 9 July Steve Feasey.

PayPal Donation. Support Ansible and keep the editor happy! Or just buy his books ... please.

Random Fandom. Canadian Unity Fan Fund: the ballot for the current race is online here:
Fan Activity Awards Reminder: the FAAn deadline is 13 March and the ballot form is available at the Corflu website as below. Votes may be emailed direct to the administrator (cobaltfaan at corflu dot org) without using the form.

Bram Stoker Awards (horror) shortlist: NOVEL Sarah Langan, Audrey's Door; Jonathan Maberry, Patient Zero; Joe McKinney, Quarantined; Jeremy Shipp, Cursed.
FIRST NOVEL S. G. Browne, Breathers; Daniel G. Keohane, Solomon's Grave; Hank Schwaeble, Damnable; Paul Tremblay, The Little Sleep.
LONG FICTION Mort Castle, Dreaming Robot Monster; Scott Edelman, The Hunger of Empty Vessels; Lisa Morton, The Lucid Dreaming; Gene O'Neill, Doc Good's Traveling Show.
SHORT Nate Kenyon, 'Keeping Watch' (Monstrous: 20 Tales of Giant Creature Terror); Weston Ochse, 'The Crossing of Aldo Ray' (The Dead That Walk); Norman Prentiss, 'In the Porches of My Ears' (Postscripts 18); Harry Shannon, 'The Night Nurse' (Horror Drive-In 7/09).
ANTHOLOGY Christopher Conlon, ed., He Is Legend: An Anthology Celebrating Richard Matheson; Ellen Datlow, ed., Lovecraft Unbound; Ellen Datlow, ed., Poe; Lisa Morton, ed., Midnight Walk.
COLLECTION Robert Dunbar, Martyrs and Monsters; Dennis Etchison, Got to Kill Them All and Other Stories (Cemetery Dance); Gene O'Neill, A Taste of Tenderloin; Under the Bed, Lee Thomas, In the Closet.
NON-FICTION Michael Knost, Writers Workshop of Horror; L.L. Soares & Michael Arruda, Cinema Knife Fight; Bev Vincent, The Stephen King Illustrated Companion River); Rocky Wood & Justin Brook, Stephen King: The Non-Fiction (Cemetery Dance).
POETRY COLLECTION Bruce Boston, Double Visions; Bruce Boston, North Left of Earth; Rain Graves, Barfodder; Lucy A. Snyder, Chimeric Machines.
• Rose Fox at PW asked: 'Where are the non-Americans?' ...

Outraged Letters II. Simon R. Green wonders: 'Why do the BBC keep re-making the Triffids, when John Wyndham wrote so many other marvellous stories? I've always been a huge fan of The Kraken Wakes, and The Chrysalids, both of which would make much better television. For such an important and popular writer, Wyndham doesn't seem to have been very well served by film or television. The original Triffids film was a film of two halves, roughly bolted together. The original Village of the Damned was wonderfully spooky, as indeed was the way over the top sequel, but the remake was a certifiable piece of cheese. Chocky made a tv series better remembered in nostalgia than actually watched again ... and I think that's about it. The only other adaptation I can think of was an episode of the old Out of the Unknown tv series.'
Yvonne Rousseau assures us that the currency glitch singled out by Thog in A271 (one shilling, in 1915, equalling five pence) was fixed in a later edition: 'As for Laurie R. King, The Beekeeper's Apprentice (1994): alterations can happen. Even before Ansible took notice, this novel's HarperCollins edition of 2000 describes Holmes (disguised as a gypsy) making up the shilling by which he has short-changed a stable-owner with (p.107) "ten pennies, a ha'penny and six farthings" – an alteration which indeed causes the coins to add up to a shilling. / However, the impossible dialogue persists in this series. For example, in the 2000 edition of The Beekeeper's Apprentice, on page 62, Sherlock Holmes remarks (in the time of the Great War) 'I believe your husband will be fine, do you understand? Just fine.' Moreover, in O Jerusalem (1999) and Justice Hall (2002), I'm astonished to find that King continues to believe that the women rejoin the men after a formal British dinner, rather than the men joining the women.'

More Awards. Aeon 2009: Annette Reader, 'Frogs on My Doorstep'.

Editorial. I was extremely pleased that my 2009 collection Starcombing made it on to the Locus recommended reading list (nonfiction category).
• restored its Buy buttons for Macmillan (including Tor) titles after a full week of irritation in the wilderness – enough to make me remove all Amazon links from the Ansible Books Received page (now and substitute The Book Depository. This is not going to bother Jeff Bezos or affect his bank balance beyond homeopathic levels of dilution, but it makes me feel better.
• Now it's publication day, and I suddenly have a bad cold. Advance apologies for any spasm-induced typos.

Tailpiece. 'When a man thought in terms of the world's future, the General knew, he was more than likely a tyrant. That, or a science fiction writer.' (Tom T. Chamales, Never So Few, 1959; quoted in PITFCS, 1960)

Ansible 272 Copyright © David Langford, 2010. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Neal Asher, Stuart B, Jacey Bedford, Ian Covell, Paul Di Filippo, John Eggeling, Gary Farber, Martyn P. Jackson, Making Light, Tim McDaniel, Omega, Andrew I. Porter, Adam Roberts, Brian Scott, Gordon Van Gelder, Andrew Wells, Peter Weston, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (Brum Group), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 Mar 10.