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Ansible 130, May 1998

Cartoon: Sue Mason

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: Sue Mason. Available for SAE, whim or Klugarsh Mind Control manual.

THANKS ... to providers of lavish hospitality during my April US GoH trip to Minneapolis, especially Minicon 33, Jeff Schalles and Geri Sullivan. I have heaps of notes, he said sinisterly, and will be publishing more than you wish to know about the joys of a small regional con which despite its initial efforts to slim down (daily newsletter: 'Thanks to everyone who didn't attend this year.') attracted 3,350 fans. Phew.

Wild Dada Ducks

Lois McMaster Bujold, at Minicon, was quietly smug that the Mobile Robotics / Machine Perception Lab had named an experimental robot after her. (Another model was named for Connie Willis.)

Ken Bulmer, following his stroke, finds typing almost impossible – and he has an 'Alan Burt Akers' novel to complete. Fans are collecting to buy Ken a voicewriter. US$ donations to Savanti Inc, c/o S. Servello, 35 Dobbins St, Waltham, MA 02154, USA; sterling c/o Ansible for now.

Ellen Datlow, undeterred by the axing of Omni, has new plans: 'I'm launching a webzine called Event Horizon [on] August 1st, with my former Omni colleagues.' More sense-shattering details soon....

Lester del Rey's name remains controversial. A129 reported how that lengthy claimed version had been deflated to Leonard Stamm. But another old-timer, Frederik Pohl, remembers otherwise: 'Back in the '50s he had this bullshit story, which he stuck to for the rest of his life, about how his own birth records got destroyed in the little known great Nebraska forest fire, or the devastating Minnesota earthquake, or whatever it was, and so he had to use his cousin Leonard Knapp's papers.'

Terry Pratchett was 50 in April, and on the 30th was lured to a surprise dinner party hosted by Transworld. The 50 guests included Christopher Lee, Tony Robinson and most of the usual suspects (and me, they let me in too). Terry: 'It was a great evening.... The nice thing about your publishers giving you a 50th birthday party is that you then become 45, 10% having been withheld against returns.' Meanwhile the latest Discworld map spinoff, The Tourist Guide to Lancre, was hastily withdrawn during distribution owing to hideous production errors, and a corrected version issued. Fanatical first-edition collectors take note.

Simo (The Professionals' Professional) has resigned as SFX deputy editor and casts off the chains of Future Publishing at the end of May; a better-paid job in Leicester looms. COA to follow.

Neal Stephenson has entered the post-cyberpunk era and publicly announced his reversion from writing on a laptop (which lost a wad of his unbacked-up work) to paper and a fountain pen. [MMW] Not even a nanotechnological pen that synthesizes its ink from air pollutants....


10 May • Fantasy Fair, Cresset Exhibition Centre, Peterborough. £1.50. Contact 58 Pennington, Orton Goldhay, Peterborough, PE2 0RB.

22-5 May • Furrycon (gaming), Old Ship Hotel, Brighton. Contact 42 Wynndale Rd, London, E18 1DX. Phone/fax 0181 491 7784.

22-5 May • Lazlar Lyricon II (Hitch-Hiker 20th anniversary), Quality Scotch Corner Hotel, Darlington. Now £35 reg; ZZ9 members £30. Contact (SAE) 67 South Pk Gdns, Berkhamsted, Herts, HP4 1HZ.

23 May • BFS Open Night, Princess Louise pub, Holborn (upstairs bar), 7pm on. Guest TBC (ever since 2 Mar): Jonathan Carroll.

27 May • BSFA Meeting ... CANCELLED (Clarke award ceremony).

10-12 Jul • Infinity (media-ish), Angel Hotel, Cardiff. £40 reg to 1 Jun; £45 at door. Contact (SAE) 12 Stuart St, Treherbert, CF42 5PR.

5-9 Aug • Bucconeer (56th Worldcon), Baltimore. $130/£94 reg to 15 Jun; $30/£22 supp. Contact PO Box 314, Annapolis Junction, MD 20701, USA. UK: J. Dallman, 92 Lichfield Rd, Cambridge, CB1 3TR.

