Ansible 29, October 1982
PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (though the editor's postal address hasn't), 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 Jan Van't Ent ... to whom many thanks! Dave Langford, 1995.
ANSIBLE 29, delayed by fire, flood, poverty, Milford and nonappearance of certain promised contributions, emerges fully armed from the forehead of DAVE LANGFORD, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU, UK ... an address still unknown to the mailing labels of Mike Glyer. Phone (0734) 665804. SUBSCRIPTIONS up again owing to swollen printing costs: at the moment it's 4 issues for £1 anywhere in the world. Sterling cheques/cash/POs to me, Girobank transfer to a/c 24 523 0408, $US equivalent to Mary & Bill Burns, 48 Lou Ave, Kings Park, NY, NY 11754 (quick, before they move). Cartoons by D. West [above] and Steve Stiles [TAFF cartoon below], mailing labels by Keith Freeman, threats (SUB DUE) and last warnings (*****) by Keith's Computer. Reverting to subscriptions, please note: (a) despite the increase, existing subs will be honoured in full; (b) for moderately obvious reasons, sub payments in excess of £2 are discouraged; (c) non-UK copies continue to be airmailed, at least for the present; (d) your sub may be excitingly prolonged by hot news contributions if adequately non-tepid – as they say, "ASIMOV'S Rejects Story" isn't news but "Asimov Story Rejected" is. High-class cartoons/logos also welcomed. October 1982.
Atom's two cartoons commenting on the Brunner/Harrison dust-up in this issue originally appeared in issue 30, but I can't resist including them here – DRL
BETTER NEVER THAN LATE THE BORING AWARDS COLUMN
The 40th worldcon, Chicon IV, raged unchecked from 2-6 Sept in Chicago (4325 attending out of 5900 members): "I had a great time," enthused British TAFF delegate Kev Smith as preliminary to his Chicon report, not yet received.... Los Angeles got the 1984 worldcon (unopposed), with Gordon Dickson as GoH and Dick Eney as FGoH: rush your $30 membership to LA Con II, Box 8442, Van Nuys, CA 91409, USA. And:
Hugo Awards: NOVEL Downbelow Station (C.J. Cherryh), NOVELLA 'The Saturn Game' (Poul Anderson), NOVELETTE 'Unicorn Variation' (Zelazny), SHORT 'The Pusher' (Varley), NONFICTION Dance Macabre (King), EDITOR Edwards Ferman, ARTIST Michael Whelan, DRAMATIC Raiders of the Lost Ark, FANWRITER Dick Geis, FANARTIST Victoria Poyser.
Oddments: Also at Chicon, the John W. Campbell Award for best new writer went to Alexis Gilliland; 'Japanese Hugos' for translated SF went to The Genesis Machine (Hogan – must have gained in translation) and 'The Brave Little Toaster' (Disch); the mysterious and arbitrary Pat Terry Award For Humour In SF went to Randall Garrett (who, it was announced, has permanently lost his memory); the unloved Gandalf Award didn't appear; the special Mike Glyer award was –
World Fantasy Awards Nominations: NOVEL The Claw of the Conciliator (Wolfe), Little, Big (Crowley), The Nameless (Ramsey Campbell), The War Hound and the World's Pain (Moorcock), The White Hotel (need I tell you?). LIFE ACHIEVEMENT – Italo Calvino (an unexpected touch of class), de Camp, Andre Norton and Vance. Other categories contain nothing of UK interest – ouch – oh, all right, Rob – except the famous Holdstock 'Mythago Wood' on the Novella shortlist. Triffic.
Festival Der Fantastik/Eurocon VII: "The Eurocon Awards: some were decided by the business meeting, and some by Pierre Barbet the day after – just before the official presentation – when he walked round and talked with the ESFS representatives one by one. 'I think we forgot something, would you support an award to X because of Y?' Sure babe, who cares who gets the awards! Anyway, they went to: publishing houses Heyne (W Germany) and Kaw (Poland) for excellence in publishing; to the Strugatskys for lifetime achievement; to Jacques Sadoul for fiction and SF history, and John Brunner for fiction and efforts for European SF; to the fanzine Shards of Babel to 'thank Roelof Goudriaan for the initiative'.... I hope we don't have another Lisa Tuttle story here, but during the business meeting Roelof withdrew SoB, saying it would be ridiculous to give an award to a newsletter only 4 months old...." (Ahrvid Engholm)
GRANDSON OF CONVENTION MENTIONS
Albacon II (1-4 April 83, Central Station Hotel, Glasgow): £8 attending membership to – I repeat – c/o Doug McCallum, B/L 8 Highburgh Rd, Glasgow, G12 9YD. An open letter from the majority of the committee as seen at Channelcon begins, "In the light of certain confusion caused by a former committee member we, the undersigned, wish to make our position quite clear ... we hold both bank accounts and all hotel bookings ... cannot accept responsibility for any mail or monies sent to any address other than our official contact address (this does not affect hotel bookings ... should still be sent direct to the hotel)...." They seem to be doing their best. Bob (Glasgow) Shaw has sent various confusing and self-serving letters attempting to prove by statistics that the Albacon committee does not really exist; since his figures don't add up and since several people listed by him as 'uncommitted' or 'resigned from the committee' have made it clear to me that they support Albacon II as above, I can no longer credit anything emanating from him. And if, as he implies, he's still sitting on Albacon II membership monies sent in good faith to him, he really should be placed in a sack. It's presumably no coincidence that amid this Glasgow aggro , the Bob Shaw/Neil Craig 'Photon Books' empire has reportedly split, Neil keeping the old shop while Bob gets the new one.... Strange.
