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Ansible® 439, February 2024

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: Atom, from 1984. Available for SAE, bazils, erbs, deodands, gids, grues, hoons or leucomorphs.

The Bagful of Dreams

Steven Brust responded to the tweeted news that he is not dead: ‘I don’t like to brag, but I have specialized in not being dead for years, and I really feel like I’ve gotten good at it. I would say that I am one of the most not-dead writers working today.’ (Xitter, 25 January)

R.F. Kuang was widely expected to be a 2023 Hugo finalist with her Nebula-winning novel Babel, and according to now-released voting statistics it was the third most popular nominee. But the Chengdu Worldcon Hugo administrators declared it ineligible ‘After reviewing the [WSFS] Constitution and the rules we must follow’ (my worried italics). There is of course speculation about interference from the state or state-fearing local committee members to prevent an expat winner from saying anything inconvenient in Chinese at the Hugo ceremony. Also ruled ineligible were the Sandman tv series as dramatic presentation in both categories (Long Form because one episode got more votes than the series as a whole; Short Form for that episode with no reason given); former Hugo finalist Paul Weimer as fan writer; and Xiran Jay Zhao for the Astounding award – second year of eligibility; there was no question about the first. (, 20 January) Kuang, Zhao and Neil Gaiman of Sandman have all criticized or protested oppressive PRC/CCP actions.

R.L. Stine, author of the ‘Goosebumps’ children’s horror series, has been named as a 2024 Grand Master by the Mystery Writers of America.

Chuck Tingle, who famously wears a pink bag over his head for all public appearances as a way of dealing with his neurodivergence issues, was invited to speak at the Texas Library Association conference in April. And then uninvited: ‘the reason given was that people could possibly be uncomfortable with my mask’. TJ Klune, another invited speaker who was to be on the same panel, dropped out in protest. (File 770, 9 January) Later: TLA issued a somewhat unsatisfactory apology – no mention of the cancellation or why it happened – and a renewed invitation, but Tingle now felt uncomfortable and declined. (TLA; Tumblr, 11 January)

Jane Yolen enjoyed a little gloat about five of her books being reviewed on one page of Publishers Weekly. (Facebook, 15 January)


2-4 Feb • Contabile 34 (UK filk), Palace Hotel, Buxton. Rates at the door are £42 adult reg; £32 unwaged; under-18s £1 per year of age when joining; under-5s free. See

2-4 Feb • International Black Speculative Writing Festival, Goldsmiths University, London, and online. £50 reg, £25 concessions (plus fees); online, day and other options at

2-5 Feb • Scotiacon (furry), Crowne Plaza Hotel, Glasgow. ‘Prehistoric Panic’ theme. £100 reg; £45/day. See

16-18 Feb • Bob Fowke sf art exhibition at Bishop’s Castle Arts Festival, Shropshire. 10am-4pm. Free. See

16-18 Feb • UK Ghost Story Festival, Museum of Making, Derby. £105 plus booking fee. Also online 12-15 February, £40 plus fee. See

24 Feb • Iain M. Banks Celebration at Faversham Literary Festival, The Alexander Centre. 3pm. Tickets £6. See

24-25 Feb • Surrey Steampunk Convivial, Stoneleigh, Epsom. See

16 Mar • Gollanczfest 2024, Leonardo Royal London, St Paul’s, London. 9:30am-6pm. £63; concessions £42. See

23 Mar • Darkness in the Fields (folk horror film festival), QUAD, Derby. £30 reg. See

23 Mar • Picocon 41, Blackett Lecture Theatre, Imperial College, London. ‘Watch this space’ for details at

24 Mar • Paperback & Pulp Book Fair, Holiday Inn Bloomsbury, Coram St, London WC1N 1HT. 9:30am-3pm. £3 admission. Combined with the Bloomsbury Ephemera Fair: see

