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Ansible 46, July 1986

PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (the editor's postal address hasn't, but ignore old e-mail addresses), prices and agents' credits are invalid, etc. • Dave Langford, 1993.


ANSIBLE 46 • JULY 1986 • ISSN 0265-9816
Inexorable as an amok sloth, hard-hitting as eiderdown fluff, fast-moving as the continental glaciation of your choice, DAVE LANGFORD offers a further Valium-paced issue of the semi-annual newszine about which it was once said, but not any more. Late-breaking news (we handle no other sort) and irate cancellations to 94 LONDON ROAD, READING, BERKSHIRE, RG1 5AU, UK. Still 5 issues or a lifetime subscription, whichever comes first, for £2 sterling: cheques/money orders to ANSIBLE, Girobank transfer to account 24 475 4403. Or $3.50 to US agents Mary & Bill Burns (23 Kensington Court, Hempstead, NY 11550); or $4A to Aussie agent Irwin (For GUFF) Hirsh, 2/416 Dandenong Rd, North Caulfield, Vic 3161. Phone: Reading (0734) 665804 – please shout. Cartoon: Jackie Burns. Language Lesson: deferred. Inertia (c) Isaac Newton, 1679.


ME

Oh, I've been fine, thanks, just a little reclusive (busy). Exciting literary news is that Baen Books want to reprint The Space Eater, and promise that theirs will be the first edition whose cover art doesn't seize prospective buyers by the eyeballs and hurl them violently out of the bookshop. I can hardly wait for February and my appearance alongside such favourites as David Drake and Jerry Pournelle. New creative efforts consist chiefly of outlining – with "John Grant" – Guts, a horrifying reading experience ("Inside every one of us there lurks a monster!") which will make Stephen King look like Enid Blyton, or vice-versa. Alas, my best effort Leaky Establishment has yet again been bounced by a US editor who after lavish praise gave it the thumbs-down because the humour was "so indiginous". Will anyone direct me to a nice American publisher who (a) can spell indigenous; (b) doesn't mind British books being it?


HUGE AND KNOBBLY, ETC.

There comes a time in every newszine editor's life when burning commitment to the Whole Truth cannot entirely eclipse the thought, "Oh God, have I got to type out sixty-three bloody Hugo Nominations again?" Not much controversy, either, though the Confederation committee tried its best by notifying pro but not fan nominees in advance (the latter had to find out from newszines, and were therefore not offered the chance of refusal, which would have tempted at least one easily misspelled fan "when I heard who the nominees were in the Best Fanzine category"). But who cares, really? I sense 90% of my readership preparing to skip the following....

569 ballots cast: Novel Blood Music/Bear (yay), Cuckoo's Egg/Cherryh, Ender's Game/Card, Nuke 'Em Till They Glow, Then Shoot 'Em In The Dark/Niven+Pournelle, The Postman/Brin. Novella "Green Mars"/K.S. Robinson, "The Only Neat Thing To Do"/ Tiptree, "Sailing to Byzantium"/Silverberg, "The Scapegoat"/ Cherryh, "24 Views of Mt Fuji, by Hokusai"/Zelazny. Novelette "Dogfight"/Swanwick+Gibson, "The Fringe"/Card, "A Gift from the Graylanders"/Bishop, "Paladin of the Lost Hour"/Ellison, "Portraits of His Children"/G.R.R. Martin. Short "Dinner in Audoghast"/Sterling, "Fermi and Frost"/Pohl, "Flying Saucer Rock and Roll"/Waldrop, "Hong's Bluff"/Wu, "Snow"/Crowley. Nonfiction Benchmarks: Galaxy Bookshelf/Budrys, An Edge In My Voice/Ellison, Faces Of Fear/Winter, The John W. Campbell Letters, Vol.1/Chapdelaine+Hay (ed), The Pale Shadow Of Science/Aldiss (nice one, Serconia Press), Science Made Stupid/Weller. Dramatic Back To The Future, Brazil, Cocoon, Enemy Mine, Ladyhawke. Pro Editor Terry Carr, Judy-Lynn del Rey, Edward L. Ferman, Shawna McCarthy, Stanley Schmidt. Pro Artist Kelly Freas, Don Maitz, Rowena Morrill, Barclay Shaw, Michael Whelan. Fanartist Brad Foster, Steve Fox, Joan Hanke-Woods, William Rotsler, Stu Shiffman. Semiprozine Fantasy Review, Interzone (yay), Locus, SF Chronicle, SF Review. Fanzine Anvil, Greater Columbia Fantasy Costumers' Guild Newsletter (yeah, words fail me too), Holier Than Thou, Lan's Lantern, Universal Translator. Fanwriter Don D'Ammassa, Dick Geis, Mike Glyer, Arthur Hlavaty, me, Patrick Neilsen-Hayden (sic). JWC Memorial (non-Hugo) Karen Joy Fowler, Guy Gavriel Kay, Carl Sagan, Melissa Scott, Tad Williams, David Zindell.

