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Ansible® 361, August 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 or the reason for the names Jin and Neu.

Advt. Yet another ebook from Ansible Editions! Facts & Fallacies: A Book of Definitive Mistakes and Misguided Predictions by Chris Morgan and David Langford first appeared in 1981. This is now revised and expanded with bonus material (including, alas, the Scotsman review that promised it 'Will prove to be a runaway best-seller ...'), making the ebook about 20% longer than the original. See

The Surreptitious Fabric

Mike Ashley, CEO at Sports Direct, had an sf moment while assuring the High Court that his management style is far from dictatorial: 'I am not Obi-Wan Kenobi controlling the Death Star'. (BBC, 5 July) [RF]

Zachary Mason's novel Void Star has been praised as cyberpunk in the Gibson vein, but Mason deplored an interviewer's use of the C-word: 'Not even remotely. I'm not even exactly sure what it means. Bionic implants and mirrored sunglasses? Yes, the definition eludes me. / I think of it more as literary fiction that uses science fiction and genre elements.' (KCRW, 29 June) Which makes all the difference. [NA]

Darren Nash, digital supremo at Orion with power of high, middle and low justice over SF Gateway and the SF Encyclopedia, has decided after many years in the UK to return with his family to Melbourne, Australia. Marcus Gipps will take over his Orion and Gollancz roles.

George Orwell was very nearly quoted when US Vice-President Mike Pence enthused about the space programme at Cape Canaveral: 'Our nation will return to the Moon and we will put American boots on the face of Mars.' (Washington Examiner, 7 July) Forever!

Harry Potter may be to blame for a sharp rise in illicit owl trading in Indonesia, according to a recent ecological study: 'Harry Potter normalized keeping owls as pets.' Even their usual Malay name Burung Hantu has now become Burung Harry Potter.... (Nature, 28 June) [SF²C]

Tracy K. Smith, poet whose 2011 collection Life on Mars (a Pulitzer winner) is sf-themed, was named as US Poet Laureate in June. [L]


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

3 Aug • Fantasy in the Court (mass signing), 23-27 Cecil Court, London. 6pm-9pm. Tickets £5 (redeemable) from

4-6 Aug • Nine Worlds Geekfest (multimedia), Novotel London West, Hammersmith, London. £119 reg; day £49.99; children free. Life entry plus dinner: £1000. Book online at

9-13 Aug • Worldcon 75 (Worldcon), Helsinki, Finland. €195 reg; €95 Worldcon first-timers; €110 youth (16-25); €75 child (6-15); under-6s free. Day €25 Wed, Sun; €45 Thu; €50 Fri, Sat. Hugo voting and site selection voting by mail both closed in July; site selection ballots can still be delivered in person at Worldcon 75. See

11-13 Aug • Wadfest (Discworld camping event), King's Bush Farm, London Road, Godmanchester, Cambs, PE29 2NH. Adult campers £45; child £5. See

12-28 Aug • Edinburgh International Book Festival. Five sf panels on 15-18 August, organized and moderated by 'Guest Selector' Ken MacLeod. See for all the participants.

Cancelled 19 Aug • Worcester Comic Con, Worcester Arena. Tickets £10 from 11am, £15 from 10am. See

23 Aug • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Jeff Noon. Free.

25-28 Aug • The Asylum (steampunk), Lincoln. Tickets £38; under-16s £19; for day rates and extra charges for many evening events (e.g. Dead Dog Party £14), see

25-29 Aug • Frightfest (horror film festival), Cineworld Leicester Square, London. £195 reg; day passes etc at

26-28 Aug • Starburst Film Festival, MMU Student Union, Manchester. £65 'early bird' reg. See

27-28 Aug • Stars of Time (media), Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare. 10am-5pm. £6.50; child £3.50. See

31 Aug - 3 Sep • LeakyCon (Harry Potter), Citywest, Dublin, Ireland. $160 reg plus fee; other rates at

2 Sep • Fighting Fantasy Fest 2, University of West London, Ealing. 9am-8pm. With onlie begetters Jackson & Livingstone. Advance booking only: £48.38 including fees from

8-9 Sep • TitanCon, Wellington Park Hotel, Belfast. Friday afternoon free; £28 reg Saturday; £5 supporting. See

9 Sep • International Comics Expo (ICE), Birmingham Conference Centre, Smallbrook, Birmingham. 11am-11pm. Tickets £12; early entry (10am) £15. See

9-10 Sep • Middle-earth Festival, Sarehole Mill, Cole Bank Rd, Hall Green, Birmingham, B13 0BD. Free. See

29 Sep - 1 Oct • Fantasycon, Bull Hotel, Peterborough. £56.50 reg (BFS members £46.50); see for day and other rates. 'Prices will go up about a month or so before the event.'