Festival Der Fantastik/Eurocon VII (Mönchengladbach 20-22 Aug): "This wasn't a great con. Even John Brunner spoke German. The programme didn't take much notice of the programme booklet, and at 10pm each night the con closed altogether; they didn't even have a bar. The only thing I enjoyed was to meet a lot of nice people and after the con's closing go out for a beer or two.... Among those present were the Foysters, Roelof Goudriaan, Pascal Thomas and Pascal Ducommun; the only British fan there – as far as I remember – was Christina Lake. Most East European fans didn't come, though there was a small delegation from Poland and some authors. I met people from Luxembourg, two Danes, one Canadian and three fans from Oregon (now living in Switzerland); the Swedish delegation was me and 3 others; the rest were Germans, I'd guess around 300. The concom claimed 1000 visitors to the con, but concoms always exaggerate. (Let's say there are two at the registration desk. One to count the number of people entering the doors, and one to walk in and out all the time....) In a fannish football game on Sunday my team won 7-0; afterwards a German TV team doing an SF documentary interviewed me! With no Sam J. Lundwall present it was easy to persuade chairman Pierre Barbet that I should be Swedish rep at the Euro SF Soc business meeting: it was boring, though, and held in French, but John Brunner acted as interpreter. I bet he speaks Swahili too." (Ahrvid 'Germans have a sense of sercon' Engholm)
Eastercon 1984: The Eurocon VII business meeting voted the next Eurocon to Britain in 84 – i.e. to the bid sometimes (erroneously) called 'John Brunner's Eurocon'. Initially, at Mönchengladbach, the undertaking was to arrange a combined Eurocon/Eastercon if this could be agreed at Albacon II; if not, to hold a smaller Eurocon later in the year; and in ultimate emergency, to shift Eurocon 84 to the Beneluxcon in Ghent. Subsequently a Eurocon 84 UK spokesman has declared that Eurocons only appear to be successful when combined with the host country's national con: therefore if the Eastercon bid is lost it is likely that Eurocon 84 will go to Ghent at once. The Other 1984 Bid has meanwhile issued a flyer announcing a committee change (Linda Pickersgill replaces Pat Charnock) and a venue: the brand-new Pembroke Hotel, Blackpool. It sleeps over 400 people; its manager was on the Brighton Metropole team for Seacon '79; room rates are being negotiated. A flyer detailing further glories is going the rounds, and pre-supp memberships may still be had for £1 (28 Duckett Rd, London, N4 1BN). There is some confusion as to whether Eurocon 84 UK is still taking pre-supps (£1 to 39 Hollybrow, Selly Oak, Birmingham, B29 4LX): the BSFG newsletter from that address seems to think that pre-supps are a thing of the past since the bid's been 'successful', but since it needs to succeed next Easter as well I suspect that your quids will still be welcomed....
Unicon (10-12 Sept): "Surprised once again at the number of old-guard fannish types at Unicon, which I rather expect to be a fringy type of thing. Peter Roberts was there: seems like years since he's been at anything (though I'm told it was Unicon 2). Some worthwhile innovations on the programme: the 'Can you identify this liquid' game; the 'Science in SF' panel – see below; and Alex Stewart's spaceship quiz worked better than at Colnecon. Barry Bayley gave another idiosyncratic talk, this time on the Tarot.
"The 'Science in SF' panel was an extremely good idea, somewhat marred by misorganization. They grabbed four lecturers at the university and gave them each an excerpt from some SF book. (Computer scientist: Roderick. Physicist: Timescape. Biologist: The Florians. Psychologist: The Terminal Man.) The they asked them to talk on the scientific plausibility. The mistake was in giving them excerpts rather than the whole book (perhaps the victims wouldn't have agreed to this). In two cases the section chosen was patently inappropriate, and anyway, it's the whole scientific content of a book that must stand or fall, not an extract in isolation. This was amply demonstrated by the physicist, who observed that the tachyons in his excerpt did not have the same properties as the postulated particles of the same name and therefore the excerpt was rubbish. What they should have had him talking on was the plausibility of the scientific research in the book...." (Colin Fine)
There will after all be a Unicon 4 (9-11 Sept 83), from Alex Stewart's U of Colchester mob – details soon, I hope.
