Ansible logo

Ansible 324, July 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, Bitcoins or first editions of Prying Manticora.

The Sea and Summer

John Barrowman – Captain Jack Harkness in Doctor Who and Torchwood – was made an MBE in the Queen's Birthday Honours. So was composer Laurie Johnson, who scored Dr Strangelove and wrote the Avengers and New Avengers tv theme music. [DVB] Patrick Woodroffe, not the recently deceased sf/fantasy artist but the lighting designer of the 2012 Olympic ceremonies – whose stage projects include Batman Live – became a CBE in the same honours list. (BBC, 14 June)

Guy Gavriel Kay was made a member of the Order of Canada for his contributions to fantasy literature. (CBC News, 30 June) [PH]

'Captain Kaye' is the reported pseudonym for the subject of this Daily Mirror silly-season headline: 'Retired US Marine claims he spent 17 years on MARS protecting five human colonies from Martians' (23 June). 'He added that training took place on a secret moon base called Lunar Operations Command, Saturn's moon Titan, and in deep space. / Captain Kaye says he retired after a 20 year tour of duty, describing a retirement ceremony on the moon that he claims was presided over by VIPs including ex-Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.' Gosh.

George R.R. Martin offers two lucky people who can afford the £20,000 fee (all proceeds to worthy causes) the chance to appear in a future 'A Song of Ice and Fire' novel and undergo a grisly, horrific death. (Marketing Magazine, 6 June) [MPJ] Too much for your editor, alas; and anyway, Simon R. Green regularly slaughters me for nothing.

J.R.R. Tolkien's creation the Balrog is remembered in the naming of a 16-foot, 900-pound crocodilian reptile from 60 million years ago: Anthracosuchus balrogus. (International Business Times, 3 June) [SHS] But was it a giant flaming reptile? Did it wield a multi-thonged whip?


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

16 Jul • London Fortean Society, Gordon Rutter: 'Dr Who in An Exciting Adventure With Charles Fort', The Bell, 50 Middlesex St, London, E1 7EX. 7.45pm-10.45pm. £3 admission, £2 concessions.

19 Jul • Edge-Lit 3, Cinema One, QUAD Centre, Derby. 11am-midnight. GoH Joe Abercrombie, Charles Stross. Tickets £25. Book online at

25-28 Jul • Continuum 2014 (RPG), John Foster Hall, Leicester University. £35. See for full tariff.

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

30 Jul • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Geoff Ryman. Free.

2 Aug • Super Relaxed Fantasy Club (with the BSFA and British Fantasy Society), Brigantes Bar & Brasserie, 114 Micklegate, York, YO1 6JX. 4pm-late, with readings by various authors. Free to all.

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

8-10 Aug • Nine Worlds Geekfest (multimedia), Radisson Blu Edwardian Hotel, Heathrow. Current 'late rate' £90 reg; £95 1-6 August; £100 at the door. Advance booking online at

SOLD OUT 9-11 Aug • Discworld Convention, Palace Hotel, Manchester. Waiting list for cancellations at

9-24 Aug • Stripped 2014: comics/graphic novel items at Edinburgh Book Festival. With Mike Carey, Brian & Mary Talbot, others. See

POSTPONED 9-10 Aug • Sunderland Comic Con, Sunderland Software Centre, Tavistock Place, Sunderland, SR1 1PB. Now 21-22 February 2015. See Refunds given for 2014.

12 Aug • Fantasy in the Court (mass genre signing), Goldsboro Books, Cecil Court. London. 6-9pm. £5 redeemable against purchase.

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). Rates rise on 14 July, to £135, £300, £75, £35 and £5 respectively; supporting membership stays at £25. See

20 Aug • Biology and Manners: Worlds of Lois McMaster Bujold (conference), Anglia Ruskin U, Cambridge. £60; £25 concessions. See

22-24 Aug • Shamrokon (Eurocon), Hilton Doubletree, Burlington Road (formerly the Burlington Hotel), Dublin. €35 reg, rising to €40 on 1 August; concessions €25; under-22s €10; supp €10. Join online, or ask where to send a cheque, at

Rumblings. BCon is a bid to hold the 2016 Eurocon in Barcelona, Spain, on 4-6 November that year. See • 2018 Worldcon. The San José bid now has a website at; the only current rival bid is for New Orleans,

