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Ansible® 383, June 2019

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 a tower of beer cans to the Moon.

The Grunch and the Eggplant

John Carpenter the cult sf/horror film director (Dark Star, The Fog, Escape from New York, The Thing etc) received a special award for life contributions to cinema at the Cannes festival in May. (Reuters, 15 May)

Malcolm Edwards has stepped down as Consultant Publisher to Orion and Chair of Gollancz, where among many other things he presided over the SF Masterworks list, the SF Gateway ebook library and (linked to Gateway) the online Encyclopedia of SF. His last day with the company was 31 May; career celebration to follow. (Hachette PR, May)

Frank Frazetta’s Egyptian Queen (a 1969 Eerie cover) sold for $5.4 million at a Heritage Auctions sale in May, reportedly the highest price ever for original comics art sold at auction. (Heritage, 16 May) [F770]

Hugo Gernsback also did well at auction, with the first edition of Ralph 124C 41+ (1925) going for $9,375 in a 14 May Swann Galleries sale. Bargain-hunters had to content themselves with Edgar Rice Burroughs: Tarzan the Invincible (inscribed first edition, 1931) sold for $3,500 and At the Earth’s Core (signed first, 1922) for $3,750. [BA]

Mary Robinette Kowal was elected unopposed as SFWA President in May, and will replace the current incumbent Cat Rambo on 1 July.

Ian McEwan has distanced himself slightly from his apparent position on sf as quoted in Ansible 382: ‘“I’d be very happy for my novel to be called science fiction, but it’s also a counterfactual novel, it’s also a historical novel, it’s also a moral dilemma novel, in a well-established traditional form within the literary novel,” he says. “I’m very happy if they want to call my novel science fiction, even honored. But it’s much else, that’s all I’m trying to say.”’ (Interview in Wired, 4 May) [DA]

Peter Nicholls is remembered in the renamed SF Foundation Essay Prize, now the Peter Nicholls Essay Prize. Only postgraduates and non-tenured researchers with recent PhDs can enter. Deadline 2 December; full details at

Colin Smythe’s name was taken in vain for many spoof emails asking his contacts for a ‘favor’ (not the way he spells it), which proved to be sending his impersonator iTunes or Walmart vouchers for a fictitious birthday present. He hopes that no one fell for it.


7-9 Jun • Cymera: Scotland's Festival of SF, Fantasy & Horror Writing, Edinburgh. From £6.25 per event:

8 Jun • BSFA/SF Foundation AGMs and mini-con, Blackett Building Lecture Theatre 1, Imperial College, London. From 10am; SFF AGM noon; BSFA AGM 1pm. Free. See BSFA post.

3-4 Jul • Science for Fiction, Imperial College, London. Science presentations for published authors only: afternoon of 3rd, all day 4th. £30 including catering. Contact Dave Clements, davecl at mac dot com.

5-7 Jul • Lavecon (sf/fantasy/gaming), Sedgebrook Hall Hotel, Northants. Tickets at various prices from

5-7 Jul • London Anime & Gaming Con, London Met, N7 8DB. £29 reg; for day and VIP rates see

13 Jul • Summer Comic Jam, Tyne Bank Brewery. Noon to midnight. Canny Comic Con event (see on Small Press Day, whose links list is awaited at

13 Jul • Edge-Lit 8, QUAD Centre, Derby, DE1 3AS. 10am-9pm. £30. See

17 Jul • Arthur C. Clarke Award presentation, Foyles, Charing Cross Road, London. Tickets booking link awaited.

15-19 Aug • Dublin 2019 (Worldcon), Dublin, Ireland. Now €260 reg; young adult and Irish First Worldcon €160; child €80. Unchanged: infant €5; supp €40. See (Price rises announced on 3 May and effective from 6 May – hence no warning in the May Ansible.)

