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Ansible 254, September 2008

Cartoon: Sue Mason. Deaf fan conspicuously not holding a Hugo

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 meaning of poostermoolies.

Denvention 3. The 66th Worldcon in Denver, Colorado, seemed to run successfully. Much timely information appeared on line as the con progressed.
Hugos. A 19-year winning streak came to its end at last, which frankly was something of a relief.... NOVEL Michael Chabon, The Yiddish Policemen's Union. NOVELLA Connie Willis, 'All Seated on the Ground' by (Asimov's 12/07). NOVELETTE Ted Chiang, The Merchant and the Alchemist's Gate. SHORT Elizabeth Bear, 'Tideline' (Asimov's 6/07). NONFICTION Jeff Prucher, Brave New Words: The Oxford Dictionary of Science Fiction. DRAMATIC, LONG Stardust. DRAMATIC, SHORT Doctor Who: 'Blink'. EDITOR, LONG David Hartwell. EDITOR, SHORT Gordon Van Gelder (F&SF). ARTIST Stephan Martiniere. SEMIPROZINE Locus. FANZINE File 770. FAN WRITER John Scalzi. FAN ARTIST Brad Foster. CAMPBELL AWARD ('not a Hugo') Mary Robinette Kowal. Congratulations to all, with special thanks from Hazel – who worries about her groaning mantelpieces – to that nice Mr Scalzi.
Hugo rule changes: simultaneous nomination as pro and fan artist is now allowed. Awaiting ratification next year: 'semiprozine' abolished and 'graphic story' added (the 2009 Worldcon confirms that it will be test-flying this in advance as its permitted additional Hugo category); 'related book' changed to 'related work' to allow or confirm on-line eligibility.
Aussiecon 4, the unopposed 2010 Worldcon bid, naturally won the site selection (658 votes from 826 ballots). The Chicago in 2012 bid was officially launched at last.

The Five Gold Bands

Ben Bova and Spider Robinson shared this year's Heinlein Award.

Leo & Diane Dillon are to receive the 2008 World Fantasy Award for life achievement, and so in the same year is Patricia McKillip.

Mary Jane Engh, best known for her sf novel Arslan (UK title A Wind from Bukhara) as by M.J. Engh, is to be SFWA's 2009 'Author Emerita'. Presumably some Latin research has been carried out since Ardath Mayhar found herself Author Emeritus for 2008. 'Well,' Engh said cautiously, 'I hope emerita doesn't mean over the hill, but I'm truly honored – blown away, in fact ...' [SFWA]

Diana Wynne Jones on a recent furore: 'Has it come to the august and all seeing eyes of Ansible that there is currently a furious row raging in children's book circles? I know this doesn't sound like sf, but actually it is because the leader is Philip Pullman, who is objecting furiously to the publishers' unilateral attempts to label every book that might be for children with the age-range for which it is putatively intended. Pullman says, reasonably enough, that this will exclude both children and adults from reading books the publishers have labelled 11+ and so forth. Needless to say, I am in full agreement with him, the more so that my publishers tried to pull a fast one on me and presented me with this labelling as a fait accompli, telling me that it only remained for me to choose which age band each of my books was in. Almost all my books weren't in any age band, as far as I could see, and short of labelling them all 7+ (which wouldn't work), there seemed no solution. It then occurred to me that publishers (not to speak of writers) were going to lose money over this, as ignorant aunts were not going to buy books labelled 11+ plus for ten-year-olds and adult devotees were going to be shy of being seen reading, say, The Lord of the Rings with a large sign on it saying FOR ELEVEN YEARS UPWARDS. I wrote to Philip and suggested he put this to the publishers – for whom Losing Money is the Ultimate Horror – but he so far hasn't included this argument on his website [...] The more people who are annoyed at this silly piece of nannying, the better.' NTAB organizers have suggested a form of words for authors to request in contracts.

