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Ansible® 413, December 2021

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Sue Mason. Available for SAE or the weird mythos writings of Ralph Wollstonecraft Hedge.

The Straggler from the Moon Pit

David Drake announced his retirement from novel-writing, owing to health and concentration problems, in his digital Newsletter #123 – the last one (17 November). Some better news from the same bulletin is that ‘I’m still able to write stories and I think they’re pretty good.’

Neil Gaiman was a guest on Desert Island Discs (BBC Radio 4, November) and must have been the first ever to choose as his castaway reading matter The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe. [MJE]

Mercedes Lackey is to be the 38th recipient of the SFWA Damon Knight Memorial Grand Master award, presented with the 2022 Nebulas.

Ursula K. Le Guin’s 1972 novella The Word for World Is Forest is referenced and homaged as the title of a current Glasgow exhibition with more of a climate-change than an sf theme: see events list below. [JD]


Until 11 Dec • The Word for World Is Forest (exhibition), CCA, 350 Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow, G2 3JD. 11am-6pm. Free. See

Until 20 Feb 2022 • Ray Harryhausen: Titan of Cinema (exhibition), Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art , Edinburgh. 10am-5pm. £12-£14; £10-£12 concessions and children. Full details at

3-5 Dec • Steampunk Christmas, Nothe Fort, Weymouth. £6 Fri, £12 Fri+Sat, Sun free. See

4 Dec • Dragonmeet (gaming), Novotel Hammersmith, London. 9am-11pm. £12; child £5. Group rates at

POSTPONED TO 2022. 4-5 Dec • For the Love of Sci-Fi (media), BEC Arena, Stretford, Manchester. New dates TBA at

HYBRID. 4 Dec • Tolkien Society Yulemoot, Bacchus Bar, Birmingham, and online. Free? See

15-19 Dec • DisCon III (Worldcon), Washington DC, USA. $275 reg; first-time Worldcon members $220; YA $140; virtual $90; supp $50; child and other rates at Hugo voting closed in November.

16 Dec • London Xmas Meeting (additional to First Thursdays), The Bishop’s Finger, 9-10 West Smithfield, EC1A 9JR. All evening.

10-12 Mar 2022 • Frightfest (film), GFT, Glasgow. Tickets at from ‘early January’.

9-10 Apr 2022 • Sci-Fi Scarborough (multimedia), The Spa, Scarborough. Tickets not yet available. See

5-8 Aug 2022 • Continuum (RPG), John Foster Hall, Manor Road, Leicester University, Oadby. More soon at

30 Sep-1 Oct 2022 • Destination Star Trek, ExCel, London. Day tickets £29; 2 days £44; 3 days £54; more at

14-16 Oct 2022 • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. Ticket bookings awaited at

22-23 Oct 2022 • Surrey Steampunk Convivial, Stoneleigh, Epsom. See

28-29 Oct 2022 • 15th Starfleet/Klingon Banquet, Peterborough Marriott Hotel. £65 reg; £45 Saturday only; 10% discount if booked before 1 January. See

11-13 Nov 2022 • Novacon 51, venue TBC. GoH Gareth L. Powell. £51 reg; under-17s £12; under-13s free. More awaited at

Rumblings. Dead by Dawn, the Edinburgh horror film festival, will have no 2022 event.
Eurocon 2024: the bid for the first Dutch Eurocon (Rotterdam, August) is now Erasmuscon. See

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. Reviewing Neal Stephenson’s Termination Shock: ‘Stephenson may write science fiction, but his novels always feel timely and relevant.’ (Bethanne Patrick, Washington Post, 3 November) [MMW]

Awards. Ditmar (Australia) best novel: The Left-Handed Booksellers of London by Garth Nix. [CS]
Goldsmiths Prize (£10,000): Sterling Karat Gold by Isabel Waidner. [F770]
World Fantasy. NOVEL Trouble the Saints by Alaya Dawn Johnson. NOVELLA Riot Baby by Tochi Onyebuchi. SHORT ‘Glass Bottle Dancer’ by Celeste Rita Baker (Lightspeed). ANTHOLOGY The Big Book of Modern Fantasy ed. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. COLLECTION Where the Wild Ladies Are by Aoka Matsuda, trans Polly Barton. ARTIST Rovina Cai. SPECIAL – PROFESSIONAL C.C. Finlay for F&SF. SPECIAL – NON-PROFESSIONAL Brian Attebery for Journal of the Fantastic in the Arts.

