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Ansible 347, June 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 thing that is neither god nor beast.

A Word from Our Sponsor. The latest Langford ebook from Ansible Editions is Starcombing (introduction by Adam Roberts!), slightly expanded from the print edition. See

The Thirty-First of June

John Gilbert of Fear magazine writes: 'The deed is done. I have signed a Heads of Agreement giving 55% of my rights in Fear to The Brighthelm Group, a publisher in Brighton. They will return Fear to print in July and have appointed me Editorial Director of the magazine with immediate effect on a retainer with a share of an Assistant Editor, Designer and Ad Manager. The mag will be published every two months and the publisher will start working on Smiths etc. It's pretty much the deal I had with Newsfield but I have a much better idea of print and publishing than I had then. The plan is that if the mag succeeds I go full time as publisher of all their mags.' (Facebook, 6 May)

Ursula K. Le Guin broadens our scope: 'I don't know if Thog is interested in opening his Masterclass to anyone outside science fiction, let alone the writer some people call The Master. But I know he likes the more violent anatomical disjunctions and peculiarities, and humbly offer him this one, from Chapter 30 of The Awkward Age by Henry James (p.301 in the 1981 Penguin Modern Classics edition):

"'But we have, you know, as Van says, gone to pieces' she went on, twisting her pretty head and tossing it back over her shoulder to an auditor of whose approach to her from behind, though it was impossible she should have seen him, she had visibly, within a minute, become aware."

'I can't tell you the joy this passage gave me, as by page 301 I was in danger of tossing the book back over my shoulder into a fireplace of whose location, though I might be uncertain, I had become willing to imagine, as offering me a final, if less than admirable, escape from endless thickets of clauses introducing incomprehensibly allusive conversations carried on by disagreeable people, among whom the owner of the pretty head is, perhaps, the most tedious.' (6 May)

Robert Silverberg had a bad heart attack on 9 May while visiting Siena, Italy. He reports: 'Repairs performed, I am home now, and all seems well, though as of this morning it appears recovery will be slow. I do expect to attend the worldcon.' (16 May)

Andy Weir struggled to retain his cool on receiving an official US Congress invitation to testify at a hearing of the Space Subcommittee of the House Committee on Science, Space and Technology. The 18 May hearing was titled Next Steps to Mars: Deep Space Habitat. (Facebook, 11 May) Hal O'Brien felt this item should be headlined 'Author Hauled Before Congressional Committee for Writing Novel'.

Terri Windling gave the annual Tolkien Lecture at Pembroke College, Oxford, on 26 May – news that came too late for the May Ansible.


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

10 Jun • British Fantasy Society Social, The Fine Line Bow, 1 Bow Churchyard, London, EC4M 9DQ. 7pm-11pm. Free; all welcome.

15 Jun • The Thing Itself (discussion), Great Saint Mary's, Cambridge. With Alan Jacobs, Adam Roberts, Francis Spufford and Rowan Williams. 7:30pm-8:30pm. Free. See

16-18 Jun • Roald Dahl Conference, Cardiff University. Call for papers deadline was 31 January. See

22 Jun • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 6pm for 7pm. With Charles Stross. Free. Venue change announced: Keynes Library, Birkbeck University, 43 Gordon Square, London, WC1H 0PD.

25 Jun • BSFA/SF Foundation mini-convention & AGMs, Lecture Theatre 1, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ. GoH David A. Hardy, Liz Williams. 9:30am-4:30pm. Free; all welcome.

28-29 Jun • Science for Fiction, Imperial College, London. Science presentations for published authors only. £30 including catering. Contact Dave Clements, d dot clements at imperial dot ac dot uk.

28-30 Jun • SFRA/CRSF Conference, Rendall Building, Liverpool University. £169.99 inc banquet. See

30 Jun - 29 Aug • Daydreaming with Stanley Kubrick (exhibition), Somerset House, London. 10am-6pm. £12.50; £9.50 concessions.