Wouldn't you much rather hear about the Nebulas? No, I thought not, but for the record: Novel Ender's Game/Card, Novella "Sailing to Byzantium"/Silverberg, Novelette "Portraits of His Children"/Martin, Short "Out of All Them Bright Stars"/Kress, Grand Master Longevity Award A.C. Clarke. "Oh God," said an unnameable SFWA source, "we all put in nominations for Card out of er politeness because he was tallying the preliminary ballots, but we never expected...."

The best associated fun came from Norman Spinrad's unbelievable full-page paid ad in SFWA Bulletin, headed "A Matter of Literary Principle & Personal Pique". This loftily begins "WHEREAS science fiction has come under increasing attack from the mainstream critical establishment at a time when many of us are seeking to establish its bona fides as seriously-intended literary art –" After a few more whereases we come to the meat: "I therefore hereby withdraw my future work for consideration for the Nebula Award.... To those who surmise that I am doing this out of personal pique at having not received a Nebula nomination for Child Of Fortune, I freely admit that this was a consideration. That such a work failed to be nominated proves, if nothing else, that the literary standards of the SFWA as a whole have diverged so far from my own that to accept a future Nebula would, for me, be an act of cynical hypocrisy."

Further Spinrad announcements, we are unreliably informed, will similarly shame and refute the inadequate standards of the Pulitzer and Nobel prizes.

Back in Britain, I report a mindboggling coincidence. An official announcement at last arrived, confirming the long-rumoured Arthur C. Clarke SF Award (£1000 for the best UK-SF novel of the preceding calendar year, first presentation next Easter). In the very same post came a review copy of the hardback The Songs Of Distant Earth by Arthur C. Clarke! The "Arthur", promoted by energetic George Hay, is to be run by the BSFA, SF Foundation and for no apparent reason the International Science Policy Foundation, who will jointly prepare a shortlist of Approved Nominees. Noises have been made about the existing BSFA Awards fading away after 1987 in the face of this lucrative competition. One intermittently successful purpose of the BSFA Award was to publicize the name "BSFA". I couldn't get to Albacon to ask how much useful publicity the BSFA thinks it will gain from the new award's name....

Interest declared: 1986 BSFA Awards went to Brian Aldiss's Helliconia Winter, my own Interzone short "Cube Root", Brazil (media) and Jim Burns (best drunken artist).

As for fan awards, the Independent British Poll was nearly as ill-supported as Ansible's last. Still Life and Stomach Pump tied for Best UK Fanzine, while Simon Ounsley's mythopoeic Novacon 14 report (TNH) was deservedly Best Article.


LETTERS AND THINGS

Ian Watson has been succouring his fellow men: "We entertained a tramp to tea, though he would only come in out of the sub-zero after we papered the carpet with copies of Tribune. Perhaps he was reluctant to yield to our genteel persuasions since he was aware that warmth brought out The Smell (back to horror fiction). This smell was interesting because it migrated around the house for untold hours in the form of discrete mobile pockets, like solid invisible balloons, which you as a physicist will recognize as quanta of smell. Discretion stopped us from asking the obvious question: 'Were you once a science fiction writer?'" [IW]

Marise Morland-Chapman is outraged: "The short story 'Tangents' by Greg Bear in Omni [Feb or March] is a direct pinch from Hal Clement's short story 'Star, Bright' published circa 1968. I'm sure you've read it so I won't document a list of parallels – believe me, they're there. Assuming that Bear & Clement haven't done some sort of a deal, I think this sort of thing's very unfair...." [MMC] Haven't read either, but these arguments tend to be fruitless. (Unconscious imitation? Independent creation? Who fished the murex up? What porridge had John Keats?) Let's see who, if anybody, sues....

Martin Morse Wooster has his finger on the pulse of something or other: "I've just returned from Corflu. It was full of appalling spectacle, such as the grisly bidding scene where the 'clean' Langford stack, full of character-building issues of Extro and the Omni Book Of The Future, went for a paltry $10, while the 'dirty' Langford stack – two issues of Knave, full of lewd women wearing what mid-Atlantic fan Ms A. Carol explained were 'not garter belts, but suspender belts' – fetched a full $15.... The John W. Campbell Letters have just been published. Perhaps the most curious is one of March 4, 1959 to Heinlein's agent rejecting Starship Troopers. 'You could produce a profound anti-Nazi feeling in the readers by telling a story 100% from the viewpoint of a dedicated, fervent Nazi. I hear Bob [Heinlein]'s going to induce considerable anti-patriotism in a lot of readers by telling a story from the viewpoint of a 100% dedicated patriot.' Don't tell Joseph Nicholas.... R.I. Barycz goofed in his description of the Lucasfilm suit. High Frontier, a militarization-of-space lobby affiliated with Baen Books, Heinlein, and Jerry Pournelle, produced ONE commercial, a child's drawing that showed evil Soviet missiles melting like antacids against the firm protection of the, er, 'Peace Shield'. Lucasfilm's suit was thrown out of court, so anyone can call satellite systems 'Star Wars' or whatever." [MMW]

