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Ansible® 409, August 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, the pointless sea, or any lugubrious lake there was.

The Frivolous Cake

Frank Darabont, who developed the AMC cable tv series The Walking Dead (2010-current) and was its executive producer until fired as a budget-cutting exercise in July 2011, has now – along with his agents Creative Artists Agency – settled the ensuing lawsuit for $200m plus future royalties to be paid by AMC. (, 16 July) [F770]

Mary Robinette Kowal, a day after finishing her term as SFWA president, became the new chair of DisCon III (Worldcon 2021).

Christopher Priest broods on the passing of time, in particular the eight months between sending his usual publisher a new novel and the arrival of a contract; not to mention the further fifteen months before the book will appear. ‘Advice to aspiring novelists: live long.’ (Blog, 24 June)

John Scalzi was unmoved by hints of plagiarism from the lesser-known author Jason Cordova, an alleged smoking gun being that Scalzi’s latest novel and one published by Cordova in 2015 both have the totally unprecedented word ‘Kaiju’ in the title: ‘If you’re an author who wishes to imply I stole some book ideas from you, please be assured and comforted that I only steal book ideas from hugely popular authors with a proven track record of sales. Steal up, never down is my sacred motto. Your ideas are safe from me, friend.’ (Twitter, 15 July)

Jodie Whittaker and the showrunner Chris Chibnall will both step down from their Doctor Who roles in Autumn 2022. (BBC, 29 July)


Until 3 Jan • Fantastic Beasts: The Wonder of Nature (exhibition), Natural History Museum, London. Extended dates. £22. See

ONLINE. 5 Aug • Virtual First Thursday, 6-10pm, instead of the Bishop’s Finger London pub meeting. See The pub has however booked physical meetings for 2 September, 7 October, 4 November, 2 December and (the usual additional Christmas meeting) 16 December. [RR] Updates may follow at

CANCELLED. 6-9 Aug • Continuum (RPG), John Foster Hall, Manor Road, Leicester University, Oadby. ‘Insufficient enthusiasm’ for a virtual 2021 event; the next will be in 2022. See

CANCELLED. 20-22 Aug • Reunicon (celebrating ConFiction 1990), The Hague. To be replaced by a get-together party at Glasgow in 2024 if that bid wins, or at some other convention. See

HYBRID? 20 Aug • TitanCon, Hilton Hotel, Belfast. Perhaps a free limited-numbers ‘moot’ with readings broadcast online; see

HYBRID. 26-30 Aug • Frightfest (film), Cineworld, Leicester Square, London. Tickets from

28-29 August 2021 • EM-Con (media), Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham. Tickets £30, or £40 early entry; other rates at

29-30 Aug • Stars of Time (media), Tropicana, Weston-super-Mare. 10am-5pm. £8.50; under-12s, OAP and disabled £4.50; under-4s free. Family of 2+2 kids £20; 2+3 kids £22. See

HYBRID. 2-5 Sep • Oxonmoot (Tolkien Society). £95 reg; £45 online; members £10 less:

4 Sep • Whooverville 12 (Doctor Who), QUAD Centre, Derby, DE1 3AS. Tickets £50; concessions £33; under-12s £10; online booking at

23 Oct • TR25 ‘celebrating 25 years of Tomb Raider’, QUAD Centre, Derby. From 11 am. Tickets £25. See

8-11 June 2023 • Konflikt (Eurocon), Uppsala, Sweden. €60 or 600 SEK reg; accompanied under-12s free. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. Nostalgia for the Tupperware Age of SF in a 75th-anniversary catalogue: ‘A Look Back at the Year 1946: Each day, a fantasy from the pages of science fiction became a reality – some trivial, some astonishing. Tupperware and bikinis! Microwave ovens and electric blankets!’ (Vermont Country Store catalogue, Volume 75, #16) [PL]

Awards. Bisexual Book (sf category): The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab.
Branford Boase (debut children’s novel): Orphans of the Tide by Struan Murray; shared with his editor at Puffin, Ben Horslen. [L]
ESFS Awards European Grandmaster: Maurizio Manzieri (Italy). For other categories see
Kitschies: NOVEL Piranesi by Susanna Clarke. DEBUT The Space Between Worlds by Micaiah Johnson. COVER Allison Saltzman (des) and Dexter Maurer (illus) for The Arrest by Jonathan Lethem.
Prometheus (libertarian): The War Whisperer, Book 5: The Hook by Barry B. Longyear. HALL OF FAME ‘Lipidleggin’ by F. Paul Wilson (1978 Asimov’s); Rudyard Kipling’s ‘As Easy as A.B.C.’ has now been shortlisted sixteen times running without a win.
Rhysling (sf poetry): LONG ‘Eleven Exhibits in a Better Natural History Museum, London’ by Jenny Blackford (14/9/20 Strange Horizons). SHORT ‘Summer Time(lessness)’ by Linda D. Addison (Star*Line 43.4). [L]
Seiun (Japan) best translated novel: The Dark Forest by Cixin Liu.
World Fantasy: LIFE ACHIEVEMENT Megan Lindholm, Howard Waldrop. NOVEL SHORTLIST Piranesi by Susanna Clarke; Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson; The Only Good Indians by Stephen Graham Jones; Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia; The Midnight Bargain by C.L. Polk. Full listing at

