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Ansible 249, April 2008

Cartoon: Sue Mason

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: Sue Mason. Available for SAE or the Shining Trapezohedron.

Orbital. The 2008 UK Eastercon at Heathrow seemed highly successful, with guests of honour Neil Gaiman, Tanith Lee, China Miéville, Rog Peyton (fan) and Charles Stross all on excellent form. Total membership was estimated as 1,300-odd actually attending. The event returns to the same Heathrow hotel, the Radisson Edwardian, as Odyssey 2010 on 2-5 April 2010: guests are Alastair Reynolds, Liz Williams, Mike Carey, and Fran & John Dowd (fan).
BSFA Awards went to Ian McDonald for Brasyl (novel), Ken MacLeod for 'Lighting Out' in disLocations (short), Andy Bigwood for the disLocations cover 'Cracked World' (art), and Brian Aldiss for Non-Stop (1958 anniversary award). Also Peter Mabey received a life membership as the longest-established BSFA member still paying his annual sub.
Doc Weir Award for unsung heroes: Eddie Cochrane.
• There were lots of good programme items that I deafly missed. Rare negative comments concerned access difficulties (narrow stairways that couldn't handle crowds) and erratic air conditioning (bake in the dealer's room or freeze in the real ale bar); the latter should be fixed by 2010. Alarmingly, my overflow hotel – the Renaissance – proved to be a rebranding of the old Heathrow Hotel where 30 years ago I and others ran the first airport Eastercon, Skycon '78.

The Sigma-Sequence

M. John Harrison won the Philip K. Dick Award for Nova Swing; Minister Faust's From The Notebooks Of Dr. Brain had a special citation.

Larry Niven, as any fan might expect, is in the Sigma sf writers' think tank which offers 'unconventional thinking' at US Homeland Security science/technology conferences. In March, National Defense magazine gave unenthusiastic – some say slanted – coverage to a recent Sigma panel's 'rambling, sometimes strident string of ideas [...] Niven said a good way to help hospitals stem financial losses is to spread rumors in Spanish within the Latino community that emergency rooms are killing patients in order to harvest their organs for transplants.' Niven: 'The problem [of hospitals going broke] is hugely exaggerated by illegal aliens who aren't going to pay for anything anyway.' Jerry Pournelle: 'Do you know how politically incorrect you are?' Niven: 'I know it may not be possible to use this solution, but it does work.' ND also claimed that, rather than answer audience questions, panellists 'used their time to pontificate on a variety of tangentially related topics, including their past roles advising the government, predictions in their stories that have come to pass, the demise of the paperback book market, and low-cost launch into space.' [NH] That sounds familiar.

Terry Pratchett's donation of a million dollars for Alzheimer's research ('Personally, I'd eat the arse out of a dead mole if it offered a fighting chance.') was very widely reported. The fevered brain of Pat Cadigan perceived that this could be equalled if half a million fans each gave a pound to the same cause, a campaign very soon named 'Match It For Pratchett' – with its own website at Over £2,500 was raised at Orbital, and donations to the Alzheimer's Research Trust in honour of Terry approached £41,000 by 25 March.


23 Apr • BSFA Open Meeting, The Antelope, 22 Eaton Terrace, London, SW1W 8EZ (closest tube, Sloane Square). 6pm on; fans present in the bar from 5pm. Ken Slater memorial, with Peter Weston.

26 Apr • Alt.Fiction, Darwin Suite, Assembly Rooms, Derby. Many guests. £20 reg; £16 concessions. Box Office booking: 01332 255800.

30 Apr • Clarke Award Ceremony, London. By invitation only.

30 Apr - 4 May • Sci-Fi London, Apollo West End Cinema, Lower Regent St, London. £10/film evenings (10% off until 15 Apr) or £8/film day; 'buy 5 get 1 free'. All-nighters £25. Bookings 020 7451 9944.

3-5 May • Fforde Ffiesta, De Vere Hotel, Shaw Ridge, Swindon. Now £30 reg. Day tickets available. Booking: Cheques to The Fforde Ffestival, 37A Oak Close, Bristol, BS34 6RB.