23-26 Aug • The Asylum (steampunk), Lincoln. £40 reg; £21 junior (5-16). For day tickets etc. see

26 Oct • BristolCon, Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, Bristol. Now £30 reg (£35 at the door); £20 under-18s, concessions and disabled (£25 at the door); under-14s free. Full details at

16-17 May 2020 • HorrorCon UK, Magna Science Adventure Centre, Sheffield. Tickets sales awaited at

29 Jul - 2 Aug 2020 • CoNZealand (Worldcon 78), Wellington, New Zealand. NZD $370 reg and $225 YA/unwaged, rising to $400 and $250 on 17 June 2019. Other rates are unchanged: $105 child (born 2005+), infants (born 2015+) free, $75 supporting. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us, Ad Nauseam. ‘Once upon a time, when I was young and naive, an ex-boyfriend coerced me into spending an evening playing Dungeons & Dragons with his boy pals. A covert little gang, the fantasy board game enthusiasts were well aware that their hobby made them look like massive losers, and so the gathering was a fairly clandestine affair, hosted in one or another's flat and played, as I remember it, crouched on the floor, like hobbits round a brazier. / Within five minutes of observing four adult males role-playing and strategising over which path might best suit their “quest”, I realised two things. First, that Dungeons & Dragons is the most painfully boring activity in the world. And second, that any affection I might have felt for my young wizard, or Prince Twgwyidd, or whatever guise he had assumed as his fantasy alterego, had clean disappeared. I had a similar reckoning a few years later when another boyfriend revealed a disturbing adoration for the work of comic fantasy writer Terry Pratchett. Love may conquer all, but Discworld will never be sexy. / The fantasy genre still makes me shudder.’ (Jo Ellison, Financial Times, 18 May) [MMW]

Awards. Arthur C. Clarke shortlist: Semiosis by Sue Burke, Revenant Gun by Yoon Ha Lee, Frankenstein in Baghdad by Ahmed Saadawi, The Electric State by Simon Stålenhag, Rosewater by Tade Thompson, The Loosening Skin by Aliya Whiteley.
Nebulas: NOVEL The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. NOVELLA The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. NOVELETTE The Only Harmless Great Thing by Brooke Bolander. SHORT ‘The Secret Lives of the Nine Negro Teeth of George Washington’ by Phenderson Djèlí Clark (Fireside 2/18). GAME WRITING Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. RAY BRADBURY (dramatic): Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. ANDRE NORTON (young adult): Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Neil Cross on his Man Booker Prize longlisting, an example to us all: ‘It was like waking up to find a sewer rat squirming its way between your teeth and into your throat.’ (BBC Writersroom) [PE]

As Others See Game of Thrones. ‘How did a show that could have been dreamed up between dice tosses in a Dungeons & Dragons session become the stuff of watercooler conversations?’ (Theunis Bates, editorial in The Week, 17 May) [MMW]

