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Ansible 345, April 2016

Cartoon: Brad W. Foster

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Brad W. Foster. Available for SAE or the radiant car thy sparrows drew.

Axed! No champagne corks will pop for the 21st anniversary of my SFX magazine column (in every issue since the June 1995 launch). The next one, in SFX 274, is my last. Austere overlords counting beans at Future Publishing HQ have imposed a budget cut, and editor Richard Edwards can no longer afford what he kindly calls 'star writers and illustrations'; column illustrator Andy Watt also gets the push.
• Free from the four-weekly SFX deadlines, I'll be turning more of my backlist into ebooks. Up Through an Empty House of Stars: Reviews and Essays 1980-2002 now has its first digital edition – see Also in preparation is a book of the 91 still uncollected SFX columns – plus extras to make the count up to 100 – all tentatively titled The Last SFX Visions.

Fool's Gold

Pintér Bence cries 'J'accuse!' (though in Hungarian) with a post at stating that almost all translated foreign content in the Hungarian magazine Galaktika is pirated from such online sources as Clarkesworld, Lightspeed, Strange Horizons and, without rights-holders' permission and of course without payment. (23 March) [SFS]

Arthur Krystal explains the literary Catch-22 that has so long perplexed the tiny minds of genre-lovers: 'Literary work is not a genre. You can't have bad literary writing in the way that you can have bad mysteries or bad science fiction, because then it wouldn't be literary.' (Chronicle of Higher Education, 6 March) [MMW]

Jack McDevitt officially has a heavenly body: the IAU-approved name of Asteroid 328305, discovered in 2006, is Jackmcdevitt. [L]

Sharyn November's senior editorial position at Viking Children's Books was 'eliminated' in a reorganization. She began at Puffin in 1990 and had been editorial director of Firebird from its 2002 launch.


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

9-10 Apr • Sci Fi Scarborough (comics, media), The Spa Complex, Scarborough. Tickets £27.50 (day £16.50); 6-16s £11 (day £5.50); under-6s free. See

11 Apr - 20 Jun • Doctor Who (11-week Monday evening class), Aquinas College, Stockport. Contact Sheila Lahan, 0161 419 9163.

21-24 Apr • Dead by Dawn (horror film festival), Filmhouse Cinema One, 88 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh, EH3 9BZ. £75 reg. Box office 0131 228 2688. Online booking via

27 Apr - 6 May • Sci-Fi London (film), various London venues. Clarke shortlist to be announced at opening. See

30 Apr - 1 May • EM-Con (media), Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham. £160 reg with extras (2 photoshoots, 1 autograph); £10 day (11am); £15 day (10am); £115 day (10am) with extras. See

27-30 May • Supernova sf film festival, Odeon Printworks, Manchester. Tickets £50. See

28-29 May • Satellite 5, Marriott Hotel, Glasgow. £55 reg; 12-17s £20; 5-11s £5; under-5s £2. Rates rise on 4 April. Contact c/o Flat 2/1, 691 Shields Rd, Pollokshields, Glasgow, G41 4QL. Membership forms and online registration at

12-14 Aug • Nine Worlds Geekfest (multimedia), Novotel London West, Hammersmith, London. Now £100 reg, rising to £115 on 1 July; 5-15s £33; under-5s free. Book online at

3-4 Sep • Middle-earth Festival, Sarehole Mill, Cole Bank Rd, Hall Green, Birmingham, B13 0BD. Free. See

17-18 Sep • Futurefest (futurology), Tobacco Dock, London. 'Early bird' tickets £70, rising to £80 on 1 May; day tickets to be available in June. See for 2016 'themes and curators'.

1 Oct • TitanCon, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast. £25 reg; £5 supporting; tickets available from 9 April. See

7-9 Oct • Destination Star Trek, NEC, Birmingham. Day £29; 2 days £39; 3 days £49; VIP £145 to £2999! See

28-30 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Pendulum Hotel, Manchester. £75 reg; day £30 Fri or Sun, £40 Sat. Contact 95 Meadowgate Rd, Salford, Manchester, M6 8EN. See also

28 Nov - 3 Dec • Arvon SF Course, The Hurst, Shropshire. £750 per single room. See

3-5 Feb 2017 • Quoi de Neuf (filk), Best Western Hotel, Marks Tey, Colchester. Now £36 reg, £25 unwaged. Cheques to UK Filk Convention, c/o 20 Glynbridge Gardens, Cheltenham, GL51 0BZ. See; email quoideneuf at hewett org.

