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Ansible 323, June 2014

Cartoon: Brad W. Foster

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Web ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Brad W. Foster. Available for SAE or a wooden automaton called Ahududu.

SF Encyclopedia News. The Encyclopedia's initial three-year contract with Orion/Gollancz has been renewed for at least three more years, with a mutual expectation that we will continue past that point. [JC]


Ray Bradbury's house (for over 50 years) in Cheviot Hills, Los Angeles, went up for sale in May as a place of 'important cultural provenance' with an asking price of $1,495,000. [GVG] 'I wonder if Uncle Einar is hiding somewhere in there,' muses Gordon Van Gelder.

Eoin Colfer, author of the 'Artemis Fowl' fantasies, is now the third Irish laureate for children's fiction: Laureate na nÓg. [SFS]

Luis Fairman, the dental mechanic whose company Precision Dental Technology made the steel teeth worn by 'Jaws' in The Spy Who Loved Me and Moonraker, had to pay over £1000 – fine plus costs – after prosecution by the dread UK General Dental Council for calling himself a dental technician (in a YouTube video) without being registered as such with the GDC. (Telegraph, 14 May) [MPJ] We shall all sleep easier.

Tim Holman of Orbit UK announced that Hugo-nominated novels by Orbit authors Mira Grant, Ann Leckie and Charles Stross would be represented in the Hugo Voter Packet by 'extended previews' only. 'There are a lot of different attitudes to the idea of giving work away for free, but we hope most people would agree that writers and rights holders should be able to make their own choice, without feeling that their decision might have negative consequences.' (, 13 May) This was widely viewed as weasel-worded: Orbit is not allowing its authors 'to make their own choice', as they've temperately explained in a joint statement (, 13 May). Still, Orbit is within its rights, and it would be spiteful to punish the authors by voting their books below No Award as some fans with a huge sense of entitlement say they plan to do. Though I wouldn't dream of checking this, it seems that all three novels are easily obtained via naughty downloads....

Ian McEwan sold his paper and email archive to the University of Texas for $2 million, and gave them an interview that revealed the skiffy delights now awaiting researchers: 'Sometimes the path towards a finished novel takes surprising twists. It's rarely an even development. For example, my novel Atonement started out as a science fiction story set two or three centuries into [the] future.' (Guardian, 15 May) [MJE]

Adam Roberts delivered the second annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford, on 2 May. His strategy: 'I shall lecture with my serious professor hat on for 45 minutes; and switch to a jester's coxcomb for the last quarter hour ...' ('Excellent talk' – John Clute.)

Frank M. Robinson was to be named SFWA Author Emeritus/Special Honoree at the Nebula ceremony. Owing to recent heart surgery he couldn't make it in person: Robin Wayne Bailey was ready with his thank-you speech, but following 'a combination of unintentional missteps' (SFWA) or 'amazing fuckitude' (Bailey on Facebook), this item was omitted from the ceremony. SFWA President Steven Gould apologized and promised a presentation at the 2015 Nebulas. (SFWA, 18 May)


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

Until 27 Jun • House Clearance (J.G. Ballard-related art show by Fay Ballard), 11 Princelet St, Spitalfields, London, E1 6QH. By appointment, 12 noon-6pm Mon-Fri. See for more.

7 Jun • BSFA/SF Foundation AGMs & mini-convention, City of Westminster Archives Centre, 10 St Ann's St, London, SW1P 2DE. From ?11am. GoH Jo Fletcher (SFF), Frances Hardinge (BSFA). Free.

20 Jun • CRSF 2014 (academic), University of Liverpool. £35. See for details.

25 Jun • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Stephanie Saulter. Free.

28 Jun • Graham Park Day (Iain Banks/Walking on Glass walk), London. Meet Theobald's Rd S/Southampton Row E, 3:15 for 3:33pm.

19 Jul • Edge-Lit 3, Cinema One, QUAD Centre, Derby. 11am-midnight. £25. Bookings:

26 Jul • Bristol Beer & Blake's 7, The Knights Templar pub, 1 The Square, Temple Quay, Bristol, BS1 6DG. 12 noon to 7pm.

5 Aug - 8 Sep • SF Linkcons, various studio and location tours in and around London. Can you crack the code at

11-12 Aug • Science for Fiction, Imperial College, London. Science presentations for published authors only. £35, inc lunch on 12 Aug. Contact Dave Clements, d dot clements at imperial dot ac dot uk.

