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Ansible® 404, March 2021

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Brad W. Foster. Available for SAE, twisbies, the Lisping Elbow or the Hipdeep trilogy.

The Galoshes of Remorse

Lewis Carroll suffered the famous numismatic misattribution treatment when the Isle of Man Treasury announced a set of Alice-themed 50p coins featuring the utterly unCarrollian lines ‘I am under no obligation to make sense to you’ and ‘The hurrier I go, the behinder I get’. [AR] Nevertheless these are ‘fully approved by Her Majesty the Queen’.

James Lovegrove, naming no names, remarked that ‘I have to say it doesn’t fill you with confidence when the editor’s introduction to a Sherlock Holmes anthology refers to “Doctor Moriarty” and finishes with the line “The game is most definitely on...”’ (Facebook, 1 February)

John Varley underwent successful quadruple heart bypass surgery on 22 February and is reportedly recovering well. [RGC]

Toni Weisskopf, publisher and editor of Baen Books, is no longer editor guest of honour for the 2021 Worldcon. DisCon II announced what in the ‘entire eighty-plus year history of our community’ was ‘an unprecedented decision’ (19 February) following a report by Jason Sanford that certain areas of the “Baen’s Bar” online forum for which Weisskopf bears ultimate responsibility continued to host lurid fantasies of violence, US civil war and terrorist attacks on the infrastructure of ‘liberal’ cities (Patreon, 15 February). Sanford was rewarded with death threats and other harassment. Though temporarily closing the whole of Baen’s Bar ‘while we investigate’, Toni Weisskopf refused to commit to any policing of incitement to violence: ‘the posts do not represent the publisher’s opinion, except in a deep belief that free speech is worthy in and of itself.’ ( After which, for a Washington DC Worldcon under community pressure in the aftermath of the 6 January riot, the painful and controversial decision may have seemed inevitable.

Jane Yolen is in the news this month with the publication of her four hundredth book on 2 March (Boston Globe, 24 February).


ONLINE. 4 Mar • Virtual First Thursday, 6-10pm, replacing the usual London pub meeting. See

ONLINE. 5-7 Mar • Frightfest (film) – UK access only. Tickets £9.99 per film from

ONLINE. 11 Mar • Douglas Adams Memorial Lecture, 7pm. Tickets by donation (£10 suggested). See for details.

POSTPONED. 18-21 Mar • Camp SFW (was Sci-Fi Weekender), Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth. See Email supposedly sent to ‘all lead bookers’; further information 0207 193 1865.

MOVING ONLINE. 19 Mar • Futurefest (futurology), Tobacco Dock, London. Virtual event details still awaited at

ONLINE. 28 Mar • FAAn Awards for Corflu 38 (Bristol, November) via Zoom. All welcome: see Voting deadline is 12 March.

ONLINE. 2-5 Apr • ConFusion (Eastercon), former venue Birmingham NEC Hilton. £50 reg; concessions £30. See

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

ONLINE. 9-11 April • Conpulsion (gaming). £5 ‘early bird’ reg, rising to £8 at some time not currently specified at

ONLINE. 9-11 Apr • Springmoot/AGM (Tolkien Society); Exeter hotel booking transferred to April 2022 and dinner bookings refunded. See

CANCELLED. 22-25 Apr • Dead by Dawn (horror film festival), Filmhouse Cinema One, 88 Lothian Rd, Edinburgh, EH3 9BZ. No 2021 event: see

POSTPONED AGAIN. 1-2 May 2021 • EM-Con (media), Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham. New dates 28-29 August. Weekend tickets £30, or £40 early entry; other rates at

25 Jun 2022 • Orion@40 (local group anniversary), The Last Post pub, West Road, Southend-on-Sea. 7pm. See

Rumblings. Hugo Nominations close on 19 March. Members of DisCon III (if registered before 2021) and ConZealand can nominate: to check your registration status, go to

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. On science fiction and the transcendent mental power of its authors: ‘While some things might be familiar to today’s reader, they are likely to encounter technology, settings, and situations that are quite unimaginable.’ (Wendy Whitman Cobb, ‘“It’s a Trap!” The Pros and Mostly “Khans” of Science Fiction’s Influence on the United States Space Force’, Space Force Journal, 31 January). [BA]
• ‘Refusing to buy the argument that any human germ line genome editing is a slippery slope into science fiction, Greely argues that ...’ (Review of Crispr People by Henry T. Greely, Financial Times, 20 February) [MMW]

