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Ansible 25, April 1982

Cartoon: Dan Steffan

PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (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 Richard Brandt ... to whom many thanks! • Dave Langford, 1996.

ANSIBLE 25 (April 1982) from Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Avenue, Reading, Berkshire, RG2 7PW, UK. Subscriptions £1 for 5 issues in UK, 4 elsewhere. Heading ["Post-Seventies News for Post-Sixties Fans!"] by Dan Steffan. Mailing label by Keith Freeman; the runes SUB DUE or ***** indicate a hideous curse which may be lifted only by sending me money. $US to Burns, 48 Lou Ave, NY, NY 11754, USA. This bumper 25th issue is distinguished by being still more ordinary than usual. It appears at Channelcon, where readers are invited to vote for the Metrocon bid for the 1983 Eastercon – and also to vote in TAFF if you haven't already. TAFF deadline is 17 April.... (5-4-82)


Lisa Tuttle (carbon of note to Nebula boss Frank Catalano): "I'm sorry this letter is late – it would have been helpful if the SFWA had bothered to inform me that a story of mine was being considered for a Nebula Award. Late as it is, I must ask you to remove my story 'The Bone Flute' from consideration....

"I made this decision after discovering that another writer in the short story category, George Florance-Guthridge, has sent around copies of his nominated story to SFWA members with a covering letter written by F&SF editor Ed Ferman at his request. Florance-Guthridge's letter put Ed in the awkward position of seeming to favour one short story of the three published by his magazine which received nominations; I learned about this when Ed wrote to me offering to 'even things out' by writing a similar covering letter for 'The Bone Flute.' I refused his friendly offer; I don't know what John Varley did.

"I don't approve of this kind of campaigning for an award which is presented as if it were a prize for the best work in the field, but which in fact is battled out like any election. If everyone involved campaigned – sending out copies of their work or bumper stickers saying 'vote for me' – that would be one thing; the situation as it stands now is unfair and calls into question the validity of those works which will win...."

And on 4 April Lisa phoned to add that, actually, 'The Bone Flute' had won the short-story Nebula before her (31 March) withdrawal arrived. As a result it appears that no Nebula in this category will be awarded. George F-G's 'The Quiet' came in second; the other notably hyped work, May's novel The Many-Colored Land, also failed to win in its category. Ho ho. No other details as I type this bit, but Lisa adds: "I don't go along with Chris [Priest] in thinking the Nebula should be abolished, but I do think that, as it exists now, it is pretty much a farce."

Ian Watson: "Big Mal [Edwards] has been leaning on me a bit recently, using the Gollancz franking meter to send me letters saying why don't I come to heel over Interzonk, and pointing out that he is now working for Gollancz again, otherwise known as presiding over my livelihood. Unabashed, I wrote back and said that I didn't intend to have anything to do with Interzonk while the Greenland virus infected it, and referred Big Mal to Aldiss's letter in Matrix denying that he had ever had communion with G's first novel (even in the form of a soundless hum). Aldiss, I said, is covering his tracks, and referred Mal to Maxim Jakubowski with whom he is currently collaborating. A year ago Maxim J told us that the first opus of Dr G was received at Virgin together with a glowing letter of recommendation by BA. Three months ago Maxim, scenting trouble, had muted this to 'a sort of reader's report by BA.' When Mal asked him, Maxim developed total amnesia, and said he thought maybe Dr G may have said to him on the phone that BA had read it and liked it, but couldn't remember clearly. (We, on the other hand, could remember perfectly clearly what he had said in both descending versions.) Anyway, came back this gem from Big Mal: 'If this were so, it wouldn't necessarily mean that Brian had read it: Colin might simply have been lying to [Maxim] in the hope of getting him to consider the thing. Which would not be unusual. Prospective authors say a lot of things.... But I think whatever I say you will continue to view Colin's activities in the worst possible light....' Oh ha, very ha. Colin might SIMPLY have been LYING.... I bet you phoned round all the publishers in London about your first novel, lying that Arthur Clarke had just read it with ravished delight, so that they would print it instantly.

