Ansible 106, May 1996
From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU, UK. Fax 0118 966 9914. ISSN 0265-9816. E-mail ansible[at]cix.co.uk. Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: D. West. Available for SAE or the rules for playing Buckyballs.
EVOLUTION. The 1996 UK Eastercon seemed pretty good to me, even though I made the mistake of attaining the traditional state of sleepless exhaustion before actually arriving. Spirits were lifted by the delight of Martin Hoare (official Ansible Transport Editor) when the Radisson Edwardian Hotel's chief flunkey cooed over his old Jaguar and deemed it worthy of display amid posh cars in the forecourt, rather than round the back with the prolemobiles.... This hotel's eldritch, Escherian geometries were much commented upon: it was a jolt to discover that my elaborately memorized route from bar to bedroom, featuring a long march to the foyer and several flights of stairs, could be short-circuited by walking round the corner; spatial wormholes were clearly involved. One official-looking convention sign explained: 'You are in a maze of twisty passages, all alike.' A few bold explorers, much scoffed at by sceptics, were said to have discovered the Art Show. The real-ale bar offered spectacular views of doings in the adjacent swimming-pool and jacuzzi; an Intervention chairman who shall be legless was heard to babble about having acquired recurring fantasies of Sue Mason in a one-piece swimsuit. Saturday's breakfast saw a remarkable homeopathic experiment, as by repeated dilutions the hotel kitchens achieved a juice which retained an eerie 'memory' of orangeness even though every molecule of flavour had been lost. Orthodox science and GoH Jack Cohen were equally baffled. Uninhibited fun at Eastercons may be coming to an end owing to Big Sister technology allowing scandalous pictures to be immediately incorporated into an 'alternative' con newsletter rather better produced than the official one. Ansible would point the finger at Alison Scott and her digital camera, but is afraid that it might be photographed and used entirely out of context.... Awards were thin on the ground. The BSFA awards succumbed to a 'technical hitch' ('The bloody administrator resigned and didn't bloody tell us,' said BSFA supremos and fan GoHs Paul Kincaid and Maureen Kincaid Speller in a heavily expurgated interview); the Eastercon and Ken McIntyre (artwork) awards received no nominations and were cancelled; however, the Doc Weir 'good egg' award seemed hotly contested ('the fix is in for X', I was assured, for several values of X) and went to Mark Plummer. Ansible has abjectly failed to remember any filthy gossip about further GoHs Bryan Talbot and Colin Greenland, but who could forget their splendid The Tale of One Bad Season of Plenty? The almost-all-female Intuition bid secured the 1998 Eastercon, routing the all-male spoof 'Testostercon: The con with BALLS!' – despite the latter's promise of not only sweat lodges but a Babes Beauty Contest replacing the Masquerade. In honour of other GoH Vernor Vinge, Evolution did not end but vanished into the complex orifice of a Singularity.
The Bird of the Difficult Eye
Harlan Ellison suffered a presumed heart attack on 12 April, and on the 14th underwent an emergency quadruple bypass operation. He left hospital on the 19th to convalesce at home with his wife Susan, and was soon whingeing healthily about receiving (despite loudly expressed wishes that people wouldn't) over 600 get-well calls and faxes, besides so many flowers that the place 'smells like an Algerian whorehouse'.
Chris Reed assures enquirers that Back Brain Recluse magazine has not died but is merely delayed owing to his success as a freelance graphic designer. Real soon now, etc. More data on BBR and the NSFA from him at PO Box 625, Sheffield, S1 3GY.
Franz Rottensteiner remains almost tight-lipped about his split with Stanislaw Lem: 'Since Stanislaw Lem's books no longer sell even in those countries where they once sold, the author has discovered a new source of income: he is asking his ex-agent Franz Rottensteiner to sign letters granting Mr Lem $50,000 in punitive damages should Rottensteiner make use of Lem's letters in any way whatsoever or insult the author in any way. Strictly factual reporting is allowed. A sure win-situation since the facts in the case are deeply insulting to Mr Lem.'
H.G. Wells has become a theme pub: HG's in Peterborough. In homage to Wells's most famous sf creations, the PR company had the new pub opened by Jon Pertwee and a brace of Daleks (since 'Tom Baker was too expensive'), while its press release credits Wells with Twenty Thousand Leagues Under The Sea. According to CAMRA spies, the quality of research accurately reflects that of the beer. [AB]
3 May Bob Shaw Wake, upstairs room, Wheatsheaf pub, Rathbone Place, north of Oxford Street, London. (Nearest tube: Tottenham Court Road.) 6pm onwards. All who knew Bob are apparently welcome; this informal event was arranged by his UK hardback publishers, Gollancz. Who neglected to tell Ansible until very late in the day that it wasn't invitation-only....
