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Ansible® 387, October 2019

Ulrika O'Brien cartoon

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, Tundist texts or a zest for crumpled things.

The Crunlop Experiment

Lynda Barry, US cartoonist, graphic novelist (whose titles include the 2002 One! Hundred! Demons!) and academic, is one of the 2019 recipients of the MacArthur Foundation ‘genius’ grants. [BT]

Elinor Busby, the first woman to win a Hugo, celebrated her 95th birthday in late September amid family, friends and fans. [JDB]

John W. Campbell Jr may or may not be rotating in his grave at the news that – soon after the renaming of ‘his’ not-a-Hugo award for best new writer as the Astounding Award – the Gunn Center for the Study of SF has decided that its John W. Campbell Memorial Award will also be given another name, to be announced. (Facebook, 5 September)

Susanna Clarke, long silent at book length owing to poor health since Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell (2004), has delivered her second novel – scheduled for September 2020. (Guardian, 30 September) [GF]

David Gerrold cancelled his guest appearance at the October Sci-Fi Weekender event – see below – because with scant weeks to go, ‘They never got back to me on travel arrangements.’ (Facebook, 23 September)

Gary Larson has a visual teaser at, indicating that his fabled cartoon sequence The Far Side – which he ‘retired’ on 1 January 1995 – is to return in a new online incarnation.

J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books were removed from the library of a Catholic school in Nashville, TN, after exorcists claimed that they contain ‘actual curses and spells, which when read by a human being risk conjuring evil spirits’. (Guardian, 2 September) [PB]

James Tiptree Jr (Alice Sheldon) is another name seemingly destined to be removed from a well-established award, this time because of the variously interpreted 1987 suicide pact in which she killed her ailing husband and herself. ( blog, 2, 4 and 11 September)

Gahan Wilson, now 89, survived surgery in late September; but his additional care needs have created a new financial crisis. There is a fundraiser page at


3-6 Oct • Grimmfest (horror/cult films), Odeon Manchester Great Northern cinema. £90 (£76 concessions) plus fees from

3 Oct - 1 Nov • London Month of the Dead, various venues and events, a few of genre interest: see

11-13 Oct • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. £35 reg; students and under-16s £25. Day passes: Saturday £22 (£17); Sunday £19 (£14). More at

13 Oct • Octocon, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15, Ireland. (One day only. Venue is 12km from city centre.) €35 reg; €25 concessions; accompanied under-13s free. More at

18-20 Oct • FantasyCon, Golden Jubilee Conference Hotel, Clydebank, Glasgow.£75 reg; £65 concessions; under-18s £30; all plus booking fees. See The 2020 venue is Sheffield.

18 Oct - 20 Feb 2020 • Moving to Mars (exhibition), Design Museum, London. £12. See

24-27 Oct • Celluloid Screams (horror film festival), Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. £90; £80 concessions. See

25-26 Oct • Bicentennial Vampyre Ball, Century Club, Soho, London W1. 9pm-3am. Tickets£25 (five or more £20 each) until midnight on 1 October. See

25-27 Oct • Destination Star Trek, NEC, Birmingham. Day £29; 2 days £39; 3 days £49; silly ‘VIP’ rates at

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

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

SOLD OUT. 30 Oct - 3 Nov • Sci-Fi Weekender Part 2, Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth. 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

1-3 Nov • Armadacon 31, Future Inn, Plymouth. £35 reg; concessions £30; under-16s free. PayPal registration at

2-3 Nov • Bristol Anime & Gaming Con, Bristol Future Inns. £18 reg; day rates £11 Sat, £9 Sun. See

2 Nov • Frightfest (film) Hallowe’en special, Leicester Square, London. Tickets soon from

3 Nov • Gamesfest (gaming), Iron Room, Station Road, Tring, HP23 5QT. 10am-5pm. Website gone; tickets £6 according to Facebook. [See also GamesFest concerns elsewhere. Facebook and Twitter accounts deleted 2 October.]

8-10 Nov • Novacon 49, Nottingham Sherwood Hotel (was the Park Inn). Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ. Now £53 reg; under-17s still £12; under-13s free. See

9-10 Nov • Comic Con, Harrogate Convention Centre. Part of Thought Bubble, the Comic Art Festival, 4-10 November. £28 weekend pass or £17/day. See

1 Dec • 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

4-5 Apr 2020 • Sci-Fi Scarborough (multimedia), The Spa, Scarborough. Ticket sales awaited at

12-20 May 2020 • Sci-Fi London (film festival), Prince Charles Cinema and Stratford Picturehouse, London. See

16 May 2020 • Lawless (UK comics), Hilton Doubletree, Bristol. Details awaited at

29 Jul - 2 Aug 2020 • CoNZealand (Worldcon 78), Wellington, New Zealand. Now NZD $425 reg. Other membership rates are unchanged: $250 YA, $225 unwaged, $105 child (born 2005+), infants (born 2015 +) free, $75 supporting. See This Worldcon will present 1945 Retro Hugos for works published in 1944.

