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Ansible 11, August 1980

Cartoon: Stu Shiffman

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 RICHARD BRANDT ... to whom many thanks! • Dave Langford, 1996.

ANSIBLE 11 (August 1980) is still from DAVE LANGFORD, 22 Northumberland Avenue, READING, Berks RG2 7PW, UK. Subscriptions: 4/60p UK, 6/£1 elsewhere; remember that foreign cheques/currency lose heavily on conversion. Your last issue number appears on Keith Freeman's subtly crafted mailing label (SUB DUE or a row of stars indicating vast and imminent peril). Heading ['I'm sorry – the UNMOVED MOVER isn't in right now ...'] by Stu Shiffman.


Ballots were distributed in Ansible 10, allowing hatemongers up to 10 ranked nominations for the worst thing of the period Easter '79 to Easter '80: 10 points awarded for a first-place nomination, 9 for second, etc. The 17 voters were M. Ashley, A. Bostick, S. Brown, G. Cox, R. Day, B. Earp, K. Freeman, A. Harries, J. Harvey, R. Holdstock, P. Holdsworth, H. McNabb, J. Nicholas, P. Oldroyd, R. Salomon, J. Scrivner, & J. Shire (their first names are veiled in decent anonymity).

RESULTS. 1) (56 points) The Albacon Progress Reports. 2) (36 points) The Cost Of Seacon. 3) (22 points) Joseph Nicholas As Reviewer. 4) (16 points) The SFWA Suite At Seacon. 5) (15 points) Paperback Inferno ed. Joe Nicholas, and Waif 4 ed. Tom Jones, and Peter Weston's Tv Appearance 8) (13 points) 'Gut Reaction' by Alan Dorey in Another Bloody Fanzine 1, and Jerry Pournelle At Seacon, and The Seduction Of British Fans By US Infiltrators 11) (12 points) 'Ah, Sweet Arrogance' by D. West in One-Off 8, and POLLS, and Self-Righteous Indignation In British Fandom. Lots of other things were nominated (I particularly liked 'D. West's Lack of Heart Failure' and 'D. Langford's Appallingly Inappropriate Success'); none received more than ten points. All voters had their subscriptions extended.


Author/editor/publisher Sam J. Lundwall has left his Swedish publishing house Delta for health reasons; his place in the vast World SF organization (from which I've heard nothing for aeons despite being a charter member) will be taken by Gerald Bishop. • Anders Bellis: 'Kaj Harju's note in A9 is quite untrue. The so-called figment of a feud between me/Engholm and SFSF (Scandinavian SF Assoc) was the one and only reason that the annual meeting was the biggest ever in the association's history.' Ahrvid Engholm explains in great detail how he and Bellis tried to topple the sercon leaders of SFSF by numberless proxies from fans at the annual business meeting, but 'in the issue of SFSF's clubzine Fanac ... just before the meeting, they put out a general warning to all 650 members of SFSF ... issued their own papervoteforms and requested that all loyal SF enthusiasts must sign them and send them as proxies to the SFSF chairman.... [Even so:] If we had had a proportional election – as SFSF always used to have – we would have got at least 4 of the seats. The board requested a bloc-voting, and since they had 40 votes and we only 30, there was a bloc-voting: the proportional voting was overruled and they got all ten seats. [Thus the old board was re-elected:] They have closed and secret board meetings, and they don't inform the members what decisions they take at these meetings. They have sold SFSF's magazine library ... they have an expensive clubhouse, but meetings only once a month ... they 'arranged' a con in April which turned out a total fiasco since less than 20 fans turned up ... with less than half a year left of 1980 they've published 2 issues of Fanac (6 planned for 1980) and one of SF-Forum (5 planned)....' Enough of this, or Alan Dorey might start getting ideas. Unless someone's fibbing, it sounds as though SFSF makes the BSFA seem a miracle of democratic efficiency (which of course it is, yes indeed massa Dorey ...). • Tom Olander announces Finland's first and only fanzine Spin ed. Markku Haapio, Käkitie 19 as 2, SF-21530 Paimio, Finland. (It's in Finnish. The pictures are pretty.) Also TSFS, a Finnish sf club with 100-plus members.


