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Ansible® 371, June 2018

Cartoon: Joe Mayhew

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Joe Mayhew. Available for SAE or substantial quantities of Psycho-Ergs.

When the Great Days Come

Isaac Asimov's Laws of Robotics, according to some EU member states, are Essential Health and Safety Requirements that should be incorporated into the EU Machinery Directive thus: '(ii) improve the current Directive by incorporating Asimov's laws45 into the EHSR of the Directive', where footnote 45 quotes the Three Laws – though not the johnny-come-lately Zeroth Law – in full. (7 May) [LK]

Jerry Cornelius is enjoying several Further Adventures, including a new story by Michael Moorcock himself, at [MR]

Larry Eisenberg, still going strong at 98, protested that his SF Encyclopedia entry gave him a spurious middle name (lifted from the Internet SF Database, where it had leaked across from the other Lawrence Eisenberg). After fixing this I was rewarded with one of his famous limericks (see New York Times):

Middle name Benjamin does annoy,
There's been none since I was a boy,
   Its wrongful bestowal
   Did irk on the whole,
Your effort has given me joy.    (26 May)

Ursula K. Le Guin was remembered at the SFWA Nebula Awards Weekend banquet in May, where every place-setting included a little blue badge with the legend THANK YOU, URSULA. [Update, 2 June: I'm told that this was arranged by Ellen Klages.]

Philip Pullman was named author of the year at the British Book Awards for The Book of Dust: La Belle Sauvage; the illustrator of the year is Axel Scheffler of Gruffalo fame. (BBC, 17 May)

Cat Rambo, tweeting ex cathedra as SFWA President, revealed the new must-have accessory for members: the SFWA Secret Decoder Ring, at a mere $20. (Twitter, 16 May) Crack the editorial code and learn what those bland-seeming rejection slips really mean!

George Saunders's Lincoln in the Bardo is the one genre contender in the shortlist of five for the Golden Man Booker Prize, showcasing past winners 'that have best stood the test of time'. [L]

H.G. Wells appeared in an unexpected context last month, as the cover photo of Oregan Publishing's free Kindle ebook of The Shadow over Innsmouth by H.P. Lovecraft. He's a deep one, that Wells.


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

1 Jun - 28 Oct • Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth (exhibition), Weston Library, Oxford:

8-10 Jun • Lavecon (sf/fantasy/gaming), Sedgebrook Hall Hotel, Northants. Tickets at various prices:

8-11 Jun • To See the Invisible (opera based on story by Robert Silverberg), Britten Studio, Snape Maltings, Snape, Suffolk. Tickets £5-£25. See

23 Jun • BSFA/SF Foundation AGMs and mini-con, Bread & Roses Theatre, 68 Clapham Manor St, Clapham, London, SW4 6DZ. 10am-5pm. Guests include Rob Hansen. Free to all.

27 Jun • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Dan Jones, Brian Wigmore.

29 Jun - 1 Jul • Two Centuries of Frankenstein: 1818-2018 (course), ICE, Cambridge. With Professor Edward James. £280. See 018.

1 Jul • Tolkien Society Seminar, Hilton Hotel, Leeds, LS1 4BX. £30 (members £25). See

4-5 Jul • Science for Fiction, Imperial College, London. Science presentations for published authors only: afternoon of 4th, all day 5th. £30 including catering. Contact Dave Clements, davecl at mac dot com.

6-7 Jul • Futurefest (futurology), Tobacco Dock, London. Tickets £80; Friday or Saturday only, £50. More at

7-8 Jul • Comics Uncovered, BCEC, Birmingham. £85 reg; £45/day; students £45 and £25. More at

18 Jul • Clarke Award Ceremony, Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London. From 6:30pm. Tickets £13 from

16-20 Aug • Worldcon 76 (Worldcon), San José, CA, USA. $230 reg; $115 YA (15-21) and military; under-15s $75; under-6s free; $50 supp. Hugo voting opened 3 May; ends late July. See Voting Packet for members only:

8-10 Feb 2019 • SF Ball (media), The Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton. Further details to follow at