3-5 Feb 2017 • SF Ball (media), Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton. £132 reg; child £66; other options. See

10-12 Feb 2017 • Conrunner 4 (conrunning), Park Inn, Nottingham. £35 reg until 31 May. Contact 56 Jackmans Place, Letchworth Garden City, Herts, SG6 1RH. See also (First announced for 3-5 February; moved to avoid clash with filk con.)

24-26 Feb 2017 • Redemption '17 (multimedia), Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield. £55 reg rising to £65 on 12 April (day £40); under-18s £25 (day £15); under-3s free; £15 supp. Contact 61 Chaucer Rd, Farnborough, Hants, GU14 8SP. See

30 Mar - 1 Apr • Sci-Fi Weekender, Hafan y Mor Holiday Park, near Pwllheli, Gwynedd, North Wales. Booking by accommodation from £520 for two; Fri+Sat day pass TBA? See

CANCELLED. 14-17 Apr 2017 • Pasgon (Eastercon), Mercure Holland House Hotel, Cardiff. Cancellation announced at on 10 March, owing to 'location issues' believed to be unfeasible hotel facilities charges. Refunds are planned; members who didn't receive email about this should contact membership at

14-17 Apr 2017 • Innominate (Eastercon), Hilton Metropole, NEC, Birmingham – replacing Pasgon. GoH Pat Cadigan, Judith Clute, Colin Harris. £55 reg; £40 YA/unwaged; £20 child; £1 infants – rising on 1 May to £60 reg, £45 YA/unwaged. Cheques to Eastercon 2017 c/o 3 Deveron Rd, Halfway, Sheffield, S20 8GE. See

30 Mar - 2 Apr 2018 • Follycon (Eastercon), Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. GoH Kieron Gillen, Christina Lake, Nnedi Okorafor, Kim Stanley Robinson. £60 reg; £45 YA/unwaged; £30 supp. Cheques to Eastercon 2018 c/o 19 Uphall Rd, Cambridge, CB3 1HX. Credit cards (preferred) via Email: info at follycon org uk.

Rumblings. London First Thursdays: still moving to The Bishop's Finger as of the 7 April meeting. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Abuse Us. 'No self-respecting adult should buy comics or watch superhero movies'. (Daily Telegraph headline, 28 March)
• 'Like most science fiction, this is a pack of lies meant for babies.' (Sam Biddle,, 4 January) [TM]

Awards. A. Bertram Chandler (Australia): James (Jocko) Allen.
BSFA: NOVEL Aliette de Bodard, The House of Shattered Wings. SHORT Aliette de Bodard, 'Three Cups of Grief, by Starlight' (Clarkesworld 100). NONFICTION Adam Roberts, Rave and Let Die: The SF and Fantasy of 2014. ARTWORK Jim Burns, cover for Pelquin's Comet.
Ditmar (Australia), best novel: Lisa L. Hannett, Lament for the Afterlife.
Doc Weir (unsung UK fan heroes): Kathy Westhead. [BB]
James White (unpublished short): David Cleden, 'Rock, Paper, Incisors'.
Kitschies: NOVEL Margaret Atwood, The Heart Goes Last. DEBUT Tade Thompson, Making Wolf. COVER Jet Purdie, The Door That Led to Where by Sally Gardner. NATIVELY DIGITAL FICTION Life Is Strange. SPECIAL Patrick Ness's refugee-crisis Save the Children fundraiser.
Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award (SFWA; formerly just Solstice Award) for career achievement: Sir Terry Pratchett.
Lambda Awards (LGBT) sf/f/horror shortlist: John Inman, The Boys on the Mountain; Fletcher DeLancey, The Caphenon; Ally Blue, Down; Robert Levy, The Glittering World; Kirsty Logan, The Gracekeepers; J.A. Rock, Minotaur; Kate Sherwood, Sacrati; Jude McLaughlin, Wonder City Stories.
Norma K. Hemming Award (Australia): Louise Katz, The Orchid Nursery.
Philip K. Dick Award: Ramez Naam, Apex.

