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Ansible® 375, October 2018

Cartoon: Ulrika O'Brien

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Ulrika O’Brien. Available for SAE or Snipehazer’s Vinegar.

Trademark Wars. On behalf of your editor and other concerned fans, fannish IP lawyer Simon Bradshaw asked BrewDog PLC about the intended scope of their ‘fanzine’ trademark application (see A373, A374). The response was a written assurance that ‘... we would not envisage ever taking action against writers and publishers of fanzines, even if such fanzines were about beer or beer related products.’ (3 September)
• SFWA has joined Douglas Phillips, author of the 2016 sf ‘Quantum Series’, in opposing a romance author’s 2018 application for a US trademark on ‘quantum series’. (, 7 September)

And No Beginning

Stephen Baxter had a ‘so near and yet so far’ moment when Bradley Walsh of The Chase posed the question ‘Stephen Baxter’s The Time Ships was a sequel to which H.G. Wells novel?’ and the contestant replied ... ‘War of the Worlds.’ (ITV, 7 September)

Brett Graham was not best pleased to discover that with a single exception, every ‘chapter’ in No Clocks, Mirrors, or Windows by Steven Marshall (self-published for Amazon Kindle, 2018) was a verbatim plagiarism of a story by Brett Graham. (Facebook, 11-16 September) Even the epigraph was a pilfered Graham poem, while the solitary non-Graham piece proved to have been swiped from another author. Marshall, who has past form in this area, creatively changed some of the titles. The ebook has since been removed from sale at Amazon.

S.T. Joshi posted the contents list for his critical epic 21st-Century Horror, in three sections: The Elite (six writers I don’t know, not being up to date with horror), The Worthies (seven ditto) and The Pretenders, some familiar: ‘Laird Barron: Decline and Fall; Joe Hill: Like Father, Like Son; Brian Keene: Paperback Writer; Nick Mamatas: Failed Mimic; Paul Tremblay: Borrowing from His Predecessors; Jeff VanderMeer: An Aesthetic Catastrophe.’ (, 27 September) [F770]

Ian McEwan will show sf writers how to do it in Machines Like Me (April 2019), whose ‘love triangle’ involving a male ‘synthetic human’ causes a ‘profound moral dilemma’. (Guardian, 28 September). Ground-breaking stuff, and it was doubtless very wrong of Graham Sleight to get the impression from the Guardian puff-piece that this will be ‘Lester del Rey’s “Helen O’Loy” (1938), but less good.’ (Twitter, 29 September)

Haruki Murakami withdrew from the shortlist of the Swedish ‘New Academy Prize’ (see A374), to be presented this month as an unofficial replacement for the scandal-ridden Nobel. Presumably he’d rather hold out for the real thing. The remaining shortlist: Neil Gaiman, Maryse Condé and Kim Thúy. (Guardian, 17 September) [PDF]

Philip Pullman has searched his famous writing shed in vain: ‘Lost: a green leather pen case, containing a Montblanc ballpoint pen and an ordinary pencil. I'm particularly attached to the pen, because I wrote His Dark Materials with it.’ (Twitter, 25 September)

Cat Rambo reported contact with alien ways of thought at DragonCon: ‘Best part of SFWA business meeting might have been the guy standing in the doorway who refused to come in and said, “I'm just here to burn down the Hugos,” at which point, several people mentioned that SFWA has no connection to the Hugos.’ (Twitter, 1 September)


Until 26 Jan 2019 • The Art of the Gestetner (exhibition by art group exploring retro tech), Bruce Castle Museum, Lordship Lane, N17 8NU. Opening hours 1pm-5pm Wednesday-Sunday every week. Free.

2-6 Oct • War with the Newts (play, Karel Čapek ‘re-imagined’), Royal Exchange Theatre, St Ann’s Square, Manchester, M2 7DH. £13; £11 concessions; £6 under-16s. Bookings

4-7 Oct • Grimmfest (horror/cult film festival), Odeon Printworks, Manchester. Tickets £80 – £75 concessions – from

5-7 Oct • SFW in the City (Sci-Fi Weekender spinoff), O2 Academy, Sheffield. Weekend passes from £40 at

12-14 Oct • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. £35 reg; £25 concessions. See

19-21 Oct • Celluloid Screams (horror film festival), Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. See 0114 275 7727.

