Ansible logo

Ansible 166, May 2001

Cartoon: Sue Mason

From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU. ISSN 0265-9816. E-mail ansible[at] Fax 0705 080 1534. Logo: Dan Steffan. Chocolate covered triffid: Sue Mason. Available for SAE, or Limestone Islands in the Sky.

PARAGON. Despite advance worries about a hotel on a remote motorway junction surrounded by foot-and-mouth quarantine, the 2001 UK Eastercon seemed rather successful. The sheer weirdness of the Hanover Hotel helped, with its window displays of extraordinary kitsch ('Have you seen the garrotted baby, the sperm balloons, the Marilyn Monroe with a rooster on her head?' – Cheryl Morgan) and oddities like the mirror-ceilinged lobby with a statue of Poseidon to whose mighty trident fans surreptitiously affixed a giant slice of toast. (We name no names, but Chris Bell looked as if she knew something.) David B. Wake confirms that the programme's highlight was the dramatic extravaganza 20:01 – A Sunday Odyssey, written by and starring David B. Wake, and cruelly renamed 20:25 after a few technical hitches; the mind reeled at dancing monoliths and a final dystopian vision of the actor-manager himself clad only in a vast nappy. Ansible spent too much time in the bar but also enjoyed the fan room, masterminded by a singularly genial Greg Pickersgill and deeply littered with arcane fannish memorabilia. One amusing vignette was D. West's stern refusal even to smile as others roared at the slide show of hideous past embarrassments presented by fan guests Claire Brialey and Mark Plummer. To the alarm of GoH Stephen M. Baxter, a debate about how future fan rooms might be presented led to my memory-challenged suggestion that they should be dedicated to 'The Stephen R. Baxter Appreciation Society', with us devoted 'Baxies' wearing glowing blue rings of exotic matter on our foreheads.

Steve later reported from this parallel continuum: 'I was moved to be present at the birth of the Stephen R. Baxter Appreciation Society. Speaking to me through his exotic-matter-encrusted ringpiece, the great man wishes to commend his followers for their obeisance, notes that the universe he inhabits remains a warm and fluffy place, assures us that the stump is healing nicely, thank you, and urges us always to remember: In Case Of Emergency, Break Laws Of Physics.'

Other guests Mike Scott Rohan and Lisanne Norman somehow managed to escape hideous Langford gaffes; Mike deliriously babbled, 'They gave me an executive suite – two loos, a PC in the living room and three rubber ducks in the bath. Suddenly I understood Howard Hughes a little better....'

The Usual Awards were presented. BSFA: NOVEL Mary Gentle, Ash: A Secret History; SHORT Peter F. Hamilton, 'The Suspect Genome' (Interzone 156); ARTWORK Dominic Harman, Hideaway (IZ 157). Doc Weir: Noel Collyer, ingeniously lured from the bar by claims that police wanted to interrogate him. Richard Evans Memorial Award for writers whose critical acclaim drowns out the feeble tinkling of the cash register: Gwyneth Jones. Paper Tiger art show award: Jay Hurst.

Best personal egoboo: signing my first copies of the reissued The Leaky Establishment (Introduction By Terry Pratchett), rushed to Paragon by splendid Ben Jeapes of Big Engine. Best forgotten: four days of the identical hotel cheap-food menu, cheap beyond all possible cheapness, and tasting that way too. • Total body count: 814 at last report. Lots of thanks to Paragon's hard-working committee. Something tells me the Eastercon may return one day to the Hanover Hotel.

Secret Places and Mean Men

Peter F. Hamilton was rapidly informed of his BSFA award: 'Eric Brown who kindly picked it up for me thought this was important enough for me to be told without delay. My apologies to Eric for sounding less than gracious when the phone went at 11:30 that night, while I was still on my honeymoon.'