21-24 Aug • The Wrap Party, Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. Now £70 reg, to Aug; £80 at door. GoHs JMS, H. Ellison, many others. Contact (SAE) PO Box 505, Reading, Berks, RG1 7QZ.

11-13 Sep • AKFT 98 (Trek), Warwick Arms Hotel, Warwick. £30 reg. Contact (SAE) 7 Belgrave Clo, St Mary Cray, Orpington, BR5 3TJ.

13-15 Nov • Novacon 28, Britannia Hotel, New St, Birmingham. GoH Paul J. McAuley. Now £32 reg, to 1 Nov; £35 at door. Contact 14 Park St, Lye, Stourbridge, W. Midlands, DY9 8SS.

2-5 Apr 99 • Reconvene (Eastercon), Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. Now £30 reg; £15 supp, children 5-14, over-60s. £2 presupporter discounts to end 98. Contact 3 West Shrubbery, Redland, Bristol, BS6 6SZ.

13-15 Aug 99 • Wincon V (Unicon), King Alfred's College, Winchester. GoH announced: Diana Wynne Jones. Still £20 reg, £10 supp. Contact 53 Havant Road, North End, Portsmouth, Hants, PO2 7HH.

21-24 Apr 2000 • 2Kon (51st Eastercon), Central Hotel, Glasgow. GoH Guy Gavriel Kay, Deborah Turner Harris, Katherine Kurtz. £25 reg, £20 unwaged. Contact 30 Woodburn Terrace, St Andrews, KY16 8BA.

RumblingsWrath of WFC. In a savage legal tussle, the 1997 World Fantasy Con obtained a County Court judgement – with costs – against Reading book dealer Christopher Barker, who had grumpily stopped his membership cheque after missing a late programme item. Steve Jones, we are unreliably informed, was restrained with difficulty from putting on the black cap. • Worldcondom. The Baercon (Berlin) 2003 bid has officially folded, leaving Toronto and Cancún; the threatened Br*t*sh W*rldc*n B*d was announced at Easter, for 2005.

Infinitely Improbable

Publishers & Sinners. Ill-informed publicists at General Media Publishing implied that reports of Omni's death were exaggerated, and that it would return both on-line and in print. But GMP higher-ups insist that Omni continues only as an embalmed, unchanging web site.

TAFF. Following an excessively polite campaign with hardly any eye-gouging at all, the new winner – by a clear first-round majority – is Maureen Kincaid Speller, who thus travels to Bucconeer in Baltimore this Aug. Votes (with Europe/NA/Other breakdown): Chris Bell 53 (41/12), Bridget Hardcastle 41 (27/14), MKS 121 (76/42/3), No Pref 8 (1/7). 223 ballots were cast. Congratulations to Maureen, now the UK administrator: 60 Bournemouth Rd, Folkestone, Kent, CT19 5AZ. And commiserations to Chris and Bridget ... but there's always another race. • Congrats also to departing UK administrator Martin Tudor, who published his TAFF trip report while still in office (it takes the average Langford five years, and the average Hansen ten). Have Bag, Will Travel costs £5 post free from Martin at 22 Ravensbourne Gro, Willenhall, W. Midlands, WV13 1HX, or from Mark Plummer at London pub meetings. • Ulrika O'Brien, shattered but happy after her UK TAFF trip, opened nominations for the 1999 eastbound race to Reconvene on 1 May. North American candidates need three NA and two European nominations (signed), to be sent with a 100-word platform and $20 bond, by 25 July, to Ulrika at 123 Melody Ln, #C, Costa Mesa, CA 92627, USA.

R.I.P. Alex Schomburg (1905-1998), the US illustrator and comics artist whose career began with cover art for Hugo Gernsback's Science and Invention in 1925 and extended to Asimov's covers in the 80s, died on 7 April aged 92. The 1990 Worldcon gave him a Special Award.