"And what if it is true that BA had never even seen the book, and G was simply lying? That means the only SF author involved in handing out the Arts Council public funds did so without even bothering to glance at the only manuscript evidence of Dr G's literary worth.... A bloody disgrace."

Oh dear. Though I have no notion of who may have fibbed to whom on whatever occasion, I should add that (1) Whatever murkiness surrounded Colin's original appointment to the Creative Writing Fellowship at the NELP, the selection procedure was hardly his fault – or Interzone's; (2) Everybody seems to have forgotten the other 'MS evidence of Dr G's literary worth' – his forthcoming book on New Worlds. Might Brian not have glanced at that?

Interzone 1 is now out, and has a powerful flavor of New Worlds Quarterly; copies may be had from Big Mal (28 Duckett Rd, N4 1BN) for £1.40 post free. After Graham James's suspicion that I was getting at him in an SF Chronicle snippet wherein his name appeared as 'Graham Jones', I was interested to note that the Interzone masthead ... yes, you've guessed it. The ever-contentious Graham also takes up the cudgels against the 'rival' magazine Extro in Matrix 41; having given the impression that the first issue contains only three items, he explains that it's poor value for money since all the thousands of potential readers will already have seen my article in Drilkjis or Vector (though it was completely rewritten for Extro), and read the Watson interview in SFR (UK circulation minimal). It would be snide to inform Graham that his very own Interzone contains an edited chunk of an already published Moorcock novel, or that the famed Ballard presentation booklet is reprinted from Ambit (making all the portentous apparatus of a lettered/numbered/signed limited edition seem a bit silly).

Brian Aldiss: "I did of course look at the latest Vector and its accompanying litter [including Matrix with Ian Watson's assault on BA, CG etc]; on that score, all I can say is how delighted I am by the announcement that the Brunners and the Watsons – male and female made He them – will be spending Christmas together. They deserve each other.... Meanwhile, I'm somewhat demented by small success (sample enclosed [Helliconia Spring listed as National Book League #1 fiction bestseller; BA presenting £18,000 worth of literary awards at Soc of Authors reception 16 June]) and am boning up to be on 'Desert Island Discs' – the Seal of Respectability which will alienate all self-respecting fans. Beethoven's Ninth or I Wish I Could Shimmy Like My Sister Kate? It is a problem. However, on – more or less – with Vol. II. Still recovering from Aggiecon XIII, Texas – 4000 guests.... Now President of World SF, so watch it."

Jim Barker: "As of 5.00pm on Friday 19 March, I am not a number ... I am a freelance artist. I took a voluntary redundancy and, after months of talking about it, have actually taken the plunge. My immediate plans are to recover from the hangover incurred at the farewell party thrown for me at the old office, and then trying to get my act together so I can knock on a few doors when I'm down in London after Channelcon. Long term plans are to try selling strips to IPC or D.C. Thomson and to work with Chris Evans on turning Elmer T. Hack into a newspaper strip (lotta potential there). Anyway, that's it done. It still hasn't sunk in that I've actually done it. It probably will when I sign on the dole on Monday after which I'll probably be helluva depressed but for the moment ... by God I feel GREAT!"

Ramsey Campbell: "Yes, Millington has gone bust ('ceased trading') as of 12 February. As for Scousecon, I really ought to have warned people about it. I thought of doing so when they asked me to be one of the GoHs and then forgot they had, but I decided a warning might look more pique. By the time I saw their handwritten press release which referred to, if I recall correctly, 'the film debut of Michael Moorc/r/o/f/t/cock', it was too late. Mind you, from Rog Peyton's description, it sounds like the sort of event I'd have loved to attend ... without paying.

"Anne McCaffrey is to be Master, or whatever the term is, of ceremonies at Fantasycon."

R.I. Barycz: "There's an old joke about the four most useless things in the world – the Pope's balls, etc. – and to them I am tempted to add another pair: the publicity bods for Revenge of the Jedi. They started on 11 Jan and since then nothing.... (A lot of mags in the States seem to think it is going to be called RETURN of the Jedi. Revenge it most certainly is...)" [As a working title, but it got changed and Return of the Jedi it most certainly was – Ed.]