19-22 Apr 2019 • Ytterbium (Eastercon), Park Inn, London Heathrow. £70 reg, rising to £80 on 14 November 2018 and £90 on 1 April 2019; £30 concessions; £25 under-18s; £5 infants under 5; £20 supporting. Online registration at

11-12 May 2019 • HorrorCon UK, Magna Science Adventure Centre, Sheffield Rd, Rotherham, S60 1DX. Further details such as prices are awaited at

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Date Us. Alexandra Borowitz chose her top five authors for Shelf Awareness, beginning with: 'Margaret Atwood, because she's essentially the godmother of dystopian science fiction.' (4 May) [AIP]

Awards. Clarke Award shortlist: C. Robert Cargill, Sea of Rust; Anne Charnock, Dreams Before the Start of Time; Omar El Akkad, American War; Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia; Jennie Melamed, Gather the Daughters; Jeff VanderMeer, Borne.
FAAn Awards for 2017 fan activity. Fanzine: Beam ed. Nic Farey & Ulrika O'Brien. Perzine: Vibrator ed. Graham Charnock. Special Publication: Same Planet, Different World: Jacq Monahan's TAFF Report. Fan Writer: Randy Byers. Fan Artist: Steve Stiles. Fanzine Cover: Graham West for Rubber Crab #8. Online Activity: by Bill Burns. #1 Fan Face: Jacq Monahan. Letterhack (tie): Robert Lichtman, Milt Stevens.
Gaylactic Spectrum, best novel: Heather Rose Jones, Mother of Souls.
Nebulas. Novel: N.K. Jemisin, The Stone Sky. Novella: Martha Wells, All Systems Red. Novelette: Kelly Robson, 'A Human Stain' ( Short: Rebecca Roanhorse, 'Welcome to Your Authentic Indian ExperienceTM' (Apex). Dramatic: Get Out. Norton (YA): Sam J. Miller, The Art of Starving.

Science Masterclass. 'As an asteroid (a kind of giant starship) flies through the stars ...' (Publishers Weekly description of Poul Anderson's Tales of the Flying Mountains, 1970)
• 'Volcano on Hawaii may spew fridge-sized refrigerators.' (Newspaper headline for AP story, May)
• 'The findings [...] suggest dandruff evolved sometime in the late Jurassic period' (i, 26 May. Hazel: 'Later it learned to hunt and fish.' Me: 'And still later became President of the United States.')