28 Jun • Tolkien Society Seminar, Parkstead House, Whitelands College, Roehampton University, London. Papers invited, on 'Freedom, Fate, and Choice in Middle-earth': seminar at tolkiensociety dot org.

28-29 Jun • ConRunner 2008 (conrunning), Britannia Hotel, Wolverhampton. Now £35 reg until 21 Jun; £45 at door. Day £25. Contact 56 Jackmans Place, Letchworth G.C., Herts, SG6 1RH.

29-31 Aug • Mecon 11/Unicon 22, Queen's Univ, Belfast. GoH Charles Stross. £15/€22 reg; £10/€15 unwaged; £5 supp. Cheques to 'QUB Sci-Fi Society'. Contact 115 Malone Rd, Belfast, BT9 6SP.

5-7 Sep • ZombieCon, Bentley, Walsall. Now £45 reg until 31 August; £50 at the door. Parent/guardian consent is required for under-18s. Contact 54 Bridge Rd, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 2QP.

19-21 Sep • Fantasycon 2008, Britannia Hotel, 1 St James St, Nottingham. Now £60 reg (BFS members and students £50); £70 (£60) from 1 July. Contact 5 Greenbank, Barnt Green, Birmingham, B45 8DH.

27 Sep - 4 Oct • Milford Writers' Conference, Trigonos Centre, Snowdonia. Published authors only. Enquiries c/o Homeway House, 40 Westhay Rd, Meare, Glastonbury, Somerset, BA6 9TL.

11-12 Oct • NewCon 4, The Fishmarket, Bradshaw Street, Northampton, NN1 2HL. Now £40 reg (BSFA members £35). £10 supporting; £20 per day. Contact 16 Albany Road, Northampton, NN1 5LZ.

8 Nov • Music from the 21st Century: Barry Gray (Thunderbirds and other Gerry Anderson music) centenary concert, Royal Festival Hall, South Bank, London. Tickets:

7-9 Nov • ArmadaCon XX, Royal Fleet Club, 9-12 Morice Square, Devonport, Plymouth, PL1 4PQ (new venue). £35 reg; £30 concessions; £10 supp. Contact 20 Pinewood Close, Plympton, Devon, PL7 2DW.

14-16 Nov • Novacon 38, Quality Hotel, Bentley, Walsall. Now £38 reg; £42 at the door. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Research Us. 'I've always been a fan of H.G. Wells, the 19th/20th century British sci-fi author. You know, he's the guy who penned such classics as "The War of the Worlds," "The Time Machine" and my personal favorite, "1984."' (Greg Bucci, city editor, Mohave Valley Daily News, 13 March) [MRL]

