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Ansible 9, April 1980

Cartoon: Jim Barker

PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses have changed (in particular, 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 Marcus Hill ... to whom many thanks! • Dave Langford, 1995.

ANSIBLE 9: April '80. From Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Avenue, Reading, Berks, RG2 7PW, UK. Please note totally revised subscription rates: UK 4/60p, US 5/£1, Australia ditto, Europe 6/£1: sent airmail abroad. Existing subs honoured at old rates. All foreigners may subscribe at UK rates and get Ansible by seamail (i.e. very late) No subs over £1 (£1.20 UK) please. And no foreign cheques or currency: I've had too much trouble with slithering dollars, funny cheques &c. Sorry! Your status should appear on the mailing label (take another bow, Keith Freeman). Cartoon by Jim Barker.


Editor Mike Glyer, Jeanne Gomoll/Janice Bogstad, Terry Hughes, Jerry Kaufman/Suzle Tompkins, Dave Langford. Writer Arthur Hlavaty, DRL, Steve Leigh, Kevin Smith. Humorous Art Jim Barker, Ken Fletcher, Alexis Gilliland, Marc Schirmeister, Stu Shiffman. Serious Art Victoria Poyser, Joan Hanke-Woods. LoC Writer Avedon Carol, Adrienne Fein, A Hlavaty, Harry Warner Jr. Single Ish: By British, Deadloss 2, Fanily Relations, Lans Lantern 9, Scientifriction 11.


Bacteria have been munching my delicate tissues since Easter: you can imagine the tonic effect of a phone call telling me I'd won TAFF (even though the shock to the system kept me inarticulate for days). Somehow I'd never really expected this result; the words 'Bloody hell!' are still constantly on my lips. Many thanks indeed to all voters, to administrators Terry Hughes and Peter Roberts, and above all to my esteemed rival Jim Barker, a fine fan and a good friend. After his 1977 TAFF victory, Peter voiced the pious hope that he wouldn't be too disappointing to those who'd dared not to vote for him: while echoing this I can add the good news that (if his plans succeed) Jim too will be at Noreascon.... And so, of course, will Hazel.

I'm now the European administrator of this healthy (£700 over here: take another bow, Peter) fan fund. It can always stand being a bit healthier ... huge stocks of Taff-Ddu, the super 30-page Barker/Langford fundraising zine ('Truly exceptional' – Mike Glicksohn), are available at 75p post free (or $2 from Joyce Scrivner in the US). UK copies of this Ansible include Peter's Taff Talk 4 with voting details – Langford 83, Barker 38, HOF 2 – and other goodies for sale. More of this in future Ansibles. Meanwhile, rather than raise money for two fan funds at once, I'd be grateful if someone could take over administrating the UK end of GUFF. My US trip plans are as yet chaotic – all I have is a passport and the vague notion that I have to promise not to overthrow the US Government by violence. Meanwhile, prospective US candidates might like to start thinking about the next TAFF race....

Thanks again, everybody. And with a resurgence of my stunning talent for the mot juste: Bloody hell!


NOVEL: The Fountains of Paradise (Arthur C Clarke), Harpist in the Wind (Patricia A McKillip), Jem (Frederik Pohl), On Wings of Song (Thomas M Disch), Titan (John Varley). NOVELLA: 'The Battle of the Abaco Reefs' (Hilbert Schenck), 'Enemy Mine' (Barry B Longyear), 'Ker-Plop' (Ted Reynolds), 'The Moon Goddess and the Son' (Donald Kingsbury), 'Songhouse' (Orson Scott Card) NOVELETTE: 'Fireflood' (Vonda N McIntyre), 'Homecoming' (Barry B Longyear), 'The Locusts' (Larry Niven & Steven Barnes), 'Options' (John Varley), 'Palely Loitering' (Christopher Priest), 'Sandkings' (George RR Martin). SHORT STORY: 'Can These Bones Live?' (Ted Reynolds), 'Daisy, in the Sun' (Connie Willis), 'giANTS' (Edward Bryant), 'Unaccompanied Sonata' (Orson Scott Card), 'The Way of Cross and Dragon' (George RR Martin). NON-FICTION: Barlowe's Guide to Extraterrestrials (Wayne Douglas Barlowe & Ian Summers), In Memory Yet Green (Isaac Asimov), The Language of the Night (Ursula K Le Guin), The Science Fiction Encyclopaedia (ed. Peter Nicholls), Wonderworks (Michael Whelan). DRAMATIC PRESENTATION: Alien, The Black Hole, The Muppet Movie, Star Trek-The Motion Picture, Time After Time. PROFESSIONAL ARTIST: Vincent DiFate, Stephen Fabian, Paul Lehr, Boris Vallejo, Michael Whelan. PROFESSIONAL EDITOR: James Baen, Ben Bova, Edward L Ferman, Stanley Schmidt, George H Scithers. FANZINE: File 770, Janus, Locus, Science Fiction Review, Thrust. FANWRITER: Richard E Geis, Mike Glyer, Arthur D Hlavaty, Dave Langford, Bob Shaw. FANARTIST: Alexis Gilliland, Jeanne Gomoll, Joan Hanke-Woods, Victoria Poyser, Bill Rotsler, Stu Shiffman.