22 May BSFA London meeting, Jubilee pub, York Rd, nr Waterloo. 7pm onward. With guest speaker Kim Newman.
24-7 May Inconsistent (sf/humour), Scotch Corner Hotel, Darlington. £22 reg; £27 after Easter. Contact 26 Northampton Rd, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 7HA.
26-29 Jul Albacon 96, Central Hotel, Glasgow. £30 reg. Contact F1/2, 10 Atlas Rd, Springburn, Glasgow, G21 4TE. Members are either urgently wanted or about to receive refunds, depending on decisions at a 4 May committee meeting to discuss whether Harlan Ellison's enforced dropout as a GoH (see above) means cancellation. Phone enquiries to Cuddles: 0141 558 2862.
5-7 Jul Constitution (Trek), Tollgate Motel, Gravesend, Kent. Contact 115 The Brent, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1YH.
13-15 Sep Lightspeed (Trek), Hilton National Hotel, Leeds. £35 reg + 3xSAE. Contact 16 Bramwell St, Eastwood, Rotherham, S. Yorks, S65 1RZ.
11-13 Oct Octocon '96, Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoire, nr Dublin. GoH Brian Stableford, others. £16 reg, £20 at door. Contact 30 South Circular Rd, Dublin 8, Ireland.
26-7 Oct Who's 7 (Dr Blake event), Ashford International Hotel, Ashford, Kent. Contact 10 Fillebrook Hall, Fillebrook Rd, Leytonstone, London, E11 1AG.
17-19 Nov Armadacon, Astor Hotel, The Hoe, Plymouth. £22 reg. GoH Jack Cohen, Dave Langford, others? Contact 4 Gleneagle Ave, Mannamead, Plymouth, Devon, PL3 5HL.
28-31 Mar 97 Intervention (Eastercon), Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. Now £30 reg/£20 unwaged; cheques to 'Wincon'. Contact 12 Crowsbury Close, Emsworth, Hants, PO10 7TS.
24-6 May 97 Fantasticon UK, Harrogate Int'l Conf Centre, many guests. £40.50 reg (£45 from 1 Sept). Contact 38 Planetree Ave, Fenham, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE4 9TH.
22-5 Aug 97 Terok Nor (Trek), Radisson Edward Hotel, Heathrow, London. Contact (SAE) 43 Eastern Ave, Polegate, East Sussex, BN26 6HG.
10-13 Apr 98 Intuition (Eastercon), Piccadilly Jarvis Hotel, Manchester. GoH Connie Willis, Ian McDonald, Martin Tudor. £25 reg (until Novacon '96). Contact 43 Onslow Gardens, Wallington, Surrey, SM6 9QH.
21-24 Aug 98 Babylon 5 – The Wrap Party, Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. £60 reg until Intervention. GoHs J. Michael Straczynski, Harlan Ellison, others. Contact (SAE) PO Box 505, Reading, Berks, RG1 7QZ.
Rumblings Reconvene (Eastercon '99 bid) had its cashbox and records stolen at Evolution: presupporters should contact the committee at 3 West Shrubbery, Redland, Bristol, BS6 6SZ. Not KC in 2K: the 'Kansas City in 2000' worldcon bid is no more; it has ceased to be; bereft of life, it rests in peace; it is an ex-bid. This is chiefly because a 1,000-room KC hotel building project has collapsed. Australia in '99!
Awards! Arthur C. Clarke Award: Paul J. McAuley's Fairyland, with Ken McLeod's The Star Fraction named as a very close runner-up. Steve Baxter mutters: 'I was sorry to miss out on the ACC but was even more galled with third place (or worse). Apparently I now enter the playoffs for relegation to the Auto Windshield SF Trophy, southern division....' Philip K. Dick Award for best US paperback original: Bruce Bethke, Headcrash. Nebula Awards: NOVEL Robert J. Sawyer, The Terminal Experiment; NOVELLA Elizabeth Hand, 'Last Summer at Mars Hill'; NOVELETTE Ursula K. Le Guin, 'Solitude'; SHORT Esther M. Friesner, 'Death and the Librarian'; GRAND MASTER A.E.van Vogt.
R.I.P. Richard Condon (1915-96), famed for The Manchurian Candidate and other borderline sf works and black comedies, died on 9 April. Lucio Fulci, director of many Italian horror flicks including the poignant Zombie Flesh Eaters, died in mid-March. [SG] Christopher Robin Milne, whose entire life was haunted by his father's Winnie-the-Pooh books, died aged 75 in late April. Stirling Silliphant (1918-96) died on 26 April; he wrote screenplays for several genre movies: Charly, Village of the Damned, The Swarm, etc ('not to mention odd non-sf/fantasy trivia like In the Heat of the Night' – [PB]). P.L. Travers (1906-96), author of Mary Poppins (1934), also died in late April – after more than 30 triumphant years of blocking any follow-up to the 1964 Disney movie which she so detested. Nevertheless, some UK newspapers sensitively headed their obituaries with stills of Julie Andrews.
