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Ansible 43, May/June 1985

Cartoon: Taral

PLEASE NOTE that this old ANSIBLE is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (the editor's postal address hasn't, but ignore old e-mail addresses), prices and agents' credits are invalid, etc. • Dave Langford, 1993.

ANSIBLE 43 • MAY/JUNE 1985 • ISBN 0265-9816
Further misrepresentation from DAVE LANGFORD, 94 LONDON ROAD, READING, BERKSHIRE, RG1 5AU, UK. Subscriptions: 5 issues may be effortlessly obtained by sending me £2 in sterling notes (I have given no thought whatever to the imminent phasing out of the pound note); cheques/money orders to ANSIBLE; Girobank transfer to a/c 24 475 4403; $3.50 to hero US agents Mary & Bill Burns (23 Kensington Ct, Hempstead, NY 11550); $4A to dynamic Aussie agent Irwin Hirsh, 2/416 Dandenong Rd, North Caulfield, Vic 3161. Other ways to acquire ANSIBLE include grovelling requests copiously accompanied with stamps; paying twice as much if you're an Institution which insists on messing round with invoices rather than fork out like an honest fan; or subscribing to Patchin Review and unwisely allowing Charles Platt to switch your sub to ANSIBLE when he folds. Loud, clear, patient phone calls to Reading (0734) 665804; electronic mail to Prestel mailbox 733631000. Lavish small-print credits: TARAL (guest cartoonist), CHRIS HUGHES (collation), and KEITH FREEMAN (finely crafted mailing labels which everyone misinterprets: panic only when yours says SUB DUE or, shudder, *****). This issue goes to 440 addresses.


"A Zine is classed as a terror weapon. It rends and distorts, twisting the structure of the target completely out of shape." (Philip E. High: Come, Hunt An Earthman) ...Yes.


Lots of things must have happened at our 41st Eastercon, and I wish I could remember what they all were – clearly I had desperate fun. (The panel I was scheduled for was really good; pity it happened several hours before I reached Leeds.) The usual feeling that All The Action Is Somewhere Else was amplified by the provision of an actual, oppressive Somewhere Else in the form of a second hotel for obscure and specialist doings: art show, book room (dealers bitched, as usual, about profits being down 50%), video and film programme, guest of honour speech, etc. (Am baffled still by the unattributable rumour that GoH Greg Benford "turned out to be a CIA agent and tried to recruit David Pringle".) The bar of the Dragonara, main Yorcon hotel, exerted its normal fascination.

Programme items? Tom Shippey gave a further impersonation of F.R. Leavis in the grip of homicidal mania, powerfully arguing that much 'juvenile' fantasy is all about things like assassinating one's parents. (Hysterically enthusiastic audience: "So what's new?") Publishers were as usual shifty and evasive about publishing, authors all too informative about the unspeakable horror of the literary life. A hi-tech programme (or program) spot featured Martin Hoare on the mysteries of hacking, showing by example that Computer Crime Does Not Pay since (a) it takes several subjective months to set up your (or at any rate his) equipment, by which time it has become obsolete; and (b) only by the most herculean efforts can one even 'break into' public access databases, let alone the ultra-secret Yorcon sex files....

Up in the fan room, Greg Pickersgill donned his genial Mr Evil persona for purposes of public communion with, inter alia, Dave Wood ("GOD, WOOD, YOUR FANZINE IS SO FUCKING AWFUL, HOW CAN YOU BE SO SMUG ABOUT YOUR UNMERITED NOVA AWARD WHEN YOU DON'T FUCKING EDIT?" Audience struck dumb by this grasp of structuralist critical terminology) and born-again Fan GoH Linda Pickersgill, who had "trudged up from the darkness into the true light of fandom", only to marry Greg, who demonstrated by example that there was still a Dark Side of the Force. Popular TAFF winners Patrick & Teresa Nielsen Hayden displayed remarkable resource by dividing up the expected duties of transatlantic visitors: he nobly attended to the consumption of much native beer, and she as nobly did the falling over. Fans of yore were everywhere underfoot, notably Walt & Madeleine Willis (Walt and I discovered a deep, hitherto unsuspected mutual interest in hearing aids), Chuch Harris (whose Compromising Situations were too many and outrageous to list; in his finest hour he burst into a crowded and – unbeknownst to him – hushed con hall with the varyingly reported but at any rate stentorian cry "I didn't come 200 miles to meet fucking John Brunner!"), and even John Collick. The latter resumed where he'd left off, videotaping a deathless new epic wherein a nonentity (Phil Palmer) goes on a psychopathic rampage owing to the poor reception of his fanzine ("We all had to line up and Laugh Cruelly at him" – PNH), necessitating that rough, tough detective Grubby Herbert (JC) shoot lots of people, his perennial line "You're asking yourself, has he shot six, or only five?" constantly interrupted by walk-on appearances of uncomprehending hotel staff from a passing lift. Could this be science fiction?

