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Ansible 258, January 2009

Cartoon: Stu Shiffman

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: Stu Shiffman, 1981. Available for SAE or ;48 ;800 ;508 485(;

The Man of the Crowd

John Barrowman, of Doctor Who and Torchwood fame, provoked vast outrage at the Daily Mail (if nowhere else) by exposing his naughty parts on Radio 1. How does that work, exactly? Pictures were 'relayed to online listeners via a webcam'. But not, in fact, that picture: 'while Barrowman's genitalia were not actually shown, the crude comments which accompanied the incident made it clear what had happened.' Now I feel I've been depraved and corrupted just by reading about it. (2 December)

Carrie Fisher's autobiography Wishful Drinking includes some George Lucas/Star Wars reminiscences: 'Remember the white dress I wore all through that film? George came up to me the first day of filming, took one look at the dress and said: "You can't wear a bra under that dress." "OK, I'll bite," I said. "Why?" And he said: "Because ... there's no underwear in space."' 'Among George's many possessions, he owns my likeness, so that every time I look in the mirror I have to send him a couple of bucks. That's partly why he's so rich.' [DKMK]

Barack Obama is outed by AP: 'Get ready for the geek-in-chief. / President-elect Barack Obama used to collect comic books, can't part with his BlackBerry, and once flashed Leonard "Mr. Spock" Nimoy the Vulcan "Live Long and Prosper" sign. / That and other evidence has convinced some of Obama's nerdier fans that he'll be the first American president to show distinct signs of geekiness. And that's got them as excited as a Tribble around a Klingon.' (Boston Globe, 24 Dec) [AIP]

Edgar Allan Poe's 200th birthday is on 19 January. Raise a glass. His image will appear on a US postage stamp released on the 16th.

Sir Terry Pratchett, who was made a Knight Bachelor in the UK New Year honours list, could only say: 'There are times when phrases such as "totally astonished" just don't do the job. I am of course delighted and honoured and, needless to say, flabbergasted.' [CS]

Mike Simpson grumbles: 'Although I don't care about Eoin Colfer's long-awaited-by-no-one sequel to Hitchhiker's Guide, my interest was piqued by Penguin's recent press release announcing its publication date as the language seemed oddly familiar. This was because parts of the release were copied verbatim (and uncredited of course) from the introduction to my own first book, The Pocket Essential Hitchhiker's Guide.'

Gordon Van Gelder's The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction is switching to bimonthly publication. 'Rising costs – especially postal costs – and the economy put us in a position where we either had to raise our rates severely or cut back somewhere. Given the state of the economy, I decided a cutback on frequency made the most sense. We'll lose a little more than 10% of our content this year, but publishing on a bimonthly schedule should put us in a great position for the coming years.' (2 January)


8 Jan • London First Thursday Meeting (displaced from 1 Jan), Melton Mowbray, Holborn. 4/5pm on; pub booking confirmed. [RR]

17 Jan • Weird Science (skeptics), Conway Hall, 25 Red Lion Square, London, WC1R 4RL. 10:30am-4pm £10 at door; students £5.

28 Jan • BSFA Open Meeting, The Antelope, 22 Eaton Terrace, London, SW1W 8EZ. 5/6pm onward. With Michael Swanwick.

6-8 Feb • AXXIdental (filk), Ramada Grantham Hotel, Grantham. £32 (€39) reg, £16 under-18s/supp/unwaged, £1 kids under 6. Contact 15 St Catherine's Cross, Bletchingley, Surrey, RH1 4PX.

14-15 Feb • Hi-Ex (comics), Eden Court, Bishop's Rd, Inverness, IV3 5SA. £16 reg, £10/day; kids £8/£5. Tickets from or box office: 01463 234 234. Contact hiex dot comics at gmail dot com.

20-21 Feb • Frightfest (film) mini-event as part of the Glasgow Film Festival. Tickets available soon: see

20-22 Feb • Redemption 09 (multimedia sf) – Britannia Hotel, Fairfax St, Coventry, CV1 5RP. £55 reg or £35/day; under-18s £15/£10. Advance booking closes 6 February. At the door: £60 or £40/day; no rise for under-18s. Contact 26 Kings Meadow View, Wetherby, LS22 7FX.

21-22 Feb • Microcon, Devonshire House, University of Exeter. GoH Jasper Fforde, Pat Cadigan. SF society members free, other students £5, non-students £7 at the door. More TBA.

