Ansible® 429, April 2023
From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website news.ansible.uk. ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Arthur ‘Atom’ Thomson, 1973. Available for SAE or the arithmetical total ejaculated in a leaky flow.
The Prying Fan
Johann Grech, not a name previously on the tip of my tongue, has seemingly used his role as Malta’s film commissioner to inflate his IMDb page with links to many productions – including Jurassic World and the tv Foundation – whose credits did not as claimed thank him or list him as additional crew. All this ‘completely unethical’ stuff was deleted from the page and replaced with links to critical articles. (Times of Malta, 13-14 March) [DL]
Adam Roberts’s Amazon blurb for Stealing for the Sky has an ‘About the author’ coda that after the mention of his being a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature ends: ‘His science fiction has been praised by many critics both inside and outside the genre, with some comparing him to genre authors such as Pel Torro, John E. Muller, and Karl Zeigfreid.’ [JB]
R.L. Stine’s best-selling ‘Goosebumps’ children’s horror series has been sanitized like the works of Roald Dahl: ‘more than 100 edits such as a character being described as “cheerful” rather than “plump”, references to villains making victims “slaves” have been removed and “crazy” has been changed to “silly”. (Times, 3 March) The initial Times report accused Stine of self-censorship, but he protested that ‘the stories aren’t true. I’ve never changed a word in Goosebumps. Any changes were never shown to me.’ (MSN, 8 March). It seems that Scholastic Books, determined to ‘keep the language current and avoid imagery that could negatively impact a young person’s view of themselves today, with a particular focus on mental health’, did all this without bothering to tell the author.
Colson Whitehead received a US National Humanities Medal from President Biden on 21 March, for his ‘celebrated novels’. [L]
Click here for longlist • London • Overseas
7-10 Apr • Conversation (Eastercon), Hilton Metropole near the Birmingham NEC. Advance booking closes 31 March. At the door: £100 reg or £50/day; £50 concessions; £40 supporting or online only; under-18s £20 or £10/day; under-13s £5. Main hotel convention room block now filled. More information at conversation2023.org.uk.
7-10 Apr • Star Wars Celebration, ExCel, London. Mostly sold out; Monday or Friday pass £65 plus fees. See www.starwarscelebration.com.
14-16 Apr • Conpulsion (games), Teviot Row House, Edinburgh. Tickets £15; £8 for Saturday or Sunday only; see conpulsion.org.
22-23 Apr • Sci-Fi Scarborough (multimedia), The Spa, Scarborough. £30 reg; students £20; ‘kids’ £10. See scifiscarborough.co.uk.
13-14 May • Steampunk Fairytale, Belvoir Castle, Grantham. Tickets £40; under-17s £15; family (2 adults, up to 3 children) £55; carers £20. See www.belvoircastle.com/castle-book-tickets/.
16 May • Tolkien Lecture by Maria Dahvana Headley, Pichette Auditorium, Pembroke College, Oxford. 6pm. See tolkienlecture.org.
26-28 May • Satellite 8, Crowne Plaza, Glasgow. £70 reg; under-25s £60; under-18s £20; under-12s £5; under-5s £2. Rates are valid to 17 April 2023 and may rise thereafter. See eight.satellitex.org.uk.
27-28 May • Surrey Steampunk Convivial, Stoneleigh, Epsom. See bumpandthumper.wixsite.com/steampunkconvivials. Further 2023 ‘convivials’ are on 5-6 August and 21-22 October.
31 May - 6 Jun • Sci-Fi London (film festival); London venues include the Picturehouse Central. See sci-fi-london.com.
2-4 Jun • Cymera SF Festival 2023, Edinburgh and online. £70 or £40 digital, rising to £80/£50 on 2 April. See www.cymerafestival.co.uk.
3-4 Jun • Portsmouth Comic Con, Guildhall, Portsmouth. Weekend tickets £26.50, rising on 1 April. See portsmouthcomiccon.com.
24-28 Aug • Frightfest (film), Cineworld, Leicester Square, London. Tickets should be on sale from 15 July at frightfest.co.uk/tickets.html.