29 Mar - 1 Apr • Levitation (Eastercon), Telford International Centre. Now £140 reg; £60 concessions; £35 supporting/virtual only; day £35 Friday or Monday, £50 Saturday or Sunday. See

7 Sep • Edge-Lit 10, QUAD Centre, Market Place, Derby. £35 reg. See

25-27 Oct • Festival of Fantastic Films, Pendulum Hotel, Manchester. £95 reg until 21 February; then £110. See

Rumblings Sci-Fi Ball, February: no 2024 event according to Facebook (December).
Glasgow 2024 Worldcon hotel bookings opened in January; likewise Hugo nominations on the 27th, the latter temporarily closed online owing to software problems found by nominators.
Seattle Worldcon 2025: the expected January price rise has been delayed for technical reasons. See
Eurocon 2026 Bid: the Berlin MetropolCon is bidding for a 2-5 July event. See

Infinitely Improbable

As We See Others Seeing Us. ‘“... you’ve heard of a friend of mine named Joe Henderson? Writes science fiction?” / “That escapist dianetics-spawning rubbish?” the analyst exclaimed, as if each word were spelled with four letters.’ (Anthony Boucher, ‘The Star Dummy’, 1952)

Awards. Emmys: The Last of Us won in eight categories. [F770]
Golden Globes: musical or comedy, Poor Things; cinema and box office achievement, Barbie; animated, The Boy and the Heron.
Oscar nominations: Barbie 8, Poor Things 11.
Philip K. Dick shortlist: Danged Black Thing by Eugen Bacon; The Museum of Human History by Rebekah Bergman; Infinity Gate by M.R. Carey; Wild Spaces by S.L. Coney; Where Rivers Go to Die by Dilman Dila; These Burning Stars by Bethany Jacobs.

Astronomical Units. On that newly discovered cosmic structure: ‘A GIANT ring – 15 times the size of the moon [...] with a circumference of 4 billion light years’. (Metro, 12 January) [BA]