28 Feb • Picocon 26, Imperial College Union, London. 10am-7/8pm. GoH Michael Marshall Smith, Robert Rankin, one other TBC. £10 adult reg, £8 students – payment at the door only. Contact ICSF, Beit Quad, Prince Consort Road, London, SW7 2BB.

10-13 Apr • LXcon (Eastercon), Cedar Court Hotel, Bradford. Now £55 reg (from 30 December: announcement received after A257), £30 concessions/under-25s/supp, £20 under-17s, £5 under-12s, under-5s and pre-1965 Eastercon veterans free. £70 at door. Day: £15 Fri or Mon, £25 Sat or Sun. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ.

6-10 Aug • Anticipation (67th Worldcon), Montréal, Canada. New membership rates from 1 January 2009: $Can240/$US200/£135/€145/Yen18,000 reg; upgrade supp to full membership, $Can185/$US155/£105/€110/Yen14,000; supp $Can55/$US50/£30/€35/Yen6,000; child supp $Can75/$US65/£40/€50/Yen8,500. Contact PO Box 105, Station NDG, Montréal, QC, H4A 3P4, Canada.

26-27 Sep • NewCon 5, The Fishmarket, Northampton. Hotel: Park Inn. Rates reduced since initial announcement: £35 reg; £20 day (£40/£25 after Easter); under-17s £25/£15; under-5s free. Contact 41 Wheatsheaf Rd, Alconbury Weston, Cambs, PE28 4LF.

16-17 Jan 10 • ConRunner 2, Mercure St Paul's Hotel, Sheffield. Now £35 reg; £40 from mid-2009; £45 in 2010 and at the door. Contact 56 Jackmans Place, Letchworth GC, Herts, SG6 1RH.

25-28 Mar 10 • World Horror Convention, Brighton. £50 reg, rising to £60 on 1 February. Contact PO Box 64317, London, NW6 9LL.

2-5 Apr 10 • Odyssey 2010 (Eastercon), Radisson Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow, London. Added guests: Iain M Banks, Carlos Ezquerra (artist). £45/€60 reg; £35/€40 unwaged; supporting or junior (<17) £20/€30; child (<11) £5/€10, infant (<5) £1/€1. Rates held until 15 April 2009. Contact: 5 Langhaul Rd, Crookston, Glasgow, G53 7SE.

2-6 Sep 10 • Aussiecon 4 (68th Worldcon), Melbourne Convention & Exhibition Centre. New rates from 1 January 2009: $A210/$US175/$CAN185/€120/£100/Yen16,000; $A70/$US50/$CAN50/€35/£25/Yen4,900 supporting; see for discounts. Contact GPO Box 1212, Melbourne, Vic 3001, Australia.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. An Independent list of 'The 50 most ludicrous Britons 2008' included middle-aged Doctor Who fans: 'Harmless though such an enthusiasm may appear to be, a fondness for this festival of glitzy impossibilities is a warning sign that you could develop the kind of full-blown dementia so many psychiatrists have noted in science-fiction fans. Watch one too many episodes, and you are embarked on a slippery slope, at the bottom of which is collecting "Star Wars" memorabilia and building your holidays around attending SciFiComCons at provincial Holiday Inns.' (David Randall, 14 December) [DKMK]

