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Ansible 110, September 1996

Cartoon: Atom

From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU, UK. Fax 0118 966 9914. ISSN 0265-9816. E-mail ansible[at] Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Atom. Available for SAE or a cure for triskaidekahugophobia.

MARS ATTACKS. Just before the NASA news, there were subtle examples of what we litcrit types call foreshadowing. On a Radio 5 phone-in, astronomer Dr Paul Murdin explained Mars in terms comprehensible to post-privatization Britain: 'Look, Mars is something like South Yorkshire, right? There are signs that there used to be water there once....' And Brian Aldiss played straight man in the Telegraph: 'As yet, at least, we have no evidence that life, never mind intelligent life, exists anywhere else in the Galaxy.' Within days came the boggling claim that a Antarctic meteor seemingly from Mars had been found to harbour microscopic copies of Ansible, containing fossilized jokes more than sixteen million years old. Steve Baxter, in the true spirit of science, subjected the claims to the impartial light of self-promotion: 'From the point of view of those cute Mars bugs, Blue Mars must look an awful lot like Independence Day. Of course it's good PR for my own Mars novel Voyage, due out in November. I don't even need a rewrite. I just hope the felt tip pen I used to draw those fossils on the rock doesn't wash off, oh what a giveaway.' As for that man Aldiss....

Vast and Cool and Unsympathetic

Brian Aldiss, after a nasty moment on the road to Damascus, is 'sure you sci-fi buffs in the Ansible offices are rejoicing about the latest Martian news. So are we. I'm an honorary member of Allied Religio-Scientific Engineers (best known under its acronym), who work with NASA scientists. They will publish a report on their findings next week. • As Christians understand, God created all the planets and sent his Son to each one of them, in a sort of stellar Billy Graham crusade. In every case, the Son assumed the physical appearance of the dominant life form. Close examination of meteorite ALH 84001 by ARSE scientists indicates that the single-celled organism just revealed – expelled from Mars as a more violent form of crucifixion – actually is the Martian Christ. • Negotiation is now taking place with NASA officials to ensure that the sacred fossil will be housed in Jerusalem, in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. If Jesus did not arrive on Earth earlier, as claimed, he is certainly here now! Praise be to God in the Highest.'

Pat Cadigan remains cuddly as ever: 'Came across the item about my unavoidable surgery: "Ansible somehow cannot imagine Pat without limitless supplies of gall...." Well, as a matter of fact, I still have limitless supplies of gall. I'm just not keeping it in a bladder any more. This means there will be even less delay in my producing whatever gall may be needed for any and all occasions. I hope this clears up any confusion. You dog.'

Ellen Datlow of Omni was immensely hurt that Ansible failed to cover her own epic week in hospital (at $900/day) with pneumonia. This was excitingly followed by a terrifying re-diagnosis of TB as the underlying cause ('it is completely curable ... it's just so ... archaic ...') and then a shock re-re-diagnosis as, er, no, just boring old pneumonia after all. 'Ain't modern medicine grand? Call in the witch doctors....' What a lot of excitement unwell Americans get for their money!

Newt Gingrich's ghosted sf novel 1945 failed to become a US best-seller, with 81% returns and 97,000 copies now clogging the warehouse shelves. Mighty publisher Jim Baen swiftly turned this to good account and guaranteed himself national US coverage from Newt-haters ... by announcing that the books might well be pulped and become, ultimately, toilet paper.

Jo Fletcher notes that new Gollancz man Humphrey Price has only half of Richard Evans's job: 'He's editorial director of Vista, I remain in charge of all the sf, fantasy and horror list.'

Graham Joyce has mysteriously failed to tell Ansible that he is the proud father of Ella Josephine (b. 6 Aug). [PC] And why does my British Fantasy Society source refer to the famous author as Graham 'Fucking TOMBOLA' Joyce? Deep waters....