Michael Moorcock, as always, provided Astral Knowledge and True Facts: 'Re Finnish mosquitoes. Many years ago if you had been crossing the Arctic tundra up where Finland and Sweden meet, you would have seen a man who appeared to be made entirely of mosquitoes. I, too, Langford, made light of the Finnish mosquito. It is the only part of the world where they sell mosquito guns. They are two gauges up from elephant guns. I climbed Portafjellet, the highest local mountain, simply in order to get away from the mosquitoes. This is true. The last mosquito tried to make it up to the altitude to follow me – and failed. I had the considerable pleasure of sitting two thirds of the way up a glacier, creaking with water running under it, and watching the last mosquito make a brave attempt to reach me. It fell back. And then all I had to worry about was getting home to London.'

Philip Pullman 'was named the British Booksellers Association's Author of the Year, prevailing over J.K. Rowling, Jamie Oliver, Ian Rankin, Joanne Harris, and Jacqueline Wilson.' (Bookseller) [PL]

Anthony Roberts is suing Turner Prize nominee Glenn Brown for basing The Loves of Shepherds 2000 on AR's 1974 cover art for Double Star. Chris Foss has a similar complaint about Brown 'appropriating' his cover design for Diary of a Spaceperson (1990). A Tate spokesman had compared Brown's approach to 'Constable looking at a piece of summer landscape' (i.e., sf book-jacket illustrations are environment, not Art).


To 3 June • Dan Dare Display, Croydon Clocktower, with spaceship models and replica of Frank Hampson's studio. Info 0208 253 1030.

6 May • Fantasy Fair 11, Cresset Exhibition Centre, Bretton, Peterborough. Contact 5 Arran Close, Holmes Chapel, Crewe, CW4 7QP.

19 May • 2001: A Space Odyssey Event, Science Museum. Organized by Pat Cadigan. A day of wall-to-wall Pat (plus trace elements of ACC) ending with the invitation-only Clarke Award presentation.

23 May • BSFA Open Meeting, The Rising Sun pub, Cloth Fair, London EC2. 7pm on, fans present from 5pm. With Alastair Reynolds.

25-7 May • Eclectic 21 (multimedia), Holiday Inn, Leicester. £50 reg, £35 under-18s; day rates £30 and £25. Cheques to Bats 2000 Ltd. Contact 47 Bennetts Ct, Bristol, BS37 4XH.

25-27 May • Seccond (Seccon 2): De Vere Hotel, Swindon. £25 reg to extended date 15 May; £30 at door or £12/day (£6 after 6pm). Cheques to 'Seccon', 19 Hill Court, Cheltenham, Glos, GL52 3JJ.

14-16 Sep • Cavalcade (costuming), Whitby Spa Pavilion, Whitby, N. Yorks. £27.50 reg; £30 from 31 May; £35 at door. Contact Chandlers House, Green Lane, Whitby, N. Yorks, YO22 4EU. 01947 821711.

23 Sep • British Fantasy Society 30th Birthday Bash (instead of Fantasycon), Champagne Charlies, 17 The Arches, Villiers St, London, WC2N 4NN. 9am-late. GoH Hugh Lamb, Simon Clark. £15 reg, £10 for BFS members booking in advance: cheques to Fantasycon. Contact Beech House, Chapel Lane, Moulton, Cheshire, CW9 8PQ.

5-7 Oct • Animecon UK, Adelphi Hotel, Liverpool. GoH Gilles Poitras, Helen McCarthy. £30 reg to 30 Jun, £35 to 30 Sep, £40 at door. Contact PO Box 30564, London, SW16 1WZ.

9-11 Nov, Armadacon, Copthorne Hotel, Plymouth. GoH Tom Holt; more TBA. £27 reg to 1 Sep; £18 Sat only, £12 Sun. Contact 4 Gleneagle Ave, Mannamead, Plymouth, PL3 5HL. 01752 252827.

9-11 Nov, Novacon, Quality Hotel, Bentley, Walsall. GoH Gwyneth Jones. Now £35 reg to 27 Oct, £40 at door. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ.

8-10 Mar 02 • MeCoN V, Senior Common Room, Queen's University of Belfast. Guests TBA. Contact 30 Bendigo St, Belfast BT6 8GD.

29 Mar - 1 Apr 02 • Helicon 2 (Eastercon), Hotel de France, Jersey. Now £35 reg, £18 supp/junior. Contact 33 Meyrick Drive, Wash Common, Newbury, Berks, RG14 6SY.

