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Ansible 10, June 1980

Cartoon: Rob Hansen

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, 1996.

ANSIBLE 10 • June 1980

DAVE LANGFORD, 22 Northumberland Avenue, READING, Berks. RG2 7PW, UK. Subscriptions: 4/60p UK, 6/£1 Europe, 5/£1 elsewhere; no foreign cheques or currency, or subs over £1 (£1.20 UK), please. See the mailing label (courtesy of Keith Freeman) for your sub. status. ARTWORK: Rob Hansen. [Starfan strip.]


This is the ninth British fan poll, the previous eight having appeared in Peter Roberts's CHECKPOINT; it covers fannish doings from just after Easter 1979 to just after Easter 1980. All fans were eligible to vote, but ballots only went out with ANSIBLE. Voters this time were:

Michael Ashley, David Bridges, John Collick, Alan Dorey, Keith Freeman, Mike Glicksohn, William T Goodall, Rob Hansen, Alun Harries, Rob Holdstock, Terry Hughes, Rob Jackson, Chris Lewis, Ian Maule, Joe Nicholas, Paul Oldroyd, Simon Ounsley, Mike Paine, Dai Price, Chris Priest, David Pringle, David Redd, John Shire, Kevin Smith, Ian Watson and Taral Wayne – twenty-six in all.

BEST BRITISH FANZINE: Twenty-seven titles, plus 'No Award', were nominated. Five points were awarded for a first-place vote, four for a second and so on: this system was also used for the fanwriter and fanartist categories. ANSIBLE was not eligible. Last year's placings appear in brackets.

1) TWLL-DDU (63 points)(1st) ed. Dave Langford – address as above. Normally available for the usual; #17 was a TAFF fundraiser costing 75p post free; two issues in 1979/80. Twll-Ddu continues fitfully, hampered by its editor's habit of taking time off for Drilkjis and Ansible. The 16th issue followed the previous ones in being a personalzine wherein editorial babblings were varied with letters and quotations – almost all genuine, though people refuse to believe this. Its cover, by Rob Hansen, showed gorgeous Joe Nicholas being invaded by a giant incontinent washing machine; within were diary entries on fanzines, books, parties, cons, cars, crumpets and the Great Albatross of Northumberland Avenue. Taff-Ddu (=Twll-Ddu 17, voted Best Single Issue in this poll) broke new ground by taking on Jim Barker – voted Best Artist in this poll – as coproducer: the result was twice TD's usual length, with writing and art from each perpetrator. Jim's cover showed him and TAFF rival Langford about to duel with pistols; within, cosmic knowledge on curries, mice, African exploration, slimming, tortoises and more was imparted; there was another of Jim's excellent 'Captive' strips, this time Langford-scripted and six pages long. Buy now! Personally, I find TD just the sort of fanzine I'd like to produce myself. Thank you, folks.

2) DEADLOSS (42 points) (=5th) ed. Chris Priest, 1 Ortygia House, 6 Lower Road, Harrow, Middlesex, HA2 0DA. 'Available only on whim'; one issue in 1979/80. One of the biggest (48pp + covers) and most satisfying genzines for years. Within, Langford plays the fool, Joe Nicholas kicks Lester del Rey, Graham Charnock interviews Status (yawn) Quo, Rob Hansen enjoys Yorcon, Chris Evans 'interviews' Elmer T Hack, Dicky Howett reminisces on being a cartoonist and various letter-writers write letters; there are also Barker, Hansen and Howett cartoons. This is good stuff; what makes Deadloss 2 special is the constant presence of C Priest, who embeds the contributions in fluent personal commentary, highly readable and provoking cries of envy from us nerds who can't work straight onto stencil. Chunks of this are short articles in their own right: more truths about 'Static Gravity', accurate criticism of fanzine critics, a poke at 'creative writing' tuition ... Deadloss would have scored still more points had I not disqualified a ballot from one 'Persi Strich': ahem. Let's hope there's a 1980 issue.

