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Ansible 237, April 2007

Cartoon: Bill Rotsler

From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU. Web Fax 0705 080 1534. ISSN 0265-9816 (print) 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Bill Rotsler. Available for SAE, or the special call of VANDOO.

Knights of the Limits

Barbara Bauer, grumpy about her permanent niche in the SFWA/Writer Beware site's '20 Worst Agents' list, has filed suit against SFWA and the following: Ann C. Crispin and Victoria C. Strauss of Writer Beware; James D. Macdonald and Patrick and Teresa Nielsen Hayden of Making Light (where BB was much discussed); and Kent Brewster.

Stephen Baxter has been doing a little 'As Others See Us' research: 'The publisher's blurb for the Lydia Millet book on Amazon gives the usual accolade for a Clarke nominee: "Oh Pure and Radiant Heart is no more a SF novel than The Time-Traveller's Wife. Instead, it is a powerful and original fiction of responsibility and guilt, today's America, and the peculiar terrors of our nuclear world." Fair enough!'

Arthur C. Clarke appeared on the BBC website in his favourite t-shirt: 'I invented the satellite and all I got was this lousy t-shirt.'

Michael Crichton and State of Fear weren't actually named in Al Gore's 21 March statement before a US House committee, but the metaphor for global warming contains a definite hint: 'The planet has a fever. If your baby has a fever, you go to the doctor [...] if your doctor tells you you need to intervene here, you don't say "Well, I read a science fiction novel that tells me it's not a problem."' [TM]

Kenneth Eng, sf author noted in A221 as beneficiary of some suspicious Amazon reviews, has found it's possible to publicize oneself too much – with his sure-fire controversial article called 'Why I Hate Blacks'. From the LA Times: 'The column, published in the San Francisco-based AsianWeek newspaper in the waning days of African American History Month, was so astonishingly hateful that activists of all stripes immediately rushed forward to condemn it. AsianWeek Editor Ted Fang issued a lengthy apology and fired Eng, who is in his early 20s and also writes science fiction novels. The small press that published Eng's books announced last week that it was taking them off the market.' (7 March) This furore earned Eng a Fox News tv interview, and mockery in Wired.

Denis Guiot, editor of the 'Autres Mondes' YA sf line at the French house Fleurus/Mango Jeunesse, threatens to resign over the editorial board's cancellation of Nathalie Le Gendre's novel Les Orphelins de Naja (which he had scheduled for May 2007). This denounces paedophilia in a future colony-world church: it's not anti-church, but the publishing group – also noted for religious texts – fears trouble from shareholders. There's an on-line petition in support of Guiot; several influential Autres Mondes authors say they'll switch publishers if he has to leave. [JD-B]

Julie Phillips's James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B. Sheldon won the US National Book Critics Circle award for biography.

Neal Stephenson on how we see us: 'Lack of critical respect means nothing to sci-fi's creators and fans. They made peace with their own dorkiness long ago. Oh, there was momentary discomfort around the time of William Shatner's 1987 "Saturday Night Live" sketch, in which he exhorted Trekkies to "get a life." But this had been fully resolved by 2000, when sci-fi fans voted to give the Hugo Award for best movie to "Galaxy Quest," a film that revolves around making fun of sci-fi fans.' (300 film review, New York Times, 18 March) [MF]


31 Mar - 5 Nov • Doctor Who – Up-Close exhibition, Museum of Science & Industry, Manchester. £20 family, £6.50 adult, £4.50 conc.

5 Apr - 1 Jul • Alice in Sunderland: Bryan Talbot art exhibition, London Cartoon Museum. Tue-Sat 10.30-5.50; Sun 12-5.30. Adults £3, concessions £2, students and under 18s free. 35 Little Russell St, London, WC1A 2HH; 020 7580 8155;

6-9 Apr • Contemplation (Eastercon), Crowne Plaza Hotel, Trinity St, Chester, CH1 2BD. Advance booking is now closed. £55 reg at the door; £45 concessions; £25 junior (13-17); £5 child (5-12); £1 infant. Day rates £10/£5 junior/£5 child on Fri or Mon, £20/£10/£5 on Sat or Sun. Contact 18 Letchworth Ave, Feltham, Middlesex, TW14 9RY.