18-21 Apr 03 • Seacon '03 (Eastercon), somewhere: Harrogate, Scarborough and Birmingham are reportedly under investigation. £25 reg (£15 supp) to 1 Nov. Official postal address still awaited.

Rumblings. UK in 2005. The bid newsletter at Paragon reported 960 paid-up supporters, 690 of them North American and 96 UK....

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. 'Science fiction is a part of the Communist plan to dominate Western culture. Queen Elizabeth herself has been known to pen "sci-fi" under a pseudonym.' – Lyndon LaRouche (ES 6 Apr). [MB]

R.I.P. Harry Secombe (1921-2001), the inimitable Neddy Seagoon of BBC Radio's much-loved The Goon Show, died on 11 April. [HO] He was 79. • Beatrice Straight (1916-2001), US character actress who played the paranormal investigator in Poltergeist (1982), has died aged 86. [DK] • Pierre Versins (1923-2001), French sf author and scholar, died on 19 April aged 78. Pierre-Paul Durastanti writes: 'Writer, faneditor, critic, and author of the Encyclopedie des Voyages Extraordinaires, de l'Utopie et de la Science Fiction (special Worldcon award, 1973), he died peacefully in his sleep in Avignon, France – his home town, to which he'd returned after living long years in Switzerland, where he founded the SF museum La Maison d'Ailleurs.' • 'Judy Watson, wife of Ian Watson, died at home on Easter Saturday morning of heart failure due to a sudden overwhelming infectious exacerbation of emphysema from which she suffered progressively for the past few years. She bequeathed her body to the Department of Human Anatomy of the University of Oxford.' (Ian Watson, to whom all sympathy.)

More Awards. Nebulas: NOVEL Darwin's Radio, Greg Bear. NOVELLA 'Goddesses', Linda Nagata. NOVELETTE 'Daddy's World', Walter Jon Williams. SHORT 'macs', Terry Bisson. SCRIPT Galaxy Quest. Already announced: GRAND MASTER Philip José Farmer. AUTHOR EMERITUS (i.e. 'retired', a flagrant lie) Robert Sheckley. • Philip K. Dick Award: Michael Marshall Smith's Only Forward (1994) won as best original sf paperback published in the USA in 2000. • The Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award is to be an 'annual literary award for forgotten SF classics', chosen by a jury which can also honour worthy contemporary writers.

Outraged Letters. Everyone pointed out that SFWA's 'Author Emeritus' was instituted in 1995, not 2000; doctors blame Ansible editorial brain death. Lawrence Watt-Evans (not officially speaking for SFWA) clarified: 'It isn't an award. Or at least it wasn't meant to be. The idea was to find someone who had been prominent in the field once but is no longer, and let him know that he isn't forgotten. It wasn't meant to be a second-string award for people not good enough to be Grand Masters; I think most of us would consider that tacky, to say the least. • Robert Sheckley is absolutely and unquestionably a completely inappropriate choice. Many of us in SFWA know this and are severely unhappy at his selection.' • Guy Haley of SFX is used to the title being read as SEX (an error often artfully encouraged by cover design): 'Now things have taken a more sinister turn. The real world is impinging on our sci-fi paradise. Over the last 3 months we have had half a dozen letters from Ghanian men and women wishing to advertise themselves for sex/marriage. These people are clearly desperate – one woman wrote that she is using some awful cream to make her white and listed her number one hobby as "lovemaking".' • Mike Woods of Frontiers (Waterstone's sf webzine) reassures: 'Don't believe what you may read in the Bookseller or Times business pages about us disappearing.'

