Ansible 326, September 2014
From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Web news.ansible.co.uk. ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Brad W. Foster. Available for SAE, black seals or thrice around the maple tree.
Loncon 3. Where to start, where to finish? I enjoyed it no end. Statisticians already know this was the largest ever Worldcon in terms of registrations sold (10,833) and the second largest for actual attendance (7,951). With cunning forethought, the vast bleak spaces of the main ExCeL halls used were broken up into an intriguing maze of exhibits (many very clever, others unexpected), dealer tables and art-show displays on an upper level, with catering, special-interest tents, a library area and much else in the extensive 'Fan Village' below. A fake tree, a Tardis (thank you, David Wake) and a stray Iron Throne made useful landmarks and photo backgrounds. Private Eye's 'Scene & Heard' cartoon coverage noted the Tiki Dalek, the Lost Tribble alert on the notice board and the Lego Millennium Falcon, but missed what I first thought must be a revival of Humming & Swaying – actually Tai Chi on the village green. All these whimsies worked rather well, and – remarkably for a UK worldcon – the real ale didn't run out. One favourite programme moment, orchestrated by Malcolm Edwards: Peter Nicholls getting a standing ovation as the first founder of the SF Encyclopedia. Otherwise I didn't do much programme, and sadly missed the closing-ceremony audience singing 'Happy Birthday to You' to Brian Aldiss, who was 89 that day. Meanwhile, the usual awards were presented ...
Hugos. NOVEL (1595 nominating ballots) Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice. NOVELLA (847) Charles Stross, 'Equoid' (Tor.com 9/13). NOVELETTE (728) Mary Robinette Kowal, 'The Lady Astronaut of Mars', (Rip-Off! 2012; maryrobinettekowal.com 2/13). SHORT (865) John Chu, 'The Water That Falls on You from Nowhere' (Tor.com 2/13). DRAMATIC: LONG (995) Gravity. DRAMATIC: SHORT (760) Game of Thrones: 'The Rains of Castamere'. RELATED WORK (752) Kameron Hurley, 'We Have Always Fought' (A Dribble of Ink 5/13). GRAPHIC STORY (552) Randall Munroe, 'Time' (xkcd.com). PRO EDITOR: LONG (632) Ginjer Buchanan. PRO EDITOR: SHORT (656) Ellen Datlow. PRO ARTIST (624) Julie Dillon. SEMIPROZINE (411) Lightspeed. FANZINE (478) A Dribble of Ink. FANCAST (396) SF Signal Podcast. FAN WRITER (521) Kameron Hurley. FAN ARTIST (316) Sarah Webb. JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD (767) Sofia Samatar.
This year's Hugos were enlivened by organized voting for the lengthy 'Wheel of Time' fantasy sequence (as a single just-completed novel) and for Larry Correia's 'Sad Puppies' slate of supposedly right-wing candidates. None did well, though only Vox Day received the special accolade of being ranked below No Award. Correia accepted the vote results with good grace, though author Dave Freer continued to froth: 'NO AUTHOR FROM ANY COUNTRY, OF ANY ETHNICITY OR ORIENTATION, who is openly anything but left wing can get onto the ballot, let alone win and that this situation has persisted for the better part of the last twenty years, by the most generous interpretation.' (Madgeniusclub.com, 20 August) Any counterexamples should be sent to him, please, not to me.
2016 Site Selection. Kansas City won by a reported 651 votes to the rival Beijing bid's 70, with write-ins and 'none of the above' votes making a total of 758 ballots. See the events list and 'Dead Past' below.
Retro Hugos for 1938 work. NOVEL T.H. White, The Sword in the Stone. NOVELLA John W. Campbell as Don A Stuart, 'Who Goes There?' (Astounding 8/38). NOVELETTE Clifford D. Simak, 'Rule 18' (Astounding 7/38). SHORT Arthur C. Clarke, 'How We Went to Mars' (Amateur Science Stories 3/38). DRAMATIC The War of the Worlds (radio). EDITOR John W. Campbell. PRO ARTIST Virgil Finlay. FANZINE Imagination! ed. Forrest J Ackerman et al. FAN WRITER Ray Bradbury. SPECIAL COMMITTEE AWARD Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster for Superman's 1938 debut.