Parties kept happening, the most chaotic being Contravention's with its paper-plane simulation of a multi-strike nuclear exchange escalating to spasm level. "I wouldn't have voted for their bid," sniffed small but perfectly formed visiting fan Tom Weber: "they totally failed to control the paper planes." A Contravention spokesman (ever-paranoid Chris Hughes) later commented: "Aha! The throwing of planes ... the plane-throwing which was started by Ian Sorensen of the rival Eastercon bid! I see it all."

Sure enough, Sunday morning saw the victory (by a mere two votes) of Contravention over Albacon III as the 1986 Eastercon venue – shortly followed by a recount and the victory by a mere five votes of Albacon III over Contravention.

In an exciting innovation borrowed from old Novacons, the Sunday-night nosh and presentations spot was made a buffet affair. We draw a veil over the slight queue problem, there being a discrepancy between the advance sales of buffet tickets (on which demand estimates were apparently based) and the 500 last-minute customers from whom uninformed hotel lackeys were happy to accept cash at the counter. The customary pork pie race followed: mathematicians long ago proved that there is no rational way to convey the concept of pie, especially across forty feet of dance floor, and unlikely transportation led to expected appalling scenes such as Rob Jackson giving the kiss of life to a giant maggot. Norman Spinrad and a low-powered panel of judges struggled in vain to rank the performances: their feeble efforts at decisiveness made no difference to MC Brian Burgess's unilateral prizegiving.

BSFA awards were presented to Jim Burns (artist), The Company Of Wolves (media), Geoff Ryman's 'The Unconquered Country' (short fiction) and Rob Holdstock's Mythago Wood (novel): how can one sneer properly at awards when they go to such triffic stuff? Voting was "nearly twice the usual", administrator Mike Moir furtively confides. BSFA magazines, meanwhile, ring with outraged cries of "How dare Empire Of The Sun allow itself to be so much as nominated for this award when it isn't science fiction?!" Here we go again....

On Monday there was an active attempt at forming a Convention Gestalt Mind, as unwary fans were herded into seminar groups under the nominal leadership of hungover publishers. Parts of this were fun.... Deftly skirting difficult issues like the question "Why do editors always send my manuscripts back?", Granada's Nick Austin held my own group enthralled and wove the many threads of debate into a triumphantly integrated lack of conclusion. Since he wisely sneaked off home before the afternoon's "plenary session", and since this session took place before the bar's final closure, I do not report the ultimate, cosmic conclusions reached.

Overall it was an euphoric weekend. Everything shimmered through a haze of well-being, even Leeds railway station, even Graham James. With a shrewd grasp of fans' true needs the committee arranged an extension of Monday check-out time to late afternoon, ensuring glowing con reports by sending most of the membership home late and happy. Let's not talk about the following few days, shall we?


... type out the Hugo nominations. Death, where is thy sting?

NOVEL: Neuromancer (Gibson), Job (Heinlein), The Integral Trees (Niven), Emergence (Palmer – who?), The Peace War (Vinge – V not J). Novella: 'Cyclops' (Brin), 'Valentina' (Delaney & Steigler), 'Summer Solstice' (Harness), 'Elemental' (Landis), 'Press Enter []' (Varley). Novelette: 'Bloodchild' (Butler), 'Lucky Strike' (KS Robinson), 'Silicon Muse' (Schenck), 'Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule' (Shepard), 'Weigher' (Vinicoff & Martin), 'Blued Moon' (Willis), 'Return to the Fold' (Zahn). Short: 'Crystal Spheres' (Brin), 'The Aliens Who Knew, I Mean, Everything' (Effinger), 'Rory' (Gould), 'Symphony for a Lost Traveller' (Killough), 'Ridge Running' (KS Robinson), 'Salvador' (Lucius Shepard).

Nonfiction: Sleepless Nights in the Procrustean Bed (Ellison), Dune Encyclopaedia (McNelly), Faces of SF [Omitting Those Outside N America Because They Don't Count] (Perret), In the Heart or In the Head (Turner), Wonder's Child (Williamson). Pro Editor: Terry Carr, Ed Ferman, Shawna McCarthy, Stanley Schmidt, George Scithers. Pro Artist: Vincent diFate, Tom Kidd, Val Lakey Lindham (?), Barclay Shaw, Michael Whelan. Dramatic Presentation: Dune, Ghostbusters, Last Starfighter, Search For Spock, 2010.