R.I.P. John Altamura, US actor who starred in The Toxic Avenger II and III (both 1989), died on 4 May. [PDF]
Michael Anderson (1920-2018), UK-born director of 1984 (1956), Doc Savage: The Man of Bronze (1975), Logan's Run (1976), Millennium (1989), 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea (1997) and others, died on 25 April aged 98. [MMW]
Eddy C. Bertin (1944-2018), Belgian author and translator who from 1968 to 2013 published many short sf and horror stories and (often pseudonymous) novels, died on 19 May aged 73. His one English-language collection is The Whispering Horror (2013). [FR]
Joseph Campanella (1924-2018), US character actor whose credits include Ben (1972), Meteor (1979), Hangar 18 (1980), Space Case (1992) and Spider-Man (1994-1997 tv), died on 16 May aged 93. [PDF]
Noble Craig, US actor in Sssssss (1973), Big Trouble in Little China (1986), Poltergeist II (1986), The Blob (1988), A Nightmare on Elm Street 5 (1989) and Bride of Re-Animator (1989), died on 26 April. [SG]
Renate Dorrestein (1954-2018), Dutch author of the first Gothic novels to be written in that language, died on 4 May aged 64. [PDF/JdV]
Gardner Dozois (1947-2018), US author and hugely influential genre editor, died after a short illness on 27 May; he was 70. [MS] As editor he is remembered for his long stint at Isaac Asimov's SF Magazine from 1986 to 2004, and for a great many anthologies including the 35 authoritative volumes of The Year's Best Science Fiction (1984-2018). He won fifteen Hugos as best professional editor and two Nebulas for best short story, and was inducted into the SF Hall of Fame in 2011. Gardner was also much loved as a cheeringly rumbustious and irreverent presence at countless sf gatherings – always guaranteed to lift the spirits while lowering the tone.
Pamela Gidley (1965-2018), US actress in Cherry 2000 (1987), Highway to Hell (1991), Twin Peaks: Fire Walk With Me (1992), Strange Luck (1995-1996 tv), Aberration (1997), The Little Vampire (2000) and Twin Peaks: The Missing Pieces (2014), died on 16 April aged 52. [SG]
Bill Gold (1921-2018), US graphic designer who created hundreds of posters for films including A Clockwork Orange (1971), The Exorcist (1973) and Space Cowboys (2000), died on 20 May aged 97. [GW]
Yuriko Hoshi (1943-2018), Japanese actress in various Toho kaiju films including Ghidorah the Three-Headed Monster (1964), Mothra vs. Godzilla (1964) and Godzilla vs. Megaguirus (2000), died on 17 May aged 74. [PDF]
Margot Kidder (1948-2018), Canada-born actress best known as Lois Lane in the Christopher Reeve Superman (1978) and sequels, died on 13 May aged 69. Further films include The Reincarnation of Peter Proud (1975), The Amityville Horror (1979) and Halloween II (2009). [MR]
Peter Mayer (1936-2018), UK-born publisher and former CEO of Penguin (whose ailing fortunes he restored) who famously published Salman Rushdie's The Satanic Verses (1988) and had his due share of death threats, died on 11 May aged 82. [PDF/AIP]
Richard Peck (1934-2018), Newbery Medal-winning US author whose novels for children and young adults include supernatural and sf titles – such as The Ghost Belonged to Me (1975) and its sequels, and Lost in Cyberspace! (1995) – died on 24 May aged 84. [PDF]
Susan Ann Protter (1939-2018), New York literary agent who represented many sf people including Terry Bisson, Kathryn Cramer, David Hartwell and Rudy Rucker, died on 26 April aged 78. [GVG]
Kottayam Pushpanath, prolific Malayali author best known for crime fiction, whose 300+ novels include sf and horror and who translated Dracula into Malayalam, died on 2 May aged 80. [PDF]
Harry Robinson (1930-2018), UK actor who doubled the part of Dumbledore in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (2002) and appeared in all the sequels, died on 30 April aged 87. [SFS]
Philip Roth (1933-2018), US mainstream author best known for Portnoy's Complaint (1969), died on 22 May aged 85. [BV] Fantastic themes feature in his novels Our Gang (1971), The Breast (1972), The Plot Against America (2004) – a Sidewise Award-winning alternate history – and Everyman (2006).
Dean Stefan, animation writer who scripted He-Man and the Masters of the Universe: The Beginning (2002) and episodes of many sf series from Darkwing Duck (1991) to Transformers: Rescue Bots (2012-2016), died on 15 May. [PDF]
Tom Swale, writer and producer whose script credits include Land of the Lost (1975-1976), Smurfs (1981) and Alvin & the Chipmunks (1983), reportedly died in late May. [DG]
Clint Walker (1927-2018), US actor in The Ten Commandments (1956), Scream of the Wolf (1974), Killdozer (1974), Snowbeast (1977) and Small Soldiers (voice, 1998), died on 21 May aged 90. [DP]
• Late report: Robin Scott Wilson (1928-2013), US editor, academic and author who published short sf and one collaborative novel but is best known for the US Clarion writers' workshop, its spinoff Clarion anthologies (1971-1973) and Those Who Can (1973), died in September 2013; his family chose not to announce this at the time. [GVG]
Tom Wolfe (1931-2018), US author and journalist valued in sf circles for his study of the early US aerospace programme, The Right Stuff (1979) – whose 1983 film adaptation was a Hugo finalist – died on 14 May aged 87. [MR]
• Late report: Glover Wright (Geoffrey Glover-Wright, 1940-2017) Indian-born rock guitarist and thriller writer whose sf novels are The Hound of Heaven (1984) and Aurora (2003), died on 11 October 2017.