D.M. Sherwood was at Albacon: "The meeting for a possible constitution for Eastercons has been referred to a subcommittee; such scraps as I caught suggest that Talmudic exegesis lives (there seems no facing of the question of how enforcement would work; apparently we're all supposed to write to Locus and say what naughty boys & girls people have been). The big Bob (fake) Shaw confrontation scene at the registration desk was defused by a brilliant ploy – they let him in. Hyper-brilliant counterploy on his part: he did fuck-all, just sat in the bar and conducted a genial court-in-exile (except he wasn't in exile...). Innovative question session by GoH Joe Haldeman – his wife wrote the questions." [DMS]

(I had some outraged prior correspondence copied to me by "Harrogeightyseven" person Andrew R. Bennett [some relation], with Albacon diplomatically writing "Nyahh nyahh, we're not letting Shaw into the con except maybe for the bidding session, so there," and the putative Eastercon bid replying with equal mature dignity, "Yah boo sucks, we're cancelling our bid and our memberships then.")

FGoH John Jarrold was there too: "I had a great time. Met Joe & Gay Haldeman on Thursday lunchtime in the bar (where else?) after a boozy trip up overnight, drinking beer with some Scottish sailors. Didn't go to bed on Friday or Saturday but eventually gave up the ghost around 7am Monday morning. Sang every night in the bar (aren't you glad you weren't there?) with the Haldemans, Toby Roxburgh, Neil Gaiman and other worthies. My throat is just recovering. Major surprise of the con was being asked for an autograph: this was after reading a Harlan Ellison story during a horror reading that also included Clive Barker and Ramsey Campbell. A young fan came up to me in the bar with a copy of the Books of Blood and asked me to sign it. I didn't believe he was serious, so I questioned him closely, but he really meant it. Talk about a sense of wonder. I haven't mentioned this to Clive yet. I will, during some quiet moment, when there are several yards and a sturdy door between us." [JJ]

Dave Wood sends bizarre local headlines (NEW RIDDLE AS BODY IS FOUND / LAKE: WAS IT MURDER? / NICHOLAS FIRES THE GUNS) and another Magical Albacon Moment: "...the story of Greg P. being found snoring behind a locked toilet door up in Glasgow. He was identified by Mal Ashworth crawling on his hands and knees across the toilet floor and peering under the door. 'I realized it was Pickersgill when I saw the glasses on the floor,' he told me. Sad that the only way to recognize a trouserless P. is by his bi-focals...." [DW] Prospective Confederation members please note.

Lisa Tuttle pleads: "No more Stardate submissions from anybody, please. Sigh." All is about to be explained:


LETTER FROM AMERICA • STEVE BROWN

Stardate has achieved extinction. It is a long and depressing story. In the proverbial nutshell, our financier was a black sheep member of the DuPont family. He was born to the purple, and spent his life as a giddy wastrel. We have been calling him Arthur, after the Dudley Moore character. Arthur owns a $400 million trust fund, which his family won't allow him to touch because he is such a flake. He is allowed by the family to eke out an existence on the interest from the fund – $57 million annually.

Now I don't think that you or I would have much trouble making ends meet on $57 million per year, but it is indicative of Arthur's financial acumen that he was continually running short and had to borrow on the forthcoming year's interest. Arthur loves to play with businesses. He owns hundreds of small businesses in a bewilderingly interlocked rat's nest of finances, yet his entire accounting dept. consists of one little old lady without a computer.

Arthur was certainly sincere about Stardate, and we did spend about half a million of his dollars, but the experience of prying more loose from him became so byzantine that it killed us. Arthur never could understand that other people needed money on a regular basis, to fill the refrigerator, pay the rent, and other wastrel expenses. To Arthur, money is like air. It is always there, and if you need some, you just reach out and grab it. We came to a point where our phones were going to be shut off, the office staff worked for six weeks without pay, etc., while Arthur was taking an extended cruise of Antigua.

So, we had to die. We tried for a quick sale, but what passed for Arthur's people were incapable of getting the paperwork in order to allow a sale. It is possible that we may resurface by the end of the year, under a different name. Now that we have four issues to show investors, things look possible. Dana, our energetic publisher, is shuttling from coast to coast right now trying to interest investors. But I'll believe it when I see it.

For your troubles, I enclose a copy of the final issue. This may become a valuable collector's item someday, if only because of the Gibson story. The magazine was an infuriating mix of the ridiculous and the sublime, due to Arthur's indiscriminate contract signing before he found us. All that gaming stuff and the low-grade media material was contracted for, down to the very name of the magazine, which is a word copyrighted by Paramount Pictures (it is a Star Trek word). We had hoped that the quality of fiction would offset the erosion of credibility that sixteen pages of deadly dull gaming material would foster.