25 Apr • BSFA Open Meeting, The Star pub, West Halkin Mews, London, SW1. 6pm on; fans present from 5pm. With Jon George.

28 Apr • Alt.Fiction 2007, Assembly Rooms & Guildhall Theatre, Market Place, Derby, DE1 3AH. 11am-9pm. Darwin Suite events £20, concessions £15. Box office 01332 255800 or boxoffice at derby gov uk.

2 May • Clarke Award Ceremony, London – by invitation. Held in conjunction with and on the opening night of ...

2-6 May • Sci-Fi London Film Festival. Contact FestivalBiz, 2nd Floor, 145-157 St John St, London, EC1V 4PY. 020 7871 4555.

16 Jun • PKD-Day (celebrating Philip K. Dick), Clifton Campus, Nottingham Trent Univ. With Graham Joyce, Ian Watson, others. Admission by (free) ticket only: contact John dot Goodridge at ntu ac uk.

10-12 Aug • Recombination/HarmUni III (Unicon 21/RPG/filk), New Hall, Cambridge. £24 reg, rising to £28 after Easter; under-18s half price. Contact (C.o.A): 1 Mays Way, Cambridge, CB4 1UB.

10-12 Nov • Armadacon 19, Novotel, Plymouth. GoH Jasper Fforde, Jim Swallow, Jules Burt. £30 reg (£27 concessions); day rates £18 (£15) Sat, £12 (£10) Sun; evenings £5. Contact 20 Pinewood Close, Plympton, Devon, PL7 2DW.

21-24 Mar 08 • Orbital (Eastercon), Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. £45 reg, rising to £55 on 16 April; £20 supp or junior (12-17), £5 child (5-11), £1 infant. Contact 8 Windmill Close, Epsom, Surrey, KT17 3AL. Credit card bookings:

22-25 Aug 08 • Discworld Convention 2008, Hilton Metropole Hotel, Birmingham (NEC) – venue announced 9 March. Memberships not yet available, except to Redemption 07 members who get a 'special rate' of £45. Ansible predicts unrest if past DWcon members have to pay more.... Contact PO Box 4101, Shepton Mallet, Somerset, BA4 5XD.

[Later: I am assured that despite the implied message of the DWcon website, the same discount applies to everyone who has already enquired, to those joining at Eastercon and other events where discount flyers will circulate, and to anyone joining on-line before a given date.]

20-22 Feb 09 • Redemption 09 (multimedia sf) has lost its Hinckley hotel and is now looking for a new venue. (As James Bacon puts it: 'The Hinckley Island [Hotel] have given Redemption 09 the shove. Too many complaints from other residents allegedly.') £40 reg; £45 from 20 Apr 07; £50 from 4 Sep 07; £55 from 1 Sep 08. Advance booking closes 7 Feb 09: £60 at door. Concessions: £10 off above. Under-18s/supp: £15. Contact 26 Kings Meadow View, Wetherby, LS22 7FX.

Rumblings. Eastercon 2009. The Concordia (Birmingham NEC) bid folded just before Ansible 236 appeared: LXcon (Bradford) is now unopposed. More at and • SFF/BSFA. This year's now-traditional joint AGM event will be held in Sheffield rather than boring old London. Details to follow.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. At least sf isn't as bad as fantasy, muses Caitlin Moran of The Times while investigating World of Warcraft: 'By and large, my theory runs, people who are into goblins and wizards are people within the autistic spectrum of behaviour, for whom the utopian sexual and racial equality offered by, say, sci-fi, is alarming. All those black chicks in Lycra jumpsuits philosophising about the fallible nature of humanity, and able to vote? Brrrr!' (Times, 26 March) [LW]