More Loncon Awards. Big Heart: Vince Docherty. Chesleys (art): the life Artistic Achievement Award went to Jim Burns in absentia – not being on the ballot, he'd thought he could safely go to a party instead. Full list at www.asfa-art.org/pages/06-currentawardspage.html.
First Fandom Hall of Fame: John Clute, plus John Carnell and Walter Gillings posthumously.
Sam Moskowitz Award for Collecting: Mike Ashley.
Sidewise (alternate history): LONG (tie) D.J. Taylor, The Windsor Faction; Bryce Zabel, Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Survived Dallas?. SHORT Vylar Kaftan, 'The Weight of the Sunrise' (Asimov's 2/13).
Other memories: meeting lots of people; failing to meet lots of others; a plethora of often clashing parties (thanks again to Dave Clements & Charlie Stross, Beccon Publications, SFWA, Gollancz); being cheeringly tracked down by autograph hunters (with no new book in years, I'd thought it wasn't worth applying for a signing session); taking many more or less inept photographs; good cider; increasingly aching feet from trudging those endless hard floors; the Long March to the private-party rooms which threaded through and past a succession of bare unused ExCeL halls not unlike the parking bays of General Systems Vehicles as imagined by late Loncon GoH Iain M. Banks. Yes, Loncon 3 was huge beyond belief, and the committee handled its size very well.
The Day After
Cory Doctorow accepted Randall Munroe's Hugo wearing the red cape and goggles in which Xkcd.com cartoons like to portray him.
Simon R. Green remembers the splendours of Loncon 3: 'I was delighted to see that the room for my one and only panel was packed, standing room only; until I realized Connie Willis was on the panel with me. At which point, much became clear.' (29 August)
Patrick McLaw, Maryland school teacher and sf author, was arrested, subjected to 'emergency medical evaluation', put on administrative leave and banned from all school premises. Police searched the school for weapons, found none. The only reason so far suggested is that one of McLaw's pseudonymous sf dystopias features a school shooting in the year 2902. He is, incidentally, black. (Reason.com, 29 August) [PB]
Nalo Hopkinson worried in public that the Eaton Collection at UC Riverside – to whose archive so many of us have sent sf/fan material – could be downsized, sidelined or even split up by UCR's seemingly sf-hostile new library administration (nalohopkinson.com, 10 August; update). The Collection recently received a donation of no less than $3.5 million from the estate of the late fan photographer Jay Kay Klein. [F770]
Diana Wynne Jones's 80th birthday on 16 August was marked by an animated 'Google doodle' based on Howl's Moving Castle. There was also a 'Carmilla' theme for Sheridan Le Fanu's 200th on 28 August.
Dave Kyle, who had attended very nearly all the previous Worldcons, skipped Loncon 3 on medical advice but sent thanks for the messages of sympathy.
Nnedi Okorafor, on the Afrofuturism panel at Detcon, 'gave an example of how our community has much to learn on such questions, informing us that she had been asked, "You've got Anansi in your book. Did you get that from American Gods?"' (Nice Distinctions #25) [ADH]
Robert Silverberg greeted your editor at Loncon 3 (his sixtieth consecutive worldcon, the longest unbroken streak of any attendee) with a cheering word of wisdom: 'Everyone who won a Hugo before me is now dead.'
Charlie Stross was seen counting Hugos on his fingers: 'All right, Langford, I just need another twenty-six to catch up with you.'
Click here for longlist with links London Overseas
FULL UP 5-6 Sep A Fantastic Legacy: Diana Wynne Jones memorial conference, Newcastle University. See conferences.ncl.ac.uk/dwj/.
5-7 Sep FantasyCon 2014, Royal York Hotel, York. GoH Kate Elliott, Toby Whithouse, Larry Rostant. £60 reg, £95 joint (2 adults), under-16s £27.50; BFS members £45, £70, £15; under-5s free. Join online at www.fantasycon2014.org. Rates good until 2 September.
11-14 Sep Oxonmoot (Tolkien Society), Lady Margaret Hall, Oxford. See www.tolkiensociety.org/events/oxonmoot-2014/.
12-14 Sep The Asylum (steampunk), Lincoln. £24 reg; £13 junior (5-16); various specials/extras. See steampunk.synthasite.com.