As Others Invoke Us. ‘I am intrigued by Carrie Johnson’s choice of clothes; a mixture of Stepford wife and human sacrifice. She did recently don a blue trouser suit, but she rather resembled one of the victims of Carousel in Logan’s Run.’ (Petronella Wyatt, ‘The Prince Harryfication of Boris Johnson’, The Spectator, 10 July) [DA]

R.I.P. Rick Aiello (1955-2021), US actor in Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me (1992), died on 26 July aged 65. [LP]
Paul Alexander (1937-2021), US artist who painted many sf covers for Ace, Baen and other New York publishers from 1977 to the late 1990s, died on 14 June aged 83. [L]
Sid Altus (1949-2021), US fan and publisher who with Alex Berman founded the small Phantasia Press (active 1978-1989), died on 13 July aged 71. [PDF]
C. Dean Andersson, US horror and fantasy author active since 1981 – also writing as Asa Drake – died on 5 July. [F770]
Pilar Bardem (1939-2021), Spanish actress in Exorcism’s Daughter (1971), The Mummy’s Revenge (1975), Lilly the Witch: The Journey to Mandolan (2011) and others, died on 17 July aged 82. [SJ]
Rick Boatright (1955-2021), US author who contributed to the ‘1632/Assiti Shards’ sf shared world with several short pieces and 1636: The Chronicles of Dr. Gribbleflotz (2016 with Kerryn Offord), died on 22 July aged 66. [EF]
Raffaella Carrà (1943-2021), Italian singer, dancer and actress in such films as Atlas Against the Cyclops (1961) and Mole Men Against the Son of Hercules (1961), died on 5 July aged 78. [AIP]
Judi Beth Castro, US contributor to the spoof novel Atlanta Nights (2005) and collaborator on short fiction with her husband Adam-Troy Castro – to whom all sympathy – died on 15 July aged 58. [A-TC]
John Cornell (1941-2021), Australian producer/director best known for Crocodile Dundee, whose genre film was Almost an Angel (1990), died on 23 July aged 80. [GC]
Roger Cudney (1936-2021), US actor whose many films include Computercide (1981), Deathstalker and the Warriors from Hell (1988), Total Recall (1990) and Soul Walker (2012), died on 5 July aged 85. [SJ]
Mike Don, UK fan and book dealer who was in the collective that ran the radical Manchester bookshop Grass Roots from 1974 and launched his own mail-order sf business as Dreamberry Wine in 1982, has died aged 77 (Guardian, 4 July). [MS]
Richard Donner (1930-2021), US director/producer whose films include The Omen (1976), Superman (1978, plus uncredited work on Superman II before being replaced as director), Ladyhawke (1985), Scrooged (1988) and Timeline (2003), died on 5 July aged 91. [LP]
Robert Downey Sr. (1936-2021), US director of Greaser’s Palace (1972, which he also wrote) plus 3 Twilight Zone segments (1985-1986), and actor in From Other Worlds (2004), died on 7 July aged 85. [LP]
David Dukas (1970-2021), South African actor in Merlin: The Return (2000), Blood of Beasts (2005), District 9 (2009) and Bloodshot (2020), died on 29 July aged 51. [SJ]
Anthony Kevin ‘Tony’ Ellis_(1959-2021), Australian fan, died on 19 July aged 62. [MD]
Kate Ferguson, Australian actress in Spaced Out (1979, aka Outer Touch), died on 2 July aged 66. [SJ]
Bryn Fortey (1937-2021), long-time Welsh fan (fanzines included Relativity 1967-1977 and various one-shots), sf/fantasy/horror author and poet with many professional sales since 1971 – his latest collection is Compromising the Truth (2018) – died on 21 July aged 83. [AH]
Sally Miller Gearhart (1931-2021), US academic and gay/lesbian rights campaigner who wrote The Wanderground (1980) and other strongly feminist sf, died on 14 July aged 90. [EJ]
Leon Greene (1931-2021), UK actor in The Devil Rides Out (1968), The Thief of Baghdad (1978) and Flash Gordon (1980), died on 19 June aged 89. [AIP]
Fernand Guiot (1932-2021), Belgian-born French actor in Nemo (1970) and others, died on 26 June aged 88. [SJ]
Stephen Hickman (1949-2021), US artist and sculptor who painted hundreds of sf/fantasy covers – winning the first Jack Gaughan Award, a 1994 Hugo for his US Postal Service Space Fantasy commemorative stamp booklet, and six Chesley Awards including the life achievement honour for 2000 – died on 16 July aged 72. [RM]
Dusty Hill (1949-2021), US ZZ Top bassist with soundtrack credits for Armageddon (1998) and Ghost Rider (2007) plus a cameo in Back to the Future III (1990), died on 28 July aged 72. [LP]
Andrew (Andy) Hopkinson (1966-2021), UK artist and cover designer for the Doctor Who-related Faction Paradox and Kaldor City audio CDs, died on 7 July aged 55. [AS]
Paul Huntley (1933-2021), UK wigmaker and hair designer for The Exorcist III (1991), The Addams Family (1991), 101 Dalmatians (1996), The Cell (2000) and others, died on 9 July aged 88. [SJ]
