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Ansible® 401, December 2020

Cartoon: Harry Bell

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Harry Bell, ‘Wisp’. Available for SAE or the precise whereabouts of the surplus population.

The Five Staves

Wendy Aldiss’s Kickstarter fundraiser for My Father’s Things, a lavish photobook of Brian Aldiss memorabilia, reached and passed its £6,800 target on 2 November. She thanks the Ansible readers who helped.

Anthony Burgess, in a verse first published in the huge Collected Poems (out this month), warned his audience: ‘Advice: don’t read / A Clockwork Orange – it’s a foul farrago [two lines nervously omitted here] Read Hamlet, Shelley, Keats, Doctor Zhivago.’ (Guardian, 8 November)

Adam-Troy and Judi Castro lost their home in November owing to identity thieves who drained their savings and hijacked mortgage payments. A Gofundme campaign to keep them afloat has raised more than $35,000, but they’re still having to live expensively in hotels.

Nigella Lawson, famous tv cook, embraced her inner fan by comparing a dish in preparation to gagh – ‘That’s a Klingon delicacy.’ Which is made from serpent worms, preferably served live. Er um. [LW]

Robert Macfarlane, UK author and academic, was asked what book he couldn’t finish: ‘Frank Herbert’s Dune. Wild landscapes, weird nature, science fiction – this really should be my jam. But no; the violence came to sicken me by halfway through, as did aspects of the politics. So I junked it.’ (Interview, New York Times, 19 November) [AIP]

Sheree Renée Thomas will replace C.C. Finlay as editor of The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction as of the March/April 2021 issue. Gordon Van Gelder continues as publisher. (Facebook, 3 November) [GVG]

Bud Webster (1952-2016) has a new memorial: the SFWA Legacy Kit, helping authors – not only SFWA members – organize their literary estates. See


ONLINE. 3 Dec • Virtual First Thursday, 6-10pm, replacing the usual London pub meeting. See

ONLINE. 5 Dec • Dragonmeet (gaming), normally held in London. 9am-midnight. Further details at

ONLINE. 8-13 Dec • Sci-Fi London film festival. See; details of added talks and panels at

9 Dec - Aug 2021 • Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature (exhibition), Natural History Museum, London. £22. See

ONLINE. 11-12 Dec • Grimmfest Xmas Horror Nights (film); see for details.

ONLINE. 17 Dec • Virtual Christmas Meeting, 6-10pm, replacing the usual extra London pub meeting. See

ONLINE. 13 Feb 2021 • Tolkien Society Seminar. See

POSTPONED AGAIN. 19-21 Feb 2021 • Satellite 7, Glasgow. New dates 21-23 May 2021. GoH Aliette de Bodard and Margaret Walty. £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

POSTPONED. 18-21 Mar 2021 • Eurocon 2021, Fiuggi, Italy. New dates 15-18 July 2021. €50 reg; see

POSTPONED. 26-28 Mar 2021 • Corflu 38, Mercure Holland Hotel, Bristol. New dates 5-7 November 2021. £50/$60 reg. FAAn Awards ceremony and business meeting still on 28 March, via Zoom. See

Rumblings. Worldcon 2021: DisCon III is exercising its option to add an extra, temporary category to the Hugo awards: Best Video Game.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Avoid Us. Fareed Zakaria on genre preferences: ‘I read everything, except for fantasy and horror. The latter I find particularly pointless. Why pay money to be scared? There is one exception, Stephen King, who writes so well that I will on rare occasions overcome my resistance.’ (‘By the Book’ interview, New York Times, 6 November) [JB]

Awards. Goldsmiths Prize of £10,000 for mould-breaking fiction written and published in the UK or Eire: The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again by M. John Harrison. [L] ‘Harrison [...] has described the novel as not “science fiction or folk horror or psychogeography, but it contains parodic elements of all three, and more”.’ (Guardian, 11 November)
Mystery Writers of America Grand Masters now include Charlaine Harris.
Rotsler Award for life achievement as fan artist: Alan White.