R.I.P. Peter Berkos (1922-2024), US sound effects editor for Battlestar Galactica (1978), Buck Rogers in the 25th Century (1979), Voyagers! (1982-1983) and many more, died on 2 January aged 101. [SJ]
Terry Bisson (1942-2024), noted US author whose first novels were Wyrldmaker (1981) and Talking Man (1986), and who won Hugo, Nebula and Sturgeon awards for his 1990 story ‘Bears Discover Fire’, died on 10 January aged 81. [CP]
Adan Canto (1981-2024), Mexican actor in X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), Designated Survivor (2016-2019) and The Devil Below (2021), died on 8 January aged 42. [LP]
Fred Chappell (1936-2024), US author whose first novel was the Cthulhoid Dagon (1968) and who won two World Fantasy Awards for short fiction, died on 5 January aged 87. [GVG]
Darrah Chavey, US academic, fan and sf scholar long involved with WisCon and a contributor to ISFDb, died on 6 January. [PDF]
Mickey Cottrell (1944-2024), US actor in Hellraiser: Bloodline (1996), Volcano (1997) and genre tv including later Star Trek series, died on 1 January aged 79. [O]
Peter Crombie, US actor in The Blob (1988) and House of Frankenstein (1997, as the Creature), died on 10 January aged 71. [SJ]
David Emge (1946-2024), US actor in Dawn of the Dead (1978) and Hellmaster (1992), died on 20 January aged 77. [SJ]
Tisa Farrow (1951-2024), US actress in The Initiation of Sarah (1978), Zombie Flesh Eaters (1979) and others, died on 10 January aged 72. [SJ]
April Ferry (1932-2024), Emmy-winning US costume designer with many genre credits from Poltergeist II (1986) via Flubber (1997), Donnie Darko (2001) and Terminator 3 (2001) to Game of Thrones (2016), died on 11 January aged 91. [SJ]
Gary Graham (1950-2024), US actor in Alien Nation (1989-1990 plus spinoffs), Robot Jox (1989) and Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005), died on 22 January aged 73. [LP]
Georgina Hale (1943-2024), UK actress in The Watcher in the Woods (1980), Murder on the Moon (1989), several T. Bag children’s tv series and films (title role, 1990-1992), Beyond Bedlam (1994) and Cockneys vs. Zombies (2012), died on 4 January aged 80. [SJ]
Lee Harris (1936-2023), South Africa-born UK publisher, writer, musician and activist whose underground Brainstorm Comix first published Bryan Talbot and John Higgins, died on 14 December. [BT]
Jack Hogan (1929-2023), US actor in Now Is Tomorrow (1958) and genre tv series, died on 6 December aged 94. [SG]
Jennell Jaquays (1956-2024), US games designer and RPG/videogame artist whose credits include D&D modules and Quake II/III, died on 10 January aged 67. [SHS]
Norman Jewison (1926-2024), Canadian-born US director of Jesus Christ Superstar (1973) and Rollerball (1975), died on 20 January aged 97. [GVG]
Glynis Johns (1923-2024), UK actress in Miranda (1948), No Highway in the Sky (1951), Mary Poppins (1964), Scooby Doo and the Ghoul School (1988) and others, died on 4 January aged 100. [LP]
Harry Johnson (1942-2024), US actor with genre credits from Battlestar Galactica (1978 tv & film), Captain America (1979) and Time Warp (1981) to Vampires Anonymous (2003), died on 2 January aged 81. [AIP]
Laurie Johnson (1927-2024), who scored Dr Strangelove (1964), First Men in the Moon (1964) and Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter (1974), died on 16 January aged 96. He wrote the theme tunes for The Avengers (1965-1969) and The New Avengers (1976-1977). [SJ]
Tom Jones, UK fan active since the 1960s, who edited the fanzines Proteus with Brian Stableford, Waif and BSFA Newsletter/Matrix both before and after its 1976 title change, died on 23 December. He was BSFA vice-chair (de facto chair) 1977-1979. [KF]
Mark Kharitonov (1937-2024), Russian novelist and winner of the Russian Booker Prize whose novels include the children’s fantasies Uchitel vraniya (Teacher of Lying, 2003) and Prazdnik neozhidannostey (Feast of Surprises, 2017), died on 8 January aged 86. [AM]
Anthony Lawrence (1928-2024), US tv screenwriter who co-created and wrote for The Sixth Sense (1972) and The Phoenix (1981-1982), died on 18 January aged 95. [SJ]
Emanuel Lottem (1944-2024), Israeli editor, translator of much canonical sf/f including Lord of the Rings and Dune, founder of the Israeli Society for SF and Fantasy, and editor with Sheldon Teitelbaum of the anthologies Zion’s Fiction (2018) and More Zion’s Fiction (2021), died on 7 January aged 80. [ST]
