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Ansible® 411, October 2021

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, identium, Ningis, obs, sequins, sprine, strakh or truffle skins.

Man-Size in Marble

Tom Cruise was the subject of an admiring Guardian profile, with a pen-portrait that presumably captures his science-fictional essence: ‘He is a wisp of stardust blowing across a barren nebula.’ (23 August) [PE]

Jim Henson’s former London home is now marked with a blue plaque for the ‘Creator of the Muppets’. (Guardian, 7 September) [AIP] Meanwhile Slate published an opinion piece splendidly titled ‘We Need a Muppet Version of Frankenstein’. (11 September) [RB] With Miss Piggy inevitably cast as Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley.

James McAvoy received ‘good advice for starring in projects like Dune from Farscape actress Claudia Black. “It was at the L.A. premiere of Children of Dune, and she said to me, that the thing with this shit, i.e. science fiction, is that you have to believe it more than you believe good writing. [...] Good writing, you can just do. It’s easier. But this stuff is hard, because it’s so bonkers....”’ (IndieWire, 28 September) [BT]

Graham Masterton has been honoured in Wroclaw as the latest of the city’s 600-odd bronze dwarf statues, showing him with a pointy hat and a copy of his horror novel The Manitou – a Polish bestseller. [HWA]

Nick Park was exceedingly pleased to unveil a new bronze bench/statue in Preston featuring his creations Wallace and Gromit in a scene from The Wrong Trousers. (Lancashire Post, 10 September; all UK media)

Ian Whates of NewCon Press couldn’t attend Fantasycon as a guest of honour in September, owing to ‘a medical condition requiring swift attention’ in the form of surgery. (23 September) Get well soon!


ONLINE. 8-10 Oct • Irish Discworld Convention, formerly Cork International Hotel, Cork. €30 reg; €40 with extras. See

15-17 Oct • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. £25 reg; £15 concessions. See

16 Oct • Bedford Who Charity Con (Doctor Who), The King’s House, Ampthill Road, Bedford. Details at

19-26 Oct • Sci-Fi London (film festival), Stratford Picturehouse, Stratford, London. See

SOLD OUT. 21-24 Oct • Celluloid Screams (horror film festival), Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. See tickets link at

21-31 Oct • Edinburgh Horror Festival: Banshee Labyrinth, Edinburgh Dungeon, Lauriston Castle. See

ONLINE. 22-24 Oct • The Ineffable Con 3 (Good Omens). Ticket price: what you will (for charity). See

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

29-31 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Pendulum Hotel, Manchester. £99 reg. More at

29-30 Oct • Frightfest (film), Cineworld, Leicester Square, London. Tickets at from 2 October.

HYBRID. 30 Oct • BristolCon, Hilton DoubleTree Hotel, Bristol. Now £30 reg; concessions £20 (£35/£25 at door). See

30 Oct • Hallowe’en Horrors (writing workshops), QUAD Centre, Derby. £32 reg. See

30-31 Oct • Surrey Steampunk Convivial, Epsom. Weekend pass £20 plus fee at

5-7 Nov • Armadacon 2021, Future Inns, Plymouth. £35 reg; £30 concessions. More at

HYBRID. 5-7 Nov • Corflu 38, Mercure Holland Hotel, Bristol. Now £60/$75 reg; virtual (Zoom) membership free via robjackson60 at gmail dot com. Hotel booking form etc at

CANCELLED. 11-14 Nov • Camp SFW, Vauxhall Holiday Park, Great Yarmouth. This event quietly vanished from, now listing only 21-24 April 2022 (sold out) and 10-13 November 2022.