Magazine Scene. The transfer of Interzone from TTA Press to PS Publishing (see A403) fell through soon after it was announced, the sticking point apparently being the honouring in full of existing subscriptions. Andy Cox at TTA may still be seeking a new home for Interzone, but has started buying fiction again; meanwhile he’s beginning to wind down the sister magazine Black Static, switching from bimonthly publication to three all-fiction double issues per year until current subscriptions expire. ‘And then at some point in the near future me and my old magazine can wander off into the sunset....’ (TTA, 1 February)
• The PS Publishing preparations to take on Interzone were redirected into a new digital sf magazine titled ParSec, to be edited by Ian Whates and mysteriously claimed to be the world’s first all-digital genre magazine.

Awards. British Fantasy Society: ROBERT HOLDSTOCK (fantasy novel): The Bone Ships by R.J. Barker. AUGUST DERLETH (horror novel): The Reddening by Adam Nevill. SYDNEY J. BOUNDS (newcomer): Ta-Nehisi Coates for The Water Dancer. NOVELLA Ormeshadow by Priya Sharma. SHORT The Pain-Eater’s Daughter by Laura Mauro. ANTHOLOGY New Suns: Original Speculative Fiction for People of Color ed. Nisi Shawl. COLLECTION Sing Your Sadness Deep by Laura Mauro. NONFICTION The Dark Fantastic: Race and the Imagination from Harry Potter to the Hunger Games by Ebony Elizabeth Thomas. INDEPENDENT PRESS Rebellion Publishing. MAGAZINE/PERIODICAL Fiyah. AUDIO PodCastle. GRAPHIC DIE by Kieron Gillen & Stephanie Hans. ARTIST Ben Baldwin. FILM/TV Us. KARL EDWARD WAGNER SPECIAL Craig Lockley for long service to the BFS.
Jack Gaughan (emerging artist): Hilary Clarcq.
Norma K. Hemming (Australia; ‘themes of race, gender, class and sexuality’ in sf): held over until 2022, when both 2020 and 2021 work will be eligible.
SFWA Kevin O’Donnell Jr. Service Award: Connie Willis.
Skylark Award: Anthony R. Lewis.

Anatomy Masterclass. ‘When she’d stopped crying, Madeleine composed herself before the mirror. Her skin looked blotchy. Her breasts, of which she was normally proud, had withdrawn into themselves, as if depressed.’ (Jeffrey Eugenides, The Marriage Plot, 2011) [AC/JG]