Bruce Sterling clarified his idea of fun: 'No, I will not be at Worldcon. I will be in the desert with ten thousand hippies setting fire to a giant wicker man.'

Ted Tubb's 32nd Dumarest book – the one which DAW Books didn't think publishable, and which has appeared only in French (La Retour, France, 1992) – is due out from US small press Gryphon Books as The Return in 1997. [SAW]


7 Sep • Armageddon Fireworks, Hardwick House, Whitchurch, nr Pangbourne. (Rained off in July.) Gates open 8pm, firing 10:30pm. £4 entrance. Beer, barbecue, music, etc.

13-15 Sep • Lightspeed (Trek), Hilton National Hotel, Leeds. £35 reg. Contact (SAE) 16 Bramwell St, Eastwood, Rotherham, S. Yorks, S65 1RZ.

20-22 Sep • Oxonmoot (Tolkien Soc), University College, Oxford. Contact 69 Kirkstall Clo, Toothill, Swindon, SN5 8EF.

21 Sep • Andromeda Bookshop ... Steve Baxter's signing has moved (via a wormhole lined with exotic matter) to 16 Nov.

21 Sep • Bookfair, Spitalfields, London; much sf presence.

25 Sep • BSFA London meeting, Jubilee pub, York Rd, near Waterloo. With Harry Harrison. 6pm for 8pm or thereabouts.

27-9 Sep • Constitution (Trek), Manor Hotel, Gravesend. £20 reg. Contact 115 The Brent, Dartford, Kent, DA1 1YH.

29 Sep • Scotforce 1 (media, B5), Glasgow Central Hotel, 10am-10pm. £20 reg. Contact (SAE) PO Box 3870, Glasgow, G44 3PZ. (NB: Albacon reported a much improved hotel attitude.)

4-5 Oct • Panopticon (Who), Hotel Leofric, Coventry. £42 reg. Contact PO Box 7831, London, SW15 6YD.

4-6 Oct • Fantasycon XX, International Hotel, Marsh Wall, London. GoH Christopher Fowler, Tom Holt, others. £40/$80 reg; £35/$70 BFS members. Contact (SAE) 137 Priory Road, Hall Green, Birmingham B28 OTB.

4-6 Oct • Midcon (Trek), Holiday Inn, Leicester. Contact 8 Ennerdale Clo, Oadby, Leicester, LE2 4TN.

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.

2 Mar 97 • Picocon 14, Imperial College, London. 10am-8pm. £8 reg (students £3). GoH Simon Ings. Contact ICSF c/o IC Union, Beit Quad, Prince Consort Rd, London, SW7 2BB.

2-6 Sep 99 • Aussiecon 3, Melbourne; to general lack of surprise, Australia rather than Croatia won the 1999 Worldcon bidding. Voting: Australia 808, Zagreb 158, Alcatraz (h'mm) 19, misc 10. Guests: George Turner, Gregory Benford and Bruce Gillespie. $US140 reg ($65 conversion if you voted in site selection); UK agent believed to be Martin 'I do sometimes open letters' Hoare, 45 Tilehurst Rd, Reading, RG1 7TT.

Infinitely Improbable

Starlog Nobbled. The suit of 11 artists against Starlog magazine for 'breach of copyright and unfair competition in respect of a set of 42 "trading cards" published in 1993 without their permission' was settled on 16 July, with Starlog boss Norm Jacobs agreeing to pay $30,000 to the artists (Ron Miller, Don Dizon, David A. Hardy, Den Ellis, Chesley Bonestell, Don Davis, Ludek Pesek, Rick Sternbach, Adolf Schaller, Joe Bergeron, David Egge). After attorneys' fees the artists will get some $400 per card ... 'about 700% of what Norm tried to pay them when the cards first came to light,' observes court reporter Dave Hardy.