3 Jul • Tolkien Society Seminar, Hilton Hotel, Leeds, LS1 4BX. £20. See

4-5 Jul • Global Fantastika (conference), Lancaster University. See

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

17-21 Aug • MidAmeriCon II (74th Worldcon), Kansas City, MO, USA. $210 reg; $100 YA/active military service; $60 under-16s; $50 supp. Rates will rise at the door. See for more.

21 Aug • Worcester Comic Con, Worcester Arena. Tickets £10 from 11am, £15 from 10am. See

26-28 Aug • Starburst Film Festival, MMU Student Union, Manchester. £60 'early bird', then £99. See

29 Oct • BristolCon, Doubletree Hotel, Bristol city centre. Now £25 reg; £30 at the door. Cheques to 18 High Leaze Road, Patchway, Bristol BS34 5AF. See also

4-6 Nov • BCon (Eurocon), Barcelona, Spain. €35 reg; under-25s €10; under-16s free. Register at 'Bcon warns that members are joining very fast from Spain itself and that the cap is 800. Fans from other European countries are urged to join now. Late and at-door memberships are unlikely to be possible.'

Rumblings. Hugo and Retro Hugo Voting opened on 15 May 2016, though there were some initial difficulties with the online form. Voting closes on 31 July. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. 'People buy romance novels, sci-fi and other genres because they know they will encounter no unhappiness, no depression, no angst, no killings, no family conflict, etc., the way they will in all of modern fiction.' (Letter, New York Times Book Review, 8 May) [JB]
• 'Written at the height of Britain's imperial project, those 23 little tales are really a primer for navigating the merciless currents of amoral capitalism'. (Subhead for 'Into the dystopian world of Beatrix Potter' by Kathryn Hughes, Guardian, 10 May) [PE]

Awards. British Book Industry: BOOK OF THE YEAR Andrew Michael Hurley, The Loney. CHILDREN'S David Solomons, My Brother is a Superhero.
Compton Crook (sf/fantasy debut novel): Fran Wilde, Updraft.
Fanzine Activity Achievement (FAAn): GENZINE (tie) Chunga and Raucous Caucus. PERSONAL ZINE Vibrator. SPECIAL PUBLICATION The MOTA Reader. WEBSITE WRITER Roy Kettle. ARTIST Steve Stiles. LETTERHACK Paul Skelton. FANZINE COVER D. West with Harry Bell, Raucous Caucus 4. #1 FAN FACE Dan Steffan. LIFETIME ACHIEVEMENT John Bangsund.
Nebulas. NOVEL Naomi Novik Uprooted. NOVELLA Nnedi Okorafor, Binti ( NOVELETTE Sarah Pinsker, 'Our Lady of the Open Road' (Asimov's 6/15). SHORT Alyssa Wong, 'Hungry Daughters of Starving Mothers' (Nightmare 10/15). ANDRE NORTON (YA) Fran Wilde, Updraft. RAY BRADBURY (film) Mad Max: Fury Road.
Prometheus (libertarian): special award to the graphic novel sequence Alex + Ada by Jonathan Luna and Sarah Vaughn.
Stoker (horror). NOVEL Paul Tremblay, A Head Full of Ghosts. DEBUT Nicole Cushing, Mr. Suicide. YA John Dixon, Devil's Pocket. GRAPHIC NOVEL Sam Weller, Mort Castle, Chris Ryall & Carlos Guzman (ed.), Shadow Show: Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury. LONG FICTION Mercedes M. Yardley, Little Dead Red. SHORT John Palisano, 'Happy Joe's Rest Stop' (18 Wheels of Horror). SCREENPLAY David Robert Mitchell, It Follows. ANTHOLOGY Michael Bailey (ed.), The Library of the Dead. COLLECTION Lucy A. Snyder, While the Black Stars Burn. NON-FICTION Stephen Jones, The Art of Horror. POETRY COLLECTION Alessandro Manzetti, Eden Underground.

