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Ansible 339, October 2015

From David Langford, 94 London Road, Reading, Berks, RG1 5AU, UK. Website ISSN 0265-9816 (print); 1740-942X (e). Logo: Dan Steffan. Cartoon: D. West by D. West. Available for SAE or demonstrations of the Astral Pole.

Yet Another Ebook. A further free download from the TAFF site is the newly compiled A Vince Clarke Treasury. This grew from a short selection of the late Vince or Vin¢ Clarke's writings – as a key member of 1950s UK fandom and a genial presence from his 1982 return to his death in 1998 – to close on 150,000 words. See

The Right Sort of People

Anthony Daniels of C-3PO fame grumbles about Disney paranoia over the new Star Wars film: '"The secrecy has been beyond ludicrous ... For heaven's sake, it's a movie. When I got the script, it was typed in black on paper of the deepest red so you couldn't photocopy it. I got a hangover just reading it." He was censured by the studio recently for mentioning on Twitter a fellow actor from The Force Awakens. "I said that I'd met so-and-so. An actor who plays a ... thing in the film. A character. Immediately I received a message from Disney: 'Remove the tweet! You're not allowed to say that!' Honestly. It's a kind of Kremlin attitude."' (Interview in The Guardian, 3 September) [MPJ]

Jack Eason, a previously little-known sf author, achieved global fame with his Amazon review of the all-women space opera anthology Dark Beyond the Stars: 'I'm sorry to offend fifty percent of the population but it has to be said that when it comes to writing Science Fiction, it still remains a purely male domain. [...] I applaud the ladies for giving it a try, but I would suggest they forget going any further. Leave the genre to those of us who know how to write scifi, being well versed in it's many nuances.' (via The Mary Sue, 15 September) [MPJ] Eason concedes that male anthology compiler David Gatewood 'expertly edited' the stories. Though not, the review implies, expertly enough.

Christopher Eccleston was asked if he'd watched Peter Capaldi's Doctor: 'I never watched Doctor Who when I was a child ... I never watched MYSELF as Doctor Who!' (Radio Times, 3 September) [SHS]
• Meanwhile Capaldi imagines his postdoctoral future: 'one day I'll just be an overweight has-been, trying to get a meeting with Jenna Coleman [Clara, the Doctor's companion] and being ejected from a Doctor Who Convention in Bolton for being drunk and disorderly. I mean, this is surely my high point, isn't it?' (Telegraph, 12 September) [MPJ]

Stephen King was among the recipients of the US National Medal of Arts from President Obama on 10 September. (NPR, 10 September)

H.P. Lovecraft no longer needs any explanation when cited in political journalism: 'Jeremy Corbyn is in charge of the Labour Party and – to hear some tell it – the epidemic birth of two-headed sheep, a rain of blood and the awakening of the Elder Gods in R'lyeh will follow.' (Sam Leith, Evening Standard, 14 September) [MJE/SJ]

James Sallis, noted author of crime fiction and of sf since the Moorcock New Worlds era, resigned as adjunct professor at Phoenix College, Arizona (where he'd taught creative writing for 14 years), when required to sign a loyalty oath. (, 29 September)

Charlie Stross tweeted: 'For the 2016 Hugos: the ENTIRE DISCWORLD SERIES is eligible, as a completed work, under Best Novel. ... I think I'm going to nominate it.' (Twitter, 14 September) But wouldn't that plunge all fandom into war again? According to me, the 'entire series' is disqualified in ways that The Wheel of Time wasn't: The Science of Discworld was on the 2000 Hugo ballot and Going Postal (though withdrawn) had enough nominations to be a 2005 finalist, which is the disqualifier. I'm strongly against gaming the Hugo rules; but if the final Discworld novel The Shepherd's Crown truly deserves a Hugo on its own merits, there's no question about its solo eligibility.