R.I.P. Michael G. Adkisson, who edited the magazine New Pathways into Science Fiction and Fantasy (1986-1992), reportedly died in February.
Wanda June Alexander, consulting editor for Tor (1984-2006) who worked with George R.R. Martin and others, died on 14 February. [GVG]
David G. Barnett, US publisher (Necro Publications), editor (Into the Darkness magazine, 1994-1996), anthologist, cover designer and horror/urban fantasy author, died on 22 February after a car accident. [PDF]
Catherine Belsey (1940-2021), UK literary scholar whose last book Tales of the Troubled Dead (2019) focused on ghost stories,died on 14 February aged 80. [AIP]
Harry V. Bring (1943-2021), US producer/assistant director whose credits include Max Headroom (1987-1988) and The X-Files (1998-2002), died on 16 February aged 78. [AIP]
Allan Burns (1935-2021), US scriptwriter and producer who co-created The Munsters (1964-1966) and created My Mother the Car (1965-1966), died on 30 January aged 85. [SJ]
Meloney Crawford Chadwick (1955-2021), US comics editor at Harris Comics (Vampirella, The Rook) and later Dark Horse (the Myst game adaptation), reportedly died in February aged 66. [PDF]
Peter S. Davis (1942-2021), US producer of Highlander (1986), Highlander II: The Quickening (1991) and further sequels and spinoffs including a 1992-1998 tv series, died on 21 February aged 79. [GK]
Jeffrey Dempsey, UK horror/dark fantasy publisher (Crimson Altar Press 1982-1991), editor (Dark Dreams magazine 1984-1992) and anthologist with Darkness Comes (1983) and When Shadows Creep (1984), died in January. [SJ]
Dustin Diamond (1977-2021), US actor in Purple People Eater (1988), Little Creeps (2012), Hamlet A.D.D. (2014) and others, died on 1 February aged 44. [SJ]
Gerald Feil (1933-2021), US cinematographer for Friday the 13th Part III (1982), who also worked on Lord of the Flies (1963), died on 9 February aged 87. [SJ]
Harry Fielder (1940-2021), UK bit-part actor in many genre productions including Quatermass and the Pit (1967) and several episodes of Doctor Who (1967-1982) and Blake’s 7 (1978-1981), died on 6 February aged 80. [AW]
M.A. Foster (1939-2020), US author best known for his two sf trilogies opening respectively with The Warriors of Dawn (1975) and The Morphodite (1981), died on 14 November aged 81. [LT]
Haya Harareet (1931-2021), Palestine-born actress who starred in the underground-Atlantis film Journey Beneath the Desert (1961), died on 3 February aged 89. [SJ]
Don Harley (1927-2021), UK comics artist in Frank Hampson’s studio 1951-1959 – illustrating the weekly Dan Dare strip in Eagle – died on 27 January aged 93. He also drew many Gerry Anderson-related strips in the 1960s and 1970s. [SH]
Peter Harris (1933-2021), UK director of the first 73 episodes of The Muppet Show (1976-81), died on 23 February aged 88.
Mike Henry (1936-2021), star of three 1960s Tarzan films beginning with Tarzan and the Valley of Gold (1966), died on 8 January aged 84; he was also in Soylent Green (1973). [SJ]
Hal Holbrook (1925-2021) , US actor in Capricorn One (1977) and The Fog (1980), died on 23 January aged 95. [LPer]
John Hora (1940-2021), US cinematographer whose films include The Howling (1981), Gremlins (1984, plus sequel) and Innerspace (1987), died on 9 February aged 80. [SJ]
Don Lundry, US fan who chaired two LunaCons and the 1977 Worldcon (SunCon in Miami Beach), died on 14 February. [JS]
Rowena Morrill (1944-2021), noted US genre artist since 1977 who was a 2012 Worldcon guest of honour (though unable to attend for health reasons) and received the World Fantasy Award for life achievement in 2020, died on 11 February aged 76.
Christine Morrison (1965-2021), US actress in Humanoids from Atlantis (1992), Galaxy of the Dinosaurs (1992) and Ozone (1993), died after a car crash on 10 February; she was 55. [SJ]
Alan Robert Murray (1955-2021), Oscar-winning US sound editor with genre film credits from The Clone Master (1978) and Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) to Joker (2019), died on 24 February aged 66. [SJ]
Dave Nalle (1959-2021), Lebanese-born US games designer (Ysgarth, To Challenge Tomorrow) and editor/publisher of the RPG magazine Abyss, died on 13 February aged 61. [MR]
Jeremy Newson (1947-2020) UK director and actor in The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Shock Treatment (1981), died on 16 December aged 73. [AIP]
Ulf Ōtsuki (1934-2020), Swedish-born Japanese actor in Godzilla vs. Megalon (1973) and various Kamen Rider franchise series (1975-2015), died in August 2020. [LPer]
Christopher Pennock (1944-2021), US actor in Dark Shadows (1970-1971) and the spinoff film Night of Dark Shadows (1971), died on 12 February aged 76. [SJ]
Ronald Pickup (1940-2021), UK actor who voiced Aslan in three BBC Narnia adaptations (1989-1990), died on 24 February aged 80. [AW] Other credits include Jekyll and Hyde (1990), Young Dracula (2014) and The Coming of the Martians (2018).
Christopher Plummer (1929-2021), Oscar-winning Canadian actor whose many genre credits include Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country (1991), 12 Monkeys (1995), Harrison Bergeron (1995), Dracula 2000 (2000) and Priest (2011), died on 5 February aged 91. [SG]
Giuseppe Rotunno (1923-2021), Italian cinematographer whose genre films include Popeye (1980) and The Adventures of Baron Munchausen (1988), died on 7 February aged 97. [AIP]
Yvonne Rousseau (1945-2021), Australian author, editor, critic and fan perhaps best known for the mock-scholarly The Murders at Hanging Rock (1980) and for her part in the collective that published Australian SF Review: Second Series (1986-1991), died on 13 February aged 75. [BRG] Always full of erudition and humour, Yvonne was a valued correspondent and a dear friend.
Ina Shorrock (1928-2021), long-time UK fan since 1950, member of the Liverpool Group and BSFA (which she chaired), convention-goer and popular fannish hostess, died on 10 February aged 92. [RC] Ina was one of the few surviving attendees of the 1957 London Worldcon and received the 1976 Doc Weir Award.
Dr. Walter (Volodymyr) Smyrniw (1934-2021), Canadian scholar whose books include Ukrainian Science Fiction: Historical and Thematic Perspectives (2013), died on 15 February. [AM]
Lynn Stalmaster (1927-2021), US casting director for nearly 400 films including Superman (1978, plus sequel), Looker (1981), Supergirl (1984), Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles II (1991) and Battlefield Earth (2000), died on 12 February aged 93. [TM]
Bill Titcombe, UK comics artist, mostly for such tv-related magazines as TV Comic (The Telegoons), TV Century 21 (Bewitched, My Favourite Martian) and Look-In (Scooby-Doo), died in February aged 81. [SJ]
Jack Whyte (1940-2021), Scots author (long resident in Canada) of Arthurian and other historical fantasies beginning with The Skystone (1992), died on 23 February aged 80. [LPen]
Karl Williams (1968-2021), US publicist central to Paramount Pictures’ campaigns for such film franchises as Indiana Jones, Iron Man, Star Trek and Transformers, died on 7 February aged 52. [AIP]

