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Ansible® 358, May 2017

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, queens, or emperors with the double whorl.

The Masks of Time

Wolf Erlbruch, German illustrator and author, won Sweden's 5-million-krona Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for children's literature.

Peter Logan, a Glasgow sf author who had not previously crossed my radar (his novel appeared in 2015), was found guilty in March of multiple rapes of an unnamed mother and daughter, and sentenced in April to 11 years in prison. (BBC, 3 March & 11 April) [CMJ]

Adam Roberts, on a mission from Thog, read Laurence James's Simon Rack: New Life For Old (1975) and 'was struck by James's fondness for the fruitier variety of simile': 'Bogie laughed ... like thick oil trickling down a slimy sump.' 'Abraham Razan's voice was unbelievably rich and soft ... like rubbing the inside of a woman's thigh with a piece of black velvet.' 'He caressed her gently, like trying to pick a butterfly off a meadow flower.' 'It felt as though his genitals had been sand-blasted and then caught in a cross between a vacuum pump and a vice.' 'Wallace turned his head on his thin neck like a trapped rat.' 'Corman chuckled, a jolly sound like bubbles being blown through honey.'

Ardian Syaf, Indonesian freelance artist working for Marvel Comics on X-Men Gold, caused outrage with buried references to a Koran verse often read as anti-Christian and anti-semitic (and invoked in recent legal/political controversy in his homeland). Marvel made 'nothing to do with us' noises and very soon fired the artist. (BBC & Paste, 11 April) [CMJ] Syaf, who had worked on two Hugo-shortlisted comics, issued a kind of apology which did not save his career – because, he said, 'Marvel is owned by Disney. When Jews are offended, there is no mercy.' [Coconuts Jakarta, 12 April]


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

23 May • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. Speaker still TBA. Free.

27-28 May • Birmingham FearFest (horror), Gunmakers Arms, Bath St, Birmingham. More at

2 Jun - 1 Sep • Into the Unknown: A Journey through Science Fiction (exhibition), Barbican, London. See

3 Jun • Wonderlands: UK Graphic Novel Expo. Cityspace Centre, Chester Rd, Sunderland. 10am-6pm. Free. See

9-11 Jun • Lazlar Lyricon 3 (Hitch-Hiker), Quality Hotel, Stoke-on-Trent. £60 reg (ZZ9 members £55), 16-25s £30 (ZZ9 £25), 10-15s £10*, under-10s free* (*with adult). See

16-18 Jun • U-Con (Eurocon), Fritz-Henssler-Haus, Dortmund, Germany. Now €45 reg. See

17 Jun • BSFA/SF Foundation mini-con & AGMs, Lecture Theatre 1, Blackett Laboratory, Imperial College, London, SW7 2AZ. GoH Anne Charnock, Stephanie Saulter. 9:30am-4:30pm. Free; all welcome.

30 Jun - 2 Jul • SFF Masterclass in SF Criticism, Royal Observatory, Greenwich. £225 (postgrads £175). Deadline was 24 April but there may still be places: see

6 Jul • Last and First Men (film, narration, live orchestra), Bridgewater Hall, Manchester. 7:30pm. Tickets from £15. Box office 0161 907 9000; see

23 Jul • Star Trek: The Ultimate Voyage (orchestra and film), Royal Festival Hall, London. 2:30pm for 3pm and 6:30pm for 7pm. Tickets from £25. See

9-13 Aug • Worldcon 75 (Worldcon), Helsinki, Finland, added Ian Stewart as Science Guest. €170 reg; see for more.

7-8 Oct • SFW in the City (Sci-Fi Weekender spinoff), O2 Academy, Sheffield. Variously priced: see

28 Oct • BristolCon, Hilton Doubletree Hotel, Bristol. £20 reg/£15 concessions), rising to £25/£20 on 1 June; £30/£25 at the door. Cheques to Flat 11, Beaufort Ct Flats, 1 Beaufort St (off Stapleton Rd), Easton, Bristol, BS5 0SQ. PayPal registration at

10-12 Nov • Novacon 47, Park Inn, Nottingham. Now £50 reg; under-17s £12; under-13s free. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ. PayPal registration at