Hugo Nominations. NOVEL (381 ballots) A Storm of Swords by George R.R. Martin, Calculating God by Robert J. Sawyer, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire by J.K. Rowling, Midnight Robber by Nalo Hopkinson, The Sky Road by Ken MacLeod. • NOVELLA (229, 6 nominees owing to tie) 'A Roll of the Dice' by Catherine Asaro (Analog 7/00), 'Oracle' by Greg Egan (Asimov's 7/00), 'Radiant Green Star' by Lucius Shepard (Asimov's 8/00), 'Seventy-Two Letters' by Ted Chiang (Vanishing Acts), 'The Retrieval Artist' by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Analog 6/00), 'The Ultimate Earth' by Jack Williamson (Analog 12/00). • NOVELETTE (237) 'Agape Among the Robots' by Allen Steele (Analog 5/00), 'Generation Gap' by Stanley Schmidt (Artemis Spring 00), 'Millennium Babies' by Kristine Kathryn Rusch (Asimov's 1/00), 'On the Orion Line' by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's 10/00), 'Redchapel' by Mike Resnick (Asimov's 12/00). • SHORT (295) 'Different Kinds of Darkness' by David Langford (F&SF 1/00), 'Kaddish for the Last Survivor' by Michael A. Burstein (Analog 11/00), 'Moon Dogs' by Michael Swanwick (Moon Dogs), 'The Elephants on Neptune' by Mike Resnick (Asimov's 5/00), 'The Gravity Mine' by Stephen Baxter (Asimov's 4/00). (Gosh wow!) • RELATED BOOK (213) Concordance to Cordwainer Smith, 3rd Ed by Anthony R. Lewis, Greetings from Earth: The Art of Bob Eggleton by Bob Eggleton & Nigel Suckling, Putting It Together: Turning Sow's Ear Drafts Into Silk Purse Stories by Mike Resnick, Robert A. Heinlein: A Reader's Companion by James Gifford, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature ed. Andrew M. Butler, Edward James & Farah Mendlesohn. • DRAMATIC (279) Chicken Run; Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon; Frank Herbert's Dune; Frequency; X-Men. • PRO EDITOR (288) Ellen Datlow, Gardner Dozois, David G. Hartwell, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder. • PRO ARTIST (246) Jim Burns, Bob Eggleton, Frank Kelly Freas, Donato Giancola, Michael Whelan. • SEMIPROZINE (241) Interzone, Locus, New York Review of SF, SF Chronicle, Speculations. • FANZINE (194) Challenger, File 770, Mimosa, Plokta, Stet. (Haha! Ansible escapes the karmic wheel at last.) • FAN WRITER (201) Bob Devney, Mike Glyer, Dave Langford, Evelyn C. Leeper, Steven H Silver. • FAN ARTIST (127) Sheryl Birkhead, Brad Foster, Teddy Harvia, Sue Mason, Taral Wayne. • JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD (201) James L. Cambias, Thomas Harlan, Douglas Smith, Kristine Smith, Jo Walton. • PS: The 1999 The Sky Road appears thanks to an experimental rule change allowing an extra year's eligibility to works published outside the USA. Steven Silver asked whether anyone had previously had a fiction and fan nomination in the same year: Terry Carr just missed this, but I traced someone who did it in 1970. My soul mate. Piers Anthony.

Happy Media. Terry Pratchett's 'Bromeliad' Trilogy (Truckers, Diggers and Wings) has been sold to DreamWorks for a computer-generated feature film from Andrew Adamson and Joe Stillman. [PL]

Random Fandom. Tom Anderson spotted an sf moment in Bridget Jones' Diary (the movie): a phone call in which BJ insightfully describes Kafka's work as 'positively Vonnegutesque'. • Andy Croft & Sue Miller were married on 17 March in Portsmouth Registry Office. Andy: 'It was a light hearted event being the day after Red Nose Day and for some strange reason the groom kept being seen in one ...' • Cuddles thanks Paragon for noble support of Electrical Eggs UK disabled-access efforts. • John Foyster, working far from home in Kuala Lumpur, was alarmed on his 60th birthday (13 April) by the arrival of the awesome 72pp 'Foystschrift' festzine prepared for this momentous occasion by Yvonne Rousseau with the aid of some 40 contributors. • Chris Hill has escaped the curse of BSFA awards administration, which now passes to Tanya Brown. • The Artist Formerly Known As Karen Pender-Gunn writes: 'My new first name is KRin (note the capitalized second initial).' • Lee Smoire, utterly famous former US fan, was in the Australian 'The Weakest Link' on 19 April: 'Her bio read 51, Health and Nutrition Consultant from East Perth. She got one of her two questions right in the first round; the one she missed was "What does fax stand for?" She was then voted off by six votes out of the nine.' [AS/ASFB]

Retro Hugo nominations for 1950 work are too voluminous to list, but here are the novels: The Dying Earth by Jack Vance, Farmer in the Sky by Robert A. Heinlein, First Lensman by E.E. Smith, Pebble in the Sky by Isaac Asimov, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis.