Infinitely Improbable

'All You Zombies' Dept. 'Which Bafta and Emmy-winning actress is the great-grandfather of the former Prime Minister Herbert Asquith?' (Christopher Maume, 'The Quiz', Independent, 21 June)

Awards. Gemmell (heroic fantasy): NOVEL Mark Lawrence, Emperor of Thorns. DEBUT Brian McClellan, Promise of Blood. COVER Jason Chan for Emperor of Thorns.
John W. Campbell Memorial: Marcel Theroux, Strange Bodies.
Locus: SF NOVEL James S.A. Corey, Abaddon's Gate. FANTASY Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane. YA Catherynne M. Valente, The Girl Who Soared Over Fairyland and Cut the Moon in Two. DEBUT Ann Leckie, Ancillary Justice. NOVELLA Catherynne M. Valente, Six-Gun Snow White. NOVELETTE Neil Gaiman, 'The Sleeper and the Spindle' (Rags and Bones). SHORT Caitlín R. Kiernan, 'The Road of Needles' (Once Upon a Time). ANTHOLOGY George R.R. Martin & Gardner Dozois, eds., Old Mars. COLLECTION The Best of Connie Willis. MAGAZINE Asimov's. PUBLISHER Tor. EDITOR Ellen Datlow. ARTIST Michael Whelan. NONFICTION Jeff VanderMeer, Wonderbook. ART BOOK Cathy & Arnie Fenner, eds., Spectrum 20.
SF Hall of Fame: Leigh Brackett, Frank Frazetta, Stanley Kubrick, Hayao Miyazaki and Olaf Stapledon.
Sturgeon Award (short): Sarah Pinsker, 'In Joy, Knowing the Abyss' (Strange Horizons 7/13).

Publishers & Sinners. Angry Robot discontinued its Strange Chemistry (YA genre) and Exhibit A (crime) imprints with immediate effect on 20 June, 'due mainly to market saturation' – that is, others have more successfully saturated the market. 'The core Angry Robot imprint is robust, however ...' (, 20 June) This traditional corporate spin is belied by reports about the parent company: 'The Osprey Publishing Group, as part of a financial restructuring and "strategic review" of its holdings, is moving away from publishing fiction and actively seeking a sale of its non-core components – and may consider an outright sale of the whole company.' As for the two doomed imprints, there is as always bad news for authors: 'unpublished manuscripts that were under contract have been cancelled.' (Publishers Lunch, 20 June)
• Andrew Burt's ReAnimus Press has acquired the long-running sf nonfiction imprint Advent:Publishers.

GRRM Is Everywhere. The BBC has apologized for accidentally sending test-only news alerts to millions of BBC News app subscribers, including the deeply shocking 'BREAKING NEWS No nudity in latest episode of Game of Thrones!!!' (BBC News online, 25 June) [MPJ]