19-21 Oct • Destination Star Trek, NEC, Birmingham. Day £29; 2 days £39; 3 days £49; silly ‘VIP’ rates at

19-21 Oct • FantasyCon, Queen Hotel, City Rd, Chester, CH1 3AH. Current rates with £10 off for BFS members: £61.50 adult, £56 student, £31 under-16s. Under-4s free. See

19-21 Oct • Octocon, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, Ireland. (Venue is 12km from city centre.) Now €50 reg; concessions €25; accompanied under-13s free; €10 supp. Day rates €10 Friday, €30 Saturday and €20 Sunday. Join online at

24 Oct • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. Speaker(s) TBA. Free.

26-31 Oct • Edinburgh Horror Festival, various venues; MonsterCon ‘micro convention’ on Saturday. See

26-28 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Pendulum Hotel, Manchester. £85 reg; accompanied children 12-16 £15 , 8-11 £10 , under 7 (presumably meaning under 8) free. Day rates: see

27 Oct • BristolCon, Hilton Doubletree Hotel, Bristol. £25 or £15 concessions and 14-17s; £30/£20 at door. Contact Flat 11, Beaufort Ct Flats, 1 Beaufort St, Easton, Bristol, BS5 0SQ. See

2-4 Nov • Armadacon 30, Future Inn, Plymouth. £35 reg; concessions £30; under-16s free. PayPal registration at

3 Nov • Frightfest, Cineworld, Leicester Square, London. Ticket prices TBA in October. See

8 Nov - 9 Dec • Fanatical: A Sci-Fi Convention Musical, Playground Theatre, London. Various ticket prices from £11 to £25 (£10 to £22 concessions) at The description makes it sound a little bit like Galaxy Quest: The Musical.

8 Nov • Science Fictions (lecture, on scientific imagination more than sf), Oxford Examination Schools, 5pm. See

9-11 Nov • Novacon 48, Park Inn, Nottingham. Now £55 reg (same rate applies at the door); under-17s £12; under-13s free. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ. See

10 Nov • SFX Book Con, Foyles, Charing Cross Rd, London. 12:30-6:30pm. £18 reg; £15 for students and (oh dear) ‘Foyalty’ members. See

24 Nov • Sledge-Lit, QUAD Centre, Derby. 10am-6pm. Tickets £25; 16-25s £15. See

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

15-19 Aug 2019 • Dublin 2019 (Worldcon), Dublin, Ireland. Now €210 reg, €130 under-26s or first-time Worldcon members, and €70 under-13s. Unchanged: €5 under-6s and €40 supporting. See

Rumblings. Eurocon 2021. A Romanian bid has been announced: DistopiCon in Timisoara, 13-16 May 2021. See

Infinitely Improbable

As the FBI Saw Us. From a 1959 interview transcript found in Ray Bradbury’s FBI file: ‘[Martin] Berkeley stated that it has been his observation that some of the writers suspected of having Communist backgrounds have been writing in science fiction and it appears that science fiction may be a lucrative field for the introduction of Communist ideology.’ (Writers Under Surveillance: The FBI Files, 2018) [MMW]

Awards. American Book Award winners include Victor LaValle’s The Changeling.
Man Booker shortlist titles of genre interest: Daisy Johnson, Everything Under; Sophie Mackintosh, The Water Cure; Richard Powers, The Overstory. [L]
Planete-SF Prize (France): N.K. Jemisin, The Fifth Season.
Primetime Emmy (Drama Series): Game of Thrones.
SFPA Dwarf Star (poem of 1-10 lines): Kath Abela Wilson, ‘The Green’ (Carrying the Branch: Poets in Search of Peace). [L]
SFPA Elgin (poetry collection): BOOK Christina M. Rau, Liberating the Astronauts. CHAPBOOK F.J. Bergmann, A Catalogue of the Further Suns. [F770]

Science Masterclass. ‘And when they do make it all the way down to Earth, meteorites strike at tremendous speeds – as much as 90,000 miles per second.’ (Kenneth C. Davis, Don't Know Much About Geography) [AT]