R.I.P. Forrest J Ackerman (1916-2008), long-time US sf fan, editor and agent who was uniquely famous for being a fan and collector, died on 4 December; he was 92. Forry received the first Hugo presented, as '#1 Fan Personality' in 1953; coined and popularized (alas) the term 'sci-fi' from 1954; edited Famous Monsters of Filmland for 25 years from 1958; and was lavishly supportive to generations of sf fans in both America and Britain.
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry (1932-2008), US actress and producer who had roles in every incarnation of Star Trek from the initial pilot and became Gene Roddenberry's second wife, died on 18 December aged 76. She was Nurse Chapel in the original series, Lwaxana Troi in TNG, and the voice of many Federation starship computers including the one in the coming 2009 film. [SG/DKMK]
Maddie Blaustein (1960-2008), US actress with voice roles in the long-running Pokémon (1998-2006, as Meowth) and other animated tv series including Sonic X, died on 11 December; she was 48. [DKMK]
Edd Cartier (1914-2008), US illustrator whose career began in late-1930s pulp magazines – notably The Shadow – and whose 'combination of whimsy and menace' (Encyclopedia of SF) made him highly popular in John W. Campbell's Unknown and Astounding, died on 25 December aged 94. He also illustrated for Doc Savage magazine, Other Worlds and small presses such as Fantasy Press and Gnome Press. [EK/AIP]
James Cawthorn (1929-2008), UK artist, writer and critic who illustrated and reviewed for New Worlds, created the graphic novel adaptations of Michael Moorcock's Stormbringer, The Jewel in the Skull and others, and wrote most of Fantasy: The 100 Best Books (1988 with Moorcock), died on 2 December aged 78. Mike Moorcock writes: 'A third close friend died this year and I'm pretty devastated. Jim Cawthorn and I had worked together since the mid-fifties, from Burroughsania to New Worlds and on. He illustrated some of my DAW books, including Elric books. Indeed, he and I worked out Elric's appearance together before I had written a complete story. He was also an excellent writer. He died Tuesday December 2nd, some days before his 79th birthday (21 December).'
Hugh Cook (1956-2008), UK-born author of the fantasy series 'Chronicles of an Age of Darkness' – 10 volumes published, opening with The Wizards and the Warriors (1986; US title Wizard War) – died on 8 November aged 52. [GS]
Nina Foch (1924-2008), Netherlands-born actress seen in 1944's Cry of the Werewolf and The Return of the vampire – plus later genre tv series – died on 4 December aged 84. [AIP]
Leo Frankowski (1943-2008), US author of over a dozen sf novels beginning with The Cross-Time Engineer (1986), died on 25 December; he was 65. [SFWA]
Beverly Garland (1926-2008), US actress seen in It Conquered the World and other 1950s genre films (also the 1990s tv series Lois & Clark), died on 5 December aged 82. [AIP]
Van Johnson (1916-2008), US actor who co-starred in Brigadoon (1954) and played The Minstrel in the 1966 tv Batman, died on 12 December aged 92. [BB] He was also in The Purple Rose of Cairo (1984).
Eartha Kitt (1927-2008), noted US singer and actress who was sexily typecast as Catwoman in the 1960s Batman tv series, died on 25 December aged 81.
Adrian Mitchell (1932-2008), UK poet whose sf novel was the near-future dystopia The Bodyguard (1970), died on 20 December aged 76. [PDF]
Oliver Postgate (1925-2008), UK creator (usually with Peter Firmin, as 'Smallfilms') of many beloved and whimsical animated tv series for children, died on 8 December at the age of 83. [MR/GW] These series, aired from the late 1950s to mid-1970s and much repeated, include Ivor the Engine, Noggin the Nog, Pogle's Wood, The Clangers, and Bagpuss. The memories, for whole generations, are indelible. Postgate's autobiography Seeing Things appeared in 2000.
Donald E. Westlake (1933-2008), prolific, witty and popular US crime writer who won three Edgar awards and was 1993's Mystery Writers of America Grand Master for life achievement, died suddenly on 31 December; he was 75. His sf/fantasy includes over 30 stories 1954-1984, many collected in The Curious Facts Preceding My Execution (1968) and Tomorrow's Crimes (1989), and the novels Anarchaos (1967 as by Curt Clark), Humans (1992) and Smoke (1995).

As Others See Quidditch. 'Attention, grown-ups: there is now officially something even more socially unacceptable than reading Harry Potter on public transport, in the misguided belief that having purchased the version with the adult cover – aka "the enabler edition" – legitimises what you're up to. That something is Muggle Quidditch: sweeping collegiate America, according to USA Today, and played by people who are actually allowed to vote and breed. [...] Muggle Quidditch even has its own wacky student commissioner and in the minds of all right-thinking individuals, it should instantly supplant Nascar as the sport with the stupidest fans.' (Marina Hyde, Guardian, 4 Dec) [LK]

Small Press. Andrew Hook announced the closure 'with immediate effect' of the award-winning Elastic Press on 29 December, since it was 'becoming a burden rather than a pleasure'. [MP]
Vera Nazarian, publisher of Norilana Books, had a financial crisis owing to sheer bad luck (including US medical bills). Sf fans and pros launched a rescue auction which by early December raised over $19,000 to tide her over. [AIP]

Cultural Pervasion. A BBC executive described a meeting in a room without chairs ('bring your own cushion!') as 'more like an unconference or perhaps a relaxacon.' The Guardian diary explanation soon got into a muddle: 'Before you ask, a "relaxacon" is an informal, unstructured get-together of a type apparently beloved by science-fiction conference types. It's the opposite of a sercon – or serious conference. This is not the world we inhabit either. But we're learning.' (11 December) [LK]
The OED sf citations project doesn't list 'sercon' but upset received fan wisdom by asserting that 'sci-fi' was used by Robert A. Heinlein years before being coined by Forrest J Ackerman in 1954. The smoking gun was a 1949 Heinlein letter in Grumbles from the Grave (1989) – wrongly transcribed, as confirmed by archive research (File 770). Heinlein had actually used the 1940s abbreviation 'sci-fic'.