If you see Lisa Tuttle (Stardate's Person in the UK) wandering the streets of Soho, keening softly to herself, please comfort her. She was doing a great job, and had just sent us a truly brilliant Dave Garnett story that I would have killed to be allowed to publish. Now she, too, must make many embarrassing phone calls. As our office person, Heather, said when it had become apparent that Stardate was no longer viable: "Brown, do you realize that we have to contact over 3,000 people, from artists and writers to distributors, printers, store owners, advertisers, etc. and depressingly etc?."

Sic Transit Gloria Fictum.

...Your definition of that problematic word "cyberpunk" is the best one I've seen yet. "Praised in Cheap Truth and agented by Chris Priest," indeed. Not to blow my own horn too much, I'm in a better position to comment on this movement than most anybody. More by coincidence than anything, I know all the writers grouped under that label personally. Bruce Sterling and I have been corresponding for ten years, I met and befriended Gibson before he ever wrote a word of fiction, and I am guilty of having known John Shirley for 15 years, and even sharing a house with him in the early 70s. Thus, I've known from the beginning just what an inaccurate label "cyberpunk" is. Shirley is certainly punky enough, but he hasn't a cybernetic chip in his body. Bruce is cybernetic as hell, but is a comfortable family man who writes superb, but "traditional", hard SF. Rudy Rucker is neither cybernetic not punky, but he is a friend of Bill, Bruce and John, and shares some attitudes. His own fiction is kind of cartoonlike, and about as cybernetic as Bugs Bunny. That leaves Bill, who does fit the definition, but more or less stands alone, except for the emerging crop of imitators. Gardner Dozois coined That Term in the Washington Post a year ago, and like all labels it drastically simplified and pigeonholed a group of quite disparate writers whose main connection with each other is mutual friendship and the odd collaboration. Lord release us from the artistic bonds placed about our thighs by critics hunting for a quick and easy phrase! [SB]


"A TRIUMPH OF STYLE OVER CONTENT"

... thus Greg Pickersgill's heart-warming TAFF victory statement. 249 votes were cast: J. Hanna 61, S. Ounsley 84, GP 98, Hold Over Funds and write-ins 6, leading to eliminations and a second ballot with SO 114, GP 125, HOF 7. Greg therefore gets a chance to demonstrate how TAFF delegates should properly comport themselves (see my trip report, page 27), while the Pickersgill manse (7a Lawrence Rd, S. Ealing, London, W5 4XJ) becomes the throbbing centre of UK TAFF activity and fund-raising for the next two years....

(Speaking of the trip report, still available from this address at a trifling £2.25 post free, I note with vast gratitude and deep smugness that TAFF got $500 from the LA-Con coffers and $50 from Massachusetts Convention Fandom Inc as a reward for actually getting a report into print. Preen.)

Meanwhile, the declared 1987 TAFF candidates (Bill Bowers, Brian Earl Brown, Mike Glicksohn, Jeanne Gomoll) had been mostly sold on attending the '87 Eastercon as being more typical of UK fandom than a tacky old Worldcon. This determination wavered "in view of the way that Eastercon and the British Worldcon later in the year are respectively shaping up" (P. Nielsen Hayden, Taffluvia 6), and all four now wish to attend Conspiracy. Because the latter looks so wonderful, or because of wicked rumours about Beccon's fan programme? Can there be a connection with Steve Green's and Kev Clarke's withdrawal of their offer to run silly Eastercon games? My current low profile precludes me from knowing the answers.

Finally, 1976 NA-to-UK TAFF delegate Roy Tackett still has a soft spot for us, as evidenced in Anvil 40: "There is, somehow, something attractive about the thought of sitting back and watching the English get nuked."


The Ansible Educational Supplement presents:
THE WELL-TEMPERED PLOT DEVICE by NICK LOWE


The Fiction/Good Taste Supplement:
BRAD BERRY (1920-1986) by DAVID S. GARNETT

The death has been reported of noted sci-fi writer Brad Berry, shortly after the publication of his first novel for over 20 years, Bombing Is A Lonely Business.

Mr Berry cancelled a European trip recently because of anticipated unfavourable reviews. He refused to visit Britain, believing it had become an editorial target after a Readers Disgust subscription campaign against Libya had been launched from bases in England. Mr Berry also called off a visit to France, as a protest against French publishers who had refused to allow mail shots to overfly their territory – they were concerned about possible readership losses in the home market.

Although its population is only one percent of that of the U.S.A., Libya's influence as a centre of worldwide literary subversion is well known: their notorious sponsorship of "Number One International Bestsellers", for example, although for security reasons evidence of the responsibility for the 1984 Booker Prize atrocity must be kept secret. Editor-in-Chief of Libyan House is Colonel "Mad Pencil" Qadhafi, who does not subscribe to Readers Disgust or its values, and who was attempting to set up an alternative magazine. Because the Readers Disgust special offer campaign had resulted in circulation cuts among readers of his own publication, Editor Qadhafi was believed to be considering a new publicity drive, using famous personalities to endorse his global policies.