13 Sep TitanCon, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast. £15 reg; £5 supp. Join at titancon.com (PayPal only, with booking surcharge).
24 Sep BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Sarah Maitland. Free.
27 Sep When the Lamps Went Out (H.G. Wells Society conference), Palace Green Library, Durham University. £35 reg, £25 unwaged; members £30/£20. Contact 20 Upper Field Close, Hereford, HR2 7SW.
28 Sep Crossness Steampunk Convivial, Crossness Engines, Belvedere Rd, Abbey Wood, SE2 9AQ. 10:30am-6pm. £8; £4 for 6-15s. See www.crossnessconvivial.co.uk. Contact 020 8311 3711.
3 Oct - 20 Jan Terror and Wonder: The Gothic Imagination (exhibition), British Library, London. 'Two hundred rare objects ... 250 years of the Gothic tradition': www.bl.uk/whatson/exhibitions/gothic/.
24-26 Oct Celluloid Screams (horror film festival), Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. See celluloidscreams.co.uk. 0114 275 7727.
14-15 Feb 2015 Picocon 32, Imperial College Union, London. GoH TBA. £10 reg; £8 concessions; £5 ICSF members. Contact ICSF, Beit Quad, Prince Consort Rd, London, SW7 2BB; picocon at icsf co uk.
3-6 Apr 2015 Dysprosium (Eastercon), Park Inn, London Heathrow. Now £70 reg, rising to £80 on 1 February; £25 supp/under-18s, £15 under-12s, £5 infants. Contact 101 Ninian Rd, Grovehill, Hemel Hempstead, Herts, HP2 6NB; join online at www.dysprosium.org.uk.
7-9 Aug 2015 Nine Worlds Geekfest (multimedia), Heathrow. Already too late for the 'Super early rate'; now 'early rate' of £85 reg; £42.50 child. Advance booking online only at nineworlds.co.uk.
19-23 Aug 2015 Sasquan (Worldcon), Spokane Convention Center, Spokane, WA, USA. Now $190 reg (until 31 December); $95 YA/military; $85 child; $40 supp. See sasquan.org for more.
17-21 Aug 2016 MidAmeriCon II (74th Worldcon), Kansas City, MO, USA. GoH Kinuko Y. Craft, Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden, Tamora Pierce, Michael Swanwick. $150 reg; $90 YA/active military service; $60 under-16s; $50 supp. See midamericon2.org for more.
4-6 Nov 2016 BCon (Eurocon), Barcelona, Spain. GoH Aliette de Bodard, Richard Morgan, Jun Miyazaki, Enrique Corominas. Further information and online registration at www.eurocon2016.org.
Rumblings. The 2023 Paris Worldcon bid has been withdrawn for the time being but may yet relaunch: see parisin2023.org.
As Others See Us. The Jabberwocky music festival in the Loncon 3 venue was cancelled: 'The ExCel Centre is not a known music space. Not only is it kind of a pain in the arse to get to, but nobody wants to see Nils Frahm in a sparsely populated, untested conference centre with a fucking science-fiction convention next door.' (Fan website) [JL]
The Guardian's much friendlier coverage scored highly on the sf journalism bingo card with its headline 'World Science Fiction Convention 2014 beams into London / Nowt so queer as filk as Loncon at the ExCel centre allies sci-fi and fantasy to draw a horde of fans'. (15 August)
Still More Awards. European SF Society Hall of Fame: AUTHOR Wolfgang Jeschke. ARTIST Jim Fitzpatrick. PUBLISHER Angry Robot. MAGAZINE Cosmoport. TRANSLATOR Kersti Juva. PROMOTER Dave Lally. Mythopoeic: ADULT Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni. CHILDREN Holly Black, Doll Bones. SCHOLARSHIP: INKLINGS Jason Fisher, ed., Tolkien and the Study of His Sources: Critical Essays. SCHOLARSHIP: OTHER G. Ronald Murphy, Tree of Salvation: Yggdrasil and the Cross in the North.