Future Chic. 'The 21st-century man will abandon tie, shirt, and trousers. Instead he will be outfitted in the masculine version of the one-piece stretch moonsuit for travelling, and will strip down to long tights and a short toga, reminiscent of the free-swinging styles of the Roman charioteer.' (Saturday Evening Post, 17 October 1964) [MMW]

R.I.P. Sir Ken Adam (1921-2016), German-born UK production designer whose sets included the villain's HQ in Dr No (1962) and the War Room in Dr Strangelove (1964), died on 10 March aged 95. He worked on seven Bond films in all, and designed the car for Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968).
Sylvia Anderson (1927-2016), UK tv/film producer, writer and voice actress, co-creator with her husband Gerry of the much-loved Thunderbirds (in which she famously voiced Lady Penelope) and other sf tv series using their trademark 'Supermarionation' puppets, died on 15 March; she was 88. [AW]
Ken Barr (1933-2016), Scotland-born US artist whose magazine work appeared in Nebula SF, various DC and Marvel titles, Eerie and Vampirella, and who later painted hundreds of book covers beginning with Zelazny's The Guns of Avalon (1974), died on 25 March aged 83. [SQP]
Howard Berk (1925-2016), US screenwriter and novelist whose one sf title was The Sun Grows Cold (1971) and who wrote a few 1969-1972 episodes of Mission: Impossible, died on 27 March aged 91. [PDF]
Terry Brain, UK animator who created the children's tv series The Trap Door (1984, 1986) and worked on Aardman productions including Chicken Run (2000), The Curse of the Were-Rabbit (2005) and Shaun the Sheep Movie (2015), died on 25 March; he was 60.
Tony Burton (1937-2016), US heavyweight boxer turned character actor seen in The Shining (1980), Exorcism (2003) and several genre tv series from The Invisible Man (1975) to Poltergeist: The Legacy (1996), died on 25 February. [MMW]
Adrienne Corri (1931-2016), UK actress whose genre credits include A Clockwork Orange (1971), Vampire Circus (1972) and other horror films, and Doctor Who: 'The Leisure Hive' (1980) died on 13 March aged 84.
Richard Davalos (1930-2016), US actor seen in Battle Beyond the Stars (1980) and Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983), *died on 18 March aged 85. [PDF]
Patty Duke (1946-2016), US actress whose genre credits include The Daydreamer (voice, 1966), She Waits (1972), The Sixth Sense (1972), Look What's Happened to Rosemary's Baby (1976), Curse of the Black Widow (1977), The Swarm (1978) and Grave Secrets: The Legacy of Hilltop Drive (1992), died on 2 March; she was 69. [PDF]
Tony Dyson (1947-2016), UK special effects creator who built eight R2-D2 droid models for the first Star Wars films and also worked on Moonraker (1979), Altered States (1980), Superman II (1980) and Dragonslayer (1981), died on or before 4 March; he was 68. [PDF]
Earl Hamner, Jr. (1923-2016), US screenwriter/producer who scripted eight Twilight Zone episodes (1962-1964) and the film of Charlotte's Web (1973), died on 24 March aged 92. [F770]
Barry Hines (1939-2016), UK author and screenwriter who scripted the BAFTA-winning docudrama Threads (1984) – about a nuclear strike on Sheffield and its aftermath – died on 18 March aged 76. (BBC)
Ken Howard (1944-2016), US actor with tv credits for Batman: The Animated Series (voice, 1993), Captain Planet and the Planeteers (voice, 1994), Ghost Whisperer (2006) and Eli Stone (2008), died on 23 March aged 71. [MMW]
Gary Hutzel (1955-2016), multiple Emmy-winning US visual effects artist whose credits include Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and the rebooted Battlestar Galactica, died on 3 March aged 60. [PDF]
Morris Keesan, long-time US fan and active participant at the File 770 blog, died on 30 March; he was 63. [AIP]
Justin Leiber (1938-2016), US academic and author – Fritz Leiber's son – whose work on the philosophy of the mind was dramatized in his sf novel Beyond Rejection (1980) and its thematic sequels, died on 22 March; he was 77. [MD]
Eric Medalle (1973-2016), US Pokémon artist and designer, died in a storm accident on 13 March when a tree fell on his car; he was 42.
Peggy Ranson (1948-2016), Hugo-winning US fan artist who created small-press book covers and much interior art (including cover and interiors for George Alec Effinger's Maureen Birnbaum, Barbarian Swordsperson), died on 19 March aged 67. [GHL]
Nancy Reagan (1921-2016), former US First Lady and actress who starred in Donovan's Brain (1953), died on 6 March aged 94. [PDF]
Paul Ryan (1949-2016), US comics artist who worked for Marvel (Spider-Man, Avengers, Iron Man, Fantastic Four) and DC (Superman, Flash, Batman) and drew many coloured Sunday instalments of the newspaper-syndicated Phantom strip, died on 6 March aged 66. [PDF]
Augie Scotto (1927-2016), US comics artist and cartoonist who worked for Will Eisner's PS magazine, Marvel Comics and DC Comics, died on 15 March aged 88. [PDF]
Garry Shandling (1949-2016), US comedian whose film credits include What Planet Are You From? (2000) as writer/producer and Iron Man 2 (2010) and Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) as actor, died on 24 March aged 66. [DL]
James Sheldon (1920-2016), US director whose genre credits include episodes of The Twilight Zone (1961-1962), Batman (1966) and The Man from U.N.C.L.E. (1967), died on 12 March aged 95. [PDF]
Pauline Whitby (1928-2015), UK author who wrote as Paul Ash, Paul Ashwell and Pauline Ashwell – under which name her debut was the Hugo-shortlisted 'Unwillingly to School' (1958 Astounding) – died on 23 November 2015. 'The Lost Kafoozalum' (1960 Analog) was also a Hugo finalist; both form part of her Unwillingly to Earth (1993).
Michael White (1936-2016), UK theatre and film producer whose credits include The Rocky Horror Show (1973 London stage premiere), Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), died on 7 March; he was 80. [F770]

