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Ansible® 402, January 2021

Cartoon: Atom

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Atom. Available for SAE, the Spots, or the significance of wearing the spiked bracelet.

The Donkey’s Whistle

Ursula K. Le Guin’s Twitter account @ursulakleguin (run by her estate) had an offer she couldn’t have refused, or at least refused to giggle at: ‘We came across your Instagram profile “ursulakleguin”, and LOVE your style. We’d love to have you as one of our Brand Ambassadors. To celebrate our new [REDACTED] collection, we want to give you a FREE pair of leggings so you can post a picture of you wearing them and drive more exposure to our brand.’ (8 December) [F770]

Hervé Le Tellier won France’s major literary award, the Prix Goncourt, for his sf thriller L’anomalie. (Guardian, 30 November) [MMW]

J.R.R. Tolkien’s old house (1930-1947) on Northmoor Road, Oxford, was announced as soon to be sold; the US-based ‘Project Northmoor’, supported by such notables as Lord of the Rings film actors, is crowdfunding to raise £4.5 million with which to buy it for a Tolkien ‘literary centre’. (NY Times, 2 December) [MF] Doubts were raised by an untrue claim by that no Tolkien centre exists anywhere in the world, and by the discoveries that this project isn’t endorsed by either the Tolkien estate or the Tolkien Society – the latter complaining that the directors include no Tolkien scholars – that the Christian charities involved will make no refunds if the goal isn’t reached, and that it won’t be a museum open to the public as initially assumed, but a centre for ‘creative writing, screenwriting and illustrating, especially in fantasy’, with an implied religious slant including ‘spiritual retreats’. (Guardian, 8 December) [AIP]

Jeff VanderMeer regrets having invented – in his Ambergris series – the Festival of the Freshwater Squid, which has inspired all too many readers to send him pictures of squid, unfeasible quantities of dried squid, and worldwide squid sightings ... the last category including his tiny ‘mayfly squid’ which doesn’t even exist. (, 2 December)


ONLINE. 7 Jan • Virtual First Thursday, 6-10pm, replacing the usual London pub meeting. See

ONLINE. 13 Feb • Tolkien Society Seminar. Details at

MOVING ONLINE. 19 Mar • Futurefest (futurology), Tobacco Dock, London. Virtual event details later in January at

ONLINE. 2-5 Apr • Grimmfest Easter Horror Nights (film). £38 reg; see for details.

ONLINE. 16 May • Lawless: The Bunker (UK comics). Details to follow at See below.

24-26 Sep • Fantasycon 2021, Jury’s Inn, Broad Street, Birmingham. Further details awaited at

21-31 Oct • Edinburgh Horror Festival, with expected venues (Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh Dungeon and Lauriston Castle as usual) to be confirmed later in January. See

28-29 May 2022 • Lawless (UK comics), Hilton Doubletree, Bristol. 2021 hotel bookings can be switched on request: ‘ just call up the hotel’. More awaited at

Rumblings. Camp SFW (Great Yarmouth, 18-20 March, sold out) is still scheduled as a physical event, with no website mention of COVID-19 or social distancing.
ConFusion (Eastercon 2021) has to be on-line only despite hopes of ‘hybrid’ status: fans with room bookings have received emails warning that the NEC Hilton will stay closed until May. [JB]

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. Aerospace author Joe Pappalardo on Elon Musk’s launch pad: ‘When you go to Boca Chica, it’s like you’ve opened up a 1950s science-fiction paperback and you’re living in it.’ (Commentary, December) [MMW] The Space Merchants? They’d Rather Be Right?

Awards. A. Bertram Chandler Award (for outstanding achievement in Australian sf), 2020: Dr Gillian Polack.
SF & Fantasy Poetry Association Grand Master: Linda Addison.
SFWA Damon Knight Grand Master for life achievement in sf, 2021: Nalo Hopkinson. (SFWA, 1 December)

Publishers and Sinners. An Oxford whistleblower points out that Elsevier’s supposedly highly specialist, peer-reviewed medical journal Early Human Development has published a surprising number of articles by Maltese researcher and Star Trek fan Victor Grech – often in the category ‘Best practice guidelines’ – on such clinical subjects as ‘Doctors in Star Trek’, ‘Nurses in Star Trek’ and ‘The banality of evil in the occupation of Star Trek’s Bajor’. (, 12 December) [TC]

Strange. Weird. Eerie. The November Ansible remembered Uri Geller’s twenty-years-past lawsuit filed against Nintendo because he was affronted by the bent-spoon-wielding Pokémon creature Kadabra alias Yun Geller, later taken out of play. Later that very month it was reported that Geller had apologized and withdrawn his objections to the beastie in question. (The Register, 30 November) Can this be coincidence?

