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Ansible 71, June 1993

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From Dave Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU. Fax 0734 669914. ISSN 0265-9816. Logo by Dan Steffan. Ansible is available for stamped addressed envelopes, whim, or even £12/year. Fanzine Control Number 5-271-009.

MEXICON 5. The usual reprobates and bastard scum (phrase © Paul Barnett, 1993) gathered at the Hotel St Nicholas in Scarborough last weekend – Friday being the 129th anniversary of the arrival of Maximilian of Habsburg in Veracruz to become Emperor of Mexico.... • GoH Pat Cadigan remembered your editor from ConFiction, as evidenced by great ululating cries of 'YOU DOG, LANGFORD!' on each encounter. Her micro-skirts absorbed much male attention until Deborah Beale turned up to share this arduous workload. High-hemmed copycats were soon sighted, P. Barnett in unspeakable shorts and unwontedly mini-skirted Maureen Speller muttering 'I need velcro knees to keep my legs together.' • Other GoH Norman Spinrad's secret giant chilli recipe ('serves 100-150') was doled out by Hotel Portion Control on the basis that 600-1,200 people were to be fed, leading to exciting Eurosurpluses. • Low Cuisine: in Scarborough a restaurant order of tagliatelle was liable to come with copious chips and Yorkshire pudding. Lee Wood: 'Do you have any of that oil stuff, you know, with kind of peppers, you know, floating in it?' Waitress: 'No. What makes you think we'd have that?' Lee: 'Well, this is an Italian restaurant....' Waitress: 'Yes, but it's in Scarborough, for God's sake.' [PB] • Iain Banks danced erotically with a giant inflatable Edvard Munch 'Scream' doll from the Linda Krawecke Bad Taste Collection. • John Jarrold loudly bewailed his 40th birthday but drowned the sorrow so effectively that he vanished for what seemed a whole day. • Faith Brooker delivered a harpy tirade against worthless Dave Langford for having even mentioned the BSFA Matrix rumour that the Gollancz graphic-novels line might have folded. 'We've signed up Pratchett's Mort,' she screeched in triumph, 'and something by Gaiman & McKean too, so there!' As your editor searched the floor for portions of his anatomy, Faith flounced off with the parting cry, 'AND MAKE SURE YOU PRINT THAT!' • Colin Greenland relentlessly plugged his new Arabian fantasy Harem's Way. • Peter Weston geriatrically wheezed: 'I'm in Rotary now. Fandom for the over-50s.' • Eileen Weston looked fondly on young Martin Smith and cried, 'Tighten those thighs, Martin!' • Gamma hugely increased the health and sobriety level of Mexicon by (in company with D. West and founder Greg Pickersgill) not turning up. Also not drinking at Mexicon were Rog Peyton ('I just need to lose a few stone and then ...') and spiritually healed but still fragile Simon Ounsley. • Ken Campbell's threatened one-man show Pigspurt became a try-out performance of its new sequel Jamais Vu; our all-Stableford review team reported 'Great stuff ... beyond compare!' (Brian); 'A bit rude.' (Kate)BSFA Awards went to Kim Stanley Robinson's Red Mars (novel), other other GoH Ian McDonald's 'The Innocents' (short) and Jim Burns's Hearts, Hands and Voices cover (art). • The long-heralded BSFA AGM saw what Ch*rles Str*ss called 'wholly democratic unanimous votes and equally democratic one-candidate elections'. Co-ordinator Kev McVeigh was shuffled aside as Vice-President for Keeping Rather Quiet In Future, in favour of Catie Cary and Maureen Speller; the apathy-ridden Dramatic Presentation award category got the chop. • Linda Krawecke's Collection also gave Mexicon the Abigail Frost 'Fuck Off And Die' editorial pistol, in the shape of a one-legged dinosaur with a huge, penile trigger; the revoltingly tactile rubber Brain (of Mexicon) with its large black moustache; and a video programme consisting entirely of epics like Piranha Women in the Avocado Jungle of Death. • Pam Wells managed to fall off two trains en route to the event and frequently showed people her scars. • Tom Shippey gave the Mexicon Lecture, infuriating Tech people by hurling himself to and fro, away from the microphone, out of the spotlight, etc. 'Who needs a PA to hear Shippey?' said one fan, adding: 'And not being able to see him is a huge improvement.' • Late-night Vignette: a bleary but drooling Simon Polley hotly demanded to know the name of that short-skirted beauty over there, until informed that she was his wife. • Intersection was referred to in hushed, superstitious tones as The Scottish Convention, and Tim Illingworth (in absentia) as 'the Thane'. • Rob Holdstock panted, 'The slap of a wet oak leaf is one of the things I love most.' • Only Nic Farey managed to collect the quota of 30 bottle-tops from vile 'Corona' Mexican beer required for a free t-shirt. • BASTARDS! SCUM! BASTARDS! This tactful headline in the Cactus Times newsletter (following an argument about bar tables reserved 'for hotel residents' but not for Mexicon members residing in the hotel) led to very careful apologies next issue. Meanwhile Arnold Akien showed how to complain about noise by telling a glazed-eyed receptionist, 'There's this expiring dinosaur trapped within the walls of my room....' Plumbing problems seemed widespread; tact forbids discussion of how I survived 4 nights with no bath and a dud shower, but this proved worth 10% off my hotel bill. • Paul Brazier amazed the world with the third issue of his utterly wonderful Nexus SF (£2.95), comprehensively reporting Mexicon IV in 1991. • The Kim Newman Appreciation Society was unilaterally launched by Linda Krawecke. Her live-in artist Dave Carson professed himself unable to do human faces, only Lovecraftian horrors, but seemed quite happy to sketch the idol of this fan club.... • Arriba!