26-28 Nov • UK Ghost Story Festival, QUAD Centre, Derby. £60 reg; for individual event tickets see

15-19 Dec • DisCon III (Worldcon), Washington DC, USA. Now $275 reg; YA $140; virtual $90; supp $50; other rates at

11-13 Feb 2022 • Sci-Fi Ball (media), Southampton. Tickets from £145 (£35 child) plus various more expensive options at

20-22 Aug 2022 • TitanCon, Hilton Hotel, Belfast. Guests of Honour Jeannette Ng, Robert Sawyer, Jodi Taylor. ‘Early bird’ membership £30; £35 from 1 January; £40 from 1 May. More at

16-19 Sep 2022 • Fantasycon 2022, Park Inn, Heathrow. £80 reg (BFS members £70) until the end of 2021. See

Rumblings. Eastercon 2023: ‘Conversation’ is a new bid chaired by Caroline Mullan, for an event with both physical and virtual elements.

Infinitely Improbable

As Others Reassure Us about the Foundation tv series: ‘As the Nobel Prize winning economist Paul Krugman writes in his introduction to the Folio Society’s edition of the original Foundation trilogy, Isaac Asimov’s great saga is “not exactly science fiction ... [the] novels are about people, not gadgets”.’ (Tortoise Media culture digest, September) [CM]

Awards. Booker Prize shortlist: of genre interest is Bewilderment by Richard Powers. [L]
Clarke: The Animals in That Country by Laura Jean McKay.
Dwarf Stars (poem 1-10 lines): ‘Yes, Antimatter Is Real’ by Holly Lyn Walrath (Analog 9/20). [L]
Otherwise (was the Tiptree Award): “Ife-Iyoku, the Tale of Imadeyunuagbon” by Ekpeki Oghenechovwe Donald (in Dominion: An Anthology of Speculative Fiction from Africa and the African Diaspora, 2020).
Women’s Prize for Fiction (not genre-specific; £30,000 awarded): Piranesi by Susanna Clarke.

The Weed of Crime. 4,996 genre comics, pulps and Big Little Books were stolen from the Robert M. Ervin Jr. Collection at Florida State University between 17 March 2020 and 20 February 2021 (New Antiquarian, 14 September). See for details and full list. [EO]

As Others Sternly Question Us. Interviewer: ‘Imaginative storytelling is sometimes portrayed as outmoded or even ethically suspect amid the rise of autofiction and concerns over cultural appropriation. Do you feel as if you’re defending its virtues?’ Anthony Doerr: ‘I don’t live in New York City; I live in Idaho, where many of us are readers and really bright people but just aren’t in that literary zeitgeist and so don’t deal with those anxieties.’ (Guardian, 18 September) [GD]