13 Oct • British Fantasy Society Social, The Counting House, 50 Cornhill, London. 7pm to late. Free; all welcome.

25-27 May 2018 • Satellite 6, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow. Now £70 reg until 31 December when advance booking closes (five months before the event – is this a record?); £60 YA 18-24; under-18s £20; accompanied under-12s £5 and under-5s £2. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. 'Fantasy's most popular sub-genre is science fiction, whose central struggle is generated from the technology and tools of a futuristic world. Other subgenres include superheroes, alien invasion, mad scientist, monster, and mutant.' (Jon Bernstein in Cut to the Chase: Writing Feature Films with the Pros ed. Linda Venis, 2013) [PL]
• On a planned Universal Cable tv adaptation of Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan: 'Despite the sci-fi nature of the plot (that just so happens to feature an invasion of Earth by Martians), the issues of omniscience, free will, and man's purpose in the grand scheme of existence are explored.' (Cinemablend, 19 July) How un-sciencefictional.

Awards. Arthur C. Clarke: Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad.
Clareson (sf/f promotion): Pawel Frelik.
Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery (neglected writers): Seabury Quinn.
Gemmell (heroic fantasy): NOVEL Gav Thorpe, Warbeast. DEBUT Megan E O'Keefe, Steal the Sky. COVER ART Alessandro Baldasseroni for Black Rift by Josh Reynolds.
Man Booker longlist (genre-ish titles only): Paul Auster, 4 3 2 1; Mohsin Hamid, Exit West; George Saunders, Lincoln in the Bardo; Colson Whitehead, The Underground Railroad. [L]
Munsey Award (services to pulp community): Phil Stephensen-Payne.
Mythopoeic (fantasy): ADULT Patricia A. McKillip, Kingfisher. CHILDREN'S Adam Gidwitz, The Inquisitor's Tale. SCHOLARSHIP: INKLINGS Philip & Carol Zaleski, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, Owen Barfield, Charles Williams. SCHOLARSHIP: OTHER Richard Firth Green, Elf Queens and Holy Friars.
Pilgrim (life contribution to sf/fantasy scholarship): Tom Moylan.
Prize for American Fiction, Library of Congress non-genre life award: Denis Johnson (see R.I.P. below). [MMW]
Prometheus (libertarian): Johanna Sinisalo, The Core of the Sun. Hall of Fame: Robert Heinlein, 'Coventry' (1940).
Rhyslings (poetry): SHORT Marge Simon, 'George Tecumseh Sherman's Ghosts' (Silver Blade 32). LONG Theodora Goss, 'Rose Child' (Uncanny 13).
World Fantasy Award for life achievement: Marina Warner; Terry Brooks. Full 2017 WFA shortlist at

As Others Cheese Us. On the contents of a Tampa (Florida) bookshop's overstock space: 'There are classics, out-of-print titles, steamy romance novels, cheesy science fiction stories and biographies on an assortment of characters ...' (Tampa Bay Times, 10 July) [BA]