R.I.P. Sten Andersson (1951-2020) Swedish sf author active since the late 1970s with shorts in Jules Verne-magasinet etc. and with five novels 1980-2013, died some weeks before being registered as deceased on 20 November; he was 69. [J-HH]
Roman Arbitman (1960-2020), Russian sf author and critic whose A History of Soviet SF (1993 as Rustam Katz) is alt-history disguised as scholarship, died on 19 December. [AM]
David Ashford, UK comics historian who with various collaborators produced many collectors’ indexes and (mainly with Norman Wright) books on comics, died on 17 December. He was also an actor, seen in The Quatermass Conclusion (1979) and Doctor Who (1988-1989). [SH]
Warren Berlinger (1937-2020), US actor whose rare genre credits include The Shaggy D.A. (1976), died on 2 December aged 83. [SJ]
Claude Bolling (1930-2020), French composer whose genre film credits include The Hands of Orlac (1960) and the Bram Stoker-based The Awakening (1980), died on 29 December aged 90. [AIP]
David Britton (1945-2020), UK author and publisher who with Michael Butterworth founded Savoy Books and wrote the ultra-black satire Lord Horror (1989) – confiscated and banned for obscenity by the easily upset Manchester police – died on 29 December aged 75. [MB] Charles Platt writes: ‘Dave Britton went to prison, twice, because he wouldn’t surrender his principles. I had immense admiration for him.’
Jeremy Bulloch (1945-2020), UK actor who played Boba Fett in The Empire Strikes Back (1980) and Return of the Jedi (1983), died on 17 December aged 75. [PDF] Other credits include Doctor Who (1965, 1973-1974).
Richard Corben (1940-2020), US comics artist and animator known for work in Creepy, Eerie, Heavy Metal, Vampirella and many other titles (some from his own Fantagor Press), died on 2 December aged 80. In 2012 he entered the Will Eisner Hall of Fame. [PDF]
Doug Crane (1935-2020), US animator whose credits include Mighty Thor (1966), Spider-Man (1968-1970), The Smurfs (1981), He-Man and the Masters of the Universe (1985) and She-Ra: Princess of Power (1985), died on 17 December aged 85. [AIP]
Marcus D’Amico (1965-2020), UK actor whose films include Superman II (1980), died on 16 December aged 55. [AIP]
Mark Eden (1928-2021), UK actor in Quatermass and the Pit (1958-1959), Doctor Who: Marco Polo (1964), the Lovecraft-based The Crimson Cult (1968) and An Adventure in Space and Time (2013), died on 1 January aged 92. [SJ]
Phyllis Eisenstein (1946-2020), US author active since 1971 whose books include Born to Exile (1978) and Shadow of Earth (1979), died on 7 December aged 74. She is survived by her husband and collaborator Alex Eisenstein. [SHS]
Kevin H. Evans, US author who contributed to Eric Flint’s ‘1632/Assiti Shards’ shared universe with solo essays plus fiction written with his wife Karen C. Evans, died on 23 December. [PDF]
Mike Fenton (1938-2020), US casting director with very many genre credits from Young Frankenstein (1974) via Aliens (1986) to Sharknado 2 (2014), died on 30 December aged 82. [SJ]
Dave Galanter (1969-2020), US author of several Star Trek tie-in novels beginning with Star Trek: The Next Generation #31: Foreign Foes (1994) with Greg Brodeur, died on 12 December aged 51. [PDF]
David Giler (1943-2020), US film-maker whose producer credits include Alien (1979) and Aliens (1986) – both Hugo winners – Alien³ (1992, which he also co-scripted) and others in this franchise, died on 19 December aged 77. [SHS]
Cliff Green (1934-2020), Australian writer and producer who scripted the arguably genre-adjacent Picnic at Hanging Rock (1975) and the fantasy The Steam-Driven Adventures of Riverboat Bill (1986, based on his own book), died on 4 December aged 85. [GC]
James Gunn (1923-2020), US author, editor, critic and academic who had published sf and related nonfiction since 1949 – with further work scheduled for 2021 – died on 23 December aged 97. His honours include a 1983 nonfiction Hugo and the 2007 SFWA Grand Master Award. [LP]
Parnell Hall (1944-2020), US mystery author who scripted and appeared in C.H.U.D. (1984), died on 15 December aged 76. [TM]
Sture Hellström (1941-2020), Swedish fan active from 1956 as ‘Sture Sedolin’, publishing the fanzines Super SF, Science Fiction Times and Cactus, died on 20 November aged 79. [J-HH]
Walter Hooper (1931-2020), US-born author of several books about C.S. Lewis – beginning with C.S. Lewis: A Biography (1974, with Roger Lancelyn Green) – and editor of many Lewis collections including the genre-relevant Of Other Worlds: Essays and Stories (1966) and The Dark Tower (1977), died on 7 December aged 89. [F770]
• Late report: Dean Ing (1931-2020), US author active from 1955 to the early 1990s, whose first novel was Soft Targets (1979), died on 21 June aged 89.