Semiprozine: Fantasy Review, Locus, SFC, SFR, Whispers. Fanzine: Ansible, File 770, Holier Than Thou, Mythologies, Rataplan. Fanartist: Brad Foster, Steven Fox, Alexis Gilliland, Joan Hanke-Woods, Bill Rotsler, Stu Shiffman. Fanwriter: Leigh Edmonds, Richard E. Geis, Mike Glyer, Arthur Hlavaty, Dave Langford (coff coff). John W Campbell Award (not really a Hugo, caveat emptor, may be hazardous to the health, etc): Bradley Denton, Geoffrey Landis, Elissa Malcolm, Ian McDonald, Melissa Scott, Lucius Shepard.

Statistics: 223 ballots received. The easiest category in which to pick up a Hugo nomination is clearly Fanzine (only 7 votes required), unless you count the JWC Award (6). For the rest: Fanwriter 8, Semiprozine and Short 9, Fanartist 10, Novelette and Pro Artist 15, Nonfiction 16, Editor 20, Novella 22, Novel 26, Dramatic 40 ...


Colin Greenland: "I've resigned from Interzone and thought I should tell Ansible why before there's any gossip. David Pringle wants complete control of the magazine (no, not Ansible, Interzone). He thinks everything I do is part of some secret plot to seize power for himself, as if nobody could possibly have any motives but his own. I can't work any longer with someone who tells me to 'knuckle under or piss off'. So I'm pissing off, to Colorado in fact, to spend a couple of months concentrating on the novel Allen & Unwin have commissioned from me.... Meanwhile in California, at UC Riverside, they've just given me this year's J. Lloyd Eaton Award for The Entropy Exhibition. Delighted and much gratified, I wonder how a book published in 1983 can be eligible in 1985. Something to do with the International Dateline, probably." [CG] Stephen Jones: "I feel I must complain at the scurrilous piece of gossip headed 'New Year Scandal' on the back cover of Ansible 42. I don't know who leaked this particular piece of false information to you, but as the SFC reporter and BFS leading light obviously alluded to, I can categorically deny that I got up to any, er, 'funny business' with Lisa Tuttle. However, I am sure that she will not take exception to your describing her as a 'glamorous Harrow author'... I strongly suspect those two troublemakers Jo Fletcher and Chris Priest of spreading this malicious rumour." [SJ]

Vincent Omniaveritas: "Lisa Tuttle was in town and dropped by CHEAP TRUTH CENTRAL, where I dazzled her with my mind reading act, based on bits of inside Tuttle gossip gleaned from Ansible. She has become a computer widow ... won't touch her husband's sinister devil-machine. 'He keeps bursting out of his room,' she said, 'and I ask him if he's gotten any writing done, and he says No, but I just figured out how to make it do something great!'" [VO – now in Penguin]

Terry Carr: "I'm buying SF novels (no fantasies ... let's get that straight) for Tor Books: an extremely good outfit, headed by Tom Doherty, the only publisher I've ever met whom I vastly respect both for honesty and knowledge of the business. I can buy SF novels, either completed or on the basis of portion-&-outline, provided you've never sold a book to Tor before (that's in my contract. The point is that they don't need me to buy books from authors with whom they've already had dealings, like publishing their books). Tor pays as much money for advances as does anyone.... I'm also fiction editor for the forthcoming magazine To The Stars, whose rates are 6½ cents a word, the highest in the field (Omni excluded as not basically an SF magazine), and they don't slide downward as word-lengths get longer; they're the same even at 30,000 words – try to get that from any other SF magazine! Which doesn't mean I want longer stories more than shorts; I just think word-rates ought to be word-rates. No particular 'policy' for fiction except that it must all be SF, not fantasy. I hope to buy as many as possible that evoke the 'sense of wonder', because I think that's the heart of SF to most people and it's sadly been in little evidence in magazines for several years. And yeah, they'd better be well written, because in that respect at least I'm a snob." [TC, 11037 Broadway Tce, Oakland, CA 94611, USA]

Ann Looker: "Noticed you contributed to Ghastly Beyond Belief. Amazed to find this passage from Second Stage Lensmen not included: '"Dearly beloved ..." The grand old service – short and simple, but utterly impressive – was soon over. Then, as Kinnison kissed his wife, half a million Lensed members were thrust upward in silent salute.'" [AL/EES]

Avedon Carol: "There is a profound inaccuracy in the information provided you by Martian Moose Worship [A42]. He maintains that I wore a dress to the premiere of Dune at the Kennedy Centre here last December. This is incorrect. I can no longer be induced to wear dresses unless I am being paid to do so. I wore a tuxedo. With all due respect to Mr Worship, he's as blind as a bat if he thinks black trousers and a tie constitute a 'dress'...." [AC. Or DC. Who knows?]