Non-Hugo awards follow: JOHN W CAMPBELL AWARD: Lynn Abbey, Diane Duane, Karen G Jollie, Barry B Longyear, Alan Ryan, Somtow, Sucharitkul. GANDALF GRANDMASTER: Ray Bradbury, Marion Zimmer Bradley, Anne McCaffrey, Patricia A McKillip, Jack Vance, Roger Zelazny.

All this is lifted from Noreascon Press Release #15. There were 563 ballots; the largest number nominating in a category was 485 (novel); the largest number of nominees in any category was 212 (fanwriter); the ranges of nominations for finalists were as follows: novel 51-146, novella 39-123, novelette 39-88, short 27-56, nonfiction 23-121, dramatic 28-234, pro art 48-151, pro editor 111-183, fanzine 31-84, fanwriter 15-60, fanartist 25-99, JWC 14-110, Gandalf 34-92.


Boswell's last-ditch defense of Scotland was that God had made the awful country: said Dr Johnson, 'Sir, comparisons are invidious: but God made Hell.' This amply understates the fears of many Southerners as they passed railway signs hitherto undreamt of, hideous places like Preston and Carlisle and Motherwell, to Glasgow and the Albany hotel. Ominous rumblings had been sounding for months, thanks to a policy of handling hotel bookings and con literature like some dangerous radioactive material best left to cool off for a few years before action: there will be a pause while Pat Charnock responds to last issue's Committee letters....

'As a humble member, I have felt very aware of the lack of communication. The "constant requests for advice, comments and information" haven't reached me. As soon as I received the hotel booking form, back last year, I sent it back with my deposit. I also sent a letter to Bob Shaw asking if he could arrange any kind of fares deal with BR. At the beginning of this year, water started trickling through the roof of the old Charnockian homestead, and we decided we'd have to forego Albacon and get the roof fixed instead. So I wrote, cancelling, and asking if I could have my deposit back.... In March I received a receipt from a hotel chain dated November, posted February about 5 weeks beforehand without a post code.' (I.e., presumably, to '4 Fletcher Road, London' – DRL) 'About that time I also received – sort of by accident, because it came in Gray's BSFA mailing – details of Albacon's fares deal with BR, about 2 days after the final date for getting tickets.' (That BSFA mailing was delayed, but only by 1 week – DRL) 'I shot another letter off to the committee, and have still heard nothing. I phoned the hotel and was told they hadn't got a reservation for me. I don't even know how to get to the hotel, because no-one bothered to send me a progress report.'

'I've worked on a con committee, and can appreciate some of the pressures Albacon is labouring under; but if they don't find it necessary to communicate with their colleagues, perhaps they find it even less desirable to communicate with their members?' (PC, 12 April)

Expectations were thus low. And as the Mancon committee is still trying to convince us, a con can't be good if fans are rotten enough not to expect it to be good.... Sadly for this interesting piece of logic, Albacon proved enjoyable. The hotel attitude – always a dubious factor until zero hour, as the Skycon committee is still trying to convince you – made up for much: no visible security thugs, no desperate race to close the bars in fear of profits, and (a stroke of pure luck for the committee) a standard hotel beer which was both cheap* {footnote – * 47p/pint} and good+ {footnote – +Belhaven 80/-, as a matter of fact}. This inexorably pervaded the central nervous system, warping perceptions of time until the collapse of the main programme – which moved along with the oiled precision of an epileptic snail – seemed hardly to matter; it erased memories so you scarcely noticed the reappearance of a chunk of recycled article in Bob Shaw's funny-as-ever talk (the 'Oyster Ratings' from Mota crept in), now slated for the Bell/Williams Out of the Blue; it did its best with the interminable dance routine following the banquet, but that tedious business still took many subjective hours. Further doses of reality-bending beer resigned me to a film programme whereby anything I wanted to see was shown without warning at times like 4am. Really Good programme ideas included, as expected, Shaw and FGoH Barker – the latter's 'Captive' slide show (despite technical hitches this time) being certain of encores at many future cons, starting with Silicon '80. GoH Colin Kapp, despite the aspersions of a jolly but typically anonymous bookseller ('Worst speaker the Brum Group's ever had'), was also highly popular. Less expected guests were Patrick Moore and Bernard Dixon (now Euroeditor of Omni and planning a Euroedition); aided by a minion of indeterminate sex, Dixon ran a lunch party replete with free wine (which vanished as though down many singularities) and free Omnis (less easy to shift). Your editor escaped before Moore's promotional talk, alarmed by the Moore profile, whose convexity puts Martin Hoare to shame and would bring reflexive twitches to the fingers of Captain Ahab....