21-22 Oct • Final Fantasy Festival, ExCel, London. Weekend tickets £159.99. See fanfest2.finalfantasyxiv.com/2023-24/eu/.
3-5 Nov • Armadacon 2023, Future Inns, Plymouth. Guests TBA. £35 reg; £30 concessions. More at www.armadacon.org.
2 Dec • Dragonmeet (gaming), Novotel Hammersmith, London. 9am-11pm. Tickets £15.50 at www.dragonmeet.co.uk.
8-10 Mar 2024 • MinamiCon (anime), Novotel Hotel, Southampton. £65 reg. Further details circa July 2023 at www.minamicon.org.uk.
8-12 Aug 2024 • Glasgow 2024, Glasgow SEC. £170 reg; concessions £125; YA (under 26) £110; under-16s £75; under-11s £45; under-6s £5. These rates will rise on 1 May 2023. See glasgow2024.org.
Rumblings. Dead by Dawn, the Edinburgh horror film festival, is homeless since the Filmhouse venue – host to many events but closed last October – will not, despite lingering hopes, be rescued by a grateful Festival City: it’s ‘boarded up and for sale’. (Facebook, 17 March) [ML]
Blurbismo. ‘Reading these poems feels like ingesting semantic MDMA, the ectoplasm of a Victorian ghost trying to reach her lover through an unstable wifi connection.’ (Nadia de Vries on the jacket of The Luna Erratum by Maria Sledmere) [PE]
Awards. Academy Awards (Oscars): Everything Everywhere All at Once won in seven categories, for Picture, Director, Original Screenplay, Actress, Supporting Actor, Supporting Actress and Film Editing.
• Romantic Novel Awards, fantasy category: I Let You Fall by Sara Downing.
• SFWA Kate Wilhelm Solstice Award: Greg Bear, Cerece Rennie Murphy.
The Critical Heritage. ‘I don’t know who needs to hear this but most of the 1-star Amazon reviews for The Princess Bride by William Goldman are people absolutely IRATE that it isn’t “the original book” and is instead an “abridged version” by “the screenplay writer.”’ (Lauren Thoman, Twitter, 3 March) Fans of S. Morgenstern demand justice!
Cancel Culture. The Hong Kong debut of the slasher film Winnie the Pooh: Blood and Honey (IMDb: ‘Pooh and Piglet embark on a bloody rampage as they search for a new source of food.’) will not take place despite advance ticket sales of $4.1 million. (The Register, 22 March)
A Smeerp by Any Other Name. Query to the SF Encyclopedia: ‘Would you like to acquire the domain name ScienceCartoons.com?’ If only Peter Nicholls had called it The Bumper Book of Science Cartoons back in 1979, the sf world would have been so very different.
R.I.P. Robert Blake (1933-2023), US actor in The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965) and Lost Highway (1997), died on 9 March aged 89. [LP]
• Eric Brown (1960-2023), widely liked UK author active since 1987, whose first collection was The Time-Lapsed Man (1990) and who published impressively many sf series and standalone novels, died on 21 March aged 62. He won two BSFA Awards for short fiction. [KB]
• Valma Brown (1950-2023), Australian fanzine and convention fan long married to Leigh Edmonds – they co-edited Giant Wombo 1979-1980 and were fan guests at the 1991 Australian Natcon – died unexpectedly on 2 March. [LE] All sympathy to Leigh.
• Roland F. Crump (1930-2023), Disney animator who worked on Peter Pan and others, and influenced the design of Disneyland, died on 12 March aged 93.
• Bo K. Eriksson, long-time Swedish fan and genre bookshop employee active from the mid-1970s in sf and Tolkien fandom, was found dead at home in March having probably died in February; he was 70. [J-HH]
• Wally Fawkes (1924-2023), Canadian-born jazz musician and cartoonist who signed his work ‘Trog’, died on 1 March aged 98. His fondly remembered fantasy-satire strip Flook ran in the Daily Mail from 1949 to 1984, followed by a brief revival in the Daily/Sunday Mirror. [SH]
• Christopher Fowler (1953-2023), much admired UK author of urban-weird and supernatural horror fiction, best known for the long ‘Bryant & May’ detective sequence set in a fantasticated London and sometimes edging into sf territory (as in the 1993 Seventy-Seven Clocks), died on 2 March aged 69. [JC] Note that the other Christopher Fowler, past editor of Vector and married to Pat Cadigan, is alive and well.
