Ansible logo

Ansible® 396, July 2020

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, Tarn-Bird, Thunder Goblin or Sea-Dragon Conqueror.

Don’t Lesnerize!

Richard Adams’s estate succeeded in its bid to recover all the rights to his rabbit epic Watership Down, which Martin Rosen – director of the 1978 animated film adaptation – had claimed were his, making hefty profits from unauthorized sublicensing. The high court judge ordered payment of an immediate $100,000 in damages plus £28,000 in costs and further damages to be decided at a later hearing. (Guardian, 1 June)

John Brunner’s Meeting At Infinity (1961), featuring the White Death plague, has (with hindsight) its prophetic moments: ‘The doctor was a small man with a barking voice who wore a sterile mask night and day; to the patients he treated, and especially the present patient, the greatest danger was from unfiltered human breath.’ [BA]

Eric Carle’s The Very Hungry Caterpillar was exposed as a starkly alienated Outsider figure: ‘... more than just a caterpillar: it is a classic existentialist antihero, a lonely creature of pure greed, guided only by its own ravenousness, skirting the knife’s edge between self-destruction and growth.’ (Sam Anderson, New York Times Magazine, 21 May) [PE]

John Clute’s personal tally of SF Encyclopedia contributions has just crept past 2.7 million words, and our total count at is a mere few hundred words short of six million. The first and second print editions ran to 730,000 and 1.3 million words respectively.

Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s estate is suing Netflix for claimed breach of copyright with the film Enola Holmes, based on novels by Nancy Springer (included in the lawsuit, along with her publishers Penguin Random House) that give Sherlock a teenage sister. The key assertion is that although Holmes is mostly in the public domain, he displayed human emotions and respected women only in late stories still under the control of the estate. (Raw Story, 26 June) [JB] Some readers will remember that the very first of the short stories begins with clearly indicated respect: ‘To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman.’


ONLINE. 2 Jul • Virtual First Thursday, 6-10pm, replacing the usual London pub meeting at the Bishop’s Finger. See

ONLINE. 4 Jul • Tolkien Society Seminar, on adapting Tolkien to the screen etc. See

18 Jul • Small Press Day events throughout UK and Ireland. Likely to be postponed or held online only: see

ONLINE. 29 Jul - 2 Aug • CoNZealand (Worldcon 78), New Zealand. Virtual attendance rates: $300NZ reg, $150 unwaged (NZ only), $150 YA (born after 2000), $75 child (born 2005-2010), ‘kid in tow’ (born after 2010) free, $75 supporting. See Hugo voting closes on 15 July, when the Voters’ Packet will be taken down. Ballots can be sent by mail to the administrator (in USA); online voting is not yet available.

POSTPONED AGAIN. 6-9 Aug • StokerCon (horror). See below.

POSTPONED TO LATE OCT. 27-31 Aug • Frightfest (film), Leicester Square, London. New dates awaited at

CANCELLED. 28-31 Aug • The Asylum (steampunk), Lincoln. Next event: August Bank Holiday 2021. ‘Indomitable’ tickets to be transferred to 2021 and ‘wristband’ bookings refunded. Full announcement at ... more to follow at

CANCELLED. 25-27 Sep • Fantasycon 2020, Resource for London. Refunds offered; or memberships transferable to 2021 (Midlands) or 2022 in London again, this time in an actual hotel, with GoH Liz Williams and Rivers Solomon. More to come at

ONLINE. 2-4 Oct • Futuricon (Rikon/Eurocon), Rijeka, Croatia. €10 reg; €5 supporting; under-14s free. See

ONLINE. 9-11 Oct • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. Free virtual event. See

POSTPONED TO 2021. 31 Oct • BristolCon, Bristol. See below.

CANCELLED. 31 Oct - 1 Nov • Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester. Next event Autumn 2021. See

2-8 Nov • Talos IV: SF Theatre Festival of London, The Cockpit, London. New dates; was 15-21 June. See

POSTPONED TO NOVEMBER 2021. 13-15 Nov • Novacon 50, Mercure Sherwood Hotel, Nottingham. Same venue; dates to follow; 2020 memberships will be refunded or transferred. See

POSTPONED TO 2021. 14-15 Nov • Comic Con, Harrogate. See below.