Hugo Aftermath II. Tom Mays's withdrawn 'The Commuter' was replaced as a Short Story finalist by Naomi Kritzer's 'Cat Pictures Please' (Clarkesworld, 1/15). In Fanzine, Black Gate withdrew as in 2015, and was replaced by Lady Business. The official shortlist has been amended:
• Chuck Tingle, whose Short Story listing for 'Space Raptor Butt Invasion' was a blatant Rabid Puppies attempt to embarrass the Hugos by bloc-voting for gay erotica, rose to the occasion with a new epic titled Slammed in the Butt by My Hugo Award Nomination and won fannish hearts (if perhaps not votes) by extensive mockery of the Rabids and their greasy eminence Theodore 'Vox Day' Beale. This included registering as a puppy-taunting platform.

As Others Research Us. 'Authors like Laurel K Hamilton, Charlaine Harris and of course E L James have made sexy vampire tales mainstream ...' (Damien Walter,, 18 May) E.L. James? Did we all miss a vampire epic called Fifty Shades of Blood?

R.I.P. Adolf Born (1930-2016), Czech painter and cartoonist who also created popular fantasy animations for children, died on 22 May aged 85. [PDF]
Darwyn Cooke (1962-2016), Canadian comics artist and writer who worked on Warner's 1990s Batman and Superman animations, plus DC's 2001 Catwoman reboot and award-winning miniseries The New Frontier, died on 14 May. [PDF]
Katherine Dunn (1945-2016), US author and journalist best known for her bestselling horror/paranormal novel Geek Love (1989), died on 11 May; she was 70.
Nicholas Fisk (David Higginbottom, 1923-2016), UK author of much challenging and often unnerving sf for children, including Space Hostages (1967), Trillions (1971), Grinny (1973), Antigrav (1978) and the uncompromisingly grim A Rag, a Bone and a Hank of Hair (1980), died on 10 May; he was 94. [GW]
Joe Fleishaker (1954-2016), outsized US character actor whose genre films include Citizen Toxie: The Toxic Avenger IV (2000) plus others in this franchise, Tales from the Crapper (2004) and Poultrygeist (2006), died on 23 May aged 62.
Makiko Futaki (1958-2016), Japanese animator who worked on Akira (1988) and many Studio Ghibli films including My Neighbor Totoro (1988), Princess Mononoke (1997), Spirited Away (2001) and Howl's Moving Castle (2004), died on 13 May; she was 57.
Roberta L. Gellis (1927-2016), US author of historical romances and fantasies (including the 'Sceptr'd Isle' series with Mercedes Lackey) and of sf as by Max Daniels in the 1970s and under her own name with Overstars Mail: Imperial Challenge (2004), died on 6 May; she was 88. [GVG]
Gene Gutowski (1925-2016), Polish film producer whose credits include Roman Polanski's Repulsion (1965) and The Fearless Vampire Killers (1967), died on 10 May; he was 90. [MMW]
Bill Herz (1916-2016), last surviving participant in Orson Welles's notorious 1938 War of the Worlds broadcast – in which Herz played two ham radio operators – died on 10 May at the age of 99. [PDF]
H.B. Hickey (Herbert B. Livingston, 1916-2016), author of some 80 stories including much sf from 1946 to 1970 (when 'Gone are the Lupo' appeared in the Delany/Hacker anthology Quark/1), died on 8 March; he was 99. [WC]
Mike Jencevice (1955-2016), US fan whose fanzine was Trilevel and who ran the Windycon dealers' room for over 30 years, died on 16 May. [SHS]
Buck Kartalian (1922-2016), US character actor whose genre credits include Planet of the Apes (1968), Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972) and My Favorite Martian (1999), died on 24 May aged 93. [PDF]
Burt Kwouk (1930-2016), UK actor seen in The Avengers (1961-1965 tv), Curse of the Fly (1965), Doctor Who: 'Four to Doomsday' (1982), I Bought a Vampire Motorcycle (1990) and various James Bond, Fu Manchu and (most famously) Pink Panther films, died on 24 May aged 85.
Tomohiro Matsu (1972-2016), Japanese author of 'light novels' made into anime series, and scriptwriter for the fantasy anime Queen's Blade: The Exiled Virgin, died on 2 May aged 42. [PDF]
Angela Paton (1930-2016), US actress whose best-known genre role was in Groundhog Day (1993), died on 26 May aged 86. [PDF]
Stewart Perkins (1967-2016), UK comics and especially 2000 AD fan active since the 1990s, whose Judge Dredd fanzine was Class of '79, died on 21 May. [GW]
Paul Pinn (1955-2016), UK writer of horror and other genres whose first novel was The Pariah (2000), died from cancer on 4 February at the age of 60. [GC]
Stephen Prestwood, UK small-press comics artist who co-founded Evolutionary Comics in the early 1990s and drew for many other publishers, died in late May. [GW]
Michael Roberds (1964-2016), US actor who played Uncle Fester in The New Addams Family (1998-1999), with further credits including Elf (2003), Hot Tub Time Machine (2010), Bong of the Dead (2011) and Finding Mrs. Claus (2012), died on 15 May aged 52. [PDF]
Ian Sander (1947-2016), US tv producer best known for Ghost Whisperer (2005-2010), died on 3 May aged 68. Other genre productions include Brimstone (1998-1999) and Frankenstein (2004). [PDF]
William Schallert (1922-2016), US actor seen in Star Trek: 'The Trouble with Tribbles' (1967), The Wild Wild West (1967-1969), Colossus: The Forbin Project (1970), Innerspace (1987) and Bag of Bones (2011), died on 8 May aged 93.
Isao Tomita (1932-2016), Japanese composer and performer of electronic music, often with sf themes as in his 1979 album Bermuda Triangle, died on 5 May aged 84. [JonC]
George Wildman (1927-2016), US cartoonist who for many years drew Popeye and was a senior editor at Charlton Comics 1971-1985, died on 22 May; he was 88. [PDF]
Alan Young (1919-2016), UK-born actor whose genre credits include George Pal's The Time Machine (1960), Mr Ed (1961-1966), Battle of the Planets (1978-1980), The Cat from Outer Space (1978), The Incredible Hulk (1982-1983) and DuckTales (1987-1990), died on 19 May; he was 96. [F770]

