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Ansible® 378, January 2019

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, boko-maru, foma, sinookas or a stuppa.

The Grand Ah-Whoom

Enid Blyton was fondly remembered as only British newspapers can do it: ‘Golly! Today marks the 50th anniversary of Enid Blyton’s death. More than half a decade has passed, then, since she was at the height of her literary powers ...’ (Daily Telegraph, 28 November) [PE]

John-Henri Holmberg shared the major Translator Award given along with other prizes by Sweden’s Samfundet De Nio (‘The Nine Society’), and will receive SEK 100,000 – close to £9,000. [AE] His translations into Swedish include much sf and crime, 22 books by Stephen King, and Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events.

George Orwell is commemorated by the Orwell Prize for political writing – until now nonfiction-only, but with a fiction category ‘including short stories, graphic novels and YA’ added in the 2019 awards for 2018 work. See [ESF]

Adam Roberts’s timbers were shivered by a new literary term for the female bosom: ‘Slowly one by one, he unfastened the hooks and eyes and slid the dress from the sorceress’s shoulders. After that he utterly devoted his hands and attention to a pair of galleons under full sail. Galleons one would search for in vain on all the maritime routes, harbours, ports, and registers of the admiralty.’ (Andrzej Sapkowski, Season of Storms, 2013; translated 2018) Naturally all this nautical excitement involves the lady’s bed: ‘An enormous one. The bed was huge and had a canopy. The bed linen was of silk. It’s no exaggeration to say that they made use of the entire bed, of every single inch. Every inch of the bed linen. And every fold of the sheets.’ (Morphosis blog, 30 November) After which, no doubt, they needed to lie down for a bit.

Sara Taylor, whose story cycle The Shore (2015) has magic-realist and post-apocalyptic sections, won the £20,000 Eccles British Library Writer’s Award (fiction) for 2019 – to help research her next book. [L]


Until 14 Jan • Alasdair Gray exhibition, Viktor Wynd Museum of Curiosities, 11 Mare St, London, E8 4RP. Admission £6. Closed Mondays.

Until 26 Jan • 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.

12 Jan • Writing Fantastic Tales (workshop), QUAD Centre, Derby. 2pm-5pm; £13. Also ‘Writing Fantastic Plots And Players’ on 19 January and ‘Writing Fantastic Worlds’ on 26 January: same venue, price and time. See

18-20 Jan • Redemption (multimedia), Royal Victoria Hotel, Sheffield. £70 reg; concessions £50; under-18s £25; under-3s free. Advance booking closes 5 January: £75 (concessions £50) at the door. For online booking (5% fee) and day rates, see

1-3 Feb • 31-ET (filk), Best Western Hotel, Marks Tey, Colchester. £38 reg or £28 unwaged plus booking fees; under-18s £1/year of age; under-5s free. Further details at

8-10 Feb • SF Ball (media), Grand Harbour Hotel, Southampton. £135 reg or £15/day; child £45 or £5. See

16 Feb • Picocon 36, Blackett Building, Imperial College, London. Several guests of honour. £12 reg; £10 concessions; £8 for ICSF members; past GoHs free. See

1-2 Mar • Frightfest (film), Glasgow Film Theatre. Tickets £75 weekend, or (limited numbers) £11.50 per film: on sale 14 January at Also London events at Leicester Square: 22-26 August plus a Hallowe’en special on 2 November.

10 Mar • Birmingham International Horrorshow, Victoria pub, John Bright St, Birmingham. See

19-22 Apr • Ytterbium (Eastercon), Park Inn, Heathrow. £80 reg, rising to £90 on 1 April; £30 concessions; £25 under-18s; under-5s free. Some bursaries are available to help low-income members with hotel costs: see

25-26 Aug • Stars of Time (media), Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare. 10am-5pm. £7.50; under-12s, OAP and disabled £4; under-4s free. Family of 2+2 kids £18; 2+3 kids £19. See

25-27 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Pendulum Hotel, Manchester. £85 reg. For hotel rates see

