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Ansible 12, September 1980

Cartoon: Pete Lyon

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, 1997. (I have since firmly recorrected Marcus's "corrected" spelling of the Astral Leauge [sic] – Feb 2000.)

ANSIBLE 12 (September 1980) is the special My-god-we-got-back-from-America issue of the UK newszine which uncovers the FACTS and then prints something else. Foreign Correspondent (this issue only): DAVE LANGFORD, 22 NORTHUMBERLAND AVENUE, READING, BERKS. RG2 7PW, UK. Subscriptions 4/60p UK, 6/£1 Europe, 5/£1 elsewhere. The dollar being what it is, US fans will only get 2/$1 henceforth: sorry. If you've been round long enough to get into Keith Freeman's amazing mailing label computer, the label shows the number of your last issue: SUB DUE or ***** equate to the Black Spot: beware! Heading by Pete Lyon. New golfball by {gothic script} Bad Taste Typewriter Supplies of Massachusetts. 15/9/80.


The con officially ran from Friday August 29 to Monday September 1, 174 members were fully registered by 8am on Wednesday.... Damon Knight and Kate Wilhelm were good guests of honour.... Pre-convention: 5447 memberships, 1788 Hugo ballots (1003 received after July 4), 846 site selection ballots, 225 dealers' tables and 218 artshow panels booked (80% of capacity, they filled up later), 1800 hotel bookings, 13900 pieces of mail received (around 10% in the Hugo deadline week). Latest attendance count to hand is 5755 on Sunday afternoon; registration numbers over 8000 were seen; mysteriously, 4 supporting memberships were sold at the con. Some 900 'gophers' fetched and carried; 2 tons of ice were brought in for Saturday night room parties; there was one false alarm of fire in the main hotel (Sheraton-Boston). Chicago won the '82 Worldcon: details from Chicon IV, PO Box A3120, Chicago, IL 60690, USA, or from the UK agent once I find out who he/she is. New changes were voted to the Worldcon constitution: site selection totals must now be published, while the following require ratification at Denver next year: banning of non-Hugo awards (not the JWC) from Hugo ballots, compulsory publication of Hugo voting totals, a permanent nonfiction Hugo, and various oddments including amendment of Hugo balloting 'to require a minimum support of nominees'. That last one should help clear British rubbish from the fan categories, eh? One motion sought to make publications ineligible for the fanzine Hugo 'if a financial remuneration is paid to any contributors or staff thereof'. It was defeated, dammit. Parochial datum: at least two dozen UK fans were present, which for an American convention must be a record.

Further information on Noreascon and our wanderings before and after (thanks to Stu Shiffman, Selina Lovett and family, Alexis and Dolly Gilliland and Andy Porter – not to mention Moshe Feder, the walking guide to New York) will appear in Twll-Ddu and elsewhere, sporadically, during the rest of this decade. These statistics are merely a sample.... D. Langford took 55 pages of notes, none of which he can now read; Terry Carr acquired 15 stitches and I am to keep quiet about why; an indeterminate number of US fans passed the Astral Leauge Initiation (old-style: Astral Poles cost $2.79 plus sales tax in Boston); and in this vast convention the tenuous fan programming was much like home, average attendance at panels and TAFF/DUFF auctions being about 25. Think of that. But not too hard.


One of these days there'll be enough sf-related awards for everybody to have one. Here are 20-odd for now....


FAN EDITOR Jeanne Gomoll & Janice Bogstad; FAN WRITER Dave Langford; SERIOUS ARTIST Joan Hanke-Woods; HUMOROUS ARTIST Alexis Gilliland; SINGLE ISSUE OF FANZINE Scientifriction 11 (Mike Glyer); LoC WRITER Harry Warner, Jr.