Regarding Mr Berry as a representative of decent American Mid-Western values, it was rumoured that a special decommissioning editor would cancel his contract while he was in London. All Mr Berry's books would have been set on fire – a gesture designed as an ironic parody of his movie novelization Burn, Commie, Burn – and the author himself was to have received the ultimate censorship and been remaindered.

By refusing to leave the safety of his native country, Mr Berry avoided the devastating critical massacre at the Royal Connaught public house in London, which left the cream of Britain's sci-fi authors suffering from severe writer's block. Mr Berry was scheduled to be the special guest of the Supper Club, but he withdrew when he discovered that the date set for the meeting was May 1, the infamous pagan holiday. However, another American celebrity had arrived in London a few days earlier, and she graciously accepted the role of substitute. Wallis Simpson, better known under her pseudonym the Duchess of Windsor, had no fear of being terminally edited. As she was already dead, instead of giving a speech her final royalty statement was read out by a ghost writer.

Ironically, it was on the very same day that Mr Berry was mugged and shot dead a few yards from his own home, becoming one of the 10,000 Americans who are sacrificed each year to the Second Amendment. Mr Berry seems to have been the victim of one of the annoying mistakes which so bedevilled his own published works – a typo. Recent research shows that the 1791 Constitutional Amendment contained a misprint: the right to "bear" arms should have been "bare" arms. Alas, instead of having his sleeves rolled up Mr Berry's attacker was democratically armed with a handgun.

Mr Berry was arguably the world's most famous sci-fi writer. Everyone has heard of him, although nobody has read any of his books. He will probably be best remembered for his contributions to the visual media. As well as novelizing Burn, Commie, Burn, he scripted the famous video nasty Moby Sick. He reached his peak in 1953 with the release of two memorable movies based on his short stories: It Came From Out Of Hollywood and The Beast From Washington DC. Mr Berry will also never be forgotten for the television mini-series of his book The Farcical Chronicles, which raised model making technology to heights which had not been achieved since the heady days of Thunderbirds.

His penultimate novel, Nothing Wicked From America Comes, was made into another movie by Ricky Rat Studios; but until what will sadly be his last novel, Mr Berry had for two decades confined himself to short stories. Many of these appeared within the pages of Masturbator, the short story being an ideal length for the attention span of "readers" of this journal. A number of these were stuck together (as indeed were so many pages of Masturbator) into yet another film, The Ignorant Man, linked by the plot device of having the narratives written on the walls of a rest room.

Mr Berry had been planning to visit Britain next year, by which time he hoped that his bad reviews would have been forgotten, and that editor Qadhafi would have been sacked, thereby reducing the threat of literary agents to innocent authors everywhere. The World SF Convention is being held in September 1987, in Brighton – the English seaside town where one of the main hotels was the scene of an IRA structuralist critique during a recent annual conference of Conservative Press, resulting in several early redundancies. In a unique joint publishing venture, the Irish Readers Association is reported to receive many of its manuscripts from Libyan House, while publication of such novels is financed by voluntary contributions from freedom loving American patriots.

It is for this spirit of peaceful co-operation, international tolerance and world friendship that Brad Berry will be remembered as long as there are late night movies. [DSG]

[Your Editor Adds: This must be some kind of allegory. I certainly didn't see any famous American author failing to attend the SF Supper Club at the Royal Connaught. Ansible is as always completely irresponsible, for everything.]


C.O.A. (NOT ALL RECENT!)