[By coincidence, the official Star Wars fan club boss appeared at the March One Tun: Maureen Garrett, who seemed a little surprised that we provincials had heard of such delights of civilization as the Los Angeles SF Soc. She seemed rather miffed by Barycz/Ansible coverage of ROTJ, and muttered something about not much publicity being wanted yet....]

"No publicity wanted so far? This is a red rag to the proverbial.... SIR ALEC GUINNESS has read the script for ROTJ and he'll be back! (According to producer Howard Kazanjian.) Not just as a nifty bit of double exposure. In the flesh no less. Puts a whole new slant to the proverb 'Death does not release you'.... RED FACES AT THE BBC! On 'Multicoloured Swap Shop' someone offered a video cassette of Star Wars. Not the 'Making of ...' video but the actual feature: stolen goods, in fact.... SALKINDS TO COMMIT FINANCIAL SUICIDE IN 1983! Chris 'Superman' Reeve says he expects to wear his underpants over his tights this summer in Soooperman III for release in Summer 1983. ROTJ comes out then.... FINANCIAL REVELATIONS! By the grace of the Companies Act and the microfilm library in the City Rd. The last time I looked at the file for the company that made SW, though the film may have took half a billion $$$ worldwide (Variety estimate), the accounts lodged by the company as made it show that they carried a loss of 37.00 (thirty-seven pounds) forward into the next commercial year.... I think it is about time they moved onto location work – I've read German and N Africa as places where they'll be going – and that should make for more information. English newspapers sit and wait for the news to come through their Associated Press telex printer; foreigners go out and dig it up. With photos and all."

Martin Morse Wooster (see COA): "While I've heard no more about the epic novel Contact, Carl Sagan Productions and the Cosmos Store have definitely gone bankrupt, the tremors of imploding cosmic minds even reaching the outskirts of Washington. Local fan Dick Preston, who runs a network of high-school science clubs, asked Cosmos Central if he could possibly have a few calendars as premiums for club organizers. "Oh, would you like 5000 of them?" I have a copy of 'The Cosmic Calendar: 1982' before me now: it comes complete with 'The Cosmic Calendar Concept', which informs the reader that 'In the tapestry of cosmic time, human beings are very young....' Gosh wow.

"D.M. Thomas lasted in Washington a grand total of 5 days, fleeing town after he found out that Pocket Books was preparing to sell zillions of copies of The White Hotel. [Their initial print run: 1,000,000!] After disappearing for 2 months in shock-horror, leaving in Washington – according to the local paper – 'a trail of rotting fruit' as well as a role as star attraction in a marathon reading of Ulysses for the Joyce centennial, he has eventually emerged to do a limited amount of promotion – and not in Washington.

"Lawsuit of the month comes from one June R. Pritchard, who claims that 'intimate social details' of her life were told to a psychiatrist, who allegedly informed Stephen King, who allegedly then wrote The Shining. Pritchard wants $75 million in damages.... And lastly, a Media Note: the latest sci-fi spectacle to disgrace US television is The Phoenix, an ancient astronaut resurrected to become a New Age superman. We learn in the first episode that the ancients possessed Dark Secrets that moderns have forgotten: 'They had numbers with 1 followed by fifteen zeroes ... bigger than any computer!' Now you know."

D. West: "Only event of note is the discovery that a Swedish fanzine has been pirating my cartoons for Matrix. (Also Pete Lyon's.) Joseph Nicholas in Swedish actually looks funnier than the original, though one wonders what the Swedes think of it. Strange.... Bi-yearly denunciation of absolutely everybody due this summer, with T. White in leading role. Level of general idiocy seems to be rising again. We have enough foolishness of our own without importing the American variety. Another great step backward for international peace and harmony."