The Empire Never Ended

Ken Campbell offers further previews of Jamais Vu (follows Furtive Nudist and Pigspurt in an 'epic comic triplology') in Sept/Oct; official world première Oct; SAE for fuller details.

John Clute revealed to an awed BSFA meeting that the secret of getting Encyclopaedias into print was to swindle the publishers and never, never let them know how much over budget the thing will inevitably go. He cheerily hefted a wad of paper not as thick as the SF Encyclopaedia itself, being the initial batch of faxed corrections from the Americans.... A first update leaflet is available – SAE to 221 Camden High St, NW1 7BU. But: 'I have a lot of things to add to this,' chorused John Grant, Roger Robinson, Brian Stableford and many more.

Avram Davidson died on 8 May of a heart attack. He was 70. [CM] His best work (The Phoenix and the Mirror, The Enquiries of Dr Eszterhazy) remains depressingly out of print.

Lester del Rey died on 11 May or thereabouts. [JC]

Andy Sawyer became the SF Foundation's first paid administrator since 1980, after a death struggle between 55 applicants (whittled to a shortlist of 6, including Brian Stableford). His scientifictional duties in Liverpool begin on 1 August.

Andrew Stephenson – Comix Megastar? Andrew is in process of selling a 'new comic character' to Marvel UK after 3 years of trying. A 4-book miniseries may be on the cards; no details revealed except that the whole thing is 'dead intelligent'.

George Turner (76) suffered a stroke in late April, while his flatmate was away. '[He] was paralysed on the right side, and couldn't speak, and therefore couldn't telephone anyone. So he cleaned himself up as best he could, and then waited three days until his biographer Judith Buckrich happened to telephone. George lifted the receiver, and Judith realized when no one spoke that something was wrong, and came and found him.' [YR] At last report (now some weeks ago) he was recovering in hospital, fed by IV but 'extremely perky'....

Karl Edward Wagner addends: 'U fergot to mention that the highlight of the Author C. Burk Award Bash was when yer man stood up to say he wasn't going to make a speech and then spoke for seven hours nonstop, whilst we peons drank funny beers and only ten quid a bottle. Dave Carson and I found a dish of olives before passing out from boredom. We ate them. I had to tell Dave about the pits. The ones in the olives.'


9 Jun • BSFA, The Conservatory, with Colin Greenland. £1.

10 Jun • Intersection 'is having a ConFrancisco brainstorm at LCFI, 19:00-ish on. All welcome.' [JG-A] I gather this means the Royal Oak pub, Pimlico; St James's Park tube.