Ian Watson: "Mark Ziesing is going to produce a posh expensive limited edition of my wit & wisdom in the near future, called The Book Of Ian Watson, with non-fic from places like Vector, and about 50,000 words of unpublished fic, including a 21,000 word novella cum verse drama about animated Ushabtis – tell Hazel and stun her. You see, I know what Ushabtis were really intended for; all the Egyptologists got it wrong. They were intended to ... This is a shameless attempt to persuade Hazel to fork out untold dollars on a copy of the book; for the answer will truly amaze her." [IW]


Triple-S Con, 12-14 July, Ladbroke Hotel, Newport, Gwent: GoH Lord Young of Dartington (blimey). £11 att (to 15 June, then £12); rooms £15.50/person/night (shared twin only). 162 Kingsheath Ave, Rutherglen, Glasgow. This emanates from the "Space Settlers Society"; I suppose the taming of barren, inhospitable new frontiers may as well start with Newport....

Excalibur, 12-31 Aug inclusive, Heriot Theatre Upstairs, 30 Grindlay St, Edinburgh. A home-made play stirringly titled Quest For The Midnight Tower: The Legend Of Idra Khan makes its debut in the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, as above. Maestro David Norell explains: "At last there exists a Theatrical Company [Excalibur] specializing in Fantasy material." (Ken Campbell will be pleased.) "May the Kadark never ravish your homeland!" (A sentiment one can but echo.)

Silicon 9, 23-26 Aug, Grosvenor Hotel, Newcastle. £5 att; nine different room rates, from £8.90 in a labour camp to £29.90 for your entire family including in-laws. 14 Eskdale Tce, Jesmond, Newcastle upon Tyne, NE2 4DN. Heavy breathing welcomed on (091) 2814607 after 6pm and before 3am....

Fantasycon, 6-8 Sept, Royal Angus Hotel, Birmingham: GoH Rob Holdstock, MC Charles L. Grant. £1.50 supp £9 att (BFS members £8); all rooms £17/person/night. "Has gained the reputation of 'The Professionals' Convention'", says the flyer, but I believe fans are admitted if they dress nicely. 130 Park View, Wembley, Middlesex, HA9 6JU.

Camcon (Unicon 6), 13-15 Sept, New Hall, Cambridge. Details as last issue; GoH announced as John Christopher.

Eurocon 85, 1-6 Oct, scheduled for Riga, USSR, has been axed on the unlikely ground of "lack of meeting rooms". The political climate is generally blamed; possibly it was leaking through the meeting rooms' roofs.

Albacon III is the '86 Eastercon: Central Hotel, Glasgow. £6 att (for now); twin/dbl rooms £12.50/person (£16.50 with bath). 80 Hillington Gdns, Glasgow, G52 2TP. GoH: well, Vince Docherty rang to ask if I knew Stephen King's address....

Eastercon '87: to be voted at Albacon III. (Likewise Eastercon '88 if the recommendation, made at Yorcon is upheld.) Two bids so far ... Beccon '87 is run by the usual mob: £1 pre-supp to 191 The Heights, Northolt, Middlesex, UB5 4BU; of terrific subcutaneous ructions owing to Beccon's original alleged plan to announce their venue before the Yorcon voting and thus "sabotage Contravention": happily they thought better of it.) Little is known of the rival Harrogate bid save that Ron Bennett and the fake Bob Shaw are involved. Cons make strange bedfellows.

Worldcon '88: the New Orleans bid is seeking a British agent, notes Linda Pickersgill, who personally "declined due to the fact that it would put me in contact with Guy Lillian, a name, face and personality that I try to avoid as much as possible." Anyone less timorous and more eager for limitless future fame and power (albeit no spare time) should contact John Guidry, Box 8010, New Orleans, LA 70182, USA.

BSFA Open Meetings, for those who didn't get a scrawled correction last issue, are in the Coopers (not Troopers) Arms. And "organizer Judith Hanna" was an easy-to-make misprint for "organizers Nick Trant & Roy Macinski".

[Fan fund flyer inserted approximately here: The Northern GUFFblower 12 ed. Joseph Nicholas. And, added on its blank verso:]


... trusty correspondents save you from a blank sheet here.