Rafer Johnson (1934-2020), US athlete and actor in Tarzan and the Great River (1967), Tarzan and the Jungle Boy (1968) and Think Big (1989), died on 2 December aged 86. [MMW]
Brian Jordan (1942-2020), UK fan active from the 1960s in OMPA (Offtrails Magazine Publishers Association), the BSFA and other groups, died in December. [AR via JL]
Hugh Keays-Byrne (1947-2020), Indian-born Australian actor who played the main villain in both Mad Max (1979) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015), died on 1 December aged 73. [BB] His other films include The Blood of Heroes (1989).
Gary Howard Klar (1947-2020), US actor in Day of the Dead (1985) and Big (1988), died on 31 December aged 73. [SJ]
Peter Lamont (1929-2020), UK production designer and art director whose films include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), The Boys from Brazil (1978), Aliens (1986) and various James Bond titles, died in December aged 91. [AIP]
David L. Lander (1947-2020), US actor whose voice credits include Galaxy High School (1986), Who Framed Roger Rabbit (1988), Midnight Patrol: Adventures in the Dream Zone (1990) and Tattooed Teenage Alien Fighters from Beverly Hills (1994-1995), died on 4 December aged 73. [LP]
Lin Qi, Chinese CEO of the Yoozoo entertainment group with a producer credit for the coming Netflix The Three-Body Problem, died on 25 December aged 39 – apparently poisoned by a colleague who has been arrested. [PDF]
Tommy ‘Tiny’ Lister (1958-2020), US actor whose 220 credits include The Meteor Man (1993), The Fifth Element (1997), The Dark Knight (2008), Terra Nova (2008) and Zootopia (2016), died on 10 December aged 62. [MMW]
Rebecca Luker (1961-2020), US singer and actress in the Broadway musicals The Phantom of the Opera (1989) and The Secret Garden (1991), and the sf film Spectropia (2006), died on 23 December aged 59. [AIP]
Alison Lurie (1926-2020), US author whose ghost stories are collected in Women and Ghosts (1994), died on 3 December aged 94. Her criticism includes Don't Tell the Grown-Ups: Subversive Children's Literature (1990); she edited The Oxford Book of Modern Fairy Tales (1993). [GVG]
Hamish MacInnes (1930-2020), UK author and mountaineer who as safety adviser, stunt double and cameraman worked on films including Monty Python and the Holy Grail (1975) and Highlander (1986), died on 22 November aged 90. [AIP]
Malcolm Marmorstein (1928-2020), US screenwriter and director who scripted 80 episodes of Dark Shadows (1966-1967) and wrote and directed Dead Men Don’t Die (1990) and Love Bites (1993), died on 21 November aged 92. [SJ]
Basil Moss (1935-2020), UK actor in UFO (1970-1971), died on 28 November aged 85. [AIP]
Jaroslav Mostecký (1963-2020, Czech sf author who won the 1997 Karel Čapek prize, died on 13 December aged 57. [PDF]
Keith Newstead (1956-2020), UK automata artist whose often sf/fantasy-themed creations include ‘Invasion of the Body Snatchers’ (no relation to the film) and a remarkable 2018 evocation of Gormenghast, died on 8 November aged 64. [AIP]
• Late report: Betty Rosenblum (1921-2018), wife of old-time UK fan J. Michael Rosenblum and well known in the 1960s for her hospitality at conventions, died on 24 December 2018. [BB]
Guy N. Smith (1939-2020), highly prolific UK author best known for horror – especially Night of the Crabs (1976) and its many sequels – died on 24 December aged 81. [SH] Other work included novelizations of animated Disney films such as Sleeping Beauty (1959). When ‘John Grant’ and I wrote a horror spoof, Guy kindly provided the blurb line ‘Makes Night of the Crabs look like Beatrix Potter!’
Anton Strout (1970-2020), US author of the Simon Canderous urban fantasies beginning with Dead to Me (2008), died on 30 December aged 50. [SHS]
Carol Sutton (1944-2020), US character actress whose films include Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh (1995), Rag and Bone (1998), The Last Exorcism (2010) and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014), died on 11 December aged 76. [SJ]
Marilyn Jacobs Tenser (1941-2020), US film producer with genre credits for Galaxina (1980) and My Mom’s a Werewolf (1989), died in late December aged 79. [SG]
Pamela Tiffin (1942-2020), US actress whose genre film is La signora è stata violentata (1973), died on 2 December aged 78. [LP]
Ron Weighell (1950-2020), UK author of supernatural story collections beginning with An Empty House and Other Stories (1986), died on 24 December. [MV]
Dawn Wells (1938-2020), US actress in Gilligan’s Island (1964-1967) and Gilligan’s Planet (1982), died on 30 December aged 82. [LP]
Dame Barbara Windsor (1937-2020), UK actress whose genre credits include Chitty Chitty Bang Bang (1968), Worzel Gummidge (1980), Alice in Wonderland (2010) and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), died on 10 December aged 83. [FM]