As Others See Us II. 'Mainstream writers duck into our field to achieve or perpetrate a novel and then slip rapidly out again, protesting that they were somewhere else all the time or at worst only slumming. When I complimented Robert Graves on his masterly Watch the North Wind Rise (Seven Days in New Crete in England), he hastily replied, "Oh, but that's not science fiction."' (Fritz Leiber, F&SF, May 1962) [VS]

Court Circular. Marvel's and DC's joint ownership of a trademark on the word 'superhero' was nearly tested in court after they tried to squelch UK author Graham Jules over a self-help book titled From Business Zero to Superhero. The big companies backed down shortly before the scheduled hearing at the Intellectual Property Office in London. (Guardian, 24 May)
• J.J. Abrams said in mid-May that the Paramount/CBS lawsuit against Axanar Productions for Star Trek IP infringement was 'going away'; a settlement is implied, but Axanar filed a counterclaim against the studios on 25 May. (, 25 May)

Closing Down. Black Clock is ceasing publication with the current issue 21; this and back numbers, both print and PDF, will no longer be on sale after 15 June. ( [MI]
• Gary Fry announced the immediate closure of his horror-oriented Gray Friar Press on 23 May.

Outraged Letters. Charles Platt on the 1976 Checkpoint pie report (A346): 'At no time did I ever pay for any pie or pies thrown at Mr. Ted White. Other people were happy to contribute; in fact one gentleman insisted on paying for his very own pie. I was agenting for the pie thrower at the time (a sixties radical friend) but took no commission. I apologized to Ted long ago and cannot even remember why there was such interest in pieing him back then. / I did however pay for the pie that was thrown at William Shatner at a Star Trek convention a year or so later. To my embarrassment, Shatner heroically stepped in to prevent the pie thrower from being torn apart by the mob.'