That Hugo Shortlist. NOVEL Michael Flynn, Eifelheim; Naomi Novik, His Majesty's Dragon aka Temeraire; Charles Stross, Glasshouse; Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End; Peter Watts, Blindsight.
NOVELLA Paul Melko, 'The Walls of the Universe', (Asimov's 4/06); Robert Reed, 'A Billion Eves' (Asimov's 10/06); William Shunn, 'Inclination' (Asimov's 4/06); Michael Swanwick, 'Lord Weary's Empire' (Asimov's 12/06); Robert Charles Wilson, Julian: A Christmas Story (PS Publishing).
NOVELETTE Paolo Bacigalupi, 'Yellow Card Man' (Asimov's 12/06); Michael F Flynn, 'Dawn, and Sunset, and the Colours of the Earth'; (Asimov's 10/06); Ian McDonald, 'The Djinn's Wife' (Asimov's 7/06); Mike Resnick, 'All the Things You Are' (Baen's Universe 12/06); Geoff Ryman, 'Pol Pot's Beautiful Daughter' (F&SF 10/06).
SHORT Neil Gaiman, 'How to Talk to Girls at Parties' (Fragile Things); Bruce McAllister, 'Kin' (Asimov's 2/06); Tim Pratt, 'Impossible Dreams' (Asimov's 7/06); Robert Reed, 'Eight Episodes' (Asimov's 6/06); Benjamin Rosenbaum, 'The House Beyond Your Sky' (Strange Horizons 9/06).
RELATED BOOK Samuel R. Delany, About Writing: Seven Essays, Four Letters, and Five Interviews; Joseph T. Major, Heinlein's Children: The Juveniles; Julie Phillips, James Tiptree, Jr.: The Double Life of Alice B Sheldon; John Picacio, Cover Story: The Art of John Picacio; Mike Resnick & Joe Siclari, eds, Worldcon Guest of Honor Speeches.
DRAMATIC – LONG Children of Men, Pan's Labyrinth, The Prestige, A Scanner Darkly, V for Vendetta.
DRAMATIC – SHORT Battlestar Galactica, 'Downloaded'; Doctor Who, 'Army of Ghosts' & 'Doomsday'; Doctor Who, 'Girl in the Fireplace'; Doctor Who, 'School Reunion'; Stargate SG-1, '200'.
EDITOR – LONG Lou Anders, James Patrick Baen, Ginjer Buchanan, David G. Hartwell, Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
EDITOR – SHORT Gardner Dozois, David G. Hartwell, Stanley Schmidt, Gordon Van Gelder, Sheila Williams.
ARTIST Bob Eggleton, Donato Giancola, Stephan Martiniere, John Jude Palencar, John Picacio.
SEMIPROZINE Ansible, Interzone, Lady Churchill's Rosebud Wristlet, Locus, The New York Review of Science Fiction.
FANZINE Banana Wings, Challenger, The Drink Tank, Plokta, Science-Fiction Five-Yearly.
FAN WRITER Chris Garcia, John Hertz, Dave Langford (thanks!), John Scalzi, Steven H Silver.
FAN ARTIST Brad W. Foster, Teddy Harvia, Sue Mason, Steve Stiles, Frank Wu.
CAMPBELL AWARD (not a Hugo) Scott Lynch, Sarah Monette, Naomi Novik, Brandon Sanderson, Lawrence M. Schoen.
• In the initial release and early printed ballots, Pan's Labyrinth was omitted and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest included in the Dramatic/Long finalists. A non-joky 1 April update blamed this on data error.