The Weakest Link. Q: ‘Which Elizabethan character had children called Judith and Hamnet?’ A: ‘Cinderella.’ (ITV, Tipping Point) [PE]

Court Circular. The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court’s 2019 decision (see A381) that the Star Trek/Dr Seuss mashup Oh, The Places You’ll Boldly Go! by David Gerrold and Ty Templeton was ‘transformative’ and thus allowed by the US fair use/parody doctrine. All right according to trademark law, the court decided, but not copyright law. (Business Insurance, 21 December) [MF via AIP]
• The Conan Doyle estate’s lawsuit against Netflix and others, based on the dubious claim that Holmes shows emotion only in late stories still in copyright and that the Enola Holmes books and film are thus in breach (see A396), was ‘dismissed with prejudice by stipulation of all parties’ – thought to mean ‘privately settled’. James Lovegrove observed: ‘If you’re going to sue anyone over anything, you should sue over Mycroft Holmes being shown as a complete prick.’ (Guardian, 22 December)

Magazine Scene. Another casualty of 2020: Andy Cox of TTA Press reports that Interzone (and presumably Black Static too) will skip the January/February issue, with#290 appearing as March/April.
• Ira Nayman is resigning as editor of Amazing, says the publisher Steve Davidson.

We Are Everywhere. The UK Loose Cannon brewery’s 2021 beers include Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Pint, Mad Max: Brewery Road, Rack to the Future and Fermentator 2: Judgement Day. (29 December) [BJ]

The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago, Harlan Ellison had an epic fit of modesty: ‘ Because I’m just a poor old guy trying to make a sparse living in a world full of “young people” who are smarter than I, cleverer than I, faster than I; and I’m just about on the verge of becoming like y’know a “bag lady” kind of guy, gnawing the heads off rats, peeing in doorways, begging from door to door ...’ (Introduction, Troublemakers, 2001) [BA]

Editorial. One of my lockdown projects in 2020 was Beachcombing and Other Oddments, collecting many Langford fanzine articles, convention talks and other offbeat material in the vein of the long-ago The Silence of the Langford (1996). For trade paperback and ebook details, see
• New ebooks available for free download at the TAFF site are: The Harpy Stateside by UK fan Ella Parker, whose unfinished report of a long 1961 US/Canadian trip has been cunningly expanded by Rob Hansen with others’ published tales of her travels; Atom Abroad, Arthur (Atom) Thomson’s lively account of his 1964 TAFF adventures; and the immense Ansible Second Series 2011-2020 (issues 282-401). For all these, see

Outraged Letters. Mike Moorcock on Anthony Burgess’s ‘foul’ Clockwork Orange in A401: ‘Burgess hated Clockwork, especially à la Kubrick (so did I) and wrote a play of it for the National which I seem to recall Greenland, Nesvadba and self got sent to on some cultural junket.... I knew Burgess slightly and he did a lot of head-shaking and flubbering re that book/movie. Catholic guilt maybe?’ (20 December)