The Harringay & District Sci-Fi Discussion Group (Motto: HaD Sci-Fi Up to Here) meets on 2nd and 4th Wednesday each month from approx 7.30pm in the Salisbury Hotel lounge bar, Green Lanes, N.4; 'firm wrists are essential'. The Oxford University Speculative Fiction Group thinks all Ansible readers will be desperate to know that their new President is Dave Strong (Worcester Coll.): details, no doubt, from him. The Reading SF (Reading) Group announced in A10 has already burst the bounds of Osborne Arms and on the third Thursday of August will start there, moving at 9.30pm to the Rising Sun (turn left at roundabout by station, and it's down by the traffic lights). That's August 21. The Surrey Limpwrists are all rumoured to be standing for TAFF in '82: since both current Administrators are members they should have no difficulty in winning....


It seems a little late to go on about Noreascon, except to note that the last newsletter I saw had membership over the 4000 mark. They've just sent material on 'Pro Groups', whereby I can fill in a form and be allotted a room in which to meet my adoring fans. I wonder.... • 'Bob Shaw' sends data on Hitchercon One, whose membership application seems clever and innovative: you fill in your address on sticky labels which will then be used to send your con literature. 26-28 Sept, £4.50 supp/£9 att, cheques to Arthur Dent c/o Joy Hibbert, West Bank, Winster, Matlock, Derby, DE4 2DQ, or SAE for details. • Space-Ex 1984 is not called Space-Ex 1999 as in A10: oops. The Albacon rumour about its possible collapse is answered thus: 'Sorry our officials made no such statements. As to Schisms in ISTRA – ISTRA thrives on exactly the opposite helping each other when trouble occurs. Bankruptcy – No chance.' (Mike Parry, Hon.Pres.) Subsequent letter: 'As to the statement you refer to, we may have a good idea of who said it and why, but we shall find out for ourselves.' (Tam O'Neill, Hon.Sec.) • Project Starcast is of course the one in the forefront of the hugecon scene. 8-11 Oct 1982, a multimedia experience in Harrogate Exhib. Centre, and a curious system whereby £12 brings you attending membership (rising by degrees to £20 at the door), but an extra £5 must be laid out for progress reports if you want them. (PRs without membership available at £7.65 the lot.) The brochure is readily available – it was all over Unicon – but I'm not wild about the cost of PRs to keep in touch with this one. Though its only visible official, one Brian Clarke, is friendly enough, it does seem that this is a con of such enormity (I mean size) that it'll go its vast way without heeding the amateur prejudices of current con attendees: for this reason there is a growing consensus, openly stated by Ken Slater and the BSFA Committee, to the effect that 'Project Starcast' can jolly well get along without plugs and publicity in fanzines. • Yorcon II, whose typo master Graham James has already distinguished himself by changing 'Personally I do ...' to 'Personally I do not ...' in my PR1 article, has issued said PR1 despite some problems in getting hold of mailing lists, and has since acquired an 'American GoH' in the person of Tom Disch. • Numerous Scandinavian cons have been announced, the biggest being Fabula 80, 24-26 Oct, Copenhagen. The first PR, in newspaper format, is impressive. Full membership is 120 dkr (150 dkr after 1 Sept) to Fabula 80, postbox 329, DK-1500 Copenhagen V, Denmark. • Chris Atkinson threatens a further release from the all-female 1982 Eastercon bidding committee (which now includes Roz Kaveney): not that there's any really new news, but Bram Stokes is said to be brewing a rival bid. Gosh!


Unicon 80 was my first con – it was with trepidation that I approached the registration desk. Diverse phobias were passing through my mind, but were all dismissed within seconds of registering. There was a friendly, convivial atmosphere: I knew straightaway that I'd enjoy the con. No 'fear and loathing' here! Luckily I teamed up with another new fan, Patrick Ellisdon: we wandered together throughout the con and will probably keep in touch in the future.