Publishers and Sinners. Harlan Ellison’s literary executor J. Michael Straczynski promised that the long-stagnant anthology The Last Dangerous Visions – announced in Ellison’s introduction to Again, Dangerous Visions (1972) as coming in six months – would be completed and ready for submission to publishers in Spring 2021. (Twitter, 13 November) The many stories cited in past contents lists but withdrawn and often published elsewhere will not be included; others unspecified are to be dropped; new fiction never seen by Ellison will be added; as to whether any Ellison story introductions (regarded as highlights of DV and A,DV) were actually written for TLDV, there is a great silence.
• Of course Chris Priest was asked to comment.... (Guardian, 16 November)

As Others See Us. John Wain noted that C.S. Lewis ‘developed in later years a telltale interest in science fiction, which is usually a reliable sign of imaginative bankruptcy.’ (‘A Great Clerke’ in C.S. Lewis at the Breakfast Table ed. James T Como, 1979) [VS]
Pauline Kael on 2001: ‘It’s fun to think about Kubrick really doing every dumb thing he wanted to do, building enormous science-fiction sets and equipment, never even bothering to figure out what to do with them... maybe some people love 2001 just because Kubrick did all that stupid stuff, acted out a kind of super sci-fi nut’s fantasy.’ (Harper’s Magazine, February 1969) [MMW]