Silicon 6 (27-30 Aug, Newcastle; Judith Hanna reports): "This year's Silicon lived up to its name – particularly when it came to silly games. Fancy being asked to munch two dry crackers, blow a pingpong ball across the room with a straw, slaloming it round three ashtrays on the way, throw a dart and answer a question about skiffy (the higher the dartscore the easier the question), flap a kipper, wiggle a ring spanner round a bent wire loop which screams when the spanner touches it, being timed all the way with a 3-second penalty each time the wire shrieked – what an introduction to Silicons! And I let the team down badly by doing it fast. But the rest of the Aussie team – John Foyster (ex-GUFF and Melbourne in 85 guru), Joseph (British ditto and ditto) and Krystyna Oborn (working in Aussie Embassy, Cairo) made up nobly: we succeeded in amassing the most time and so winning elimination from the next round. Downing the crackers was the hardest part: you either took your time trying to be not totally disgusting, crunching them then failing to suck up enough saliva to swallow them down, then blowing out crumbs all around the course; or you used the Pickersgill/Langford method of simply shoving then down the gullet ('But Dave always eats like that,' Hazel murmured). Only Pickersgill (G.) spat the sodden remains out at the end. Round II of 'Not the Silicon Charades' was a pop culture quiz; less strain on the teams, instead the audience suffered; it sent me back to the laid-back ambience of the bar. (Harry Bell's hours-long marathon of bloody boring taped music questions sent me back to the bar too – and I was on the team.... Ed) The Scots, winners of the silly games at Channelcon, once again proved supreme in silliness. 'Silicon vs Dostoevsky' was the silliest game of all – since it won John Jarrold the Sili Award, it must have been. It involved miming the missing part of a record of Basil Rathbone in The Brothers Karamazov, with points given for accent, style, passion and overall – Linda Pickersgill carried off the latter as the only contestant wearing overalls, but John J.'s impassioned gesticulations in a welter of accents (Mexican, the Fonz, Cagney ...) secured his victory. After that what the programme called 'Proverbs' was a let-down; each member of one team, in order, was given one word of a four-word book title; one member of the other team asked each a question the answer to which had to use the word given. The game could have been subtitled 'The Loquacious vs The Laconic'; the former (Hansen, Nicholas, Langford, Hanna) overwhelmed with verbiage the latter (Eling, Ellis, Cockfield, Green), and not only that but D. Langford guessed all their book titles. It wasn't fair and it was with deep shame that we took our ill-won wine. Less silly were the pool, darts and video tournaments, and the Saturday night Great Pakistani Pig-in at Alfredo's*, a game with only one rule: 'no leftovers'. The rest was silliness ad Lib: D. West falling over and taking the manager's favourite picture down with him; Joseph's occasional atrocious aussie accent; the Great Beermat Battle on Saturday night, an allegory of arms escalation from potshots to megaweapon cluster bombs. And on the train home, Phil James won two Hugos at the Melbourne in 85 FANAC game (ad: order your copy now, £5 from J. Nicholas)...." (Judith Hanna)
* the Al Firdous restaurant – unlimited Pakistani nosh at a set price plus cheap real beer, etc – had several people talking of moving the con there with an infrequent Sleep Programme back at the hotel.
THE GARNETT REPORT DAVID S. GARNETT
"In your list of Brit fiction magazines you miss out the magnificent Fiction Magazine (5 Jeffreys St, London NW1 9PS) – Interzone format, £1,25. I bought the second issue a couple of weeks ago; if the longest two stories in the issue aren't included the average length of the other ten 'fictions' ('cos they sure ain't stories) is about 2000 words. It also includes 'Adelaide Writers' Week by Chris Priest' and 'In Conversation: Brian Aldiss and D.M. Thomas'. And in my own words (copyright D.S. Garnett 1981) as immortalized by Geoff Ryman and Ansible I think it's a fucking awful magazine. The 'stories' are appalling, just exercises in stringing words together. You get better writing in your average copy of Men Only. Which reminds me, 'tother day I was flicking through my mags and came across a Club International with such a great line-up: Me (of course), Jack Trevor Story, D.M. Thomas, as well as Inge and Bonny and Emmeline and Gayle and Bianca and Abbey.
"Joan Vinge in her afterword to 'To Bell the Cat' in her collection Eyes of Amber says: 'I know people who have gotten into arguments because most of them had never seen it, and swore I'd never written a story by that name.' Only last week I was having an argument in the pub with this bunch of punks who fucking swore that Joan D. Vinge had never written a story called 'To Bell the Cat'. But she has, I refuted. They didn't believe me, so I crashed my mug against the bar, leaving a nice jagged lip and then ... well, I won't go into all the gory details."
LET US NOW PRAISE FAMOUS MEN
the Ansible Controversy
There's always something. In A28 Merv Binns quoted a Harry Harrison letter, and since then my life has seemed more complicated. Over to John Brunner: –
"Thanks to A28, I learned that Harry Harrison has been publicly accusing me of being up to 'my old wrecking tricks' (whatever they may be), and subsequently I've found out that in Australian SF news – whence Merv Binns took the quote you reprinted – he has been even more derogatory. It all has something to do with this abortive affair called Jerucon, which was apparently cancelled by the travel agency (not the fan group) running it. I can only say that it breaks my heart to discover that a guy like Harry, with all his advantages – his commercial success, his tax-haven in Ireland, his popularity with the readership, all the factors one might assume to make for a sense of confidence in a writer – is capable of pouring out as much venomous spleen in his correspondence as some insecure neo-fan blowing his top because his first-ever article has been unfavourably reviewed.
"But for one important consideration, I wouldn't bother to reply to so essentially silly an attack. Currently, though, I am co-president of the Eurocon committee in two senses: not only the Eurocon itself, but also the group of fans who want to bring Eurocon to Britain in 1984. Not everybody who will be voting (for us, I trust!) at Glasgow knows me personally well enough to realize that Harry's charges are unfounded in any reality bar the private version he appears to have retreated into. And such people could well conclude from what he said that, in the interests of furthering a con I have a personal stake in, I regularly try to 'wreck' other people's....
"Nothing could be more distant from the truth. So I'm bound to call on Harry to 'put up or shut up' – ie. produce evidence for his charges, or eat humble pie very publicly indeed. I owe this much, at least, to all the people who are working far harder than I am to make Eurocon 84 in Britain a possibility.