Random Fandom. Chris Bell on Intuition: 'I went off them really quite a lot on the last day, about 45 minutes before the Gripe Session (or as they wanted it called, the Feedback Session). That was when they told us that they weren't going to be on the platform for this event: Reconvene's committee were. Gee, thanks, Gals; we really appreciated all the time we had to prepare to dodge the brickbats people were going to throw.... It's a good idea, for the following year's committee to be at the gripe session; but it did feel a bit much to discover that close to the event that we were running it!' • Vince Clarke has changed hospitals (see COA) and still baffles medical science. He's not in good shape; fan visitors and letters are still welcomed. Kings College Hospital misfiled him by reading 'Aubrey' (the first name which Vince doesn't like but officials insist on) as 'Audrey'.... • Rafe Culpin has been elevated to the Canada-based Filk Hall of Fame, the first fan outside N. America to achieve this awesome distinction. As they put it: 'More than any other person he is British filk.' • Nelson Cunnington of Brixham, Devon had 1,000+ sf books (mostly pb) stolen on 9 Apr. He suggests that fans offered such a collection might check with Devon police: 0990 700400, quoting incident no. 882. Small reward. • Electrical Eggs UK (promoting disabled access at cons) now has a newsletter, The Hatchery: Flat 1/2 , 10 Atlas Rd, Glasgow, G21 4TE. • John & Eve Harvey urge you to buy the exquisitely printed Pieces of Langford: 25 selected 'Langford' columns from SFX in A5 booklet form, a snip at £5.45 post free, in aid of the 'Auld Lang Fund' which proposes to inflict me on next year's Australian worldcon. 8 The Orchard, Tonwell, Herts, SG12 0HR. John on Intuition: 'Good programme items ... GoHs (I. McDonald, C. Willis, M. Tudor) were excellent ... Once again the split site concept proved to be crap – everybody and everything you wanted to see was in the other hotel.' • Robert Lichtman is republishing Walt Willis's 40-odd 'Electric Fan/Fanorama' columns (Nebula 1952-9) and seeks introductory bits (by 1 Aug) from anyone lured into fandom by Walt's writing; also advance subscribers at $8 post free, 100 being needed 'to get a decent copying price'. $10 after 1 Sep; profits to TAFF. PO Box 30, Glen Ellen, CA 95442, USA. • M.J. 'Simo' Simpson & Hillary Stephen were married on 2 May amid a spate of 'Simpsons' jokes and gifts....

C.o.A. John D. Berry & Eileen Gunn, 507 11th Street, Apt 2, Brooklyn, NY 11215, USA. A.V. Clarke, Kings College Hospital, Golla Ward, Mapother House Annex, Denmark Hill, London, SE5. Visiting hours 2pm-9pm. Ellen Datlow (submissions, books etc), 48 Eighth Ave, Suite 405, New York, NY 10014, USA. Oliver & Jacky Grüter-Andrew, Box 48172, Bentall Center, Vancouver, BC, V7X 1N8, Canada (from 15 May). Paul Lamprill, PO Box 33161, Phoenix, AZ 85013-3161, USA. SF & Fantasy Hall of Fame, PO Box 3464, Olathe, KS 66063-3464, USA.

DUFF. Terry Frost won the 1998 race – Australasia to N. America – by a first-round majority and will attend Bucconeer. Votes: Susan Clarke 29, TF 72, No Pref 19, Hold Over Funds 1, Write-in 1.