C.o.A. Andromeda Bookshop, 2-5 Suffolk St, Birmingham, B1 1LT. Henry Balen & Renée Sieber, 450 7th St, Apt 4N, Hoboken, NJ 07030, USA. Jim Barker has moved his office back home: 26 Campfield Street, Falkirk, FK2 7DN. Jo Clayton is now being treated for multiple myeloma of the spine at Room 686, 6SW, Good Samaritan Hospital, 1015 NW 22nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97210, USA. Lloyd & Yvonne Penney, 1706-24 Eva Rd, Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada M9C 2B2. Walt & Madeleine Willis, 9 Alexandra Rd, Donaghadee, N. Ireland, BT21 0QD.

Savoy Books lost their July/August High Court appeal for the right to a jury trial of whether the heaps of their comics seized by Manchester police in 1991 (including Lord Horror and Meng & Ecker) are obscene. The appeal relied on a previous assurance by law officers to Parliament that 'serious publishers of literature and art' would always get a jury trial if they wanted one. Savoy were apparently deemed non-serious; Crown Prosecution Service person Stuart Ashman actually let slip in court that he had not wished to have the case heard before a jury because, er, he would then have stood little chance of winning. British Justice – Best in the World.

Random Fandom. Kay Allan missed her first-ever Glasgow convention (Albacon) owing to 'a small stroke'; swift recovery is hoped for. [C] • Henry Balen summarizes L.A. Con in 3 sentences: 'John Jarrold spent most of the evening in the Hilton Bar trying to empty it of alcohol. Sunday night was the best night for Parties. The reality of having to run a Worldcon has hit the Aussies.' • Paul Barnett points out the kind of front-page headline Ansible would use if it were a real national newspaper: HE TOLD ME HE WANTED A SEX CHANGE, AND WHEN I SAID NO HE KIDNAPPED MY TORTOISE (Daily Star, 15 Aug). • Damien Broderick & Christina Lake were, I am insistently told, in no way newsworthy at Readercon. • Mike & Susan Glicksohn flitted, tourist-like, through Britain and viewed such historic ruins as Greg Pickersgill, Chris Priest and Peter Roberts. At a London pub meeting, Mike remarked that he'd just tried to make peace with Harlan Ellison (who in the 80s declared the end of a long friendship when Mike reviewed – without actually denouncing – a certain Priest essay). 'Harlan wrote back to say he wasn't wasting another instant of his time on me ... the letter was five pages long and manually typed.' • Eunice Pearson is starting a horror-oriented APA called Hallowe'en: contact The Crypt of Terror, 2 New Houses, Pant, Merthyr Tydfil, CF48 2AB. [SG] • Unattributable: a certain fan overhearing two non-fans chatting about sf in a pub claims the following exchange. 'Gillian Anderson is the thinking man's crumpet.' 'Well, in that case, the thinking woman's crumpet is John Clute.'

Publishers & Sinners. John Grant reports: 'Virgin are starting three new series lines, called Virgin Worlds (essentially space opera), Virgin Something Else (erotic crime) and Virgin I Really Have Forgotten What The Hell This One Was About.' • In Typo Veritas: 'I sought to find a pattern, a deeper purpose, for, at the time, the events I am about to recount seemed fandom and arbitrary.' (Arlene Chai, Eating Fire and Drinking Water, uncorrected proof) [LS]

TAFF &c. Martin Tudor has – as promised – begun to publish his hefty TAFF report while still in transit; the first 4,000-word chunk is available for SAE from Bernie Evans, 121 Cape Hill, Smethwick, Warley, W. Midlands, B66 4SH, or from me. • Plans to wrest Gary Farber from his 25-hour-a-day US net connection and subject him to Real British Life (i.e. Novacon) approached fruition at Dangercon. 'We've raised enough money to bring Gary Farber to Novacon and buy 65.5 Mars Bars.' [BH] To receive a cornucopia of tacky Farber tie-in products, send £10/$15 to Pam Wells, First Floor Flat, 14 Prittlewell Sq, Southend, SS1 1DW.