The fan room, niftily organized by Jimmy Robertson and Jim Barker (each trying hard to give the other all the credit), was a constant bright spot. There were many square acres of Barker art, plus a few scribbles by other artists placed in a good light under the table at the back; piles of fanzines on sale and display; competitions; a passable sound system; and lots of appearances of me on the programme – if you expected me to say a word against this excellent fan room, think again. I blathered on that grand sf subject 'Mice' (see DNQ28 & Taff-Ddu), proposed motions in debates and underwent bit appearances in 'Call My Bluff' and the inevitable fan charades, where our FGoH left me to act out The Incredibly Mixed-Up People Who Stopped Living And Became Zombies [sic]; Langford's revenge had him playing on long after the audience had left, acting out Hot Wireless Sets, Aspirin Tablets, The Sandpaper Sides Of Used Matchboxes And Something That Might Have Been Castor Oil by D.G. Compton. Jim and I featured in an improbable TAFF interview conducted by Eve Harvey, which despite high-minded and virtuous intentions collapsed in a morass of towels, bursting balloons, ad-libs, vomiting plastic rats and the appalling revelation of why Barker once used a pseudonym (not to mention speculation on whyever Langford didn't). The full story will be told elsewhere.

Vast sums were raised for TAFF etc by typical Rog Peyton auctioneering of items like individual pages ripped from Ian Watson novels, or the Barker 'mobile' interestingly constructed from two (underinflated) balloons and one (rather large) sausage: this artform sold for fivepence. Jim unearthed mounds of artwork for this auction, while I hit back with aged fanzines and pieces of paper formerly touched by Colin Wilson. A pat on the back to those who bought it....

The usual awards were handed out. The Doc Weir went to Bob (the real) Shaw; Joyce Mains was elevated to the rank of Prime Trout, an office whose responsibilities one shudders to contemplate; a FOKT Nice Guy award was presented to Jim White. Fancy dress prizes were showered on the Fanthorpes in various roles from The Black Lion; MC Rog Peyton loudly observed 'You may not be able to write, Lionel, but you make good costumes.' BSFA Awards went to J. G. Ballard for The Unlimited Dream Company, Chris Priest for 'Palely Loitering' (curse you, Priest), the Hitch-Hiker record and artist Jim Burns. Yorcon II won the '81 Eastercon bidding unopposed, bar a hastily improvised Rockcon spoof from Martin Hoare: it's back to the good old Leeds Dragonara with GoH Ian Watson and FGoH D. Langford (gosh).

Yorcon II, 32nd British Eastercon, April 17-20 1981: Send £3 supporting membership at once to Graham James, 12 Fearnville Terrace, Oakwood, Leeds, LS8 3DU. Attending membership is £6, conversion £3 (£5 attending & £2 conversion for already paid-up presupporters).

Other observations: the CCTV system which relayed the main programme about the hotel helped keep said programme ill-attended, it being all too plain that nothing was happening (or that another instalment of the dread film quiz was on – same thing, really); the continuous Star Trek video showings were said to perform a valuable public service by keeping Trekkies from underfoot; the Jim Barker 'Blankety Blank' event was such that I dare not mention it for fear of severe haemorrhage (speaking of which, the Langford nostril did indeed perform, in the small hours of Sunday morning); bar staff were universally friendly, if bemused; next time I'll avoid the steak pie – 99% kidney – ecch; guests Barker and Kapp shared a single penthouse suite, something which I hope will not give Yorcon ideas (Ian and I are just good friends); all I remember of the BSFA and Leeds-Victory parties is that both were highly memorable, a table being smashed at the former and every fan in sight at the latter; finally, none of the above is necessarily reliable – as you'd guessed – since by Monday I was coming down with dread diseases which immobilized me for two weeks. Even so, as the Albany sank slowly in the North and Hazel and I abandoned ourselves to the wild delights of BR sandwiches, 50 minute delays at Motherwell and a train whose every seat had been reserved from Inverness to Euston, we suffered from a strong illusion of having been to a pleasant convention. Must have been that beer, we know those Scots can have been up to no good.