Larry Don Johnson (1944-2021), US actor in Sugar Hill (1974) and Street Tales of Terror (2004), died on 26 June aged 77. [SJ]
Patricia Kennealy-Morrison (1946-2021), US author and rock critic whose ‘Keltiad’ sequence of Arthurian space operas began with The Copper Crown (1984), died on 23 July aged 75. [LW]
Milan Lasica (1940-2021), Slovakian director and actor in The False Prince (1985), Frankenstein's Aunt (1987), Freckled Max and the Spooks (1987) and others, died on 18 July aged 81. [SJ]
Joe McKinney (1968-2021), US author in various genres including sf and the supernatural, whose Dog Days (2013) won a YA Bram Stoker Award, died on 13 July aged 52.
Biz Markie (1964-2021), US rapper and actor in The Meteor Man (1993), Men in Black II (2002), Sharknado 2 (2014) and others, died on 16 July aged 57. [LP]
Jackie Mason (1928-2021), US comic actor whose films include Sleeper (1973) and History of the World: Part I (1981), died on 24 July aged 93. [LP]
Ed Meskys (1936-2021), long-time US fan since 1955 whose fanzine Niekas ran from 1962 to the 2000s and won a 1967 Hugo shared with the then coeditor Felice Rolfe, died on 25 July aged 85. [FL] Ed was a founder of international Tolkien fandom, editor of several related zines, President of the Tolkien Society of America 1967-1972, and one of the original rotating editors of Locus. He is survived by his wife Sandy, to whom much sympathy.
Mike Mitchell, Scots actor and stuntman in The Planet (2006), Apocalypse Z (2013), Legend of the Red Reaper (2013), Dragon Kingdom (2018) and others, died on 23 July aged 65. [SJ]
Jane Morpeth, UK publisher with Headline since 1986 (as managing director 2009-2016, then group chair) whose authors included Neil Gaiman, Deborah Harkness, Dean Koontz and James Patterson, died on 17 July aged 61. [JF]
William F. Nolan (1928-2021), US author active in fandom in the early 1950s and professionally since 1954 – publishing his first collection Impact-20 in 1963 and being best known for Logan’s Run (1954 with George Clayton Johnson) and its sequels plus film and tv adaptations – died on 15 July aged 93. [F770] For his long career he was honoured with the International Horror Guild Living Legend Award (2001), made SFWA Author Emeritus in 2006, and given Bram Stoker Awards for life achievement in 2010 and as Grandmaster in 2014.
Clare Peploe (1941-2021), British East Africa-born director of Rough Magic (1995) – which she also co-wrote – died on 24 June aged 79. [SJ]
Kumar Ramsay (1936-2021), Indian Bollywood screenwriter whose supernatural horror films include Aur Kaun? (1979), 3D Saamri (1985) and Dak Bangla (1987), died on 8 July aged 85. [PDF]
Charles Robinson (1945-2021), US actor in Sugar Hill (1974), Project: ALF (1996), Heaven Sent (2015) and others, died on 11 July aged 75. [SJ]
Robson Rocha, DC Comics artist who worked on Aquaman, Justice League and various New 52 titles, died on 11 July aged 41. [PDF]
William Smith (1933-2021), US actor with many genre credits from Atlantis: The Lost Continent (1961) via Invasion of the Bee Girls (1973), Red Dawn (1984) and Manosaurus (1994) to Island of Witches (2014), died on 5 July aged 88. [LP]
Anne Stallybrass (1938-2021), UK actress in Countess Dracula (1971) and Knights of God (1987), died on 3 July aged 82. [SJ]
Kartal Tibet (1938-2021), Turkish actor/director who played the titular barbarian hero in Tarkan (1969) and its sequels, with director credits including Turks in Space (2006), died on 2 July aged 83. [SJ]
Bill Tortolini (1974-2021), US comics designer and letterer for multiple publishers and genre series, including The Wheel of Time, died in mid-July aged 46. [PDF]
Nikki Van der Zyl (1935-2021), German actress who provided uncredited voice dubs for ‘Bond girls’ and others from Dr No (1962) to Moonraker (1979) – likewise for Ursula Andress in She (1965) and Raquel Welch in One Million Years B.C. (1966) – died on 6 March aged 85. [HB]
Chick Vennera (1947-2021), US actor with voice credits for videogames and animated series including Animaniacs (1993-1998) and The Real Adventures of Jonny Quest (1996-1997), died on 7 July aged 74. [MMW]
Henri Vernes (Charles-Henri-Jean Dewisme, 1918-2021), Belgian author of the ‘Bob Morane’ pulp adventures – 200+ volumes since La Vallée Infernale (1953), many of them sf, with a regular supervillain modelled on Fu Manchu – died on 25 July aged 102. [SJ]
David Von Ancken (1964-2021), US director/producer whose tv credits include Salem (2014-2017), Ghost Wars (2017-2018), The InBetween (2019) and The Order (2019-2020), died on 26 July aged 56. [SJ]