As Others Compare Us. On a nonfiction pandemic tome by Matt Ridley and Alina Chan: ‘Much of Viral will leave most readers exhausted. In places the effect is rather like being seated at a wedding next to a distant relative breathlessly explaining the details of their Game of Thrones fan fiction.’ (Washington Post, 14 November) [MMW]

New Award. Faber announced sf prizes for YA novels or collections that ‘offer hope and spark’, with the top three entries winning £15,000, £8,000 and £5,000 contracts respectively. ‘The Imagined Futures Prize aims to spotlight the power and value of the natural world, and imagine the collective outcome the planet faces, at a time when science fiction remains popular in the market, boosted during the pandemic.’ Now open for submissions, closing on 9 September 2022. See (The Bookseller, 5 November) [JF]

Yo-Ho-Ho! In early November the news reached sf circles: the National Library of New Zealand is for space and cost reasons dumping over 428,000 books from its overseas holdings, and donating them to the Internet Archive to be digitized and made available online. For the very many works still in copyright, the permission of rights holders was taken for granted unless they actively opted out by emailing NLNZ with titles and unique ID numbers listed in a vast spreadsheet downloadable from The opt-out deadline was 1 December 2021, after which disgruntled authors would have to ask the Internet Archive to remove their works. [SL] In late November, though, NLNZ responded to much strong criticism by putting all these plans on hold for reconsideration. (, 29 November)

As Others Are Inspired. One wonders exactly which bits of the cited film shaped the ‘extravagant wedding of oil heiress’ Ivy Getty in San Francisco: ‘The designer’s inspiration for the first night of festivities was the 1968 sci-fi film Barbarella.’ (Washington Post, 10 November) [PL]