MICHAEL ABBOTT, Flat 7, Bryanstone Rd, Talbot Woods, Bournemouth, BH3 7JE • PAUL BARNETT, 17 Polsloe Rd, Exeter, Devon, EX1 2HL • MERV BINNS (& AUSTRALIAN SF NEWS), PO Box 491, Elsternwick, Vic 3185, Australia • TERRY BROOME, 23 Claremont St, Lincoln, LN2 5BN • DENICE & BRIAN EARL BROWN, 11675 Beaconsfield, Detroit, MI 48224, USA • PETER COLLEY, 7 Sumatra Rd, West Hampstead, London, NW6 • JONATHAN COXHEAD, 92 Histon Rd, Cambridge, CB4 3JP • GAMES WORKSHOP (where erstwhile Imagine boss Paul Cockburn is now in charge of everything interesting, Ian Marsh and most of the old mob having been expunged from the histories for unwillingness to move north), Enfield Chambers, 16-18 Low Pavement, Nottingham, NG1 7DL • ROY HILL, 8 Windsor Rd, Canterbury, Kent, CT1 3UN • TERRY & MARGARET HILL, 42 Chaplin Drive, Headcorn, Kent, TN27 9TN • PHIL JAMES, GSOC/MARCOL Team, DFVLR, D-8031 Oberpfaffenhofen, West Germany • LEIGH KENNEDY, 2 Alma Place, Marlborough, Wilts, SN8 1AF • KEITH KNIGHT, 164 Goldhurst Tce, West Hampstead, London, NW6 3HP • CHRIS LEWIS, UWIST, Redwood Bldg, King Edward VII Ave, Cardiff • MATT MACKULIN, 8 Upper Ashmount, Cloughfold, Rawtenstall, Rossendale, Lancs, BB4 7PS • IAN MARSH, Top Flat, 19 Rusholme Rd, London, SW15 3JX • TOM PERRY, PO Box E, Sugar Loaf, NY 10981, USA • DARROLL & RO PARDOE, 38 Marina Village, Preston Brook, Runcorn, Cheshire, WA7 3BQ • MAUREEN PORTER, 114 Guildhall St, Folkestone, Kent, CT20 1ES • ANDY SAWYER, 1 The Flaxyard, Woodfall Lane, Little Neston, S. Wirral, Cheshire, L64 4BT • JOHN SLADEK, Apt 2, 15201 Scenic Heights Rd, Eden Prairie, MN 55344, USA • KEVIN & DIANA SMITH, 19 Millford, Goldsworth Park, Woking, Surrey, GU21 3LH • SPHERE BOOKS, 27 Wrights Lane, London, W8 5TZ (NB: lovable editor Colin Murray has left, seeking new worlds to conquer) • ALEX STEWART, 47 St Johns Green, Colchester, Essex, CO2 7EZ • KEV & SUE WILLIAMS (temporary, pending permanent settlement in the civilized South), c/o Richardson Vicks Ltd, R&D Labs, Rusham Park, Whitehall Lane, Egham, Surrey, TW20 9NW • STEVE WOOLHOUSE, 19 Jaunty Mount, Sheffield, South Yorks, S12 3DR • Bob Lichtman adds a footnote: "Walter Willis of Stanford, California, recognizing the confusion he's been inadvertently causing among 6th fandom fans everywhere, has voluntarily changed his name. He is sure his new name, Lee Hoffman, will rectify this problem."


CONVENTION NOTES (OR, MORE BORING BITS)

Consept/Unicon 7 (8-10 Aug, Guildford) has GoH Tanith Lee; £4 supp £8 att; 9 Graham Rd, Wealdstone, Harrow, Middlesex, HA3 5RP. (They call it "Un7con", perhaps meaning "Not Unicon 7.")

Rubicon (22-25 Aug, Newbury) is Not Quite Silicon: £5 to Bishop's Cottage, Park House Lane, Reading, Berks, RG3 2AH.

Confederation (Worldcon, 28 Aug - 2 Sept, Atlanta): just too late to book in advance, and it's $65 at the door. GoH Ray Bradbury, FGoH Terry Carr. (Suite 1986, 3277 Roswell Rd, Atlanta, GA 30305, USA.)

Fantasycon XI (26-28 Sept, Brum) claims its "high point" is a banquet cum awards ceremony, but this is probably a plot to deter undesirables. £2 supp £10 att to 15 Stanley Rd, Morden, Surrey, SM4 5DE.

XIIcon (26-29 Sept, Glasgow): GoH Harry Harrison. £3 supp £9 att; "Beachfield", Calfmuir Rd, Lenzie, Glasgow, G66 3JJ.

Beneluxcon 1986: there is no Beneluxcon 1986.

Nicon '86 (26 Oct, Belfast) purports to be the First Northern Ireland SF Convention, with GoH Anne McCaffrey. One day only; £1 supp £2 att, cheques to "Queen's Clubs & Societies". Thomas Ferguson, SF Soc, c/o QUBSU Bldg, University Rd, Belfast BT7 1PE. (Despite stiff competition from Mike Sherwood, Thomas F. has the worst handwriting of any Ansible correspondent. Our cryptanalysts are working on several letters from him, some of which may even be arranged into

words

.)

Novacon 16 (31 Oct - 2 Nov, Coventry): GoH Ted Tubb, who will dictate a Dumarest book as the first third of his speech, plus Chris Evans. £8 to 86 Berwood Farm Rd, Wylde Green, Sutton Coldfield, W Midlands. 5,271,009 fans claim to be "skipping Novacon" following a slightly over-the-top Chairman's Warning in PR1, but most will doubtless relent. (The warning? Usual stuff: castration and eviction for anyone caught importing booze, holding room parties, going barefoot, sleeping on floors, annoying hotel staff, etc. Chairman Tony Berry has not mastered the subtle art of at least appearing to be on the side of the fans rather than the hotel....)

Conception (13-15 Feb, Leeds) celebrates 50 years since a certain famous Leeds convention and aims to recreate intervening history, omitting the 1937 Temperance Hall theme. £6 to 12 Fearnville Tce, Oakwood, Leeds, LS8 3DU. To pinch a phrase from V. Omniaveritas, this one is so ideologically sound it should be mailed in a sealed train to Moscow.

Oricon (6-8 March, Essex) claims to be an Irwin Allen cum General Media con. Who's Irwin Allen? (I can probably live on without this information, actually.) £12 plus – chiz chiz – 3 SAEs to 66 Burdett Ave, Westcliff on Sea, essex, SS0 7JW.