• Ed Fury (1928-2023), US actor with genre credits from The Wild Women of Wongo (1958) to Dinosaur Valley Girls (1996), died on 24 February aged 94. [F770]
• Bert I. Gordon, prolific US producer/director/screenwriter of genre films from King Dinosaur (1955) and The Amazing Colossal Man (1957) via Village of the Giants (1965) to The Food of the Gods (1976) and Empire of the Ants (1977), died on 8 March aged 100. [LP]
• Paul Grant, UK actor and stuntman with credits for Return of the Jedi (1983), Labyrinth (1986) and Willow (1988), died on 20 March aged 56. [AIP]
• John Hale, publisher at Robert Hale Ltd from 1956 until he retired in 2010, has died aged 92. (The Bookseller, 24 March) [AIP]
• Eve Harvey (1951-2023), UK fanzine publisher and convention-runner active from the 1970s, died unexpectedly on 5 March aged 72. With her husband John she co-edited Ghas, many issues of BSFA Matrix, Wallbanger and multiple fanthologies; she was secretary of the 1979 UK Worldcon, chaired the 1982 Eastercon and won GUFF in 1985. Eve was also an old friend. All sympathy to John.
• John Jakes (1932-2023), US author best known for historical fiction, who before 1980 published space opera such as When the Star Kings Die (1967) and sword-and-sorcery with the Conanesque Brak the Barbarian (1968) plus many sequels – also sending up the S&S genre in Mention My Name in Atlantis (1972) – died on 11 March aged 90. [LP]
• Sandy Levy, US fan who attended and worked on Chicago-area conventions including Capricon, Windycon and the 2012 and 2022 Worldcons, died on 13 March. [SHS]
• Javier ‘Chabelo’ López (1935-2023), Mexican actor in Autopsia de un fantasma (1968), Chabelo y Pepito contra los monstruos (1973) and others, died on 25 March aged 88. [SJ]
• Joe McNally, Belfast fan once active in APA-B/The Organization, who worked for Fortean Times and whose fanzines included The Flaneur, died on 5 March. [SB] He was an occasional Ansible correspondent since the 1990s.
• Walter Mirisch (1921-2023), Oscar-winning US producer whose films include Dracula (1979), died on 24 February aged 101. [AIP]
• Terry Norris (1930-2023), former Australian MP and actor in The Voyage of the Dawn Treader (2010), Mortal Engines (2018) and Bloom (2019/2020), died on 21 March aged 92. [GC]
• Michael Reaves (1950-2023), prolific US tv screenwriter and author of much sf and fantasy beginning with I, Alien (1978) and including InterWorld (2007) with Neil Gaiman, died on 20 March aged 72. [GVG]
• Lance Reddick (1962-2023), US actor in Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) and genre tv series including DuckTales (2019), Castlevania (2020) and Resident Evil (2022), died on 17 March aged 60. [LP]
• Tom Sizemore (1961-2023), US actor whose films include Strange Days (1995), The Relic (1997), Red Planet (2000), The Electric Man (2002), Dreamcatcher (2003), The Immortal Wars (2017) and Night of the Tommyknockers (2022), died on 3 March aged 61. [SJ]
• Valerie (Val) Smith (1951-2023), US literary agent whose authors included John M. Ford and Sherwood Smith, died on 2 March aged 71. [GVG]
• Alfredo ‘Pelón’ Solares (1933-2023), Mexican actor whose films include Mi fantasma y yo (1988), El vampiro enamorado (1996) and The Wailer 2 (2007), died on 20 March aged 89. [SJ]
• John D. Teehan (1967-2023), US author of short fiction from 2003, co-editor of a 2012 SFWA Bulletin, and publisher as Merry Blacksmith Press, died on 23 February. [SHS]
• D.M. Thomas (1935-2023), noted UK author who wrote sf poems for New Worlds 1968-1979 and used fantastic elements in various novels including his best-known and best-selling title The White Hotel (1981), died on 26 March aged 88. [DP]
• Bill Tidy MBE (1933-2023), highly popular UK cartoonist whose famed tripe-magnates strip The Fosdyke Saga (1971-1984 Daily Mirror) strayed occasionally into sf territory – as, more often, did the science-based Grimbledon Down (1970-1994 New Scientist) – died on 11 March aged 89. [HB] I loved his work.