R.I.P. Peter Aykroyd (1955-2021), Canadian screenwriter and actor seen in Coneheads (1993) and Kids of the Round Table (1995), who co-created the sf drama series Psi Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1996-2000), died on 20 November aged 66. [AIP]
Bob Baker (1939-2021), UK writer of many 1970s Doctor Who serials with Dave Martin – including ‘The Invisible Enemy’ (1977), which introduced K9 – died in early November aged 82. He also co-wrote four Wallace & Gromit films from The Wrong Trousers (1993) to A Matter of Loaf and Death (2008). [SC]
Miquel Barceló (1948-2021), Spanish sf author, editor, critic and translator who ran the Ediciones B ‘Nova’ sf imprint from its launch in 1986, died on 22 November. His fanzine was the 1980-1984 Kadama. [PDF]
Bart the Bear II (2000-2021), Alaskan brown bear in Dr. Dolittle 2 (2001), Pete’s Dragon (2016) and a 2013 Game of Thrones episode, died on 14 November aged 21. [SJ]
Alexander Besher (1951-2020), China-born US author best known for the virtual-reality trilogy comprising Rim (1994), Mir (1998) and Chi (1999), died on 8 October 2020 aged 69. This seems not to have been reported in sf circles. [WM]
Jeremy G. Byrne (1964-2021), Australian fan and editor who co-edited Eidolon (1990-2000) and Year’s Best Australian Science Fiction and Fantasy (1997-1998), died on 24 November aged 57. [IN]
Linda Carlson (1945-2021), US actress in Honey, I Blew Up the Kid (1992), died on 26 October aged 76. [AIP]
Marietta Chudakova (1937-2021), Russian literary critic and author whose Inspector Kraft sf stories are collected in Mirnyie dosugi inspektora Krafta (2005; revised 2018), died on 21 November aged 84. [AM]
Mary Collinson (1952-2021), Maltese-UK model and actress in She’ll Follow You Anywhere (1971) and Twins of Evil (1971) – both with her identical twin Madeleine (1952-2014) – died on 23 November aged 69. [SG]
Joe Cornelius (1928-2021), UK wrestler and actor who played the titular apeman in Trog (1970), died on 30 October aged 93. [SJ]
Ian Curteis (1935-2021), UK director of The Projected Man (1966), died on 24 November aged 86. [SJ]
Lou Cutell (1930-2021), US actor in Frankenstein Meets the Spacemonster (1965), Rhinoceros (1974), Frankenstein General Hospital (1988), Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) and episodes of many genre tv series, died on 21 November aged 91. [AIP]
Arlene Dahl (1925-2021), US actress in Journey to the Center of the Earth (1959), died on 29 November aged 96. [LP]
Gene D’Angelo (1924-2021), US comics colorist at King Features and from 1977 at DC – working on Action Comics, Justice League, Superman, World’s Finest and others – died in early November aged 97. [PDF]
Jerry Douglas (1932-2021), US actor in The Stranger (1973), The Dead Don’t Die (1975) and episodes of various genre tv series, died on 9 November aged 88. [LP]
Bernie Drummond, UK videogame artist who created the 3D isometric Batman (1986) for the ZX Spectrum and Amstrad PCW, has reportedly died. (The Register, 17 November)
James (Jim) Fiscus (1944-2021), US author, photographer, SFWA worker (earning him the Kevin O’Donnell Jr. service award) and Endeavour Award administrator, died on 7 November aged 76. [F770]
David Gulpilil (1953-2021), Australian actor in The Last Wave (1977) and Until the End of the World (1991), died on 29 November aged 68. [AIP]
Victor (Vic) Hallett, UK fan (in BSFA Vector 1964-1972, coediting #48) and dealer as Books Unlimited in Prestatyn, North Wales, died on 28 April aged 79. [CP]
Geir Vegar Hoel (1973-2021), Norwegian actor in Dead Snow (2009, plus sequel which he co-wrote), Hansel & Gretel: Witch Hunters (2013), What Happened to Monday (2017) and Heirs of the Night (2019-2020), died on 8 November aged 47. [SJ]
Bernard Holley (1940-2021), UK actor in Doctor Who (‘The Tomb of the Cybermen’ 1967; ‘The Claws of Axos’ 1971) and The Tripods (1985), died on 22 November aged 80. [SS]
Geoffrey Johnson (1930-2021), US casting director whose film credits include The Swan Princess (1994), died on 26 November aged 91. [AIP]
Jyrki Kasvi (1964-2021), Finnish fan, Trekker and author whose fiction is collected in Porcelain and other Fantastic Stories (2021) died on 16 November aged 57. [J-HH]
Art LaFleur (1943-2021), US actor in Jekyll and Hyde... Together Again (1982), The Invisible Woman (1983), WarGames (1983), The Blob (1988), Field of Dreams (1989) and others, died on 17 November aged 78. [SJ]
Bjørn Olav Listog (1957-2021), Norwegian fan active since the late 1980s, died on 11 November aged 63. [J-HH]
William Lucking (1941-2021), US actor in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (1995-1997) and Slipstream (2007), died on 18 October aged 80. [LP]
Doug MacLeod (1959-2021), Australian screenwriter for Dogstar (2007-2011 plus 2016 film), died on November aged 62. [PDF]
Simon Marshall-Jones, UK author, editor and publisher who created Spectral Press (2011-2016), died on 9 November aged 58. His story collection is Biblia Longcrofta (2015). [SJ]
Joey Morgan (1993-2021), US actor in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), Critters: A New Binge (2019) and Max Reload and the Nether Blasters (2020), died on 21 November aged 28. [PDF]
Chance (Catherine M.) Morrison (1969-2021), US Clarion workshop graduate living in the UK who published several stories from 2003 and wrote for Strange Horizons, died on 25 September aged 52. [L/JC]
Gavan O’Herlihy (1951-2021), Irish actor in Superman III (1983), Willow (1988) and The Descent II (2009), died on 15 September aged 70 . [LP]
John Pearson (1930-2021), UK biographer of Ian Fleming (1966), James Bond (1973) and Biggles (1978), died on 13 November aged 91. [PDF]
Paolo Pietrangeli (1945-2021), Italian assistant director of Flesh for Frankenstein (1973) and Blood for Dracula (1974), died on 22 November aged 76. [SJ]
Al Pugliese (1946-2021), US actor in Annihilator (1986), Philadelphia Experiment II (1993) and various genre tv series, died on 24 July aged 74. [SHS]
Jonathan Reynolds (1942-2021), US playwright and screenwriter who scripted My Stepmother Is an Alien (1988), died on 27 October aged 79. [AIP]
Clifford Rose (1929-2021), UK RSC actor in Doctor Who: ‘Warriors’ Gate’ (1981) and Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), died on 6 November aged 92. [AIP]
Will Ryan (1949-2021), US voice actor and singer with many credits – mostly Disney – from Welcome to Pooh Corner (1983), An American Tail (1986), The Land Before Time (Universal 1988), The Little Mermaid (1990) and so on to 2021, died on 19 November aged 72. [AIP]
Wilbur Smith (1933-2021), South African historical novelist whose The Sunbird (1972) is a lost-race story and whose Ancient Egypt sequence opening with River God (1993) has fantasy elements throughout, died on 13 November aged 88. [PDF]
Stephen Sondheim (1930-2021), famed US composer/lyricist whose musicals include Evening Primrose (1966, from John Collier’s story), The Frogs (1974) and Into the Woods (1986), died on 26 November aged 91. [MS]
Dean Stockwell (1936-2021), US actor in The Boy with Green Hair (1948), Dune (1984), Quantum Leap (1989-1993), Battlestar Galactica (2006-2009) and others, died on 7 November aged 85. [JB]
Robert Thurston (1936-2021), US author who attended the first Clarion workshop in 1968 and whose sf novel debut was Alicia II (1978), died on 20 October aged 84. [FS] He published many Battlestar Galactica (first series) novelizations with Glen A. Larson, and several solo Battletech ties.
Marie Versini (1940-2021), French actress in The Brides of Fu Manchu (1966), died on 22 November aged 81. [SJ]
Peter Watson-Wood (1929-2021), UK producer whose films include Dream Demon (1988) and Tales of the Riverbank (2008), died on 1 November aged 92. [AIP]
Bergen Williams (1959-2021), US actress in Mom and Dad Save the World (1992), Wishman (1992), Lord of Illusions (1995) and others, died on 20 July aged 62. [AIP]
Henry Woolf (1930-2021), UK actor who played the sinister Collector in Doctor Who: ‘The Sun Makers’ (1977) and Dr Cornelius in two BBC Narnia adaptations (1989, 1990), died on 12 November aged 91. [SS] Films include The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975) and Superman III (1983).