30 Mar - 2 Apr 2018 • Follycon (Eastercon), Majestic Hotel, Harrogate. £70 reg; £45 YA/unwaged; £30 child (5-17) and supp; under-5s free. Cheques to Eastercon 2018 c/o 19 Uphall Rd, Cambridge, CB3 1HX. Credit cards (preferred) via

19-22 Apr 2019 • Ytterbium (Eastercon), Park Inn, London Heathrow. GoH Frances Hardinge, Sydney Padua, John Scalzi, DC. Now £60 reg; £30 concessions; £25 under-18s; £5 infants under 5; £20 supporting. Online registration at

Infinitely Improbable

Hugo Novel Shortlist. Charlie Jane Anders, All the Birds in the Sky; Becky Chambers, A Closed and Common Orbit; Cixin Liu, Death's End (translated by Ken Liu); Yoon Ha Lee, Ninefox Gambit; N.K. Jemisin, The Obelisk Gate; Ada Palmer, Too Like the Lightning. Now that there are 18 categories each having six rather than the traditional five finalists, this is the most voluminous Hugo ballot ever, with 108 items in all. Dramatic Presentation Long Form is compact enough to fit in here – Arrival, Deadpool, Ghostbusters, Hidden Figures, Rogue One and Stranger Things (season 1) – but for the full story please see the official page at Of the 2,464 valid Hugo nominating ballots (the second-highest total ever), just six were in paper form – perhaps not so much a sign of the times as a consequence of the Helsinki Worldcon being very slow to mail out paper ballots.

As Others Saw Us. 'One of the most extraordinary and significant things about science fiction is its almost total lack of sex, even of fake sex – except, of course, in the "mad scientist's" operating chambers particularly prominent in the movie versions [...] The reason for this is neither due to oversight nor external censorship, but the fact that the largest percentage of the echt-pulp literature is composed of adolescent boys (who continue reading it even after they are grown up), who are terrified of women, sex, and pubic hair.' (G. Legman, The Horn Book: Studies in Erotic Folklore and Bibliography, 1964) [SM via MMW]

Awards. Bailey's Women's Prize for Fiction: the shortlist includes Naomi Alderman's sf novel The Power.
BSFA: NOVEL Dave Hutchinson, Europe in Winter. SHORT Jaine Fenn, 'Liberty Bird' (Now We Are Ten). NONFICTION Geoff Ryman, '100 African Writers of SFF' ( ARTWORK Sarah Anne Langton, cover for Central Station by Lavie Tidhar (Tachyon).
Doc Weir (unsung heroes of fandom): Serena Culfeather and John Wilson.
FAAn Awards (fanzine activity). ARTIST Steve Stiles. COVER Harry Bell for Beam 10. GENZINE Banana Wings. LETTERHACK Paul Skelton. PERZINE The White Notebooks. SPECIAL ISSUE Then: Science Fiction Fandom in the UK 1930-1980 (book version). WRITER Andy Hooper. WEBSITE
Olivier Awards (London theatre): Harry Potter and the Cursed Child won in nine categories including best play, the previous record being seven; the musical Groundhog Day won two including best musical.
Philip K. Dick: Claudia Casper, The Mercy Journals.
Pulitzer Prize for fiction: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad.
Stoker (horror) novel categories: NOVEL John Langan, The Fisherman. DEBUT Tom Deady, Haven. YA Maria Alexander, Snowed. GRAPHIC James Chambers, Kolchak the Night Stalker: The Forgotten Lore of Edgar Allan Poe. See for the rest.

As Others Excuse Us. 'None of which, I hasten to add, is a reason to skip Arrival. It may be weaker in the resolution than the setup, but that is an inbuilt hazard of science fiction ...' (Review by Anthony Lane, The New Yorker, 14 November) [MMW]