• Topol (1935-2023), Palestine-born actor whose genre roles include Dr Zarkov in Flash Gordon (1980), died on 8 March aged 87. [AW]
• Dubravka Ugresic (1949-2023), Croatia-born author and translator whose novel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (2010) won a Tiptree Award, died on 17 March. [GVG]
• Peter Werner (1947-2023), Oscar-winning US director whose credits include Doorways (1994), House of Frankenstein (1997), Medium (2005-2011) and Ghost Whisperer (2006-2009), died on 21 March aged 76. [AIP]
• Boris Zhutovsky (1932-2023), Russian artist for many genre books including titles by Calvino and Lem, died on 8 March. [AM]
The Weakest Link. Host: ‘In the Tales of Beatrix Potter, what sort of animal is Pigling Bland?’ Contestant: ‘A rabbit.’ (ITV, Tipping Point) [PE]
Court Circular. A New York district judge decided in favour of the publishers who sued the Internet Archive for what IA called ‘fair use’ copying and digital lending of copyright work: ‘There is nothing transformative about IA’s copying and unauthorized lending of the Works in Suit.’ (Full judgement at Courtlistener.com, 24 March) [F770]
BSFA Award Finalists. NOVEL Adrian Tchaikovsky, City of Last Chances; Aliette de Bodard, The Red Scholar’s Wake; Adam Roberts, The This; Gareth Powell, Stars and Bones; EJ Swift, The Coral Bones.
• YOUNGER READERS T. Kingfisher, Illuminations; Frances Hardinge, Unraveller; Kate Dylan, Mindwalker; Gina Chen, Violet Made of Thorns; Juno Dawson, Her Majesty’s Royal Coven; Vanessa Len, Only a Monster; Xiran Jay Zhao, Zachary Ying and the Dragon Emperor.
• SHORT Or Luca, Luca; Aliette de Bodard, Of Charms, Ghosts and Grievances; Rick Danforth, ‘Seller’s Remorse’ (Hexagon 11); Adrian Tchaikovsky, Ogres; Neil Williamson, ‘A Moment of Zugzwang’ (ParSec 4).
• NON-FICTION Rob Wilkins, Terry Pratchett: A Life with Footnotes; Maureen Kincaid Speller, ‘The Critic and the Clue: Tracking Alan Garner’s Treacle Walker’ (Strange Horizons 21/1/22); Fiona Moore, Management Lessons from Game of Thrones: Organization Theory and Strategy in Westeros; Wole Talabi and the ASFS, ‘Preliminary Observations from an Incomplete History of African SFF’ (SFWA); Oghenechovwe Donald Ekpeki, ‘Too Dystopian For Whom? A Continental Nigerian Writer's Perspective’ (Uncanny 10/9/22).
• ARTWORK Alyssa Winans, The Red Scholar’s Wake by Aliette de Bodard; Manzi Jackson, Africa Risen: A New Era of Speculative Fiction; Chris Baker, Shoreline of Infinity 32; Vincent Sammy, Parsec 4; Miguel Co, Song of the Mango and Other New Myths; Jay Johnstone, The Way the Light Bends.
Physics Masterclass. ‘It took but a slight inertia for them to leap up over the edge of the pit’s mouth.’ (Neil R. Jones, ‘Moon Pirates’, October 1934 Amazing)
Random Fandom. Fanac.org announced in March that the site now hosts more than 20,000 digitally archived fanzine issues.
• Worldcon 2023. The Chengdu email about an online Hugo voting problem fell foul of many spam filters: ‘As striving for better service and experience of the official website, the functionalities are under upgrading.’ Now fixed.