14-18 Aug • Loncon 3 (72nd Worldcon), ExCeL centre, London Docklands. £125 reg; £280 family; £65 YA; £30 child (6-15); £2 infant (0-5); £25 supp. Rates rise to at-the-door levels on 13 July. The Hugo Voter Packet went up on 30 May and will be available until 1 August: Voting closes 31 July. Ballot are in PR3, received May. See also

16 Mar 2015 • EM-Con (multimedia), Capital Film Arena, Nottingham. Tickets online only, from £8 (11am-5:30pm) and £12.50 (10am-5:30pm) to £100 'gold' and £200 'platinum'. See

27-29 Mar 2015 • Tynecon III: the Corflu (fanzines), Vermont Hotel, Castle Garth, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1RQ. £50/$85 reg, £15/$25 supp. Cheque payments: sterling to John Nielsen Hall c/o 9 Haywards Farm Close, Verwood, Dorset, BH31 6XW; dollars to Robert Lichtman, 11037 Broadway Terrace, Oakland, CA 94611-1948, USA. More to follow at; email contact alan10258 at aol dot com.

2-4 Oct 2015 • Irish Discworld Convention, Cork International Airport Hotel, Ireland. €50 reg, €40 concessions. See

Rumblings. Octocon is skipping 2014: the next will be in the Camden Court Hotel, Dublin, 10-11 October 2015. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others (And Maybe We Too) See Godzilla. 'Appreciation of a movie like this requires an almost morbid degree of connoisseurship, which may, in practice, be hard to distinguish from bored acquiescence.' (A.O. Scott, New York Times review, 17 May) [JB]

Awards. Nebulas: NOVEL Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice. NOVELLA Vylar Kaftan, 'The Weight of the Sunrise' (Asimov's 2/13). NOVELETTE Aliette de Bodard, 'The Waiting Stars' (The Other Half of the Sky). SHORT Rachel Swirsky, 'If You Were a Dinosaur, My Love' (Apex 3/13). DRAMATIC Gravity. YOUNG ADULT Nalo Hopkinson, Sister Mine. GRAND MASTER, already announced: Samuel R. Delany.
Prometheus (libertarian) special life achievement: Vernor Vinge.
Bram Stoker (horror): NOVEL Stephen King, Doctor Sleep. DEBUT Rena Mason, The Evolutionist. YA Joe McKinney, Dog Days. GRAPHIC Caitlín R. Kiernan, Alabaster: Wolves. LONG FICTION Gary Braunbeck, 'The Great Pity' (Chiral Mad 2). SHORT David Gerrold, 'Night Train to Paris' (F&SF 1/13). SCREENPLAY Glen Mazzara, The Walking Dead: 'Welcome to the Tombs'. ANTHOLOGY Eric J. Guignard, ed., After Death. COLLECTION Laird Barron, The Beautiful Thing That Awaits Us All. NONFICTION William F. Nolan, Nolan on Bradbury. POETRY Marge Simon, Rain Graves, Charlee Jacob and Linda Addison, Four Elements. SMALL PRESS Gray Friar Press, Whitby, UK.

Unequal Opportunity. The Directors UK survey of British TV shows directed by women led to the Guardian headline: 'Lights, camera, inaction: women directors cut out of British TV' (12 May). In a radio discussion, Richard Bacon went further: 'Not one woman directed an episode of a sci-fi series – I suspect that not one woman watched one either.' (BBC Radio 5Live Richard Bacon Show, 13 May) [MPJ]