"I take, for further reference, particular note of the fact that he chose to publish his insults not in a British but in an Australian fanzine, so that but for you and Merv they might never have come to my attention. Thanks, as they say, for pulling my coat!" (JB, 11 Sept 82)
The foregoing is John's letter for publication, written after seeing Harry's letter in ASFN. An earlier JB letter based on the A28 quotation only was dated 6 Sept: this is the one to which Harry's response below is addressed; there are minor differences in detail, but the message of the earlier note is much the same.
Harry Harrison: "Read it? Do you know what he is talking about? I mean aside from his Brunner-ish waffling? (I am not pleased with typical examples like 'You'll sit tight in the immunity of your Irish tax-haven....' Immunity from what? And when did I ever tell you, or make public the fact, that I am in Ireland because it is a 'tax-haven'? Watch that big mouth, Brunner, or you'll be hit with lawsuits that will keep your solicitors busy for years. I won't permit someone like to you pass sly remarks about his betters.) Where was I? Oh, yes. Laughing hysterically at the jughead pomposity of this impudent fellow, chortling my head off at his jejune threats. 'Obliged to challenge ... committed libel ... deny at your expense....' Oh dear, oh dear. You have me so frightened Brunner that I am near to fainting. What is it you want me to do? You want me to publicly deny (at my own expense) that I have ever said 'Brunner is up to his old wrecking tricks again.' Not only won't I deny that I wrote those words, but I will repeat them in public whenever and wherever I please. Why? Because what I said is true. For the record then, in the hopes that no more will be heard of this stupid affair.
"Wrecking Trick One. A few years back I organized a professional SF convention in Dublin, with the cooperation of the Irish government and the following government departments: Bord Failte, the tourist board; CIE, travel and transportation; the Irish Arts Council. It was very successful – and a lot of fun. Lots of hard work. I did all of the organizing myself, aided only by my son. Full time for about a half a year. I did all the PR, my son mailed out receipts and membership cards. I personally answered all letters received. It was a great con. Except for Brunner. He joined up, then sent a deposit for travel and hotel to the CIE who were handling discounted travel arrangements for those who wanted. But somewhere along the line he decided to back out. He never wrote to me about this, or to the convention, as a true gentleman would. Not on your nelly. That would have been too simple and civilized to do. Instead he wrote to the government agency complaining about how bad the committee was, how bad the arrangements were, how he had heard nothing, how he was forced to resign from membership because of the committee's incompetence – and he wanted his money back. If that is not wrecking – what is? There was no truth in anything in the letter. Therefore one can only surmise that he wrote it to cause me trouble. I was the committee, no one else, and he knew that. The CIE acted like gentlemen and turned the letter over to me without comment. I instructed them to return his money, then placed the name Brunner on the top of my personal list of undesirables.
"Wrecking Trick Two. The Jerucon was to have been a most important event, the first SF con ever in Israel. I gave advice on organization from the beginning, did a lot of correspondence to help them, and was surprised and pleased when I was invited to be joint Guest of Honour. At not time did I expect to be reimbursed in any way; I was paying all expenses for myself and my wife. At no time did any member or guest expect payment of any kind. There were no funds available for this. And I know for a fact that the following Brunner statement is out-and-out nonsense. 'At Stresa in 1980 Marjorie and I were asked whether we would "like to be invited to it" [Jerucon], in terms that would imply reimbursement of expenses ...' Untrue. You have forgotten that I was there, Brunner. At that time the con was just a glimmer in Stanley Einstein's eye. He was seeking information about how he might someday organize some kind of SF con in Israel. No invitations could have been extended since there was no con.
"That's two and that's enough. Wrecking tricks. Plural. Brunner published a letter in Ansible whining about not being paid money by the Jerucon, Merv Binns quoted it in ASFN. I was offended by this worldwide coverage of Brunner's gratuitous attacks on friends so I wrote to set the record straight. I stand by everything I wrote.
"Over to you, Brunner. Lawsuits in Britain, a punchup in Ireland, duelling pistols at dawn in Hyde Park (beware – I'm a crack shot), what comes next is up to you. You do realize, don't you, that you are making an awful fool of yourself?"
(Dated 10 Sept 82) I asked Harry if he'd prefer to alter his letter in view of the fact that John's letter-for-publication was not the one he'd replied to: –
Harry Harrison 28 Sept 82 (extract): "I devoted a good deal of time to my response to his original thing so please print my answer as writ.... I do believe that my first letter 'puts up' so I shan't 'shut up'. As to the British bid for Eurocon 84 I say Hurrah! and good luck. I'll do whatever I can to help; they have but to ask. As member 150 of BSFA I think my enthusiasm for British fandom has been long and enduring.... I read [the last paragraph of JB's letter] to imply that I published in Australia to hide my letter, fearful of some brunnerish wrath. Not quite true. I read brunner's statement in ASFN – so sent my response there. Simple enough. I also asked the editor if he'd picked up the item from another source – and if he did to let me know so I could send a copy of my response there as well. So much for secrecy. Can we please stop this now and return to more adult pursuits?" (HH)
John Brunner 11 Oct 82: "You've been kind enough to copy to me a letter from Harry Harrison date 10 Sept, which I gather he intended for publication regardless of the offence it must cause. I'm sorry to waste your space and my time, but (disregarding the long lecture he once gave me and Marjorie on the tax advantages of being domiciled in Eire and commuting to Britain for as much of the year as possible) he's wrong!