R.I.P. Neal Arden (1909-2014), UK actor who was in The Quatermass Experiment (1953 tv) and The Giant Behemoth (1959), died on 4 June aged 104. [SFS]
John Cocchi (1939-2014), US film historian whose Second Feature: The Best of the 'B' Films (2000) covers much sf and horror, was found to have died circa 16 June after being missing since April; he was 74. [F770]
Philip Curtis (1920-2012), UK teacher and author of much sf including the 12-book 'Mr Browser' series for younger readers, opening with Mr Browser and the Brain Sharpeners (1979), died on 10 October 2012 aged 92. [DB]
Felix Dennis (1947-2014), UK publishing baron who long ago featured in the Oz trial and whose Dennis Publishing magazines include Bizarre, Fortean Times and Viz, died on 22 June; he was 67. [DVB]
Nancy Garden (1938-2014), US author of fantasy, horror and LGBT fiction for younger readers, whose genre work began with four books in the Weird and Horrible Library including Werewolves and Vampires (both 1973), died on 24 June aged 76. She won the 2003 Margaret Edwards Award for life achievement in YA literature. [SFS]
Martha Hyer (1924-2014), US actress whose films include Abbott and Costello Go to Mars (1953), Riders to the Stars (1954), First Men in the Moon (1964) and Picture Mommy Dead (1966), died on 31 May; she was 89. [SFS/AIP]
Dan Jacobson (1929-2014), South African-born novelist whose works include the dystopian The Confessions of Joseph Baisz (1977), the post-holocaust Her Story (1987) and the alternate-history The God-Fearer (1992), died on 12 June; he was 85. [JC]
Casey Kasem (1932-2014) US actor who voiced Shaggy in many Scooby-Doo episodes from 1969, died on 15 June aged 82. Other genre credits include The Batman/Superman Hour (1968-1969 tv), Battle of the Planets (1979-1980 tv) and Ghostbusters (1984). [MPJ]
Daniel Keyes (1927-2014), author of the powerful, unforgettable sf tragedy Flowers for Algernon (April 1959 F&SF; novel 1966), died on 15 June aged 86. The short Flowers won a Hugo and the novel a Nebula, both richly deserved. Numerous media adaptations include the film Charly (1968). SFWA honoured Keyes with its Author Emeritus life achievement award in 2006. His last published book was The Asylum Prophecies (2009). In person he was much loved.
Carla Laemmle (1909-2014), US actress first seen in The Phantom of the Opera (1925) and speaking the first line of Dracula (1931), died on 12 June: she was 104. From 2001 she appeared in various horror documentaries and new films including the forthcoming Mansion of Blood.
Veronica Lazar (1938-2014), Romanian-born actress whose horror films include Inferno (1980) and The Beyond (1981), died on 9 June at the age of 75. [SFS]
Philippa C. (Pip) Maddern (1952-2014), Australian author and academic much admired for a number of stories beginning with 'The Ins and Outs of the Hadhya City-State' (1976 The Altered I), died on 16 June. [BRG] I fondly remember her from UK Milfords, 1980-1982; she chaired the 1982 workshop.
Francis Matthews (1927-2014), the voice of Captain Scarlet in Captain Scarlet and the Mysterons (1967-1968), died on 14 June aged 86. Other genre credits include Hammer's The Revenge of Frankenstein (1958) and Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966). [BB/AW]
Rik Mayall (1958-2014), UK actor and comedian whose genre credits include An American Werewolf in London (1981), Whoops Apocalypse (1982), Drop Dead Fred (title part, 1991) and Watership Down (voice, 1999), died on 9 June; he was 56.
Terry Richards (1932-2014), US actor and stunt man who appeared in seven James Bond films and was the sword-wielder famously shot by Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark, died on 17 June aged 81. [SFS] Other genre credits include The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Princess Bride (1987) and Total Recall (1990).
Frank M. Robinson (1926-2014), US sf author since 1950, noted for The Power (1956; filmed 1967), The Dark Beyond the Stars (1991) and the art book Science Fiction of the Twentieth Century (1999), died on 30 June aged 87. His technothriller The Glass Inferno (1974) with Thomas N. Scortia was half the source of The Towering Inferno. He received SFWA's 'Special Honoree' career award in 2014. [RWB]
Mary Rodgers (1931-2014), author of the popular children's fantasy of identity exchange Freaky Friday (1972; twice filmed) and its sequels, died on 26 June; she was 83. [MPJ]
Pauline Wagner (1910-2014), US actress who doubled for Fay Wray in the reshot Empire State Building climax of King Kong (1933), died on 2 May. She was 103.
Eli Wallach (1915-2014), US character actor best known for parts other than his villain in Batman (1967 tv), died on 24 June aged 98. [MPJ] 'I did Mr. Freeze,' he wrote in his autobiography: 'I get more mail for him than anything I've ever done.'
Herbert Yellin (1935-2014), whose Lord John Press (founded 1978) published signed, limited editions of authors including Ursula K. Le Guin, Stephen King, Dan Simmons and Ray Bradbury, died on 13 June aged 79. [F770]

The Weakest Link. Host, giving a (flawed) answer: 'In a novel by this classic sci-fi author, a planet with six suns goes dark.' Contestant, supplying the question: 'Who is Ray Bradbury?' (Jeopardy, 3 June) [AIP]