3) DRILKJIS (35 points) (-) Kevin Smith, 10 Cleves Court, St. Marks Hill, Surbiton, Surrey, KT6 4PS, and Dave Langford, address above. Available for 50p or the usual; two issues in 1979/80. This is the first time the lazy editors have managed two issues in the period of the poll. Drilkjis 4 featured a D. West cover of stunning irrelevance, a transcript of the Langford 'Genocide' talk from Yorcon, Kevin stomping SF series, Jon Langford on 'Fat Nazi Women', Dave attacking Kevin's earlier dismissal of SF as literature, Joe Nicholas on the Covenant books, and letters. #5, all-litho, had Kevin stomping Jackie Lichtenberg, Chris Priest stomping virtually everyone (this being his Novacon GoH speech), Joe Nicholas stomping the Hugos, various fans stomping one another in a debate on SF characterization (also at Novacon) and a long, scurrilous Seacon report from Peter Nicholls, plus letters, reviews, a filthy Rob Hansen cover and Phil Foglio stomping pictorially on Jim Barker. Quite apart from being a co-editor, I'm pleased to see Drilkjis here as an indication that serious talk on SF (its ostensible purpose, despite some of the sillier items above) is still thought worthwhile.

=4) DOT (25 points) (3rd) ed. Kevin Smith – address above. Available for the usual; two or maybe three issues in 1979/80. This super-literate personalzine features Kevin making fanwriting look absurdly easy as he philosophizes about fandom, reports on trivia and reviews fanzines (#6), or concocts elaborate fictions about feminist mayhem at Seacon – so powerfully conveyed that Rob Jackson felt it necessary to inform BSFA members that the man-slaughter had not in fact taken place – and telepathic socks (#7). The eighth Dot, a source of worldwide frustration, was a mere mailing wrapper with notes on why some fans were getting #7 so late (having failed miserably to collect it at Seacon). Note that without being ostentatious in the manner of a Langford, the Smith style is distinctive when he's not parodying someone else. It is wholly traditional and in keeping with cosmic harmony that either Dot or Kevin-as-fanwriter should finish in fourth place....

=4) SEAMONSTERS (25 points) (2nd) ed. Simone Walsh, 35 Braund Avenue, Greenford, Middlesex. Available for the usual, though possibly not any more; one issue in 1979/80. This would probably be the 'focal point' UK fanzine had its schedule not slipped to one issue a year, or less. Seamonsters 4 was a good fannish read: Simone rambling about fandom and temping; Dave Pringle lurking behind a pretext (that he's transcribing his wife Ann's unconscious thoughts) which enables him to turn in some incredibly bitchy comments on fans at Yorcon; Brin Fortey's 'Charlie Was A Good Old Boy', a tiny anecdote of an enormous penis, showing what good writing can do with the most unlikely material – voted Best Article this year; a jerky piece from Cathy Ball reacting to UK fandom; a Rob Hansen snippet; and a big and fascinating letter column. The cover was a joint Bell-Hansen effort: much sense-of-wonder. Seamonsters is a fanzine which can be re-read without loss of pleasure; we can only hope that even without duplicator boss Greg Pickersgill it can struggle back into print....

Runners-Up: being other fanzines which received more than five points ... ONE-OFF (Dave Bridges) 19pts; PARANOID (Ian & Janice Maule) 15pts; BY BRITISH (Ian Maule & Joe Nicholas) 13pts; OCELOT (Graham James & Simon Ounsley) 10pts; NABU (Ian Maule) & 'No Award' each 9pts; GROSS ENCOUNTERS (Alan Dorey) 8pts; VECTOR (BSFA/Mike Dickinson) 7pts; MATRIX (BSFA/John & Eve Harvey) 6pts.

BEST BRITISH FANWRITER: Eighteen fans were nominated; all details of scoring etc as for Best British Fanzine, above.

1) DAVE LANGFORD (96 points) (1st) 2) D. WEST (46 points) (3rd) 3) KEVIN SMITH (40 points) (=4th) 4) CHRIS PRIEST (31 points) (=4th) =5) DAVID BRIDGES (28 points) (8th) =5) BOB SHAW (28 points) (10th)

Runners-Up: Joseph Nicholas 18pts; Alan Dorey 7pts; Simone Walsh 6pts.