R.I.P. Michael Ballhaus (1935-2017), German cinematographer whose films include Bram Stoker's Dracula (1992), Wild Wild West (1999) and What Planet Are You From? (2000), died on 12 April aged 81. [AIP]
Leo Baxendale (1930-2017), UK children's comics creator for D.C. Thomson (Minnie the Minx, The Bash Street Kids) and others, died on 23 April aged 86. [DP] In 1964 Odhams Press made him central to the new Wham!, where such strips as Eagle-Eye: Junior Spy (introducing arch-villain Grimly Feendish) used variously bizarre sf elements.
Adrian Booth (1917-2017), US actress who as Lorna Gray was in The Man They Could Not Hang (1939) and such Republic serials as Captain America (1944), with later credits as Booth in Valley of the Zombies (1946) and others, died on 30 April; she was 99. [PDF]
Chelsea Brown (1947-2017), US Laugh-In actress seen in The Thing with Two Heads (1972) and The Return of Captain Invincible (1983), died on 27 March; she was 69. [AIP]
Kathleen Crowley (1929-2017), US actress with early credits in the sf/horror B-movies Target Earth (1954), The Flame Barrier (1958) and Curse of the Undead (1959), died on 23 April aged 87. [F770]
Grania Davis (1943-2017), US author and editor who devoted great effort to the memory of her former husband Avram Davidson – with whom she wrote Marco Polo and the Sleeping Beauty (1987) – died on 28 April aged 73. She completed Davidson's The Boss in the Wall (1998) and co-edited The Avram Davidson Treasury (1998), plus other notable AD collections.
Jonathan Demme (1944-2017), US film-maker who directed The Silence of the Lambs (1991) and the remade The Manchurian Candidate (2004), died on 26 April aged 73.
Martin Greim, US comics fan and con-runner whose professional credits include a Donald Duck storyline, died on 15 April aged 74. [PDF]
Peter Hansen (1921-2017), US actor who starred in When Worlds Collide (1951) and was in several episodes of Science Fiction Theatre (1955-1957 tv), died on 9 April aged 95. A later genre role was in Dragonfly (2002). [AIP]
Lars Erik Helin (1937-2017), long-time Swedish fan who was the second member – after its founder – of the Gothenburg Club Cosmos in 1954 and co-published the first true Swedish fanzine (Cosmos News, later Cosmos Bulletin) in July that year, died on 7 February aged 79. [J-HH] [Later: it turns out that there is disagreement about "the first true Swedish fanzine". Ahrvid Engholm argues vigorously for an earlier candidate, a 1952 school magazine which John-Henri Holmberg thinks of as a proto-fanzine since its producers made no contact with the wider world of fandom.]
William Hjortsberg (1941-2017) US screenwriter and author of the sf Gray Matters (1971) and the supernatural-horror Falling Angel (1978, filmed 1987 as Angel Heart with his own script), died on 22 April aged 76. [PDF]
Dahlov Ipcar (1917-2017), US illustrator and author of three fantasy novels beginning with The Warlock of Night (1969), died on 10 February; she was 99.
Clifton James (1920-2017) US actor in The Werewolf of Washington (1973) and – as Sheriff J.W. Pepper – two James Bond films, died on 15 April aged 96. [MMW]
Carolyn Kelly, US cartoonist who for a short time drew her father Walt Kelly's creation Pogo and worked on the four volumes to date of the definitive reprint The Complete Pogo, died on 9 April. [PDF]
Waldemar Kumming (1924-2017), pioneering German fan, publisher and convention-goer honoured with the 1993 Kurd Lasswitz Award and the 2005 Worldcon's Big Heart Award, died on 5 April; he was 92. His long-running fanzine Munich Round Up (with Walter Reinicke until the latter's death in 1981) typically featured translations into German, an English-language summary for monoglots, and his famous multi-page photocollages of fans at conventions. He was a 1984 UK Eastercon/Eurocon guest of honour. [IN]
Michael (Mike) Levy (1950-2017), US academic, fan and critic who was an editor of Extrapolation from 2006 and wrote Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction (2016) with Farah Mendlesohn, died on 3 April aged 66; he had entered a hospice in late March. [FM]
George McGinnis (?1931-2017), Disney 'imagineer' (the last to be personally hired by Walt Disney) whose many designs for Disneyland and Walt Disney World included the Space Mountain, the EPCOT Horizons Pavilion, monorails and much other transportation, died on 7 April aged 87. [PDF]
Patricia C. McKissack (1944-2017), US children's author whose books include The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural (1992) and the 2010-2012 sf trilogy The Clone Codes (with John and Fredrick L. McKissack), died on 7 April aged 72. [PDF]
V.E. Mitchell (Victoria Estelle Mitchell Gustafson, 1954-2017), US author of four novels set in the Star Trek universe – beginning with Enemy Unseen (1990) – died on 13 April aged 62. [SFS]
Erin Moran (1960-2017), US actress seen in Galaxy of Terror (1981) and Not Another B Movie (2010), died on 22 April aged 56. [SG]
Charlie Murphy (1959-2017), US actor, comedian and writer seen in Night at the Museum (2006), Unearthed (2007) and Frankenhood (2009), died on 12 April; he was 57. [PDF]
Tim Pigott-Smith (1946-2017), UK actor whose credits include Doctor Who (1971, 1976), V for Vendetta (2005) and Alice in Wonderland (2010), died on 7 April; he was 70.
Don Rickles (1926-2017), US actor and tv personality who appeared in X: The Man with the X-Ray Eyes (1963), guested in The Addams Family (1964) and other genre tv series, and had voice roles in Toy Story 2 (1999 as Mr Potato Head; also sequels) and Zookeeper (2011), died on 6 April at the age of 90.
Roger C. Schlobin (1944-2017), US academic critic whose first and last books were A Research Guide to Science Fiction Studies (1977 with L.W. Currey and Marshall B. Tymn) and Phantasmagoria: Collected Essays on the Nature of Fantasy and Horror Literature (2013), died on 25 April; he was 72. [JC]
Norio Shioyama (1940-2017), Japanese illustrator involved with anime since the 1960s and perhaps best known for creating Armoured Trooper VOTOMS in 1983, died with his wife in a 12 April house fire. [JonC]
Trish Vrandenburg (1946-2017), US author whose 2001 play Surviving Grace centres on a wonder drug that reverses the effects of Alzheimer's (though only temporarily), died on 17 April aged 70. [MMW]