Patrick Nielsen Hayden: "Just got back from Norwescon 5: Bob Shaw was a great hit as GoH; the play of The Enchanted Duplicator was a smash hit to a packed audience and provoked several tour offers all of which will probably be ignored by the exhausted cast; Doug Faunt brought a 200-lb canister of compressed nitrous oxide on which large chunks of Seattle and Bay Area fandom floated away for much of the weekend; and oh yes, Tom Disch was fine too. ('This is great! Thomas M. Disch and nitrous oxide!' – Carl Juarez, while observing the interaction of the aforementioned items, one affecting the other).... [Good grief. Patrick is preparing an anthology of Best 1981 Fanwriting or thereabouts:] Five British contributions, against five Americans and one Aussie. 'Yorcon II Photo Album' & 'Life with the Loonies' by Atkinson, 'Oh Dear What Can the Matter Be' by Priest, 'Group Dynamics of Conventional Assemblies' by Langford, 'Dot Fiction Supplement' by Smith, and yet another quoting of Malcolm's paragraph on why we shud rite good in fanzeens, just in case some fan somewhere being let out of maximum-security imprisonment hasn't seen it. Other contents include stuff from Benford, Carol, White, Mayer, 'Alais Adverse' and Bangsund."

Pascal Thomas: "Grand Prix de la Science Fiction Francaise – the best publicized of awards for French SF, awarded by a jury of 11 critics and writers – for 1981: BEST NOVEL Le silence de la cité by Elizabeth Vonarburg; BEST SHORT 'Gélatine' by Jean-Pierre Hubert (Mouvance 5 semi-pro anthology); BEST JUVENILE NOVEL La fée et le géomètre by Jean-Pierre Andrevon; SPECIAL AWARD to 'Compagnie des Glaces' series by G.J. Arnaud – 7 novels 1980-82 – impressive, highly imaginative hackwork."

Anonymous French Rumormonger: "The Prix Apollo, for which translated works are eligible, hasn't been decided yet – but the first three books in the preliminary selection are said to be Ballard's Hello America, Wolfe's The Shadow of the Torturer and Priest's The Affirmation (in that order).

"Shake-up at Fiction (French edition of F&SF): Michel Ferloni, boss of Opta (the publisher), who does not know anything about sf, took offence at the 'tone' of the magazine's departments, reviews, etc. After various discussions and confused declarations, the upshot seems to be that Alain Doremieux, Fiction's editor, will be discharged as editor of the departments but remain as fiction editor – while the contributors whose work caused the upheaval will be kept on if they will agree to be more ... subdued."

Colin Wilson: "At the moment I am wildly overworked. I am writing a quarter of a million word World History of Crime after which I have to do an Encyclopaedia of Murder (vol. 1) then a book on psychic detectives, then a biography of a poet friend that I have agreed to do much against my will...."

WAHF: Robert Allen (whose magazine Edges, planned to sweep Extro off the market, mysteriously folded before publication: his even newer SF Journal will no doubt sweep Locus, SFC and Ansible off the market – send £2 to him at 74 Bonnington Sq, Vauxhall, SW8 1TG, he begs); Jane Doe (who rumours that following their purchase of Amazing SF, the Gygax D&D empire is trying to lure famous George Scithers as editor); A.N. Other: "Everyone assumed Ian W would get the Foundation job until he came into the interview room and they heard him talk."


On March 20 the ICA featured a one-day 'Focus on Fiction' conference, attended by someone whom The Bookseller describes as 'a splendidly iconoclastic SF writer.' "Don't take too much notice of the smell," said Marghanita Laski (Arts Council Literature Panel chair), referring not to said writer's fags but to the aftermath of a recent fire at the ICA. Let's steal ever such a lot of reportage from The Bookseller, verbatim....

"The star turn of this session was Mr Watson. He thought the morning's offerings 'rampant twee,' he lambasted reviewers – 'they have no power to make things sell, only to stop things selling' – people who use the term sci-fi, the British who underrated science fiction and its practitioners and, much worse, deferred to the Americans. Later, still exuding a powerhouse of energy, he marched off to the loo, pulling down doors and partition walls as he went – at least that's what it sounded like." (Horace Bent)

Ian himself adds: "I was down at the ICA a couple of weeks ago to be Skiffyman in a conference on Fiction High & Low, and one of the ICA staffers told me that one Aldiss had been doing a gig on Helliconia Spring a couple of weeks earlier, and his gaze had alighted on announcements that the Skiffyman's name was Watson, had inveighed thus: 'What have you got him for? You don't want him! You want me!' Thus related the ICA staffer, bemusedly."