28-31 Jan 2021 • StokerCon (horror), Grand and Royal Hotels, Scarborough. Tentative new dates depending on developments; event first postponed from April to August. Memberships and hotel bookings to be carried over. £100 reg; HWA members £90. See

30 Oct 2021 • BristolCon, Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, Bristol. GoH Anna Smith Spark and Adrian Tchaikovsky. See

13-14 Nov 2021 • Comic Con, Harrogate Convention Centre. Part of Thought Bubble festival. New dates; 2020 tickets refunded or carried over. £28 weekend pass or £17/day. See

Rumblings. Worldcon 2022: Chicago, Illinois, vs Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Site selection voting opened in June and closes on 29 July. See • Arvon Writing Courses: venue closure extended to 31 August; the next sf course is 14-19 September.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Report Us. Isaac Asimov is remembered in a characteristic pose: ‘Today, though, his image – with its wide smile behind heavy black eyeglass frames ...’ (Jay Gabler, ‘What to Make of Isaac Asimov, Sci-Fi Giant and Dirty Old Man?’, Literary Hub, 14 May) [JH]

Awards. Arthur C. Clarke shortlist: The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders; The Light Brigade by Kameron Hurley; A Memory Called Empire by Arkady Martine; The Old Drift by Namwali Serpell; Cage of Souls by Adrian Tchaikovsky; The Last Astronaut by David Wellington.
Lambda (LGBTQ) genre winners: NONFICTION In the Dream House by Carmen Maria Machado. LESBIAN ROMANCE Aurora’s Angel by Emily Noon. SF/FANTASY/HORROR The Deep by Rivers Solomon, Daveed Diggs, William Hutson and Jonathan Snipes. [KB]
Locus Awards: SF NOVEL The City in the Middle of the Night by Charlie Jane Anders. FANTASY NOVEL Middlegame by Seanan McGuire. HORROR NOVEL Black Leopard, Red Wolf by Marlon James. YA NOVEL Dragon Pearl by Yoon Ha Lee. FIRST NOVEL Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir. NOVELLA This Is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. NOVELETTE ‘Omphalos’ by Ted Chiang (Exhalation). SHORT STORY ‘The Bookstore at the End of America’ by Charlie Jane Anders (A People’s Future of the United States). ANTHOLOGY New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction by People of Color ed. Nisi Shawl. COLLECTION Exhalation by Ted Chiang. MAGAZINE PUBLISHER Tor. EDITOR Ellen Datlow. ARTIST John Picacio. NONFICTION Monster, She Wrote: The Women Who Pioneered Horror and Speculative Fiction by Lisa Kröger & Melanie R. Anderson. ILLUSTRATED/ART Spectrum 26: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art ed. John Fleskes. SPECIAL AWARD Writing the Other by Nisi Shawl, Cynthia Ward and K. Tempest Bradford.
Rhysling (poetry): SHORT ‘Taking, Keeping’ by Jessica J. Horowitz (Apparition Lit 1/19). LONG “Heliobacterium daphnephilum” by Rebecca Buchanan (Star*Line Summer 2019).
SFRA Award for Lifetime Contributions to SF Scholarship (renamed because ‘Pilgrim Award’ was too much of a mouthful?): Sherryl Vint.

Horror-Free Zone. Plans for a Frankenstein museum in Bath (where Mary Shelley lived and wrote from September 1816 to March 1817) have been approved. A leader of the project said: ‘It’s in the top 100 most influential books of all time – but no-one in Bath mentions it.’, and added the reassurance ‘There won’t be any blood or gore.’ What, no charnel-houses or workshop of filthy creation? (BBC, 4 June) [AIP]