Beccon '87 (Eastercon, NEC, Brum): GoH Keith Roberts, FGoH A.N. Other. £5 supp £10 att, rates to rise by £1 on 1 Sept.

Conspiracy '87 (27 Aug - 2 Sept, somewhere on the south coast) is still happening! Membership now £25/$40/$A50, firm to 30 Sept this year. The GoH list has swollen still further with the addition of Arkady & Boris Strugatsky ("dunno if they'll really come," said an unnamed chairman); persons not actually on the committee are running a "Three Fan Guests Are Not Enough, Let's Have Terry Jeeves As Well" campaign, provoking the Conspirators to tumultuous apathy.... Pam Wells begs massive information input about fan groups worldwide – but especially UK – for purposes of official Fan Liaison. Ditto fanzines for fan room display: send to Pam at 24a Beech Rd, Bowes Park, London, N11 2DA, marked "Conspiracy" to prevent them vanishing into the recesses of the mighty Wells archive. RON BENNETT is doing the dealers' room (tables £25/$37.50, wall tables £30/$45, rates for ceiling tables not given): bookings by 1 May with £10 deposit to him at 36 Harlow Park Cres, Harrogate, HG2 0AW.


INFINITELY IMPROBABLE

Ideological Horror At TWP: The editors of our all-female APA were ticked off by a resigning Joy Hibbert for their hideous gaffe of using cover artwork by one D. West, whose cryptic initial is believed to conceal the name of a m*n....

Paul (John Grant) Barnett is in the throes of a definitive Walt Disney encyclopaedia (he got a free research trip to California, too): "The task is roughly equivalent to writing the entire Encyclopaedia Of SF single-handed... or even with the help of an Australian critic and editor. Oh joy. At least I haven't had to watch The Black Hole or Tron."

DUFF: the ballot for who gets the coveted trip from Australia to Confederation was won by (take a deep breath) the artists' collective Lewis Morley, Marilyn Pride and Nick Stathopoulos. Good people, I'm told, but one does wonder about the precedent. Could the Interzone collective stand as a single candidate for TAFF? The entire BSFA for GUFF? Spung!

A Load Of Old Cabellers: a couple of you asked after the James Branch Cabell society and its organ ("rampant in every member") Kalki. Try Prof Dorys C. Grover, Hall of Languages 208, Fast Texas State University, Commerce, TX 75428, USA. Can one deduce, in a manner not convenient to describe, that Cabell has fallen into the hands of the academics?

Professional Controversy! Quite a bit of late. In the letter column of the Grauniad, Michael Moorcock launched a campaign to have vile John Norman banned, only to get into a fearful tangle when the W.H. Smith people started raising unfair points like "why was all censorship evil when New Worlds was being attacked, but not now?".... Tom Disch used the columns of The Nation (USA) to be doubtful about SF, Shuttles, and space militarization, modulating gleefully into an attack on Jerry Pournelle – whose reported reply confines itself to not wholly cogent points like "My fans don't carry toy guns, that's Gordon Dickson" and "I have no special uniforms other than Boy Scouts of America".... On the fan front, Ken Lake complained at wearying length about Colin Fine's term "arch-whinger" in A45 ("Lying comments... cowardly sod... I will welcome a grovelling apology when he has the guts to make it," etc). Colin duly apologized. Enough of that.

R.I. P: the Ansible Book of the Dead is sadly outdated, but we can't omit the deaths of Robert P. Mills (7 Feb, of heart attack), Frank Herbert (11 Feb, of cancer: his The Dragon In The Sea still means a lot to me, and Dune has its moments), Judy-Lynn Del Rey (20 Feb, following coma mentioned last issue), Manly Wade Wellman (5 April, following unspeakable experience also mentioned last issue), Thomas N. Scortia (28 April, of leukaemia) and J. Allen Hynek, one-time scientist who went barmy about UFOs and got a bit part in CE3K. In Britain, that long-term fan and pillar of the Swansea group Roger Gilbert died late in June, apparently from a brain haemorrhage. Another fan group, the Birmingham-area MisFitS, was officially pronounced dead on 28 June ("terminal membership loss," says Dr Steve Green). And Mal Ashworth has issued his own obituary notice: "as of now I am Out – gafiated – fannishly flatlined." Gosh, it's like seeing Harlan Ellison sever every connection with SF, again....

Nebula Award Thrills! Marvel Comics have circularized SFWA members with copies of their Moonshadow comic and a plea for the institution (they can't actually spell institution, but never mind) of a Nebula comics category. Ansible advises them to forget it. Our own far more heartfelt campaign for a Best Deaf Author category was rudely ignored.

