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Ansible® 388, November 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 copies of The Bastard Aims for Your Groin.

The Rule of Names

Michael Moorcock on the soon-to-be-renamed John W. Campbell Memorial Award: ‘While I’m glad Campbell’s name is off the award, what on earth am I supposed to call mine now ? I’d prefer mine to be named after MY favourite SF editor. So from now on it will be known as either the Thrilling Wonder Award, Startling Award or Sam Merwin Jnr Award. At least mine will be. Once I find it.’ (Email, 1 October)

James Tiptree Jr’s name is indeed to be removed from the long-established Tiptree Award, which will henceforth be the Otherwise Award. See (13 October)

Olga Tokarczuk of Poland, who has published novels containing such fantastic elements as archangel characters and psychic powers, won the belatedly announced 2018 Nobel Prize for Literature. [AE]

Navah Wolfe, winner of two Shirley Jackson awards and the 2019 Hugo for best editor (long form), has been rewarded by the elimination of her editorial position at Saga Press. (Twitter, 29 October) [F770]


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

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

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

CANCELLED 23-24 Nov • London Film & Comic Con, Olympia. Brexit uncertainty blamed: see Exhibition World,

24 Nov • Paperback & Pulp Fair, Royal National Hotel, Russell Square, London. 9:30am-3pm. £1.50. (Date changed from 27 October.)

29 Nov - 1 Dec • UK Ghost Story Festival, Derby – multiple city venues. £55 reg; £35 for Saturday only. Ticket purchase, speakers and schedule at

30 Nov • Dragonmeet (gaming), Novotel London West, W6 8DR. 9am-midnight. Now £12 reg; group rates at

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

2-9 Dec • Talos III: SF Theatre Festival of London, Omnibus Theatre, Clapham. More at

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

7-9 Feb 2020 • DemiSemiQuaver (filk), Best Western Hotel, Marks Tey, Colchester. £39 reg and £29 unwaged, rising on 1 December to £42 and £32; under-18s £1 per year of age; under-5s free. See

22 Feb 2020 • Picocon 36, Blackett Building, Imperial College, London. Guests of honour TBA. £12 reg; £10 concessions; £8 for ICSF members; past GoHs free. See

22-24 May 2020 • Satellite 7, Glasgow. GoH Aliette de Bodard. £70 reg (£80 at the door); under-25s £60; under-18s £20; under-12s £5; under-5s £2. Day: £20 Fri, £35 Sat or Sun. See

3-5 Jul 2020 • Lavecon (sf/fantasy/gaming), Sedgebrook Hall Hotel, Northants. Tickets awaited at

11-12 Jul 2020 • Edge-Lit 9, QUAD Centre, Derby, DE1 3AS. £50 reg. For guests see

26 Jul 2020 • Maximum Power (Blake’s 7), ?Steventon. Venue to be confirmed at

26-27 Sep 2020 • Nor-Con (media), Norfolk Showground Arena. Tickets to be available ‘soon’ at

9-11 Oct 2020 • Octocon, Crowne Plaza Hotel, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15. (12km from city centre.) GoH Michael Carroll. €60 reg; €50 concessions; accompanied under-13s free. More at

13-15 Nov 2020 • Destination Star Trek, ExCel, London. Day £29; 2 days £44; 3 days £54; silly ‘VIP’ rates at

Rumblings. Gamesfest, announced for 3 November in Tring, may or may not be happening: the website is long gone, and following many reportedly far-right and/or racist tweets from the Gamesfest account in September – some deleted by Twitter as hate speech – the Twitter and Facebook presences have both vanished. (, 1 October)

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. Scarlett Curtis shared her feminist vision of the world in 2030, beginning with a strangely familiar disclaimer: ‘I am not a fan of science fiction. It’s a genre that bores me and as much as I have tried, over the years, to muster up excitement for Star Wars, Doctor Who or even Nineteen Eighty-Four, I inevitably end up switching off and losing interest.’ (BBC website ‘100 Women’ feature, 18 October) [EC]