R.I.P. Kelly Asbury (1960-2020), US filmmaker who directed Shrek 2 (2004) and Gnomeo & Juliet (2011, which he also co-wrote), with art/animation credits for The Black Cauldron (1985), The Little Mermaid (1989), The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993) and others, died on 26 June aged 60. [AIP]
Milena Benini (1966), Croatian sf novelist, translator (of Moorcock and others) and fan with some short stories in English translation, died on 4 June. She contributed to such works as The Complete Guide to Writing Fantasy (2003, ed. Darin Park & Tom Dullemond). [VJ-K]
Steve Bing (1965-2020), US film producer and writer who invested some $80m of his inherited fortune in the production of The Polar Express (2004), committed suicide on 22 June; he was 55. [SJ]
Frank Bolle (1924-2020), US comics artist who worked on many genre titles including Captain Marvel, Doctor Solar, Flash Gordon, The Phantom and the Tarzan newspaper strip, died on 12 May aged 95. [PDF]
Charly Bravo (Ramón Carlos Mirón Bravo, 1943-2020), Spanish actor in many genre films including 1001 Nights (1968), Night of the Werewolf (1981), The Sea Serpent (1985) and Eliminators (1986), died on 23 June aged 77. [SJ]
Pat Brymer, US puppeteer and stuntman whose credits include My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989) and Team America: World Police (2004), died on 12 April aged 70. [AIP]
Wendy Cooling, UK author, editor and promoter of children’s books, founder of Bookstart and MBE for services to children’s literature, died on 23 June. [AIP] She edited several genre anthologies including Out of This World: Stories of Virtual Reality (1997).
Stuart Cornfeld (1952-2020) US producer/actor whose credits include The Fly (1986), Megamind (2010) and Vamps (2012), died on 26 June aged 67. [AIP]
Linda Cristal (1931-2020), Argentinian actress best known for The High Chaparral, with genre credits in various tv series and The Dead Don’t Die (1975), died on 27 June aged 89. [SJ]
Denise Cronenberg, Canadian costume designer for her brother David Cronenberg’s The Fly (1986) and many later films, died on 22 May aged 81. [TM]
Wally K. Daly (1940-2020), UK writer whose three-part radio sf trilogy opened with Before the Screaming Begins (Radio 4, 1978), and who novelized his cancelled 1985 Doctor Who story as The Ultimate Evil (1989), died on 30 April aged 79. [S]
Bruce Jay Friedman (1930-2020), US author and screenwriter who published short sf and co-scripted Splash! (1984), died on 3 June aged 90. [PDF]
Mark Glamack, US animator who worked on many productions from Disney’s The Jungle Book (1967) to Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002) and directed the tv series She-Ra: Princess of Power (6 episodes, 1985) and Bionic Six (22 episodes, 1987), died on 29 May aged 73. [AIP]
Milton Glaser (1929-2020), noted US graphic designer who created (amid much else) the I NY logo, the DC Comics ‘bullet’ logo and a number of sf book covers, died on 26 June aged 91. [AIP]
Mary Pat Gleason (1950-2020), US actress in I, Madman (1989), Evolution (2001), Bruce Almighty (2003), The Middleman (2008), Earth to Echo (2014) and others, died on 2 June aged 70. [SJ]
James S. Henerson (1936-2020), US screenwriter/producer who wrote many episodes of I Dream of Jeannie (1967-1970) and was executive producer of Starman (1986-1987), died on 18 June aged 84. [AIP]
Jim Holloway, US artist whose work appeared in Dragon magazine and games products including BattleTech, D&D and Paranoia, died on 28 June. [PDF]
Sir Ian Holm (1931-2020), distinguished UK actor whose many genre credits include Alien (1979), Time Bandits (1981), Brazil (1985), eXistenZ (1999), The Lord of the Rings (2001, 2003) and The Hobbit (2012, 2014), died on 19 June aged 88. [LP]
Anita Linda (1924-2020), Filipino-US actress in 200+ films including Magica blanca (1955), The Devil’s Daughter (1974), Lorelei (1975), Kill Barbara with Panic (1995) and Seance (2007), died on 10 June aged 95. [SJ]
Louis Mahoney (1938-2020), Gambian-born UK actor in three Doctor Who stories (1973, 1975, 2007) and films including The Plague of the Zombies (1966) and Omen III: The Final Conflict (1981), died on 28 June aged 81.
Colin Manlove (1942-2020), Scots fantasy scholar and anthologist whose ten books of criticism began with Modern Fantasy (1975) and include studies of J.K. Rowling (2010) and George MacDonald (2019), died on 1 June aged 78. [DAA]
Fabrizio Mioni (1930-2020), Italian actor in Hercules (1958), Hercules Unchained (1959), and some genre tv series, died on 8 June aged 89. He was married to Maia ‘Vampira’ Normi (1922-2008). [SG]
Lennie Niehaus (1929-2020), US composer whose film credits include Ratboy (1986) and Space Cowboys (2000), died on 28 May aged 90. [AIP]
Michael O’Hear, US actor and producer seen in many genre productions from FrightWorld (2006) to Captain Isotope & The Enemy of Space (2018-2020), died on 24 June. [SJ]
Dennis O’Neil (1939-2020), US comics writer who worked on Green Lantern/Green Arrow and Batman, editing DC’s Batman titles 1986-2000, died on 11 June aged 81. [F770]
Stella Pevsner (1921-2020), US children’s/YA author who used supernatural themes in Footsteps on the Stairs (1984) and Why the Ghost Cat Wore Rubies (2019), died on 11 June aged 98. [PDF]
Peggy Pope (1929-2020), US actress in The Last Starfighter (1984) and Once Bitten (1985), died on 27 May aged 91. [AIP]
Taryn Power (1953-2020), US actress in Sinbad and the Eye of the Tiger (1977) and The Sea Serpent (1985), died on 26 June aged 66. [SJ]
Jean Raspail (1925-2020) French author whose sf novel was the racially controversial Le camp des saints (1973, trans as The Camp of the Saints), died on 14 June aged 94. [AIP]
Carl Reiner (1922-2020), multiple Emmy-winning US comic actor and film-maker whose genre credits include Oh, God! (1977), The Man with Two Brains (1983, which he co-wrote) and All of Me (1984) as director, and The 2000 Year Old Man (1975, written with Mel Brooks), The Blue Elephant (2006), and Toy Story 4 (2019) as actor, died on 29 June aged 98. [AS]
Ramon Revilla (1927-2020), Filipino actor whose films include The Killing of Satan (1983) and Exodus: Tales from the Enchanted Kingdom (2005), died on 26 June aged 93. [SJ]
Joel Schumacher (1939-2020), US director whose films include The Lost Boys (1987), Flatliners (1990), Batman Forever (1995) and Batman & Robin (1997), died on 22 June aged 80. [PDF]
Joe Sinnott (1926-2020), Marvel Comics artist and inker active from 1965 to 2019, working on Fantastic Four, Spider-Man and others, died on 25 June aged 93. [PDF]
Monica Stephens, long-time employee of Steve Jackson Games and companion of Steve Jackson, who was active in fandom (inter alia co-editing the 1988 Worldcon daily newsletter), died on 18 June aged 59. [F770]
Mel Winkler (1941-2020), US actor in various genre series including The New Batman Adventures (voice, 1997-1998) and Oswald (2001-2003), died on 11 June aged 78. [AIP]
• Late report: John Winston (1927-2019), UK actor in the original Star Trek (1967-1969, as transporter chief), The Wrath of Khan (1982) and Max Headroom (1987), died on 19 September 2019 aged 91. [DSTN]
Carlos Ruiz Zafón (1964-2020), Spanish author best known for the Gothic mystery La sombra del viento (The Shadow of the Wind, 2001), who also wrote horror and supernatural fiction, died on 19 June aged 55. [MJE]