R.I.P. Alan Abel (1924-2018), US author and hoaxer who chronicled his spoof Society for Indecency to Naked Animals (‘A nude horse is a rude horse’) in The Great American Hoax (1966; UK title Yours for Decency), died on 14 September aged 94. [GF] Of genre interest is his mockumentary Is There Sex After Death? (1971).
Norm Breyfogle, US comics artist who worked on American Flagg, Batman and Prime, died on 24 September aged 58. [PDF]
Bill Daily (1927-2018), US actor in I Dream of Jeannie (1965-1970), ALF (1987-1989), Alligator II: The Mutation (1991) and Horrorween (2011), died on 4 September aged 91. [MMW]
Peter Donat (1928-2018), Canadian-born actor whose credits include Time Trax (1993-1994), The Game (1997) and The X-Files (1995-1999), died on 10 September aged 90. [AIP]
Fenella Fielding (1927-2018), UK actress in Carry on Screaming! (1966), The Prisoner (1967, voice only) and Uncle Jack (4 series, 1990-1993), died on 11 September aged 90. [IC]
Russ Heath (1926-2018), long-time US comics artist whose output included sf, horror and superhero stories, died on 29 September aged 91. [CH] His air dogfight panels for DC’s All-American Men of War were notoriously ‘appropriated’ without permission or payment by the Pop artist Roy Lichtenstein.
Gary Kurtz (1940-2018), US producer of Star Wars (1977), The Empire Strikes Back (1980), The Dark Crystal (1982), Return to Oz (1985) and Slipstream (1989), died on 23 September aged 78. [GW]
Christopher Lawford (1955-2018), US actor whose films include Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (2003) and Slipstream (2007), died on 5 September aged 63. [AIP]
Roger Mainwood, UK director and animator whose credits include The Snowman (1982), further Raymond Briggs adaptations, and The Wind in the Willows (1995), died in late September aged 65. [PDF]
Vanessa Marquez (1968-2018), US actress in Maniac Cop 3: Badge of Silence (1993) and the Star Wars spoof Return of Pink Five (2006), died on 30 August aged 49. [SG]
Al Matthews (1942-2018), US actor in Superman III (1983), Aliens (1986), The Fifth Element (1997) and Tomorrow Never Dies (1997), died on 22 September aged 75. [GW]
Zienia Merton (1945-2018), Burmese-English actress best known as Sandra Benes in Space: 1999 (1975-1977), died on 14 September aged 72. [PDF]
Annette Michelson (1922-2018), influential US film critic who wrote a notable 1969 essay on 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968), died on 17 September aged 95. [AIP]
Thad Mumford (1951-2018), US tv writer who was supervising producer of ALF (1986-1987) and wrote four episodes, died on 6 September aged 67. [PDF]
Jacqueline Pearce (1943-2018), UK actress fondly remembered as Servalan in Blake’s 7 (1978-1981), died on 3 September aged 74. Early films include Hammer’s The Plague of the Zombies (1966) and The Reptile (1966).
Vladimir Radunsky (1954-2018), Russian-born illustrator of children’s books including folktales and fairytales, died on 11 September aged 64. [PDF]
Burt Reynolds (1936-2018), US actor who famously refused to play James Bond or Han Solo, died on 6 September aged 82. Genre credits include Frankenstein and Me (1996), Universal Soldier II (1998), and Universal Soldier III (1998). [SG]
Roger Robinson (1940-2018), US actor whose films include Meteor (1979), died on 26 September aged 78.
Margit Sandemo (1924-2018), Norwegian-born author of many historical fantasies in Swedish – notably the 47-volume series The Legend of the Ice People (1982-1989) – died on 1 September aged 94. [AE]
Carole Shelley (1939-2018), UK-born actress whose films include The Aristocats (1970), Hercules (1997) and Bewitched (2005), died on 31 August aged 79. She was also in the Broadway musical Wicked (2003). [AIP]
Dudley Sutton (1933-2018), UK actor whose films include A State of Emergency (1986), Orlando (1992), The Door (2011) and Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), died on 15 September aged 85. [SG]
Sven Wernström (1925-2018), Swedish author of many children’s/YA sf novels from 1949 to 2001, died on 6 September aged 93. [AE]
Jack N. Young (1926-2018), US stuntman, actor, location manager etc. whose films include Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954, uncredited), The Wraith (1986) and Timemaster (1995), died on 12 September aged 91.
Craig Zadan (1949-2018), US producer whose tv credits include Flowers for Algernon (2000) and the musical revivals Peter Pan Live! (2014) and The Wiz Live! (2015), died on 20 August aged 69. [AIP]