Jerry Pournelle, who's been having months of X-ray radiotherapy for an inoperable brain tumour, announces: 'It's official. I no longer have cancer. I have some scar tissue residual in my head, but both the MRI and my blood work indicate that the cancer is gone. / My fatigue may be due to sleep problems, but I should be about over the radiation sickness. In a word, I am in great shape for a man of my age. Now all I have to do is convince myself so that I get back to work. / It's taking a while for that to sink in.' (28 August) [TI]

Spider Robinson and Ben Bova shared ... no, we've done that one already.


5 Sep • British Fantasy Society Open Night, Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet St, London, EC4 1AA. From 6pm. All welcome.

5-7 Sep • ZombieCon (Brainnnnnns!), Quality Hotel, Bentley, Walsall. Advance booking now closed; £50 at the door. Contact 54 Bridge Rd, Uxbridge, Middlesex, UB8 2QP; info at zombiecon co uk.

6-7 Sep • Forbidden Planet (London, Birmingham, Bristol, Cambridge, Coventry, Croydon, Liverpool, Newcastle, Southampton) celebrates its 30 years of 'Geek Chic' with parties, including giveaways. NB: not Forbidden Planet International (Scotland, Ireland, other English towns), which dates itself from the Edinburgh SF BookShop in 1975.

19-21 Sep • Fantasycon 2008, Britannia Hotel, 1 St James St, Nottingham. £70 reg (BFS members £60). Day rate £25 Fri or Sun, £40 Sat. Contact 5 Greenbank, Barnt Green, Birmingham, B45 8DH.

24 Sep • BSFA Open Meeting, The Antelope, 22 Eaton Terrace, London, SW1W 8EZ. 5pm/6pm onward. With Farah Mendlesohn.

25-28 Sep • Oxonmoot (Tolkien Society), Christchurch, Oxford. £49.50 reg (members £42.50). Contact 29 Tockley Rd, Burham, Bucks, SL1 7DQ; bookings at tolkiensociety org.

3 Oct • Sci-Fi London Oktoberfest (film), Apollo West End Cinema, Lower Regent St, London. Box office 020 7451 9944.

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

17-19 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Day's Hotel, Sackville St, Manchester. £70/$140 reg; £30/$60 day. Under-17s £30; under-13s £20. Contact 95 Meadowgate Rd, Salford, Manchester, M6 8EN.

18-19 Oct • Octocon, Royal Dublin Hotel, O'Connell St, Dublin. €30 reg to 12 Oct; students €12; under-18/supp €10. Octocon 2008 c/o Electric Dragon, 19a Main St, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland.

7-9 Nov • Alt.Fiction Horror Writing Weekend, Dove Valley Centre, nr Buxton. Workshop: £150 reg including 2 nights full board. Contact Alex, 07768 635293, or alexdavisevents at hotmail co uk.

22-23 Nov • Dublin City Comic Con, Park Inn, Smithfield Sq, Dublin. Admission €20/day or €35 for the weekend.

20-22 Feb 09 • Redemption 09 (multimedia sf) – Britannia Hotel, Fairfax St, Coventry, CV1 5RP. Now £55 reg. Under-18s/supp: £15. Contact 26 Kings Meadow View, Wetherby, LS22 7FX.

24-26 Apr 09 • Alt.Fiction, QUAD art/film centre, Derby. More TBA. Contact 01332 715434 or alex dot davis at derby gov uk.

29 Apr - 4 May 09 • Sci-Fi London (film), Apollo West End Cinema, Lower Regent St, London. Box office 020 7451 9944. More TBA.

17-18 or 24-25 Jan 10 • ConRunner 2, 'The North, probably Sheffield or Manchester'. Rates to start at £30. More TBA. Contact 56 Jackmans Place, Letchworth GC, Herts, SG6 1RH.

2-6 Sep 10 • Aussiecon 4 (68th Worldcon), Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. GoH Kim Stanley Robinson, Robin Johnson (fan), Shaun Tan. $A160/$US155/$CAN155/€100/£80 reg until 3 Nov 2008; $A52/$US50/$CAN50/€35/£25 supp; presupporter, 'Firend' and site selection voter discounts at Contact GPO Box 1212, Melbourne, Vic 3001, Australia; info at aussiecon4 org au.