The Weakest Link. Ben Shephard: ‘In his epic poems, Homer often refers to nectar as the drink of the gods, and which other substance as their food?’ Contestant: ‘I know he likes doughnuts. I think I’ll go with doughnuts please, Ben.’ (Tipping Point, ITV) [PE]

Court Circular. As anticipated in Ansible 410, the Tolkien estate disapproved of the ‘JRR Token’ cryptocurrency advertised with LOTR imagery, and asked the World Intellectual Property Organization to arbitrate. Result: the domain was ceded to the estate and the US cryptocoiner had to pay all legal costs. (Guardian, 23 November)

Ethnic Physiognomy Masterclass. ‘She was reminded that [he] was Chinese by the fact that his face, open so recently, had gone completely unreadable to Martha.’ ‘It was not an English smile, but a Chinese smile.’ ‘A smile crept across his lean features: not a Chinese smile, but a very English smile.’ ‘He threw back his head and laughed – a laugh neither English nor Chinese.’ ‘... he laughed as I think only the Chinese can laugh.’ (all R.A. MacAvoy, Tea with the Black Dragon, 1983) [FM]

Genre Avoidance Strategy. ‘Our key tool for remaining anchored to reality, and not drifting away into science fiction, is to spot the crucial distinction between form and function.’ (Arik Kersshenbaum, The Zoologist's Guide to the Galaxy, 2020) [KM]

I Read Battlefield Earth! 52% of those polled in a recent Radio Times survey confessed to lying about having watched tv programmes that they hadn’t seen – the most fibbed-about shows being Stranger Things and Game of Thrones. (, 14 November) [SF²C]

The Dead Past. 50 Years Ago, following his resignation from Ace Books, Donald A. Wollheim’s new venture was announced: ‘DAW Books will publish four titles per month, beginning in April 1972 – all science fiction or fantasy.’ (Luna Monthly 31, December 1971).

Diagram Prize. Strongly tipped to win this award for oddest book title of the year: Is Superman Circumcised? by Roy Schwartz, a study of the superhero’s Jewish origins – or rather, those of his creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. (Guardian, 5 November) [AIP]

As Others ... New York Times crossword clue, 31 October: ‘Fluent speaker of Elvish, say.’ The answer was ‘nerd’. [LM]
• More fan-friendly is ‘Scores a pair in answer to ultimate question (5-3)’. (i, 20 November)

Random Fandom. Sandra Bond’s name was pulled from the hat as egalitarianly chosen Fan Guest of Honour at Corflu (Bristol, November). She was also elected Past President of fwa (Fan Writers of America).