Charles Platt: "More than 200 SF 'professionals' descended on New York's Warwick Hotel on May 3-4 for this year's Nebula Fest. At the preliminary part on Friday night I met Terry Carr and chided him for editing L. Ron Hubbard's SF magazine, thus helping sanitize Hubbard's name; Terry riposted that Scientology is 'no worse than est, and I'll defend est any time.' He also defended Fred Harris, who runs Hubbard's publicity machine, as having 'a great sense of humour'.

"At the editors' panel next day, Lou Aronica of Bantam Books surprised attendees by remarking that 'SF is no longer a category'. According to Lou, most Bantam SF is packaged and distributed according to its merits, 'like ordinary books'. Other editors on the panel did not attempt to conceal their scepticism. Lou added that a big factor in a book's success is whether it achieves 'spine-out' or 'face-out' display: if a bookseller takes 6 or more copies, they can be turned so the cover faces the buyer, without consuming additional shelf space. Writers present seemed sobered by this hard-headed marketing savvy... The banquet featured as guest speaker a representative from Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts, who heightened the festive mood by 40 minutes of legal advice on copyright and plagiarism. Nebulas were then dispensed to Gibson, Varley, Butler and Dozois, all of whom mumbled humbly in the usual manner. [G (elsewhere), V 'Press Enter Blot' (novella), B 'Bloodchild' (novelette), D 'Morning Child' (short).]

"At the subsequent party, Harlan Ellison came over to where I was talking to Ed Ferman, grabbed me by the throat, shouted ungrammatically 'This one's from Larry Shaw, motherfucker, who's dead,' and hit me on the jaw. Evidently he was less than pleased with a column I wrote last year, referring to his worldcon tribute to Shaw as an 'obituary preview' redolent with so much melodrama that some of the audience thought at first it must be a joke. Having hit me, Harlan attempted a stranglehold which he maintained for a minute or so, although his arthritis prevented it from being entirely effective. Then, having avenged the dead, he left me to continue my conversation. Such is the level of violence in modern America, the incident attracted little attention (although Jerry Pournelle did take time out to give me a friendly lecture on weapons for personal defence, and entertained me by quoting line-for-line from Kipling at some considerable length)..." [CP]

Martin Morse Wooster: "NEBULAS... Second best fight: Tom Disch punching out William Gibson for reasons unknown. FRANK HERBERT recently passed cosmic wisdom to the Washington Times, including a claim that Nixon was Herbert's favourite president ('the wisest foreign policy adviser we've had in the executive branch of government this century'). He reported the Dune movie was to be turned into a Dune mini-series (apparently 12 hours' worth of script was filmed and then condensed, as if the film were thrown into a trash compactor)... TED WHITE has jumped back. into prodom as editor of Stardate, an SF media magazine: controversy has already erupted between him and the publisher, an unreconstructed Trekkie who wants much more Trek material. As Ted White's opinion of Star Trek is only slightly above his opinion of, say, Marty Cantor, bets are already being taken as to when the project will fail... BRIAN ALDISS's publicists for Helliconia Winter here have really outdone themselves. Publicists at Atheneum list his awesome achievements; to them the most noteworthy is not his Hugo, his Nebula, his Prix Jules Verne, not even his appearances in Ansible... no, they love Aldiss for being 'one of the few non-American members of the SF Writers of America.' Right up there with Claude Avice..." [MMW]

Last Bits: DAN MORGAN is toiling at a film treatment of his 'Mind' books... SOUTH OF THE MOON, the apa index, begs info at 112 E Burnett St, Stayton, Oregon 97383, USA... TED KLEIN is leaving the TWILIGHT ZONE editorship... EVEN LESS ROOM than last time for astonishing, new, scandalous revelations about (oops)


William Gibson's Neuromancer is doing nicely: Nebula award as Best 1984 Novel, Ditmar (Australia) as Best International Fiction, P.K. Dick Award as Best Paperback Original ... Accepting the last ($1000 and a Calligraphed Thing), Mr Gibson reportedly mused on Spider Robinson's habit of bringing his awards to conventions and inviting fans to see them: "I'll be able to say, Would you like to come up to my room and see my Dick?" Dick runner-up: Kim Stanley Robinson's The Wild Shore.

Further Ditmars went to Beast Of Heaven by Victor Kellaher (Best Aussie Novel) and Merv Binns's Australian SF News as Best Australian SF News. Thyme (our info source) got a bit derisive after this, noting that only about 20 people voted, that no one knew what Bruce Gillespie had actually got his Best Editor of 1984 award for, and that the Atheling Award – won by George Turner's autobiography In The Heart Or In The Head – is rather supposed to be for SF criticism. Oops.