That Phi-Rho Rubbish. David Pringle delves into history: 'The mainstream habit of using "science fiction" as a put-down has a long pedigree, as I discovered in Paul K. Alkon's Origins of Futuristic Fiction (1987; a work I recommend highly). In paraphrase: natural philosopher Thomas Burnet (a friend of Isaac Newton's), who in the 1680s published a highly imaginative multi-volume work of speculative geology and cosmology entitled The Sacred Theory of the Earth, found himself criticized for having written mere sf – except that the phrase used was "philosophical romance" (science in those days was "natural philosophy" and works of fiction were "romances"). The critic was Joseph Keill, who in 1698 wrote that Burnet's "lofty and plausible stile may easily captivate any incautious reader, and make him swallow down for truth, what I am apt to think the Author himself ... designed only for a Philosophical Romance. ... Perhaps many of his readers will be sorry to be undeceived, for as I believe, never any Book was fuller of Errors and Mistakes in Philosophy, so none ever abounded with more beautiful Scenes and surprising Images of Nature; but I write only to those who might perhaps expect to find a true Philosophy in it. They who read it as an Ingenious Romance will still be pleased with their Entertainment."'

UPC Annual SF Prize: 1M pesetas for best novella (25-40,000w) in Catalan, Spanish, English or French. Deadline 15 Sep. As usual, submission rules are slightly complex; details from Ansible on request.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Metaphors for Oil Spills: 'He plopped the lighter back into the [gravy] boat, laughing as the butane oozed into the gravy. ... "I'm not afraid." Kolby seized the boat, pouring polluted gravy onto his mashed potatoes. ... "Tastes like – "' Like normal gravy? Butane boils at -0.5°C. (James Morrow, Towing Jehovah, 1994) [BoW] • 'Both the other Intelligence operatives turned to look at the sharpness in Samuel's voice.' (Peter F. Hamilton, The Reality Dysfunction, 1996) [PB] • 'I felt a horrid, horrid chill as I forced myself to look into those clear, frozen eyes of my awful, awful grandmother.' ... 'Licking my fingers, he regarded me meditatively. "It's something in the air – an exotic, erotic perfume you exude that makes me somehow wild."' ... 'Everything about her from alpha to omega was Greek to me.' (Katherine Neville, The Magic Circle, 1998) [EH/MMW]

Ever So Many More Awards

Nebulas. NOVEL The Moon and the Sun by Vonda McIntyre. NOVELLA 'Abandon in Place' by Jerry Oltion. NOVELETTE 'The Flowers of Aulit Prison' by Nancy Kress. SHORT 'Sister Emily's Lightship' by Jane Yolen. GRANDMASTER Poul Anderson. Vonda McIntyre – reporting Nebula results live on-line – found herself unable to type a recognizable 'Yikes!' ('I had to keep looking at the base to be sure it didn't say "Connie Willis".')

Hugo Nominations. NOVEL Forever Peace by Joe Haldeman, Frameshift by Robert J. Sawyer, The Rise of Endymion by Dan Simmons, Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick, City on Fire by Walter Jon Williams. • NOVELLA 'The Funeral March of the Marionettes' by Adam-Troy Castro (F&SF), 'Ecopoeisis' by Geoffrey A. Landis (SF Age), 'Loose Ends' by Paul Levinson (Analog), 'Marrow' by Robert Reed (SF Age), '... Where Angels Fear To Tread' by Allen Steele, (Asimov's). • NOVELETTE 'Moon Six' by Stephen Baxter (SF Age), 'Broken Symmetry' by Michael A. Burstein (Analog), 'Three Hearings on the Existence of Snakes in the Human Bloodstream' by James Alan Gardner (Asimov's), 'We Will Drink A Fish Together ...' by Bill Johnson (Asimov's), 'The Undiscovered' by William Sanders (Asimov's). • SHORT 'Beluthahatchie' by Andy Duncan (Asimov's), 'Standing Room Only' by Karen Joy Fowler (Asimov's), 'Itsy Bitsy Spider' by James Patrick Kelly (Asimov's), 'The 43 Antarean Dynasties' by Mike Resnick (Asimov's), 'The Hand You're Dealt' by Robert J. Sawyer (Free Space), 'No Planets Strike' by Gene Wolfe (F&SF). (6 items owing to 5th-place tie.) • BEST RELATED BOOK Space Travel by Ben Bova with Anthony R. Lewis, The Encyclopedia of Fantasy ed John Clute & John Grant, Infinite Worlds by Vincent DiFate, Spectrum IV: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art ed Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner with Jim Loehr, Reflections and Refractions: Thoughts on Science-Fiction, Science and Other Matters by Robert Silverberg. • DRAMATIC Contact, The Fifth Element, Gattaca, Men in Black, Starship Troopers. • EDITOR Gardner Dozois, Scott Edelman, David Hartwell, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder. • ARTIST Jim Burns, Thomas Canty, David Cherry, Bob Eggleton, Don Maitz, Michael Whelan. (6 items owing to 5th-place tie.) • SEMIPROZINE Interzone, Locus, The New York Review of Science Fiction, Science Fiction Chronicle, Speculations. • FANZINE Ansible, Attitude, File 770, Mimosa, Tangent. • FAN WRITER Bob Devney, Mike Glyer, Andy Hooper, David Langford, Evelyn Leeper, Joseph T. Major. (6 items owing to 5th-place tie.) • FAN ARTIST Brad Foster, Ian Gunn, Teddy Harvia, Joe Mayhew, Peggy Ranson. • CAMPBELL AWARD (not a Hugo) Raphael Carter, Andy Duncan, Richard Garfinkle, Susan R. Matthews, Mary Doria Russell. • 471 ballots cast. Winners announced at Bucconeer, 7 Aug.