Brian Lumley (1937-2024), prolific UK horror author whose many series include the Lovecraftian ‘Titus Crow’ (from 1974) and the vampiric ‘Necroscope’ (from 1982), died on 2 January aged 86. His life achievement honours include Stoker (2009) and World Fantasy (2010) awards. (
Martin McCallum, UK producer of 500+ Broadway and West End shows including Cats (1981) and Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark (2011), died on 14 January aged 73. [AIP]
Brian McConnachie (1942-2024), US actor in Strange Brew (1983) and screenwriter for Earthday Birthday (1990), Shining Time Station (1989-1993 plus spinoffs) and Noddy (1998-2000 plus spinoff film), died on 5 January aged 81. [LP]
Janusz Majewski (1931-2024), Polish director whose credits include the horror films Awatar (1964) and Lokis (1970), died on 10 January aged 92. [AM]
Stan Mattson (1937-2024), US academic who founded the C.S. Lewis Foundation in 1986, died on 9 January. [F770]
Cindy Morgan (1954-2023), US actress in Tron (1982) and Amanda & the Alien (1995) died on 30 December aged 69. [AIP]
Jack O’Connell (1959-2024), US noir thriller author who contributed to F&SF and whose sf novel is The Resurrectionist (2008), died on 1 January aged 64. [GVG]
Christian Oliver, German-born actor in Hercules Reborn (2014), Sense8 (2015) and The Outer Wild (2018), died on 4 January aged 51. [LP]
Conrad E. Palmisano (1948-2024), US stuntman, stunt coordinator and second unit director whose many genre films include Oh, God! (1977), The Black Hole (1979), RoboCop 2 (1990), Batman Forever (1995) and Peter Pan (2003), died on 10 January aged 75. [SJ]
Roger Perkins, UK fan active since the 1960s, who worked on conventions including the 1987 and 1989 Eastercons and received the 1990 Doc Weir Award, died on the night of 15/16 January. [JB]
Tom Purdom (1936-2024), US author active since 1957, whose debut novel was I Want the Stars (1964) and who was still publishing new fiction in 2023, died on 14 January aged 87. [SHS]
Herman Raucher (1928-2023), US screenwriter whose genre film was Watermelon Man (1970), died on 28 December aged 95. [AIP]
Nikolay Romanetskiy (1953-2024), Russian author and editor of the sf magazine Polden, whose 28 novels include 5 X-Files novelizations, died on 10 January. [AM]
Gastón Santos (1931-2024), Mexican actor in El pantano de las ánimas (Swamp of the Lost Souls, 1957) and El grito de la muerte (The Living Coffin, 1959), died on 17 January aged 92. [SJ]
Peter Schickele (1935-2024), US composer who created P.D.Q. Bach and scored Silent Running (1972), died on 16 January aged 88. [LP]
David J. Skal (1952-2024) , US author whose first novel was Scavengers (1980) and who published nonfiction about horror, Bram Stoker and vampire films, died on 1 January aged 71. [LP]
Yuri Solomin (1935-2024), Russian actor in the genre films Obyknovennoye chudo (An Ordinary Miracle, 1978) and Lunnaya raduga (Moon Rainbow, 1983), died on 11 January aged 88. [AM]
David Soul (1943-2024), US Starsky & Hutch actor in the tv miniseries Salem’s Lot (1979) and World War III (1982) and the mockumentary Mermaids: The Body Found (2011), died on 4 January aged 80. [LP]
Sergey Sukhinov (1950-2024), Russian author and translator whose 35 novels include 15 authorized sequels to Edmond Hamilton’s ‘Starwolf’ trilogy, died on 10 January. [AM]
Tracy Tormé (1959-2024), US screenwriter/producer whose credits include Star Trek: TNG (12 episodes 1987-1989), Fire in the Sky (1993), Sliders (co-creator; 87 episodes 1995-2000) and I Am Legend (2007), died on 4 January aged 64. [F770]
Mike Voiles, US comics collector and historian whose ‘Mike’s Amazing World of Comics’ website is regarded as a major resource, died on 27 November. [GD]
Howard Waldrop (1946-2024), much-loved US author active since 1972, best known for shorter works of complexly mythologized alternate history (in the 1987 comedy ‘Night of the Cooters’, some of H.G. Wells’s Martians land in the Wild West), died on 14 January aged 77. He won a Nebula and World Fantasy Award for ‘The Ugly Chickens’ (1980) and received the World Fantasy life achievement honour in 2021. Howard was a popular and entertaining convention guest: I and many other UK fans remember him fondly from Mexicon IV in 1991.