Alternate History Masterclass. ‘Jack the Ripper’s victims [...] were murdered in Whitechapel, East London, in a killing spree between September and November 1988.’ (MailOnline, 16 September) [PE]

As Others See Us. Oona Chaplin on Doris Lessing’s Canopus in Argus sequence: ‘I suppose it falls under science fiction, although it is much more than that.’ (The Observer, 23 September) [JG]

Random Fandom. BSFA Awards: nominations (members only) have opened at Ebooks and works first published outside the UK or Ireland are now eligible for Best Novel.
Camestros Felapton unveiled the Space Opera Cover Maker, which does what it says on the tin, at All results are in the public domain!
Leroy Kettle authorized the reissue of his and John Brosnan’s non-bestselling The Dirty Movie Book (1988) as a free ebook at This treasury of steamy inside information (‘Did you know that Greta Garbo was a secret Australian, born Doris Pringle on a sheep station at Wanga Wanga?’) should become available in November if not before. Perhaps the most impressive prediction, seven years before the launch of SFX, was that magazine’s perennial cover gag: ‘I discovered that when he had seen the term SFX he had misread it as SEX.’

Magazine Scene. Space and Time is to close after 52 years of publication since it ‘no longer has enough subscribers to remain viable’, says editor-in-chief Hildy Silverman. Two more issues are planned. [L]

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago, a riddle: ‘Q: What sort of idiots would beg your editor to drop everything and put together some gems from Thog's Masterclass at short notice to fill a slot in a discussion programme, and then cease all communication as soon as the sucker had agreed to this? A: The BBC World Service.’ (Ansible 135, October 1998) Also: ‘Classic Glamour Photography by Iain M. Banks. (1989, Amphoto; ISBN: 0817436723). Is there no end to the man's talents?’ (Ibid)

Pottermania. The Royal Mint’s 2016 limited edition of 50p coins showing characters from Beatrix Potter’s The Tale of Peter Rabbit has been doing well on eBay, with the silver version of Peter Rabbit himself selling for up to £1,000. (Banbury Guardian, 27 September)

Editorial. The ‘Art of the Gestetner’ exhibition listed above had its private view on 29 September, with unexpected – at least by me – champagne, and a select fan presence consisting of Pat Charnock (who had introduced the perpetrators to fandom), Rob Hansen (with issues of Epsilon and a battered old Gestetner as exhibits) and myself. Three whole display cases are devoted to fanzines as we know them, including in catalogue order Novae Terrae, Fantast, Hyphen, Duplicating Without Tears, Mike Moorcock’s Jazz Fan from 1957, Femizine, Stellar, Boonfark, DNQ, Bastion, Raffles, Placebo, Gambit, Burroughsania (that nice Mr Moorcock again), The Enchanted Duplicator, Scottishe and Warhoon 28 – though not Ansible since its early duplicated issues were produced on a R*neo. Elsewhere, an impressive two-colour cover depicting a space rocket proved to be from the in-house Gestetner Head Office News. As expected I deafly failed to comprehend the speeches made by the Mayor of Haringey (including Tottenham, former home of the mighty Gestetner factory), by Jonathan Gestetner (grandson of The Founder), and by Oscar Mac-Fall, a leader of the art group Alt Går Bra that organized all this. It is a proud and lonely thing.
• The Langford readership is set to expand to galactic proportions with the translation of my story ‘Different Kinds of Darkness’ into Klingon. First Shakespeare and now me. Well, a few others too.

Fanfundery. TAFF 2019: nominations for the 2019 eastbound race to the Dublin Worldcon open on 1 October 2018, closing 22 November; voting will run from 1 December to the closing date 22 April 2019. Candidates need three North American and two European nominators and must also provide a promotional platform of not more than 101 words plus $20 bond. Watch the skies at for further announcements.