27-31 Aug 2020 • Frightfest (film), Leicester Square, London. Tickets awaited in July 2020 at

28-30 Aug 2020 • TitanCon, Belfast. Membership rates and further details are awaited at

5-6 Sep 2020 • Film & Comic Con Collectormania, Birmingham NEC. £10/day; £15 early entry. See

Rumblings. Nine Worlds Geekfest is unlikely to return, say those in charge of its reorganization, since no one seems willing to take on the daunting legal and financial obligations. (Twitter, 6 September)
Picocon 2020 at Imperial College, London, with a ‘Pride’ theme, will happen ‘at least 1 week after Valentine’s Weekend’ : 22 or 29 February? All will be revealed one day at

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Saw Us. Anthony Burgess on Brian Aldiss’s Enemies of the System: ‘it contrives to be rich, allusive, full of real people, and unfailingly interesting. It is not, then, real SF.’ (Homage to Qwert Yuiop, 1986)

Awards. Harvey Awards Hall of Fame (comics): Alison Bechdel, Mike Mignola, and posthumously to 1950s Mad team members: Jack Davis, Will Elder, Ben Oda, John Severin, Marie Severin. [F770]
Primetime Emmy (tv): Game of Thrones won as drama series for the fourth time.

Publishers & Sinners. The new Gollancz/Rivers of London award for sf/fantasy by BAME (black, Asian, minority ethnic) authors opens for submissions on 1 October, closing 31 January. First prize £4,000; other prizes too. (The Bookseller, 27 September) See
• Two of the five titles shortlisted for the 2019 Fitzcarraldo Editions prize (no, I’d never heard of this London publisher either) seem to be sf. [MV]

As Others See Us. The New Yorker offers us a whole new nadir: ‘But is fandom becoming as toxic as politics?’ (16 September) [JDB]