Fanfundery. Janice Gelb's 1999 DUFF trip report is available in the UK from Mark Plummer, 14 Northway Rd, Croydon, Surrey, CR0 6JE. 40pp A4; £3.50 inc p&p. Cheques to Mark; all proceeds to DUFF.

Small Press. Sirius Fiction critical chapbooks: Snake's-hands, essays on John Crowley, 63pp, $6 USA, $8 abroad; Cicerone Sinister, on Gene Wolfe's Fifth Head of Cerberus, and Peace Indexicon, on Wolfe's Peace, each 32pp, $5.50/$6.50. PO Box 628, Albany, CA 94706-0248, USA.

In Typo Veritas. Paper Tiger's 2001 catalogue lists Ron Miller, co-editor of their Chesley Bonestell book, as author of 'the Hugo-nominated The Grand Trout'. 'A whole new genre within SF,' burbles Chris Murphy, 'although fishing stories are traditionally classified as fantasy.'

C.o.A. Mike Cheater, 11 Walmer Rd, Fratton, Portsmouth, Hants, PO1 5AS. Kim Huett, 29/63 Pearson St, Holder, ACT 2611, Australia. Paul Treadaway, 22 York St, Cambridge, CB1 2PY. Peggy White has moved to sheltered accommodation in Belfast and is sending personal COA letters to her correspondents.

Hunt the Mutant! OED researcher Sue Surova seeks early uses of the words 'mutant' and 'mutation' in the sf sense (abnormal features/abilities) rather than the scientific one. Earliest so far found: 'mutation in "The Man Who Evolved", Edmond Hamilton, 1931; mutant in "Niedbalski's Mutant", Spencer Lane, Astounding, 5/38.' If you can do better, rush the fruits of your erudition to

Group Gropes. New sf pub meeting now launched in Nottingham: White Hart, 29 Gregory St, Lenton; 8pm on first Wed each month.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Longevity. '"Peters, we are over a million years old!" he announced quietly. "When we were caught up in that double-sun explosion, we must have been carried along in its giddy orbit for over a million years! We were kept alive simply because we were in an air-locked compartment and did not do anything but sleep for most of the time, thus conserving our energy and our bodies to allow us to behave now as if we were normal men."' (Terence Haile, Galaxies Ahead, 1963) [via BA] • Dept of Geophysics. 'I was now aware of the detailed history of Mu, from its beginnings as a continent sucked from under the sea by a moon that hovered over it, (revolving at the same speed as the earth's rotation, so that it appeared stationary) ... ' (Colin Wilson, The Philosopher's Stone, 1969) • Dept of Nebula Winners. 'Kaye could hardly stand sitting.' (Greg Bear, Darwin's Radio, 1999) [PV]

Geeks' Corner

To receive Ansible monthly via e-mail, send a message to ...
... containing the sole text:
subscribe ansible
(Subject line irrelevant.) Please send a corresponding 'unsubscribe ansible' to resign from this list if you weary of it or plan to change e-addresses.

Back issues etc
[obsolete FTP link removed]
Ansible's Links,
Langford's Ego,

Ansible Agents
Steve Jeffery & Vikki Lee France (SCIS),
Janice Murray (NA),
Alan Stewart (Aus),

Big Engine enquiries (buy The Leaky Establishment, everyone!),
ConJosé Feghoot art contest enquiries,
James White Award 2001,