R.I.P. Roslyn Alexander (1924-2019), US actress in Child’s Play (1988) and The Unborn (2009), died on 30 May aged 94.
Max Arthur (1939-2019), UK military historian and actor in Doctor Who ‘Planet of Fire’ (1984), died on 2 May aged 80.
Nikolai Baturin, (1936-2019), Estonian author whose work included such sf novels as Sõnajalg kivis (A Fern in the Stone, 2006), died on 17 May aged 82. [PDF]
Tim Bolgeo (1949-2019), long-time US fan and con organizer whose fanzines were The LibertyCon Newsletter and The Revenge of Hump Day, died on 12 May aged 70. [AIP]
Jack Cohen (1933-2019), UK reproductive biologist, author and (since the late 1960s) fan and convention-goer, a consultant to many sf authors including Brian Aldiss and Anne McCaffrey on the design of plausible aliens, died on 6 May aged 85. His books include The Science of Discworld (1999) with Terry Pratchett and Ian Stewart, which had three sequels; two sf novels with Stewart, of which the first was Wheelers (2000); and Evolving the Alien: The Science of Extraterrestrial Life (2002, aka What Does a Martian Look Like?) again with Stewart. He was an old friend, always fine company (and a good speaker) at conventions.
Tim Conway (1933-2019), US comedian with voice roles in SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-2012) and Dragons: Riders of Berk (2012-2013), died on 14 May aged 85. [PDF]
Tommy Donbavand (1968-2019), UK children’s and comics author who wrote the Doctor Who novel Shroud of Sorrow (2013) and with Michael Anderle co-wrote the ‘Gravity Storm’ ebook sf adventures as Tom Dublin, died on 14 May aged 51. [SH]
Dennis Etchison (1943-2019), US horror author who won multiple British and World Fantasy Awards – including both for his first collection The Dark Country (1982) – died on 28 May. [L] He received the HWA life achievement award in 2017.
Steve Golin (1955-2019), US producer whose films include Candyman (1992), Being John Malkovich (1999) and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (2004), died on 21 April aged 64. [AIP]
Isaac Kappy (1977-2019), US actor in Terminator Salvation (2009), Thor (2011) and others, committed suicide on 13 May; he was 42. [MMW]
Judith Kerr (1923-2019), German-born UK author and illustrator of much-loved children’s books beginning with The Tiger Who Came to Tea (1968), died on 22 May aged 95; she was married to Nigel Kneale from 1954 until his death in 2006.
Everett Kinstler (1926-2019), noted US portrait artist whose early pulp/comics work included a stint on Avon’s 1950s White Princess of the Jungle, died on 26 May aged 92. [PDF]
Terry Allen Kramer (1933-2019), Tony-winning Broadway producer whose shows included Gorey Stories (1978), Frankenstein (1981), The Addams Family (2010) and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011), died on 2 May aged 85. [AIP]
Peggy Lipton (1946-2019), US actress in Twin Peaks (1989-1991; 1992 film spinoff) and The Postman (1997), died on 11 May aged 72. [PDF]
Bronco McLoughlin (1938-2019), Irish actor and stuntman whose films include Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (1984), Hellbound: Hellraiser II (1988), Willow (1988) and Total Recall (1990), died on 26 March aged 80.
Pua Magasiva (1980-2019), Samoan actor in Power Rangers Ninja Storm (2003 tv) and 30 Days of Night (2007), died on 11 May aged 38. [MR]
Peter Mayhew (1944-2019), US actor who played Chewbacca in the original Star Wars trilogy plus later films and spinoffs, died on 30 April aged 74. [F770]
Glen Mehn, US-born ‘all round geek, author of speculative fiction, and a Director of The Kitschies’, died in May according to a British Fantasy Society tweet (23 May); he was a contributor to alt.sherlock.holmes.
H. Stanley (Stan) Nuttall (1926-2019), long-time UK fan and stalwart of the Liverpool Group for many years, died on 26 April aged 92. With John Owen he wrote the fanfiction adventures of Sir William Makepeace Harrison for the club fanzine Space Diversions. [RC]
Makoto Ogino (1959-2019), Japanese comics creator best known for the fantasy sequence Kujaku-Ō (Peacock King, 1985-1989), died on 29 April aged 59. [JonC]
Justin Ponsor (‘J-Po’), comics colorist for WildStorm, CrossGen, Marvel and DC, died on 18 May aged 42. [PDF]
Terry Rawlings (1933-2019), UK film and sound editor whose credits include Watership Down (1978), Alien (1979), Blade Runner (1982) and The Core (2003), died on 23 April aged 86. [PDF]
Chris Reccardi (1964-2019), US animation writer and director whose many credits include SpongeBob SquarePants (1999-current) and Super Robot Monkey Team Hyperforce Go! (2004-2006), died on 2 May aged 54. [PDF]
Alvin Sargent (1927-2019), Oscar-winning US screenwriter who scripted Spider-Man 2 (2004) and co-wrote the 2007 sequel, died on 9 May aged 92. [PDF/CH]
Dennis Neal Smith, US comics fan and con organizer (he chaired the infamous 1966 Westercon) whose artwork inspired several Harlan Ellison stories including ‘I Have No Mouth and I Must Scream’, died in May aged 73. [PDF]
Peggy Stewart (1923-2019), US actress whose credits include The Vampire’s Ghost (1945), The Fall of the House of Usher (1979) and FlashForward (2009), died on 29 May aged 95.
Stephen Thorne (1935-2019), UK actor in three 1970s Doctor Who serials (‘The Daemons’, ‘The Three Doctors’, ‘The Hand of Fear’) and radio adaptations including The Magician’s Nephew, The Lord of the Rings and Guards! Guards, died on 26 May aged 84. [DWN]
Herman Wouk (1915-2019), Pulitzer-winning US author whose sf venture was the minor The ‘Lomokome’ Papers (1956 Collier’s Weekly; 1968), died on 17 May aged 103. [PDF] A Hole in Texas (2004) is a borderline-sf satire.