Awards. Booker Prize: shared this year by Margaret Atwood for The Testaments and Bernardine Evaristo for Girl, Woman, Other.
British Fantasy Awards. HOLDSTOCK (fantasy novel): The Bitter Twins by Jen Williams. DERLETH (horror novel) Little Eve by Catriona Ward. NOVELLA The Tea Master and the Detective by Aliette de Bodard. SHORT ‘Down Where Sound Comes Blunt’ by G.V. Anderson (F&SF 3/18). COLLECTION All the Fabulous Beasts by Priya Sharma. ANTHOLOGY Year’s Best Weird Fiction, Vol. 5 ed. Robert Shearman & Michael Kelly. INDEPENDENT PRESS Unsung Stories. NONFICTION Noise and Sparks by Ruth E.J. Booth. MAGAZINE Uncanny. ARTIST Vince Haig. GRAPHIC NOVEL Widdershins, Vol. 7: Curtain Call by Kate Ashwin. AUDIO Breaking the Glass Slipper Podcast. FILM/TV Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. BOUNDS (newcomer): Tasha Suri for Empire of Sand. WAGNER (special achievement): Ian Whates.
Elgin (poetry collections). BOOK War by Marge Simon & Alessandro Manzetti. CHAPBOOK Glimmerglass Girl by Holly Lyn Walrath.
Polari Prize (LGBT) novel winner: the dystopian XX by Angela Chadwick. [L]
Sidewise (alternate history): LONG FORM The Calculating Stars by Mary Robinette Kowal. SHORT FORM Codex Valtierra by Oscar (Xiu) Ramirez and Emmanuel Valtierra. SPECIAL ACHIEVEMENT Eric Flint.

Magazine Scene. When Nature acquired a ‘new look’ with its 23 October issue, the ‘Futures’ short-sf-story page vanished from both the printed magazine and the website contents list. The feature continues online but you have to know where to look for it:

As Others See Us II. On Human Compatible: Artificial Intelligence and the Problem of Control by Stuart Russell: ‘A professor of computer science at the University of California, Berkeley, Russell is grounded in the realities of the technology, including its many limitations, and isn’t one to jump at the overheated language of sci-fi favoured by the likes of Musk.’ (Richard Waters, Financial Times, 19 October) [MMW]