R.I.P. Dick Ayers (1924-2014), US comics artist who co-created Ghost Rider with Ray Krank in 1949 and entered the Eisner Comic Book Hall of Fame in 2007, died on 4 May aged 90. [SFS]
Ken Brown (1957-2014), UK fan, convention-goer and regular book reviewer for Interzone in the David Pringle era, died from pancreatic cancer on 19 May; he was 57. [DP]
Leslie Carlson (1933-2014), US-born character actor whose films include The Neptune Factor (1973), Videodrome (1983) and The Fly (1986), died on 3 May aged 81. [SFS]
Oscar Dystel (1912-2014), US publisher who turned around the ailing Bantam Books in the early 1950s and remained chairman until 1980, died on 28 May; he was 101. His bestselling acquisitions included The Exorcist and Jaws. (New York Times, 29 May) [AIP]
Prof. Radu Florescu (1925-2014), Romanian scholar whose In Search of Dracula (1972) and other works promoted the identification of Dracula with his own distant family connection Vlad Tepes (Vlad the Impaler), died on 18 May aged 88. [AIP]
H.R. Giger (1940-2014), influential Swiss artist and designer noted for his surrealist/decadent 'biomechanoid' paintings and (most famously in sf circles) his creation of the alien technology and grotesque monster for the film Alien (1979), died on 12 May; he was 74. [GW] Giger received a Spectrum Grandmaster Award in 2005 and was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2013.
Mihail Gramescu (1951-2014), award-winning Romanian author of several sf novels and collections who was part of his country's 1980s 'New Wave', died on 13 May aged 63. [JCo]
Sam Greenlee (1930-2014), US author of The Spook who Sat by the Door (1969) – a near-future novel of black uprisings in the USA, filmed in 1973 – died on 19 May aged 83. [JC]
Kim Knight (1956-2014), UK fan, once a London meetings regular and co-organizer of many UK Star Trek conventions (the UFP Cons, 1980-1994), died on 11 May aged 57. [AH]
Jay Lake (1964-2014), US author of the popular 'Mainspring' and 'Green' sf sequences plus many short stories, and editor with Deborah Layne of the Polyphony anthologies, died on 1 June from the cancer that had besieged him since 2008; he was 49. He won the 2004 John W. Campbell Award for best new writer.
Frank Marth (1922-2014), US character actor seen in many genre TV series from My Favorite Martian (1964), The Man from U.N.C.L.E (1965) and Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1966) to The Incredible Hulk (1980) and Airwolf (1984), died on 12 January aged 91. [HB]
Judi Meredith (1936-2014), US actress who appeared in Jack the Giant Killer (1962), The Night Walker (1964) and Queen of Blood (1966), died on 30 April; she was 77. [F770]
Tony Palladino (1930-2014), US illustrator and graphic designer who created the distinctive fractured typographic title for Psycho (both Robert Bloch's book and the Hitchcock film posters), died on 14 May aged 84. [PDF]
Mary Stewart (1916-2014), UK author most famed for her Arthurian 'Merlin Trilogy' – The Crystal Cave (1970), The Hollow Hills (1973) and The Last Enchantment (1979) – died on 10 May; she was 97. [PDF] Further genre works include romances with psychic/supernatural elements and some fantasy for children.
Patrick Woodroffe (1940-2014), UK artist whose work appeared on many sf/fantasy book covers – also some music albums – died on 10 May aged 73. [GW] He published several art collections, plus such quirky self-illustrated stories as The Dorbott of Vacuo and The Second Earth: The Pentateuch Re-Told (both 1987).

The Weakest Link. Host: 'In the famous equation E=mc2, what does the letter E stand for?' Contestant: 'Einstein.' (ITV Tipping Point)
Host: 'Which G.O. wrote Animal Farm?' Contestant: 'I've got George Osborne in my head.' (BBC Pointless)
Host: 'Which British author wrote The Jungle Book?' Contestant: 'E.L. James.' (ITV Ejector Seat)
Host: 'In what novel by H.G. Wells does an inventor travel into the future?' Contestant: 'Great Expectations.' (ITV The Chase) [PE]

Campbell Memorial Award shortlist: Max Barry, Lexicon; Stephen Baxter, Proxima; Dave Eggers, The Circle; Karen Joy Fowler, We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves; Nicola Griffith, Hild; Wolfgang Jeschke, The Cusanus Game; Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice; Phillip Mann, The Disestablishment of Paradise; Paul McAuley, Evening's Empires; Linda Nagata, The Red: First Light Press; Christopher Priest, The Adjacent; Alastair Reynolds, On the Steel Breeze; Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman; Charles Stross, Neptune's Brood; Marcel Theroux, Strange Bodies.

Dreams of Avarice. What's the domain worth? In early May the minimum auction bid was $2000, with a quick-sale option at $10,000; now it's $1000 and $5000. In July, who knows?

Publishers & Sinners., besides being Tor's free fiction, news and commentary site, is now to be a Tor imprint for novellas, short novels etc, to be published in POD, ebook and audiobook form.