R.I.P. Trevor Baxter (1932-2017), UK actor whose credits include Doctor Who: 'The Talons of Weng-Chiang' (1977) and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004), died on 16 July aged 84. [SFS]
Wally Burr (1924-2017), US voice director for many animated series including Akira, Conan the Adventurer, Godzilla, Inspector Gadget, Jem, Spider-Man, Transformers and Valley of the Dinosaurs, died on 10 July aged 93. [PDF]
Jeff Carlson (1969-2017), US author of the sf trilogies Plague Year (2007-2009) and The Frozen Sky (2012-2016), died on 17 July aged 47. [GVG]
Tommy Castillo, US comics artist active from 1996 who drew Batman, Green Arrow and others for DC, died on 23 June. [PDF]
Patti Deutsch (1945-2017), US voice actress in Capitol Critters (1992), Tarzan (1999), The Emperor's New Groove (2000), Monsters, Inc. (2001) and others, died on 26 July aged 71. [MMW]
Alan Dorey (1958-2017), UK fan associated with the Leeds Group, whose fanzine was Gross Encounters (main run 1978-1998), died on 23 July aged 59. Active in the BSFA from the late 1970s as chairman and Vector co-editor, he was also part of the original Interzone editorial collective. [RRD] Another friend gone. Huge sympathy to Rochelle Dorey and the family.
Nelsan Ellis (1977-2017), US actor best known as Lafayette Reynolds in True Blood (2008-2014), died on 8 July aged 39. [AIP]
June Foray (1917-2017), US voice actress in many animated features including Disney's Cinderella (1950), The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988) and The Legend of Sasquatch (2006), died on 26 July aged 99. [AS]
Sam Glanzman (1924-2017), long-time US comics artist who drew Tarzan and Hercules: Adventures of the Man-God for Charlton in the 1960s, died on 12 July aged 92. [PDF]
John Heard (1945-2017), US actor in C.H.U.D. (1984), Big (1988), The Seventh Sign (1988), Locusts (2005) and Sharknado (2013), died on 21 July aged 72. [PDF]
Loren Janes (1931-2017), US stuntman in many films including Planet of the Apes (1968), Back to the Future (1985), The Abyss (1989), Wild Wild West (1999) and Spider-Man (2002), died on 24 June aged 85. [PDF]
Denis Johnson (1949-2017), highly regarded US author whose sf novel is the post-holocaust Fiskadoro (1985), died on 24 May aged 67. [PDF/MMW]
Jordin Kare (1956-2017), US fan, aerospace engineer and filker – a partner in the pioneering filk songbook publisher Off Centaur – died on 19 July aged 60. All sympathy to his wife Mary Kay Kare. [SFS]
Dwain Kaiser (1947-2017), long-time US fan, fanzine publisher, APA contributor, book dealer (Magic Door Used Books) and member of LASFS, was shot and killed on 3 July; he was 69. [F770]
Martin Landau (1928-2017), US actor whose many genre credits include Mission: Impossible (1966-1969), Space: 1999 (1975-1977), The Fall of the House of Usher (1979), Meteor (1979) and Frankenweenie (2012 voice), died on 15 July aged 89. [SG/MR]
Joan Lee, Stan Lee's wife for 69 years, who had several voice roles in Fantastic Four (1994) and other Marvel animated series plus a cameo in X-Men: Apocalypse (2016), died on 6 July aged 95. [MR]
Bob Lubbers (1922-2017), US comics artist for the Tarzan newspaper strip 1950-1954, who worked on Li'l Abner and drew The Human Fly for Marvel 1978-1979, died on 8 July; he was 95. [PDF]
Elsa Martinelli (1935-2017), Italian model and actress in Blood and Roses (1960) and The 10th Victim (1965), died on 10 July aged 82. [AIP/GM]
Naiyer Masud (1936-2017), Indian academic, novelist and translator of Kafka's stories into Urdu, died on 24 July. [PDF]
Barry Norman (1933-2017), UK journalist and film critic whose sf novel was End Product (1975) and who scripted storylines for the Wally Fawkes ('Trog') satirical-fantasy strip Flook, died on 30 June aged 83. [JC]
George A. Romero (1940-2017), US film-maker best known for the zombie cult classic Night of the Living Dead (1968) and sequels, died on 16 July aged 77. Other genre films include The Crazies (1973), Creepshow (1982), Monkey Shines (1988) and The Dark Half (1993, like Creepshow scripted by Stephen King). [SG/MR]
William Sanders (1942-2017), US author of the alternate-history Journey to Fusang (1988) and other genre novels, who with Lawrence Watt-Evans edited Helix SF 2006-2009, died on 30 June aged 75. [GD]
Flo Steinberg (1939-2017), who in 1963 was half the Marvel Comics staff (the other half being Stan Lee) but left to publish her pioneering underground Big Apple Comix in 1968, died on 23 July aged 78. [PDF]
Galip Tekin (1958-2017), Turkish sf/fantasy comics artist and dystopian novelist, was found dead on 6 July; he was 59. [PDF]
Deborah Watling (1948-2017), UK actress who was Patrick Troughton's companion Victoria in 40 episodes of Doctor Who (1967-1968), died on 21 July aged 69. Other credits included H.G. Wells' The Invisible Man (1958-1959) and Where Time Began (1977). [SG]
David Widdicombe (1962-2017), Canadian playwright and film-maker whose play Science Fiction (2000) won an Aurora award, died on 8 July 8; he was 55. [SFS]
Heathcote Williams (1941-2017), UK writer/actor whose 1977 play The Immortalist ponders themes of time and immortality, died on 1 July aged 75. Genre films include Slipstream (1989), Orlando (1992), Alice in Wonderland (1999), The Sandman (2000) and City of Ember (2008). [SG]