As Others See Us II. Morning Joe host Joe Scarborough explains Game of Thrones without the prejudice instilled by actually watching it: 'I think there are, like, gnomes, and elves, and hobbits, and people with spikes coming out of the sides of their faces.' (MSNBC, 18 June) [MMW]
R.I.P. Alex Angulo (1953-2014), Spanish comic actor seen in Pan's Labyrinth (2006), died on 20 July aged 61. [MPJ]
Richard Attenborough (1923-2014), Oscar-winning UK actor and director whose best known sf role was Prof John Hammond in Jurassic Park (1993) and its sequel, died on 24 August aged 90. Other genre credits include Doctor Dolittle (1967).
Lauren Bacall (1924-2014), famed US actress who died on 12 August aged 89, had a few genre credits in her long career – including Blithe Spirit (1956), Presence of Mind (1999), Birth (2004), Howl's Moving Castle (2004) and Scooby-Doo and the Goblin King (2004). [AW]
John Blundall (1937-2014), UK artist and puppeteer who created several characters for Gerry Anderson's Supermarionation shows – most famously Lady Penelope's butler/chauffeur Parker – died on 18 August aged 77.
Marilyn Burns (1949-2014), US 'scream queen' actress best known as the survivor of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre (1974), died on 5 August aged 65. [MPJ]
Madeleine Collinson (1952-2014), Maltese-born model and actress best remembered for Hammer's Twins of Evil (1971) – where she was the bad sister who's vampirized and her identical twin Mary the virtuous one – died on 14 August aged 62. [MPJ]
Menahem Golan (1929-2014), Israeli film producer whose best known sf credit was Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987), died on 8 August aged 85. [O/MPJ]
Charles Keating (1941-2014), UK actor who played Zeus in both Hercules: The Legendary Journeys (1999) and Xena: Warrior Princess (2000), died on 9 August aged 72. [AW]
Arlene Martel (1936-2014), US actress seen in many genre tv series since 1959 – perhaps most famously The Outer Limits 'Demon with a Glass Hand' (1964) and Star Trek 'Amok Time'(1967) – died on 12 August; she was 78. [DKMK]
J.J. Murphy, Northern Irish actor whose first Game of Thrones scenes were shot a few days earlier, died on 8 August aged 86. He appears in the forthcoming Dracula Untold. [AW]
Chapman Pincher (1914-2014), UK journalist and author whose works include the sf Not with a Bang (1965) and some borderline-fantastic novels, died on 5 August; he was 100. [JC]
Gianfranco Viviani (1937-2014), Italian publisher and translator who in 1970 founded the important sf house Editrice Nord (first Italian publisher of Dune and many others), died on 29 August aged 77.
Robin Williams (1951-2014), Oscar-winning US actor whose genre credits include Mork & Mindy (1978-1982 tv), Popeye (1980), The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), Dead Again (1991), Aladdin (1992), Jumanji (1995), Flubber (1997), Bicentennial Man (1999), A.I. (2001), Robots (2005) and Night at the Museum (2006), committed suicide on 14 August; he was 63. [BB]
Paging Joe McCarthy. On the BFI open-air sf film festival: 'A film like The Man Who Fell to Earth is that fragile thing – sci-fi of which it is impossible to conceive of a spinoff or sequel. In that way, it is entirely anti-American.' (Antonia Quirke, Financial Times, 22 August) [MMW]
Magazine Scene. Samuel Montgomery-Blinn's Bull Spec (latest issue #8/9, Spring 2013) is ceasing publication as a printed fiction magazine; nonfiction continues online. (Bullspec.com, 14 August) [PDF]
The Force Is Against You. Laura Elizabeth Skywalker Matthews changed her name by deed poll: no problem with her UK bank cards, driving licence etc, but the Home Office is too scared of lawyers to allow it on her passport. They 'will not recognise a change to a name which is subject to copyright or trademark'. (BBC, 30 July) [MPJ]
Random Fandom. Brian Ameringen's Porcupine Books is up for sale ('Would you buy a used book business from this man?'): contact brian at porcupine demon co uk.
David Langford notes there is a 1987 precedent for putting Ansible on hold for several years following the ravages of a UK Worldcon, and Hazel Langford wonders why he didn't do it again.
WSFS Business Meeting: Worldcon/Hugo rules changes passed on for ratification next year include (a) a new process whereby changes are introduced at one Worldcon's business meeting, ratified as before by the next, and (the new bit) decided by a WSFS membership referendum in the third year; (b) audiobooks to count as equivalent to print publication; (c) shortlisted Hugo items renamed 'finalists' rather than 'nominees' – too many people having played the 'I nominated myself, so I can put HUGO NOMINEE on my book' publicity card.