Nebula Finalists (selected): NOVEL Legends & Lattes by Travis Baldree; Spear by Nicola Griffith; Nettle and Bone by T. Kingfisher; Babel by R.F. Kuang; Nona the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir; The Mountain in the Sea by Ray Nayler.
• YA: Ruby Finley vs. the Interstellar Invasion by K. Tempest Bradford; The Scratch Daughters by H.A. Clarke; The Mirrorwood by Deva Fagan; The Many Half-Lived Lives of Sam Sylvester by Maya MacGregor; Every Bird a Prince by Jenn Reese.
• DRAMATIC Andor: ‘One Way Out’; Everything Everywhere All at Once; Nope; Our Flag Means Death; The Sandman: Season 1; Severance.
• For novella, novelette, short story and game writing see nebulas.sfwa.org/58th-nebula-awards-finalists/.
Publishers and Sinners. Sean CW Korsgaard of Baen Books thought to detect vote-rigging in the Nebula novel finalists listed above: ‘And I will point out a book from Baen led the Nebula ballot for best novel this year ... and yet didn’t get a nomination.’ (Facebook, March) His smoking gun is a screenshot from a ‘trusted source’ of an uncaptioned list with Baen’s book The Dabare Snake Launcher by Joelle Presby at the top. Queried by File 770, the SFWA Communications Director confirmed this was the members-only Suggested Reading List – of recommendations, not votes – mysteriously stripped of the boldface text that says ‘Please note this list is not the preliminary ballot or nomination tally and does not affect the Nebula Award nominations or final results in any way.’ [F770] Presumably some naughty SFWA member was pulling Korsgaard’s leg.
The Dead Past. 20 Years Ago: ‘Thog’s Translator Masterclass. “... there is practically no radioactivity in the soil of this part of the galaxy.” (Stanisław Lem, The Invincible, 1976 Penguin UK translation)’ (Ansible 189, April 2003) ‘A Pratchettian moment was spotted in a press release on safety testing from the snappily titled European Association for the Co-ordination of Consumer Representation in Standardization: “In one test, the luggage itself broke into the passenger compartment, potentially threatening other occupants.”’ (Ibid)
• 50 Years Ago at Eastercon 1973 (OMPAcon), ‘The British Sf Award was not presented this year due to popular apathy.’ (Checkpoint 37, April 1973)
Fanfundery. Canadian Unity Fan Fund: Garth Spencer won unopposed as delegate to this year’s NASFiC, Pemmi-Con in Winnipeg (July).
• European Fan Fund final warning: voting ends 10 April. See fandomrover.com/2023/02/02/eff-race-begins/.
• TAFF final warning: voting ends on 11 April. See taff.org.uk/vote.php. Further free TAFF ebooks are Walt Willis’s The Harp Stateside (1952 trip report) and The Harp That Once or Twice (the famous fanzine columns), with a final Willis collection almost completed; and three TAFF reports, Jeanne Gomoll’s TAFForensic Report (1987 trip), Martin Tudor’s Have Bag, Will Travel (1996) and Suzanne Tompkins’s Jerry’s Suzle’s 2005 TAFF Trip Report written with Jerry Kaufman. Many thanks! See all the ebooks at taff.org.uk/ebooks.php?all.
Thog’s Masterclass. In Space You Can Hear: ‘Z – BROOMER – ERANGA – OOMMERA-CRACKER – ERASH ... ERASH ... ASH!’ The sound is explained: ‘Sitting there, transfixed, helpless, Craig drew on his remaining strength of mind to tell himself that they were caught up in the middle of an exploding sun!’ (Terence Haile, Galaxies Ahead, 1963)
• Eyeballs in the Sky. ‘The eyes of the voice opened to look at him.’ ‘Her eyes glided carefully over the remarkable knife sheathed at his belt.’ (Terry Goodkind, The Pillars of Creation, 2002) [AR]
• True Romance. ‘She moaned as she urgently collected his sac together in her greedy hand.’ (Ibid) [AR]
• Simile Dept. ‘Sebastian stood out like a swan among maggots.’ (Ibid) [AR]
• Dept of Folding. ‘Rikka folded her bare arms atop her nearly bare bosom.’ (Terry Goodkind, Naked Empire, 2003) [AR] ‘Jagang folded his husky arms across his massive chest.’ (Terry Goodkind, Phantom, 2006) [AR]
• Trauma Dept. ‘Richard felt goose bumps race up his legs.’ (Ibid) [AR]
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• 14 April 2023, 7:45pm: Alastair Reynolds talks to the Birmingham SF Group at Millennium Point, Birmingham. £3.15 via Zoom (free to BSFG members), £6 in person (members £3).