Hugo Nominations. NOVEL Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union; Ian McDonald, Brasyl; Robert J. Sawyer, Rollback; John Scalzi, The Last Colony; Charles Stross, Halting State.
NOVELLA Nancy Kress, 'The Fountain of Age' (Asimov's 7/07); Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 'Recovering Apollo 8' (Asimov's 2/07); Lucius Shepard, 'Stars Seen Through Stone' (F&SF 7/07); Connie Willis, 'All Seated on the Ground' (Asimov's 12/07); Gene Wolfe, 'Memorare' (F&SF 4/07).
NOVELETTE Daniel Abraham, 'The Cambist and Lord Iron: a Fairytale of Economics' (Logorrhea); Ted Chiang, 'The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate' (F&SF 9/07); Greg Egan, 'Dark Integers' (Asimov's 10/07); Greg Egan 'Glory' (The New Space Opera); David Moles, 'Finisterra' (F&SF 12/07).
SHORT Stephen Baxter, 'Last Contact' (The Solaris Book of New SF); Elizabeth Bear, 'Tideline' (Asimov's 6/07); Ken MacLeod 'Who's Afraid of Wolf 359?' (The New Space Opera); Mike Resnick 'Distant Replay' (Asimov's 4/07); Michael Swanwick, 'A Small Room in Koboldtown' (Asimov's 4/07).
RELATED BOOK Diana Glyer, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community; Barry Malzberg, Breakfast in the Ruins: SF in the Last Millennium; Luis Ortiz, Emshwiller: Infinity x Two; Jeff Prucher, Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of SF; Shaun Tan, The Arrival.
DRAMATIC: LONG Enchanted; The Golden Compass; Heroes Season 1; Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix; Stardust.
DRAMATIC: SHORT Battlestar Galactica, 'Razor'; Doctor Who, 'Blink'; Doctor Who, 'Human Nature'/'Family of Blood'; Star Trek New Voyages, 'World Enough and Time'; Torchwood, 'Captain Jack Harkness'.
EDITOR: SHORT Ellen Datlow, Stanley Schmidt, Jonathan Strahan, Gordon Van Gelder, Sheila Williams.
EDITOR: LONG Lou Anders, Ginjer Buchanan, David G. Hartwell, Beth Meacham, Patrick Nielsen Hayden.
ARTIST Bob Eggleton, Phil Foglio, John Harris, Stephan Martiniere, John Picacio, Shaun Tan.
SEMIPROZINE Ansible, Helix, Interzone, Locus, The New York Review of SF.
FANZINE Argentus, Challenger, The Drink Tank, File 770, Plokta.
FAN WRITER Chris Garcia, David Langford, Cheryl Morgan, John Scalzi, Steven H Silver.
FAN ARTIST Brad Foster, Teddy Harvia, Sue Mason, Steve Stiles, Taral Wayne.
CAMPBELL AWARD ('not a Hugo') Joe Abercrombie, Jon Armstrong, David Anthony Durham, David Louis Edelman, Mary Robinette Kowal, Scott Lynch.

Apocwyphal? Elderly Lady at Waterstone's: 'I'm looking for something for my grandson; he's 16 and not really into reading, though he likes Pratchett. What might you recommend?' Waterstone's Person: 'Has he tried Rankin?' EL: 'Yes, I suppose that would keep him quiet, but I was really wanting to get him a book.' (Bent's Notes, The Bookseller)

Arthur C. Clarke Award shortlist: Matthew de Abaitua, The Red Men; Stephen Baxter, The H-Bomb Girl; Sarah Hall, The Carhullan Army; Steven Hall, The Raw Shark Texts; Ken MacLeod, The Execution Channel; Richard Morgan, Black Man.
• As usual, there was some fuss about the jury's choices. Administrator Tom Hunter writes: 'In an SF Crowsnest interview I said: "In many ways the Award isn't so much about picking the 'best' book of the year (although we are still very good at that too) and is more about pushing at the edges of our genre." While this was part of a broader point about the many different ways in which the Award is viewed by the sf community and beyond, it's clear to me now that such comments can easily be read as suggesting there's an agenda behind the selection process, which is not and never has been the case. The Clarke Award is known for the high level of passionate debate it can inspire, but I apologise for any confusion and concern I have unintentionally provoked while promoting the Award this year.'

Publishers and Sinners. A Games Workshop mole reports sweeping cuts in their publishing arm after a poor Christmas for games sales. Marc Gascoigne, founder of the imprints Solaris (sf/fantasy) and Black Library (game ties), is now on 'gardening leave' with redundancy expected to follow. BL seems safe but the future of Solaris is less certain.