As Others Saw Us. ‘H.G. Wells and Jules Verne did not really write science fiction in the accepted sense of the word nowadays. It was started by Hugo Gernsbeck in Modern Electrics, and was made popular by John W. Campbell Jnr, author of “The Thing” and now editor of Authentic Science Fiction.’ (The Spectator, 11 December 1953) [H]

Award Shortlists. BSFA (novels only): Tiffani Angus, Threading the Labyrinth; Susanna Clarke, Piranesi; M. John Harrison, The Sunken Land Begins to Rise Again; N.K. Jemisin, The City We Became; Gareth L. Powell, Light of Impossible Stars; Kim Stanley Robinson, The Ministry for the Future; Nikhil Singh, Club Ded; Adrian Tchaikovsky, The Doors of Eden; Liz Williams, Comet Weather; Nick Wood, Water Must Fall. With a six-way tie for fifth place, the BSFA decided to have ten rather than four finalists. Other categories at
Compton Crook (debut novel): Karen Osbourne, Architects of Memory; Lindsay Ellis, Axiom’s End; Andrea Stewart, Bone Shard Daughter; K.M. Szpara, Docile; Rebecca McLaughlin, The Nameless Queen; Micaiah Johnson, The Space Between Worlds.

Random Fandom. Ramsey Campbell remembers Ina Shorrock: ‘I think Ina was the absolute quintessence of all that was best about fandom. She was certainly the greatest hostess I’ve ever known. She made everyone welcome as soon as they stepped through the front door. We’ll never forget those dinners of hers or the Christmas parties, a great part of what made Christmas for us. She and Norman embodied the Transatlantic Fan Fund with their hospitality, and I know many visitors from abroad felt that way. She wouldn’t just leave you replete, she would find you a bed if you needed one, or failing that a couch – at any rate make you comfortable. I think Jenny wouldn’t be as much without her, just as I would be less without Jenny, and Ina enriched both our lives. As a matter of fact, we owe our life together to Ina and Norman, who brought us together at the Buxton Eastercon.’ (Email, 23 February)

The Dead Past. 80 Years Ago, the white-hot crucible of language in the making: ‘Arthur Widner Jr., editor of the Strangers Club’s Fanfare, is plugging the word “fanzines” to take the place of the Philadelphian’s “fanag” and the usual “fanmag”.’ (Futurian War Digest 6, March 1941)
70 Years Ago: ‘We’ve seen some curious misprints in bookseller Unger's ads in ASF, but Settee Ship by “Stewart Asimov” is something to treasure!’ (Science Fantasy News 7, March 1951)
40 Years Ago, in the rarely seen Ansible hobby news department: ‘A Dome Of Many-Coloured Glass may be Bob Shaw’s next big project, since: “I have taken up stained glass work recently as a hobby, and have just installed in my own home what is possibly the world’s first SF stained glass window. It is a 4ft by 3ft job, designed and manufactured by myself, showing a sort of futuristic city with a giant moon rising behind it.”’ (Ansible 16, March 1981)