18 Jun • British Fantasy Soc open night with F. Paul Wilson. 18:30 onward at Falkland Arms, Bloomsbury Way, London.

25-7 Jun • Unicon (sf; not a Unicon), Unicorn Hotel, Bristol. £20 reg. Contact 55 Kildare Rd, Knowle, Bristol, BS4.

26 Jun  Wedding: Maureen Speller and Paul Kincaid.

12-19 Sep • Milford (UK) SF Writers' Conference, in Keswick, Cumbria. Published authors only. Contact 56 More Close, St Paul's Ct, Gliddon Rd, London, W14 9BN.

30-31 Oct • Octocon (Irish national con), Royal Marine Hotel, Dun Laoghaire. GoH Storm Constantine, Steve Dillon. £15 reg. Contact 20 Newgrove Ave, Sandymount, Dublin 4.

27-30 May 94 • Inconceivable (humour/sf), Tudor Court Hotel near Derby. £20 reg (£18 for Octarine or ZZ9 members). Contact 12 Crich Ave, Littleover, Derby, DE23 6ES. Ho ho!

RumblingsThe Scottish Convention: 1995 worldcon co-chair Vince Docherty (still in Oman) has now stepped down in favour of awesome Martin Easterbrook. 'Given the lassitude Intersection is displaying over processing cheques and issuing PRs,' says tactful Steve Green, 'shouldn't they be placed in charge of next year's Grand National? At least we'd be sure it wouldn't start prematurely.' • Confabulation: in the tradition of wicked beermat scrawls from Croydon, a faxed Computer Weekly story about a conference in the Docklands Britannia Hotel ('95 Eastercon venue) claims the place was 'too yuppie' even for computer people, who whinged about '£2 for a small lager' and stayed away in droves. [DVB] • A one-day Mexicon 6 may happen in '94 for the 10th anniversary (and 20th of Tynecon) – venue undecided, but 'somewhere on Inter-City': London, Brum, Newcastle? So far all is flux, but the '94 date offers the possibility of skipping to a Mexicon 7 in '96 and avoiding the UK Worldcon year.

Infinitely Improbable

Ameritemps? The Midnight Rose shared-world collective is crossing its fingers madly over a rumour that Roc in the USA (having bemusedly noticed that several copies were sold) might now publish a Best Of the Roc-UK Anthologies collection.

Food Corner with DUFF co-winner Leah Smith: 'Because Leah is the food-page editor of her local newspaper, she felt obliged in Perth to sample the local cuisine, including witchetty grubs. I understand that Terry Pratchett ate witchetty grubs (cooked, in French-style garlic sauce) with great enjoyment, anticipating the ghoulish pleasure of describing his deed later to Brits with sensitive stomachs – but I think Leah managed to eat only half a grub (in which she could distinguish the taste only of garlic sauce). I am sorry to say that (simply meaning to be helpful) I mentioned that the traditional way to eat witchetty grubs was raw and wriggling.... We showed Leah some of the Australian Broadcasting Commission's video Bush Tucker Man, in which Major Les Hiddens and a group of Aboriginal people eat alive not only witchetty grubs and sugar ants, but also a muddy-looking species of worm. No doubt because she was falling asleep where she sat, Leah providentially had her eyes closed through most of this.' [YR] Also sighted Down Under: 'visiting awful fantasy writer Robert Jordan, of whom it was agreed that sending him out on tour was a very good way to warn people off buying his books.' [JH]

C.O.A. Etc. Ken Lake: last issue's Fiji address is no longer valid. Helen McNabb, 1 Grange Gdns, Llantwit Major, S Glam, CF61 2UX. SF Nexus costs £10/4 issues ($25 outside UK) to PO Box 1123, Brighton, BN1 6JS. Sylvia Starshine, Flat 7, Stanhope Rd, Highgate, N6.

Hazel's Language Lessons: Swahili. Colin Fine explains that words beginning ki- pluralize to vi-, and thus vipilefti, 'roundabouts', is the inevitable plural of kipilefti....