The Footballship of the Ring. ‘And if Tolkien were writing the script of football, he would most certainly have introduced oases of stability amid the mayhem – places such as Rivendell, Lothlorien and the Grey Havens – domains where people are (as much as this is possible in football) at peace with each other. Jurgen Klopp is, in this sense, the Elrond of Merseyside, one of the custodians of the three elven rings ...’ (Matthew Syed, The Times, 3 November) [PE]

Fanfundery. TransAtlantic Fan Fund: the next TAFF race runs from Europe to Chicon 8 (the Chicago Worldcon) in September 2022. Nominations are still open, closing on 10 December; voting will continue to 18 April. See for more.
• Rob Hansen’s latest fanhistorical work for the TAFF ebook library is Bixelstrasse: The SF Fan Community of 1940s Los Angeles – another huge compilation from original fanzine sources, with many famous names dropped. See Freely downloadable, though donations to TAFF are as always welcomed.

Thog’s Masterclass. Spacetime Dept. ‘They’re so far away now that their watches are timed by light-years.’ (Tennessee Williams, ‘The Knightly Quest’, 1967) [ECL]
Dangerous Locks. ‘Her hair was like a sheet of glass, falling over her eyes.’ (R.A. MacAvoy, Tea with the Black Dragon, 1983) [FM]
What I Tell You Three Times Is True. ‘Aro laughed. “Ha ha ha,” he giggled.’ (Stephenie Meyer, New Moon, 2006) [AR]

Geeks’ Corner

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PayPal Tip Jar Thingy. Donate to support Ansible, cover website costs and keep the editor happy! Or just buy his books.

Virtual Meetings.
• 19 December 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.
• 23 December 2021, evening: the virtual London meeting is now normally on the third Thursday. This month, though, it clashes with the physical Christmas meeting and so is displaced from 16 December to 23 December. ‘Please share this with people who you know typically come to the Bishop’s Finger, but aren’t on Facebook.’

R.I.P. II. Report received on publication day: Tommy Lane (1937-2021), US actor in Live and Let Die (1973) and Virtual Weapon (1997), died on 29 November aged 83. [PDF]

One Million Years B.C. Sean Parnell, Pennsylvania senatorial candidate: ‘From an evolutionary standpoint, it used to be, you know, women were attracted to your strength because you could defend them from dinosaurs.’ (Twitter, 9 November)

Fanfundery II. John Hertz has a cache of paper copies of Len and June Moffatt’s 1973 TransAtlantic Fan Fund trip report The Moffatt House Abroad, and will send one to anyone donating $10 or more to TAFF. See

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Chesley Awards shortlists
• Ditmar Awards winners in full
• Mythopoeic Awards (full announcement)
• National Library of New Zealand/Internet Archive

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 173, December 2001. ‘The first smart rock overloaded the Phinon’s shields and it collapsed to nothing but a smile of satisfaction on Rick’s face.’ (Jeffery D. Kooistra, Dykstra’s War, 2000)
• ‘This wasn’t like him. But he had just vanquished an alien race single-handedly. It was natural he’d be different after that.’ ‘“I’m going to remove the skull so I can watch what happens in the brain when I make you my mate,” he said. “No one has ever determined if there is any actual physical response in the brain.”’ (Rodman Philbrick & Lynn Harnett, Abduction, 1998)

Ansible® 413 © David Langford, 2021. Thanks to Jim Burns, Stevyn Colgan, John Coxon, Jim Darroch, Paul Di Filippo, Malcolm Edwards, File 770, Jo Fletcher, Steve Green, John-Henri Holmberg, Steve Jones, Sharon Lee, Evelyn C. Leeper, Locus, Pamela Love, Andrey Meshavkin, Ken MacLeod, Fiona Moore, Laura Munzer, Wayne Myers, Ian Nichols, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, Chris Priest, Private Eye, Anna Rose, SF² Concatenation, Steven H Silver, Fred Smith, Steven Smith, Cat Sparks, Mike Stamm, Martin Morse Wooster, and as always our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 December 2021