As for the remaining Nebulas, my ace newshounds were distracted by far more interesting fisticuffs, as Harlan Ellison smote Charles Platt for his snide comments about the (now) late Larry Shaw. Mere awards could not compete.


KEN BROWN, Flat 4, 29 Davigdor Rd, Hove • AVEDON CAROL (as of 29 May), 9a Greenleaf Rd, East Ham, London, E6 1DX • BENEDICT S. CULLUM, 18 Valley Rd, Rickmansworth, Herts, WD3 4DS • NEIL GAIMAN, 73 High St, East Grinstead, West Sussex, RH19 3DD • WILLIAM T GOODALL & ALISON HASTON, 2 Spark Tce, Cove, Aberdeen, AB1 4ND • ROELOF GOUDRIAAN, Noordwal 2, 2573 EA Den Haag, Netherlands • STEVE & LEAH HIGGINS, 200 Basingstoke Rd, Reading, Berks, RG2 0HH • LUCY HUNTZINGER (who promises not to move again for a whole year), 2315 Bush St, San Francisco, CA 94115, USA • PAUL HURTLEY, 270 Winthrop Ave, New Haven, CT 06511, USA • BOB JEWETT, 105 Craigton Rd, Gowan, Glasgow • ROBIN JOHNSON, 30 Mona St, Battery Point, TAS 7000, Australia • KEN JOSENHANS, PO Box 191, East Lansing, MI 48823, USA • MIKE LEWIS, 4 Smallman St, Stafford, Staffs, ST16 3PF • BRUCE J MACDONALD, 23 Leslie Cres, Ayr, Scotland • MIKE MOLLOY, 301 Langlands Rd, Drumoyne, Glasgow, G51 • KEITH & KRYSTYNA OBORN, Bishops Cottage, Park House Lane, Reading, RG3 2AH • LINDA PICKERSGILL (temporary, May-July), c/o Arthur Krawecke, 8508 Dumonte St, Metairie, LA 70003, USA • PETER PINTO, 80 Eastham St, Lancaster, LA1 3AY • JIMMY ROBERTSON & ANNE WARREN, 62 North End Rd, Golders Green, London, NW.11 • PETER SINGLETON, 5 St Andrew's Rd, Claughton, Birkenhead, L43 1TB • FRAN SKENE & WILLIAM C.S. AFFLECK ASCH LOWE (it says here), 302-2326 Eton St, Vancouver, BC, Canada V5L 1E1 • SUE THOMASON, 1 Merrick Sq, Dolgellau, Gwynedd, LL40 1LT • NICK WEATHERHEAD, 'GAFIAH', Kinlochbervie, via Lairg, Sutherland, Scotland ("I have bought an Hotel near to Cape Wrath. After 30 years in the book trade I need a change!") • MARGARET WELBANK & NICK LOWE. 52 Mansfield Rd, London, NW3 2HT • CHERRY WILDER, 19 Egelsbacher Str, D-6070 Langen/Hessen, W Germany • ALEX ZBYSLAW, 197 Herbert Ave, Poole, Dorset, BH12 4HR •


This year's London Book Fair (10-12 April) was excitingly different from those held in previous years, in that to a large extent it was dead as a dodo. Most people realized this on the opening Wednesday and so didn't bother attending the rest of it; your correspondent, by contrast with the rest of the sheep, turned up on the Thursday.

Actually, it was a shame. Most companies exhibiting had decided this year that it would make more financial sense not to bother sending editorial people, so stands were staffed by hardbitten sales types. Unfortunately, booksellers and librarians, presumably having discovered last year that the only exhibitors were editorial people who didn't know how to take their stock orders, stayed away in droves. So the halls were filled with sales people responding "No, sorry, our editor isn't here. Say, would you like to buy a copy of ..." The only mass-market paperbackers who seemed there in strength were Corgi (on the Bantam stand) and Sphere (on the Oh shit we've just been taken over by Penguin stand: Penguin themselves didn't have a stand). Also recently taken over by Penguin were Rainbird, on whose stand Maxim Jakubowski was in fine fettle. He told me the takeover made no differences except good ones, and contrived to seem remarkably pleased about it all. Already the Rainbird list has a slightly more skiffy-ish look to it than in days of yore.