Convention E-Mail
*** 2001
25-7 May: Seccond, Swindon,
25-7 May: Eclectic 21 (multimedia), Leicester,
28 Jun - 1 Jul, Celebration of British SF, Liverpool U,
6-8 Jul, Nexus 2001 (media), Bristol,
21 Jul, Constantinople (fan), Southampton,
18-19 Aug, Caption 2001 (small-press comics), Oxford,
24-6 Aug, Eboracon (Unicon), York,
24-6 Aug, HarmUni (filk, held with Eboracon),
30 Aug - 3 Sep, Millennium Philcon (Worldcon), Philadelphia,
14-16 Sep, Cavalcade (costuming), Whitby,
5-7 Oct, Animecon UK, Liverpool,
5-7 Oct, Supernova-Retribution (Trek), Heathrow,
13-14 Oct, Octocon (Irish national con), Dun Laoghaire, UK agent
9-11 Nov, Armadacon, Plymouth,
9-11 Nov, Novacon 31, Walsall,
7-9 Dec, Smofcon 19 (secret mastery), York,
*** 2002
8-10 Mar, MeCon V (Belfast),
29 Mar - 1 Apr, Helicon 2 (Eastercon), Jersey,
3-6 May, Damn Fine Convention (Twin Peaks) Shepperton,
16-19 Aug, Discworld Con 3 (Hinckley, Leics),
29 Aug - 2 Sep, ConJosé (Worldcon, San José, California),, UK
4-6 Oct, Conquest (media), Southend,
*** 2003
21-23 Feb, Redemption (B5/B7), Ashford,
28 Aug - 1 Sep, Torcon 3 (Worldcon), Toronto,

Convention Bid E-Mail
*** 2004
Boston in 2004 (US Worldcon),
Charlotte in 2004 (US Worldcon),
*** 2005
Britain in 2005 (Worldcon),


Naked Self-Promotion! My Hugo-shortlisted story 'Different Kinds of Darkness' appears on the F&SF web site at –

This page has somehow lost all my italicization ('The internet ate those italics.' – Gordon Van Gelder), but I hope they'll fix this soon.

Guest Con Report: Mike Rohan

A GOH naturally develops a rather personal view of a con, especially if, as here, he has not only had his ego massaged but shampooed and set. We were the ones locked in a little room to decide the masquerade, overlooked by strange hairy faces flattened against the glass door panel, like so much William Hope Hodgson; we shamelessly wheeled and dealed over the art award; we were pursued around labyrinthine corridors by hapless Green Roomers bearing strange fluids, including the notorious pint of orange and cider – a 'blasphemous ichor' if ever there was one. (It was supposed to be orange and soda.)

Actually I liked it a lot – the con, that is. The slightly weird atmosphere of the conference centre, a sort of mutant Pitcher Plant designed to lure in company executives and digest their expense accounts, made it more closed than usual, with less scope to overflow into nearby pubs, restaurants etc., creating a few feeding problems. These were much relieved, though, by a transfusion of bottled Theakston's, and the statue of Poseidon (why?) holding up the entrance rotunda was caught making extra toast on its trident, courtesy of C***s B**l and others. But by the same token the place was comfortable, and they gave me an executive suite – two loos, a PC in the living room and three rubber ducks in the bath. Suddenly I understood Howard Hughes a little better.

The programme was pretty good, from where I stood. I enjoyed the items I wasn't on; my interview nerves kicked in, starting me gabbling and Steve Davies struggling to get the questions in. Desert Island Discs was enlivened, if that's the word, by poor Chris Southern increasingly wrestling the sound system, Laocoon style. What of that? Steve and Lisanne were fun, and it was good to meet new talents like Miller Lau. The fireworks, fortuitously backed by sirens and flashing lights on the motorway, were spectacular, and in several panels the audience was as interesting as the speakers. The bookroom was rich in Jim White, James H. Schmitz and other essentials. I only regret I didn't get a go on the Terrifying Tricycle Trio. Thanks, Alice and the Committee:

'It was a good guesting.'

Ansible 166 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2001. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Australian SF Bullsheet, John Bray (Official Ansible Chauffeur), Molly Brown, Chris Hill, Ben Jeapes (Hero Publisher), Dan Kimmel, Hal O'Brien, Terry Pratchett, Publisher's Lunch, Gordon Van Gelder, Paul Vincent, and our Hero Distributors: Rog Peyton (Brum Group News), Mark Plummer (London), Janice Murray (NA), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Thyme, Australia). 3 May 01.