Critics' Masterclass. Paul Brazier, in Interzone 111: 'It seems to me that most publishing is actually about self-indulgence, and that publishers love the likes of Terry Pratchett who indulge themselves outrageously and sell books with no recourse to the editor's red pen.' Jo Fletcher, Terry's current editor at Gollancz: 'It seems to me that Paul Brazier is ample demonstration of the belief that most of fandom is about self-indulgence without recourse to brain usage.'

Ansible Section Title Explained. Dr Thorndyke: 'It seems infinitely improbable that we shall learn anything from it ...' (R. Austin Freeman, 'The Contents of a Mare's Nest', 192?.)

It's That Time of Year ...

Hugo Awards. Presented at L.A. Con III, 1 Sep.... NOVEL The Diamond Age, Neal Stephenson. NOVELLA 'The Death of Captain Future', Allen Steele (Asimov's). NOVELETTE 'Think Like a Dinosaur', James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's). SHORT 'The Lincoln Train', Maureen F. McHugh (F&SF). NON-FICTION Science Fiction: The Illustrated Encyclopedia, John Clute. DRAMATIC The Coming of Shadows (Babylon 5). PRO EDITOR Gardner Dozois. PRO ARTIST Bob Eggleton. ORIGINAL ART Dinotopia: The World Beneath, James Gurney. SEMI-PROZINE Locus. FANZINE Ansible. FAN WRITER Dave Langford. FAN ARTIST William Rotsler. • JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD David Feintuch. • 939 valid ballots were cast. [DB/SG] I won't pretend not to be delighted – especially by Ansible's first 'away' win (i.e. not at a British worldcon), and the great John Clute's first unshared Hugo. But, dear voters: there are other nifty fanwriters out there. Meanwhile, British hope Steve Baxter came second for Best Novel with (according to the e-mailed release) The Time Slips: 'I was spared the x-ray-profile-of-a-stinger-missile trauma of trying to fly a Hugo home, but the glass boot-shaped tankard which we runners-up received has the x-ray profile of a gun, and got me searched....' Further Baxter consolation: a 'Japanese Hugo' for Timelike Infinity, 'only just out over there. I have a theory it won because the title looks really neat in Japanese characters....'

Retro Hugos (1945 work). NOVEL The Mule, Isaac Asimov. NOVELLA Animal Farm, George Orwell. NOVELETTE 'First Contact', Murray Leinster. SHORT 'Uncommon Sense', Hal Clement. DRAMATIC The Picture of Dorian Gray (M-G-M). PRO EDITOR John W. Campbell, Jr. PRO ARTIST Virgil Finlay. FANZINE Voice of the Imagi-Nation, ed Forrest J Ackerman. FAN WRITER Forrest J Ackerman. FAN ARTIST William Rotsler. [DB/SG]

Mythopoeic Awards. ADULT LITERATURE Waking the Moon, Elizabeth Hand; CHILDREN'S The Crown of Dalemark, Diana Wynne Jones; SCHOLARSHIP (INKLINGS) J.R.R. Tolkien, Artist & Illustrator, Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull; SCHOLARSHIP (OTHER) From the Beast to the Blonde: Fairy Tales and Their Tellers, Marina Warner. [DB]

Richard Evans Fund. Certain people are 'aiming to raise sufficient funds to endow an annual prize in Richard's memory', for authors who have done good work without gaining much recognition. Contact John Parker, 45 Fitzroy St, London, W1P 5HR. This was announced at the 16 Aug 'wake' for Richard in a London pub, where good old boy Colin Murray delivered an immense eulogy which, alas, I could not hear. Chris Priest: 'I can't hear it either!' Rog Peyton: 'It's not just you, Dave....' David Garnett: 'Colin, could you speak up, please?' Colin Murray: 'NO!'. Richard's wife Ali (Alison) Dunn also spoke, briefly and movingly.