The Weakest Link. Jeopardy answer requiring the correct question: ‘We got this word from a 1920 play by Karel Čapek about mechanical [sic] men and women.’ Contestant: ‘What is Android?’ (Jeopardy, 6 June) [AIP]
Ben Shephard:The Honourable Schoolboy and Smiley’s People are sequels to which 1974 John Le Carré novel?’ Contestant:Frankenstein.’ (ITV, Tipping Point) [PE]

Magazine Scene. Andy Cox tells me that Interzone is skipping the July/August issue: number 288 will be dated September/October.
• Neil Clarke bemusedly reports: ‘Someone tried to submit “The Nine Billion Names of God” by Arthur C. Clarke to Clarkesworld. All they changed was the author’s name and one word in the title.’ (Twitter, 19 June)
• John Joseph Adams of Adamant Press says that Fantasy magazine, dormant since 2016, will return in November: see

Random Fandom. The Fandom Directory stirred to life in June with an unexpected flurry of update requests. Entries at that located me and Ansible in the city of Berkshire have duly been amended.

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago: ‘ I think we may say that Harry Potter fever is getting out of hand when the Washington Post devotes 39 column inches, including two pictures, to the astonishing story that some kid managed to buy this year’s manifestation before the release date.
• Nancy Stouffer’s plagiarism charges include a claim to have invented the term Muggles, conflicting somewhat with the Oxford English Dictionary – which lists “muggle” as 1205 Kentish dialect for “tail” and, better still, 20th-century slang for marihuana. Children’s Author In Covert Drugs Advocacy Scandal!’ (Ansible 156, July 2000)

Editorial. Ansible Editions is pleased to announce the release of The Full Glass Bushel by Bob Shaw, edited by Rob Jackson and myself: this collects all Bob’s ‘Glass Bushel’ columns for Hyphen, plus his several non-Bushel articles in Hyphen and the two further Bushels published 1984 in Science Fiction Review. Another free ebook from the TAFF site (where donations are appreciated): Work continues on the tentatively titled Slow Pint Glass, collecting Bob Shaw’s other fanwriting not included in the above or in last year’s The Serious Scientific Talks.
Puff Love, the final mystery novel by John Sladek, has been delayed but should appear before long as a trade paperback.