Award Shortlists. British Fantasy (novels only; more here): FANTASY Emma Newman, Between Two Thorns; Lou Morgan, Blood and Feathers: Rebellion; Tom Pollock, The Glass Republic; Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane; Sofia Samatar, A Stranger in Olondria. HORROR Adam Nevill, House of Small Shadows; Sarah Pinborough, Mayhem; Joe Hill, NOS4R2; Alison Littlewood, Path of Needles; Lauren Beukes, The Shining Girls; Graham Joyce, The Year of the Ladybird.
Mythopoeic (novels only; more here): ADULT Yangsze Choo, The Ghost Bride; Neil Gaiman, The Ocean at the End of the Lane; Max Gladstone, Three Parts Dead; Mark H. Williams, Sleepless Knights; Helene Wecker, The Golem and the Jinni. CHILDREN'S William Alexander, Ghoulish Song; Holly Black, Doll Bones; Joseph Bruchac, Killer of Enemies; Sara Beth Durst, Conjured; Robin McKinley, Shadows.
Sidewise (alt-history): LONG Robert Conroy, 1920: America's Great War; Mark Hodder, The Secret of Abdu el Yezdi; D.J. Taylor, The Windsor Faction; Bryce Zabel, Surrounded by Enemies: What If Kennedy Survived Dallas? SHORT Vylar Kaftan, 'The Weight of the Sunrise' (Asimov's 2/13); Ken Liu, 'A Brief History of the Trans-Pacific Tunnel' (F&SF 1/13); Adam Roberts, 'Tollund' (The Book of the Dead ed. Jared Shurin); Kristine Kathryn Rusch, 'Uncertainty' (Asimov's 3/13); Harry Turtledove. 'Cayos in the Stream' ( 8/13); Ian Watson, 'Blair's War' (Asimov's 7/13).

Court Circular. The 50 pre-1923 Sherlock Holmes stories are in the public domain, ruled the 7th Circuit US Court of Appeals on 16 June – rejecting the ever-rapacious Conan Doyle estate's argument that copyright protection for the remaining 1923-1927 tales should extend backwards over the entire Holmes canon, because 'Many aspects of Holmes' character, such as his growing friendship with Watson and his human warmth, were created in the last 10 stories, and remain protected by copyright.' (Reuters, 16 June) [PDF]

As Others See Us. More Westeros backlash! (See Clive James in A323.) 'On his recent retirement from television criticism, the great Clive James observed that Game of Thrones (Sky On Demand) had helped him overcome a lifetime of resistance to any art form containing dragons. Well, I bow to Mr James's wisdom on most things – the obvious exception being the Cuban dragon Margarita Pracatan – but the fire-breathing lizards, the three-eyed ravens, and the general sense that GoT is an unending riff on the duff aesthetics of the prog rock era married to the hammy classicism of British middlebrow theatre do get in the way a bit.' (Alastair McKay, Evening Standard, 20 June) [BA]

Magazine Scene. SFX celebrated its 250th issue (dated August, published late June) with a London party on 25 June, attended no doubt by innumerable sf glitterati. As the Oldest Inhabitant with a piece in every issue since the 1995 launch, I couldn't possibly miss this but nevertheless I did: too much SF Encyclopedia work as usual, and not enough sleep. The Plain People of Fandom: You utter wimp, Langford.

Outraged Letters. Michael Moorcock is in Paris to mid-November. Will he cross the Channel for Loncon 3? 'Nope. I only learned it was to be in London a few days ago. [Fay Ballard]'s exhibition is in Princelet Street where I set the last scene of The Vengeance of Rome.' (7 June)

Random Fandom. Kevin Standlee & Warren Buff propose a WSFS rules change whereby Business Meeting amendments to the constitution (such as Hugo rules tinkering) must be approved by popular vote of the following year's Worldcon membership rather than that year's Business Meeting. Details at [CM]

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago, Patrick Nielsen Hayden remarked on the AvoNova paperback of Nancy Kress's Beggars in Spain: 'The ornate cover type reads like it says Beggars In Spam. Of course, I speak as an employee of the company which, through the magic of Excessively Decorative Title Type, once managed to publish Greg Bear's blockbuster novel The Forge Of Goo.' (Ansible 84, July 1994)
• In the same issue a selling point emerged: 'Ansible has "NO Nudity, Profanity, Overt Sex or Violence", a declaration which on David Garnett's advice I stole from Offworld: The All-New Illustrated Magazine of SF and Fantasy (USA). As Mr Garnett found himself thinking: "Hey! A magazine without nudity, profanity, sex, violence. Must buy it!"' (Ibid)