BEST BRITISH FANARTIST: Thirteen fans, plus 'No Award', were nominated; such is the lack of UK fanartists that only five got more than five points.

1) JIM BARKER (94 points) (1st) 2) HARRY BELL (73 points) (2nd) 3) ROB HANSEN (57 points) (3rd) 4) D. WEST (30 points) (4th) 5) JOHN COLLICK (7 points) (-)

BEST SINGLE ISSUE: Nine fanzines were nominated. In this and the following two special-achievement categories, there is no points system: one vote counts as one vote and that's that. But see 'Afterword'.

1) TAFF-DDU (Jim Barker & Dave Langford) (five votes) =2) BY BRITISH (Ian Maule & Joe Nicholas) (three votes) =2) DEADLOSS 2 (Chris Priest) (three votes) =2) DRILKJIS 5 (Kev Smith & Dave Langford) (three votes) =2) FOR A FEW FANZINES MORE (John Collick) (three votes) =2) ONE-OFF 8 (David Bridges) (three votes) 7) SEAMONSTERS 4 (Simone Walsh) (two votes)


1) Bryn Fortey: 'Charlie Was A Good Old Boy' from Seamonsters 4 (three votes) =2) Abi Frost: 'Second Thermidor (Level 1)' from New River Blues 2 (two votes) =2) Dave Langford: 'Fall of the Mouse of Usher' from Taff-Ddu (two votes) =2) Joseph Nicholas: 'Coming From Behind: A Short History of British Fanzines in the Seventies' from By British (two votes) =2) D. West: 'Ah, Sweet Arrogance' from One-Off 8 (two votes)

BEST FANZINE COVER: Ten covers were nominated, from nine different fanzine titles.

1) D. West: Inca 1 (four votes) =2) Jim Barker: Taff-Ddu (three votes) =2) Rob Hansen: Drilkjis 5 (three votes) =2) D. West: Drilkjis 4 (three votes) 5) Harry Bell: Out of the Blue 1 (two votes)

WHERE ARE THEY NOW? I thought it might be interesting, albeit in poor taste, to note items placed in last year's CHECKPOINT poll which have vanished from the poll this time around. In fact, all last year's fanzines are still placed somewhere; three fanwriters have vanished, being Peter Roberts (6th), Greg Pickersgill (7th) and Rob Holdstock (9th), and one fanartist, Jon Langford (5th). The current mutterings of stagnant fandom are perhaps supported by the lack of change from last year: four of the top five fanzines were in last year's top five (and the other has been around since 1976), and likewise four of the top five writers, and likewise the top four artists, who are even in precisely the same order. Where's this new blood I sometimes hear tell of? Or if there's new blood around, then certainly no-one's voting for it.

AFTERWORD: The format of this poll has been swiped almost intact from Peter Roberts. I'm quite happy with the system as regards the first three categories, though we should bear in mind that the ordering of winners is scarcely a Cosmic Judgement – often one or two first-place votes could reverse the order of two items, and with such a small voting sample the statistics are lousy. However, the stats are lousier still in the 'Special Achievement' categories: following certain conversations, I intend to allow three votes rather than just one in these categories. Depending on your comments in the next ten months, said three votes could either be ranked with 3, 2 and 1 points respectively, or could each be worth one point (the latter being the system used for Hugo nominations counting) eliminating the agony of 'is A better than B?'.

MEANWHILE ... I have been Reproved for not running the Twll-Ddu Worst Fanzine (etc) Poll. OK: here's a substitute. Before the end of July, you may all send in ten ranked nominations (or fewer than ten, if you prefer) for a free-for-all Worst Fannish Thing of 1979-80 Poll. Fans, cons, organizations, fanzines, artwork: everything is eligible as a Worst Thing, provided only that it's British and manifested its badness in the period (just after) Easter '79 to (just after) Easter '80.

I await your votes with great interest. As in the Best Things poll above, voting extends your Ansible credit.

[Voting slip with almost identical wording included but not transcribed – M.H.]