The Weakest Link. ‘Which British naval commander lost his right arm in battle in 1797?’ Contestant: ‘Captain Hook.’ (BBC1, Celebrity Mastermind) [PE]
• ‘On which continent is the 1994 Disney animation The Lion King set?’ Contestant: ‘Antarctica.’ (ITV, The Chase) [PE]

Random Fandom. FAAn Awards for 2023 fanzine activity: voting opened in January and closes on 24 February. Anyone can vote. Details and voting form in The Incompleat Register 2023 at
Hugo Voting Statistics for the 2023 Chengdu Worldcon were at long last released on 20 January. Besides troubling eligibility decisions discussed above, the reported figures contain many anomalies and impossibilities, as noted by (20 January), Cora Buhlert (21 January), Camestros Felapton (21 January on) and others. US Hugo administrator Dave McCarty insisted that the magic words ‘the rules we must follow’ fully explain why nominees were disqualified and that the frequent question ‘which rule?’ had thus already been answered, stupid! He belatedly apologized for the increasingly abusive tone of his Facebook responses, except when replying deferentially but still unhelpfully to Neil Gaiman.
Worldcon Intellectual Property announced resignations (Dave McCarty, Kevin Standlee as chair), censurings (McCarty for public comments, plus Chengdu co-chairs Ben Yalow and Chen Shi) and a reprimand (Standlee for public comments), all related to the Hugo debacle. (30 January)

The Dead Past. 30 Years Ago, ‘John Clute enjoyed many enthusiastic communications from The Women’s Press about their reissue of Joanna Russ’s The Female Man without, they confided, that awful downmarket sci-fi cover – by, as it happens, Judith Clute....’ (Ansible 79, February 1994)
80 Years Ago, a neologism adopted by the Los Angeles SF Society was deplored: ‘One particularly irksome habit of the new regime on Bixel St. is the plural for the word fan, i.e. fen.’ (The Knanve 2, February 1944)

Creepy Dept. US horror author J.D. Barker had the bright idea of asking attractive young female bloggers to promote his new book by posting nude selfie videos ‘using only the book to cover up your naughty bits’. His claim that the offending emails were somehow sent by accident did not convince; his agent has dumped him. (Publishers Weekly, 26 January)

Fanfundery. TransAtlantic Fan Fund. The 2024 TAFF race from North America to the Glasgow Worldcon is now on, with two candidates: Vanessa Applegate and Sarah Gulde. See for the announcement in Taffluorescence! 2, plus ballot, platforms and online voting form. Voting continues until 2 April.
European Fan Fund: voting is open for the 2024 EFF race to Eurocon (Erasmuscon in Rotterdam, 16-19 August) with candidates Jane Mondrup (Denmark) and Joro Penchev (Bulgaria); votes must be cast by 1 April. Further details and candidates’ platforms at

Magazine Scene. The online rebranded on 23 January as Reactor (, ‘a magazine that will be more of a pop culture hub for people who love genre of all types’. (, 9 January)

Thog’s Masterclass. The Wind from Nowhere. ‘The Professor thinks the planet is lopsided. Too many mountains all on one side. They give it an eccentric spin. When the massif has passed top dead centre it begins to fall, gathering impetus, so that the whole place gets a faster spin. It revolves faster than the atmosphere can follow it and so you get a wind.’ (W.E. Johns, The Edge of Beyond, 1958)
I Have No Mouth But ... ‘A bubbling scream of agony died in the dwarf's throat before it could emerge.’ (Henry Kuttner, ‘Thunder in the Dawn’, 1938) [BA]
Not Pale Brown? ‘Ken Kourian’s eyes, pale green like thirsty grass, bent to the coffee-stained page in front of him.’ (Gareth Rubin, The Turnglass,2023) [DA]
See Nipples and Die. ‘As she met Mary’s coldness her nipples deburgeoned slightly, as if scared into submission, frightened away.’ (Philip K. Dick, Clans of the Alphane Moon,1964) [JV]
Bootstrap Dept. ‘The boy’s eyebrows shot up with excitement, pulling him briefly off the pavement.’ (Chris & Jen Sugden, High Vaultage, 2024) [DVB]

Geeks’ Corner

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Group Theory.
• 15 February 2024, 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. Besides the various stresses of serious dental work and new hearing aids, I’m feeling exhausted by the ongoing Chengdu Hugos discussion which has of course Plunged All Fandom Into War; also by this issue’s excess of obituaries, including Ansible readers Brian Lumley and Howard Waldrop (it was always a delight to get a handwritten note from Howard). Bear with me.