The Weakest Link. Q: ‘Famous for carrying a weaponized umbrella and wearing a tuxedo ...?’ A: ‘Mary Poppins.’ (ITV, Tipping Point) [PE]

As Others Detect Our Tinge. ‘Scott’s son would sneak onto the neighboring set of Captain Video and His Video Rangers, a child-pleasing mishmash of live-broadcast story lines about the titular hero fighting vaguely for justice in a sci fi-tinged interplanetary future with robots, spaceships, and other futuristic contraptions.’ (Jennifer Keishin Armstrong, When Women Invented Television: The Untold Story of the Female Powerhouses Who Pioneered the Way We Watch Today, 2021) [PL]

Court Circular. The SF Encyclopedia received a terrifying legalistic warning from an author who had better remain anonymous: ‘Concerning, / This documentation is being provided unto your entity so that you might become more fully aware of some of the words that are in use within some of my Intellectual Properties, Title 17 Contents and existing Copyright materials. This documentation is being provided to several different sources to better ensure that said words are linked to my work(s) in some way other than within them.’ Attached was a list of lumpish fantasy neologisms which neither Ansible nor the SFE dares to quote for fear that the Astral Leauge will TAKE MEASURES.

The Dead Past. 80 Years Ago, the British Interplanetary Society archive was rescued: ‘A salvage squad led by B.I.S. treasurer Ego (Arthur Clarke) recently retrieved valuable (& probably incriminating) B.I.S. documents from their resting place on the floor of Bill Temple’s Wembley house, which was slightly damaged by air-raids last Autumn. The documents, which were found mixed up with fallen ceiling, had been there ever since.’ (Futurian War Digest 11, August 1941)
40 Years Ago: ‘The Winifred Jackson Memorial Perpetual Challenge Cup For The Best Front Flower Garden was presented at the annual Horticultural Show in Moreton Pinkney to a proud but humble Ian Watson.’ Also, in a context now forgotten: ‘World Fantasy Con denies censorship, explaining that their phrase “we will not have any unicorns in the artshow” doesn’t mean they won’t have any unicorns in the artshow.’ (Ansible 20, August 1981)

Fanfundery. Still more free ebooks at the TAFF site: American Trips by Rob Hansen in lighter mood, for the first time collecting his post-TAFF US convention reports –; and a new collection of Walt Willis’s shorter fan fiction, Willis Discovers America and other fan

Olympics Death Race. ‘...the first of four gold medal races in the rowing with the men’s and women’s quadruple skulls’ (i, 24 July)

Booker Prize Longlist. Items of particular genre interest are Klara and the Sun by Kazuo Ishiguro, Bewilderment by Richard Powers and Light Perpetual by Francis Spufford. (File 770, 28 July)