The Weakest Link. Q: ‘The marsh in Bunyan’s Pilgrim’s Progress is called The Slough of ... what?’ A: ‘Newcastle.’ (The Chase, ITV) [PE]

Shed of Doom. The tiny Museum of Classic Sci-Fi in Allendale, Northumberland ( tested the limits of what’s possible for its Grade II listed house: having a Dalek outside is OK, but adding a little wooden shed to keep the rain off this merciless exterminator roused the wrath of the county planning department. Controversy ensued; a consultation is in progress. (Guardian, 21 May)

Alien News. ‘Oxford Professor Claims Invisible Aliens Are Interbreeding with Humans’ (, 29 April) was one of many recent headlines about Dr. Young-Hai Chi of the Oxford Oriental Institute, who argues that aliens among us are mingling genes because they feel threatened by climate change and nuclear weapons. [MMW]

Random Fandom. FAAn Awards at Corflu (2-5 May). FANZINE: overall Banana Wings; genzine Banana Wings; personalzine (tie) Flag, Vibrator; newszine Ansible; apazine Lofgeornost; special Lake’s Folly. WRITING: overall Mark Plummer; fannish article ‘Worldcon Kaleidoscope’ by John-Henri Holmberg; sercon article ‘Weisinger’s Worldcon’ by Andy Hooper; series/column ‘Roadrunner’ by Mark Plummer; letterhack Paul Skelton. ART: overall Alan White; special award Steve Stiles; cover Brian Parker for Beam 13; cover design Geri Sullivan for The Corflu 35 Bheer Tasting Guide; fan illustrator Steve Stiles; photographer/digital artist Ditmar; graphic design Pete Young for The White Notebooks. ONLINE: special award; archive/resource; news/info resource Ansible; group or list In the Bar. OTHER: #1 fan face Mark Plummer (your editor was ever so surprised to be listed as #2) ; services to the hobby Andy Hooper; ‘smooooth operator’ Spike; unrecognized fan achievement Taral Wayne; life achievement Paul Skelton.
Bob Madle, long-time US fan, bookdealer and founding member of First Fandom (see below) who was the TAFF delegate to the first London Worldcon in 1957, celebrated his 99th birthday on 2 June. [CP]

The Dead Past. 60 Years Ago, a golden opportunity dawned for those active in fandom before 1 January 1938: ‘BOB MADLE AND DON FORD announce the formation of a new fan club, FIRST FANDOM, a non-profit organisation with dues of one dollar per annum. “Most of the money,” they say, “will be expended in a club bulletin which will maintain an up to date roster of members...”’ (Skyrack 3, 1 June 1959)
40 Years Ago:LANGFORD KOS CHECKPOINT IN GRIM FAN STRUGGLE! Well, perhaps not, but it sounds more interesting that way. In fact Checkpoint will be folding with the 100th issue, that being more than enough for any sane fan editor, and Dave Langford will be starting up an entirely new publication by the name of Ansible.’ (Peter Roberts in Checkpoint 97, June 1979)
20 Years Ago, the UK relaxacon Seccon (in Stevenage) saw ‘the rediscovery of the long-hoped-lost Fundament!, the Oxford U SF Group's musical version of the entire Foundation trilogy. This is somewhat, er, telescoped (THE MULE: “Curses! I forgot that my mutation renders me so weak that the effort of singing could at any time kill me stone dead.... Aaarggghhhhh....”) and was performed with great enthusiasm but no actual music, drawing praise from Ian Sorensen: “They're making my productions look professional!” Asimov purists were intrigued by Dave Clements’s evocation of Hari Seldon lurching up from his Time Vault wheelchair at the close of Second Foundation, with the words, “Mein Fuhrer ... I can walk!”’ (Ansible 143, June 1999)

Encyclopedia Galactica News. Andy Sawyer’s old position has been filled at last: the SF Foundation announced that from the end of May the SFF Librarian at Liverpool University is Phoenix Alexander. [RR]

As Others See Us II. Interviewer: ‘Which genres do you avoid?’ George F. Will: ‘Science fiction. Reality is weird enough.’ (NY Times, 31 May) [JB]
• ‘High Life is not a science-fiction film in any usual sense of the term, despite deploying some classic tropes of the genre. Neither is it a horror film, although it does contain some horrifying imagery. In essence, this is an existential, philosophical treatment of the prison movie genre taken to its logical conclusion ...’ (The Quietus, 10 May) [R]

Fanfundery. TAFF Site Free Ebooks. The latest release is a new collection of Terry Carr’s fanzine writings, Fandom Harvest II – not to be confused with last month’s ebook reissue of the 1986 Fandom Harvest. This follow-up is substantially longer, with over 118,000 words, and includes everything from The Incompleat Terry Carr (1972) that’s not also in Fandom Harvest, plus lots and lots of previously uncollected material. Downloadable at