31 Oct - 3 Nov • Edinburgh Horror Festival, The Banshee Labyrinth, Niddry St, and other city venues including Lauriston Castle. Poe-themed in part. Many events are free. See

7-8 Dec • For the Love of Sci-Fi (comics), Trafford Park, Manchester. Tickets at various prices from

Rumblings. Dublin 2019: this Worldcon’s Special Hugo – and also Retro-Hugo – category will be Best Art Book. (Twitter, 30 November)
Concentric 2020 is an Eastercon bid with the Hilton Metropole Hotel (Birmingham NEC) as venue and dates 10-13 April 2020; its fate will be decided at the 2019 Eastercon. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. A futuristic parallel-world virtual reality system in Come With Me by Helen Schulman narrowly avoids the taint of all-out skiffyness: ‘This perhaps suggests that Schulman has left behind the hyper-realism of her two most recent novels for the realms of speculative fiction. Fortunately, that’s true only in a small way. Multiverse theory functions primarily as a thematic framework here, and the headphones and glasses make only a few appearances.’ (NY Times, 19 December) [JB]

UK New Year Honours. Listed names of genre interest include Margaret Atwood (Companion of Honour, for services to literature), Julia Donaldson (CBE; literature), Thandie Newton (OBE; film, charity), Christopher Nolan (CBE; drama), Sophie Okonedo (CBE; drama), Michael Palin (knighted; travel, culture, geography), Philip Pullman (knighted; literature) and Chris Riddell (OBE; illustration, charity).

Futurology Masterclass. ‘I predict that the farsightedness of many persons in Wyoming will make them the safest persons in the atomic holocaust of 1987. They will have shelters, and, after the brief but costly war, we will depend on the many survivors who live in Wyoming to help rebuild many cities of the country.’ (Criswell Predicts, 1968)