"To justify his claim that I indulge in 'wrecking tactics' he seems to be trying to blame me for the cancellation of Jerucon. Under my hand, I have the relevant correspondence, because Marjorie keeps meticulous files for us. Quote:
"Brunner to Stan Einstein 12 Dec 80: '... At Stresa [Eurocon 80] I did, I believe, state that we would be most interested in attending, but that this was contingent on our being invited. It is highly unlikely in present financial circumstance that we, or even I myself, could attend except on an expenses-paid basis. If this can be arranged, than I shall be very happy to give a lecture, lead a discussion, organize a workshop, or even all three and something else as well!'
"Einstein to Brunner 2 Feb 81 (from Jerusalem): '... Unfortunately, due to budgetary limitations and lack of supporting funds, we are unable to offer any financial aid at this time, and I do not know what 1982 will bring....'
"Sheldon Teitelbaum to Brunner 9 Feb 82 (from Jerusalem): '... I was somewhat puzzled by lack of written confirmation in the Jerucon files, but accepted their explanation that a verbal agreement is just as binding.... At Denvention, however, it became apparent that a serious breakdown in communication had occurred.... Ellison was adamant that Ben Yehuda had indeed offered him a flight ticket. Upon my return, however, Ben Yehuda vehemently denied having offered anybody anything.... I suppose that there are a lot of angry writers who are currently put off by Jerucon and Israel, and that is a shame....'
"Brunner to Teitelbaum 22 Feb 82: '... I pretty well guessed this was the way things got fouled up; it isn't only in academic circles, of course, that people assume a delegate to an international conference will find some organization to underwrite his costs.... It's a shame, nonetheless, that the first Jerucon should have run into such trouble through no more than an access of over-enthusiasm. Perhaps a little more research might have made it clearer to the organizers that over the past decade, especially in the USA, there have been a number of projects for major SF jamborees that were called off at short notice ... (one, I recall, scheduled for New York, lured me from Britain and Jack Chandler all the way from Australia before being cancelled!)'
"One might also add that in SFR 42, Spring 82, there's a detailed letter from Sheldon Teitelbaum regarding Jerucon and the confusion apparently caused by Ben Yehuda at the convention in Denver. Furthermore, in Ansible 28 and Shards of Babel 3 one finds reports from Pascal Thomas, who revealed (after meeting Teitelbaum) that 'the convention being organized (financed) by the Peltours Travel Agency was cancelled by them when it appeared that the foreign memberships, all 16 of them, were not going to make them break even.' [JKHB's emphases]
"I'm extremely sorry that Harry didn't get the chance to be its joint GoH; I feel his gesture in offering to go there entirely at his own expense was munificent, and I wish we could have matched it, as we have so often done in the past. Maybe some other time, if luck smiles our way again! But I think that disposes of the charge that I wrecked Jerucon. His other accusation, concerning the first World SF meeting in Dublin, may take up more space, but is of longer standing and, if possible, still more offensive and untrue. Forgive me for quoting correspondence in extenso and the letter Harry specifically refers to in toto ... but his memory cannot possibly be as reliable as a carbon copy. We still have the original flyer for the Dublin meeting. We have the first progress report too. We also have letters:
"Brunner to CIE Tours (Dublin) 16 Jul 76: '... Please let me have details of flights from somewhere handier (Bristol, for example).... And send me also, please, anything you may have concerning your other official language: Erse, or Irish Gaelic.... I would at least like to be able to read the alphabet and make a shot at pronouncing signs and placenames on my first visit to your country.'
"Brunner to Harrison 27 Jul 76: 'Dear Harry, As usual it was fun talking to you at Liège – it lightened what might now and then have been our darkness ...! And on returning home I find the Progress report, which you referred to concerning the SF Writers' Conference, and which – as I gathered – you thought I would already have had before leaving home. Well, I didn't. And ... [Objurgation omitted!] It says that YOUR RECEIPT is enclosed, and has your registration number on it. The hell you say. Even though I sent fifteen quid, I have not had a receipt, and I have not been given a number, and so far the only thing I'm invited to during the Conference is a banquet for which I have to pay extra.... I will not send another £6.50 for a banquet until I have a receipt for the £15 I already sent! ... Is nothing else on the menu? Are there no lectures – panel discussions – addresses by internationally respected authors ...? It's all I've been told about. And the due date is in two months' time.... Marjorie says hello, and we both hope Joan's dentist treated her kindly and efficiently!'
"Harrison to Brunner 31 Jul 76: '... You know that Harry is true-blue, straight-as-a-die and honest beyond belief. The same is true unto the second generation. My son, Todd, is doing all the account keeping and records for the conference....' (Encl. copy of statement saying I'd only paid £3 – I had in fact paid the £15 mentioned, but to CIE Tours, as instructed, who didn't present the cheque until 9 Aug.)