Sandy Brown provides a postscript, confirmed in essence by a number of other sources....

'At Glasgow Sheriff Court yesterday, Sgt. Hamish McPheet of the Strathclyde Constabulary, giving evidence in the trial of 120 delegates to a sci-fi convention held in Glasgow at Easter, accused of mobbing and rioting and attempting to lynch Robert P Shaw (25), chairman of the convention, said "On the evening of Monday 7 April, as I was proceeding along Douglas St, Glasgow, in a northerly direction (that is, towards the big numbers), my attention was attracted by a riotous assembly exiting from the Albany Hotel where, I had reason to believe, a science fiction convention was ending. Upon closer investigation, I observed the chairman of the aforementioned convention being forcibly abducted from the hotel, whilst several unidentified persons sprayed him with a substance which I later ascertained to be red dye. He was thereupon tied to an adjacent lamppost and a jet of water from a hotel fire hose was directed onto his person. I immediately summoned reinforcements, but the assembly dispersed into the hotel before they could arrive. I was unable to ascertain whether the ringleaders were delegates or members of the convention committee."' (SB)

[Inserted flyer]


Are you a Middle Class Fan?

If so, you are a member of a nice but persecuted minority, and you are invited to close ranks with those of your own kind.

The MIDDLE CLASS FANNISH LIBERATION FRONT will protect your interests.

You are a Middle Class Fan if:

3. You buy at least ONE HARDCOVER SF NOVEL a year.
7. You have had a REJECTION from Isaac Asimov's Sci-Fi Magazine (same as 6).
8. You belong to FEAPA.
9. You have a TRENDY DISABILITY, such as deafness, literacy or wit.
13. You think WORKING CLASS FANS do actually smell a bit.
14. You have been recently DENOUNCED.


Now is the time to sit down with a nice cup of tea and be counted. Just fill in the form below, and send it to the address shown.

TO: D. WEST, 17 Carlisle St, Keighley, West Yorks, BD21 4PX.

Yes! I am a Middle Class Fan and proud of it, and wish to join THE MIDDLE CLASS FANNISH LIBERATION FRONT. Please send me full details of how to look down on people, type out my own litho plates, make macramé pot-holders, cook vegetarian dishes and produce my own Christmas cards.

I enclose £20.00 (American Express and Diners Club accepted).



MIDDLE CLASS QUALIFICATION (list numbers above):


[This flyer appeared in the first mailing of the incredibly secret apa, FEAPA, and also at Albacon. No admission of the identity of the perpetrator has been made. No reference to the D. West DENUNCIATION (which finally appeared in Dave Bridges's One-Off) could possibly be intended....]


FAAn votes (see p1) should go to Mike Glicksohn or Rob Jackson by mid-June. Rank choices in order on a form (from me or Rob) or bit of paper, adding 'No Award' as desired; also vote for 3 of the following as committee members ... Marty Cantor, Mike Glyer, Dave Langford, Roger Reynolds, Bruce Pelz, Victoria Vayne. $1 voting fee still required (unless you nominated) but next year it should be free. (Mike Glicksohn) • Brian Earl Brown's Whole Fanzine Catalog poll, though US, is UK dominated: best fanzine Twll-Ddu, best writer Langford, best artist (tie) Barker/Gilliland, best article the Langford 'Genocide for Fun & Profit'. Little did they know that – official correction to article follows – in the bit on antimatter, '1.25 kilotons' should read '1.2 megatons'. • Checkpoint/Ansible Poll forms enclosed where weightsteps permit; all may vote, ranking up to 5 items for Best UK Fanzine, Writer and Artist, plus 1 nomination for each of Best Single Ish, Article Column and Fanzine Cover. Ansible is not eligible (take that, Glyer!). Ballots by May 31, please.


This section has nothing to do with the ladies'-underwear poster Jim Barker doctored for Albacon so it read BOOB SHAW WELCOMES YOU TO ALBRACON. It's just that I typed April (not May) on the front; also US should read NA in several places in the TAFF article; also, Peter Roberts's TAFF flyer has a credit to Phil Stephenson-Payne which should read Philippa S-P (she now wishes to be known as Philippa Grove-Stephenson, to add to the confusion). The info on Virgin Books's Philip José Farmer titles (last issue) was wholly false, which will teach me not to steal news from Matrix; and Penguin and Magnum have loudly denied any intention to cut back their sf programmes (believe that if you like). In Matrix 29 Rob Jackson lists out-of-date sub rates for Ansible (they are still as on p1) and the wrong price for Taff-Ddu (the 60p cover price doesn't include postage; unless you buy one from me at the Tun or something it's 75p.)