R.I.P. Berthe Amoss (1925-2019), US children’s author and illustrator whose books included such fantasies as Lost Magic (1993), died on 6 October aged 94. [AIP]
Harold Bloom (1930-2019), US author and critic who was series editor for many Chelsea House critical anthologies on genre themes and specific authors (including Mary Shelley, Poe, Le Guin, Lessing and Orwell) died on 14 October aged 89. His one novel was The Flight to Lucifer: A Gnostic Fantasy (1979).
Michael Blumlein (1948-2019), highly regarded US author whose first novel was The Movement of Mountains (1987) and whose first collection The Brains of Rats (1990) includes his sf debut ‘Tissue Ablation and Variant Regeneration’ (1984) – one of the strongest and most discussed stories from the early days of Interzone – died on 25 October aged 71. [RR]
Sam Bobrick (1932-2019), US tv writer/producer who scripted episodes of The Flintstones (1964-1965), Get Smart (1967) and Bewitched (1968), died on 11 October aged 87. [PDF]
Diahann Carroll (1935-2019), US actress with genre credits in The Man in the Moon (1960), The Star Wars Holiday Special (1978) and From the Dead of Night (1989), died on 4 October aged 84. [TM]
Edgar L. Chapman (1936-2019), US academic and sf critic whose works include The Magic Labyrinth of Philip José Farmer (1984) and The Road to Castle Mount: The Science Fiction of Robert Silverberg (1999), died on 11 October aged 83. [PDF]
Marshall Efron (1938-2019), US actor whose genre films include THX 1138 (1971), Robots (2005) and Ice Age: The Meltdown (2006), died on 30 September aged 81. [PDF]
Robert Evans (1930-2019), US film-maker whose time as Paramount production VP saw Rosemary's Baby (1968) and Willy Wonka & the Chocolate Factory (1971), and whose producer credits include Popeye (1980) and The Phantom (1996), died on 26 October aged 89. [MMW]
Robert Forster (1941-2019), US actor in The Darker Side of Terror (1979), The Black Hole (1979), Scanner Cop II (1995), Supernova (2000), Twin Peaks (2017) and others, died on 11 October aged 78. [PDF]
Alex J. Geairns (1964-2019), UK fan, author and tv presenter who ran the Cult TV festivals (1994-2007) and published the sf novel Mindful (2015) as by alex:g, died on 20 October. [CC]
Philip Gips (1931-2019), US graphic designer who created the posters for Rosemary’s Baby, Tommy, Superman, Alien and other films, died on 3 October aged 88. [BE]
Norm Metcalf (1937-2019), long-time US fan, member of FAPA and SAPS, whose fanzines included New Frontiers (1959-1964) and who published The Index of Science Fiction Magazines 1951-1965 (1968), died on 21 September aged 81. [RL]
Stephen Moore (1937-2019), UK actor who voiced Marvin in the original radio Hitch-Hiker (1978-1980) and the tv version (1981), died on 4 October aged 81. Other credits include the BBC Radio Adventures of Tintin (as Professor Calculus), Black Hearts in Battersea (1995-1996) and The Queen’s Nose (1995-2001).
J.A. Pitts (1965-2019), US author of the ‘Sarah Beauhall’ urban fantasies opening with Black Blade Blues (2010), died on 3 October aged 54. [PDF/L]
Anna Quayle (1932-2019), UK actress whose films include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), James and the Giant Peach (1976) and The Light Princess (1978), died on 16 August aged 86. [AIP]
Irene Shubik (1929-2019), UK tv producer who created the sf anthology series Out of This World (1962, as story editor) and Out of the Unknown (1965-1971, as producer and script editor for the first two seasons), died on 26 September aged 89. [FM]
Bernard Slade (1930-2019), Canadian tv writer who scripted 17 episodes of Bewitched (1964-1968), co-created The Flying Nun (1967-1970) and created The Girl with Something Extra (1973-1974), died on 30 October aged 89. [PDF]
Rip Taylor (1934-2019), US actor in Sigmund and the Sea Monsters (1973-1974), DuckTales the Movie (1990), the animated The Addams Family (as Uncle Fester, 1992-1993) and others, died on 6 October aged 85. [F770]
Tome (Philippe Vandevelde, 1957-2019), Belgian comics writer who worked 1980-1998 on the occasionally sf-themed strip Spirou et Fantasio (1938-current), died on 5 October aged 62. [PDF]
David Weisman (1942-2019), US film-maker whose credits include Raiders of the Living Dead (1986), died on 9 October aged 77.
John Witherspoon (1942-2019), US actor in Killer Tomatoes Strike Back! (1991), The Meteor Man (1993), Vampire in Brooklyn (1995) and others, died on 29 October aged 77.
Alan Zaslove (1927-2019), US animator/director whose credits include The Phantom Tollbooth (1970), The Smurfs (1984-1985), The Jetsons (1985 reboot), DuckTales (1981-1990), Darkwing Duck (1991-1992) and Aladdin (1994-1995), died on 3 October aged 92. [PDF]

The Weakest Link. The US Jeopardy quiz had a ‘What’s that award presented for?’ round. Answer requiring the correct question: ‘The Arthur C. Clarke Award.’ Contestant: ‘What is tennis?’ (1 October) [AIP]
Ben Shephard: ‘In Disney’s 1937 animated film, how many dwarves did Snow White share a house with?’ Contestant: ‘101.’ (ITV, Tipping Point) [PE]