"JB to HH 4 Aug 76: confirmation of willingness to attend, repeating that the alleged receipt did not reach us. JB to CIE 4 Aug 76: covering letter with £78.50 cheque for trip and four nights' accommodation. (Nothing from Harrison. Nothing from Harrison. Nothing....) Brunner to CIE 10 Sept 76, following a visit from BBC Bristol who had decided to make a ½-hour TV programme about me and my work,and who had a very tight schedule obliging me to cancel at least one engagement in the following two months:
"In toto: 'Dear Mr Hegarty, Pressure on my working time has become unexpectedly intense for the foreseeable future, and with great regret I find myself compelled to abandon my intention of participating in the SF Writers' Conference later this month. I realize this cancellation is at rather short notice, and if you deduct a reasonable administrative fee from the money I already paid before making me a refund, I shall find this entirely justifiable. [They did, and it was reasonable – JKHB] But perhaps you would try and find a way of intimating to the conference organizers that a major factor in my decision is this: the fact that the conference is scheduled to begin two weeks from today, and I have thus far received no programme, not even a draft version; no literature apart from publicity flyers; no list of participants (except mention of a few in a personal letter from Mr Harrison); and in sum none of the documentation which I would ordinarily regard as indicative of a properly planned and carefully thought-out project. I'd like to stay on good terms with the parties responsible – they're colleagues of mine and have for many years been friendly acquaintances, if not intimates. But had I at least been sent a programme by now I think I might well have hewn to my original course. As things stand ... no, I'm afraid this commitment is the one which has to be sacrificed.'
"That's the actual record. I'm content to be judged thereby." (JKHB)
This correspondence is now ... gasp ... (DRL, whose typing fingers just dropped off)
BENELUXCON/SFANCON 13 SEPT 3-5, GENT, BELGIUM
Judith Hanna Again:
"You won't have any trouble with the language, everyone speaks English," Joseph promised. And they did. Not only were they happy to practise their English on us, but Dutch and Flemish fans spoke English with the Germans. (There were no Walloons present – they'd headed for the French Natcon at Dijon that weekend.) It was only with the programme that we might have had difficulty had we not yielded to the general feeling that a Gent-con is a relaxacon, and been happy to lounge around in the bar helping Anne-Marie Kindt sell Melbourne in 85 badges, discussing Celtic art and literature with Helmut Pesch, or film, semiotics, politics and structuralism with Luk de Vos; or to lounge in the sun on the lawn outside sharing with Roelof Goudriaan (whose name we learned to pronounce) Belgium's national dish of 'friturs' – chips and mayonnaise eaten with a small plastic fork – while Tom Hendriks, who is one-third of Luxembourg fandom, tried to interview him. We even talked to British fans – Martin and Katy Hoare, Ken and Joyce Slater, Martin Tudor, and American Karin Bennedsen. We didn't ignore the programme completely. I said several nasty things about the videos which showed an admirable selection of films in a variety of languages, but far too loud and too close for conversational comfort. After his welcome speech in four languages, chairman Andre de Rijke (Belgian agent) called on Joseph (British agent) to make a speech about Melbourne in 85 which Anne-Marie (Dutch agent) translated. (Waldemar Kumming, German agent, was also present.) Colin Wilson gave a GoH speech about superman and 'Factor X' which many found objectionable and others laughable. Luk de Vos delivered a paper in the semiotics of Zardoz, far more heavily academic than his talk in Dutch that morning on Blade Runner and Mad Max II as bundles of advertising clichés. Eddie Bertin, in flamboyant top-hat, conducted an 'SF Quiz Mundial' in such rapid-fire style that even the questions in Dutch were entertaining – Joseph entered but was eliminated by the eventual winner, Irishman Graham Andrews (associated with Extro), now moved to Brussels. In the lazy afternoons we slipped away touristing to St Bavo's Cathedral, the mediaeval town and the old Castle of the Counts of Flanders (where Chretien de Troyes, before dying, wrote his 9,000 verses of Perceval) which now houses a collection of 'Justice Implements' – swords, guillotines, branding irons, thumbscrews and inscrutable apparatus all labelled in Dutch whose purposes we could only guess at.... In the evening, the Festival of Flanders filled a nearby street with musicians, and it was 'mosselen' ('small rubbery sea creatures') season, and giant mosquitoes drifted up from the canals to puncture the tender British flesh of Martin Hoare and Joseph.... (JH, whose sentences keep growing)
Brian Aldiss: "Since Ansible has become the Private Eye of the field, you may welcome the enclosed, from the pages of Tribune...."
The enclosed was no less than a letter from our very own Judy Watson, complaining that 'when it gets to SF, Tribune seems to leave its politics at home ... Lord Valentine's Castle – a purely commercial extravaganza, in praise (for heaven's sake) of the divine right of kings – was recently being hailed as "a magnificent behemoth". Now a showy extravaganza by Right-wing author Brian Aldiss is praised as a "tour de force", while Ian Watson's latest story collection is ticked off for having ideas in it rather than narrative entertainment... And then there is a puff for the reactionary cliquish new SF magazine Interzone, with no mention of the other new SF magazine Extro which has actually been on sale to the public and actually publishes new writers.' Ah, Extro; ah, nostalgia. Back to Brian:
"Oh, the bile that runs in the Watson family! Here you see Mrs Watson reduced to puffing her husband's unsuccessful books, and asking that in future literary criticism should confine itself to analysis of political content." Mr Aldiss invites me to ask "challenging questions, which will strip away my socialist facade and reveal the naked Tory underneath." Real soon now, boss. Quoth Malcolm Edwards: "D. Pringle, member of both the IZ collective and the Labour Party, was heard to mutter 'reactionary?' in puzzled tones."
Whatever Happened to GUFF?
UK Administrator Reveals All!
Isn't it about time the GUFF ballots were distributed? you may or may not be asking yourselves. Well, yes.... but we no longer have a race. Right up to the end of August, John Foyster and I thought that we did, with two candidates ready to go – but then gafiation struck down Andrew Brown and a recurrence of something called spondylitis (a back complaint intolerant of long plane journeys) laid out Bruce Gillespie, and we're right back where we were a year ago, with nothing but expressions of firm intent to stand 'next time' and new houses to support/inability to get leave from new jobs/courses of study to finish/etc preventing anyone from making the trip to Albacon in 1983 (John's attempts at replacements notwithstanding.)