Fantasy Encyclopedia Fun II: in one draft entry list, our spies were delighted to discover the cross-reference entries REVENGE >> VENGEANCE and also VENGEANCE >> REVENGE. 'Shut up, Langford,' explained editorial supremo John Grant as he hastily checked for RECURSIVE FANTASY >> RECURSIVE FANTASY.
Gollancz launched their Indigo (posh B-format) and Vista (The Unseen University Challenge ... advt.) imprints on 25 April, with much wine and several pictures of books. Meanwhile, deadly rivals HarperCollins simultaneously launched Blue Mars with Kim Stanley Robinson in attendance; those who trekked between the parties claimed Gollancz's booze to be superior.
C.o.A. Gary Farber, 922 East 15th St, #3B, Brooklyn, NY 11230-3752, USA (apt. number update) Anthony & Joy Hilbert (formerly A. Gilbert & J. Hibbert), PO Box 30, Marsden, Huddersfield, HD7 6UX. Rob Meades & Alice Kohler, 27 Hale Close, Melbourn, Royston, Herts, SG8 6ET Reading 01734 phone numbers are becoming 01189 numbers (see masthead): old codes work to Jan 98, but update your records now! John Rickett & Josie Price, Willow Cottage, 21 The Green, Uley, Dursley, Glos, GL11 5SN. (JDR is outraged at Fortean Times for not crediting him as Photographer of Langford. Er, I forgot to tell them....)
Thog's Science Masterclass (Voyager flyer, on Blue Mars): 'Ten things you didn't know about the red planet. [...] 9. Mars is the only planet in the solar system that could sustain human life.'
Fanfundery. DUFF: Perry Middlemiss won the 1996 race by a simple majority with 63 votes (commiserations to Danny Heap, 44, and Stephen Dedman, 9) and will travel from Australia to LAcon. TAFF ballot deadline: Sat 4 May, midnight.
UnConvention. Maureen Speller sought truth out there: 'The panel on "Post-mortem Movements and the Rise of the Vampire" was pretty good, though punctuated by some pretty icky scenes of skin sloughed by corpses. I missed the Highgate Vampire session with David Farrant, though the programme book came up with "His investigations had far reaching and disturbing consequences", which I said meant he'd been arrested a lot. Strangely enough, this is more or less what he said. God, I felt old being the only member of [my] group who could remember this nutter being arrested every few weeks....' The famous Alien Autopsy was on view: '... more than I had seen before. I can't actually understand how anyone does think it is genuine. Okay, so we don't know what aliens will look like but my feeling on watching the whole thing was that this was not a dissection but carnage, ripping a body into its constituent parts, and nothing useful was going to be gained. There was bugger all "procedure". I would have thought that there would have been a painstaking, methodical examination, much note-taking, still photography etc. that would have taken weeks or months. Instead, to judge from the clock the whole thing took no more than a couple of hours, was desperately haphazard and didn't look 'medical'.
Thog's Masterclass. 'Chang stepped forward, visibly clenching the many stout muscles that enwreathed his big, bony, close-cropped head.' (Neal Stephenson, The Diamond Age) [PM]
Oh No, Not Again ...