Court Circular. Videogame developer Anas Abdin sued CBS on the basis that Star Trek: Discovery plagiarized important ideas – in particular that of giant star-travelling tardigrades – from his still unreleased game Tardigrades. The case was dismissed in September: Abdin said ‘I respect the ruling and I expect everyone to do so,’ but in October began crowdfunding an appeal. This will almost certainly not succeed, because (a) it can’t be proved and indeed seems less than likely that the Discovery creators stole from the videogame, while (b) general concepts like ‘Boy Goes to Wizarding School’ or ‘Huge Teleporting Tardigrades’ aren’t protected by copyright. But apparently Trek fans who don’t like ST:D can be relied on for considerable outraged support, irrespective of mere legalities. (, 15 October and earlier posts) [F770]

As Others See Us III. Emma Renault, self-proclaimed author of ‘literary fiction’, was challenged about her posted description of all genre writers as fascists. She tactfully qualified the point: ‘... whether they intend to or not, they’re writing fascist propaganda. That’s what escapist fiction is under capitalism. Not to mention the fact that SF/F is structurally and thematically fascist.’ (via Facebook, 21 October) [PF]

Random Fandom. Brad W. Foster’s home in the Dallas/Fort Worth area was ‘square in path of the E-3 tornado last night. Major damage all trees, fences, and most of roof peeled back from front house, but managed to get much art out of way. We are ok. Cats are ok. Major cleanup and repairs next few weeks. No power, might not have any for a week or more. Apologies to all I owe some art to right now, might be a bit of a delay!’ (22 October) [CP]
Free Ebooks at the TAFF site: the library continues to grow with Rob Hansen’s anthology Challenging Moskowitz: 1930s Fandom Revisited (, collecting responses to and alternative versions of 1930s fan history as depicted in Sam Moskowitz’s The Immortal Storm; and The Serious Scientific Talks (, comprising 14 of Bob Shaw’s legendary convention speeches, four never previously collected. (Alas, Rob Jackson and I have still not traced the final talk delivered at the 1995 Eastercon and Worldcon – but will add it if we ever find a copy.)

More Trademark Bullying. Monster Energy, the people who make the unhealthy canned drink, sternly told Justin Drazin – author of Albert and the Amazing Pillow Monsters (2013) – not to write any further children’s books with their very own word ‘monster’ in the title. Silly, but Drazin didn’t dare publish his two already-written sequels for fear of the monstrous cost of litigation. (Washington Post magazine, 27 October) [MMW] Can we look forward to a death struggle with the Tolkien estate over the next reissue of ‘Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics’ (1936)?

Potterism. A presciently preserved first edition of Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone (1997) was auctioned for £46,000 in October. The print run was just 500, and 300 went to libraries. (BBC, 10 October)

Group Gropes. Sf/fan communities using Yahoo Groups email lists were dismayed by the mid-October announcement that after 28 October new content would no longer be accepted at the YG website, and that on 14 December all existing message archives, photos and documents will vanish, leaving only a bare email bounce. Some saw this coming and moved long ago to ... which is now overloaded with panic-stricken Yahoo refugees. Owing to this sudden pressure, the $110/year ‘premium’ membership fee at – necessary for the first year if you want your Yahoo archive transferred – was soon increased to $220.

The Clarke Award is now open for submissions, which close on 31 December. Strangely, this isn’t front-page news at the Clarke site but is hidden away behind the ‘Contact’ button:

The Dead Past. 60 Years Ago, there was a great disturbance in the UK force: ‘London Circle Disrupts. Although it had been hoped that the overnight Symposium held at the beginning of October would strengthen internal relationships, the London Circle was disbanded at its business meeting of Friday, 16th October, following the resignation of Chairman Ted Tubb. It was agreed to revert to the system of seven months ago, social meetings at the Globe and no business meetings at the White Horse. The Globe meetings will continue to take place on the first Thursday of each month.’ (Skyrack 9, 1 November 1959)