R.I.P. Joseph Altairac (1957-2020), French sf scholar who published books on Wells and van Vogt, the fanzine Lovecraftian Studies, and (with Guy Costes) Rétrofictions (2018), a two-volume encyclopedia of Francophone genre fiction, died on 9 November aged 63. [SJ]
Carol Arthur (1935-2020), US actress whose Mel Brooks films include Dracula: Dead and Loving It (1995), died on 1 November aged 85. [SHS]
Charles (Chuck) Bail (1935-2020), US actor, director, stuntman and stunt arranger whose credits include The House of Seven Corpses (1974) and Knight Rider (1985-1986), died on 25 November aged 85. [SJ]
Ben Bova (1932-2020), US editor and prolific author who began publishing sf with The Star Conquerors (1959) and won the Campbell Memorial Award for Titan (2006), died on 29 November aged 88. He edited Analog 1971-1978 – winning six Hugos as best pro editor – and Omni 1978-1982.
Vittorio Catani (1940-2020), Italian author whose sf career began in 1962 and whose novel Gli universi di Moras (The Universes of Moras) won the first Urania Prize in 1990, died on 23 November aged 80. [PDF]
Mila del Sol (1923-2020), Filipino actress whose genre credits include Prinsipe Teñoso (1942) and Rosalka (2010), died on 10 November aged 97. [AW]
Tony Eastman (1942-2020), US artist and animator whose credits include Courage the Cowardly Dog (1999-2002) and Harvey Birdman, Attorney at Law (2002-2003), died in early November. [PDF]
Sean Ellis (1966-2020), UK fan and con-goer long active in the Reading SF Group and Hampshire Sceptics, died on 21 November. [MY]
Janet Ann Gallow (1937-2020), former US child actress best known as the little girl abducted by the monster (Lon Chaney Jr) in Universal’s The Ghost of Frankenstein (1942), died on 13 November aged 83. [SJ]
Eddie Hassell (1990-2020), US actor in Surface (2005-2006) and 2012 (2009), died on 1 November aged 30. [MMW]
David Hemblen (1941-2020), UK actor in Brainscan (1994), X-Men: The Animated Series (1992-1997, voicing Magneto), Earth: Final Conflict (1997-2002), Rollerball (2002) and others, died on 16 November aged 79. [SHS]
Jery Hewitt (1949-2020), stuntman and stunt arranger with many genre credits from Wolfen (1981), C.H.U.D. (1984) and Ghostbusters II (1989) to The Tomorrow People (2013-2014) and Forever (2014-2015), died on 21 November aged 71. [LP]
Michael Z. Hobson (1936-2020), US comics publisher who had been executive vice president of Marvel, died on 12 November aged 83. [PDF]
Kenneth V. Jones, US actor in Phantasm (1979) and – via recycled footage – its 2016 and 2017 sequels, died on 6 November aged 90. [SJ]
Johnny Kevorkian (1972-2020), Cyprus-born director of Await Further Instructions (2018) and The Disappeared (2018) died on 4 November aged 48. [SHS]
Yasumi Kobayashi (1962-2020), Japanese author of sf, mystery and horror active since 1995, died on 23 November aged 58. [PDF]
Akira Kubodera (1977-2020), Japanese actor best known for Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon (2003-2004), died on 13 November aged 43; suicide was suspected. [PDF]
Tom La Farge (1947-2020), US author whose first novel was the animal fantasy The Crimson Bears (1993), died on 22 October. [GF/HW]
Miriam Dyches Carr Knight Lloyd, US fan active in the 1950s and 1960s with fanzines including various ‘Goojie Publications’ titles as Dyches or Carr, Klein Bottle and later issues of Fanac with her first husband Terry Carr, and A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Poughkeepsie with her second husband Jerry Knight, died on 23 October. [RL]
Kay McCauley, US literary agent at Aurous (founded by her late brother as Kirby McCauley Ltd) whose authors included Ramsey Campbell, Gardner Dozois, George R.R. Martin and Melinda Snodgrass, died on 1 November. [MS]
Anita Mason (1942-2020), UK author of the historical fantasy The Illusionist (1983) and the dystopian sf The War Against Chaos (1988), died on 8 September aged 78. [DP]
Jan Morris (1926-2020), acclaimed UK travel writer and historian whose genre or genre-adjacent book was Last Letters from Hav (1985; expanded 2006 as Hav), died on 20 November aged 94. [PDF]
Kirby Morrow (1973-2020), Canadian actor whose very many credits include Mobile Suit Gundam Wing (English versions 1995-1997), Ninja Turtles: The Next Mutation (1997-1998), Stargate: Atlantis (2005-2008) and Transformers: Cybertron (2006-2006), died on 18 November aged 47. [SJ]
Daria Nicolodi (1950-2020), Italian actress and writer seen in many horror films from Deep Red (1975) and Suspiria (1977, which she co-scripted) to Mother of Tears (2007), died on 26 November aged 70. [SG]
John O’Brien, US founder of the Dalkey Archive Press which published many fantastic works (often in translation) including the collected short fiction of Flann O’Brien – from whose The Dalkey Archive the press took its name – died on 21 November aged 75. [PDF]
• Late report: Dennis O’Neil (1939-2020), US author whose first novel was The Bite of Monsters (1971) and who wrote various Batman novelizations and scripted such Marvel titles as Spider-Man, Iron Man and Daredevil, died on 11 June aged 81. [RHo]
Geoffrey Palmer (1927-2020), UK actor in Doctor Who and the Silurians (1970) and Stig of the Dump (2002), died on 6 November aged 93. [AW]
Hayford Peirce (1942-2020), US author active since 1974, whose first novel was Napoleon Disentimed (1987), shot himself on 19 November; he was 78. His wife Wanda Zhang Peirce was found dead – also shot – at the same address. [SHS]
David Prowse (1935-2020), UK actor whose films include The Horror of Frankenstein (1970), A Clockwork Orange (1971), Vampire Circus (1972), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Jabberwocky (1977), The People That Time Forgot (1977) and the first Star Wars trilogy (1977-1983), died on 29 November aged 85. [SG]
Elsa Raven (1929-2020), US actress in The Amityville Horror (1979) and Back to the Future (1985), died on 3 November aged 91. [LP]
Luke Rhinehart (George Powers Cockcroft, 1932-2020), US author best known for The Dice Man (1971), who also wrote several sf novels, died on 6 November aged 87. [JL]
• Late report: Suzanne Roquette (1942-2020), German actress in Space: 1999 (1975-1976) and Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), died on 28 May aged 77. [S]
José Montalbán Saiz, Spanish movie-poster artist whose best known poster was for Pánico En El Transiberiano/Horror Express (1972), died on 25 October aged 94. [SJ]
John Sessions (1953-2020), Scots actor and comedian whose genre credits include The Sender (1982), Whoops Apocalypse (1986), Gormenghast (2000), Doctor Who: ‘Death Comes to Time’ (2001-2002), Five Children and It (2004) and Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell (2015), died on 2 November aged 67. [SG/PE]
Herbert F. Solow (1930-2020), US tv executive who while at Desilu Studios sold the original Star Trek series (which credited him as ‘executive in charge of production’) to NBC and Mission Impossible to CBS, died on 19 November aged 89. He co-wrote Inside Star Trek: The Real Story (1996). [F770]
Ken Spears (1938-2020), US producer and screenwriter who with Joe Ruby (1933-2020; see A398) co-created Scooby-Doo and Electra Woman and Dyna Girl (1976) and whose credits include Planet of the Apes (1974 tv) and Bigfoot and Wildboy (1977-1979), died on 6 November aged 82. [PDF]
Philip Voss (1936-2020), UK actor whose credits include Doctor Who (1964; 1968), Frankenstein and the Monster from Hell (1974), Octopussy (1983), The Lord of the Rings (1981 radio) and About Time (2013), died on 13 November aged 84. [AIP]
Richard C. West (1944-2020), Tolkien scholar who published Orcrist 1966-1977 and edited Tolkien Criticism: An Annotated Checklist (1970), died on 29 November aged 76. [AIP]
Sven Wollter (1934-2020), Swedish actor in The Sacrifice (1986) and the Michael Crichton-based The 13th Warrior (1999), died on 10 November aged 86. [AW]