R.I.P. Robert Axelrod (1949-2019), US actor whose many genre credits include The Blob (1988), Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993-1996 tv; 1995 film) and Transformers (2000 tv), died on 7 September aged 70. [PDF]
Hal Colebatch (1945-2019), Australian author of contributions (one novel-length) to Larry Niven’s ‘Man-Kzin Wars’ anthologies, and of the H.G. Wells sequel Time Machine Troopers (2011), died on 10 September aged 73. [AB]
Charles ‘Charlie’ Collins (1935-2019), US publisher’s rep whose 1969-1981 small press Centaur (with Donald M. Grant) revived many out-of-print genre works from the early twentieth century, died on 26 August aged 83. [AIP]
Rod Coneybeare (1930-2019), Canadian tv presenter and actor with voice roles in The Friendly Giant (1958-1985) – where he was also a puppeteer – The Adventures of Super Mario Bros. 3 (1990) and X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1994), died on 5 September aged 89. [PDF]
Jack Donner (1928-2019), US actor in Mission: Impossible (1966-1973), Johnny Mysto: Boy Wizard (1997), Retro Puppet Master (1999), Demon Under Glass (2002) and others, died on 21 September aged 90.
Aron Eisenberg (1969-2019), US actor best known as Nog in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1993-1999), died on 21 September aged 50.
Rob Garrison (1960-2019), US actor in Starship Invasions (1977), died on 27 September aged 59.
Mordicai Gerstein (1935-2019), US author/illustrator of children’s books including such fantasies as Fox Eyes (2005) and The Old Country (2005), died in late September aged 83. [PDF]
David Hagberg (1942-2019), US author whose sf includes The Capsule (1976), six Flash Gordon novels (1981-1981, anonymously) and the 2003 Terminator 3 novelization, died on 8 September aged 76. [AIP]
Sid Haig (1939-2019), US actor in Jason of Star Command (1978-1979), Wizards of the Lost Kingdom II (1989), Creature (2011), Zombex (2013) and others, died on 21 September aged 80. [BE]
David Hurst (1926-2019), German-born actor in The Perfect Woman (1949), Vampire over London (1952), The Boys from Brazil (1978) and others, died on 15 September aged 93.
Frank Key (Paul Byrne, 1959-2019), UK author, illustrator and latterly broadcaster long cherished by a select audience for his surreal, semi-nonsense tales from ‘Hooting Yard’ – collected in Twitching and Shattered (1989), Befuddled by Cormorants (2006), Unspeakable Desolation Pouring Down from the Stars (2007) and further (as he would say) curdled and frowsty volumes – died on 13 September aged 60. (Resonance FM)
Jack Lasenby (1931-2019), New Zealand author of children’s/YA fiction whose Because We Were the Travellers (1997) and its sequel are post-apocalyptic sf, died on 27 September aged 88.
Carol Lynley (1942-2019), US actress in The Shuttered Room (1967), The Night Stalker (1972) and Beware! The Blob (1972), died on 3 September aged 77. [ATC]
Katherine MacLean (1925-2019), long-time US author of much short sf since 1949 – some collected in The Diploids (1962) and The Trouble with You Earth People (1980) – plus novels including Cosmic Checkmate (1962, aka Second Game) with Charles V. De Vet, died on 1 September aged 94. [CM] She received the SFWA Author Emeritus award in 2003 and the Cordwainer Smith Rediscovery Award in 2011.
J. Michael Mendel (1964-2019), Emmy-winning US producer whose credits include The Simpsons (1994-2015) and Rick and Morty (2013-2017), died on 23 September aged 54. (CNN, 24 September)
Jan Merlin (1925-2019), US character actor in Tom Corbett, Space Cadet (1951-1954), Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea (1964-1967), The Twilight People (1972) and Time Trackers (1989), died on 20 September aged 94. [DFG]
Kazuko Nakamura, pioneering Japanese animator whose anime credits include Panda and the Magic Serpent (1958), Magic Boy (1959) and many more to 1999, died on 3 August aged 86. [HM]
Andrzej Polkowski, Polish translator of C.S. Lewis and of the Harry Potter saga, died on September aged 80. [PDF]
Lee Salem (1946-2019), US editor and later president at Universal Press Syndicate who worked with Gary Larson on The Far Side and Bill Watterson on Calvin and Hobbes, died on 2 September aged 73. [PDF]
Bill Schelly (1951-2019), US comics fan and historian who published the fanzine Sense of Wonder and such books as The Golden Age of Comic Fandom (1995), died on 12 September aged 67. [PDF]
Anne Rivers Siddons (1936-2019), US author whose novels include the supernatural bestseller The House Next Door (1978), died on 11 September aged 83. [PDF]
• Late report: Steven Hilliard Stern (1937-2018), Canadian director of The Ghost of Flight 401 (1978), The Devil and Max Devlin (1981), Mazes and Monsters (1982), Murder in Space (1985) and others, died on 27 June 2018 aged 80. [TM]
Curt Stubbs (1948-2019), long-time Arizona fan and con worker involved with the successful Phoenix in 1978 Worldcon bid, died on 14 September. [F770]
Brian Turk (1970-2019), actor in The Lost World: Jurassic Park (1997), A.I. (2001) and Carnivàle (2003-2005) died on 13 September aged 49. [MMW]
Jack Weaver (1926-2019), US fan and convention-goer who was the webmaster and software developer at for 20 years from 1997, died on 2 September aged 92. [MLO]
John Wesley (1947-2019), US actor in The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1995), 13th Child (2002) and Cursed Angel (2016), died on 8 September aged 72. [PDF]

The Weakest Link. Q: ‘Played by Cesar Romero on television and by Heath Ledger on film, which villain shares his name with a playing card?’ Contestant: ‘The Jack of Clubs?’ (Radio 4, Brain of Britain) [PE]

The Clarke Award in association with the Rumble Museum has announced an sf competition for young people (under 16), who are not asked actually to write sf but to provide outlines from which presumably non-young professionals will then create the stories. The deadline is 31 October 2019. Further information at

Random Fandom. Online fannish resources keep growing, with constantly posting scans of more old fanzines (including newszines shamelessly pillaged for The Dead Past below), Fancyclopedia 3 at adding convention publications to the relevant convention entries, and Rob Hansen regularly extending his historical pages at Archive/archive.htm. My own copious spare time tends to be absorbed by the SF Encyclopedia at, which even in a sluggish September (I have been tiresomely unwell) added 15,000 words of new entries and updates.

Marketry. SFWA’s new qualifying rate of 8¢/word for short fiction took effect last month. The August market report at listed 33 qualifying markets; the post-change September report has 22.

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago: ‘Iain M. Banks, man of versatile initials, told the Telegraph: “If I do cowboy novels I’ll be Iain Z. Banks. And Iain X. Banks for pornography.”’ ... ‘That Hideous Acronym. On 6 August, the UK government betrayed its spin-doctors’ unfamiliarity with C.S. Lewis by launching the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, or N.I.C.E.... Who is its Head? Where are Merlin and Mr Fisher-King now that we need them?’ (both from Ansible 147, October 1999)
30 Years Ago, Isaac Asimov presented L. Sprague de Camp with a First Fandom Award and explained the rigorous selection criteria: ‘great age, a withered appearance and miserable habits. We keep Fred Pohl around as an example.’ (File 770 82, October 1989)
70 Years Ago, fannish rapture at a plug for the new The Magazine of Fantasy in the Press section of Time (10 October 1949) was somewhat modified by the phrasing: ‘Time stated that the pulp stf field is populated with “... lithe heroes, bosomy heroines, bug-eyed monsters and space-suited villains from Mars...” Ouch!’ (Fantasy Times 91, October 1949)