Malgorithms. A recent news page at headlined 'Second Doctor Arrested in US Female Genital Mutilation Case' was helpfully illustrated with a stock photo of Patrick Troughton (1920-1987). [RR]

Magazine Scene. Niall Harrison has stepped down as editor-in-chief of Strange Horizons, and is replaced by former associate editors Jane Crowley and Kate Dollarhyde. (, 3 April)

Follow the Money. J.R.R. Tolkien, a 1,480-page reprint anthology of critical assessments published by Routledge in April, will set you back $1,485. [MJW] Douglas A. Anderson explains the rationale for this 50-copy edition – 'Basically, they are out to soak money out of 50 large libraries.' – and is annoyed that he appears in the contents list although neither he nor his publishers were approached for permission (since explicitly refused). 'As far as I can tell, this is an academic publishing scam of the worst type, and it should be called out for what it is.' [F770]

Random Fandom. The James White Award, for an unpublished story by a non-pro author, was delayed this year but should be announced by 19 May. See
Steve Stiles didn't quite make the original Hugo shortlist for Best Fan Artist but moved up as a substitute when Alex Garner (a Rabid Puppies slate choice through no fault of his own) declared that his entire 2016 output had been 'professional and not fan art'. [W75]

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago: 'Neil Gaiman was presented in March with a GLAAD (Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) Award for "positive portrayals of Gay and Lesbian characters" in Sandman. "It's the only time I've ever had a room of people cheer the correct pronunciation of my name – all of them undoubtedly convinced it was some kind of political statement."' (Ansible 118, May 1997)

Fanfundery. TAFF: initial votes were Sarah Gulde 9 in North America, 9 in Europe; Alissa McKersie 29/30; John Purcell 11/48; Hold Over Funds 1/0; No Preference 2/5. After elimination and redistribution, John won with 68 votes to Alissa's 67 and will attend the Helsinki Worldcon in August.
GUFF: initial votes Donna Maree Hanson 25, Sam Hawke 6, Belle McQuattie 10, Alexandra Pierce 16, HoF 0, No Pref 4 and a single write-in. After eliminations and redistributions, Donna won with 33 votes to Alexandra's 18 and will attend Worldcon as above.
Eastercon Fan Funds Auction: 'A towel and two pint glasses raised £212 for the special fund to bring the Brazilian fans to Lazlar Lyricon 3. The rest of the auction raised £888 through bids and donations, which is being split equally between TAFF and GUFF.' [CB]