R.I.P. Jane Blackstock (1947-2008), late of Gollancz, died of cancer on 3 March – two days after her 61st birthday. Jo Fletcher writes: 'Jane, formerly Gollancz's formidable rights director, took on the role of publisher when Liz Knights died; she was at the helm when Gollancz was bought by Orion, but chose not to remain with the company.'
Ray Bradbury (1950-2008), UK fan and long-time stalwart of the Birmingham SF Group, died on 17 March – about a week before his 58th birthday. He was a skilled conjuror and member of the Magic Circle whose occasional performances in fandom were much appreciated. [PW]
Sir Arthur C. Clarke (1917-2008), UK-born sf and science author who for decades had been genuinely world-famous, died in Sri Lanka on 18 March: he was 90. Several examples of his sf, notably The City and the Stars from 1956, still evoke that old sense of wonder for the most jaded fans. It goes without saying that tributes appeared in countless major newspapers and on-line platforms; my own more or less formal piece will be in SFX. Despite colossal fame, Sir Arthur didn't forget his early roots as 'Ego' Clarke in 1940s/1950s British fandom. When Ansible's most infamous department quoted him in 2002, he replied with delight: 'Now I can die happy – finally made it to MASTERCLASS!' Overhead, without any fuss ...
Dr Christine Haycock, widow of Sam Moskowitz and an active fan in her own right, died on 23 January aged 84. [AIP]
Raymond Leblanc (1915-2008), Belgian comics publisher whose co-founded Editions du Lombard produced the famous Tintin magazine (1945-1988), died on 21 March aged 92. [JW]
Anthony Minghella (1954-2008), UK scriptwriter and director who wrote and directed the ghost story Truly, Madly, Deeply (1990), died unexpectedly on 18 March. He was 54. [JJ]
Jody Scott (1923-2007), UK-born sf author who wrote Passing For Human (1977) and I, Vampire (1984), died on 24 December last year; she was 84.
Dave Stevens (1955-2008), US cartoonist and comics writer/artist who created The Rocketeer (filmed by Disney in 1991), died from leukaemia on 10 March. He was 52. [JG]

Blurbismo. 'What Jensen discovers will turn the world upside-down, literally.' (Jonathan Cape blurb for Mark Wernham, Martin Martin's On the Other Side, 2008) [BA]

As Others Mourn Us. Simon Drake (who he?) shares his feelings on the Times website: 'Arthur C. Clarke is dead. Farewell. Etc. So are we going to be hammered by publishers re-issuing all his well known titles and a few more that you should also get to know? Is it possible that a young writer, living in the "now" (ACC's "future" for when he was writing) could be coming up with fantastic visions that equal ACC and isn't it only fair for the young writer to be on the market as well? I see his death as a good thing. Get the great ACC resurgence over and done with and then SF Writers can get back to spreading great ideas into a rapidly changing world. I give credit to ACC, I even put his Three Laws of Robotics into the preface of my book Love Data, but it's time for a new generation to get into the public eye.' [20 March] Poor dear.

Magazine Scene. Scheherezade, after an 18-year run, published its last issue at Eastercon: editor Liz Counihan wants more time for her own writing, although 'My sister and Art Editor, Deirdre, hopes that when she has time she'll be able to revive the magazine.'
Wendy Bradley corrects A247: Farthing is on hold entirely for financial reasons (Wendy needs £3,000 to publish the next issue and pay its authors) and no personal health problems were involved. Your editor grovels.

More Awards. Prometheus (libertarian) finalists for 2007 work: Tobias S. Buckell, Ragamuffin; Ken MacLeod, The Execution Channel; Larry Niven & Edward M. Lerner, Fleet of Worlds, Harry S. Turtledove, The Gladiator; Jo Walton, Ha'Penny.

Outraged Letters. Darren Nash of Orbit unwisely talked to The Times about Arthur C. Clarke: 'This was distilled into the comment piece you see in today's Times [20 March]. It's not how I would have chosen to write it – apart from the last two paragraphs, which are taken from my Orbit blog piece, they're not my words – but it seemed harmless enough, so I signed off on it. / Imagine my fury, this morning, when I opened the paper to see the headline that dominated the page where "my" commentary piece appeared. I would like to state, for the record, that had I had the tiniest inkling that there was an agenda to rehash the vile rumours spawned by that gutter-dwelling piece of bog paper, the Sunday Mirror, not only would I have refused to speak to anyone from The Times, but I'd have cordially invited them to go forth and multiply. I'm relieved, at least, that "my" words didn't appear in the same article – I can only imagine how livid Terry Pratchett must be feeling right now – but I'm no less angry. I don't want my name on the same continent as an article that revisits that pernicious – and obviously politically motivated – smear campaign, let alone on the same page. [...] Arthur C. Clarke was one of my heroes. I grew up reading his novels, short stories and non-fiction and it is that work that is directly responsible for me being where I am today – and in many ways, who I am today. You only need to read my piece on the Orbit website to see the high regard in which I held Sir Arthur. / I want to dissociate myself completely from that article in The Times, now joining the black list of newspapers I will never buy again. I shouldn't have expected any better from a Newscorp publication, but somehow I did. More fool me.' (Jack Malvern's Times article 'Arthur C. Clarke's honour delayed by sex claims' devoted its first seven paragraphs to the never-substantiated 1998 allegations, before finding space for lesser matters like 2001, satellites and the tributes from Terry Pratchett and Patrick Moore.)