RumblingsWorldcon 2013: the still uncommitted Texas bid now has a rival, announced during Denvention: Zagreb.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Hope To See Us. Worldcon coverage at Denver Westword Blogs included a visit to Shotgun Willie's strip club, which had laid on a Sci Fi Strip Off to attract 'an army of sci-fi geeks'. Alas: 'It wasn't much of a show, at least from a geek-hunting journalist's perspective. The club was packed, pulsing with a slightly more techno-y vibe in honor of the promised nerds. But as I cruised the club searching for conventioneers, I realized: all men look like geeky sci-fi writers when they're hunched over a railing, slack-jawed and chucking crumpled dollars at naked women. I asked around, and no one would cop to being from the convention. One guy was wearing a Star Trek shirt, but I never got to talk to him. He was ... occupied.' (Joe Tone) [MM]

More Worldcon Awards. Big Heart (fan): Suford Lewis.
Chesley (art): not presented at Denvention owing to voting delays.
First Fandom Hall of Fame: Mike Ashley, Ray Harryhausen and (posthumous) Isaac Asimov.
Sidewise (alternate history) LONG Michael Chabon. The Yiddish Policemen's Union. SHORT (tie) Michael Flynn, 'Quaestiones Super Caelo et Mundo' (Analog 7/07) and Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 'Recovering Apollo 8' (Asimov's 2/07).

R.I.P. Pauline Baynes (1922-2008), UK illustrator perhaps most famous for her line drawings in all the C.S. Lewis 'Narnia' books, died on 1 August at the age of 89. She also illustrated Farmer Giles of Ham and other works by Tolkien (who said: 'more than illustrations, they are a collateral theme'), painted the first paperback cover of Watership Down, and won the Kate Greenaway Medal for her nearly 600 drawings in Grant Uden's A Dictionary of Chivalry. [BS via AW]
Ken Campbell (1941-2008), UK actor-director who staged popular adaptations of Illuminatus! and The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, died on 31 August; he was 66. His performance of Pigspurt at Mexicon V (Scarborough, 1993) is fondly remembered.
Creig Flessel (1912-2008), US comics artist who drew early DC comics from 1937 and adventures of the golden-age Sandman from 1939 onward, died on 17 July aged 96.
Geoffrey Perkins (1953-2008), UK radio/tv producer whose credits include the first two radio series of The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, died in a road accident on 29 August; he was 55. [F/CM] He was BBC Head of Comedy 1995-2001, and invented the fannishly popular game 'Mornington Crescent' for BBC Radio's I'm Sorry I Haven't A Clue.
George W. Proctor (1946-2008), US author and teacher whose many books included some 16 sf/fantasy novels and two co-edited anthologies (one of Nebula winners) died on 3 August. He was 61. [JC]

As Others See Us. In August, MTV was casting for True Life: I'm a Fan Boy: 'Are you obsessed with comic books, anime, fantasy, or manga? Do you like to dress up as your favorite character and attend conventions with other fans? Have you ever waited in line overnight for a book, movie, or videogame release? Do you have tattoos depicting your favorite brand or characters? Have you ever missed work, school, or other important events to engage in role-playing or cosplay? Are you misunderstood by your family or significant other because of it? Have you ever been told to "grow up" by someone important to you? If you're an obsessed fanboy (or girl), MTV wants to hear from you. If you appear to be between the ages of 16 and 28 and identify with any of the above, MTV wants to hear your story.' [JHB] Chiz chiz chiz: I was getting quite excited until I realized that MTV's ageism excludes me.

Outraged Letters. Richard E. Geis: 'I note that being named Grand Master is current. Let me inform you that I, Richard E. Geis, have been named Grand Master for July 19 by the American Society of Distinguished and Currently Unemployed Erotica Hacks, and I have hopes that some of my pen names will make Grand Masterhood in due time.'