C.o.A. Brian Ameringen/Porcupine Books

Thog’s Masterclass. Simile Dept. ‘The exultant expression clung to his face for a moment, like a stopped movie, and then it cracked and slid slowly away, like thick snow cracking and sliding from a canted roof.’ (Ira Levin, A Kiss Before Dying, 1953)
Alternate Geography. ‘On the Western shores of the Atlantic, the British appear to be forgetting their obsession with submerged nations – again, except for Wells. While on the Eastern shores, the Americans ...’ (Brian W. Aldiss, Billion Year Spree, 1973)
Dept of Sibilant Susurrus. ‘After a moment, he spoke hissingly. “You lie!”’ (John Brunner, Meeting at Infinity, 1961) [BA]
Neat Tricks Dept. ‘His unnatural eyes floated back to mine [...] One of his thick, black eyebrows rose into the shape of a question mark.’ (Deborah Harkness, A Discovery of Witches, 2011) [BR]

Geeks’ Corner

Subscriptions. To receive Ansible monthly via email, send a message to:
ansible-news+subscribe [at]
You will be asked to confirm by email that you want to join the group. To resign from the Google Groups list, send email to:
ansible-news+unsubscribe [at]
More details, and an alternative list subscription form for those averse to Google, on this page (which is also where to unsubscribe from the alternative list, hosted at
Home page –
RSS feed –
LiveJournal syndication –
Back issues –
Printable PDFs –
Email the editor –
Books Received –

Convention and Event Links
• British Isles –
• London –
• Overseas – [no longer updated]


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

Virtual Fan Meetings.
• 2 July 2020, evening: Alison Scott has set up this alternative to the physical London First Thursday meeting: ‘Please share this with people who you know typically come to the Bishop’s Finger, but aren’t on Facebook.’
• 16 July 2020, 8pm-9pm: Event Horizon online.
• 19 July 2020 (and every other third Sunday of the month), afternoon/early evening: Sheffield SF and Fantasy Society online meeting using Zoom. For access details contact Fran Dowd, thesofa [at] gmail dot com.
• 10 August 2020, 8pm-9:30pm: Event Horizon online.

Editorial II. More than two months later, I’m still wrestling with the aftermath of the site redesign. The Ansible Editions mid-year royalty statements have been a pain because the glacial ‘migration’ of data from the old site still hasn’t revealed the actual sales breakdown for April. Also lost in migration was my registered status as a UK taxpayer, which I first discovered when the June payment had 30% withholding tax deducted from US income. That one has since been sorted out, but I’m nervously waiting for the next nasty surprise....

Outraged Letters. Vernon Speed writes: ‘Just in case you missed it, there was a significant reference to J.G. Ballard in yesterday’s (Tuesday 30th) BBC 4 programme The Hidden Wilds of the Motorway. Mentioned (and showed) his house, talked about Concrete Island and his influence on the presenter. Turned out that she is a big fan. / The whole programme was very interesting, but I wasn’t expecting this extra bonus.’ (1 July)

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
Beyond the Outposts review in Locus
• Official fundraiser for Uncle Hugo’s and Uncle Edgar’s bookshops

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 156, July 2000. Dept of Suggestive Motor Launches. ‘Discords of remote activity rose above the more intimate throbbing of our screw.’ (Sax Rohmer, The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu, 1913)
Dept of Scientific Method. ‘For one, Hackett found a way to find a way to discover how the broadcast-power receivers worked.’ (Murray Leinster, The Greks Bring Gifts, 1964)
Dept of Non-Fiction. ‘Quotation marks of worry cleaved the aging man’s forehead.’ (Dan Baum, Citizen Coors, 2000) ‘Which illuminates again the nerd underbelly that is an inclination towards the human-transcending and the synthetic-universe preferring.’ (Paulina Borsook, Cyberselfish, 2000)
Elementary Dept. ‘Sodium is what stars are made of.’ (Adam Roberts, Salt, 2000)

Ansible® 396 © David Langford, 2020. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Douglas A. Anderson, Karen Babich, John Boston, Malcolm Edwards, Daily Star Trek News, Paul Di Filippo, File 770, Steve Green, Jon Hancock, Steve Jones, Vlatko Juric-Kokic, Todd Mason, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Bob Rickard, Siadwell, Al Sirois and Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (BSFG), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Oz). 1 July 2020