So it's over to us. Can we get a race together here? Is there anyone who fancies a free trip to next June's Syncon (in Sydney's red light district of King's Cross)? It's short notice, and it plays hell with the reciprocicity that normally governs fan fund exchanges, but if anyone is interested then they should contact the UK administrator (22 Denbigh St, Pimlico, London, SW1V 2ER) as soon as possible. If by mid-November two candidates have not been forthcoming, then ... we'll have to abandon this idea and consider, for example, the direction and even viability of the 1984 race, and whether GUFF has a future. If anyone has any ideas on the subject right now, or on UK/Aussie fan contact generally, then please write to me. Your views will be collated and forwarded to the Australian administrator (J. Foyster) for dissemination throughout Australian fandom. (Joseph Nicholas)
NEWS ON THE MARCH MARTIN MORSE WOOSTER
Sci-Fi Scribe's Wife Becomes Media Superstar: One hot summer night in a local pizza parlour, Eva Whitley, Wife of JACK L. CHALKER, was nursing David Whitley Chalker, Son of JACK L. CHALKER. The spectacle of Eva Whitley's naked breast so unnerved the local bartender that the Chalkers were given the boot. Eva, determined to have her revenge, filed a grievance with the Maryland Human Relations Commission. Vigilant media, ever searching for violations of human rights, reported the story and Eva was interviewed in the Washington Post, plus NBC and ABC radio. One small glitch: because Eva uses her original name, the media hacks, instead of prominently mentioning JACK L. CHALKER, kept referring to 'Jack Whitley, husband of Eva Whitley....'
A Fate Worse Than Dinner With Jacqueline Lichtenberg (which I did do at a Philcon once, just to see what Jackie was like; she spent the entire evening chatting about indigestion): Saturday night at Chicon I ran into Meri Lichtenberg, the ... Daughter of Jacqueline Lichtenberg. (Sounds like a bad Hammer film.) "Oh, I'm an associate member of the Jacqueline Lichtenberg Appreciation Society," I said. "They won't allow me to be a full member yet, because I haven't read all of Jackie's books." "That's all right," she said: "You know what you'll get when they let you into my mom's club? This," pointing to a peculiarly illegible button. "Oh," I said brightly, "what does that button say?" "That's an official Sime Button," said Meri Lichtenberg, prancing out of the elevator....
Hugo Conspiracy Horror Revealed: It should be noted that Alexis Gilliland is the third member of WSFA [Washington SF something] to win the John W. Campbell award, succeeding Somtow Sucharitkul and JACK L. CHALKER.... (MMW)
SHOCKING REVELATIONS ABOUT STEVE GREEN, BOY REPORTER
Chris Suslowicz: "Mr Steve Green, who is apparently known as 'Scoop!' at the newspaper office where he works ... wearied by the small membership of his personal SF group [Solihull] appears to have persuaded one of his brother Birmingham Mail hacks to give a free plug – see enclosed." (I shall spare you the cutting, merely quoting 'SCI FI FANS GO INTO PRINT... their own magazine with stories ... of outer space....') "Possibly fortunately, the wrong date was given for the meeting.... I returned the next week, when it should have been held, to again find no SSFG.... Has the Solihull SF group performed a mass gafiation or are they in hiding somewhere?"
Novacon 12: famous David Hardy has left the committee after being rolled upon by Rog Peyton (BSFGN rumour), or more probably because he's spending at least two months in Munich doing production art for a fantasy film based on Michael's Ende's bestselling (at least in Germany, Spain, Japan) The Never-Ending Story, due from Allen Lane in 83....
Cymrucon (27-28 Nov, Cardiff) is still on despite erratic publicity, eg. flyers distributed after the Aug 1 rate increase, and no actual mailing to members of Cymrucon 1: the main hotel is apparently full up, to the annoyance of guest speaker Chris Morgan, who left his room booking to the committee and ... you guessed. Ring (0222) 493590 for more data....
Invention (23-25 Sept 83, Central Hotel,Glasgow): GoH Chris Boyce, FGoH Jim Barker (whose latest pro appearance will be with a motif marking text divisions in the Brunner epic Steamboats on the River, due soon); £9 att (till Easter) to 10 Woodlands Gdns, Bothwell, Glasgow, G71 8NU....
Silicon 7 (Grosvenor Hotel, Newcastle, Aug Bank Hol 83) will be held, membership £3.50 to Sue Hepple; no address to hand....