Jim Barker is currently looking for a better job which entails putting together a new portfolio. Obviously he can't do this and continue with the usual high level of fan work: he's cutting down drastically for the next few months, though not stopping altogether. Once the portfolio is finished and he's got his fantastic new job, he'll be back to his usual prolific output. The full story behind this will be disclosed in Dead Hedgehog, his new personalzine out 'real soon now'. (Jim Barker) (Ansible knows nothing of the strange things which have lately happened to Jim; thus we do not print details of how watching Demon With A Glass Hand led Jim by easy stages to arson, nor are we aware that the police wanted very much to prosecute but have at length decided to let him off with a warning. Jim is looking for a new job some little way away from Falkirk: say, in London....)

Ian Watson: 'What you overlook in your report of my historic first contact assault on Jan Howard Finder is that one infinitely telling word is preceded by six words of title – making the title six times as long as the story, a feat that only Harlan Ellison otherwise could contemplate – thus raising the revenue from the story to at least 21¢, which almost covers the cost of the postage.'

Kevin Smith's continual search for fame has now led him onto the John Peel programme: Peel requested information on cars driven in the 'Saint' books, and Kevin was swift to oblige at enormous length, also asking in his letter for a record to be played 'for accountants everywhere'. Such genius does not go unrecognised: John Peel awarded him a 1978 Radio 1 calendar (they had a lot left over), while the BSFA at once made him the new editor of Vector....

Chris Evans, known as C.D. Evans on the Faber list owing to the existence of Dr Christopher Evans, has now, following the death of Dr Christopher Evans, been permitted to change his name, as regards Faber, from C.D. Evans to Chris Evans.