Ian Watson Sells Story! Smiling Jan 'Filthy' Finder confirmed this momentous event and admitted that through some mischance he had purchased Ian's contribution to the Finder anthology of 'First contact' stories. Surely memorable enough to stick in the minds of many Hugo voters, the story consists of one word. The text is not reproduced here for fear of Ian's bill for 3 cents (plus VAT), but we can reveal that it has four letters. • The Denvention (Denver in '81) Worldcon agent is now Linda Hutchinson: membership £7.50 to 14 Bowmonts Road, Tadley, Basingstoke, Hants. • Swedish fan Kaj Harju says the Swedish fanfeud (see A5) is a mere figment of Anders Bellis and Ahrvid Engholm. • Andy Porter 'phoned a couple of weeks before Albacon asking about BSFA Award results, as announced at Albacon. Said Mr Porter, 'I guess I goofed.' • Kevin Smith has achieved further power and fame (but not, as usual, money) with his entry in Computing's 'silly units' competition, receiving a special prize (of unknown nature, which hasn't yet arrived) for the style and flair of such entries as 'A device which can detect 10 to the power of 12 simultaneous radioactive decays is a geiger counter'.... • Omni are running a short-short story competition, 500-600 word entries should be sent to Andie Burland, Omni, 2 Bramber Road, London, W14 9PB. Ansible readers are advised to boycott this brutally exploitative contest, nor to be tempted by the mere £500 prize; let the Ansible editor prostitute himself. Deadline is 31st April ... oh, all right, July. • Andy Richards reports that the UK paperback of Dick's A Scanner Darkly has the year printed as '1945 not 1985'. Funny, my (Del Rey) copy says 1994. • Spies inform me that Peter Nicholls's life insurance recently lapsed through non-payment: Ansible, you see, Knows All. • Aghacon, 2nd Spring Bank Holiday Leeds Partycon, takes place in Leeds from May 23-26 1980, largely at Graham James's place (as Yorcon II address; see p2). GoH D. West; programme of thrilling items promised; membership £2 (£3.50 for two). Phone Graham (Leeds 721478) or Alan Dorey (Brookwood 3886) for details. • George Hay says the Photographers' Gallery has agreed to his 'camera futures' exhibition, so far untitled but running for 1 month from December 19 1980. SF material ('not too way out') welcomed. • Martin Hoare, in the course of describing how he ran Albacon, keeps telling me how much better it was than nasty old Yorcon last year; unfriendly voices from Limpwrist territory hint that this is not unconnected with Yorcon II's decision to have fetching-and-carrying done by the local fans without benefit of Martin's vast 'Ops Manager' experience.... • Mike Glicksohn writes: 'Ever seen the animated English film Great? Two months ago I bought a $1400 video machine just so I could watch it and it's still the only tape I have but I'm quite satisfied with the arrangement....' (Never heard of it, boss.) • Nasty people like Chris Priest and Arthur Hlavaty have taken to sending me fascinating letters covered with scrawls of 'DNP' and 'This is not for Ansible, you damned fan!'. This trend must cease. And speaking of cessation, correspondence about Albacon is closed with the appearance of my own totally fair and objective comments.... • Just delivered: Fantasy Archives catalogue, from which I see that 1977 Robert Howard trash costs $35 when signed by 'editor' Karl Edward Wagner, while the first printing of Alan Dead Foster's Star Wars book is going for $50. Cringe.... • FEAPA lives! (Maybe.) • Jim Barker merrily explains that my post-Albacon symptoms were just like his parents' (pre-Albacon). 'I've heard of Typhoid Mary, but Influenza Jimmy? Conventioneers' Disease, anyone?' Hate. • Would anyone be interested in a small, regular fan meeting in a pub/club near Reading station once a month? Might be worth trying.

Remember – a free issue if you vote in the CHECKPOINT/ANSIBLE poll (see within)!

'This was the Stygian darkness of which poets wrote. This was the pit of Acheron of which the creators of classic prose made mention. This was the kind of darkness which made thick, black velvet seem like chiffon by contrast. This was the kind of darkness that turned pitch into translucent polythene, when the two were placed side by side....' (Neuron World by R L Fanthorpe)

This was ... ANSIBLE 9!

Dave Langford
[old address omitted]