Fanfundery. GUFF: Gillian Polack is the 2014 delegate who travels from Australasia to Loncon 3. It was a close race with several rounds of Australian-ballot elimination and redistribution before an overall majority was achieved. Other candidates were Alison Barton, Samara Morgan and Shay Telfer. Over 100 ballots were received.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of A Certain Age. 'The hot breath of her fortieth birthday seared her neck ...' (Sheila Lowe, Poison Pen, 2007) [JG]
Oxymoron Dept. 'His dark face was pale.' (Terry Brooks, The Wishsong of Shannara, 1985) [AR]
Dept of Possible Euphemism. 'She stroked his clenching to reassure him.' (Stephen R. Donaldson, The Illearth War, 1977)
Alternate Chemistry Dept. 'Your husband dealt with gold and diamonds, both highly explosive substances.' (Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza, The Silence of the Rain, 1996; trans Benjamin Moser 2002) [PB]
Dept of Feminist Awareness. 'It occurred to him that in all the universe there was nothing quite as devious and demanding as a woman's mind.' (Theodore Sturgeon, 'The Golden Egg', August 1941 Unknown) [LP]
Radiophonic Workshop Dept. 'He walked in and heard a sound like a tomb.' (Lee Child, Tripwire, 1999) [NR]

Geeks' Corner

Subscriptions. New procedure from October 2010: to receive Ansible monthly via email, send a message to:
ansible-news+subscribe [at]
You will be asked to confirm that you want to join the group. To resign, send email to:
ansible-news+unsubscribe [at]
More details here:
RSS feed –
LiveJournal syndication –
Back issues –
Links and archive –
Email the editor –
Books Received –

Convention and Event Links
• British Isles (plus Eurocon, Worldcon) –
• London meetings/events –
• Overseas –


• 11 July 2014: Sam Stone and David Howe talk 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: 8 August 2014, TBA; 12 September 2014, Chris Morgan; 10 October 2014, Richard Ashton; 7 November 2014, Storm Constantine; 5 December 2014, Christmas Social.
• 14 July 2014: Mary Talbot, Kate Charlesworth and Bryan Talbot in conversation at The Lit & Phil, 23 Westgate Road, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE1 1SE. Free. Telephone: 0191 232 0192.

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

Marion Zimmer Bradley's dark side has been much discussed online in recent weeks. A post for her birthday ('Marion Zimmer Bradley Gave Us New Perspectives', 3 June) generated angry comments and was deleted. Some relevant links:

Retro Hugo Voter Packet. This is now available to Loncon 3 members to download, using their Hugo access codes:

As Others Remember 1995. 'In those days, the internet was mainly used to get in touch with 20 bearded nerds to discuss the two episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation in which the Bussard Ramscoop was employed for a different purpose than its intended function of gathering hydrogen molecules.' (Richard Herring, Metro, 25 June) [SR]

Silly Season. 'Giant super-rats that could become as big as cows are spreading across Britain at an "alarming" rate, scientists have warned.' (Daily Star, 27 June)

Thog's Second Helping. Oh, if you insist ... Adam Roberts steeled himself to read the early Shannara books, and communicates a few more (in his phrase) 'Baby-Thoggisms': 'The Dragon's Crease was well named.' 'The features of the Troll were indescribably bland.' 'An eerie soundless shriek of terror ripped from the convulsed shroud.' (all Terry Brooks, The Sword of Shannara, 1977) See also:

Ansible 324 Copyright © David Langford, 2014. Thanks to Robin Wayne Bailey, Paul Barnett, Barbara Barrett, David V. Barrett, Dirk Broer, John Clute, Paul Di Filippo, File 770, Janice Gelb, Bruce Gillespie, Peter Halasz, Martyn P. Jackson, Cheryl Morgan, Nonie Rider, Steve Rogerson, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Adam Roberts, SF Site, Steven H Silver, Gordon Van Gelder, Andrew Wells, Gary Wilkinson, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (BSFG), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 July 2014.