Click here for longlist with linksLondonOverseas

Until 1 Nov • Alice in Cartoonland (exhibition), Cartoon Museum, 35 Little Russell Street, London, WC1A 2HH. 10:30-17:30 Mon-Sat, noon-17:30 Sun £7; concessions £5; students £3; under-18s and disabled-with-carer free. See

1-4 Oct • Grimmfest (horror/cult film festival), Odeon, The Printworks, Manchester. £65 reg plus booking fee. See

2-5 Oct • Irish Discworld Convention, Cork International Hotel, Cork Airport, Ireland. GoH Bernard Pearson, Jacqueline Simpson, Colin Smythe, others. €50 reg; €40 concessions. See

3 Oct - 15 Nov • Anne Sudworth exhibition of paintings, Pannett Park Art Gallery, Pannett Park, Whitby, YO21 1RE. 9:30am-5pm (to 4:30pm on Sundays). 01947 605559. See

9-11 Oct • Octocon, Camden Court Hotel, Camden St, Dublin, Ireland. GoH Maura McHugh, Emma Newman. €35 reg; concessions €25; accompanied under-12s free. Join online at

16 Oct • Gollancz Festival, Waterstones Deansgate, Manchester. 6pm-9pm. Also online activity all day. More at

16-18 Oct • Lakes International Comic Art Festival, Kendal, Cumbria. Some parts free. For tickets see

17 Oct • Gollancz Festival, Waterstones Piccadilly, London. 2pm-5pm. Also online activity all day. Again, more at

17 Oct • SFSF Social, Eten Café, York Street, Sheffield, S1 2ER. 4pm-8pm with guest readings and Q&A; all welcome. Free.

22-25 Oct • Bram Stoker International Film Festival, Whitby. Four-day pass £125. See

23-25 Oct • Celluloid Screams (horror film festival), Showroom Cinema, Sheffield. Weekend pass £80, or £95 with all-nighter; concessions £70 and £85. See 0114 275 7727.

23-25 Oct • Fantasycon, Orchard Hotel, Nottingham. Now £85 reg; couples £145; under-16s £40; under-5s free. There are hefty discounts for BFS members. See

28 Oct • BSFA Open Meeting, Artillery Arms, 102 Bunhill Row, London, EC1Y 8ND. 5/6pm for 7pm. With Emma Newman. Free.

29 Oct • Tolkien's Legacy, Lecture Theatre, Weston Library, Broad Street, Oxford. Display of JRRT drawings and panel discussion on reactions to his works, 5pm-6pm.

30 Oct - 1 Nov • Festival of Fantastic Films, Manchester Conference Centre, Weston Building, Sackville St, Manchester, M1 3BB. Now £70 reg; day £25 Fri, £35 Sat, £30 Sun. Contact 95 Meadowgate Rd, Salford, Manchester, M6 8EN. See also

13-15 Nov • Armadacon 27, Future Inn, Plymouth. GoH Dr Susan Blackmore, Adam Hart-Davis, Liesel Schwarz. £35 or £20 per day ('consessions' £30 and £15); £5 evening from 6pm. Contact 18 Wadham Rd, Liskeard, Cornwall, PL14 3BD;

13-15 Nov • Novacon 45, Park Inn, Nottingham. GoH Anne and Stan Nicholls. £45 reg; £50 at the door. Under-17s £12; under-13s free. Contact 379 Myrtle Road, Sheffield, S2 3HQ. See

14-15 Nov • Comic Con (comics), Leeds. Tickets £27 for weekend pass; £17/day. Part of Thought Bubble, the Leeds Comic Art Festival, running 9-15 November. More at

5 Dec • Dragonmeet (gaming), ILEC Convention Centre & Ibis Earls Court, 10am-11:55pm. Tickets £8 (concessions £6; group of six £40; group of £64); £10 at door. Booking at

6-9 Apr 2016 • Terry Pratchett: The Shakespeare Codex (play), Unicorn, Abingdon. See

29 Oct 2016 • BristolCon, Doubletree Hotel, Bristol city centre. GoH Fangorn, Ken MacLeod, Sarah Pinborough. £20 reg, rising to £25 in June; £30 at the door. Cheques to 18 High Leaze Road, Patchway, Bristol BS34 5AF. See also

Rumblings. Sasquan: the Spokane Worldcon's final membership figures are 11,648 in total and 5,171 attending (including one-days).