Blog's the Stuff. John DeNardo announced on 5 May that the SF Signal blog is to close down; an archive will no doubt be preserved. Charlie Jane Anders announced her departure from io9 on 29 April: 'I need to spend some serious quality time working on my next novel, without any distractions.' This blog's new editor is Rob Bricken.

Random Fandom. Joyce Katz suffered a stroke on 3 May but seems to be recovering well. [AK]
Mic Rogers, long a familiar face at UK conventions, has moved into a care home for reasons that include failing eyesight: please send no more fanzines to her St Albans address.
Marcus Rowland's Forgotten Futures role-playing game no longer accepts shareware registration: see

The Dead Past. 500 Years Ago: Thomas More's Utopia had its first edition (in Latin) in 1516.
200 Years Ago: Lord Byron's suggestion of a story-writing contest during three rainy June days at the Villa Diodati in Switzerland led to John Polidori's The Vampyre and Mary Shelley's Frankenstein. They were spared the knowledge of having launched a horror tradition that would later include sparkly vampires and Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein.
50 Years Ago: 'PETER GEORGE, creator of Doctor Strangelove, who was awarded a Hugo at the 1965 London World SF Convention for his novel Red Alert, was found dead with head injuries at his home on 26th May. A shotgun lay between his knees.' (Skyrack 90, June 1966; the film, not the book, won a Hugo.)

Fanfundery. DUFF: Clare McDonald-Sims of Australia, the only candidate, unsurprisingly won the northbound race to MidAmeriCon II.

Thog's Masterclass. Walk Before You Run Dept. 'The torment in his side slowed him to a dizzy, infirm walk. He ran face-first into a tree ...' (Patricia Anthony, 'Two-bag Goddess' in Eating Memories, 1997) [BA]
Dept of Anticipating Chuck Tingle. 'The gun, with its specially made, tiny butt, felt comforting to his hand ...' (H.K. Bulmer, Encounters in Space, 1952) [BA]
The Critical Heritage. 'The Handmaid's Tale was a dystopia about the oppression of women by a feminist Canadian novelist from outside of the genre.' (Andrew M. Butler, Foundation 123, 2016) [BW]

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• 10 June 2016: Ian Whates 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: 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.

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

Editorial. Here in the mighty throbbing powerhouse of Ansible Editions, your editor is gaping at the near-final proof copy of Rob Hansen's THEN: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK: 1930-1980. It's a pretty massive trade paperback – currently 428pp of smallish print with hundreds of photos, even without the index on which Rob is even now toiling.

We Are Everywhere. Steve Sneyd points out that the leaked Panama Papers tax-haven story is tinged with genre, since the now infamous law firm Mossack Fonseca set up a secret email system: 'Wealthy clients could correspond using invented names. Some in the files leap out at you: Harry Potter, Winnie Pooh and Daniel Radcliffe. Obviously not the real one. / One customer used the name Isaac Asimov, a nod to the master of twentieth-century science fiction, whom he admired.' (Guardian, 9 April)

Thog's Second Helping. Vivid Symbolism Dept. '"Interestingly," Sparkes told Matthews later, as they sat in the cafeteria, "not all porn addicts get erections." / Ian Matthews raised an eyebrow as he rested his sausage sandwich on the Formica table. "Do you mind, boss? I'm eating."' (Fiona Barton, The Widow, 2016) [PB]

Ansible 347 Copyright © David Langford, 2016. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Banana Wings, Paul Barnett, John Boston, Jonathan Clements, William Contento, Gary Couzens, Paul Di Filippo, File 770, Morbus Iff, Arnie Katz, Private Eye, Steven H Silver, Vernon Speed, Gordon Van Gelder, Gary Wilkinson, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 June 2016.