Springtime for Lucifer. The New York Times story about plans to film Paradise Lost is full of tasty quotations, especially from the producer Vincent Newman. '"It's a 400-some-odd-page poem written in Old English," he said, laughing. "How do you find the movie in that?"' But 'if you get past the Milton of it all, and think about the greatest war that's ever been fought, the story itself is pretty compelling.' One must focus on essentials: 'less Adam and Eve and more about what's happening with the archangels', since 'In Eden there's the nudity problem ... which would be a big problem for a big studio movie.' Then there was 'the studio executive who, halfway through the pitch, blurted: "Wait a minute. You mean God is God?"' As Vincent sums it up: 'This could be like The Lord of the Rings, or bigger.' (NY Times, 4 March) [JB]

R.I.P. Arnold Drake (1924-2007), US comics writer who wrote all the major DC Comics characters during his long career, and co-created Deadman and Doom Patrol, died on 12 March aged 83. [PDF]
Leigh Eddings (?-2007), US author who co-wrote many popular fantasy novels with her husband David Eddings, died on 28 February following a series of strokes. She was 69.
Charles Einstein (1926-2007), US author and journalist best known in sf for The Day New York Went Dry (1964), died on 7 March aged 80.
Freddie Francis (1917-2007), UK director and cinematographer who directed Dr Terror's House of Horrors (1964), Dracula Has Risen From the Grave (1968) and other Hammer and Amicus horror films, died on 17 March; he was 89. [BB]
David Honigsberg (1958-2007), US author, musician, rabbi and fan, died from a heart attack on 27 March, aged 48. [ML]
Gareth Hunt (1942-2007), UK actor whose genre credits included The New Avengers, Dr Who and Space: 1999, died from pancreatic cancer on 14 March; he was 65. [CM]
David I. Masson (1915-2007), UK author and rare-books librarian whose seven 1960s sf stories all appeared in New Worlds and were collected as The Caltraps of Time (1968), died on 25 February. Chris Priest and I came to know him better while working on our 2003 edition of Caltraps (adding his three further 1970s stories). His debut fiction 'Traveller's Rest' (1965) was a major highlight of that New Worlds era. Mike Moorcock writes: 'I liked him from the beginning. Really was surprised by the story given that the style of the typing and so on suggested someone who had actually started with a quill pen. Not so the style of the stories, of course. I suppose it was inevitable he wouldn't have written much, given the quality of the little he did write, but it's a shame he never tried for a novel.'
Marshall Rogers (1950-2007), noted US comics artist, died on 24 or 25 March; he was 57. [SG]
Herman Stein (1915-2007), US composer who scored over 200 films including Creature from the Black Lagoon, It Came from Outer Space, The Incredible Shrinking Man, This Island Earth and Tarantula, died on 15 March aged 91. [CH]
Paul Walker (1921-2007), US author and critic whose interviews were collected as Speaking of Science Fiction (1978), died (according to his sister) on 8 March. [MGP]

As Others See Us II. A recommendation: 'Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box: It's horrible to be among the thousands to admit you're excited to read the work of the son of Stephen King, but we're guilty.' (US Book Critics Circle weblog, 27 Mar) [RF]
• More on Iain Banks, crushing our hopes that there might be such a thing as serious sf: 'Whether writing science fiction (under the name of Iain M. Banks) or serious fiction (without the "M"), the underlying message of Iain Banks's work is "life's a game".' (Mark Sanderson, Sunday Telegraph review, 11 March) [AS]

Publishers & Sinners. Jim Minz says goodbye: 'As many of you have already heard, I no longer am working here at Del Rey (that became official about two hours ago).' (email, 23 March)

Random Fandom. Jyrki Kasvi, a Finnish MP seeking reelection, has a campaign website entirely in Klingon. He explains: 'Some have thought it is blasphemy to mix politics and Klingon ... Others say it is good if politicians can laugh at themselves.' [FL] How side-splitting.

More Awards. Tiptree winners for 2006: Shelley Jackson, Half Life; Catherynne M. Valente, The Orphan's Tales: In the Night Garden. [PM]
Prometheus final shortlist: Orson Scott Card, Empire; John Scalzi, The Ghost Brigades; Charles Stross, Glasshouse; Vernor Vinge, Rainbows End; F. Paul Wilson, Harbingers.
Broadcasting Press Guild: drama series, Life on Mars; multichannel, Hogfather. [SG]
Bram Stoker novel award: Stephen King, Lisey's Story.
SF Hall of Fame: Gene Wolfe, Ridley Scott, Ed Emshwiller, Gene Roddenberry. [L]
Skylark: Beth Meacham.