As Others Appreciate Us. A good word from Shaun Bythell’s enjoyably grumpy Seven Kinds of People You Find in Bookshops (2020): ‘A postscript brings the tally up to nine with a description of Cliens perfectus (Perfect Customer). Among the subtypes in this vanishingly small contingent are the ingenuously passionate readers whom Bythell prizes above the misers, time wasters and poseurs. He has nothing but love for the collectors of books about steam locomotives, rare editions of modern fiction, and – in their uniform of black T-shirt and white trainers – science-fiction fans.’ (Guardian review, 11 November) [SL] How did I survive all those decades in sf fandom while shockingly out of uniform?

Court Circular. SFWA and Alan Dean Foster launched their campaign #DisneyMustPay on 18 November. Since Disney took over publishing rights to ADF’s multiple Alien and Star Wars novelizations in 2015, the books continue to be sold but the royalties specified in the contracts are no longer paid. As SFWA grimly puts it, ‘Disney’s argument is that they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. In other words, they believe they have the right to publish work, but are not obligated to pay the writer no matter what the contract says. If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States. All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company.’ See

Doctor Who and the Kipper, a storyline new to fans, was created by BBC house style (no italics or quotes for titles) in their Geoffrey Palmer obit. Next words: ‘and the Corpse episode of Fawlty Towers.’ [BB]

Magazine Scene. Starburst magazine announced that because of pandemic-induced distribution problems the printed issue #476 – expected in November – is on hold until April 2021. Meanwhile, online and video updates should continue at [SG]

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago: ‘David Eddings chilled our blood in a Del Rey newsletter interview: “The first thing a fantasist needs to do is to invent a world and draw a map. Do the map first.” Silly old Tolkien, starting with languages!’ (Ansible 161, December 2000)
• ‘Recent research into the catchphrase of Discworld’s Librarian led to a possible literary source. James Joyce, Ulysses, 1922, p424 of Penguin Modern Classics edition: “Ook.” Terry Pratchett comments: “Dunno. Never read more than a few pages of Joyce – thought he was a berk.”’ (Ibid)
90 Years Ago, a UK item that should have run in A399: ‘The first meeting of our first fan group was held in Ilford on 27th October 1930.’ [RHa]

Publishers and Sinners II. Penguin Random House (i.e. Bertelsmann) plans to buy the Simon & Schuster publishing imprint from ViacomCBS for $2.18 billion. (Publishers Weekly, 25 November)

Fanfundery. TAFF: John Coxon’s report on his 2011 TAFF tour – titled Best. Trip. Ever. – was published last month as a paperback and ebook, with all proceeds to the fund. See
• Coming soon to the free ebooks library: The Harpy Stateside by UK fan Ella Parker, whose unfinished report of a long 1961 US/Canadian trip is here expanded by Rob Hansen with others’ published tales of her travels; Atom Abroad, Arthur (Atom) Thomson’s lively 1964 TAFF trip report; and the immense Ansible Second Series 2011-2020 (issues 282-401).