An interesting fact mentioned by The Bookseller in passing is that Salman Rushdie, of Midnight's Children fame, is the recipient of an Arts Council bursary. It's nice to know that if you're a struggling young writer with a novel firmly entrenched in the bestseller lists, plus a large Booker Prize cheque in your pocket, the Arts Council will be sure to rally round with £7500 worth of aid.


Prix Apollo Update: Pascal Thomas has arrived at the Langford hovel with the news that this award has gone to L'Idiot-Roi by one Scott Baker, being the French translation of his internationally famous novel Symbiote's Crown. How, I asked, did Baker come to the top of the distinguished shortlist mentioned earlier in Ansible? "Well, he's an American but he lives in Paris, you see...." The Hall of Fame: Administrators and publicists of literary prizes are begged to send data on winners, henceforth, to the Book Info Service, National Book League, Book House, SW.18. I'm sure that as well as the BSFA award they'd love to hear about the Hugos, FAAns, Nebulas, Ditmars, Nova, Pong poll, Ansible poll and the rest.... Bug Dave Kyle: Jan Howard Finder, due to become a famous skiffy anthologist in June, wants to make an embarrassing speech about D. Kyle at Rivercon (July), where the latter will be FGoH. Send your appalling Kyle anecdotes and lies to Jan at PO Box 428, Latham, NY 12110, USA.... Lands Of Never, Maxim Jakubowski's fantasy anthology, now has tales by those inseparables Aldiss and Watson, plus Cherry Wilder, Jane Gaskell, Joy Chant and J.G. Ballard, with Burgess and Amis also hoped for. Your reporter too has been promised the chance to acquire yet more of Maxim's finely crafted rejection slips before the closing date (end of July).... And Speaking of Rejections – hopes that Asimov's might become more open-minded with the departure of George Scithers seem to have been over-optimistic. Executive Editor Kathleen Maloney, not content with bouncing a Langford epic which I modestly think is quite good, proceeded to denounce it for its terrible defect of having a non-rosy ending. 'Bleak and futile.' The hand is the hand of Maloney, but the voice is the voice of Scithers.... Philip Dick Memorial Symposium now scheduled for the evening of 11 June, somewhere in London. Brian Aldiss will lead the discussion; Ridley Scott (director of Blade Runner, the Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? film due out in June – script enthused over by Dick earlier this year) may also attend. Details from Colin Greenland at the SF Foundation (01-590-7722 ext 2177) (Matrix).... Chicon IV, the 1980 Worldcon to be held in Chicago this summer, had to extend the Hugo nominations deadline from 15 to 31 March owing to 'a computer problem': this information is now of no use to anybody at all. Joyce Scrivner (2528 15th Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA) would like to hear from Brits likely to attend Chicon, in order to arrange Fan Funnish Things during and after the con – stop her at Channelcon and enquire.... Judith Hanna, staying with Joseph Nicholas u.f.n., reminds me to include something about the Australian Ditmar nominations, the fanwriting category of which I have by me here, handwritten from memory by Judith Hanna, nominees being Eric Lindsay, Leigh Edmonds, Marc Ortlieb and Judith Hanna. In the non-Australian novel category the finalists are The Affirmation, The Claw of the Conciliator, Radix and The Sirian Experiments. (Thanks to Thyme and to Judith Hanna.) SFWA Elections: Though the voting deadline is not until 22 April, the prescient Ansible news service is not afraid to declare that Marta Randall will win as President, Charles L. Grant as vice-president, John F. Carr as treasurer and David Brin as secretary – not to mention Greg Benford as western regional director. There are no other candidates. Who cares? Why vote?