As Others See Us III. A Neurologist Explains: 'What is schizotypal? It's a more subtle version of schizophrenia. This is not somebody who's completely socially crippled; they're just solitary, detached: these are the lighthouse keepers, the projectionists in the movie theaters. These are not people who are thought-disordered to the point of being completely nonfunctional; these are people who just believe in kinda strange stuff. They are into their Star Trek conventions. They're into their astrology, they're into their telepathy and their paranormal beliefs ...' (Robert Sapolsky [speech], Freethought Today, 2003). [AC]

Outraged Letters. Ellen Datlow on the MLA's belief (A236) that Jonathan Lethem is 'poaching' genre concepts in his current fiction: 'Now THIS is silly, considering Lethem was writing sf before he moved into mainstream.' Well, yes.
David K.M. Klaus sends a splendid movie-news headline reporting an encounter somehow overlooked by historians: 'Revived Ninja Turtles Defeat Spartans At Thermopylae.'

Fanfundery. GUFF: the 2007 Europe-Australasia race was announced in late March, with a 16 April voting deadline. Candidates are Johan Anglemark, Steve Davies, Anna Davour, and Ang Rosin. £5/$A10 voting fee. Ballots available on line or from 59 Shirley Rd, Croydon, CR0 7ES.
JETS: final reminder that the voting deadline for this one-off race to Nippon 2007 is 13 April. More at
Get Harry: this one-off fund achieved its goal by taking Harry Bell to Corflu 2007. Rob Jackson thanks all contributors and, for anyone interested, has published accounts. The Bellissimo! showcase of Harry's fanzine art remains available – proceeds now go to other fan funds.
TAFF: $1 goes to the fund for each sale of Strange Voyages, a 1200-page CD-ROM collection of Mike Glicksohn's fanzines Energumen and Xenium, plus other writing, an interview, etc. $15 post free from Taral Wayne, 245 Dunn Ave, Apt 2111, Toronto, Ontario, M6K 1S6, Canada.

The Sick List. Merv Binns had a triple heart bypass operation on 8 March and is reportedly doing well.
Alexis Gilliland was diagnosed with prostate cancer: this was caught early and the outlook is good.
Michael Scott Rohan, owing to 'major nerve damage' caused by sarcoidosis, acquired a pacemaker in March: 'Apparently I can now look forward to a career of activating shop theft alarms and airport security.'

C.o.A. Recombination – see events list. Cas & Paul Skelton, 122 Mile End Lane, Stockport, Cheshire, SK2 6BY.

Thog's Masterclass. Sound Effects Dept (Again). 'The Archivist tugged a handkerchief from her sleeve and blew her nose, noisily and at length. Moon could hear the snot rattling through her system like an old boiler filled with air.' (Jonathan Barnes, The Somnambulist, 2007) [NG]
Dept of Wicked Winks and Unclad Fish. 'Her breasts winked at him, and he chastised himself as he felt a stir of arousal. [...] He was sixty centimeters taller, but she wiggled like a lithe, naked eel until a final shrewd twist toppled him from the bed.' (David Weber, Heirs of Empire, in Empire from the Ashes, 1993) [GS]
Far-Future Technological Prediction Dept (or, 'As You Know, Bob'). '... composing on the keyboard, where erasure did not mean throwing away a piece of tangible paper that could fall into the wrong hands – and where he had an automatic copy of his exact words.' (C.J. Cherryh, Deliverer, 2007) [PDF]
Eyeballs in the Sky Dept. 'His eyes ran, literally, across the whole of the upper portion of his face ...' (Richard Marsh, The Beetle, 1897) [BA]