Sidewise Awards ... first presentation of new alternate-history sf prizes, 1996. LONG Paul J. McAuley, Pasquale's Angel. SHORT Stephen Baxter, 'Brigantia's Angels' (IZ). SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT (or, er, Retro Sidewise) L. Sprague de Camp for Lest Darkness Fall (1939) etc.

World Fantasy Award Nominations. NOVEL James P. Blaylock, All the Bells of Earth; Vikram Chandra, Red Earth, Pouring Rain; Nina Kiriki Hoffman, The Silent Strength of Stones; Graham Joyce, Requiem; Tim Powers, Expiration Date; Christopher Priest, The Prestige. • NOVELLA Nina Kiriki Hoffman, 'Home For Christmas'; Ursula K. Le Guin, 'Ether OR'; Jonathan Lethem, 'The Insipid Profession of Jonathan Hornebom', Tim Powers, Where They Are Hid; Michael Marshall Smith, 'More Tomorrow'; Michael Swanwick, 'Radio Waves'. SHORT Gwyneth Jones, 'The Grass Princess'; Kit Reed, 'The Singing Marine'; Petrina Smith, 'Angel Thing'; S.P. Somtow, 'Dragon's Fin Soup'; Robert Charles Wilson, 'The Perseids', Douglas Winter, 'Loop'. • ANTHOLOGY Nancy A. Collins, Edward E. Kramer & Martin H. Greenberg, Dark Love; Stephen Jones & David Sutton, Dark Terrors; Lucy Sussex & Judith Raphael Buckrich, She's Fantastical; Steve Rasnic Tem, High Fantastic; A. Susan Williams & Richard Glyn Jones, The Penguin Book of Modern Fantasy by Women. • COLLECTION Brian Aldiss, The Secret of This Book; Jonathan Carroll, The Panic Hand; Hugh B. Cave, Death Stalks the Night; Charles de Lint, The Ivory and the Horn; Gwyneth Jones, Seven Tales and a Fable. • ARTIST Tom Canty, Alan Clark, Bob Eggleton, J.K. Potter, Gahan Wilson.

Thog's Masterclass. 'When they finished eating, they would lie silently under the blankets until sleep shuffled over the roofs to the leaded skylight and threw itself down on them, sprawling like a wanton over their faces.' (Felicity Savage, Humility Garden) [RP]

Geeks' Corner

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Ansible Agents
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Electronic COAs Etc.
Jim Barker,
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Convention E-Addresses
Attitude: the Convention,
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Intervention (Eastercon 1997),
Intuition (Eastercon 1998),
Octocon, now

Miscellaneous links from Ansible,
(Rather than repeat information each issue, regularly appearing URLs are deported to this Almost Useful Page.)
Fantasy Encyclopedia: can you help with authors' birth years? Query list at (updated 4 September)
SF Encyclopedia: second edition corrections etc. now accessible at
That Martin Tudor TAFF Report-In-Progress:

Stop Press. Heroic Cheryl Morgan managed to haul the immense Fanwriter Hugo box from L.A. to the 5 September Wellington meeting in London, where a presentation was made and British fandom swooned at the baroque Hollywood-themed design. At last, a Hugo trophy that supersedes the old joke: batteries are included. (But, alas, the battery pack disintegrated in transit, disabling the little spotlights....) Alison Scott's feared digital camera was on the scene, and terrible evidence is presented at:

Thanks again, everyone!

Ansible 110 Copyright © Dave Langford, 1996. Thanks to Paul Barnett, Chris Bell, David Bratman, Peter Coleborn, Cuddles, Seth Goldberg, Steve Green, Bridget Hardcastle, Martin Hoare, Kim Huett, Cheryl Morgan, Spike Parsons, Rog Peyton, Lucy Sussex, Sean Alan Wallace, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Janice Murray (NA), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Oz), Bernie Evans pp Martin Tudor (Brum Group), and Bridget Wilkinson (FATW). 5 Sep 96.