Infinitely Improbable

As Others See Us. When Harry Rowohlt won the Kurd Laßwitz Prize for translating Kurt Vonnegut's Timequake, he feared the presentation audience must inevitably include 'two thousand trekkies, all wearing Spock ears. Eeek. [...] And there was no prize money, either.' (Harry Rowohlt, In Schlucken-zwei-Spechte, 2002) [FB]

Awards. SF Poetry Association. DWARF STARS (poems of 1-10 lines): Greg Schwartz, 'abandoned nursing home' (Tales of the Talisman 9:3). ELGIN: CHAPBOOK Mary McMyne, Wolf Skin. ELGIN: BOOK Marge Simon & Mary Turzillo, Sweet Poison. [L]

Ultra-Science Corner. 'Volsted Gridban is a powerful writer of Scientific Fiction whose services we have secured after a world-wide search for talent. / He introduces a hyper-space concept, and borders on the hair-raising. The alien universe is all about us all the time – but what is time? / Gridban, as well as having studied Cosmology and ultra-physics, has postulated the idea of there being tubes-of-flow in time and space, as in a material liquid under agitation, and is regarded as a pioneer of new knowledge in world Science circles.' (Introduction to Alien Universe by Volsted Gridban [here E.C. Tubb], 1952.) [BA]

R.I.P. Vicente Aranda (1926-2015) Spanish film director of Fata Morgana (Left-Handed Fate, 1971) and The Blood Spattered Bride (1972), died on 26 May aged 88. [MPJ]
John Connell (1923-2015), US actor seen in Fail Safe (1964), The Solarnauts (1967 pilot for unmade sf tv series) and Dark Shadows (1967 tv), died on 10 September; he was 91. [AIP]
Catherine E. Coulson (1943-2015), US actress who was the Log Lady in Twin Peaks (1990-1991) and the film Fire Walk with Me (1992), reprising the part in the coming Twin Peaks (2017), died on 28 September aged 71. Other credits include Eraserhead (1977) and The Wrath of Khan (1982) [MPJ]
John Guillermin (1925-2015). UK film director whose credits include Tarzan's Greatest Adventure (1959), Tarzan Goes to India (1962), King Kong (1976 film) and King Kong Lives (1986), died on 28 September aged 89. [PDF]
Jean Darling (1922-2015), US actress and mystery writer who contributed horror/fantasy stories to Fantasy Book, Night Cry and Whispers, died on 4 September aged 93. [AIP]
Jor (Marjorie) Jennings, US fan who began publishing sf with 'The Devil and All Her Works' (1978 Galaxy) and was a quarterly winner in the first Writers of the Future contest (1984), died on 27 August. [F770]
Dean Jones (1931-2015), US actor whose genre credits include Blackbeard's Ghost (1968), The Love Bug (1968) plus sequels and tv series, Mr Superinvisible (1970), The Million Dollar Duck (1971), The Computer Wore Tennis Shoes (1995) and Scrooge and Marley (2001), died on 1 September aged 84. [MMW]
Jack Larson (1928-2015), US actor and later playwright who played cub reporter Jimmy Olsen in The Adventures of Superman (1952-1958) starring George Reeves, died on 20 September aged 87. He also made cameo appearances in Superboy (1991), Lois & Clark (1996) and Superman Returns (1996). (Independent, 26 September)
Warren Murphy (1933-2015), US author who with Richard Sapir created (and for the most part co-wrote) the long-running Destroyer sf/superman thriller sequence that began with Created: The Destroyer (1971), died on 4 September aged 81. [F770]
Lennart Sörensen (1936-2014), Swedish critic, translator, academic and editor active in sf from 1956 to 1963 (especially in the magazine Häpna!) and helping to establish the genre's importance in Sweden, died on 18 May 2014. [J-HH]
Jeremy P. Tarcher (1932-2015), US publisher whose Jeremy P. Tarcher Inc nonfiction imprint (now a Penguin Group imprint) published Alexei and Cory Panshin's The World Beyond the Hill (1989) and other books on sf, died on 20 September aged 83. [PDF]
Don West (1945-2015), UK fanzine artist, writer and critic who signed all his work D. West, died from recently diagnosed cancer on 25 September; he was 70. His own fanzine was Daisnaid (Do As I Say Not As I Do), 1976-1997. His sardonic cartoons and increasingly ambitious cover art enlivened many fanzines since the 1970s, including Ansible; he was currently a regular in Banana Wings and Chunga. Don's writing and drawing won multiple Nova and FAAn awards, plus three Hugo nominations. He declined the Rotsler Award for life achievement in fanzine art. His fanwriting, including much trenchant criticism, was collected as Fanzines in Theory and Practice (1984) and Deliverance (1995); a professional venture was 'The Pit' in Gollancz/Sunday Times Best SF Stories (1975). With Brian Parker he invented the Astral Leauge [sic], a parody of nut-cults which became an enduring fannish myth. It's hard to imagine UK fandom without his distinctive talent and Yorkshire grumpiness. I miss him already.