As Others See That Thing of Wonder Woman's. 'What are we to make of the gender codes in Batman v Superman? Is it confused or certain, modern or prehistoric? To reach a clear conclusion, I might have to tell you the end, or at least flesh out my analysis that the lasso in the final battle is a metaphor for the omnipotent but non-lethal vagina.' (Zoe Williams, The Guardian, 23 March) [JCo]

Outraged Letters. Steve Sneyd: 'In upfronting US election daftitudes in A344, you exercised extraordinary self-restraint, as a mega Sladekist, in not pointing out that Trump himself is clearly influenced by sf for his tentpole policy, viz. John Sladek's "The Great Wall of Mexico" (1973; reprinted in Keep the Giraffe Burning), a terrifying prophecy of a Trump presidency!' John's earlier masterstroke of political satire, in The Müller-Fokker Effect (1970), was President Ronald Reagan.

The Weakest Link. Bradley Walsh: 'In Julius Caesar, which character said "Cry Havoc! and let slip the dogs of war?"' Contestant: 'Macbeth.' (ITV, The Chase) [PE]

The Dead Past. 50 Years Ago: 'LAFAYETTE RON HUBBARD and his dear old Sussex based Scientology were cut to ribbons in a long feature in the 14th February Daily Mail which pointed out that "Doctor"Hubbard's Ph.D degree was awarded by the non-existent Sequoia University. In The Times of 8th March Hubbard ran a 15 guinea advert to renounce his bogus doctorate because of "the damage being done in our society with nuclear physics and psychiatry by persons calling themselves 'doctor'." Hey ho.' (Skyrack 87, April 1966)
40 Years Ago, another strange and powerful cult was born: 'The Astral Leauge is a new group hoping to promote peace and understanding should extraterrestials land on Earth. High Priest is Don West ...' (Checkpoint 68, April 1976)

Harlan Is Everywhere. On the tortured aspect of the US politician required to stand mutely behind Donald Trump at the latter's 1 March press conference and elsewhere: 'Chris Christie has no mouth, but he must scream.' (Alexandra Petri, Washington Post, 2 March) [LW]