R.I.P. John Allard (1928-2018), UK comics artist, writer and editor long associated with the Daily Mirror sf strip Garth and at one period co-author of The Perishers, died on 7 November aged 90. [SH]
Paul Dale Anderson (1944-2018), US author of much horror, sf and fantasy including the ‘Winds’ series of supernatural thrillers opening with Abandoned (2015), died on 13 December aged 74. [PDF]
Peter Armitage (1940-2018), UK actor in The Second Coming (2003 tv), died on 4 December aged 78. [SG]
Terry Bave (1931-2018), UK comics artist whose first children’s fantasy strip was Sammy Shrink for Wham! in 1967 and who later ghosted Grimly Feendish for Leo Baxendale, died on 6 December. His illustrated autobiography is Cartoons and Comic Strips (2013). [SG]
Ken Berry (1933-2018), US actor whose credits include Herbie Rides Again (1974), The Cat from Outer Space (1978) and episodes of Fantasy Island (1978-1982), died on 1 December aged 85. [JP]
John D.F. Black (1932-2018), US writer and producer who wrote The Unearthly (1957), the Hugo-nominated ‘The Naked Time’ for the original Star Trek (1966; he was associate producer for ten episodes), Wonder Woman (1974) and The Clone Master (1978), died on 29 November aged 85. [F770]
Morgan J. Bolt (?1991-2018), US author of the young-adult ‘Tamyth’ trilogy (2013-2015) and dystopian sf novel The Favored (2018), died on 18 December. [PDF]
Ian Cameron (Donald Gordon Payne, 1924-2018), UK author whose first sf novel The Lost Ones (1961) was filmed as The Island at the Top of the World (1974), died on 22 August aged 94. [GC]
Graham Connor, UK fan, convention-goer and event organizer who co-edited SF² Concatenation from its 1987 print-format launch to the current web incarnation, died in late December; he was 61. [SF²C]
Penny Cook (1957-2018), Australian actress whose genre film was The Dreaming (1988), died on 26 December aged 61. [GC]
Emeka Walter Dinjos, Nigerian sf/fantasy author with several short stories published and forthcoming, died on 12 December aged 34. [F770]
Hugues Douriaux (1947-2018), French author of both sf and fantasy novels (sometimes erotic), died last March; this was not reported until November. [AS]
Larry Eisenberg (1919-2018), contributor to Dangerous Visions and author of the ‘Emmett Duckworth’ sf comedies – many collected as The Best Laid Schemes (1971) – died on 25 December aged 99. [GF] From 2008 he gained new fame by posting over 13,000 verse comments to the New York Times website, mostly limericks; he contributed one to Ansible 371.
Wendy Freeman (1939-2018), long-time UK fan and cheerful presence at many past conventions – inducted into the Knights of St Fantony in 1967 – died just before Christmas. She is survived by her husband Keith Freeman, to whom all sympathy.
Toshiko Fujita (1950-2018), Japanese voice actress whose anime credits include Fist of the North Star (1984-1987) and Digimon Adventure (1999), died on 28 December aged 68.
Audrey Geisel (1921-2018), widow of Theodor ‘Dr Seuss’ Geisel who ran his estate since his death in 1991 and had executive producer credits for the film adaptations Horton Hears a Who! (2008), The Lorax (2012) and The Grinch (2018), died on 19 December aged 97. [CH]
Norman Gimbel (1927-2018), Oscar-winning composer and lyricist whose many film soundtrack credits include V for Vendetta (2005), Repo Men (2010) and Logan (2017), died on 19 December aged 91. [AL]
Jorge Grau (1930-2018), Spanish screenwriter and director whose films include The Legend of Blood Castle (1973) and The Living Dead at the Manchester Morgue (1974, aka Let Sleeping Corpses Lie), died on 26 December aged 88. [SG]
Fred Isaacs, US convention-running fan in the Boston area whose many roles included being treasurer of the 1971 Worldcon and chairing Boskone 9, died on 26 December. [SS]
Quentin Kenihan (1975-2018), Australian disability advocate with acting roles in Dr. Plonk (2007) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), died on 6 October aged 43. [GC]
Ringo Lam (1954-2018), Hong Kong director and screenwriter whose films include Esprit D’Amour (1983), Mad Mission 4: You Never Die Twice (1986) and Replicant (2001), died on 29 December aged 64. [MMW]
Jane Langton (1922-2018), US author best known for crime fiction, who also wrote children’s fantasies such as the Hall Family series opening with The Diamond in the Window (1962), died on 22 December aged 95. [L]
Giuseppe Lippi (1953-2018), Italian editor and translator who worked on Robot magazine from 1977 and was best known as editor of the major sf magazine Urania from 1990 to 2018, died on 14 December aged 65. Authors he translated include H.P. Lovecraft and Robert E. Howard. [PDF]
Sondra Locke (1944-2018), US actress and director who appeared in Willard (1971), died on 3 November aged 74. [PDF]
Don Lusk (1913-2018), US animator who worked on Disney productions 1938-1960 – including Pinocchio, Fantasia, Bambi, Cinderella, Peter Pan, Sleeping Beauty and 101 Dalmatians – and later directed many tv series and films for Hanna-Barbera, died on 31 December aged 105. [PDF]
Galt MacDermot (1928-2018), Canadian-American composer whose musicals include Hair (1967), the Grimm-based fairytale Isabel’s a Jezebel (1970) and the sf Via Galactica (1972), died on 17 December – one day short of his 90th birthday. [MMW]
Penny Marshall (1943-2018), US actress and film-maker who directed Big (1988), co-produced Bewitched (2005) and had a voice part in Scooby-Doo! and Kiss: Rock and Roll Mystery (2015), died on 17 December aged 75. [JS]
Peter Masterson (1934-2018), US director and actor seen in The Exorcist (1973) and The Stepford Wives (1975), died on 18 December aged 84. [F770]
Donald Moffat (1930-2018), UK actor whose credits include The Terminal Man (1974), Exo-Man (1977), Logan’s Run (1977-1978 tv), Popeye (1980), The Thing (1982) and Monster in the Closet (1986), died on 20 December aged 87. [S]
Billie Sue Mosiman (1947-2018), US author of suspense novels and dark fantasies such as Banished (2011), died in late December aged 71. [AIP] She edited the all-women anthology Fright Mare: Women Write Horror (2016).
Bill Sellars (1925-2018), UK tv producer who directed the four-part Doctor Who storyline ‘The Celestial Toymaker’ (1966), died on 19 December aged 93. [DWN]
Barbara Brooks Wallace (1922-2018), US author of young-adult mysteries whose seven fantasies include a five-book series about the witch Miss Switch – opening with The Trouble with Miss Switch (1980) – died on 27 November aged 95. [MMW]
June Whitfield (1925-2018), UK actress whose genre credits include The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe (1979), Wyrd Sisters (1997, as Nanny Ogg) and Doctor Who: ‘The End of Time’ (2009-2010), died on 28 December aged 93. [FM]
Lia Wyler (1934-2018), award-winning Brazilian translator of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter saga as well as books by Margaret Atwood, Arthur Conan Doyle, Stephen King, Joyce Carol Oates, John Updike and others, died on 11 December aged 84. [PDF]