Thog's Masterclass. Zen and the Gateless Gate. 'The fence stretched on endlessly, somehow, and the mud of spring was thick under Walt's feet. Tired of looking for a gate or door, he made a brace with his hands and boosted Lenore over, then popped up atop the gate and, with some struggling, managed to swing his heavy legs over.' (Nick Mamatas, 'Dead Media' in The Nickronomicon, 2014)
Neat Tricks. '... after a moment the hand reappeared, curved round the door and slowly drew it shut, leaving bloody fingerprints on the woodwork.' (Gerald Durrell, 'The Entrance' in The Picnic and Suchlike Pandemonium, 1979) [BA]
Dept of Anatomy. 'The worst leg cramp in history hit every muscle in his body at once.' (James Corey, Leviathan Wakes, 2011) [AT]
Optimism Dept. 'Ethan spoke to him, using the language of the Tzar which he had learned in the age a million years before this, and which he hoped was still spoken in this further time ...' (Edmond Hamilton, 'Armies From the Past', Weird Tales, 1939) [BA]
Early Disco Lighting. 'The nigrine candles, suitable to the deed, cast their black light throughout the Sanctum ...' (H. Warner Munn, 'The Diary' in Lost Fantasies 6, 1977) [BA]
Fashion Dept. 'The joke came from a brunette wearing seamed stockings and a mole beside her mouth.' (Manuel Vázquez Montalbán, Murder in the Central Committee, 1981; trans 1984 by Patrick Camiller) [PB]
Music of the Spheres. 'As Gladys jumped out of bed, all her orbs visually jingled like bells.' (Ibid)
Dept of Something In His Eye. 'Santos spoke with passion; even, one might have said, with a moist warmth in those eyes which harboured the immortal remains of his friend and comrade Fernando Garrido.' (Ibid)
True Romance Dept. 'The car stopped and they kissed, Carvalho's tongue on the edge of the abyss, hers lightly perched on the railings.' (Ibid)

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• 5 May 2017: Robin Hobb signing, Waterstones Reading Broad Street, 12.30pm. See ...
• 12 May 2017: Adrian Tchaikovsky 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: 9 June 2017 Aliette de Bodard; 14 July 2017 John Jarrold; 11 August 2017 Summer Social; 8 September 2017 Jackie Burns; 13 October 2017 Andy Sawyer; 3 November 2017 Peter F. Hamilton.

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

Editorial. Good to see (if not always hear) some of you at Eastercon. During unusually prolonged post-con lurgi I distracted myself by beginning work on another Langford ebook, which collects ever so many short reviews omitted from my past nonfiction outbreaks: 160,000 words and counting.... The tentative title Pieces of String Too Short to Use has been tentatively rejected in favour of Short Shrift. More in our next. Also in preparation is a corrected, somewhat expanded ebook of Chris Morgan's and my Facts & Fallacies: A Book of Definitive Mistakes and Misguided Predictions from 1981; this too is still being tinkered with.

The Dead Past II. 20 Years Ago: 'Colin Wilson enthusiastically reviewed the Fantasy Encyclopedia (for Literary Review) and thought the H.P. Lovecraft entry particularly nifty; he then discovered it had been written years ago by himself.' (Ansible 118, May 1997)

Thog's Second Helping. Fine Writing Dept. 'Hearing Jane's northern voice bring her this rumor of a homosexual come up from Manhattan to invade them, Alexandra felt intersected where she was, in this mysterious crabbed state of Rhode Island. She had been born in the West, where white and violet mountains lift in pursuit of the delicate tall clouds, and tumbleweed rolls in pursuit of the horizon.' (John Updike, The Witches of Eastwick, 1984) [LP]

Ansible® 358 Copyright © David Langford, 2017. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, Claire Brialey, Jonathan Clements, John Clute, Paul Di Filippo, the FAAn Award voters, File 770, Steve Green, John-Henri Holmberg, Innominate newsletter, Claire M. Jordan, Farah Mendlesohn, Sam Moskowitz, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, David Pringle, Roger Robinson, SF Site, Arthur Tansky, Michael J. Walsh, Martin Morse Wooster, Worldcon 75, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (Brum Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 2 May 2017.