JOHN W CAMPBELL AWARD Barry Longyear; GANDALF GRANDMASTER OF FANTASY Ray Bradbury; BIG HEART AWARD Lou Tabakow; FIRST FANDOM AWARD George O Smith; PAT TERRY AWARD FOR HUMOUR IN SF Douglas Adams. (Ahem. Far be it from me to knock these doubtless excellent awards, but it has been represented to me that the first tends to go to the most prolific rather than the most promising new writer, that to win the three following awards is simply a matter of being next in line, and that the last is, shall we say, a trifle ad-hoc. My real peeve is that all this stuff makes the Hugo ceremony too bloody long.)


FAN ARTIST Alexis Gilliland; FAN WRITER Bob Shaw; FANZINE Locus (Charles Brown); PROFESSIONAL EDITOR George Scithers (IASFM); PROFESSIONAL ARTIST Michael Whelan; DRAMATIC PRESENTATION Alien; NON-FICTION The Encyclopaedia of Science Fiction (ed. Peter Nicholls); SHORT STORY 'The Way of Cross and Dragon' (George RR Martin); NOVELETTE 'Sandkings' (George RR Martin); NOVELLA 'Enemy Mine' (Barry Longyear); NOVEL The Fountains of Paradise (Arthur C Clarke).

(If you expected me to disagree with some of these, you were right. I'll merely mention that there were more pleasant surprises than unpleasant ones, and that I'd steeled myself for the novel result: 'Even if it's Titan,' I murmured grimly, 'I won't scream.' Then they announced the winner, and I screamed. Students of the psychic, or of publishers' chicanery, will be interested to learn that long before the award was made, the July/August Australian SF News had a Pan ad depicting the Fountains of Paradise cover with the captions '1980 NEBULA AWARD – Best Novel Winner' and 'THE HUGO NOMINATIONS 1980 – Best Novel Winner'....)


All three major fan funds have now finalized candidates for the current races. TAFF will bring either Gary Farber or Stu Shiffman to Yorcon II in Leeds next year; administrators are Terry Hughes (6205 Wilson Blvd #102, Falls Church, VA 22044, USA) and myself; ballot forms are enclosed. Please try to vote if you're eligible; whether eligible or not you're very welcome to donate money or auctionable goodies to the fund, or to purchase the TAFF fundraisers I have in stock: Taff-Ddu, the Barker/Langford collaboration, at 75p; Twll-Ddu 18 at 50p; War In 2080 Corrections, a small pamphlet correcting and updating the hardback of that book to save you buying the paperback (Sphere, November), at a mere 10p each plus 10p postage. Watch for the auction at Novacon – in fact, bring donated material there rather than post it to me, since I can't carry too much....

GUFF will send either Malcolm Edwards or Joseph Nicholas to the June '81 Adelaide con (Australia); administrators are Rob Jackson (8 Lavender Rd, West Ewell, Epsom, Surrey, KT19 9EB) and John Foyster (21 Shakespeare Grove, St Kilda, Vic 3182, Aus.); ballot forms may well be enclosed. Donations in cash and kind are welcome as above, with the small change that Rob won't be getting to Novacon, so Kevin Smith will be a surrogate Jackson during that convention. You can also send ballots c/o me – I'll pass them to Rob. And I still have some copies of the horrendous Gonad the Barbarian which I'd love you to take off my hands at 30p (at least)....

DUFF will also send someone to the Adelaide ADVENTION next year: either Joyce Scrivner or Jon Singer. Administrators are Ken Fletcher & Linda Lounsbury (341 E 19th St., Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA) and Keith Curtis (Box J175, Brickfield Hill, NSW 2000, Aus.): Keith was the DUFF rep at Noreascon. DUFF ballots are not enclosed.

DEADLINES! DEADLINES! Voting closes as follows: TAFF 1 December 1980, DUFF 15 January 1981, GUFF 31 January 1981. Please vote early and foil the post office. NB: although it says 'ballots enclosed' above, this does not necessarily apply outside Europe owing to vast postal increases when I send more than 2 sheets. Save the world from my skinflint ways by reproducing ballot forms and sending them out with your very own fanzine.