Thog’s Masterclass. Radiophonic Workshop Dept. ‘The gun made a sound like a flying saucer with hemorrhoids ...’ (Herb Boehm [John Varley], ‘Air Raid’, 1977) [BA]
The Padishah Emperor’s New Clothes. ‘The waitstaff wear long angular uniforms in slightly offset House Corrino colors, ever-present but out of the sight of guests.’ (Dune: Adventures in the Imperium – The Roleplaying Game, 2021) [AK]
Dept of Phase Change. ‘His eyes boiled out of his head and turned to liquid.’ (John Jakes, Witch of the Dark Gate, 1972) [BA]
Future Geography Dept. ‘As of seven this morning, the nation of Equity has been granted diplomatic recognition by fourteen countries, including Switzerland, Israel, Quebec, Zimbabwe, Rhodesia, Beninia, and West Germany.’ (Spider Robinson, Night of Power, 1985) [CH]
Alien Dietary Secrets, or The Missing Mass Problem. ‘It eats its own body, even though this causes it to regenerate – and even worse, grow additional limbs – so that it becomes larger than it was before. It eats more of itself – and again grows larger.’ (Charles Platt, Plasm, copyright © Piers Anthony Jacob, 1987) [BA]

Geeks’ Corner

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Guest Tribute. Greg Pickersgill remembers: ‘Science fiction fan. Joins the BSFA in 1966. Goes to the 1967 Eastercon in Bristol. On returning home starts thinking about a fanzine, Relativity, inspired by seeing the Emshwiller film at the convention. Writes for many other fanzines, often short fiction, occasionally poetry, lots of letters. Joins in generally. Several other fanzines including more Relativitys, usually oneshots, over the years – Chopping Block, Action Replay, Supercrud ’69. Occasional convention-goer (lack of time and money). Keeps writing fiction, several stories professionally published in original anthologies. Things happen, has to disappear from fandom for several years in the 1980s/90s. Is rediscovered, having made a bit of a name for himself in the amateur poetry world. Retired now, keeps writing when not looking after family and doing part-time jobs; more stories published, more poetry chapbooks issued. Two small-press collections of fiction. Some of this stuff very good indeed – “Shrewhampton North-East” is an excellent short story, poem “Honky Tonk” a small wonder. Remains a jazz and blues fan, loves to talk writing and writers, always open to new sounds and words. Things go downhill with successive life-threatening ailments, but despite real family tragedy he is happy to be alive and still writing, the most important thing, even though reading has become a problem due to a stroke; even if no-one else likes it, he says, I do it because I must. I met Bryn as an sf fan in 1968, and we really “knew” each other from the start, even though he was fifteen years older and actually wiser. There were occasional long periods when real life intervened and we lost contact, but whenever it was regained it was like no time or space had passed. Whenever we spoke on the phone I told him I thought about him almost daily, and he’d laugh and say he got it, sometimes you just don’t have to be in the same room to be with someone. Amazingly cheerful and kind, despite it all. Loved his cats, his dog, his family. A right guy. A right guy.
     ‘Bryn Fortey, 1937-2021. My oldest friend. Now and forever.’

Virtual Meetings.
• 5 August 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.’
• 15 August 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.

Random Fandom. The Birmingham SF Group has cautiously postponed its plan to resume in-person meetings in September. (11 July)

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• British Fantasy Awards shortlists
• ESFS Awards at Eurocon 2021
• Sturgeon Award shortlist
• World Fantasy Awards shortlists

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 169, August 2001.
• ‘Then, mercifully, blackness descended. He was brought out of it when he landed hard on a hard surface on his hands and knees, with which every orifice in his body seemed to explode.’ (Sam Merwin Jr, The Time Shifters, 1971)
Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘The woman took her eyes from him languorously and placed them, in a delicate fashion, on Mosely.’ (Jane Jensen, Sins of the Fathers, 1997)
• ‘“Er ... hi,” Marty managed, winching his eyes like injured climbers around the dangerous overhang of her torso and up to the relative safety of her face.' (James Flint, ‘Network Network’, The New English Library Book of Internet Stories ed Maxim Jakubowski, 2000)

Ansible® 409 © David Langford, 2021. Thanks to Dev Agarwal, Brian Ameringen, Hamish Bruce, Adam-Troy Castro, Gary Couzens, Paul Di Filippo, Martin Dunne, File 770, Jo Fletcher, Eric Flint, Alun Harries, Chip Hitchcock, Edward James, Private Eye, Steve Jones, Amanda Kear, Fred Lerner, Locus, Pamela Love, Ron Miller, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Roger Robinson, Mark Slater, Alan Stevens, Liz Williams, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). Still remembering Martin Hoare, who died on 26 July 2019. 30 July 2021