The Weakest Link. Bradley Walsh: 'Which Irvine Welsh novel features a monologue by a tapeworm?' Contestant: 'Wuthering Heights.' (ITV The Chase) [PE]
The Dead Past. 50 Years Ago, history began to repeat itself: 'LONDON IN '65. We made it! At the PacifiCon attendees voted that the 1965 World Convention will be held in London. The date to jot down on the bedroom ceiling is August bank holiday. Watch this space for further announcements.' (Skyrack 70, September 1964)
40 Years Ago, more evidence of cyclic history à la Spengler and Toynbee: 'Kansas City won the bid for the 1976 Worldcon.' (Checkpoint 53, September 1974)
Fanfundery. Delegates at Loncon 3 were Curt Phillips (TAFF) and Gillian Polack (GUFF). The joint fan funds auction raised over £1700 (nearly £800 from three stained-glass panels by Bob Shaw) and the mock casino over £400, with more from the TAFF pub quiz and dealer table. See Jim Mowatt's TAFFworld 1 at taff.org.uk for further details.
Thog's Masterclass. Neat Tricks. 'A hand took his, pressed it firmly, looked him straight in the eye.' (Neil Gaiman, American Gods, 2001) [HR]
Palaeometeorology Dept. 'It was a gorgeous day, with gossamer clouds strung out like dinosaur bones across the blue sky.' (Mark Edwards, The Magpies, 2013) [AK]
Dept of Never Two Similes Alike. 'Joentaa felt Elina Lehtinen's words like snowflakes cooling him for a while, before they began to melt inside his head.' (Jan Costin Wagner, Silence, 2007; trans Anthea Bell 2010) [PB]
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'Rebecka tries to force herself to look up and meet Frans Zachrisson's eyes. But she can't. There are too many of them.' (Asa Larsson, Sun Storm, 2003; trans Marlaine Delargy 2006) [PB]
Talking Dirty Dept. 'The boy tilted back his head to scream at the sky and words erupted from the hole in his face like sewage from a burst pipe.' (Tom Ward, 'A Departure', 2013) [VD]
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12 September 2014: Chris Morgan talks to the Brum Group at the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham city centre. 7:30pm for 8pm; £4 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk or rog dot peyton at btinternet dot com. Future meetings: 10 October 2014, Richard Ashton; 7 November 2014, Storm Constantine; 5 December 2014, Christmas Social.
PayPal Tip Jar Thingy. Support Ansible, cover website costs and keep the editor happy! Or just buy his books.
Editorial. The Loncon 3 committee cannot be held responsible for the widespread post-con lurgi which took a while to incubate but also proved epic in scale. All sympathy to fellow-sufferers. Even now I'm still coughing up [REDACTED]. Here are some of my Worldcon photos:
R.I.P. II. Stan Goldberg (1932-2014), US comics artist who worked for Marvel in the 1960s – creating the original colour designs for such characters as Spider-Man, the Fantastic Four and the Hulk – died on 31 August aged 82. [DKMK]
Thog's Second Helping. Dept of Ancillary Infodump. '"You know how annexations work. I mean, yes, they work by sheer, undeniable force, but after. After the executions and the transportations and once all the last bits of idiots who think they can fight back are cleaned up. Once all that's done, we fit whoever's left into Radchaai society – they form up into houses, and take clientage, and in a generation or two they're as Radchaai as anybody. And mostly that happens because we go to the top of the local hierarchy – there pretty much always is one – and offer them all sorts of benefits in exchange for behaving like citizens, offer them clientage contracts, which allows them to offer contracts to whoever is below them, and before you know it the whole local setup is tied into Radchaai society, with minimal disruption." / Lieutenant Awn made an impatient gesture. She already knew this.' (Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice, 2013) [DH]
Ansible 326 Copyright © David Langford, 2014. Thanks to Paul Barnett, Barbara Barrett, John Clute, Paul Di Filippo, Val Dobson, File 770, David Herter, Arthur D. Hlavaty, Martyn P. Jackson, Amanda Kear, David K. M. Klaus, Jim Linwood, Omega, Private Eye, Hannes Riffel, Andrew Wells, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 September 2014.