The Weakest Link. Jeopardy ‘Posthumous Books’ answer for which the correct question had to be supplied: ‘After death, this horror author still talked about the Necronomicon in his novel, The Case of Charles Dexter Ward.’ Contestant: ‘Who is Asimov?’ (11 December) [AIP]

Magazine Scene. Jason Sizemore of Apex Magazine announced the immediate end of its print edition – after one trial and 11 monthly issues – and reversion to digital-only publication. (Blog post, 10 December) [L]

As Others Avoid Us (But Politely). ‘... when I get time to read on my own, I prefer something that provides a bit of an escape. That said, I don’t need to escape too much – I’m not looking to travel to outer space or a fantasy world. Science fiction isn’t really for me.’ (Michelle Obama, New York Times Book Review, 12 December) [JB]

The Dead Past. 70 Years Ago, a humble British Interplanetary Society member made good: ‘Congratulations to Arthur C. Clarke, B.I.S. councillor and s-f author, recently appointed Assistant Ed. of technical journal Science Abstracts.’ (Science Fantasy News 1, January 1949)
20 Years Ago, ‘Ned Brooks discovered Revealed Truth in his local paper The Atlanta Constitution: “J.R.R. Tolkien (1892-1973) was the creator of the imaginary Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion, which spawned the entire genre of fantasy science fiction.”’ (Ansible 138, January 1999)

Fanfundery. TAFF 2019 voting began in December and continues to 22 April 2019. See for the ballot and online voting form.
GUFF: voting in the 2019 race from Australasia to the Dublin worldcon also began in December and continues to 22 April 2019. The candidates are Lynelle Howell, Simon Litten and Nicole Murphy; the online ballot can be found at
DUFF. Administrator Paul Wiemer writes: ‘There will be no 2019 Down Under Fan Fund delegate, with the expectation that the 2020 race will send a delegate from North America to Worldcon in New Zealand in 2020.’

SFWA has ‘decided to formally and publicly acknowledge the multiple complaints and expressions of concern made both publicly and privately in recent months by former Writers of the Future finalists who state that they have had negative experiences during or after the event.’ (, 3 December) No sordid details are given. In August 2018, WotF was removed from the list of SFWA qualifying markets.

Outraged Letters. Matthew Davies reports a rarity missed by bibliographers and by Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek: ‘Nearly 20 years too late for the anthology, but here’s another piece by John Sladek.’ – in Strange Faeces #10b (1973/4), readable online at Which reminds me of how long it’s been since Sladek prophetically published ‘The Great Wall of Mexico’ (in Bad Moon Rising, 1973).