Milford (UK) Writers' Conference (26 Sept-2 Oct, Milford-on-Sea) saw the usual literary mayhem and bizarre doings: this year's attendees were the omnipresent John Brunner (whose puns worsen like some fearsome gorgonzola with each passing year), Malcolm Edwards (who was able to issue on-the-spot Interzone rejections but this year did not liken me to Jerry Pournelle), Dave Garnett (who distinguished himself by introducing the word 'shitepoke' into a 'Call My Bluff' game, and was almost served as the end-of-the-week banquet), Richard [Arrow] Evans (who should be writing this report), Colin Greenland (whom Hazel decided was nice), Maxim Jakubowski (deeply alarmed by the prospect of Milford reports appearing in the gutter press), Gary Kilworth (whose mild exterior conceals the filthiest repertoire of jokes I've met, plus the ability to beat everyone at 'Meteoroids' with irritating casualness), me (no revelations whatever), Marianne Leconte (who let out the secret of the Milford Group Marriage to alarmed end-of-week visitor R. Holdstock), Pip Maddern (who ruthlessly and dominantly chaired Milford, and who plans to flee back to Australia before next year's), Rachel Pollack ('much nicer than Roz Kaveney but not so tall', said an anonymous Devon source), David 'Judge' Redd (who sent the Milford Comite a testimonial and who therefore will not be embarrassed by any mention of his public nakedness here) and Lisa Tuttle (who not only repeated her fabulous 'Big-Mouthed Frog' narration but was incautious enough to mention to Rob Holdstock on Saturday that she'd had a bath. Said Rob: "You've been having a bath with Marianne?" No comment). The heart of Milford, the critical sessions, are indescribable here (Maxim can breathe easy again); the week finished with the usual party/dinner with a few odd guests (Rob H., C. Evans, Hoares), speeches, and ritual drinking of new Chairman D. Garnett's blood. Professional authors interested in attending Milford 83 should contact the secretary (me)....
Project Starcast (Harrogate Centre, 8-11 Oct 82, if you believe that) should recently have happened, a multimedia event planned to be the biggest UK SF thing ever. Ansible would be fascinated to hear from anyone who attended, anyone who saw any publicity, anyone who paid money for membership, anyone who got any money back....
Space-Ex 1984: anyone heard from this multimoney extravaganza since their last flyer in Jan 1981?
Nicholls Strikes Again: the epic Science in Science Fiction is out soon (Michael Joseph RSN or now, Knopf [US] Jan/Feb), and intrepid collaborators Langford and Stableford – who actually wrote most of the thing – are mightily pissed off to learn that front-cover credits will only mention Peter Nicholls, because, say the publishers with that strange folk wisdom of theirs, 'multiple credits lower sales'. Wax image time again.... Extro: from the grave comes Paul Campbell's voice saying thanks to those who supported the defunct mag with more than 'dubious sighs of encouragement': contributors, subscribers (who'll get their money back), advertisers (especially Pan and NEL) and booksellers (though 'you'd be surprised at some invoices to bookshops that have met with no, absolutely no, response – despite the fact that the mags have been sold, and reordered, and reordered'). Estimated size of financial hole: £7000. But what is this rumour in London of yet another planned UK-SF mag? Stay tuned.... Rampant Sexism: I blush to reveal that Linda Pickersgill and Chris Atkinson are running an APA restricted to women, all of whom should get in touch with Linda and demand admission (7a Lawrence Rd, S Ealing, W5).... The Brave Little Toaster Goes To Mars: this planned sequel to TBLT is even now emerging from Disch's typewriter, and an animated film of TBLT itself is in production (MMW – 'No, no,' says Avedon Carol, 'it's Martian Moose Worship').... Thyme: abandoned by original editors A. Brown and I. Hirsh, the Aussie newszine has narrowly escaped the talons of Marc Ortlieb and found a home with Roger Weddall (106 Rathdowne St, Carlton, 3053 Australia). Speaking of music gafiates (Andrew Brown is going off to be a star): Cyril Simsa enigmatically reports that his lot 'Somewhere a Voice' have made their debut album 'Love, Logic & Ego' (Peyote Records via Rough Trade, order now, etc) and that he's promptly given up music. And speaking of newszines, which we were, Roelof Goudriaan is extending his intergalactic fame by becoming Ansible's Euroagent – shower money on him at Postbus 589, 8200 AN Lelystad, Netherlands. And speaking of Marc Ortlieb, he sends data on MAFF (Mid-Atlantic Fan Fund), which will award its deep-sea trip to one of: Jack Herman, Justin Ackroyd, Peter Toluzzi, Paul Stevens. The latter ('Anti-Fan') has announced his disgusting Stop The Melbourne In 85 Bid campaign and offers anti-Melbourne adverts to interested fans ('all have a strong anti-American bias and should prove popular in the UK'): c/o 305-307 Swanston St, Melbourne, Vic 3000 if you'd like to publish one.... Pong is no more: 'arrivaderci aroma,' says Bob Shaw.... WAHF: Jessica Amanda Salmonson, who thought Ian Watson's UKLeG IN BREACH OF CONTRACT headline 'too big a slam against a great lady who for whatever reasons is fond of a bad agent [Virginia Kidd]'; Ian himself – 'Not so pleased to see Aldiss's court jester, the vulgarian of the universe, H. Harrison Esq, being abusive about the decent Mr Brunner.... Meanwhile, Philip José Farmer is "sorely pissed off" with "that lush-Lothario-lictuvarian" Gerry Webb, who [appalling disclosure omitted]....'; Greg Benford sends a complimentary postcard from Italy, praising Britfanwriting's 'quick and bizarre, glinting intelligence. Too much laidbackism in the ol' USA, methinks. You have to be hungry to write good fan....' H'm.... Paul And Chris Oldroyd have spawned a daughter (10 Sept; Zoltana?).... SF Film Awards (Academy of SF, F & H Films) to Raiders of the Lost Coathanger (F), Superman II (SF), An American Werewolf in South Ealing (H).... Fencon Happens! More soon....
Hazel's Language Lessons #20
English circa 1811 (J. Brunner)
nimgimmer physician/surgeon, particularly those who cure the venereal disease; owlers those who smuggle wool over to France; cobler's punch urine with a cinder in it; silver-laced covered with lice; ansible a low newszine from
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