Random Fandom. Greg Ketter of DreamHaven Books in Minneapolis was assaulted – along with his employee Ryan – and robbed on 9 November; the miscreants escaped pursuit. ‘2020,’ he wrote philosophically, ‘is just the gift that keeps on giving.’ (Facebook) [MJL]
Outworlds 71/Afterworlds, a 500+ page memorial to Outworlds editor Bill Bowers (1943-2005) was published in November by a US collective and sent to his entire mailing list. It’s $20 via Amazon with proceeds to the fan funds. Is this monster huger than the legendary Walt Willis issue of Warhoon? Not quite; that’s 616pp and weighs nearly a pound more....

Thog’s Masterclass. Male Gaze Dept. ‘With each breath she took, her breasts swelled out through the cloth, nodding wisely at me.’ (Ledru Baker Jr, Brute Madness, 1961) [RWS]
Mission Statement. ‘I shall ride the galaxy on wings of flame, my fleet of starships fuelled and powered by my discovery. I shall rule as no man has ever ruled, and you want me to give up that for the empty praises of cowardly fools?’ (Volsted Gridban [E.C. Tubb], Fugitive of Time, 1953) [BA]
Big Science Dept. ‘“Is this the great invention?” “Part of it, the rest is a complex mathematical equation impossible to duplicate.”’
• ‘... a blast of energy which will literally jerk the electrons and neutrons from their orbits.’ (Ibid) [BA]
Trouser Racing. ‘He pulled on his clothes as she scrambled to do the same.’ (Jane Jordan, The Beekeeper's Daughter, 2016) [RC]
The Last Dangerous Horticulture. ‘... her nipples are like man-devouring flowers ...’ (Frederick Turner, A Double Shadow, 1978) [BA]

Geeks’ Corner

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Ho, Ho, Ho. As always, a Merry Christmas – or seasonal festival of your choice – and Happy New Year to all readers. Keep safe and have fun.
• Early copies of the threatened Langford collection, Beachcombing and Other Oddments, have now been sent to a select few. The official release date is 21 December, when the trade paperback and ebook will be available from Ansible Editions ( on a sordid commercial basis. Contents: 78,000 words of (mostly) fanzine-published essays, speeches, silliness and unreliable autobiography.

R.I.P II. Paul-Jean Hérault (Michel Rigaud, 1934-2020), French sf author best known for the ‘Cal de Ter’ space opera sequence beginning with Le Rescapé de la Terre (The Survivor of Earth, 1975), died on 26 October aged 86. [L/RR]
• A late report that only recently came to light in sf circles: Duncan Long (1949-2016), US author and artist whose first novel was Anti-Grav Unlimited (1988) and whose cover art appeared on Asimov’s and elsewhere, died on 31 December 2016 aged 67. [SHS]

The Dead Past II. 58 Years Ago, William Rotsler in his fanzine Kteic 118 (June 1962) proposed the idea of Retro Hugos long, long before they were first awarded in 1996. [RHa]

Virtual Meetings.
• 3 December 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.’
• 8 December 2020, from 7:30pm: Handheld Book Club. Free.
• 20 December 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.

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Adam-Troy and Judi Castro "Wiped out by Identity Theft"
• ‘Harlan Ellison’s The Last Dangerous Visions may finally be published, after five-decade wait’
• H.G. Wells Short Story Competition reopens early 2021

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 161, December 2000. Dept of Cruel and Unusual Geography: ‘Columbus never set foot on the continent that bore his name.’ (Gregory Benford, The Martian Race, 1999)
• ‘She [J.K. Rowling] has sold forty million copies in as many countries.’ (Sue Lawley, Radio 4)
Dept of Weights and Measures: ‘... reduced to Earthly terms, Professor Jameson learned that a borg measured 7.193 feet and some few inches.’ (Neil R. Jones, Twin Worlds, 1967)

Ansible® 401 © David Langford, 2020. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, John Boston, Bill Burns, Ramsey Campbell, File 770, Paul Di Filippo, Gregory Feeley, Steve Green, Rob Hansen, Rich Horton, Steve Jones, Jim Lawrence, Robert Lichtman, Simon Litton, Locus, Michael J. Lowrey, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, David Pringle, Private Eye, Roger Robinson, Siadwell, Steven H Silver, Robert Whitaker Sirignano, Melinda Snodgrass, Vernon Speed, Gordon Van Gelder, Andrew Wells, Henry Wessells, Liz Williams, Martin Morse Wooster, Mark Young, and our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Brum Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 December 2020