Unicon was divided between two buildings. Much hiking was involved, accommodation being 1/8 mile away in one direction and the refectory 1/8 mile in the other direction. The con was opened by GoH Harry Harrison at 8pm on Friday night; a main and an alternative programme ran together. Friday's highlights included Harry and Bob (real) Shaw interviewing (insulting) each other, followed by round 1 of Mastermind and a search for room-parties – one of which was serving what appeared to be 'toadstool pie'. Saturday was a full day: round 2 of Mastermind, numerous films, an interesting talk on 'The Golden Age of SF' from Ken Slater (who claimed there was never a golden age of SF, only a golden age of Astounding), and a panel chaired by Alan Dorey on 'Getting Into Fandom'. Alan maintained that 'new blood' was constantly needed: yours truly reminded him of his 'fear and loathing in Leeds' article! At 9pm came the fancy dress – hilarious. One impromptu fan leapt onstage slightly inebriated and collapsed to the floor: The Man Who Fell to Earth. I can't remember who won – I was slightly inebriated too. Next morning Peter Roberts gave an entertaining talk on fanzines, comparing types of fanzine to kinds of animal: 'animals that go bump in the night', 'animals that leap out at you', etc. He also told us of a fanzine which was printed on sliced cheese and had to be kept in the fridge, until somebody inadvertently ate it.

The Banquet was held in the refectory; among the goodies served were the famous Keele wines bottled in Germany especially for Keele University. Toastmaster was Bob Shaw. Harry Harrison gave a speech on Microchips; following stentorian protests from Mrs Harrison, he spoke on Microfish too.

There was an excellent exhibition of art of Dave De Leuw. Lots of the paintings were sold in the auction, where there was brisk bidding. One 'lucky' bider acquired Chrissie Pearson's tights and a Harrison cigar butt. The fanroom was a disappointment in that nothing happened in it at all.

As far as I'm concerned, Unicon 80 was a resounding success, and if there's a Unicon 81 I'll definitely be going. This was my introduction to fandom, and on the strength of it I certainly hope to become more involved. (Peter Holdsworth, cruelly edited by Dave Langford)


As UK administrator of TAFF I can tell you very little: somewhere across the Atlantic as I type this, Terry Hughes is preparing the ballot form, which will include candidates Stu Shiffman and Gary Farber. Forms will be out at Noreascon and with the next Ansible: the winner comes to Yorcon II next Easter. Stu has sent some 'Shiffman for TAFF' cartoons which in my impartial way I can't print: ask me if you want one for your zine; doubtless Gary's supporters will have 'Farber for TAFF' cartoons by the score, and the same for any extra candidate. Get ready to vote and donate; buy a copy of the magnificent fundraiser Taff-Ddu (75p from me or Jim Barker); watch for con auctions packed with goodies. • GUFF is in the capable hands of Rob Jackson (flyer enclosed where postage permits) and declared candidates are still just Malcolm Edwards and Joseph Nicholas. Good luck to all concerned. • Urgent! Urgent! Jan Howard Finder announces that he is standing for DUFF (US-Australia) in 1983, but that is not the urgent bit. Jan has established a 'Barker to Boston' fund aimed at easing Jim Barker's trip: if you care to contribute before about 22 August, send money either to Jan (US) or to John&Eve Harvey, 55 Blanchland Rd, Morden, Surrey, SM4 5NE. Apparently Joyce Scrivner & Mike Glyer are both standing for DUFF '81.