• 20 April 2023, evening: London Zoom meeting, third Thursday of each month. ‘Please share this with people who you know typically come to the Bishop’s Finger, but aren’t on Facebook.’
Editorial. Bad news for UK fanzine publishers who still cling to the Old Technology of print: postage rates increase on 3 April, with second class rising from 68p to 75p, first class from 95p to £1.10 and air letters from £1.85 to £2.20.
R.I.P. Late and Last-Minute Reports. Shelby Bush (1952-2022) , US fan and convention worker who was active in APAs (SFPA, SAPS) and edited 20 issues of Fosfax , died on 30 June 2022. [LAZ]
• Joe Giella (1928-2023), US comics artist active from 1946 to 2016, with a two-decade stint as a DC inker plus syndicate work for Batman, Flash Gordon and The Phantom, died on 21 March aged 94. [F770]
• Frank C. Johnson (1953-2019), long-time US fan and associate member of First Fandom whose fanzines included Conglomeration and Schmoob, died on 19 March 2019 aged 65. (Scientifiction 75)
• Della Van Hise (1955-2021), US author whose novels include Star Trek #24: Killing Time (1985), died on 3 March 2021 aged 65. [JC]
• Robert Wells (1929-2021), UK author of The Parasaurians (1969) and three other sf novels, died on 12 November 2021 aged 92. [JC]
C.o.A. Anyone with links to John Coxon’s site chickensinenvelopes.net is warned that it surreptitiously moved house during the pandemic and can now be found at procrastinations.co.uk.
The Dead Past II. Can it really be thirty years ago this Easter that I edited the Jersey Eastercon newsletter Heliograph? The evidence, alas, persists online, both the thing itself and the ‘making of’ saga....
Rumblings II. Aliette de Bodard’s and Alastair Reynolds’s online genre writing course (weekly sessions on Tuesday evenings, November-December) was already sold out before Ansible heard about it:
Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Doctor Who in the Radio Times (with thanks to Sandra Bond)
• Eclectic Dreams: A Milford Anthology (with Langford story)
• Christopher Fowler (1953-2023)
• The Inquisitor meets those meddling kids, and also a famous starship.
• TAFF est #1: March 2023 TAFF newsletter
Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 189, April 2003. Physics Dept. ‘... no, affinity wasn't quite the right word, it felt more like they were two north poles of a bipolar magnet, each vigorously, automatically repelled by the other.’ (Jo Clayton, Blue Magic, 1988)
• Dept of Anatomy. ‘Ace crept back down the corridor, her heart pounding in her neck. She swallowed, trying to push it away, concentrate on what she was doing, but it wouldn’t shift.’ (Dale Smith, Dr Who – Heritage, 2002)
• Dept of Genealogy. ‘Lord Voldemort – who is the last remaining ancestor of Salazar Slytherin ...’ (J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, 1998)
• Classics Dept. ‘We are between the wild thoat of certainty and the mad zitidar of fact – we can escape neither.’ (Edgar Rice Burroughs, The Gods of Mars, 1918)
Ansible® 429 © David Langford, 2023. Thanks to John Bark, Harry Bell, Sandra Bond, John Clute, Keith Brooke, Gary Couzens, Leigh Edmonds, File 770, Steve Holland, John-Henri Holmberg, Steve Jones, Denny Lien, Locus, Michael J. Lowrey, Andrey Meshavkin, Lawrence Person, Andrew I. Porter, David Pringle, Private Eye, Adam Roberts, Steven H Silver, Gordon Van Gelder, Andrew Wells, Leah A. Zeldes, and our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Brum Group), Nigel Rowe (Corflu Craic), SCIS/Prophecy, and Alan Stewart (Australia). 31 March 2023