There was an excellent response to the mini book-sale catalogue circulated with British copies of Ansible 24 ... many thanks. Items sold as of now are numbers 2-4, 8, 9, 14, 22, 24, 33-36, 39, 41-2, 44-5, 48-9 and 51-4. The most popular item of all was the James Branch Cabell study (good taste you lot have), perhaps because of the Poictesme map: I've made some 'quality' photocopies of this as a consolation, available for a 12½p stamp plus 10x8 SAE (or another stamp if you don't mind taking your chance with whatever grotty old envelope I can dig up. Also: David and Charles plan to remainder my triffic UFO book An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871 (1979 hardcover first edition). Signed (or not, as you prefer) copies shortly available for 2.50 or $5.00 post free. Help this man become a capitalist.


Perhaps, after all ... 25 issues ... a little something extra ... a special editorial feature? All right, I'll admit it. We have here what is known in publishers' argot as a bloody great empty space which needs filling. Manifestly there is not room for a complete index to every semicolon yet published in Ansible; moreover, I'm too lazy for the task. (Volunteers start here: ;;;;;)

I worry sometimes about this newszine format. Rather than spreading my eversoumble opinions across page after opulent page, I have to squeeze them into tiny slots – and distort them in the process. Even when the facts are all there and all correct, the tone of voice tends to slip off-key in the general strain of trying for concision plus a modicum of entertainment. Example: looking at page 1 again, I seem to have come down harder than intended on dear old Graham James. Better example: in answering Greg Pickersgill's TAFF criticisms a while ago, I duly tackled those of his points which could be dealt with economically ('anybody can afford to fly to America' etc.), but not the more subtle ideological points ('there are no worthy candidates' etc.). It would have needed more space: and so something which ought to have been said was skipped. – Still, I'm solidly in favor of TAFF. It's so much easier not to be in favor of things, to slip into Private Eye nihilism, to raise smiles by slick and snide comments adding up to the view that everything, really, is contemptible. Signs of this are occasionally visible in Ansible: and it's another distortion of the truth. As a newszine editor, I'm theoretically in the truth business....

But I've been duplicating the penultimate sheet of Ansible, and I must go and wash my hands. (Next issue: Why Wittgenstein Is Fannish.)


PHIL JAMES, 38 Tyne End, Broadwater, Stevenage, Herts / PHIL PALMER, 62 Baufort Mansions, Baufort St, Chelsea, London / RON SALOMON, 49 Centre St, Natick, MA 01760, USA / MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER, Box 8093, Silver Spring, MD 20907, USA / THE LANGFORDS: in the near future, but only to far-off Reading....


Mediacon 3 (scheduled for March 20) was cancelled at the beginning of March since there were only 13 registrations.... Fantasycon VIII (July 2-4) is reported to need 200 registrations and in early March had 35 (nobody's worried, publicity having only just begun 'unusually early').... Eurocon 7 (Aug 10-15, Switzerland) has Ian Watson as a GoH; also invited are Lem and the Strugatskys; Ian sends a page from Soviet Weekly (April 3) with a Strugatsky story extract.... 9th French National Con (Quetigny, Dijon, Sept 3-5 1982): att Fr 50 to April 30, Fr 70 thereafter, to Club SF de la MJC, Rue des Prairies, 21800 QUETIGNY, France.... Beccon '83 (July 29-31 1983): Essex Crest Hotel, Basildon; GoH to be announced; £3 supp £7 att to Beccon, 191 The Heights, Northolt, Middlesex, UB5 4BU.... Galacticon (Oct ?? 1983): media con, accent on Blake's 7 & Battlestar Grot; Gt Eastern Hotel, Liverpool St, London; £4 supp £10 att apparently rising after April 25; option to send £2 deposit now with balance 8 weeks before con; send SAE for notification of date and PR1; 'we will ask you to send SAEs for subsequent progress reports etc etc' (I intensely dislike this practice, by the way); 171 Heath Rd, Hounslow, Middlesex.... Piss Off Eurocon! is the unofficial slogan of C. Atkinson, both Charnocks, M. Edwards, C. Evans, R. Hansen, R. Holdstock and L. Kettle: this committee plans to bid for Eastercon '84 and to oppose John Brunner's plan to combine said Eastercon with Eurocon 8 (MJE).... Birmingham Comics Marts (Centre Hotel, May 22 and other dates as in A24) are pretty dire, reports Simon Bostock, who could only stand the March event for an hour: no bar....