Thog’s Masterclass. A Cupful of What? ‘Crouched unseen in a corner, lashes fluttering like butterfly wings against her cheeks, she watched him filling a cup with quavering hands.’ (Jay Kristoff, Nevernight, 2016) [DM]
Neat Tricks. ‘He wrapped his eyebrows around his nose, as if facing one of the agonizing decisions of a lifetime.’ (Tom Wolfe, The Bonfire of the Vanities, 1987) [SS]
The Art of Imitating Scott Fitzgerald. ‘Something vast and intimate opened up inside of him, and he drifted in that unbounded expanse like a mote of dust carried from thousands of miles and for thousands of years on the ceaseless wind that wraps the earth again and again.’ (Michael Farris Smith, Nick, 2021) [MMW]
Male Gaze Revisited. ‘Tonguth grunted, licking his lips as his hot eyes explored the naked slave lingeringly.’ (Lin Carter, The Star Magicians, 1966) [BA]
Strobe Light Dept. ‘A slave with the hot brown skin of a Marzon and the twitching eyes of a man born under a variable star.’ (John Brunner, Interstellar Empire, 1976)

Geeks’ Corner

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To Serve Man. ‘New US dietary guidelines include babies and toddlers for first time’. (CNN headline, 29 December)

R.I.P. II Barbara Shelley (19322021), UK actress in Cat Girl (1957), Village of the Damned (1960) and various Hammer films including Dracula: Prince of Darkness (1966) and Quatermass and the Pit (1967), died on 4 January aged 88. [SJ]

Mythopoeic Awards shortlist: ADULT P. Djèlí Clark, The Haunting of Tram Car 015; Theodora Goss, Snow White Learns Witchcraft; Alix E. Harrow, The Ten Thousand Doors of January; Jo Walton, Lent: A Novel of Many Returns; G. Willow Wilson, The Bird King.
CHILDREN’S Erin Entrada Kelly, Lalani of the Distant Sea; Yoon Ha Lee, Dragon Pearl; Hilary McKay, The Time of Green Magic; Suzanne Nelson, A Tale Magnolius; Anne Ursu, The Lost Girl.
SCHOLARSHIP: INKLINGS Amy Amendt-Raduege, ‘The Sweet and the Bitter’: Death and Dying in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings; Dimitra Fimi and Thomas M. Honegger, eds, Sub-creating Arda: World-building in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Work, Its Precursors and Its Legacies; Kirstin Jeffrey Johnson and Michael Partridge, eds, Informing the Inklings: George MacDonald and the Victorian Roots of Modern Fantasy; Catherine McIlwaine, Tolkien: Maker of Middle-earth; John Rateliff, ed, A Wilderness of Dragons: Essays in Honor of Verlyn Flieger.
SCHOLARSHIP: OTHER Maria Sachiko Cecire, Re-Enchanted: The Rise of Children’s Fantasy Literature in the Twentieth Century; James Gifford, A Modernist Fantasy: Modernism, Anarchism, and the Radical Fantastic; C. Palmer-Patel, The Shape of Fantasy: Investigating the Structure of American Heroic Epic Fantasy; Ebony Elizabeth Thomas, The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games; Mark J.P. Wolf, ed, The Routledge Companion to Imaginary Worlds.

Virtual Meetings.
• 7 January 2021, 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.’
• 12 January 2021, from 7:30pm: Handheld Book Club. Free.
• 17 January 2021 (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.
Beachcombing review at Amazing Stories
• James Gunn (1923-2020)

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 162, January 2001. Dept of Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘A ceiling fan can be a blur, or you can try to hang onto one of the blades with your eyes and let it swing you around. This last is a queasy business, and I abandoned it after a half hour.’ (William Browning Spencer, ‘Pep Talk’ in The Return of Count Electric and Other Stories, 1993)
• ‘Her knees grope along the floorboards of the pew, slight pressure as the cushions give, spreading out, buckling upward. As do her eyes.’ (Charles Laird Calia, The Unspeakable, 1998)

Ansible® 402 © David Langford, 2021. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, BoingBoing, John Bray, Bill Burns, Michael Butterworth, Gary Couzens, Tony Cullen, Paul Di Filippo, File 770, Moshe Feder, Steve Green, Steve Holland, John-Henri Holmberg, Ben Jeapes, Steve Jones, Jim Linwood, Dom McIntyre, Todd Mason, Farah Mendlesohn, Andrey Meshavkin, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Alan Rispin, Steven H Silver, Stuart Stratu, Mark Valentine, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Brum Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). Happy New Year! 4 January 2021