Thog’s Masterclass. Solid Geometry Dept. ‘So three-sided spheres do exist.’ (Nina George, The Little Paris Bookshop, 2015; trans Simon Pare 2016). [PB]
The Physics of Funfair Rides. ‘The fall takes two and a half seconds, and as the ride brakes, passengers are subjected to a force equivalent to three and a half Gs. / In other words, when it lands each human body weighs more than three times as much as normal. / Body weight matters on the way down. / A person traveling at a speed of a hundred kilometers an hour weighs over twelve tons.’ (Erik Axl Sund, The Crow Girl, trans Neil Smith 2015) [PB]
CSI Dept. ‘A hack collective had blown the images to one thousand percent in an attempt to isolate actual nipple pigmentation ...’ (John Sandford and Ctein, Saturn Run, 2015) [JC]
Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘Ayo slides her eyes to the kitchen window and out towards the barn.’ ‘His eyes graze Urvisha’s huge suitcase.’ (both from Katie Khan, The Light Between Us, 2018) [AR]
Dept of Post-Holocaust Prose. ‘A pang stings my throat at the memory of pigs.’ ‘I stare at her little head. Why are young adults’ heads so little?’ ‘His eyes gleam like succulent black holes.’ ‘Jean de Men stares at her. Is his smile losing its sureness, are his eyes starting to boil?’ ‘What kind of population emerges up among the stars? A wad of alabaster meated things driven only by appearance and entertainment.’ (all from Lidia Yuknavitch, The Book of Joan, 2017) [AR]

Geeks’ Corner

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• 12 October 2018: David Leach 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: 16 November 2018, Professor Bill Chaplin; 7 December 2018, Christmas social.

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

Rob Hansen has a 1 October blog post about the ‘Art of the Gestetner’ exhibition, with photographs, at The fannish sections of the (heretically photocopied) catalogue can be seen at – which, as Pat Charnock points out, omits a non-fanzine by UK fan Ken Cheslin that was displayed elsewhere. Photographs below all (except the last) taken by Tim Bowditch for Alt Går Bra and copyright © Alt Går Bra – many thanks to Oscar Mac-Fall for sending a selection from the official record.

Gestetner display #14
• Display #14: Novae Terrae, Fantast, Hyphen, Vector, Duplicating Without Tears, Jazz Fan, Femizine, Fandom Dispatch, Camber, After the Flood, Stellar x 5.

Gestetner display #15
• Display #15 detail: Burroughsania, Mad Scientist's Digest, The Enchanted Duplicator and bits of others – see catalogue.

Gestetner display #16
• Display #16 – see catalogue.

Gestetner display #16 different angle
• Display #16 (different angle): Warhoon 28 at front centre – for others see catalogue.

Gestetner display #3
• Display #3 shows how the professionals do it: Gestetner Head Office News.

Gestetner exhibiton: Rob Hansen
• Fanzine historian Rob Hansen (thus described in the catalogue) examines Display #4, an ancient 230 series Gestetner unearthed from his own cellar.

Gestetner exhibiton: Rob Hansen, Pat Charnock
• Pat Charnock and Rob Hansen study Display #15 (a not-so-good photo from your editor's phone).

R.I.P. II. Z.S. (Sophy) Adani, whose sf collection is The Last Outpost (2011) and who co-edited Destination: Future (2010) with Eric T. Reynolds, reportedly died on 21 July. [PDF]
Carlos Ezquerra (1947-2018), highly regarded Spanish comics artist who co-created Judge Dredd for 2000 AD and Strontium Dog for Starlord (later merged into 2000 AD), died on 1 October; he was 70. Other work included comics adaptations of Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat and two of its sequels. [GW]

Gollancz Festival? As Ansible goes to press, is still showing exciting news of the 2017 event. Rather than a full-blown festival there is to be a Gollancz Writers’ Day on 2 November, with details to be announced soon.

Thog’s Second Helping. Metaphor Dept. ‘The sky exploded above them, a bruised flower.’ ‘Holly’s heart seemed to throw itself on to barbed wire.’ (Freda Warrington, A Dance in Blood Velvet, 1994) [BA]

Ansible® 375 © David Langford, 2018. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, Simon Bradshaw, Jamieson Cobleigh, Ian Covell,Ahrvid Engholm, Gary Farber, File 770, Paul Di Filippo, John Goodridge, Steve Green, Rob Hansen, Chip Hitchcock, Locus, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Adam Roberts, Arthur Tansky, Andrew Wells, Gary Wilkinson, Edward Willett, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books for the Birmingham SF Group, SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 October 2018