Pro News Column (By Garry Kilworth): "Garry Kilworth goes semi-straight this August with a mainstream novel to be published by The Bodley Head, called Witchwater Country," writes Garry Kilworth. "This is a novel about fantasy, not of fantasy, with its grotesque and macabre elements, such as could delight SF and fantasy fans, incorporated as part of the realistic world of the adolescent who finds it difficult to separate the supernatural from the mundane." [GK]

Soviet News: "handwritten translations of Rob Holdstock's short story 'Thorn' (the Novacon 14 souvenir booklet) are currently doing the rounds in Volgograd, courtesy of the city's 'Winds of Time' SF group – Rob's eyes clouded with visions of millions of roubles in lost royalties when given the news at Mexicon II, but calmed down when he realized the readership is barely into double figures." [Steve Green]

Everything Must Go! Eric Bentcliffe is flogging vast numbers of SF books and mags collected over the past several aeons: much rare stuff, much dross, want lists appreciated, confidentiality guaranteed to Philip E. High completists.... (17 Riverside Cres, Holmes Chapel, Cheshire, CW4 7NR.)

James White Pushes Back Frontiers Of Good Taste! In his hard-hitting new Sector General book, "E-t body wastes and bedpans are dealt with in one sentence, but it is all done in the best possible taste." [JW]

Concrete Overcoat Fan Fund: this may vanish after last year's ructions – see Novacon 16's PR2 for an attempt to Finger the Pulse of Fandom. Interim voting totals circa Albacon showed only three fans with an unpopularity in double figures (all 10): Vince Docherty, Robert Sneddon, Ian Sorensen. Postal votes at 10p each may be sent to COFF's transparent nom de plume "Alliance & Leicester Building Society" c/o K. Clarke, 191 Valley Rd, Solihull, West Midlands. All cash to worthy causes, etc.

Skiffy Dean Speaks! Robert Heinlein emerged from seclusion to tell The Wall Street Journal his philosophy of literature: "To me the acme of prose style is exemplified by that simple, graceful clause, 'Pay to the order of....'" [MMW] Meanwhile, the 1986 Ansible award for Being Influenced By Famous Heinlein Narrative Hooks goes to S. Delany's Stars In My Pocket Like Grains Of Sand, wherein we find: "The door deliquesced." (No, really, it sort of melts into a puddle to let you in.)

Past Cons: Too much has already been printed about Mexicon (where Iain Banks incurred the dread fandom addiction, Joe Nicholas was inverted, and your editor was put in a poncho for being too clever by half) and Corflu (where Dan Steffan hurled a pie at GoH Teresa Nielsen Hayden ["I woulda decked him" – A. Carol], Patrick NH squirted cream up Dan's nose, and every membership badge said HELLO! I'M RICHARD BERGERON). Best bit: en route to Corflu, Rob Hansen had trouble with a US Customs thug who was deeply insulted by a certain Jim Barker cover. "'Is this supposed to show that while the guy behind the desk is going through these folks' stuff he's too dumb to see the other guy sneaking stuff by him?' he asked. I smiled a sickly smile and suddenly wished I hadn't agreed to carry all those copies of Dave's trip report over...." [RH]

The Savage Popcorn Of R.I. Barycz: "20th Century Fox is sueing LA Effects Group for falling down on SFX work for Aliens. You can tell this is a serious bit of sueing because Fox only want $407,935.74 being their unpaid advance and $176,000 in damages. The real kick is their also asking for a court order to say that 20th is not liable for the legal claims arising out of LA Effects' failure to complete the work. I translate this as Fox's attempt to stop the US cinema industry from sueing Fox for not delivering Aliens on a set date (a set hour of the day, even!) in 1986 – said industry and cinema owners having paid Fox $25,000,000 in up-front non-returnable guarantees for the privilege of selling popcorn during the showing of Aliens. If they don't get what they paid for they will sue Fox for $1000 million or whatever. Wot's that noise? Industrial Light & Magic riding to the rescue, again....

"The flick's action takes up either 30 seconds after the end of Alien or 57 years later when Ripley (and her pussy) are picked up by another space ship in a state of hibernation. A still in Screen International shows our heroine looking fraught and armed with a piece of lethal hardware (looks good), but she's also carrying on her other hip a small female child who looks winsome rather than fraught (bodes no good – not small winsome children in a skiffy movie)." [RIB]

Your Mailing Label Explained. T. Kevin Atherton speaks for you all: "I write to thank you for happy little Ansible and to reaffirm my unwillingness to give you so much as a penny of my hard-earned money even if you were to claim you were going to use it to ship grain to Ethiopia. Rather than give in to such 'sub overdue' taunts as you might fling in my direction, I have decided to respond in kind. Please note that your subscription for the enclosed Cri De Loon is so fucking overdue that when your name passes through our computer an enormous brass gong is walloped on every floor of the Loon building and the beepers implanted in the flesh of our roving employees wail like air-raid sirens and heat 'til they glow like fresh-poured ingots of lead. Please send your check (cheque) or money order (munny ordur) with blinding speed or prepare your soul to receive a whole matched series of puling 'sub overdue' notices written in coloured inks that pass with each new letter through the entire spectrum beginning with violet. So there and take that!" [TKA] Quite.

The End.


[This issue had a blank back cover rather than the first series' usual designed-in mailing label.]