C.o.A. Literary Estate of Vonda N. McIntyre: Clarion West, P.O. Box 31264, Seattle, WA 98103-1264, USA. Her old .com domain was grabbed by a cybersquatter: please update your links to

Editorial. Coming soon to the free ebook library at Creative Random Harris, collecting some 174,000 words of frequently raucous and irresponsible fanwriting by Chuck Harris, active in the 1950s as a founding editor of Hyphen and again from 1984 until his death in 1999.
• Another distraction during lockdown: my own Don’t Try This at Home: Convention Reports – released in 2015 as a free ebook – now has a non-free paperback incarnation. See

Thog’s Masterclass. Tachycardia Dept. ‘His heart was pumping like a photon combustion chamber.’ (Margaret Weis and Don Perrin, The Knights of the Black Earth, 1995)
Neat Tricks. ‘The corners of his mouth turned down in a facial shrug.’ (David Lindsey, Spiral, 1986)
Space War Dept. ‘“Our Lady of Love grant that their Ak-Blastors be of equally antiquated model,’ he chortled. “Their vibrations are of too long and too slow wave-lengths to affect the modern Berulion metal of which we now build our fighting craft!”’ (Nictzin Dyalhis, ‘When the Green Star Waned’, Weird Tales, April 1925) [DW]
Android Question. ‘Do you oil him or does he work autonomously?’ (‘Lionel Roberts’, The Synthetic Ones, 1961)
A Dream of Fair Women. ‘... her lips looked like she’d bought them first and forgot to put them in the refrigerator while she shopped for the rest of her face.’ (George Alec Effinger, A Fire in the Sun, 1990) [BA]

Geeks’ Corner

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Late-Breaking. Johnny Briggs (1935-2021), UK Coronation Street actor with a rare genre appearance in the Wyndham-based Quest for Love (1971), died on 28 February aged 85. [SG]
Man-Tat Ng (1952-2021), Hong Kong actor in God of Gamblers (1989, plus sequels), Holy Weapon (1993), A Chinese Odyssey (1995, adapted from Journey to the West aka Monkey), Sixty Million Dollar Man (1995) and The Wandering Earth (2019), died on 27 February aged 69. [LPer]
• The Disney/Pixar Soul won a Golden Globe as best animated feature.

Virtual Meetings.
• 2 March 2021, from 7pm: Handheld Book Club. Free.
• 4 March 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.’
• 21 March 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.

Editorial II. Your editor has strenuously resisted the temptation to celebrate this very specially numbered issue by taking a break and merely putting up a fake 404 Error page.

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Bram Stoker Awards finalists
• BSFA Awards finalists
Locus 2020 Recommended Reading List

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 164, March 2001. Eyeballs in the Library. ‘She was spellbound. She took a few paces within, her amber eyes clambering up library steps, sliding along polished shelves housing neatly ranged books within a mellow wood gallery then down the stairs on the opposite side of the room.’ (Mary Brendan, The Silver Squire, 2001)
Dept of Anatomy. ‘I felt my molars reach for each other.’ (Kathy Reichs, Death du Jour, 1999) ‘Collapsing in her chair, she felt her buttocks slide into the hole.’ (Nancy Taylor Rosenberg, Interest of Justice, 1993)

Ansible® 404 © David Langford, 2021. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Richard Graeme Cameron, Ramsey Campbell, Avedon Carol, Paul Di Filippo, Janice Gelb, Bruce Gillespie, Steve Green, Steve Holland, Hyphen 6, Steve Jones, Garry Kilworth, Todd Mason, Andrey Meshavkin, Lloyd Penney, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Adam Roberts, Marcus Rowland, Joe Siclari, Lorna Toolis, Gordon Van Gelder, Don Webb, Andrew Wells, Martin Morse Wooster, and Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (BSFG), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 March 2021