We Are Everywhere. Yes, it's satire: 'UK Brexit proposals nominated for Hugo Award in Fantasy category' (, 29 May) Please don't all write to tell me that there is in fact no such category.

Outraged Letters. Chris Priest on A370: 'Traditional old-fart comment (with apologies): from the depths of my lifetime's familiarity with the SF world, of this month's RIPs I recognize only one name, and that is Madame Gollancz ... who famously wouldn't have anything to do with the Gollancz sf list.' (1 May) But familiar names are more painful.

Pubwatch. The Edward Lear pub in Islington reopened on 3 May with a new name as 'tribute to two of the locale's most famous sons': The Owl & Hitchhiker. See [DH] Thematic features include Pan Galactic Gargle Blasters and runcible spoons.

Court Circular. Tony Perez of Tin House reports a 'sovereign citizen' submission that laughs heartily at the rights of mere editors: 'Should you continue to enforce your policy as it is emphasized in the Writers' Market and on your website in the Submissions Guidelines section, please mark my submission as "rejected as unagented" and let me know immediately. I would be happy to send you the proposed declaratory judgment action I included with the packet forwarded to WGAW so your legal staff can prepare whatever arguments they think the federal court will tolerate. Blackballing me will constitute the majority of the damages such a suit would engender, so please consider this submission in the light in which it is delivered, ergo, a good faith effort to demonstrate that you may be breaking the law and have a chance to correct it voluntarily by realizing the book submitted outside your policy is the template for freeing all Americans who have been subjected to patterns and practices which deprive them of the freedoms governments are instituted to protect.' (Twitter, 18 May) Coo er gosh.

The Weakest Link. Q: 'Which legendary English figure stole from the rich to give to the poor?' A: 'Dick Turpin.' (ITV, The Chase) [PE]

Mythopoeic Award shortlists. ADULT John Crowley, Ka: Dar Oakley in the Ruin of Ymr; Alice Hoffman, The Rules of Magic; G.A. Kathryns, Snow City; Ellen Klages, Passing Strange; Victor LaValle, The Changeling.
CHILDREN'S Cassie Beasley, Tumble and Blue; Stephanie Burgis, The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart; Nidhi Chanani, Pashmina; A.F. Harrold, The Song from Somewhere Else; Garth Nix, Frogkisser.
SCHOLARSHIP: INKLINGS Jane Chance, Tolkien, Self and Other; Lisa Coutras, Tolkien's Theology of Beauty. Verlyn Flieger, There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale; S&oring;rina Higgins, The Inklings and King Arthur; Christopher Tolkien, ed., Beren and Luthien.
SCHOLARSHIP: OTHER Aisling Byrne, Otherworlds: Fantasy and History in Medieval Literature; Dimitra Fimi, Celtic Myth in Contemporary Children's Fantasy; Michael Levy & Farah Mendlesohn, Children's Fantasy Literature: An Introduction; Elizabeth M. Sanders, Genres of Doubt; Mark J.P. Wolf, ed., The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds.

As Others Remember Us. 'I was just thinking of George Orwell's 1984 and wondering which animal you would be.' (Danny Mills, Radio 5 Live) [PE]

Random Fandom. Hazel Ashworth is now Hazel Ashworth West, in memory of her late partner Don West.
Follycon (Eastercon 2018) created enamel pins for members who also attended Follycon in 1988, and there are some spares for 1988 members who didn't join the 2018 con. Ask, giving your name, address, and 1988 name/badge name if different. First come first served.
London First Thursdays: the page at has been updated to note the awkward fact that meetings are currently held upstairs with no wheelchair access. [CM]
Steven H Silver's long-running SF Site news page is officially 'on hiatus'. (, 14 May)

The Dead Past. 40 Years Ago: 'Screen Actors Guild has filed a $25,000 lawsuit against Gene Roddenberry, his Norway Corp. and Paramount Pictures for what the union says is an illegal exhibition of a Star Trek TV pilot and seeks an injunction against Roddenberry's showing of the blooper reel. The reel "makes the actors look ludicrous." The article in Variety gives no mention as to why the actors are complaining now, 10 years after the blooper reel was first shown.' (Karass 37, June 1978)
10 Years Ago at 'If you've been in any bookstore in your lifetime, you're probably familiar with that most peculiar of book retail locales: the Fantasy & Science Fiction section. This strange and sweaty place is kept separate from the rest of the bookstore so that its residents, the soap-averse fans of Fantasy & Science Fiction novels, can go about their plots and dark rituals without disturbing any of the normal-smelling clientele.' (Ansible 251, June 2008)

C.o.A. Gary Farber, 1871 Wilson Avenue, Apt 112, Saint Paul, MN 55119, USA.