As Others Remember Us. 'Ants are Morlocks and aphids are Eloi! Similar to the storyline in H.G Well's "Journey to the Center of the Earth", all is not well in the world of ants and aphids.' (Exe Box Bulletin 21, newsletter of the Calendar Club retail chain)

Netwatch. The web domains and have been registered 'by a company long used by Warner Bros', leading to obvious guesses at the title of the coming Blade Runner sequel. (Independent, 23 September) [MPJ]

The Weakest Link. Jeopardy host: 'This novel by Sinclair Lewis made fun of religious fundamentalism.' Contestant (getting the right initials): 'What is Ender's Game?' (Jeopardy, 17 September) [AIP]
Host: 'Although this comic character's strip ended in 1975, he is still Georgia's state animal.' Contestant: 'What is Li'l Abner?' (Jeopardy, 23 September) The correct answer was 'Pogo Possum', once a great fan favourite. [AIP]

Magazine Scene. The Singularity is a new London-based sf/fantasy magazine edited by Lee P. Hogg, with the first issue dated September 2015. 'Please note that payments unfortunately cannot be made for stories at this point ...' See

We Are All British Now. 'Imagine walking your fingers across the fabled locales of more than 600 British classics – from Pride and Prejudice to The Catcher in the Rye to Harry Potter – all merged together onto one seriously cool street map. Whether you roam the grounds of Pemberley, visit Lake Wobegon Days or meander north to the site of A Room With a View, this map will lead you down paths of yore to some of your favorite fictional places.' (Writer's Digest, September) [PL]

Carpe Diem. With an eye on the coming film, the Royal Mail will issue no fewer than eighteen Star Wars stamps on 20 October. (BBC, 12 September) [MPJ] Q: Will Ansible use these for snailmailed copies? A. No, they're all first class and our cheapskate policy is second class (or airmail) only.
• Meanwhile the UK release of The Martian comes with an official tie-in potato, the red Albert Bartlett Rooster. (Independent, 28 September) [MPJ] 'No potato was harmed during the filming.'

Random Fandom. Graham Charnock's fanzine Vibrator urges readers to advertise, 'to improve footfall on your website (tip, don't call it something stupid like Ansible).' (August)
The Future of Eastercon is under unofficial consideration: cat-herders Steve Davies, Judi Hodgkin, Tim Kirk and Caroline Mullan have set up a website with a questionnaire for you to fill in at
Martin Hoare is now co-chair of Pasgon, the 2017 UK Eastercon in Cardiff, as well as running hotel liaison. 'We will be releasing more details about an eight week plan to try to get Pasgon back on course by Novacon.' A recent breakthrough was the opening of a bank account to pay in membership cheques from Easter 2015. More to come at

We Are Everywhere. Alex Ross on the architectural delights of the Philharmonie de Paris, a new concert hall in that city: 'The midsection bulges out in twisting, rectilinear shapes, like the intestines of a sci-fi monster.' (The New Yorker, 20 April) [MMW]

The Dead Past. 50 Years Ago, the deaths of Shirley Jackson and E.E. 'Doc' Smith were reported in the UK. (Skyrack 84, October 1965)
20 Years Ago: 'Spot the Ball. "Who in this world ... would write a novel about a football team that falls victim to a group of wily elves?" asks a US HarperPrism ad in SF Chronicle. Who indeed? A small prize is offered to the first fan to locate a football team in the book concerned, Terry Pratchett's Lords and Ladies.' (Ansible 99, October 1995)
In Typo Veritas: 'The basic idea is that due to mass flow and back reaction, one end of a natural wormhole will become Greg Benford....' (Intersection [Worldcon 1995] pocket programme) (Ibid)

C.o.A. Chris Donaldson & Paul Oldroyd, Todo Papel – TP193, Avenida Constitución 31, Cómpeta, Málaga, España/Spain 29754.