Random Fandom. Bruce Gillespie is madly pleased to have won this year's Peter McNamara Award for life achievement in Australian sf.
Marcia Illingworth writes: 'Faldo, Tony (blindpew) Smith's first Guide Dog, passed away on 3/03 at 7:20PM, with my arms around him and Tim by our sides.'
Rob Jackson hauled a load of prozines to Eastercon for the unknown fan who won them at the 2007 LFF auction, but they still weren't claimed. Unknown fan, please note that Rob will pay shipping costs: contact jacksonshambrook at tiscali co uk.
Jonathan Palfrey on the vast A248 obituary list: 'It's a pity you feel obliged to kill so many people every time, but I suppose The Duty has to be done. Have you ever thought of delegating the job to your granddaughter?'

C.o.A. Dave Locke, PO Box 485, Pownal, VT 05261, USA. Pat & Roger Sims, 12 Sweetgum Dr, Unit A, Orange City, FL 32763-9023, USA.

Guesting. Brian Aldiss: 'Just back from a rousing time in Florida, where I attended the 29th year of the IAFA.... Also, I was in Tampa at the South Florida University, where a learned choir of guys sang my praises. Everyone enjoyed that – particularly me. Now I'm home and full of energy. I'm thinking of having a second pace-maker fitted.'
Simon R. Green had to drop out as World Horror Convention MC owing to the agony of (a) trapped nerves and (b) side effects of medication for (a).

A248 Update. 'Roger Von Bergendorff' is elusive as an sf artist, but ISFDB and Locus list covers for several Gregory Benford and other sf titles 1986-1993, as by Roger Bergendorff or Bergendorf. [WL/JS]

Thog's Masterclass. Eyeballs in the Sky. 'Her eyes seemed to come back from somewhere else ...' (Timothy Zahn, The Backlash Mission, 1986) [IC]
Teleology Dept. 'In the dawn of time, Man, the monad, was encased in stone. He had to struggle through into vegetable life, then, by acquiring locomotion from plant to animal, from medusa to holothurisan; thence to work his way out of the primeval waters, develop wings and limbs –' (Clive Trent [Victor Rousseau], 'Human Pyramid', Spicy-Adventure Stories, April 1941) [DL]

Geeks' Corner

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Conventions/Events Longlist
Details via
London meetings/events –
Overseas –
Until 18 May, Martian Museum of Terrestrial Art, Barbican Art Gallery, London
26 April 2008, Alt.Fiction, Derby
30 April - 4 May 2008, Sci-Fi London film festival, London
3-5 May, Fforde Ffiesta (Jasper Fforde), Swindon
15-18 May 2008, Roscon or Euroscon (Eurocon), Moscow
20-22 June 2008, SF Masterclass, London
RELOCATED TO USA: 24-27 Jun 2008, SF Research Association conference, Dublin
28 Jun, Tolkien Society Seminar, London
28-29 June 2008, ConRunner 2008 (conrunning), Wolverhampton
6-10 August 2008, Denvention 3 (Worldcon), Denver, USA
21-25 August 2008, Frightfest film festival, London
22-25 Aug 2008, Discworld Convention 2008, Birmingham
29-31 August 2008, Mecon, Belfast
5-7 September 2008, ZombieCon, Bentley, Walsall
12-14 September 2008, Reunion5 (media), Coventry
19-21 September 2008, Fantasycon 2008, Nottingham
25-28 September 2008, Oxonmoot (Tolkien), Oxford
4-5 October 2008, Birmingham International Comics Show, Birmingham
11-12 October 2008, NewCon 4, Northampton
17-19 October 2008, Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester
18-19 October 2008, Octocon, Ireland
7-9 Nov 2008, ArmadaCon XX, Plymouth
14-16 Nov 2008, Novacon 38, Bentley, Walsall
20-22 Feb 2009, Redemption 09 (multimedia sf), Coventry
?? Mar 2009, Eurocon 2009, Fiuggi, Italy
10-13 Apr 2009, LXcon (Eastercon), Bradford
CANCELLED: 26-29 Jun 2009, Sectus 2009 (Harry Potter), North Wales
25-26 July 2009, Satellite 2, Glasgow
6-10 Aug 2009, Anticipation (67th Worldcon), Montréal, Canada