Science Masterclass. At depths over 3,000 fathoms: Ordnance Dept. '... underwater rifles ... were light, thoroughly insulated weapons of the carbine type whose function was to cause the crystallisation of the salt in sea water into pellets that were ejected from the muzzles with the speed of bullets by the energy given off by the crystallisation process itself. The ammunition was, therefore, self-crystallising, ever-growing bullets of salt ...' (John Coleman Burroughs, Treasure of the Black Falcon, 1967) [BA]
Thermodynamics Dept. '... diesel oil when subjected to electron bombardment would break down into its basic constituents, liberating vast amounts of heat and oxygen ... in later experiments Montague was able to reverse the fission cycle ... to reform petroleum atoms back into the crude, inexpensive diesel fuel ... the splitting and reconstitution of the atoms ... furnished almost limitless amounts of propelling energy, life-giving oxygen, insulating heat, and enough power to repel the pressure of fathoms of ocean depth.' (Ibid)

Lexicongate. Is this the end? RDR Books withdrew their appeal against the US decision blocking publication of the Harry Potter Lexicon. Steve Vander Ark re-edited and expanded it in the light of the judgment, with less paraphrase and more analysis: J.K. Rowling's PR agency approved, and the print Lexicon should at last appear on 12 January.

As Others See Us II. Tarkovsky's Solaris is not for the likes of us: 'With its space station setting, Solaris has often been compared (perhaps too lazily) with 2001: A Space Odyssey and seen as a part of the science-fiction genre. But it is a far more complex work to be so easily pigeonholed.' (Students' British Board of Film Classification website) [MC]

The Dead Past. Robert E. Howard suggests a name-change from Ansible to Xuthal: 'That was Thog, the Ancient, the god of Xuthal, who dwells in the sunken dome in the center of the city. He has always dwelt in Xuthal. Whether he came here with the ancient founders, or was here when they built the city, none knows. But the people of Xuthal worship him. Mostly he sleeps below the city, but sometimes at irregular intervals he grows hungry, and then he steals through the secret corridors and the dim-lit chambers, seeking prey. Then none is safe.' (Robert E. Howard, 'The Slithering Shadow', Weird Tales, 1933) [RB]

Film Critics' Awards. Los Angeles. Best film: WALL-E. Supporting actor: Heath Ledger as The Joker in The Dark Knight (best film runner-up).
New York. Best film: WALL-E again, the only genre choice. [SFS]

The Bottom Line. Terry Pratchett met a typical dilemma at a Washington DC literary festival. He 'had a queue of fans stretching round the block; the poets weren't so lucky. The organisers "were absolutely desperate for my signing queue to finish – 'you mustn't have it sticking out of the tent because it upsets the poets'," Pratchett says. "We all made our decisions, they chose poetry, I can't help it. There's another 600 people in the queue, what do you think would happen if I put my pen down?"' (Alison Flood, The Author, Winter 2008)

C.o.A. Howard Waldrop, 3213 Barton View Drive, Austin, Texas 78735-6934, USA. Damien Warman & Juliette Woods, 82 Hampton Rd, South Goodwood, SA 5034, Australia.