Cartoon: Pete Lyon

Cartoon: Pete Lyon


One day Ansible may blow up, nova-style, engulfing the inner planets and becoming A4 size. This would sadden preachers of the One True Way of Quarto (like Ian Maule – who's been plotting to smuggle in US 'twiltone' paper, the stuff like blotting paper only less tough and strong, and cut it to quarto size in pursuit of the ultimate fannishness): in particular, those who keep runs of fanzines in nifty binders will not love me. Such perverts exist; Rob Hansen has even demanded that I stick no labels on his Ansibles since their cumulative bulge makes his binder look pregnant. He also sends envelopes on which and in which to put labels and Ansibles respectively, the reasoning being that such esoteric stationery is hard to come by in primitive and provincial Reading. He's not that far wrong –

I nipped out for some paper, choosing the loathsome and grasping Rymans since other local stationers deny that quarto paper exists (one lot almost convinced me that it had never existed). 'Ream of green quarto duplicator paper,' I enunciated clearly at the new salesgirl, who pointed at a shelf whereon was no quarto paper at all.

'Usually it's in the storeroom at the back,' I said.

She looked about fearfully. 'Oh, no. We don't do that any more. We're retail now, not ... not ...' What they had been eluded her, and she clutched desperately at a ream of foolscap. 'It's green,' she said triumphantly.

'It's not quarto. Ten-inch-es-by-eight.'

'Ooooo, I'll have to ask the manager....'

The manager searched the storeroom thoroughly in a record 0.02 microseconds, and returned with joyful smiles: 'No, sorry, sir, I'm afraid quarto is a dying size.' I looked as significantly as I could at his rows of foolscap (bloody hell! foolscap!) sarcophagi, and departed. This dramatic exit was ruined by my return to covet a filing cabinet, mysteriously reduced to merely exorbitant cost. The manager trembled in his shoes. Would he be forced to make a sale and thus ruin this morning's record? Yes, he admitted through grim jaws, a credit card was OK. Sweat gushed from his forehead and nearly dislodged his glasses.

'How much extra for delivery?' I asked.

His eyes lit up. Saved at the eleventh hour! Blasting me with a grin of laser intensity, he sang: 'Very sorry indeed sir, we have absolutely no facilities for delivery!'

I lingered awhile, hoping to see the managing director of Metal Box being ordered to hump away his purchase of 300 desks ... there was merely the usual succession of customers unable to find or afford their wishes. I think Rymans must be run as a tax loss. Ah, well, their paper always had this tendency to let the ink drip through and form great embossed lumps on the other side....

Thus Ansible may abandon the great golden (UK) fannish size. A4 costs no more in litho and much less duplicated; postage for two sheets would be the same. Aesthetics? Terry Jeeves once wrote quarto was closest to the 'golden mean' in paper size: actual height/width ratios are foolscap (13" x 8") 1.625, A4 (approx 11¾ x 8¼) 1.4142, quarto (10x8) 1.25. And as any Martin Gardner knows, the true 'golden ratio' phi is approximately 1.618. OK, Terry, going to switch to foolscap now? End of pedantry and pretentiousness....

Your letters of protest could yet halt this trend to an A4 Ansible. Perhaps.