• 5 April 2008: Neal Asher signing, Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR. 1-2pm.
• 11 April 2008: Brum Group, Briar Rose, Bennett Hill, Birmingham city centre. 7.45pm. With Michael Scott Rohan. Contact 07845 897760 or bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Further meetings: 9 May & 13 June TBA.
• 12 April 2008: Alastair Reynolds signing, Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR. 1-2pm.
• 3 May 2008: Stephen Hunt signing, Forbidden Planet, 179 Shaftesbury Avenue, London, WC2H 8JR. 1-2pm.

Random Links. Rather than save them up for Ansible each month, I now add topical links to a sidebar column on the links page:

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

Wedding Bells. In February Pete Young married his Benji in Bangkok, while James Bacon married Simoné Van Zyl twice, in Croydon registry office and again in South Africa.

Stoker Awards (horror), presented on 29 March: NOVEL Sarah Langan, The Missing. FIRST NOVEL Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box. LONG FICTION Gary Braunbeck, Afterward, There Will Be a Hallway. SHORT David Niall Wilson, 'The Gentle Brush of Wings'. COLLECTION (tie): Michael A. Arnzen, Proverbs for Monsters; Peter Straub, 5 Stories. ANTHOLOGY Five Strokes to Midnight ed. Gary Braunbeck and Hank Schwaeble. NONFICTION: Jonathan Maberry & David F. Kramer, The Cryptopedia. POETRY (tie): Linda Addison, Being Full of Light, Insubstantial; and Charlee Jacob & Marge Simon, Vectors: A Week in the Death of a Planet. LIFE ACHIEVEMENT John Carpenter, Robert Weinberg.

Editorial Oddments. Juicy stories like the National Defense panel report often reach me from multiple Ansible readers: I'm grateful to you all but tend to credit only the first sender, unless different communications provide different angles on the story. • It occurs to me that the Ansible links page at is more interesting and much more frequently updated than the nominal home page at ... do you think it would be better for to go straight to the links page? • Once again I'm slightly boggled that the much deplored (though not by me) streak of Langford Hugo nominations continues. What can I say but thanks very much? I have always depended on the kindness of voters. • Lastly, an unexciting new experiment: the website version of this issue includes permalinks to each item and headline. This is all because of the great Cory Doctorow. • Despite the date I forgot to include any April Foolery. Or is the previous sentence in fact a subtle leg-pull? I forget that too.

Thog's Werewolf Supplement. Since Thog gets short shrift above, here are some extras from a recently quoted masterwork: 'I forgot to mention that werewolves are very strong. Their diet includes such things as animal blood, ailing grandmothers and rancid chicken fat.' • 'Being a werewolf is strictly against the law in most countries because they can be cruel and inhuman.' • '"Yes," Waldo answered, "it's one of the duties of a werewolf. I must frighten people."' (all Arthur N. Scarm, The Werewolf vs Vampire Woman, 1972) [BA]

Ansible 249 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2008. Thanks to Ian Covell, Joe Gordon, Niall Harrison, John Jarrold, Mark R. Leeper, Wim Lewis, Denny Lien, Andrew I. Porter, James Summerson, Peter Weston, Joe Woolamaloo, and our Hero Distributors: Vernon Brown (Brum Group News), Janice Murray (N America), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 Apr 08.