Thog's Masterclass. Guinness Book of Records Dept. 'Around them was the paraphernalia of mass communications – lights and cameras and microphones – but nothing was turned on and no one was tuned in, and the only evidence the world would have of these few moments would be a large wet patch left on a cushion by what was arguably the mightiest ejaculation ever produced on Election Day by a Republican candidate for President of the United States.' (William Oscar Johnson, The Zero Factor, 1980) [AR]
Dept of Prehensile Limbs. 'The stubby legs of the police commissioner were already churning across the lobby, grabbing one trooper after another and pointing them towards the elevators.' (Ibid)
Insight Dept. 'He looked at the freshly shaved faces around the table. They belonged to men.' (Ibid)
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'She held Elsevier's indigo eyes, willing Elsevier to understand her need, and her longing – and her regret.' (Joan D. Vinge, The Snow Queen, 1980) [MMW] 'Moon felt Gundhalinu's eyes trail her with dark accusation.' (Ibid) 'I edged away from her, my hand tipping her face up again, finding her eyes and holding them.' (Andre Norton & Jean Rabe, A Taste of Magic, 2006) [AR]
Dept of Synaesthesia. 'They seemed to hear Esmer as much with their nostrils as their ears.' (Stephen R. Donaldson, Fatal Revenant, 2007) [AR]
Expressionist Dept. 'A smile toyed with Cormac's lips; failed to manifest itself.' (Andrew J. Offutt, Sign of the Moonbow, 1977) [BA] 'Anticipation lit his cerulean eyes with bloody portents for the guards of Dithorba.' (Ibid)

Geeks' Corner

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Conventions/Events Longlist
Active links at
London meetings/events –
Overseas –
Until 3 Jan 2009: The Illustrators: British Art of Illustration 1800-2008, Chris Beetles Gallery, London
Until 4 Jan 2009: Science Fact & Science Fiction exhibition, National Space Centre, Leicester
Until 4 Jan 2009: Space Age exhibition, City Art Centre, Edinburgh
Until 25 Oct 2009: Dan Dare and the Birth of Hi-Tech Britain, Science Museum, London

17 January 2009: Weird Science (skeptics), Conway Hall, London
20-24 Jan 2009: Wyrd Sisters: The Directors' Cut (play), Abingdon – SOLD OUT
6-8 Feb 2009: AXXIdental (filk), Grantham
6-8 Feb 2009: SF Ball (media), Bournemouth
14-15 Feb 2009: Hi-Ex (comics), Inverness
20-22 Feb 2009: Redemption 09 (multimedia sf), Coventry
28 Feb 2009: Picocon 26, London
21 March 2009: God in the Lab (skeptics), Conway Hall, London
26-29 Mar 2009: Eurocon 2009, Fiuggi, Italy
27-29 Mar 2009: P-Con VI, Dublin.
10-13 Apr 2009: LXcon (Eastercon), Bradford
29 Apr - 4 May 2009: Sci-Fi London (film), London
8-10 May 2009: Bristol International Comic Expo, Bristol
23-25 May 2009: <plokta.con> Release 4.0, Sunningdale Park, Berkshire
CANCELLED: 19-21 Jun 2009: Aetherica (fantasy), Chester
25-28 Jun 2009, The Perelandra Project (opera and colloquium), Oxford
CANCELLED: 26-29 Jun 2009: Sectus 2009 (Harry Potter), North Wales
25-26 Jul 2009: Satellite 2, Glasgow
31 Jul - 2 Aug 2009: Constitution (sf, fantasy, RPG), hosting HarmUni 4 (filk), Cambridge
6-10 Aug 2009: Anticipation (67th Worldcon), Montréal, Canada
26-27 Sep 2009: NewCon 5, Northampton
16-18 Oct 2009: Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester
16-17 Jan 2010: Conrunner 2, Sheffield
25-29 Mar 2010: World Horror Convention, Brighton
2-5 Apr 2010: Odyssey 2010 (Eastercon), Heathrow
2-6 Sep 2010: Aussiecon 4 (68th Worldcon), Melbourne
25-27 Sep 2010: Albacon, Holiday Inn, Glasgow


• 9 Jan 2009: Brum Group. AGM & auction. 7.45pm. £4; members £3. 'Because the Briar Rose will be closed during January to have a new lift fitted our meeting this month will be at "B" (otherwise known as Bennetts), a few yards up the hill on the opposite side of the road from the "Briar Rose", on the corner of Waterloo Street.' Contact 07845 897760 or bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Further meetings in the usual Briar Rose pub: 13 Feb, quiz; 13 March, with Tony Ballantyne.
• 9th-11th Jan 2009: Robert Rankin book launch events. Fri 9 Jan: open gathering, Magpie & Crown pub, Brentford, 7pm for 9pm. Sat 10 Jan: signing at Waterstone's, Chiswick, 12 noon. Ticket-only party, Princess Royal pub, Brentford, 5pm. £10 on-line only, by end of December:
Sun 11 Jan: open gathering, Magpie & Crown, 11am onward.
• 31 Jan 2009: Poe anthology launch/signing, with Ellen Datlow (editor), Pat Cadigan, Kim Newman, Nicholas Royle. 2pm at Ye Olde Cock Tavern, 22 Fleet Street, London, EC4Y 1AA. All welcome.