Prometheus Award shortlist: Cory Doctorow, Homeland; Sarah Hoyt, A Few Good Men; Ramez Naam, Crux; Ramez Naam, Nexus; Marcus Sakey, Brilliance. Winner to be announced at Loncon 3. The Hall of Fame shortlist for older work is partly familiar, with e.g. Kipling's '"As Easy as A.B.C."' making its ninth appearance (every year since 2006).

Outraged Letters. Simon R. Green: 'Well, the good news is that BFI are going to be releasing the old Out of the Unknown tv show on DVD in Autumn. The bad news is: just the twenty (out of forty-nine) episodes still known to exist.' (real paper letter, 28 May)

Locus Awards. Novel shortlists: SF Margaret Atwood, MaddAddam; James S.A. Corey, Abaddon's Gate; Karen Lord, The Best of All Possible Worlds; Kim Stanley Robinson, Shaman; Charles Stross, Neptune's Brood.
FANTASY Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane; Joe Hill, NOS4A2; Guy Gavriel Kay, River of Stars; Stephen King, Doctor Sleep; Scott Lynch, The Republic of Thieves.
YOUNG ADULT Paolo Bacigalupi, Zombie Baseball Beatdown; Holly Black, The Coldest Girl in Coldtown; Cory Doctorow, Homeland; Alaya Dawn Johnson, The Summer Prince; Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two.
DEBUT Emily Croy Barker, The Thinking Woman's Guide to Real Magic; J. Kathleen Cheney, The Golden City; Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice; Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria; Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni.
• Winners are to be announced in late June. Full list:

The Dead Past. 70 Years Ago, our fannish forebears wrestled with terminology: 'Fantast? Stefan? Futurian? Stefnist? Fantaisist? Slan? Cosman? Steffist? [...] Interlineations on the other side of this sheet consist of alternative titles in place of that horrible phrase "science fiction fan". (Bob Gibson wants to know if Sax Rohmer's "Si-Fan Mysteries" have any connection) ...' (Futurian War Digest 35, June 1944)
50 Years Ago, 'Peter Singleton mentions a recent nightmare in which New Worlds, Science Fantasy and all the U.S. prozines had succumbed to a take over bid from Badger [Books]' (Skyrack 68, June 1964).
20 Years Ago, your editor was immortalized: '"She [...] typed: Whoever you are, be warned: I'm about to display the Langford Mind-Erasing Fractal Basilisk, so ..." (Greg Egan, Permutation City)' (Ansible 83, June 1994)
10 Years Ago, Bob Dylan's 2004 memoir Chronicles: Volume One featured much 'sampling' of past work, including H.G. Wells's The Time Machine, The Invisible Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau and The First Men in The Moon. Wells in the last: 'Then began a vast throbbing hum that mingled with the music.' Dylan on a recording: '... a throbbing hum that mingled into the music.' (Scott Warmuth, 'Bob Charlatan: Deconstructing Dylan's Chronicles: Volume One', New Haven Review, 2008) [GVG]

Random Fandom. FAAn Awards for fanzine activity: LIFE ACHIEVEMENT Ray Nelson. GENZINE Banana Wings ed. Claire Brialey & Mark Plummer. PERSONAL FANZINE Flag ed. Andy Hooper. SINGLE ISSUE Trap Door 30 ed. Robert Lichtman. WEBSITE COVER Harry Bell, Inca 9. FAN ARTIST/CARTOONIST Steve Stiles. FAN WRITER Andy Hooper. LETTERHACK Robert Lichtman. [GS] The coveted title 'Past President of fwa' went to John Nielsen Hall (nem con, ne plus ultra, ipse dixit).

C.o.A. Chrissie Harper (from 7 June), 33 Scott Rd, Solihull, B92 7LQ.