Numerous flyers were about at Noreascon.... DENVENTION II sounded a bit defensive: 'we were just slow answering the mail for a while ... the Hilton remodelled, leaving us minus 8000 sq feet, and our movie theatre was torn down ... our next PR will be chock-full of information....' H'mm: I'm a member and I haven't had progress report 1 yet. There's also a throwaway line about averaging 3 fans per room in the con hotel, which falls strangely on British ears.... Another defensive-sounding leaflet came from our old pals SPACE-EX 1984: I saw this but haven't received a copy yet. The Australian and Baltimore '83 Worldcon bids were in evidence with parties and flyers (the Scandinavians were not): Aussie flyers available from me when they arrive. I was told that if Britain wished a Worldcon they could do worse than bid in '85, where some shadowy bid does exist but did not advertise in the Noreascon programme book, wherein are ads for Australia '83 (20 of them!), Baltimore '83 (2), New York '86, Boston '89, Chicago '82 (2), Johnstown '83, LA '84, Philadelphia '86 and 'Fans for ERA', the last urging a boycott of Chicago '82 on feminist/political grounds and probably gaining Chicago – the winning bid – several votes; keep politics out of SF! Or at least out of fandom. No, there was no Scandinavia '83 ad in the programme book. ... NYC in '86 plan, tentatively, to use the New York Hilton and the 6000-seat Radio City theatre across the road. I wasn't able to accept Linda Bushyager's invitation to Philadelphia and thus missed their side of the case: the flyer goes on at great length about the committee's experience in conventions other than Worldcons, and mentions the Philadelphia Sheraton. Speaking of '86, I have here about 50 pretty postcards of New York with NY'86 slogans printed on them: anyone want one?

After all this talk of shadowy conventions which the merest twitch of fate may doom to nonexistence, it's a relief to mention good old Silicon: the fourth Silicon was held in Newcastle the week before Noreascon, about 60 fans attending, and great was the drunkenness there. I remember it with special fondness for the quiz, wherein Welshfandom (Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch Division) utterly defeated teams representing the Astral Leauge, 'L'academy de la chronically effete de la Surbiton' and 'The Peter Weston School of Gardening'. Need I tell you which team I was on? A good con.


Keith Freeman reports that Gillian Adams, old time fan and former BSFA treasurer who came to conventions until a few years ago, recently died of a heart attack in France. And less recently, Malcolm Edwards told me (and I forgot to print) that Graham Hall died this year of cirrhosis. RIP. • R.L. Fanthorpe is now in the bookdealing business, or at least his wife Patricia is: RLF is still headmastering while Patricia runs the bookshop, stocked with countless skiffy works sold off by Brian Stableford, who has moved....


[omitted in this rekeying]