Following their $285,000 settlement with ABC/Paramount, Harlan Ellison & Ben Bova nearly lost it when one of them (guess which) said rude things about ABC/Paramount in Time and on TV: this has now been resettled.... • The 4th Dune novel, Sandworm of Dune, should have been delivered in July: Frank Herbert told SFC 'It's the story of Leto II who, as you may remember, is going to turn into a sandworm.' • Fantastic will be absorbed by Amazing in November: another magazine vanishes. • Nominations for the 1981 Nebulas continue: as of late June the most popular novels were Tevis's Mockingbird (13 recommendations) and, aargh, Niven's Ringworld Engineers (9). • Alexis Gilliland, of all people, has a novel due next March, The Revolution from Rosinante, 'about life in & around the asteroids in 2039. For aliens, I have bankers & Japanese industrialists.' • Jim Barker's move south and vast freelance plans have been delayed by lack of opportunity for selling artwork. He and your editor are planning a vast cartoon series about a sentient computer.... • Chris Priest's new novel The Affirmation has gone in: since US publishers love to shorten his titles he expects the US edition to be called The. • (Sources: SF Chronicle, Etc.)


The rumours in that dubious rag Matrix are by some strange chance true. For reasons shrouded in official secrecy and middle-class reticence – but look for revelations in Twll-Ddu 18, available to the usual mob or for 50p TAFF donation – this humble editor has left AWRE for the far more thrilling and less remunerative field of pro writing. Undaunted by the encouragement of publishers ('It's an easy decision to make, but ...') and agents ('The book trade is in the worst depression it has known for a great many years ...'), your hero freed himself with a single bound and is now self-employed! Some day I must write a book....


HARRY ANDRUSCHAK, PO Box 606, La Cañada-Flintridge, CA 91011, USA / ALAN DOREY, 286 Ballards Lane, Finchley, London, N12 OET / PHIL JAMES, 4 Gurnos Road, Merthyr Tydfil, mid-Glamorgan, CF47 9NH / DAVID ROW, 46 Campsie Close, Buckskin, Basingstoke, Hants, RG22 5DF (no relation to D. Rowe the forgotten).