High point was the New Era stand, whose sole project on display was Battlefield Earth – the paperback hits the bookshops on 6 June. As if that wasn't enough to make your gonads atrophy, New Era also displayed the album of the soundtrack of the book, composed by El Ron himself using "tomorrow's state-of-the-art computers" and featuring "top recording artists Chick Corea [no relation of Huntington, one assumes], Gayle Moran, Nicky Hopkins and Stanley Clarke". Well, I've heard of Nicky Hopkins. The soundtrack itself – "This is the first book to have a musical soundtrack!", for some reason – resembles 1960s musak, which no doubt shows that aesthetic taste is cyclical... Moreover, "Battlefield Earth is being made into two multi-million dollar movies. Directed by internationally acclaimed Ken Annakin ... produced by William Immerman, senior executive on the Star Wars production." Wow!

I missed the episode in which a twelve-foot Psychlo posed with a scantily clad blonde outside the Barbican in high winds and sub-zero temperatures, but was able to watch it on video later. Actually, I wonder if someone at New Era isn't likely to be cast into outer darkness without even an E-meter. Can one detect a trace of irony in the publicity puff: "Terl, the alien Psychlo ... enjoyed enormous popularity during his tours promoting the hardback release. But his ego was not satisfied – now he plans an even bigger comeback ..."

This years winner of my annual Great Idea For An International Coedition Someone Had At An Editorial Meeting And Nobody Ever Got Around To Stomping On It award was found on the Blandford stand. A fat, lavishly produced book, it was called National Anthems Of The World. Finally, exclusive confirmation from Arrow's Nick Webb (while choking on a sticky bun) to your correspondent that it was not he who invented the generic description "a cocaine and blow-job novel". [PB]


TAFF constitutional revisions were hammered out in a practically smoke-filled room at Yorcon, containing enough present and past administrators to have changed the course of the simultaneous '86 Eastercon voting (see above – a fact which did not go unnoticed by the Contravention committee as they subsequently poured beer over me). Upshot: future winners probably need to pick up a minimal 20% of final (adjusted) votes in both Europe and N America. If no one evinces such multi-continental appeal, the victor is presumably deemed to be 'Hold Over Funds'. (Pete Presford comments, as at one stage did I, that no one objected when Justin "You Don't Know Me – I Don't Know You" Ackroyd came over and, in the event, won all hearts as GUFF delegate. But the massed TAFF sages felt that being known in the host country was very much part of TAFF's ancient, unwritten tradition.)

GUFF results are probably in an enclosed flyer, but in summary: Eve Harvey 42 UK votes, 25 Aussie, total 67; John Jarrold 22, 1, 23; write-ins for Martha Beck (1), Roelof Goudriaan (3) and Paul Skelton (1). Eve will thus travel to Aussiecon in Melbourne later this year, together with famous husband and chattel John.

DUFF results are definitely not in an enclosed flyer, so no need to mention them ... hang on a minute. Marty & Robbie Cantor get the big chance to meet the Harveys (plus incidental perks such as Aussiecon); after an Australian ballot running to five counts the figures boggle the brain, but Mike Glicksohn was the last contender to be eliminated, preceded by Joni Stopa, before whom rich brown (sic) bit the dust. Minimal votes went to 'Hold Over Funds' and four write-ins: John Bangsund, Bill the Cat, Martha Beck, Dana Siegel.

SEFF: Old news now ... nervous Jim Barker was belatedly persuaded by Swedish admirers to stand against Steve Green and Hans-Jürgen Mader as an, er, "official write-in candidate", with a plug for him on the reprinted ballot. The trip is to Swecon in August; there may be time to rush 50p and a vote for your favourite by 1 June to Colin Fine, 205 Coldham's Lane, Cambridge, CB1 3HY.


Plagiarism Shock! John Dallman forwards an entry from I.F. Clarke's skiffy bibliography The Tale Of The Future (1961): "[1914] Anonymous (Carrel, F.) 2010. T.W. Laurie, 249p. A super-scientist leads the world towards peace and happiness: 'human nature was divested of its weakness, its baseness, its cruelty and crime'." And of Jupiter.

Comings & Goings: RIP Larry Shaw, long-time SF editor, who died aged 60 on 1 April.... Soon to be put down for his first convention: Graeme Martin Wallace, who entered fandom on 24 April for reasons thought not unconnected with Alison & Jon Wallace.... Long-denied suspicions of author "Richard Bachman" were confirmed when his cover burst open, and out poked (Alien-fashion) the head of Stephen King. Ace reviewer Chris Priest reports that "Bachman's" latest, Thinner, "is everything a hack novel should be".... Mr Priest's latest literary offspring is The Glamour, again: he agreed with Doubleday editorial criticisms, and in a merciless assault on completists' wallets has rewritten the book (especially its ending) for the coming US edition.... Avedon Carol & Rob Hansen are having a wedding party in June irrespective of whether they contrive to arrange a wedding.... The Ansible Poll is hereby laid to rest in an unmarked grave, an idea (judging from response) whose time is clearly past.