Yes, it's Hugo nominations time. A feisty 442 LAcon (and Intersection) members' nominating ballots led to: NOVEL The Time Ships, Stephen Baxter; Brightness Reef, David Brin; The Terminal Experiment, Robert J. Sawyer; The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson; Remake, Connie Willis. NOVELLA 'Fault Lines', Nancy Kress (Asimov's Aug); 'A Man of the People', Ursula K. Le Guin (Asimov's Apr); 'A Woman's Liberation', Ursula K. Le Guin (Asimov's Jul); 'Bibi', Mike Resnick & Susan Shwartz (Asimov's Dec); 'The Death of Captain Future', Allen Steele (Asimov's Oct). NOVELETTE 'Luminous', Greg Egan (Asimov's Sep); 'TAP', Greg Egan (Asimov's Nov); 'Think Like a Dinosaur', James Kelly (Asimov's Jun); 'When the Old Gods Die', Mike Resnick (Asimov's Apr); 'The Good Rat', Allen Steele (Analog Dec); 'Must and Shall', Harry Turtledove (Asimov's, Nov). SHORT 'TeleAbsence', Michael A. Burstein (Analog Jul); 'Life on the Moon', Tony Daniel (Asimov's Apr); 'A Birthday', Esther M. Friesner (F&SF Aug); 'The Lincoln Train', Maureen F. McHugh (F&SF Apr); 'Walking Out', Michael Swanwick (Asimov's Feb). NONFICTION Yours, Isaac Asimov: A Lifetime of Letters, Isaac Asimov ed Stanley Asimov; Spectrum 2: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, ed Cathy Burnett & Arnie Fenner; Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, John Clute; Alien Horizons: The Fantastic Art of Bob Eggleton, Bob Eggleton; To Write Like a Woman: Essays in Feminism and Science Fiction, Joanna Russ. DRAMATIC Apollo 13; 'The Coming of Shadows' (Babylon 5); 'The Visitor' (Star Trek: DS9); Toy Story; 12 Monkeys. PRO EDITOR Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, Scott Edelman, Kristine Kathryn Rusch, Stanley Schmidt. PRO ARTIST Jim Burns, Thomas Canty, Bob Eggleton, Don Maitz, Michael Whelan. ARTWORK F&SF Oct-Nov cover, Bob Eggleton; Analog Jan cover; Bob Eggleton; Dinotopia: The World Beneath, James Gurney; Analog Mar cover, George H. Krauter; F&SF Jan cover, Gary Lippincott. SEMIPROZINE Crank!, Interzone, Locus, The New York Review of SF, SF Chronicle. FANZINE Ansible, Apparatchik, Attitude (gosh!), FOSFAX, Lan's Lantern, Mimosa. FAN WRITER Sharon Farber, Andy Hooper, Dave Langford, Evelyn C. Leeper, Joseph T. Major. FAN ARTIST Ian Gunn, Teddy Harvia, Joe Mayhew, Peggy Ranson, William Rotsler. JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD (not a Hugo) Michael A. Burstein, David Feintuch, Felicity Savage, Sharon Shinn, Tricia Sullivan.
Retro Hugos. LAcon is also madly awarding the Hugos that didn't get presented in 1946. Spot who's on both lists.... NOVEL 'The Mule', Isaac Asimov (part II of Foundation and Empire); 'Red Sun of Danger', Edmond Hamilton writing as Brett Sterling (novel as Danger Planet); That Hideous Strength, C.S. Lewis; Destiny Times Three, Fritz Leiber; The World of Null-A, A.E.van Vogt. NOVELLA 'Dead Hand', Isaac Asimov (part I of Foundation and Empire); 'Giant Killer', A. Bertram Chandler; Animal Farm, George Orwell; I Remember Lemuria, Richard S. Shaver. NOVELETTE 'Pi in the Sky', Fredric Brown; 'Into Thy Hands', Lester del Rey; 'First Contact', Murray Leinster; 'The Piper's Son', Lewis Padgett; 'The Mixed Men', A.E.van Vogt (revised as The Mixed Men). SHORT 'The Waveries', Fredric Brown; 'Uncommon Sense', Hal Clement; 'Correspondence Course', Raymond F. Jones; 'The Ethical Equations', Murray Leinster; 'What You Need', Lewis Padgett. DRAMATIC Blithe Spirit, The Body Snatcher, The Horn Blows at Midnight, House of Dracula, The Picture of Dorian Gray. PRO EDITOR John W. Campbell Jr, Sam Merwin Jr, Raymond A. Palmer, Donald A. Wollheim. PRO ARTIST Earle K. Bergey, Hannes Bok, Edd Cartier, Virgil Finlay, Frank R. Paul. FANZINE The Acolyte, Chanticleer, Fantasy Commentator, Shangri L'Affaires, Voice of the Imagi-Nation. FAN WRITER Forrest J Ackerman, Charles E. Burbee, Francis Towner Laney, Bob Tucker, Art Widner. FAN ARTIST Joe Gibson, Lou Goldstone Jr, Alva Rogers, William Rotsler, Jack Wiedenbeck. (Other Hugo categories like Nonfiction attracted too few votes.)
Thog's Retro Masterclass. 'He shook his head wearily, and let his eyes drop back to the streets below.' 'Then his eyes moved up along the rough tweed of his trousers to the shorter motion of his thighs.' (Lester del Rey, 'Uneasy Lies the Head' and 'The Monster') [BA]
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Reminder: please note the altered Ansible electronic subscription details at the beginning of "Geeks' Corner". Owing to a technical hitch also describable as total Langfordian incompetence, the address has erroneously appeared elsewhere as Majordomo@dcs.gla.ac.uk – Majordomo@imi.gla.ac.uk is the one true version.
Ansible 106 Copyright © Dave Langford, 1996. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Amanda Baker, Paul Barnett, Cuddles, Steve Green, Phil Masters, and our Hero Distributors: Janice Murray (NA), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Oz), Martin Tudor and Bridget Wilkinson (FATW). 2 May 96.