The Weakest Link. Q: 'What Irvine Welsh novel had a monologue by a tapeworm?' A: 'Wuthering Heights.' (ITV, The Chase) [PE]

Science Masterclass. 'Neuroskeptic' of Discover magazine found four allegedly peer-reviewed science journals happy to accept a paper on Star Wars 'midi-chlorians', based on Wikipedia's mitochondria entry (after a quick search-and-replace and thesaurus shuffling), peppered with references to the Force, Darth Plagueis of the Sith, etc., and signed as by Dr Lucas McGeorge and Dr Annette Kin. Of nine targeted journals, five rejected this nonsense (full marks to JSM Biochemistry and Molecular Biology for 'The authors have neglected to add the following references: Lucas et al., 1977, Palpatine et al., 1980, and Calrissian et al., 1983'); three published the paper; one accepted it but wanted a $360 publication fee which was not forthcoming. (Discover blog, 22 July) [PB]

Court Circular. Penthouse Global Media has acquired or re-acquired Bob Guccione's magazine Omni, with a print relaunch planned for late October. Ellen Datlow is to return as fiction editor. [ED] PGM is suing Jerrick Media and others over the 'Omni Reboot' site, which uses the old Omni trademarks (e.g. the logo), covers, fiction and nonfiction without apparently having bothered to acquire rights. Jerrick's attempt to register Omni Reboot as a trademark was denied owing to the already existing Omni marks. (Hollywood Reporter, 7 July)

Hello, Sailor! 'This is why magic is worse even than quantum physics. Because, while both spit in the eye of common sense, I've never had a Higgs bosun turn up and try to have a conversation with me.' (Ben Aaronovitch, Whispers Under Ground [US edition], 2012) [CH]

As Others See Us II. A polemic by one Kyle Smith mentions J.K. Rowling but somehow manages to forget all about her (and about Stephenie Meyer too) before its triumphant closing line: 'To be slightly less reductionist than the Bechdel Test, women tend to write movies about relationships, and men tend to write movies about aliens and shootouts. Have a wander through the sci-fi and fantasy section of your local bookstore. How many of these books' authors are female? Yet these are where the big movie ideas come from. If a woman wants the next Lord of the Rings-style franchise to pass the Bechdel Test, then a woman should come up with a story with as much earning potential as J.R.R. Tolkien's.' (National Review, 10 July) [MMW]

Publishers & Sinners. Christopher Teague announced the closure of his Wales-based horror imprint Pendragon Press, established in 1999. See for more. (15 July) [RF]

Random Fandom. The New York Times magazine has sensationally discovered printed fanzines, or rather, 'the resurgence of zines'. One publisher explains their charm: 'He described zines as the successor to personal blogs, but personal blogs have been in the decline over the past decade. And zines can't get replies or hateful remarks in a comments section.' (NY Times, 7 March) [MMW] An agonizing reappraisal may follow when they rediscover the concept of the letter column.

The Dead Past. 50 Years Ago, a note on the large-format, Arts Council-supported New Worlds: 'Whilst the magazine's departure from traditionalism will displease those who have in the recent past criticised "the Ballard cult," it must be appreciated that flexibility is desirable, that change is inevitable and that Michael Moorcock's endeavours to ensure the continuation of a market for British science fiction writers are to be entirely applauded.' (Ron Bennett, Skyrack 94, August 1967)
40 Years Ago, local democracy was seen to be done: 'The Oxford Sf Group's elections were held a few weeks ago [...] Voting was conducted by the "single transferable candidate" system, whereby losing contenders were transferred to the murky waters of the River Cherwell. A small plastic duck was elected President.' (Checkpoint 84, August 1977)

Fanfundery. TAFF: 2017 delegate John Purcell's official address for TAFF email and PayPal donations is 2017taff2019 at gmail dot com.