Fanfundery. TAFF 2020: ‘We, the current administrators of The Trans-Atlantic Fan Fund, issue a call for nominations for the 2020 TAFF race, to go from North America to Europe. The winner will attend Concentric: Eastercon 2020, in Birmingham, UK (, from April 10 to April 13, 2020. Yes, it is an eastbound race for the second consecutive year. Looking at the next five Worldcons and Worldcon bids, that makes the most sense, we think. The nomination deadline is 31 October, 2019.’ [JA/GS] For the full announcement in PDF format, see
Free Ebooks at the TAFF Site: the latest release is the 2015 Gannet fanthology Tyne Capsule edited by Rob Jackson, with many illustrious contributors. See An ebook of all Bob Shaw’s Serious Scientific Talks is also planned, but one speech has yet to be traced. Can anyone help with a copy or recording of the talk Bob gave at both Confabulation and Intersection in 1995?
GUFF: nominations for the 2020 race should open later in October.

Thog’s Masterclass. Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘He caught the boy’s eye, threw it down to the bed.’ (Kevin Egan, ‘The Visit’, Ellery Queen Mystery Magazine, September 2019) [MMW]
Clean Air Dept. ‘Despite his empty belly, he would have been completely content with his pipe. He had always loved the land, any land that had not been spoiled by the stinks of civilization.’ (Chad Oliver, Unearthly Neighbors, 1960) [PL]
Dept of Travelling Companions. ‘Heather kissed Sarah’s head, patted her back, and straightened her shirt and skirt, as if they were about to embark on a long journey together.’ (Lisa Grunwald, New Year’s Eve, 1997) [PB]
Secrets of US Teamaking. ‘She turned on the hot pot and tore open an Earl Grey packet and poured milk over the tea bag as she waited for the water to boil.’ (Helen Phillips, The Need, 2019) [PB]
Nobel Prize Winner Dept. ‘Wilhelm let out a long, hard breath and raised the brows of his round and somewhat circular eyes.’ (Saul Bellow, Seize the Day, 1956) [AR]
Mysteries of Femininity. ‘“She has breasts that smile.”’ (Philip K. Dick, Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, 1968) [KL] ‘Akiko removed her brassiere to reveal her champagne glass-sized tits.’ (Min Jin Lee, Pachinko, 2017) [KL] ‘Then Min Feng stood up and peeled her shirt off. She was only wearing a skin-colored brasserie.’ (Joyce Chng, Phoenix with a Purpose, 2009) [RBW]
Machismo Dept. ‘I became abruptly aware that I was swinging a hard-on like a filled fire hose.’ (Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon, 2002) [BA]
Neat Tricks. ‘A muscle flexed in his jaw, and he snapped it up from the table and shoved it under his arm.’ (Lily Graham, The Paris Secret, 2018) [PB]

Geeks’ Corner

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• 11 October 2019: Dr Amaury Triaud talks 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: 1 November 2019, James Brogden; 6 December 2019, Christmas social at the Selly Tavern, £10; 10 January 2020, AGM and auction, free.
• 19 October 2019: Bryan and Mary Talbot presentation on their new graphic novel. 6.30pm at The Space,Town Hall, St George’s St, Hebden Bridge HX7 7BY. £5 entry, followed by free 8pm book signing.
• 24 October 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.
• 26 October 2019: Bryan and Mary Talbot signing as above, 1-2pm at Gosh!, 1 Berwick Street, Soho, London, W1F 0DR.

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

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Dan Simmons, Climate Scientist, Speaks Out
• SF² Concatenation Autumn 2019 Newscast
• TAFF race announcement: official PDF

Editorial. I know, I know, there’s usually more extra material down here in Endnotes (appearing in digital versions of Ansible though not the print edition), but this has been a difficult issue to finish at all. Sorry! Here instead is a bonus cartoon by Ansible stalwart Brad W. Foster ...

Brad Foster cartoon

Ansible® 387 © David Langford, 2019. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Johan Anglemark, Paul Barnett, John D. Berry, Alasdair Brown, Adam-Troy Castro,, Paul Di Filippo, Bob Eggleton, Gregory Feeley, File 770, Donald F. Glut, Kessily Lewel, Pamela Love, Helen McCarthy, Christopher Mason, Todd Mason, Mark L. Olson, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Adam Roberts, Geri Sullivan, Bruce Townley, Mark L. Valentine, Roger Burton West, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 October 2019