Mythopoeic Awards. ADULT FANTASY Catherynne M. Valente, Orphan's Tales (In the Night Garden and In the Cities of Coin and Spice).
CHILDREN'S J.K. Rowling, the entire Harry Potter series.
SCHOLARSHIP: INKLINGS Diana Pavlac Glyer, The Company They Keep: C.S. Lewis and J.R.R. Tolkien as Writers in Community; John D. Rateliff, The History of the Hobbit (2 vols).
SCHOLARSHIP: OTHER T.A. Shippey, ed., The Shadow-Walkers: Jacob Grimm's Mythology of the Monstrous.

As We See Ourselves. From a local-paper story celebrating Garry Jon Simpson's feat of publishing his sf novel through the 'author-funded' Athena Press: 'I enjoy writing science fiction as you don't have to do a lot of research for it.' (Winsford Guardian, 21 August) [SHS]

Random Fandom. Steve Green thanks all the fans and others who donated to Diabetes UK in memory of Ann Green (1961-2008) and raised more than £1300.
Terry Jeeves's wife Val died in late August despite the apparent success of her July cancer operation. All sympathy to Terry, who is unable to cope alone and may have to remain in care.
Paul Voermans and Cathy Hayward are getting married next June.

Magazine Scene. As of their December issues, Analog and Asimov's will change from the traditional digest size to 5 7/8" x 8 5/8", matching other Penny Press magazines. Page count drops from 144 to 112, so that despite larger pages there'll be some 4000 fewer words. [DB]

As Others See Us II. A rare good word for sf: 'The science fiction "community", unlike most groups to which that word is attached, really is a community, and a good many of the people in it are charming and normal.' (Andrew McKie, Telegraph, 9 Aug) [TL]
• Why War with the Newts is underrated: 'Another problem is the annexation of [Karel] Čapek by the science fiction community ... Keen to upgrade its image, science fiction apologists have displayed a propensity to aggrandize its domain, sticking the label on writers who have precious little to do with space opera or monster hide and seek.' (Peter Swirski, From Lowbrow to Nobrow, 2005) [ADH] That is: giant talking newts just aren't sf.

More Shortlists. All too many BFA/WFA categories; here are the the novel finalists. British Fantasy Award: Ramsey Campbell, The Grin of the Dark; Joe Hill, Heart-Shaped Box; Michael Marshall, The Intruders; Sarah Pinborough, The Taken; Dan Simmons, The Terror; Michael Marshall Smith, The Servants.
World Fantasy Award: John Marks, Fangland; Will Shetterly, The Gospel of the Knife; Michael Marshall Smith, The Servants; Emma Bull, Territory; Guy Gavriel Kay, Ysabel.

Fanfundery. TAFF: nominations are open for the 2009 westbound race from Europe to Anticipation in Montréal. Each candidate should provide 5 written nominations (3 Euro, 2 NA), a platform of up to 100 words and £10 bond, by 5 Nov 2008; ballots should appear within days. Voting deadline: post-Easter 2009. Euro admin: Bridget Bradshaw, 103 Rustat Rd, Cambridge, CB1 3QG; email bugshaw at gmail dot com.

Court Circular. Warner Bros is suing Bollywood's Mirchi Movies for the hideous infringement of its non-fantasy adventure film title Hari Puttar – A Comedy of Terrors. Hari Puttar is Punjabi for Son of Hari. [BB]

The Dead Past. As Others Guffawed At Us, 1935: 'Why do people guffaw when I tell them I am reading the Voyage to the Moon, by Godwin, the model of Cyrano de Bergerac and Swift? I will throw in Lucian and Voltaire as make-weight. But no one smiles if you say you are reading Jules Verne's wizardry, or the fantastics of Wells!' (Edward Agate, quoted in James Agate, Ego 2, 1936) What, no one?

Another Bloody Poll. A Costa Book Awards survey of 'the nation's most cherished and best-loved writers' produced a top 50 beginning: 1 Enid Blyton, 2 Roald Dahl, 3 J.K. Rowling, 4 Jane Austen, 5 William Shakespeare, 6 Charles Dickens, 7 J.R.R. Tolkien, 8 Agatha Christie, 9 Stephen King, 10 Beatrix Potter, 11 C.S. Lewis.... Other genre-ish names include 22 Martin Amis, 23 Isaac Asimov, 24 Margaret Atwood, 27 H.G. Wells, 29 Arthur C. Clarke, 30 George Orwell, 32 Iain Banks, 37 Kingsley Amis, 40 Mark Twain, 41 J.G. Ballard, and 49 Ray Bradbury. [JB]

C.o.A. Lilian Edwards has moved to a new Chair at Sheffield U: mail address reverts to 39 Viewforth, Edinburgh, EH10 4JE. 'If anyone wants a Sheffield lodger with 2 cats c. late Sept/early Oct, do let me know.'