Philip K. Dick Award (pb original): The Troika, Stepan Chapman.

BSFA Awards. NOVEL The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell. SHORT 'War Birds' by Stephen Baxter (Interzone). ARTWORK SMS for The Black Blood of the Dead (Interzone cover).

Bram Stoker Award Nominations (horror): NOVEL Children of the Dusk by Janet Berliner & George Guthridge, The Church of Dead Girls by Stephen Dobyns, My Soul to Keep by Tananarive Due, Earthquake Weather by Tim Powers. • FIRST NOVEL Lives of the Monster Dogs by Kirsten Bakis, The Art of Arrow Cutting by Stephen Dedman, Hungry Eyes by Barry Hoffman, Drawn to the Grave by Mary Ann Mitchell, The Inquisitor, by Mary Murrey. • NOVELETTE 'The Word' by Ramsey Campbell (Revelations), 'Everything's Eventual' by Stephen King (F&SF), 'The Big Blow' by Joe R. Lansdale (Revelations), 'Coppola's Dracula' by Kim Newman (Mammoth Book of Dracula), 'The Zombies of Madison County' by Douglas E. Winter (Dark of the Night). • SHORT 'I Am Infinite, I Contain Multitudes' by Douglas Clegg (Palace Corbie), 'A Plague on Both Your Houses' by Scott Edelman (Best New Horror), 'Madame Babylon' by Brian Hodge (Hot Blood: Crimes of Passion), 'Rat Food' by Edo van Belkom & David Nickle (On Spec). • COLLECTION Things Left Behind by Gary A. Braunbeck, The Throne of Bones, by Brian McNaughton, Painted in Blood by Lucy Taylor, Exorcisms and Ecstasies by Karl Edward Wagner. • NONFICTION The Encyclopedia of Fantasy ed John Clute & John Grant, The Hammer Story by Marcus Hearn and Alan Barnes, Clive Barker's A-Z of Horror by Stephen Jones, Video Watchdog ed Tim Lucas, Dean Koontz: A Writer's Biography by Katherine Ramsland, Dark Thoughts: On Writing by Stanley Wiater • Winners announced 6 June.

More from Eastercon. Paper Tiger Art Award: Fred Gambino for his Brightness Reef cover. Doc Weir Award for unsung good-eggery: Andy Croft. Ken McIntyre Art Award ... still languishing in fannish apathy.

Sidewise Awards shortlist (alternate history): LONG Time on My Hands by Peter Delacorte, Jack Faust by Michael Swanwick, How Few Remain by Harry Turtledove. SHORT 'For the Strength of the Hills' by Lee Allred (WotF), 'The King of Poland's Foot Cavalry' by Roland J. Green (Alternate Tyrants), 'Teddy Bears' Picnic' by Kim Newman & Eugene Byrne (IZ), 'The Undiscovered' by William Sanders (Asimov's).