Ad Astra Lives, Almost: Ace investigator Ian Watson, the title story of whose collection Sunstroke & Other Stories (July 22) was to appear in the non-appearing Ad Astra, has been informed by reclusive AA editor James Manning that the magazine is Not Dead But Sleeping.... RIP: Edmund Cooper died on 11 March, age 55, and (having reviewed for them for 15 years) received an obituary in the Sunday Times. Philip Dick's death – on 2 March after a series of strokes and coma since 18 Feb – was largely ignored by British newspapers, though a long and worthwhile obituary by Maxim Jakubowski and Malcolm Edwards appeared in New Musical Express.... Comic Mystery: A recent series in the 2000 AD comic was set in Reading, featuring a sinister house in Tilehurst Road from which spurious radio signals emanate. Martin Hoare, a radio amateur living in a sinister house in Tilehurst Rd, feels paranoid. Now another 2000 AD series has introduced a peculiarly convex hotel security robot called Hoskins. Words cannot describe the feelings of Martin, who happens to work for the computerized-hotel-booking-systems firm Hoskyns. Ansible waits tensely for the appearance of a sinister house in Northumberland Avenue, from which spurious pamphlets emanate.... Pong Poll: Britons featured extensively in this US fan poll – best fanwriter Chris Atkinson, fanartist Dan Steffan, faneditor Malcolm Edwards, best new fan Chris A., single issue Pong 25, 'fugghead' Joe Nicholas, '#1 Fan Face' Dan Steffan. More Brits appear as runners-up in every category but the penultimate one.... The Science Fiction Epic That Began Where Everything Ended Continues! – this toothsome Del Rey blurb lingers in the mind though the actual book doesn't.... China Story: sf is booming in China, strangely, and the local Arthur C. Clarke surrogate (52-year-old astronomer Zheng Wenguang) can rely on a 100,000 copy edition of his latest book selling out within a week. As for foreign devils, an anthology of non-Chinese SF sold 420,000 copies in a similar period. Quick, somebody, translate my new book into Chinese! (L.A. Times/K. Smith) SF People Everywhere: On Radio 4's PM (12 March), a letter from exciting Marjorie Brunner was read out, deploring Pres.Raygun – followed, to the alarm of informant Chris Fowler, by another letter deploring El Salvador from a Mrs Watson! But not, after all, the Mrs Watson.... Meanwhile, in Glasgow, the Extremely Silly Party contested the Hillhead by-election with the slogan 'Woysa Ranker' – I forget the candidate's name, but the whole was rendered suspiciously fannish by the fact that ESP press releases appeared to emanate from the fake Bob Shaw's typewriter. Lovely Andie Burland, meanwhile, is being interviewed by trendy I/D magazine, while Tanith Lee was a winner of the Folio Society's misprimped-book-title competition ('The Habbit: a penetrating study of drug addiction amongst dwarves. The hallucinations described, such as those of having furry feet, and travelling on water in a barrel, are quite startling.') Among the runners-up was a Mrs Andrew De Lory, believed by experts to be the alias of famed literary agent Maggie Noach (now recovered from long illness and back in business). Brian Aldiss crashed the fame barrier in late Feb and made it into Private Eye's prestigious 'Pseud's Corner': 'Joyce is generally regarded as a writer who did extraordinary things with the language and the novel. Yet this Torquemada of tale-telling began as an insipid poet:

Lean out of the window
I heard you singing
A merry air.