Editorial. Once again, now that 2009 has actually happened: Happy New Year to you all! Thanks for various good wishes, seasonal donations, Christmas cards and newsletters crammed with the incredible achievements of your uniquely gifted children. As usual I've been a bit (or rather, a lot) dysfunctional about sending cards, but hope that twelve issues of this unChristmas card called Ansible have been some kind of substitute.

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

As Science Sees Us. In a profile of the life-extension researcher Mark Roth, Tom Junod notes that Roth has 'got a lot of ideas, for a scientist, and some of them come from unusual sources, like tabloidy news reports and science fiction.' He continues: 'It's a weird thing about scientists – you would think that they would love science fiction. But they don't. To admit that you get your ideas from science fiction, if you're a scientist, that's like, career-threatening, man.' (Esquire, December) [MMW]

Outraged Letters. Simon R. Green: 'I liked the news that the Truman Show syndrome is fast becoming an epidemic; though if it's true in my case, I want some serious words with the writers. And better lighting.' • Martyn P. Jackson added his own horrified capitals to a tabloid review of the remade The Day the Earth Stood Still: 'Derrickson's limp updating of the Robert Wise film, ITSELF NO MASTERPIECE, is not far short of the most feeble epic of the year.' (Evening Standard)

Thog Gloats at Damien Broderick's discovery of an essential textbook by Mike Brown and Zoe-Vonna Palmrose – Thog's Guide to Quantum Economics: 50,000 Years of Accounting Basics for the Future. • Plus further eternal truth from the above-cited Conan adventure by Robert E. Howard: 'Well, to every man his fate, and it's foolish to squeal like a rat in a trap. When Thog wants me, he will come for me.' Yea, 'Thog is very ancient and very terrible.' I'm taking the story away from Thog now, because he's getting over-excited.

Space Art vs SF Art. Dave Hardy writes: 'A new website has appeared, calling itself The Space Art Network:
'Run by an Eastern European called Boris but usually known as Bob Bello, and living I believe in Albuquerque, this naturally attracted the attention of the IAAA (of which I happen to be Euro VP), since this is the premier and indeed only organisation devoted entirely to space art. So its members weren't too keen on the fact that the site seemed to be occupied by people posting messages like "Let's keep this site pure Sci-Fi", and that the art currently on display was what we'd call SF or fantasy – especially since we have for years been trying to make the distinction between space art, based on science and astronomy, and SF/fantasy art, based much more on pure imagination. (I should add that several IAAA artists, like myself, do both types of art, which obviously do overlap. But at least we know the distinction!) / As a result some of our artists won't touch this site, but I believe that the best way to change anything is from within, so some of us have posted our work and our comments. Another bone of contention is that definitions are given for various "categories" of space artist, and that under "Professional" one reads: "1. Professional is anyone with degree in painting, art theory, art criticism, etc." Well that rules me (and quite a few IAAA members) out! I don't have a degree, but having made my living entirely from space/SF art (and writing) since 1965 I have always regarded myself as a professional. Damn!' (Later: it seems that trying to discuss the distinction between space art and science fiction art on this site's forums is a good way to get threatened with banning as a 'warmonger' and 'backbiter'.)

More Philately. In August 2009, US postage stamps will celebrate 'Early TV Memories'. The featured shows – each with a stamp of its own – include Alfred Hitchcock Presents and Rod Serling's The Twilight Zone.

Footnote. Younger sf fans and the Guardian may wish to know that the original etymology of 'sercon' had nothing to do with conventions or conferences but came from 'serious and constructive'. See the late rich brown's list of fan terms:

Ansible 258 Copyright © Dave Langford, 2009. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Barbara Barrett, Rusty Burke, Mark Cordell, Paul Di Filippo, Steve Green, Earl Kemp, Leroy Kettle, David K.M. Klaus, Marion Pitman, Andrew I. Porter, Adam Roberts, Marcus Rowland, SF Site, Colin Smythe, Grant Stone, Gary Wilkinson, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Vernon Brown (BSFG), Janice Murray (NA), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Aus). 2 Jan 09.