"Do You Remember when humans were heroes, androids didn't have social hang-ups and the only good alien was a dead one?" Thus the flyer for Hamlyn's VENTURE SF line, edited by Andromeda Bookshop stalwarts Rog Peyton and Rod Milner. The first 3 choices (two reprinted from famous quality publishers Robert Hale) amply fulfil the flyer's brutish promise. Venture publishes all "action adventure – no short stories, no fantasies, no boredom." Most people probably won't struggle far enough into choice 3, David Drake's awful Hammer's Slammers, to find it's a collection of short stories....

The Fungus was the latest nasty from Harry Adam Knight, really John Brosnan and Leroy Kettle reluctantly foregoing personal notoriety in order to be able to put "The New Stephen King – Starburst Magazine" on the jacket. This might otherwise have lacked street credibility, the Starburst puff being of course written by Mr Brosnan, though rumour has it that those actual words were intelligently cut by Starburst's editor.... A fungal launch party saw billions of SF celebrities shoehorning themselves into a club bar which faithfully recreated the Black Hole of Calcutta. The contingent from mycotoxic publishers Star Books contrived to seem wholly unembarrassed by the fact that all was being paid for by the authors ... which was perhaps why Leroy kept reducing peoples' appetites by relating Fungus scenes so disgusting that even Star and John Brosnan had made him take them out. (Among the bits left in was a very consciousness-raising rape sequence, with the vile aggressor so ravaged with Fungus [a sort of cross between dry rot and athlete's foot] that in mid-rape an important part of him snaps off. Quite right too.) As your unbiased reviewer wrote, "This book degrades mushrooms."

Wimps vs Morons: More leakage from the bent administrators of famed unpopularity poll COFF: as of 8 April the leading item was 'The Wimps Who Protested About Rob Holdstock's Stripogram' (27 votes), hard pressed by 'The Morons Who Gave Rob Holdstock A Stripogram' (25 votes). Graham James followed with 10, but not really, since people's friend Steve Green had 12 less 5 negative votes (a concept thrust on COFF by dynamic Katie Hoare). Trailing were Greg Pickersgill (7) and sunshine twins Abi Frost and Joy Hibbert (5 each)....

The Notional is an Aussie newszine from Ditmar fanwriter award winner Leigh Edmonds, and Valma Brown. They scheme to make mock of Ansible by unscrupulous use of Regularity and Frequency, not to mention striking low blows at Thyme by inserting Layout. $10A for locals; outlanders' rates $15A per year to PO Box 433 Civic Sq, ACT 2608, Australia.

Mags: erstwhile office boy Ian Marsh gloats that he's taken over as power-crazed White Dwarf assistant editor, thus doing all the work "except select the sexist covers and write the editorials." Rush your scenarios for "Fandom: the Fighting Fantasy Game" to him at 27-29 Sunbeam Rd, London, NW10 6JP. Meanwhile Jack Schofield of Practical Computing instructs fans to piss off and stop sending him fiction since he "just hasn't got room for SF any more." Computing: The Magazine has leapt to fill the breach by offering a plush £88 per thousand words for computeroid SF (55 Frith St, London, W1A 2HG), but so far has contented itself with reprints.

Editorial. For those who feel short-changed by the new format: you still get lots of words, honest, just less paper to hang in the bog. All readers are instructed (doubtless in vain) to buy The Third Millennium: A History Of The World Ad 2000-3000 by Brian Stableford and yrs truly, out late June from Sidgwick & Jackson; an in-joke or two may be found within, but the real laughs will come from the authors' photos in the more downmarket Sunday colour supplements. One artistic loon frogmarched us round Reading U campus in search of surreal backgrounds: watch for the pained look on Brian's face as he draws the line at posing in a tree.

Cartoon: Taral

Hazel's Language Lessons No.34: Grebo
(or, First Aid in South West Liberia)

pea gyie Finger rubbed in pepper or medicine which is put down the throat to induce vomiting.
kye di gobo Grasshopper used for getting rid of hard spots on the skin. Salt is sprinkled on the spots, and the grasshopper eats the salt, also the spots.
saa Peppered water forced up the nose of children either as a punishment or as a medicine.