Scouring of the Shire. The US subprime mortgage debacle led to foreclosure proceedings against the Tolkien-themed 'Shire' housing estate in Bend, Oregon (where round hobbit-hole doors mercifully open on garden storage rather than being main entrances). The developers owe their bank $3.4m. A December auction is expected; new owners may or may not want to keep fantasy features like artificially thatched roofs, 'dragon-shaped support beams', 'Ring Bearer's Court', etc. (Bend Bulletin, 31 July) [A] We are renaming the Langford cellar Shelob's Lair.

Group Gropes. London First Thursdays. Meetings continue happily at the Melton Mowbray on Holborn, but Paul Treadaway feels we need a new emergency fallback venue – just in case. The Printer's Devil is being demolished and the Goose is closed, so Paul suggests the One Tun on Saffron Hill, now boasting an extension and garden terrace,

A253 Addenda. I cut a few words too many when reporting Terry Pratchett's 3-novel presence on the Nielsen BookScan 'evergreen' list of books permanently among the top 5,000 UK sellers since records began in 1995. Only 12 titles appear and no other author has more than one. Tolkien is in there with The Hobbit, but not The Lord of the Rings. [CSm]

We Are Everywhere. The charity magazine The Big Issue is an unlikely place to find sf, but spies report an Alastair Reynolds story ('Cardiff Afterlife') in The Big Issue Cymru #627, 25-31 August. [DR]

Thog's Masterclass. Tripodal Stability Dept. 'She crouched on a three-legged stool as if warming herself before the fire, but Will knew her chill would take more melting than that. He knelt down before her. The stool wobbled under her when he took her hands, the one leg shorter than the other that his father hadn't mended in fifteen years gone past.' (Elizabeth Bear, Ink and Steel, 2008) [CSo]
Dept of the Right Spirit. 'Four subordinate officers, plastered in their seats ...' (Howard S. Smith, I, Robot, 2008) [DC]
Delicate Euphemism Dept. 'At the point where in the human male there droops that Thing of Joy which is a Beauty for ever, these ethereal visitors were as bald and smooth as porcelain.' (Richard Cowper, Kuldesak, 1972). [AR]

Geeks' Corner

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Conventions/Events Longlist
Details at
London meetings/events –
Overseas –
Until 25 Oct 2008, Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi-Tech Britain, Science Museum, London
5-7 Sep 2008, ZombieCon, Bentley, Walsall
12-14 Sep 2008, Reunion5 (media), Coventry
19-21 Sep 2008, Fantasycon 2008, Nottingham
25-28 Sep 2008, Oxonmoot (Tolkien), Oxford
3 Oct 2008, Sci-Fi London Oktoberfest (film), London
4-5 Oct 2008, Birmingham International Comics Show, Birmingham
11-12 Oct 2008, NewCon 4, Northampton
17-19 Oct 2008, Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester
18-19 Oct 2008, Octocon, Ireland
25 Oct 2008, Teledeux!, London – venue TBC
1-2 Nov 2008, UnCon 2008 (Forteana), London
7-9 Nov 2008, ArmadaCon XX, Plymouth
11 Nov 2008 - 4 Jan 2009, Science Fact & Science Fiction exhibition, National Space Centre, Leicester
14-16 Nov 2008, Novacon 38, Bentley, Walsall
5-7 Dec 2008, Battlestar Starfury (BSG), Heathrow
20-24 Jan 2009, Wyrd Sisters: The Directors' Cut (play), Abingdon
6-8 Feb 2009, AXXIdental (filk), Grantham
20-22 Feb 2009, Redemption 09 (multimedia sf), Coventry
26-29 Mar 2009, Eurocon 2009, Fiuggi, Italy
27-29 Mar 2009, P-Con VI, Dublin.
10-13 Apr 2009, LXcon (Eastercon), Bradford
19-21 Jun 2009, Aetherica (fantasy), Chester
CANCELLED: 26-29 Jun 2009, Sectus 2009 (Harry Potter), North Wales
25-26 Jul 2009, Satellite 2, Glasgow
31 July - 2 August 2009, Constitution (sf, fantasy, RPG), Cambridge
6-10 Aug 2009, Anticipation (67th Worldcon), Montréal, Canada
2-5 Apr 2010, Odyssey 2010 (Eastercon), Heathrow