R.I.P. Douglas (Doug) Barbour (1940-2021), Canadian academic, poet and critic who wrote Worlds Out of Words: The SF Novels of Samuel R. Delany (1979) and coedited Tesseracts 2 (1987) with Phyllis Gotlieb, died on 21 September aged 81. [BRG] He reviewed for Algol, Foundation, NYRSF, Riverside Quarterly, SF Commentary, Vector and others.
Graham Garfield Barnard (1962-2021), Australian producer with credits for tv horror shows Anthology of Interest (2006-2017) and The Schlocky Horror Picture Show (2007-2019) – hosting the latter as Nigel Honeybone – died on 16 September aged 59. [MD]
Edward Barnes (1928-2021), head of BBC children’s tv 1978-1986, died on 7 September aged 92; relevant genre shows include Rentaghost (1976-1984) and The Chronicles of Narnia (1988-1990). [AIP]
William Beck (1937-2021) US special effects model-maker with credits from The Empire Strikes Back (1980) to The Phantom Menace (1999), died on 19 September aged 84. SJ
Fran Bennett (1937-2021), US actress in Quantum Leap (1991-1992) plus other genre tv series, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare (1994), Crazy as Hell (2002) and The Manor (2021), died on 12 September aged 84. [SJ]
Ben Best (1974-2021), US actor in Land of the Lost (2009) who scripted Your Highness (2011), died on 12 September aged 46.
Carol Carr (1938-2021), US fan (active from the early 1960s) and sf author whose work in both capacities appears in Carol Carr: The Collected Writings (2013), died on 1 September aged 82. [RL] She was married to Terry Carr until his death in 1987, and since 2000 to Robert Lichtman, to whom all sympathy.
Nino Castelnuovo (1936-2021), Italian actor in The Creatures (1966) and Star Odyssey (1979), died on 6 September aged 84. [SJ]
John Challis (1942-2021) UK actor in Where Has Poor Mickey Gone? (1964), Dracula (1974) and Doctor Who (‘The Seeds of Doom’ 1976), died on 19 September aged 79. [SJ]
Carlo Chendi (1933-2021), Italian cartoonist who created hundreds of authorized Disney-character stories for Arnoldo Mondadori Editore, died on 12 September aged 88. [PDF]
Don Collier (1928-2021), US actor in The Cellar (1988), died on 13 September aged 92. [SJ]
Michael Constantine (1927-2021), Greek-US actor in The Night that Panicked America (1975), Thinner (1996) and assorted genre tv series, died on 31 August aged 94. [LP]
Robert (Bob) Couttie, UK screenwriter for Future War (1992, in which he acted) and Doomsdayer (2000), died on 21 September aged 70. [StS]
J. Randolph Cox (1936-2021), Munsey Award-winning US expert on crime and dime-novel fiction whose Man of Magic and Mystery (1989) is a biblio-biography of Walter Gibson – creator of The Shadow – died on 14 September. [SL]
Stephen Critchlow (1967-2021), UK actor in The Infinite Worlds of H.G. Wells (2001) and Journey to the Centre of the Earth (2017) – plus voice work for videogames and Doctor Who/Torchwood audio dramas – died on 19 September aged 54. [SJ]
Tim Donnelly (1944-2021), US actor in The Death of Ocean View Park (1979) and Parts: The Clonus Horror (1979), died on 19 September aged 77. [LP]
Robert Fyfe (1931-2021), Scots actor in Cloud Atlas (2012) and Pride and Prejudice and Zombies (2016), died on 22 September aged 90. [PDF]
Willie Garson (1964-2021), US actor in Repossessed (1990), Mars Attacks! (1996), What Planet Are You From? (2000) and genre tv series including Supergirl (2019-2020), died on 21 September aged 57. [MR]
Judith Hanna, Australian fan in London since the early 1980s, whose fanzines included Shallow End with various others and Fuck the Tories and International Revolutionary Gardener with Joseph Nicholas – her husband since 1983 – died on 6 September. [JN] All sympathy to Joseph. Judith was an old friend.
Sondra James (1939-2021), US actress in Ice Age: Continental Drift (2012), Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017), Joker (2019) and others, died on 12 September aged 82. [SJ]
Anne Joliffe (1933-2021), Australian animator who worked on The Beatles (1965-1967), Yellow Submarine (1968) and Grendel Grendel Grendel (1981), died on 27 August aged 87. [MD]
Langdon Jones (1942-2021), UK author, editor and musician involved with the 1960s New Worlds, whose stories are collected as The Eye of the Lens (1972), died in late September. [MM] He edited the New Wave anthology The New S.F. (1969) and restored the misedited text of Mervyn Peake’s Titus Alone to definitive readability. Michael Moorcock adds: ‘One of the few people of whom it’s possible to write: Loved by all.’