Asimov Award ... it had to come. $500 annual prize for the best unpublished sf/fantasy short by a full-time undergraduate. Guidelines and submissions: Asimov Award, USF 3177, 4204 E. Fowler, Tampa, FL 33620-3177, USA. Deadline 15 Nov.

John W. Campbell Letters vol II: Asimov & van Vogt correspondence now out, $47 inc from AC Projects, 5106 Old Harding Rd, Franklin, TN 37064. Overseas post may be extra. [GH]

Tax Assessment. Has Jack Vance had some experience of UK freelance taxation? In his novel Throy, the official term for brutal and summary punishment without trial is ... Schedule D.

HarperCollins Science Fiction and Fantasy will be the new, easily pronounced replacement for the boring old Grafton and Fontana imprints – as of August. [Fire & Water, May]

Joyful Tidings. Rumour has it that famous Joy Hibbert is expecting a baby fathered by reclusive hyperfan Harry Bond, while erstwhile ménage member Dave Rowley is in retreat somewhere else with someone else. Abigail Frost is 'considering as my inaugural TAFF fundraiser a sweepstake on whether the brat's first words will be "Blhog, Fiawol, Beanie" or "Castrate the bastards!"'

Corrections. A70: one Hugo short-story nomination omitted, 'The Arbitrary Placement of Walls' by Martha Soukup. • Pat Cadigan demands an abject apology for Ansible's suggestion that (in connection with certain Pulphouse/F&SF editorial advice) she once said 'Blow it out your ass!' This, she raged, was 'just the START of a 20-MINUTE DRUNKEN TIRADE!' We grovel.

BSFA Life Memberships are now available at £150. Strewth!

Fiction Supplement. A Mexicon newsletter competition for 8-word novels (idea pinched from Nick Lowe) was won by Andy Lane's The 90s SF Novel Revisited: 'Elvis calling Mars. Kennedy dead. I'm coming home.' Best retelling: Brian Stableford's The Time Machine by A. Morlock: 'Stuff good public relations, there's Eloi for tea!'. (The other judge preferred his The Island of Dr Moreau by A. Beast: 'Hand over your women! Are we not men?') My own condensed Bug Jack Barron was ruled ineligible ... 'Forever, televised live, she sucked his nitty-gritty.'

Mail Auction. Brian Ameringen offers six coveted Diana Wynne Jones first editions (1973-6). SAE for complicated details to 9 Graham Rd, Wealdstone, Harrow, HA3 5RP. First bidding round ends 30 June.

Spellbound. Harpers Magazine featured lists of words from noted novels at which a spell-checker balked. In Stephen King's Misery, for example: autocannibalism, effword, ensouled, flumping, goosepimples, gravedigger, gunsel, guthole, horrorscope, incantatory, kaka, perfervid, pigfeed, poxy, strappado, stuporously, uncoalesced, weals, whoink....

TAFF Vox Pop. Normal alternation means a Europe to NA race in '95 when the Worldcon's over here. So there's a mini-referendum on what to do: skip a year? shuffle the sequence? Forms from Abigail Frost.

The Onlie Begetter: 'Back in 1977 a debut novel called Sword of Shannara appeared and immediately invented the Epic Fantasy scene. Moving light-years away from the traditional theme of flawed futures, it instead depicted a fantastic other world of our mythological past. [... The Shannara series] made Terry Brooks into one of the most powerful names in fantasy fiction as well as one of the most widely imitated.' (W.H. Smith Bookcase #43) Imitated, presumably, by feisty young plagiarists Morris, Eddison and Tolkien among others.... [DW] •

Ansible 71 Copyright © Dave Langford, 1993. Thanks to Paul Barnett, David V. Barrett, Chris Bell, Cactus Times, John Clute, Dreamberry Wine, Mike Ford, Abigail Frost, John Grant, Jacky Grüter-Andrew, Judith Hanna, George Hay, Caroline Mullan, Necronomicon Press, Roger Robinson, Yvonne Rousseau and – as ever – Our Hero Distributors. 3/6/93.