Fanfundery. GUFF: a last reminder that voting in the 2014 northbound race to bring an Australasian fan to Loncon 3 closes on 9 June. See the tasteful online ballot at

Media Awards. BAFTA TV: best mini-series, In the Flesh (BBC). Radio Times Audience: 'The Day Of The Doctor' (BBC Doctor Who) [MPJ]

Thog's Masterclass. Landlocked Dept. 'The short stretch of beach was a dazzling white, enclosed by rocky promontories on both sides and by low forested hills on the other.' (Ben Aaronovitch, The Also People, 1995) [NA]
Dept of Anatomy. 'Her fingers got in the way of each other and tied themselves in knots.' (Robert Moore Williams, World of the Masterminds, 1960) [CG]
Ventriloquism Dept. 'Foster issued a cry that came from his boots.' (Dan Waddell, The Blood Detective, 2007) [PB]
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'He rolled a yellowing eyeball across the opposite wall ...' (Ellery Queen [Theodore Sturgeon], The Player on the Other Side, 1963) [RR]
This Day All Thogs Die. 'A pallor of betrayal seemed to leach the color from her cheeks; even from her eyes.' 'Indignation and confusion appeared to flush through Chief Mandich in waves, staining his skin with splotches like the marks of an infection.' 'Anodyne Systems, the sole licensed manufacturer of SOD-CMOS.' 'He appeared to shudder like a man being sickened by uncertainty.' 'He fluttered his hands in front of his face to ward off emotions for which he had no use.' 'He shook his head. Carried by its own momentum, his head continued rocking from side to side on his weak neck.' 'Her voice ached like Morn's arm.' 'Food and coffee had rubbed the smudge from his gaze.' 'Min's jaws clenched and loosened as if she were chewing iron.' 'Smoke seeped out of her hair as if the mind under it had been burned to the ground.' 'Lane hid a grin behind a fringe of unclean hair.' 'His voice sounded as bleak as hard vacuum.' 'Standing rigid, as if he were remembering a crucifixion, he shouted.' 'The sound of knives filled Hyland's voice.' 'Mikka swallowed a knot of tears.' 'Every eye in the room clung to her urgently.' 'Blaine wore her sexuality like an accusation.' 'In response he brandished his beard at her like a club.' (all Stephen R. Donaldson, The Gap into Ruin: This Day All Gods Die, 1995) [AR]

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• 13 June 2014: Stephen Hunt talks to the Brum Group, Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham city centre, 7:30pm for 8pm; £4 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk or rog dot peyton at btinternet dot com. Future meetings: 11 July 2014, Sam Stone and David Howe; 8 August 2014, TBA; 12 September 2014, Chris Morgan; 10 October 2014, Richard Ashton; 7 November 2014, Storm Constantine; 5 December 2014, Christmas Social.

PayPal Tip Jar Thingy. Support Ansible, cover website costs and keep the editor happy! Or just buy his books.

Editorial. Question: do we have any plans for the SF Encyclopedia donations page to accept Bitcoins? This had never occurred to me; until then I'd kept an eleven-foot pole at my side, for not touching Bitcoins with. But, being easily tempted by pointless and time-wasting geekery, I've added a tentative Bitcoin option to the Ansible tip jar above. If this actually works, something similar will appear on the SFE page at ...

Last Orders. 'Clive James, the Australian writer, critic and broadcaster who is terminally ill, has said that his dying wish is to live long enough to see the new series of Game of Thrones released on DVD. He said that his love of the series had broken his lifelong rule: "It's vital to have nothing to do with any art form which has dragons in it."' (The Times, 2 June)

Thog's Second Helping. Adam Roberts's blog overview of the Gap series by Stephen R. Donaldson is linked below. The second link collects all relevant examples sent by Adam to Thog – hence some overlap with his post. The third and fourth go to the 'English example search' site, where (#3) Denny Lien found Eyeballs in the Sky while investigating Frank L. Packard's crime-fiction hero Jimmie Dale, and (#4) Thog himself appears in some unlikely contexts. Yvonne Rousseau unprecedentedly wanted to say 'Unfair to Thog!' when she came to the sentence 'Thog wears a leprechaun costume, while he packs a giant wooden alpaca with potato salad.'

Ansible 323 Copyright © David Langford, 2014. Thanks to Nick Alcock, Paul Barnett, John Boston, Hamish Bruce, John Clute, Jonathan Cowie, Paul Di Filippo, Malcolm Edwards, File 770, Carl Glover, Alison Hopkins, Martyn P. Jackson, Andrew I. Porter, David Pringle, Private Eye, Adam Roberts, Roger Robinson, SF Site, Geri Sullivan, Gordon Van Gelder, Gary Wilkinson, and Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (BSFG), SCIS, Alan Stewart (Australia). 2 June 2014.