Thog's Masterclass. Work-Out Dept. '... his face made a sudden gymnastic move.' (Danny Birt, Ending an Ending, 2008) [MC]
Romancing the Thesaurus. 'It was a titanic airplane – monstrous, gargantuan, and every other word that denoted immensity.' (John W. Campbell Jr, 'Solarite', Astounding, Nov 1930) [DL] 'She was pulchritudinous, buxom, callipygous, leggy. Her torso was slender, and her abdominal muscles as well defined as those of a belly dancer, so that her navel was like a period between two cursive brackets. Her hair was lustrous, and tied in a loose knot at the back of her swanlike neck. Hair, eye, and skin color were optional. She was, of course, naked.' (John C. Wright, 'An Unimaginable Light', God, Robot, 2016)
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'Startled, her eyes flew up like birds and collided with his jet black ones ...' (Tanith Lee, 'You Are My Sunshine', Chrysalis 8, 1980) [BA]

Geeks' Corner

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• 11 August 2017: Summer Social for the Brum Group at The Black Eagle, Hockley – places limited, deposit and advance booking required, so check by email (it may well be Too Late). Meetings are normally 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 events/speakers: 8 September 2017 Jackie Burns; 13 October 2017 Andy Sawyer; 3 November 2017 Peter F. Hamilton; 1 December (date TBC) Christmas Social.
• 11 October 2017: Reading University 'Monsters and the Monstrous' season opens with the film Nosferatu (1922). 7pm in Van Emden lecture theatre, Edith Morley, Whiteknights campus. £5. With introductory talk.
• 18 October 2017: Frankenstein (1931), as for Nosferatu above.
• 23 October 2017: 'Hybrids and Health Humanities: Ceroplasty, Couplets, Chimeras' discussion, 7pm in LO22, G01, Reading University London Road campus. Free.
• 25 October 2017: Freaks (1932), as for Nosferatu above.

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

Editorial. For some easily disappointed fans, Shakespeare's Hamlet died forever when Sarah Bernhardt played the title role in 1899. Apparently a similar fate has overtaken Doctor Who, a show now doomed to become as utterly forgotten as Hamlet is today.
• Would anyone like a signed hardback first edition of my first solo book, War in 2080: The Future of Military Technology (1979)? Copies are available while stocks last for the cost of inland postage (in the UK only, I'm afraid). Allowing for PayPal's depredations, £3.50 should cover it. [For the duration I've added a dedicated War in 2080 button on this page to avoid confusion between this and other donations.]

R.I.P. Extra. Jeanne Moreau (1928-2017), French actress, screenwriter and director whose genre films include The Trial (1962), Hu-Man (1975) and Until the End of the World (1991), was found dead on 31 July; she was 89. [SG]
David E.H. Jones (1938-2017), UK scientist who wrote hundreds of humorous columns for New Scientist (as Ariadne) and Nature (as Daedalus) proposing bizarre and sometimes prophetic inventions – collected in The Inventions of Daedalus: A Compendium of Plausible Schemes (1982) and its sequels – died on 19 July; he was 79. [AIP]
Sam Shepard (1943-2017), US actor, director and playwright who played Chuck Yeager in The Right Stuff (1983), died on 27 July aged 73. Genre credits include The Return (2006) and, as writer and director, the supernatural western Silent Tongue (1993). [SG]
Marty Sklar (1934-2017), Disney 'imagineer' involved in the company's 1964 New York World's Fair attractions and the development of EPCOT Center at Disney World, died on 27 July aged 83. [MMW]

Outraged Letters. Andre Paine writes: 'Of possible interest for Ansible, the Pink Floyd exhibition Their Mortal Remains (at the V&A until 1 October) includes Michael Moorcock's The Sleeping Sorceress alongside the soundtrack to 2001: A Space Odyssey, a Daily Mirror front page (MAN WALKS ON THE MOON) and a Penguin paperback, The Rise of Enoch Powell, in a red phone box of objects from the Sixties. [...] The exhibition also features the CD of The Dark Side of the Moon that the late British astronaut played in space on board the Space Shuttle. (The band, however, have always resisted the "space rock" label; the record's lyrical themes are more earthly concerns of conflict, greed and insanity.)' Here's the official V&A web page:

Thog's Second Helping. Continuity Dept. Narrator describes sister: 'Now Becky is somewhere around my age, maybe even a little older – fifteen, say.' Narrator addresses sister: '"Everybody knows stuff I don't!" I said. "Even you! And you're a lot younger!"' (Roger Zelazny, A Dark Traveling, 1987) [PL]

Ansible® 361 Copyright © David Langford, 2017. Thanks to Nina Allan, Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, John Clute, Mark Connorton, Ellen Datlow, Paul Di Filippo, Rochelle Reynolds Dorey, Gardner Dozois, File 770, Ross Fletcher, Rose Fox, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, Denny Lien, Locus, Pamela Love, George Morgan, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Marcus L. Rowland, SF² Concatenation, SF Site, Al Sirois, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (BSFG), SCIS/Prophecy, Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 August 2017.