Overkill Award for too bloody many award listings: Ansible 130.

Thpthptht! 'The Postman, the Kevin Costner film based loosely on a title by David Brin, swept the Razzies (the Golden Raspberry Award; the anti-Oscar) in every category for which it was nominated. That includes Worst Screenplay, Worst Song, Worst Actor, Worst Director, and Worst Picture.' [JDM]

Geeks' Corner

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Back issues etc:
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Electronic C.o.A. Etc
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Nelson Cunnington (for more about stolen sf collection as above), via
Steve Servello (Ken Bulmer voicewriter collection),

Convention E-Mail
* 1998
Furrycon (gaming, May),
Infinity (media, Jul),
Bucconeer (Worldcon, Aug),; UK agent
The Wrap Party (B5, Aug),
Fantasycon XXII (Sep), c/o
Cult TV (Sep),
Discworld Convention II (Sep),
Armadacon (Nov),
* 1999
Redemption (B5/B7, Feb),
Reconvene (Eastercon, Apr),
Wincon (Unicon, Aug),
* 2000
2Kon (Eastercon, Glasgow),
Chicon 2000 (Worldcon, Aug),
* General
Wolf 359 cons,

Convention Bid E-Mail
* 2001
Boston-in-Orlando (Worldcon),
* 2002
San Francisco (Worldcon), (UK
Seattle (Worldcon),
* 2003
ConCancún (Mexico Worldcon),
Toronto in '03 (Canada Worldcon),


Vince Clarke ('A.V. Clarke' to bureaucrats). Further data for prospective visitors ... 'Golla Ward' supersedes the 'Murray Faulkner Ward' which followed Vince's earlier stay in Golla. Bridget Wilkinson adds: 'The annex is actually by the Maudsley hospital (opposite Kings College Hospital), signposted from the northern end. The nearest British Rail station is Denmark Hill.' Rob Hansen directs: 'You turn left out of Denmark Hill station, right at the end of the road, and then right on to Denmark Hill proper, which you walk down until you come to a road on your right called De Crespigny Park. A hundred yards or so down this road, on your right, is Mapother House.' We draw an editorial veil over Rob's three improvements to the spelling of 'De Crespigny'.

Those UPC Prize Details. Send 2 copies of the double-spaced MS, signed with a pseudonym, plus a sealed envelope (labelled with novella title and pseudonym) containing your full name, ID number (social security?), address, and phone or fax contact number ... all in an envelope marked UPC Science Fiction Award 1998, to Consell Social de la UPC, Edifici NEXUS, Gran Capità 2-4, 08034 Barcelona, Spain. Winners and runners-up grant first Spanish/Catalan rights for publication by UPC, the Universitat Politècnica de Catalunya. Gasp.

Newsgroup Horror: Thousands Flee Rec.arts.sf.fandom! The new group uk.people.sf-fans has been operating for several surprisingly busy days.

Victor Gonzalez's incoming e-mail from 10 Mar to 1 May was all lost by his loathsome e-mail server: he begs fans to re-send or re-compose messages to him, especially comments on Squib 3 (address is

The Blinding Pillar of Incandescence Award, which a long-gone British fanzine used to bestow for the most cretinous communication received, may yet be revived for those fans who subscribe to the Ansible e-mail list with spam-blocked addresses. Or are they practising Subtle Irony?

Ansible 130 Copyright © Dave Langford, 1998. Thanks to Paul Barnett, DarkEcho, Elizabeth Hand, Jon & Helen Langford, James D. Macdonald, Minicon 33, Steven Silver, Ken Slater, Geri Sullivan, Gordon Van Gelder, Bob Webber, Martin Worse Wooster and our Hero Distributors: Janice Murray (NA), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Oz), and Martin Tudor (Brum Group). 7 May 98.