Irma Kalish (1924-2021), US screenwriter and tv producer – one of the first women in the latter role – with credits for various genre series, Ghost of a Chance (1980) and I Dream of Jeannie ... Fifteen Years Later (1985), died on 3 September aged 96. [AIP]
Tommy Kirk (1941-2021), US actor in The Shaggy Dog (1959), The Absent Minded Professor (1961), Son of Flubber (1963), Mars Needs Women (1968) and others, died on 28 September aged 79. [LP]
Denise Lee (aka Denise Tyler), US author of ‘Sailing the Painted Ocean’ (1999) and co-editor of the seven-time semiprozine Hugo finalist Speculations, died in late September. [GVG]
Elizabeth McCann (1931-2021), US producer of many Broadway stage shows who won nine Tony awards – two for the long-running Dracula (1977) – died on 9 September aged 90. [AIP]
Norm MacDonald (1959-2021), Canadian actor in The Animal (2001), The Adventures of Panda Warrior (voice, 2012), Skylanders Academy (voice, 2016-2018), The Orville (2017-2019) and others, died on 14 September aged 61.
Catherine MacPhail (1946-2021), Scots author of children’s/YA fiction including supernatural and fantasy tales such as Dark Waters (2003) and Another Me (2003), died on 1 September aged 75. [PDF]
Ugo Malaguti (1945-2021), noted Italian sf author and editor of Galassia magazine whose novels appeared 1963-1970, died on 26 September aged 76. [PDF]
George Martin (1937-2021), Spanish-born US screenwriter and actor in Island of the Doomed (aka Maneater of Hydra, 1967) and the later ‘Three Supermen’ superhero films, died on 1 September aged 83. [SJ]
Art Metrano (1936-2021), US actor in History of the World: Part I (1981) and several genre tv series including the Marvel-based animation The Thing (voice, 1979), died on 8 September aged 84. [LP]
Michael Murrin (1938-2021), US academic scholar of allegory in epic, romance and fantasy – a ‘dracologist’ specializing in the dragon theme from Beowulf to Tolkien – died on 27 July aged 83. [SHS]
Peter Palmer (1931-2021), US actor in Li’l Abner (title role: Broadway 1956, film 1959), Deep Space (1988) and Edward Scissorhands (1990), died on 21 September aged 90. [PDF]
Morris Perry (1925-2021), UK actor in many genre tv series from City Beneath the Sea (1962) and Out of This World (1962) via Doctor Who (‘Colony in Space’ 1971) to The Dark Side of the Sun (1983), died on 19 September aged 96. [SJ]
Jay Sandrich (1932-2021), US producer/director – Get Smart (1965-1966), Captain Nice (1967), The Ghost & Mrs. Muir (1969-1970) – died on 22 September aged 89. [SJ]
Tony Selby (1938-2021), UK character actor in Ace of Wands (1970-1972), Doctor Who (‘Trial of a Time Lord’ 1986; ‘Dragonfire’ 1987) and Cockneys vs Zombies (2012), died on 5 September aged 83. [PDF]
Matthew Strachan (1970-2021), UK composer with film credits for Psychomanteum (2018) and Devil Witch Way (forthcoming 2022), died on 8 September aged 50. [SJ]
Bill Taylor (1944-2021), US visual effects expert, the co-founder of Illusion Arts (1983-2009), with many genre film credits from Dark Star (1974) via Blade Runner (1982) to The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor (2000), died on 28 August aged 77. [SJ]
Mikis Theodorakis (1925-2021), Greek composer with genre film credits for The Shadow of the Cat (1961) and The Day the Fish Came Out (1967), died on 2 September aged 96. [SJ]
Melvin Van Peebles (1932-2021), US director of Watermelon Man (1970) and actor in Last Action Hero (1993), died on 21 September aged 89. [MMW]
Joan Washington (1950-2021), Scots voice/dialogue coach with many genre credits from Greystoke: The Legend of Tarzan, Lord of the Apes (1984) via 102 Dalmatians (2000) to The Witches (2020), died on 1 September aged 71. [MMW]
Charlie Williams, US fan artist whose cartoons appeared in many fanzines including Challenger, File 770 and Mimosa, died on 3 September. [GHL]
Michael K. Williams (1966-2021), US actor in The Devil Goes Down (2013), The Purge: Anarchy (2014) and Lovecraft Country (2020), died on 6 September aged 54. [AIP]
Andy Yanchus (1944-2021), US colourist for hundreds of Marvel comics including Alpha Flight, Incredible Hulk, Doctor Strange and X-Men, died on 11 September aged 77. [PDF]
• See also the overflow section R.I.P. II in digital/online editions only.