Convention Woes. ‘Reconstitution’ of the loss-making Nine Worlds Geekfest (see A374) has gone so slowly that – as supporters complained in tweets – the November deadline to take up the 2019 repeat booking option for the established Novotel London West venue in Hammersmith was missed. Thus there may be a ‘small, one day interim event’ this year, but no full-scale Nine Worlds until 2020. (Twitter, 16-22 December)

Cult Crosswords. Easy clue in a Christmas prize puzzle: ‘Cruise into this colony? It’s e.g. “swinging”. (11)’ (Private Eye, 22 December)

Editorial. Happy New Year to all readers of Ansible, which has its (gulp) fortieth anniversary in August. I hope to see some of you at Picocon (possibly) and Ytterbium (probably), but for tiresome personal reasons don’t expect to attend the utterly wonderful Dublin Worldcon.

Thog’s Masterclass. Channelling T. Lobsang Rampa. ‘With all my eyes I stared at him.’ (A.M. Williamson, The House by the Lock, 1899) [PB]
Anatomy Dept. ‘Jack felt a twitch of fear working its way up her legs from the base of her spine.’ (Annalee Newitz, Autonomous, 2017) [MM]
Whatever Turns You On. ‘Trails of exquisite fire were licking his loins, his abdomen, spreading upwards to tantalise his throat and the tips of his fangs ...’ (Freda Warrington, The Dark Blood of Poppies, 1995) [BA]
Guinness Book of Records Please Copy. ‘The bodyguard […] was a half breed, the result of a cross between an ogre and a dwarf. The result was a bald dwarf with a height of well over seven feet.’ (Andrzej Sapkowski, Season of Storms, 2013; translated 2018) [AR]
The Smile That Wins. ‘Sorel Degerlund grinned a vicious smile, a smile calling to mind centipedes squeezing through gaps under doors.’ (Ibid)
Astrogation Dept. ‘I noted, as I shot past it, a constellation to my left very near, and my astronomical knowledge informed me that it was one of the remotest in our solar system.’ (Nictzin Dyalhis, ‘The Eternal Conflict’, October 1925 Weird Tales) [DL] ‘On and on, past planets and suns and constellations, galaxies and nebulae and asteroids, into, through, and beyond the great solar system hurtled that Spirit-Spark that was I.’ (Nictzin Dyalhis, ‘The Dark Lore’, October 1927 Weird Tales) [DL]
The Morning After the Night Before. ‘Billie’s legs are noodles. The ends of her hairs are poison needles. Her tongue is a bristly sponge, and her eyes are bags of bleach.’ (Kelly Link, ‘Secret Identity’ in Get in Trouble, 2015) [MM]

Geeks’ Corner

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• 11 January 2019, Brum Group AGM and book auction (free event). 7:30pm for 8pm at the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham city centre. Normally £4 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Future events/speakers: 8 February 2019, Gareth Powell; 8 March 2019, Chris Morgan; 12 April 2019, TBA; 10 May 2019, Daniel Godfrey; 14 June 2019, Jeanette Ng and Micah Yongo; 12 July 2019, Christopher Priest and Nina Allan.

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

Creature Feature Redux. The Creaturegeddon creatures-and-monsters convention remains implacably determined to give no useful information on its website, but according to another Facebook post the 2019 event will not be on the last weekend of February as previously announced (see Ansible 376). Keep watching the skies....

Thog’s Second Helping. Thog sneers at the contenders for the 2018 Literary Review Bad Sex Award, especially when the first quotation is from a book that’s meant to be funny:

Ansible® 378 © David Langford, 2019. Thanks to Amazing Stories, Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, John D. Berry, John Boston, Gary Couzens, Paul Di Filippo, Doctor Who News, Ahrvid Engholm, Europa SF, Gary Farber, File 770, Steve Green, Chip Hitchcock, Steve Holland, Denny Lien, Locus, Andrew Love, Farah Mendlesohn, Murray Moore, Private Eye, Andrew I. Porter, John Purcell, Adam Roberts, John Scalzi, SF² Concatenation, Siadwell, Alison Scott, Somtow Sucharitkul, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books for the Birmingham SF Group, SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 2 January 2019