Geeks' Corner

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Back issues –
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Convention Longlist
Details at
London meetings –
Overseas –
[Cancelled] 6-9 Apr 07, Convoy (Eastercon), Liverpool
6-9 Apr 07, Contemplation (replacement Eastercon), Chester
28 Apr 07, Alt.Fiction 2007, Derby
2 May 07, Clarke Award Ceremony, London
from 2 May 07, Sci-Fi London Film Festival
25-27 May 07, Confounding Tales! (crime/sf/horror pulp), Glasgow
19-22 Jun 07, SFF SF Criticism Masterclass, Liverpool
19-22 Jul 07, Sectus 2007 (Harry Potter), London
20-22 Jul 07,Year of the Teledu, Leicester
10-12 Aug 07, Recombination/HarmUni III (Unicon/RPG/filk), Cambridge
30 Aug - 3 Sep 07, Nippon 2007 (Worldcon), Yokohama, Japan
31 Aug - 2 Sep 07, Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester
21-23 Sep 07, Eurocon 2007, Copenhagen, Denmark
21-23 Sep 07, Fantasycon 2007, Nottingham
6 Oct 07, Satellite 1, Glasgow
2-4 Nov 07, Novacon 37, Walsall
9-11 Nov 07, Armadacon, Plymouth
21-24 Mar 08, Orbital (Eastercon), Heathrow
Spring 08, Distraction, Newbury
3-7 May 2008, Roscon or Euroscon (Eurocon), Moscow
6-10 Aug 08, Denvention 3 (Worldcon), Denver, USA
22-25 Aug 08, Discworld Convention 2008, Birmingham


• 13 April: Brum Group, Britannia Hotel, New St, Birmingham. With Ken MacLeod. 7.45pm. £3 members, £4 non-members. Contact 07845 897760 or bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Forthcoming: 11 May, speaker TBA (Peter Lavery had to cancel owing to pressure of work following illness.) 8 June: Rob Holdstock, whose February appearance was spoilt by snow, ice and gridlock – only 3 people could make it.

Random Links. Rather than save them up for Ansible each month, I now add topical links to a sidebar column on the links page. Note the new (2007) shorter URL:

PayPal Donation. Support Ansible and keep the editor happy! Or just buy his books ...

That 2007 GUFF Race. The official information page and PDF ballot form can be found here:

Jeff Vandermeer's SFWA presidency platform proposed the unthinkable as an April Fool jape: 'I'd make it an automatic disqualification for any writer to lobby their friends to vote for them in any category for the Nebula Awards. In fact, I'd appoint a volunteer whose only job would be to ferret out voting corruption. If that didn't work, we'd take a good, hard, long look at scrapping the Nebula Awards altogether or making it a purely juried award.' More practicably: at each annual SFWA junket a 'selected group of writers would be bundled into a huge wicker representation of a nude Clark Ashton Smith. This Wickersmith would then be doused in gasoline, set on fire, and, after an appropriate delay, heaved over the edge of a very high cliff.' However, John Scalzi's campaign to become SFWA President – making this a rare contested election! – is dead serious.

Neil Gaiman was not best pleased to find himself listed on the Roscon/Eurocon (Moscow, 2008) website as a guest of honour. That was the first he'd heard of it; and fellow-'guest' George R.R. Martin was equally surprised. Neither of them will be going.

Fantagraphics, the US comics publisher, is still being sued by a certain 'famous comics dilettante' and has launched an appeal for help with escalating legal costs:

Late Report. Another death that Ansible missed: Tom Hutchinson (?1930-2005), UK author and film critic who wrote Horror and Fantasy in the Movies (1974), Horrors: A History of Horror Movies (1983 with Roy Pickard), and many sf/fantasy book reviews in the Times and elsewhere, died on 3 October 2005 aged 75. [DP]

Ansible 237 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2007. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Barbara Barrett, John Boston, Jean-Daniel Brèque, Avedon Carol, Paul Di Filippo, Moshe Feder, Rose Fox, Nick Gevers, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, Mark R. Kelly, Fred Lerner, Locus Online, Making Light, Todd Mason, Chris Moore, Pat Murphy, Michael G. Pfefferkorn, David Pringle, Andrew Seaman, Gordon Smith,, and our Hero Distributors: Rog Peyton (Brum Group), Janice Murray (N. America), SCIS, and Alan Stewart (Down Under). 3 Apr 07.