Thog’s Masterclass. Fish in a Barrel Dept. ‘He had some pigeons and a couple of rabbits he’d shot in the freezer.’ (Martin Walker, A Taste for Vengeance, 2018) [SR]
Eternal Verities. ‘One didn’t question sociologists and their computers.’ (Isaac Asimov, The Naked Sun, 1957)
The Simile of Understatement. ‘... not unlike falling nude into a morass of itching powder while two sadistic dentists drilled into one’s teeth at the instant of apogee of alcoholic history’s most profligate hang-over.’ (Richard Condon, The Manchurian Candidate, 1959) [MMW]
Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘He walked straight into Falcón’s eyes and caught the blue flash of his lover’s.’ (Robert Wilson, The Blind Man of Seville, 2003) [PB]
Running Gag Dept. ‘... legs and buttocks raw from sitting in his uncontrollable urine.’ (Ibid)
Marital Duties Dept. ‘As he spoke his eyes darted about under cover of some heavy, dark eyebrows, which his wife was not keeping under control.’ (Ibid) [PB]
Morbid Metaphor Moments. ‘... he lowered himself into a chair in front of his doctor, hesitant as a man with elephant haemorrhoids that ran from nose to tail.’ (Ibid) [PB]
Firestarter Dept. ‘The sound of sizzling nylon reached him as she sawed her legs together.’ (Ibid) [PB]
Neat Tricks. ‘He searched the inside of his head, reached for a cigarette, lit it and inhaled deeply.’ (Ibid) [PB]

Geeks’ Corner

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Convention and Event Links
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• 8 June 2019: Shoreline of Infinity Event Horizon, Edinburgh. 7:30pm. Free. See link below for details.
• 14 June 2019: Jeanette Ng and Micah Yongo talk to the Brum Group. 7:30pm for 8pm at the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett’s Hill, Birmingham city centre. £6 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Future events/speakers: 12 July 2019, Christopher Priest and Nina Allan; 9 August 2019, summer social; 13 September 2019 TBA, 11 October 2019, Dr Amaury Triaud; 1 November 2019, TBA; 6 December 2019, Christmas social.
• 26 June 2019: BSFA Open Meeting, Central Station, 37 Wharfdale Road, King’s Cross, N1 9SD. 6pm for 7pm. Guest(s) TBA. Free. Date or venue changes may be announced after Ansible has gone to press: always check for the latest information.

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

Late R.I.P. News from Joe McNally and Konrad Walewski:
Paul Darrow (1941-2019), UK actor best remembered as Avon in Blake’s 7 (1978-1981), died on 3 June aged 78. He was also in the Doctor Who serials Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970) and Timelash (1985).
Maciej Parowski (1946-2019), Polish author, editor, critic and comics writer whose most important novel is the alternate history Burza. Ucieczka z Warszawy ’40 (The Storm. Escape from Warsaw ’40, 2010), died on 2 June aged 72.

Remembering Jack Cohen. Tabitha Cohen writes: ‘Dad, like many, was affected by cancer and therefore we would prefer donations to be made to cancer research rather than flowers. You can help raise money for this great cause by donating directly to my fundraising page –
JustGiving sends your donation straight to Cancer Research UK and automatically reclaims Gift Aid if you are a UK taxpayer, so your donation is worth even more. Thank you for your support!’

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Bram Stoker Awards
• GRRM: ‘An Ending’
• Horror Author Responds at Stupefying Length to Unseen Review
Locus Award ‘shortlist’ with ten items in each of 16 categories:

Thog’s Second Helping. More Eyeballs and Eyebrows. ‘He sat there like a girl on a lawn and stared at me, inky pupils bleeding outward, threatening to tar out the green.’ ‘When she was out of earshot, Luke leaned toward me with his eyebrows.’ ‘Her eyes filled with hurt and pleading and sought the ketchup on the table.’(all Steph Cha, Follow Her Home, 2013) [PB]

Ansible® 383 © David Langford, 2019. Thanks to Dev Agarwal, Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, John Boston, Claire Brialey, Ramsey Campbell, Carol Carr, Jonathan Clements, Doctor Who News, File 770, Paul Di Filippo, Chip Hitchcock, Rob Hansen, Steve Holland, Robert Lichtman, Locus, Curt Phillips, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Steve Rice, Richard, Roger Robinson, Marcus Rowland, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 3 June 2019