Whether or not the first word was a misprint for "leap" has been disputed.' (Grauniad).... Are Steel-Collar Workers Threatening Your Job? raves the Jehovah's Witness organ Awake!, awakening long after everyone else to the realization that industrial robots exist despite not being mentioned in the Old Testament.... Conan the Barbarian (you yawned at the book, now snore through the film) was released in Chicago early in March – poster art by yet another Frazetta imitator, 'presented' by Dino de Laurentiis, starring A. Schwarzenegger (that unfortunate guy who's barely able to move owing to these great swollen muscles all over him – Hire The Handicapped, etc).... The London Book Fair (6-8 April) was extraordinarily plush in its new venue at the Barbican Centre, but featured a curious dearth of sf. Arrow Books utterly failed to devote a huge display to the forthcoming Langford novel, or even to mention it; Neville Spearman Ltd cheerily explained that the hardback Necronomicon was out of print and wouldn't be reissued until an American hardback house chose to buy rights; Poplar Press were trying hard to flog the SFWA book on how to write sf (another of their titles is – honestly – How To Write 'How To' Books); the ever-open bar was a welcome con feature (Langford, over beer: "All right, so I managed to fiddle a publisher's name badge – but I haven't got a stand." Paul Barnett, with a gesture taking in the whole bar: "But this is your stand."); Cape refused to part with their show copy of Helliconia Thing, so bang go Brian A's chances of a rave review here; the Ashgrove Press stand sported a negative ion generator and asked to be lectured by Ansible's physicist on how it worked, or didn't; inside data about Brian Ash's Visual Encyclopaedia of SF were whispered ("Ash was drunk all the time, which made it hard to work with him ... there was an attempt to tape an interview with him for millions of local radio stations, but we junked 20/30 tapes because every time he started to feel up the nubile interviewperson...."); only the Dutch buyers seemed to have enough money actually to buy book rights.... (8-6-82)

Hazel's Language Lessons #17: Arabic

namuayyu kuhli: he's a heavy sleeper – literally, 'his mosquito net is dark blue'

(contributed by Keith Oborn)

22 Northumberland Avenue, Reading,
Berkshire, RG2 7PW, UK. (CoA soon)

[An Insert:]

The 1981-82 CHECKPOINT/ANSIBLE Fan Poll – Voting Form

This form is being distributed with Ansible 25 and at Channelcon: the poll covers fannish doings in Britain from just after Easter 1981 to just after Easter 1982. All fans may vote. Ansible itself remains ineligible in the Best Fanzine and Best Single Issue categories. See overleaf for the categories: in the left-hand column, 5 points are awarded for a first-place vote and so on down to 1 for a fifth-place vote; categories in the right-hand column allow up to three unranked votes. Nice voters avoid either voting for their own work or in categories where their minds are essentially a blank (if you only read two fanzines and vote for one of them out of the depths of your vast experience, you are not being much help in determining Informed Fannish Opinion). Please return this form – or votes on a separate piece of paper, as you prefer – to Dave Langford, 22 Northumberland Ave, Readings, Berks, RG2 7PW, UK. DEADLINE is FRIDAY MAY 28 1982. Be assured that your votes will remain ever so confidential.

All fannish traditions tend to be questioned from time to time. Michael Ashley (for it is he!) launched a mini-denunciation of this poll in a recent Matrix, generously allowing that the standard of poll winners was good and high, but frowning on the fact that the poll is conducted 'amongst a relatively small and select group of British fandom'. Well: it is and it isn't. More than 250 fans receive Ansible and the poll from: unfortunately a select group of elitist sods choose to set themselves apart from the multitude – quite indefensibly, of course – by actually voting. There were 38 of them last year (a bit over 15% of the 'voting pool', as compared to 12% of Denvention members who last year nominated for the Hugos). Meanwhile, Peter Roberts writes: "I was always expecting some bored and truculent an editor to 'expose' the whole thing and suggest that I was fiddling with the results or some such wickedness. That's one reason why I didn't want to turn it into something more grandiose, with awards, and scrolls, and presentations, and what have you.... The main virtue of the poll is that it works." Let's hope so. It works, I think, as a low-key and fannish thing: Michael A. seems to overrate its influence and esteem for strategic reasons, so he can complain that such a grandiose institution depends on the votes of a few 'select' fans.... Please do vote.