Fanfundery. TAFF 2020: nominations for the eastbound race from North America to the 2020 UK Eastercon (Concentric) closed on 31 October. Confirmed candidates are Michael ‘Orange Mike’ Lowrey and Ann Totusek. Ballots should follow on 4 November at, where there will also be an online voting form.
GUFF 2020: nominations for the southbound race from Europe to CoNZealand opened on 11 October and will close on 10 January 2020. Voting should open soon after, closing on 13 April 2020. Details at
2018 GUFF Report: Marcin Klak’s trip report The Giant Leap to Never Never is now available in PDF format from

Follow-Up. ‘Brit Fantasy Soc Ltd’ escaped compulsory strike-off from the UK companies register (see A386) thanks to a flurry of activity in late October, with a change of directors and overdue accounts filed at last.

Thog’s Masterclass. Far Away Is Close At Hand. ‘He heard his own sobbing in his helmet. Distant.’ (Derek Künsken, The Quantum Garden, 2019). [AR]
Wet T-Shirt Dept. ‘... below one raised arm her right breast filled the slack of her T-shirt like fruit, like water.’ (Richard Morgan, Altered Carbon, 2002) [BA]
Dept of Cognitive Estrangement. ‘With a shudder, the alien’s movements froze; like a diarrhetic horse, the nostril flap sounded. Even zouched, the E’Gliiz realized it had spilled the legumes ...’ (F.M. Busby , ‘Wrong Number’, Asimov’s, December 1981) [VS]
Bad Sex Award Dept. ‘... a dangerous and clamorous rollercoaster coil of sexually violent rotation with Eliza’s breasts barrel-rolled across Ezra’s howling mouth and the pained frenzy of his bulbous salutation extenuating his excitement as it whacked and smacked its way into every muscle of Eliza's body except for the otherwise central zone.’ (Morrissey, List of the Lost, Penguin Classics, 2015)

Geeks’ Corner

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• 1 November 2019: James Brogden 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: 6 December 2019, Christmas social at the Selly Tavern, £10 (booking required by 22 November); 10 January 2020, AGM and auction, free; 7 February 2020, R.J. Barker; 13 March 2020, Ian Stewart; 3 April 2020, Danie Ware.
• 14 November 2019: Christopher Priest and others discuss Anna Kavan at Waterstone’s, Notting Hill. 7-8:30pm. £3.95. Tickets from ...
• 15 November 2019: Alan Lee signing at Waterstone’s, Reading. 12:30pm. Free, ‘on a first come first served basis, so early arrival is recommended’.
• 27 November 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.
• 14 December 2019: David Hardy space art presentation ‘To the Stars on a Paintbrush’. 6pm in the Conference Room, Bone Mill, New Street, Charfield, South Gloucestershire, GL12 8ES. No entry fee mentioned.

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.
• ‘Philip Pullman on Children’s Literature and the Critics Who Disdain It’
• Stupid ‘Sci-fi makes you stupid’ study refuted by scientists behind original research

Correction: The November Locus carries an apology for giving J. Neil Schulman’s date of death as 11 August 2019 (as did Ansible) when it was in fact 10 August. [RR]

Editorial. Strangely tedious but true: if we count the early double number Ansible 2/3 as one issue and add in the thirteen extras that were given half numbers from 57½ to 362½, Ansible 388 is in fact the 400th issue of Ansible. Another occasion for your editor to remember his illustrious predecessor Peter Roberts’s 1979 announcement that ‘Checkpoint will be folding with the 100th issue, that being more than enough for any sane fan editor ...’

Ansible® 388 © David Langford, 2019. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Cardinal Cox, Ahrvid Engholm, ErsatzCulture, Paul Di Filippo, Bob Eggleton, File 770, Patrick Freivald, InfinityBox Press LLC, Robert Lichtman, Locus, Todd Mason, Fiona Moore, Curt Phillips, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, ReAnimus Press, Adam Roberts, Roger Robinson, Rudy Rucker, Vernon Speed, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 November 2019