The Weakest Link. Bradley Walsh: ‘Which of these famous people was born in the twentieth century? A: Orson Welles, B: Orville Wright, C: Oscar Wilde.’ Contestant: ‘I think Orville Wright might be something to do with Orville the Duck....’ (ITV, The Chase) [PE]

SF Encyclopedia Latest. The official parting from Gollancz (SFE hosts since the October 2011 online launch) came on 29 September, and is moving from Hachette’s web server to its own with, we hope, some improvements. Special thanks to the Dublin 2019 Worldcon for a generous, well-timed donation to the SFE in September.

As Others ... ‘Rep. Madison Cawthorn (R – North Carolina) tweeted “1984 is a great fiction novel to read but it seems like it is becoming the reality we are currently living under.”’ (The Week, 27 August) [MMW]

British Fantasy Awards. FANTASY NOVEL (Holdstock): The Once and Future Witches by Alix E. Harrow. HORROR NOVEL (Derleth): Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia. NOVELLA Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark. SHORT ‘Infinite Tea in the Demara Café’ by Ida Keogh (London Centric). COLLECTION The Watcher in the Woods by Charlotte Bond. ANTHOLOGY Dominion ed. Zelda Knight and Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki. INDEPENDENT PRESS Luna. NON-FICTION Women Make Horror ed. Alison Peirse. MAGAZINE Strange Horizons. ARTIST Daniele Serra. COMIC/GRAPHIC NOVEL Die Vol. 2: Split the Party by Kieron Gillen and Stephanie Hans. AUDIO The Magnus Archives. FILM/TV The Boys: ‘What I Know’. NEWCOMER (Bounds): Kathleen Jennings. SPECIAL (Wagner): Alasdair Stuart.

Fun in Milton Keynes! The UK ‘National Film and Sci-fi Museum’ has opened – adult tickets £12 from Knowing that miserable old Ansible would allow him only four lines, James Bacon wrote a long appreciation for File 770 (11 September).

Auction News. An 1818 first edition of Frankenstein (500 copies only) sold for $1,170,000 at Christie’s, breaking the world auction record for a printed text by a woman. (Guardian, 20 September) [AIP]

As Others Discover Us. From a review of AI 2041 by Dr Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan: ‘Together, Lee and Chen have invented a new genre: scientific fiction.’ (The Week, 1 October) [MMW]

Fanfundery. TAFF: the TransAtlantic Fan fund thanks FANAC (Florida Association for Nucleation And Conventions) for its $500 bounty rewarding the publication of John Coxon’s trip report Best. Trip. Ever.

Thog’s Masterclass. Neat Tricks. ‘Cascor’s brow congealed.’ (Matthew Hughes, ‘The Forlorn’, Sep/Oct 2021 F&SF) [SaS]
Mysteries of Female Anatomy. ‘There was no ring on her left hand, and the flatness of her breasts had already suggested that she was unmarried.’ (Edmund Crispin, The Moving Toyshop, 1946)
Lockdown Hair Redux. ‘U’len was a massive chunk of middle-aged woman, comfortably homely from the wart on the side of her nose that had three wiry black hairs projecting from it down to her preposterously battered toes ...’ (Joel Rosenberg, Not Exactly the Three Musketeers, 1999) [BA]
Now Wash Your Hands. ‘This rectum of the alien ship curved rightwards, aslosh with steaming cloacal fluids, banded with slowly pulsing purple peristaltic sinew.’ (Ian Watson, Warhammer 40,000: Space Marine, 1993) [BA]
Unfortunate Name for a House. ‘I’m going to find her if I have to shoot up Sperm like a fellah in a Wild West show.’ (Garnett Radcliffe, The Great Orme Terror, 1934) [ME]

Geeks’ Corner

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The Dead Past. 30 Years Ago, we had Hazel’s UFO Lessons: ‘A dictionary of modern Latin is in production at the Vatican, reports the Evening Standard (20 September) – full of vital everyday terms like coruscans discus per convexa caeli volans, or “flying saucer with flashing lights”....’ (Ansible 51, October 1991) Also, a note of doom was struck: ‘Once again we live amid Signs and Portents. Something is stirring in British fandom, something ancient and very terrible, dimly remembered only by those wrinkled fans in convention bars who swap their wheezy reminiscences of the bad old days. From its grave the age-old horror rises, no longer a mere phantasm of darkness but a tangible form revealed in leprous morning light, a ghastly revenant whose existence can no longer be denied. Yes ... we have another British worldcon bid which actually seems to be doing well. / Meanwhile, it’s been a long time since Ansible 50 [August 1987]. This “second series” of cheapo one-pagers will no doubt contain many a news snippet as exciting and novel as the previous sentence. The reader is warned.’ (Ansible 51, October 1991)