{COAs omitted – M.H.}


Brushing aside Ansible's pleas to be spared an exclusive interview, Rob Holdstock announced 'I'm better than John Fowles at science fiction....' The reason? 'I've published more SF than he has.' Such confidence explains why Rob's Where The Time Winds Blow has now been bounced by 6 US publishers. • Ian Williams has failed his third driving test, or so says uncharitable Harry Bell, not omitting to add 'Ho, ho.' • George Hay has spoken sternly to me for suggesting that the SF Foundation might collapse without any administrator. Just as monarchies are infinitely stronger without a king or queen, so the Foundation is going from strength to strength in the absence of Malcolm Edwards: thus speaks George. • A new fantasy film Clash of the Titans is scheduled for mid-1981; it seems to be a follow-up to Jason and the Argonauts and might well be a good thing. However, I have not been favoured with a 'press kit', merely with a somewhat snotty circular from SF PR consultant Bjo Trimble, inviting me to send samples of Ansible and prove myself worthy of attention. 'Press Kits' are being tailored to fanzines' 'specific needs', which probably means that rotten little duplicated efforts won't be getting MGM's nice photographs. • Limpwrist Power-Mania grows: Chris Priest has now suggested that we (Britain) bid for the 1984 Eurocon and merge it with Eastercon that year. Graham England (Our German Correspondent) reports that Eurocon '82 'could well be in Moscow if the Soviet Writers' Union agrees' (Moscow being a well-known European capital), while Eurocon '84 is up for grabs. Graham feels a little faint at the thought of Peter Weston as Big Brother staring out of posters.... Awards presented at Eurocon this year include Best Novel: The White Dragon, Best European Authors: John Brunner and Stanisław Lem, Best European Artist: Karel Thole, Best European Fans: Waldemar Kumming and Andrzej Pruszyński. • Nebula Awards went to The Fountains of Paradise plus Barry Longyear's 'Enemy Mine' (novella), George RR Martin's 'Sandkings', Edward Bryant's 'giANTS'. • Interesting bit from John Eggeling's Phantasmagoria Books catalogue: despite the official story, it seems that some of John Creasey's vast output was ghost-written – 'this information came from a reputable author who once turned down such a commission.' • The Ellison-Bova Plagiarism Suit against ABC/Paramount (for stealing their 'Brillo' as 'Future Cop') led to $337,000 damages award, the lucky authors settling for a piffling $285,000 to avoid an appeal. I am waiting keenly for Dr. Who or some such huge-budget production to plagiarize my own 'Sex Pirates and the Blood Asteroid.' • Abi Frost writes: 'I had better let you know – since Roz wants everyone to, yet is too busy spinning round crying "Fame! Power! Respectability!" to do anything about it – that the back jacket of Ian Watson's forthcoming work Gardens of Delight is to bear the very important lines: "Books and Bookmen described God's World as a 'dazzling elegant and convoluted edifice of plot and ideas'." Roz was sent a proof copy of the book; that in the present state of the industry presumably counts as major graft.... Also: the current issue of Book Marketing Council's "101 exciting events you could have sold lots of books because of if only we'd got the thing out on time newsletter" contains the following: "LWT have signed a robot, Metal Mickey, as the star of a new situation comedy series." A desperate attempt to be seen to cater for minority cultures before Franchise Day, no doubt. Anyway, watch out for a new fringe fandom.' (AJF) • The Yorcon Committee has settled down with Tom Shippey and David Pringle as joint chairmen. Former chairman Mike Dickinson, in preparation for his USA move, is practising being 3000 miles away from UK fans by not answering letters or telephones, and sending messengers to buy food rather than leave his house.... • Concerning Penguin's 'nonexistent' cutback, Peter Pinto notes that SF editor Paul Sidey has gone and Penguin considered no SF titles between January and May. Meanwhile, among the 1300 sacked at IPC were all Hamlyn pb staff below editorial-director level. • Peter Roberts reveals: 'I am now in the employ of David & Charles. Everyone must join the SF Book Club, or it's back to beach-cleaning....' And Rob Hansen has a London job, hence COA. • TAFF: nominations open 15 July – 15 August, voting from end August to 1 December. Now is the time to nominate likely US fans! Candidates so far are Stu Shiffman, Gary Farber ('probable'), Taral & Victoria Vayne ('thinking about it!'). GUFF: new UK administrator still wanted. Volunteers? Candidates so far: Joe Nicholas and (probably) Malcolm Edwards. • Many thanks to the US fans who've offered hospitality to me & Hazel. We'll be arriving in New York on 27 August, 2.45pm local time, with Jim Barker & Harry Bell, and departing after 2 weeks (3 for Jim & Harry). • Late Poll Votes came from G. James, D. West, P. Roberts & J. Harvey: Their only effect on the first 3 categories would be minor rearrangement of the top 5 places and elevation of 'No Award' to =6th fanzine, while 3 more articles would have moved into the =2 slot for Best Article. Sorry, folks: time & printers wait for no fan. • Remember Space-Ex 1999? Bob Day reports it's 'liable to collapse in a shower of unfulfilled promises and the odd bankruptcy, due to schisms in the organizing body ISTRA. News gleaned from a "leader" at Albacon who now claims to the sole ISTRA Top Person and whose name I totally forget'. • The Amazing BBC Seacon Programme was recently repeated, and eager fans wishing to relive the interview with Peter 'My Convention' Weston were shocked to discover this bit had been cut (tee hee). • Lots of fans received press passes for The Empire Strikes Back; not having the time to spare, I passed mine to Andrew Stephenson, who wished to earn great favour by taking 'a friend' (Chris Bidmead of Dr. Who, to whom Andrew will now sell countless scripts). Andrew's promised review appears here: ' '. • On Martin Hoare's recommendation I hereby announce the Reading Pub Meeting for the third Thursday of each month (starting June 19) from 8pm in the Osborne Arms, Reading: right from railway station, turn left after bus station and it's on the second turning opposite. See you there? • Ron Salomon is working for the US Census Office (he's sent me a Census Office Employee's Official Credential, which I hope to use whilst there): no sooner had they given him 125,000 census forms to check than the building, and the forms, burnt down. Nice work if you can get it. • The Surrey Limpwrist Con is now called 'Surcon' and all rumours about it in Ansible are denied, doubtless including this one. • D. Langford is shutting down activity for 2 months: deadlines.

Hazel's Language Lessons: No 2, AMHARIC

The word tagabba means ...

(a) to be married (b) to be infectious.

This proves it.

ANSIBLE 10 from Dave Langford
22 Northumberland Avenue