A new Astral Leauge Cassette has been produced by the Charnox; one fetched an astonishing $10 from Mike Glicksohn in a Noreascon TAFF auction. Cost to you is £3 from 4 Fletcher Rd, Chiswick, London W4 5AY; tracks include 'Hey Joe Nicholas' and 'Get down Jacqui'; John Harvey deprecates the sound quality and I deprecate the price (why didn't I get a free review copy?). D. West has produced the Official Bootleg Astral Leauge Cassette and is selling this at £2, one sale being to the landlord of the Leeds 'West Riding'.... • D. has also (a) signed up to study interdisciplinary things at Bradford U, (b) got a £300 Arts Council grant to write significant novels, (c) started on a Georgette Heyer exegesis for Borgo Press. • Voice From The Dead: anyone remember Richard McMahon of Inverted Ear Trumpet 'fame'? From c/o Nurses' Post Room, St Thomas's Hospital, 2 Lambeth Palace Rd, London SE1 7EP, he writes to reveal he was 15 when he started IET in '75 ('Those weren't full stops, they were blackheads'), and after many adventures is now a student (male) nurse. I am to refrain from releasing his address to Graham Charnock, so don't anyone tell him. • 'Sex Pirates Of The Blood Asteroid' fans will be further depressed to learn the blasted story is now being translated into French and German. My god, what have I started? • Peter Roberts explains his job: 'No, I'm not in charge of the SFBC. As you might have guessed, nobody is.... All 10 Readers Union societies are run together, so I write copy for the SF newsletter along with the Sports, the Gardening et. al.... Look out for overuse of the word "eldritch" and other hallmarks of Roberts copywriting.' Famous Paul Begg, formerly in charge of SFBC but booted out last year, welcomes me to the freelance life he's been practising: 'An overdose of some suitable pills or a shotgun cartridge through the skull would be a quicker and less painful means of suicide than freelance writing, but it's nice to have company on the journey to the banks of the Styx.... No doubt the Jonestown people felt the same.' • Literary Corner, courtesy of Andy Richards, brings you Blades of Mars by Edward P Bradbury (M Moorcock). Ch.11, 'Queen of the Argzoon': 'That was another reason why we should not expose ourselves! The Argzoon would enjoy taking revenge on members of the race that had defeated them.' • Roelof Goudriaan's Foreign Fanzine reveals how Perry Rhodan con auctions sell such items as the right to have a character named after you in the endless series. 'A role in 3 volumes of PR brought in £60, a role in only one volume yielded £40.' I think Rob Holdstock comes cheaper than that – ask him sometime. Wonder what happens to the money? • The success of Barry B Longyear ('The man's a fucking illiterate!' – J. Nicholas. 'I'm not a Jackie Lichtenberg fan any more. I'm a Barry B Bongyear fan now' – C. Priest) with his 'Enemy Mine' in Hugo and Nebula is an indication of the new Isaac Astral award-grubbing technique: millions of copies of the story were sent to SFWA members with glowing recommendations from the Doctor. Perhaps next year every Worldcon member will receive a copy of Mr Bongyear's latest masterpiece in order not to influence their Hugo votes! • Glasgow News: Douglas Adams has agreed to be GoH at 'Hitchercon' this month, but the rumour is that few Southern fans are going. Albacon had post-convention hotel problems: a £400 charge for 'electricians' (not in the agreed schedule) was slapped onto the final bill and reduced to £200 after complaints. Biggest single expense was the £1000 cost of the guests' shared penthouse suite. A profit of £100 or so is expected. The fake Bob Shaw is now opening his own bookshop: Photon Books, 200 Woodlands Rd, Glasgow G3 6LN. • The Sf Foundation's 'writer-in-residence' post is said to have brought applications from C. Priest, J. Sladek and I. Watson; Andrew Stephenson commented 'If Ian gets the job they'll have to get a typewriter with umlauts'. • Sweden Again: this time it's Kaj Harju's turn to denounce Anders Bellis and Ahrvid Engholm, and sure enough he does. To condense greatly, he asserts that B&E are loudmouthed disrupters of meetings, that their fannish ways scare normal sf-fans from the clubhouse, that nobody ever believes their promises of how many issues of clubzines will be produced anyway [this was one of B&E's points against SFSF, Swedish equivalent of the BSFA: see A11], that B&E only want publicity for their weekly newszine rather than reform for SFSF, that if board meetings were not closed B&E would disrupt them, etc. Not much point in carrying on this correspondence, unless an impartial Swedish arbiter can step forth.... • Project Starcast invited me to ask searching questions such as 'Who are these guys anyway?' I did, but no answer came. • This will probably be distributed at the BSFA pub meeting (19 Sept), where anguished BSFA members will learn that the promised Famous Author talk has dwindled to some ad-libbing from D. Langford. • Ansible was duplicated at huge expense on trimmed-down foolscap paper, but new sources of quarto are now being unearthed.... • BSFA: Graham James is now Matrix editor; Kev Smith (now a Real Published Author: see Ad Astra 11) is official rather than unofficial Vector editor; and the BSFA Award Presentation Dinner has been called off owing to publishers' apathy and BSFA poverty. • Silicon Statistic: chubby Rog Peyton had spent £20 playing 'Space Invaders' by the Sunday. Which reminds me that Avedon Carol really does have a pinball machine in her basement (I fell short of her score of 1,251,250); while I was playing it, her father surreptitiously sold Hazel a T-Shirt printed in Armenian. • Also At Silicon, the Richard E Geis Memorial Award was presented to Joe Nicholas, and Kev Smith was commissioned to write an Ansible report on the football match. Here it is: 'We lost.' • Note To Yorcon: Get the excellent Aussiecon bidding films Antifan and Antifan Strikes Back if possible – they are not unfunny.

Flann O'Brien reports on the Hugo ceremony:

'But all in that room was silence save for the rumble of misdirected mucus.'

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Dave Langford
22 Northumberland Avenue,