Virtual Meetings.
• 17 October 2021 (every 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.
• 21 October 2021, evening: the virtual London meeting is now on the third Thursday. ‘Please share this with people who you know typically come to the Bishop’s Finger, but aren’t on Facebook.’
• 23 October 2021, 7pm London time: Zoom session on UK fan history with Keith Freeman and Rob Hansen.

The Weakest Link II. A Jeopardy round on Children’s Literature featured the answer ‘A 2000 Library of Congress exhibit called this 1900 work “America’s greatest and best-loved homegrown fairytale.”’ – expecting the question ‘What is The Wizard of Oz?’ The contestant opted for Shrek. (30 September) [AIP]

Editorial. The hotly contested Ansible no-prize for September goes to Pete Young for reporting that the masthead of the incredibly rare print edition said Ansible 409 rather than 410. Fortunately I’d spotted this before doing the various online versions....
• Another update to that issue: the Handheld Press writing retreat (Malvern, 1-4 November) has since been cancelled owing to lack of interest.

R.I.P. II. Luis Gaspar, Spanish actor better known for Westerns than for The Werewolf versus the Vampire Woman (1971), Dr. Jekyll vs. the Werewolf (1972) and The Mummy’s Revenge (1975), died on 21 September. [SJ]
Anna Gaylor (1932-2021), French actress in Shock Treatment (1973), Frankenstein 90 (1984) and Les visiteurs (1993), died on 21 September aged 89. [SJ]
Jean Hale (1938-2021), US actress in In Like Flint (1967) and genre tv series including Batman (1967), died on 3 August aged 82. [SJ]
Al Harrington (1935-2021), Samoan actor in Escape from Atlantis (1997) and DreamKeeper (2003), died on 21 September aged 85. [SJ]
Basil Hoffman (1938-2021), US actor in Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) and Communion (1989), died on 17 September aged 83. [LP]
Reuben Klamer (1922-2021), US game/toy designer who created the phaser rifle for the original Star Trek series, died on 14 September aged 99. [SJ]

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• RIP Judith Hanna
• Richard Glyn Jones remembers Langdon Jones
SF² Concatenation Autumn 2021 Newscast
• Sidewise Awards: 2019 and 2020 shortlists
• ‘We Need a Muppet Version of Frankenstein

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 171, October 2001. ‘His mossy, crimson eyebrows threatened to leap off his face and attack at any moment.’ (Jayme Lynne Blaschke, 'The Dust', 1998)
• ‘With one last crushing gesture he crammed his fist to his ears and dropped dead.’ ‘A rabbit thumped and ran in Timothy's chest.’ ‘“Like ghosts?” “Which use people’s ears to look out their eyes!”’ (all Ray Bradbury, From the Dust Returned, 2001)
• ‘Philip retreated into the insect personality, growing almost silent except for his constant cries for help ...’ (Robert I. Katz, Edward Maret, 2001)
• 'The last chance to stop the operation had passed by. The die was now cast, if not yet thrown.' (Tom Clancy, Debt of Honor, 1994)

Ansible® 411 © David Langford, 2021. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Ruth Berman, Gary Dalkin, Paul Di Filippo, Martin Dunne, Martin Edwards, File 770, Bruce Gillespie, Horror Writers Association, Steve Jones, Steve Lewis, Robert Lichtman, Guy H. Lillian, Locus, Michael Moorcock, Caroline Mullan, Joseph Nicholas, Erica Obey, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Marcus Rowland, Steven H Silver, Sally Smith, Steven Smith, Bryan Talbot, Gordon Van Gelder, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 October 2021