The Dead Past II. 20 Years Ago: ‘Ambrose Bierce is still controversial. After reissuing his The Devil’s Dictionary [...] Bloomsbury were inundated with requests for Bierce interviews, while one UK bookshop chain complained bitterly about the lack of signed copies....’ (Ansible 199, February 2004)

More TAFF Books. Thanks to John Coxon for two TAFF trip reports newly added to the free downloads page: his own for 2011, Best. Trip. Ever., and Anna Raftery’s for 2016, Cuttlefish and Cake. See The TAFF ebook compilations A Vince Clarke Treasury (2015) and Terry Carr’s Fandom Harvest II (2019) both now have paperback editions at, with all proceeds from sales of course going to the fund.

Random Fandom II. More Hugo Aftermath. Word from fandom in China, where WeChat is the popular messaging app: ‘Now worldcon has become a bad word in wechat groups, and anything related to it willbe complained about as soon as it’s posted.’ (Hugo Book Club on Xitter, 29 January)

R.I.P. II – Late and Last-Minute Reports. Hinton Battle (1956-2024), multiple Tony-winning German-born actor in The Wiz (Broadway 1975) and genre tv series including the US Red Dwarf pilot (1992) and the famous musical episode of Buffy the Vampire Slayer (2001), died on 29 January aged 67. [AIP]
Roger Earnshaw, UK fan, collector, convention-goer and generous supporter of the fan funds, died on 26 April 2022. [MPl]
Bill Hayes (1925-2024), US actor in Once Upon a Mattress (1964) and the tv soap – with occasional genre storylines – Days of Our Lives (1970-2023), died on 12 January aged 98. [LP]
Klaus Johansen, Danish fanzine fan active mainly in the 1970s and 1980s, died on 14 January 2023. [JA]
Matthew Pavletich (1965-2024), New Zealand fan who was a joint FFANZ winner in 2004, died on 26 January aged 58. [MPi]

Some Links from the Ansible home page.
• Bad Things Come in Threes: Rich Horton on Terry Bisson (1942-2024), Tom Purdom (1936-2024) and Howard Waldrop (1946-2024)
The Guardian on D.G. Compton at last
• 2024 Hugo nominations open
• 2023 Hugo voting statistics published; PDF link; commentary at File 770; Cora Buhlert;; Camestros Felapton with multiple posts; Hugo administrator remains tight-lipped (File 770); The Guardian takes notice; a Chinese perspective (F770) ; Hugo Admin apology-of-sorts (F770); Worldcon Intellectual Property announces Hugo-related censuring, reprimand, resignations
• SF² Concatenation Spring 2024 Newscast

Thog’s Golden Oldies from Ansible 199, February 2004. Newtonian Dept. ‘It is impossible to shrug one’s shoulders in free fall; the motion sends you flying across the cabin, and Brian was too well-trained to make waste motions of that sort.’ (Marion Zimmer Bradley, ‘The Climbing Wave’, F&SF February 1954)
Spare Parts Dept. ‘Botha slipped out of his chair. It rocked briefly in his absence, then steadied to await the next set of perambulating buttocks.’ (Alan Dean Foster, Diuturnity’s Dawn, 2002)

Ansible® 439 © David Langford, 2024. Thanks to Dev Agarwal, Brian Ameringen, Johan Anglemark, David V. Barrett, John Bray, Gordon Davie, Paul Di Filippo, File 770, Keith Freeman, Steve Green, Steve Jones, Andrey Meshavkin, Omega, Lawrence Person, Curt Phillips, Marion Pitman, Mark Plummer, Andrew I. Porter, Private Eye, Steven H Silver, Bryan Talbot, Sheldon Teitelbaum, Gordon Van Gelder, Jan Vaněk jr, and our Hero Distributors: Durdles Books (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 February 2024