Thog's Masterclass. Similes in Space. '... and the unfiltered vacuum tightened around me like bathwater.' (Jaroslav Kalfar, Spaceman of Bohemia, 2017) [IS]
Super-Ova Dept. 'Millions of eggs circumvent a small green planet.' (Ibid) [IS]
Pause During Infodump. The President of the USA speaks: 'Please go on. As for its being confusing, it is a bit complicated. But I get it all in a sort of – of fuliginous adumbration!' (Harry Stephen Keeler, Cleopatra's Tears, 1940)
Déjà Vu Dept. 'The servant looked familiar in a way that suggested Vasin had seen him before.' (Peter Newman, The Deathless, 2018) [AR]
Dept of Anatomy. 'She had sprained muscles in her shoulders, thighs and ankles.' 'His legs finally got the message and they ran.' 'She glared into his armpit, appalled.' (Ibid) [AR]
Literally Dept. '"It was returned by the bank," he said flatly. The voice swallowed that; literally as well as metaphorically.' (William Irish [Cornell Woolrich], Deadline At Dawn, 1944) [BA]
Dept of Neat Tricks. 'Quinn dipped his tongue in, hauled it out again in a hurry. He quickly blocked the verbal opening that had been made by shoving his foot into it.' (Ibid) [BA]

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Convention and Event Links
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• 3 June 2018: Duncan Lunan book launch celebration, Troon. See the link below for times and venues.
• 8 June 2018: Alastair Reynolds 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 events/speakers: 13 July 2018, awaited; 10 August 2018, summer social; 14 September 2018, awaited; 12 October 2018, David Leach; 16 November 2018, Professor Bill Chaplin, 7 December 2018, Christmas social.
• 12 June 2018: Farnham Flash Festival sf evening, from 7:30pm at The Hop Blossom, Long Garden Walk, Farnham, Surrey, GU9 7HX.

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

Editorial. The things I do to annoy people on Facebook and Twitter:

Vril meme

The Dead Past II. 20 Years Ago: 'Diana Wynne Jones sends a picture of chaps apparently mud-wrestling in their underpants, and with evil glee points out the caption: "The Langford Ha-Ha Game, a muddy version of five-a-side rugby played in the ha-ha. It was discontinued about ten years ago." I refuse to answer Diana's probing questions about what I was doing in 1988.' (Ansible 131, June 1998)

Magazine Scene. Peter Tennant, after ten and a half years, is putting an end to his 'Case Notes' book reviews section in Black Static. A new reviewing team will be formed: see the link below. (31 May)

Outraged Letters II. This cheered me no end, but I have no idea which Ansible-reading Steve sent it ...


Thog in the Fog. Small Betraying Detail Dept. '... And so since 10.18 this morning, Mr. President, I can confidently say that were a man on any island in Big River he would hardly know – so close would impenetrable fog walls be to him – whether he were on an island or on a prairie! Except, of course, for the angry purling of tons of dun-grey water flowing past him, each side.' (Harry Stephen Keeler, Cleopatra's Tears, 1940)

Ansible® 371 Copyright © David Langford, 2018. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Jetse de Vries, File 770, Paul Di Filippo, David Gerrold, Steve Green, David Haddock, Leroy Kettle, Locus, Caroline Mullan, Andrew I. Porter, David Pringle, Private Eye, Adam Roberts, Marcus Rowland, Ian Sales, Steven H Silver, Michael Swanwick, Gordon Van Gelder, Brad Verter, Gary Wilkinson, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 June 2018.