• 6 Sep 2008: Sarah Ash, Chaz Brenchley, Deborah J. Miller & Jessica Rydill Saunders at the West London Literary Festival, Main Tent, Walpole Park, Ealing, London W5. 1pm-2pm.
• 12 Sep 2008: Brum Group, Briar Rose, Bennett Hill, Birmingham city centre. With James Barclay. 7.45pm. £4; members £3. Contact 07845 897760 or 4bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk.
• 18 Sep 2008: C.E. Murphy signing, Forbidden Planet, 179
Shaftesbury Ave, London, WC2H 8JR. 6-7pm.
• 5 Oct 2008: Alan Grant and others, Wasted comic launch at Forbidden Planet, 40-41 Southbridge St, Edinburgh. 2-3pm.
• 19 Oct 2008: Bryan Talbot, Hannah Berry, Paul Grist and Paul Gravett panel, Manchester Literature Festival, Whitworth Art Gallery. 2:30pm. Tickets £4/£3.
• 23 Oct 2008: Bryan Talbot talks at Eccleston Library, St Helens, Lancashire. 7:30pm. Admission free. Contact 01744 677575.

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

Brian Aldiss adds a few words in memory of Ken Campbell: 'Good old Ken, a truly funny man and comic actor. We met first in Newcastle, ages ago. Ken and mates came charging into a pub where heavy miners were sinking heavy pints of porter. Their heavy faces said, "Maake me fookin' laf!" – and then they were wetting themselves with laughter. Ken and Co piled up a tower of chairs to make a Big Ben. He climbed up them and was going to jump off and commit suicide. But when he got to the top he found he had vertigo (a fear of heights, you chump! – Didn't you see the Hitchcock movie? too young, eh?!) – and had to be pushed.

'We joined forces and for several years toured the country. It was called "bringing SF to the Masses". The masses sometimes numbered nineteen. Birmingham was the best venue – the good old Brummie group would always support us. As long as Ken was on stage, everything was fireproof!

'Bless the dear man – always merry when I knew him. If there was such a place, there'd be laughter in Heaven now....'

Court Circular II. Barbara Bauer's lawsuit against the Wikimedia Foundation was dismissed in July, but the remaining defendants – all associated with websites that carried or discussed her listing in the '20 Worst Literary Agents' – still include team members at AbsoluteWrite, the Nielsen Haydens' Making Light, and SFWA's Writer Beware. SFWA itself is also a defendant.

Outraged Letters II. Simon R. Green offers a characteristically profound 'Thought for the day: when it comes to the Brit Olympics, I think our closing ceremony should consist of a giant wicker man, in which we burn selected celebrities who have fallen from grace. Let's see the next country top that....'

Thog Extra. Solar Simile Dept. 'The sun set, like a fried egg sliding over a pan and being lost in the fire.' (R.L. Fanthorpe, 'Face of Evil', 1960)

Ansible 254 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2008. Thanks to Anon, John Bark, Barbara Barrett, Damien Broderick, James H. Burns, Dave Clark, John Clute, Flick, Arthur D. Hlavaty, Tim Illingworth, Tony Lee, Marti McKenna, Chris Moore, David Redd, Adam Roberts, Brian Sibley, Steven H. Silver, Colin Smythe, Cally Soukup, Andrew Wells, and Hero Distributors: Vernon Brown (Brum Group), Janice Murray (NA), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 Sep 08.