This fanzine supports Australia In '83 and I'll be happy to pass on donations to this Worldcon bidding fund (you get a 'Friend of Oz in 83' card and a free drink if the con happens and you come!). Aussie master Carey Handfield is currently sorting out a full-time UK agent for the bid: meanwhile I'm standing in. Important Note: I am informed that Baltimore, another '83 bidder, is relying on foreign votes being split between Australia and Scandinavia. Personally I think it's time for another foreign con that year, and I urge supporters of either non-US bid to vote for the other in second place when the time comes. Herman and Aussiecon please copy. • Joyce Scrivner sends a Minicon 16 programme boo, from which I cull: The American liaison of the JLAS will be present after midnight in the Art Show rom. Secret meetings. Communications welcomed. • A Dark Star poster sighted in London cashes in on Star Wars by the addition of blazing guns to the spacecraft, and clinches it with a sticker saying 'From the pen of ALAN DEAN FOSTER, author of 2001'.... • Oenophile Michael Ashley warns: 'I took a can of Barbican – the alcohol-free lager – into school. Fatalities are now in the high 30s ... imagine Harp lager, bleach and afterbirth all combined.' • Unsuspected new LeGuin title found in the May number of Gerbish's bibliography: The Lather of Heaven.... • Harry Andruschak reports with delight that one Ken Mann recently sent him a dozen copies of his zine with the request that they be mailed to various US fans: other UK editors, and even Ken Mann, are asked not to overwhelm Mr Andruschak with their generosity in this fashion.... • Taral wants you all to buy Not for Sale – a real selling title that – from him at 1812-415 Willowdale Ave, Willowdale, Ont, Canada, M2N 5B4. For $1 you get 14 of his idiosyncratic drawings with surrounding commentary: it's a 'coloring book'. Skilful work, occasionally unsuited to this mimeo format; piquant if you like Taral's semi-erotic fantasy and very possibly a pain in the rear if you don't. • Jim Barker has gone into retreat with a view to 'making my style a bit more commercial', but will doubtless be producing once more when he's mastered the fur jockstrap and the megaglazed spaceship. • I bought Alexis Gilliland's The Iron Law of Bureaucracy (excellent cartoon collection): with it came a very interesting catalogue from the publishers, Loompanics ... eg. the blurb for the 4-volume set How to Kill. 'These books make no moral judgements. Their purpose is to instruct you in the taking of another human life, up close.' ('Our books are sold for informational purposes only,' it says in the introduction.) • Verbatim: The Language Quarterly published a piece recently on legitimate short-forms of words. Here speaks the Voice Of Authority, my friends: science fiction contracts to sf and there is the note 'sci-fi denotes bad sf'. Someone tell James Manning! • More wisdom of the ages: Hazel offers a proverb from the Kikuyu folk, 'Imitation made the frog lose its buttocks.' • More from M. Ashley, this time on the Doris Lessing TV programme: 'While the camera beadily eyed her bookshelf, the voice of the interviewer declared that "books by the disreputable Erich von Däniken rub shoulders with the respected sf author Isaac Asimov." Respected? By whom?' (That's cruel.) • Another aspect of Project Starcast which worries Ken Slater is the promise of numerous small spinoff cons. 'This may be a gambit to claim that other conventions are "offspring" of theirs.' I'm less worried about that than about the possibility that 'our' Eastercon hotels could be hired away from us by commercial sf interests: but the sf boom is dying in any case, and it may be that the time for such vast conceptions is already past. We shall see. (Yes, I know Noreascon expected 5000 pre-registrations, but that's a different country.) • COA again: Andy Porter's SFC, PO Box 4175, New York, NY 10163 (the change being the last three zipcode digits: a Post Office surprise for Andy after he'd just had 10,000 addressed envelopes printed.) • DUFF developments: seems Mike Glyer is not standing and the battle is between friends Joyce Scrivner and Jon Singer. • A Cardiff sf meeting (Fans of Fanthorpe Sci-Fi Soc, led by RLF himself) was held in a pub called the Crwys on 20 July and should continue – possibly elsewhere as the natives didn't seem friendly – more data when it comes. • No longer with evil Virgin Records ('Virgin deal in music like army hospitals deal in amputated limbs' – What Hi-Fi? magazine), the Mekons with My Little Brother have signed up with some bunch called Red Rhino: millions of discs are on the way and for a huge bribe I've written an article on the Mekons for something called New Chartbusters.... • Locus Awards (1980) went to novels Titan (sf) and Harpist in the Wind (fantasy); astonishingly, Larry Niven's Convergent Series – comprising bits not good enough for his other collections – made it as best collection. The Nicholls Encyclopedia of SF won 'best related nonfiction'. • Floodcon is still on, guaranteeing rising waters in which the democratically elected GoH's and FGoH's death struggles will occur: send $1 to Johnstown In 83, 420 Bantel St, Johnstown, PA 15905, USA, or 50p for me to pass on. Badges, PRs, GoH voting forms.... • DRL boobs again: an Empire Strikes Back review arrived from Andrew Stephenson just in time not to appear in the nonexistent July Ansible. I extract: 'Once again, the producers showed they really know what SF is all about: lots of whizzing to and fro in oddball transport; a wodge of mysticism; a few Harry Bell animals and Jim Barker aliens (or were those guest appearances?) ... oh yes, and the Muppets: "Pigs in Space" comes to the Big Screen, or very nearly. The strengths of EMPIRE must be the enhanced and often breathtaking special effects.... Its weaknesses, sadly, are an increasing pandering to the American love of mawkish philosophizing; at least half an hour could have been cut in this area.... The drift towards the aimless, endless storytelling of the Flash Gordon serials is pronounced; and in a serial that allows two years between episodes, that's dangerous marketing. Even so, good fun....' (Ames) • Letter in New Scientist debunks Darwin: 'The geological record indicates species to have occurred separately, with no transitional forms.... This may not make a scientist a creationist, but it should lead him to reject evolution as simply not fitting the facts.' Yes – it was Hugo Gernsback after all. • The BSFA is finally buying its litho kit (as Denounced by D. West). Eve Harvey commented: 'I've never read a Matrix anyway.'

Hazel's Language Lessons #3 contributed by Ian Watson:

In Japanese, uguisu no tani-watari means

(a) a nightingale jumping back and forth over a narrow valley;
(b) one man in bed with two women.

from Dave Langford
22 Northumberland Avenue
United Kingdom