Fanfundery. TAFF 2016 result: Anna Raftery 94 votes (69 Europe/25 NA), Wolf von Witting 82 (56/26), No Preference 14 (4/10); 190 ballots cast. Anna Raftery wins and travels to MidAmeriCon II in August. Details and newsletter at
DUFF 2016. The race from Australasia to MidAmeriCon has only one candidate, Clare McDonald-Sims: Deadline 16 May.
GUFF: another trip report! Gillian Polack's Gillian's Book of Lists (2014 trip) can now be bought online: see for the link.
Fan Funds Auction Bonanza: £866 was raised at Mancunicon, to be split equally between TAFF and GUFF. A further $700A was raised at the Australian Natcon in Brisbane, mostly for GUFF.

Group Gropes. A2Z SF Group meets on the third Thursday each month at The United Brethren Pub, New Writtle Street, Chelmsford, Essex, CM2 0LF. 8pm onward. 'All SF fans welcome.'

Thog's Masterclass. Out of Context Dept. 'But when she took the warm shaft in her hands, she found that she did not know how to call upon its strength.' (Stephen Donaldson, The Runes of the Earth, 2004) [JaC]
Dept of Musical Quakes. '... for several minutes he went on quaking and hyperventilating. He sounded like a Brazilian musical instrument.' (Jean-Patrick Manchette, 3 to Kill, 1976; trans Donald Nicholson-Smith 2002) [PB]
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'Her eyes have the puckered sheen of day-old ripe olives.' Perhaps this is why '... fifty percent of his eye contact is below her collar bone.' (Ed Bryant, 'Their Thousandth Season', Clarion II, 1972) [BA]
Back of an Envelope Dept. Scientist: '... we will start the rocket off [from Earth] at a moderate speed.' Reporter: 'What do you consider a moderate speed?' Scientist, twinkling: 'Oh, perhaps two miles a second.' Reporter, after rapid calculation: 'Then the rocket will reach the moon in about thirty-five seconds, Doctor?' (John Blaine, The Rocket's Shadow, 1947) [RR]

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• 8 April 2016: Jacey Bedford talks to the Brum Group. 7:30pm for 8pm at the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham city centre. £4 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Future meetings/speakers: 13 May 2016 tba; 10 June 2016 Ian Whates; 8 July 2016 Dave Lally; 12 August 2016 Summer Social meal; 12 September 2016 tba; 14 October 2016 Andy Lound; 4 November 2016 tba; 2 December 2016 Xmas Social.
• 27 April 2016: Thomas Olde Heuvelt signing, London Forbidden Planet Megastore, 6pm-7pm.

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

World Fantasy Award. The competition to design a new trophy is open: 'The ideal design will be simple and elegant, representing both fantasy and horror, without bearing any physical resemblance to any person, living or dead.' (Jim Henley at File 770: 'So, an elf impaled on a stake?') Perks including ten years of complimentary World Fantasy Convention memberships are offered, though no actual money.

Tiptree Award News! Pat Murphy excitingly confides that the 2016 results announcement will be just too late for this issue.

C.o.A. Kim Huett, 4D 36 Glenorchy St, Lyons, ACT 2606, Australia.

BSFA London Meeting. As we go to press, the April event date remains unconfirmed: the normal fourth Wednesday, 27 April, clashes with the opening ceremony of Sci-Fi London and the Clarke shortlist announcement. Other expected details: Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Tessa Farmer. Free. Keep watching the skies at:
Later: Dave Lally informs me that this meeting will be on 20 April 2016, venue and guest as above.

Still later, 19 April 2016: Cancelled at short notice owing to illness.

Thog's Second Helping. Pathetic Fallacy Dept. 'Billions of stars looked down on me like the eyes of cold and disapproving nuns at the world's worst Catholic school.' (Allison M. Dickson, Colt Coltrane and the Lotus Killer, 2013) [WM]

Ansible 345 Copyright © David Langford, 2016. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, Bill Burns, Jamieson Cobleigh, John Collick, Matthew Davis, File 770, Paul Di Filippo, Denny Lien, Guy H. Lillian, Locus, Todd Mason, Wayne Mook, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Roger Robinson, SF Site, SQP Art Books, Andrew Wells, Martin Morse Wooster, Lee Wood, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (BSFG), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 April 2016.