Fanfundery. Corflu 50: Grant Canfield is the chosen recipient of travel expenses to the 2016 Corflu in Chicago. More on this fund (which operates by consensus rather than voting campaigns) from richcoad at gmail dot com or jacksonshambrook at uwclub dot net.

Happy Media. Game of Thrones won eight creative-arts and four primetime Emmy Awards for a record total of twelve; American Horror Story: Freak Show won five for creative arts only. [MPJ]
• Even the UK Woodland Trust Tree of the Year Contest shortlist excited journalists by including The Dark Hedges in Stranocum, Northern Ireland, a location in Game of Thrones. (Independent, 21 September) [MPJ]
Bill Finger (1914-1974) will at last receive due credit from DC Entertainment – if only in the coming Gotham tv series and Batman vs Superman film – for co-creating Batman with Bob Kane. (Hollywood Reporter, 18 September)

Thog's Masterclass. True Romance Dept. 'His working hypothesis was that the breakup of the moon had made Doob young again, exfoliating layers of emotional callus from his soul and leaving a pink shiny impressionable heart just waiting to be colonized by the first appealing woman who came along.' (Neal Stephenson, Seveneves, 2015) [PM]
Eyeballs in the Sky. 'Her eye, an inch away from his, was a grey fish caught in a mesh of lines.' (Pat Barker, Border Crossing, 2001) [PB]
• 'Franklin left his eyes on the floor, took half a step backward.' (Kelli Stanley, City of Dragons, (2010) [PB]
Dept of Neat Tricks. 'The wind was shrieking, and so were her legs.' (Ibid)

Geeks' Corner

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• 9 October 2015: Justina Robson talks to the Brum Group, 7:30pm for 8pm at the Briar Rose Hotel, Bennett's Hill, Birmingham city centre. £4 or £3 for members. Contact bhamsfgroup at yahoo co uk. Future meetings: 6 November 2015, Emma Newman; 4 December 2015, Xmas Social; 8 January 2016, AGM and Book Auction; 12 February 2016, Annual Quiz.

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

Editorial. This year's major source of stress has been the long struggle to sell my late mother's house, a process which still drags on and drains the Ansible energies.
• Linda Krawecke has set up a Don West memorial group on Facebook, where photos and artwork are being posted. I can't get to this without logging into Facebook, but others apparently can. The second link below is to D. West's entry in the Ansible site-map artist list, linking to all the cartoons he contributed here.

Thog's Second Helping. Channelling Lionel Fanthorpe: 'Before the leaders of the scientific, military, and political worlds began using the word "Agent" to denote whatever had blown up the moon, that word's most common interpretation, at least in the minds of the general public, had been in the pulp-fiction, B-movie sense of a secret agent or an FBI agent. Persons of a more technical mind-set might have used it to mean some sort of chemical, such as a cleaning agent. The closest match for how the word would be used forever after was the sense in which it was used by fencers and martial artists. In a sword-fighting drill, where one participant is going to mount an attack and the other is to respond in some way, the attacker is known as the agent and the respondent is known as the patient. The agent acts. The patient is passive. In this case an unknown Agent acted upon the moon. The moon, along with all the humans living in the sublunary realm, was the passive recipient of that action. Much later, humans might rouse themselves to take action and be agents once again. But now and for long into the future they would be nothing more than patients.' (Neal Stephenson, Seveneves, 2015) [PM]

Ansible 339 Copyright © David Langford, 2015. Thanks to Brian Ameringen, Paul Barnett, Frank Boehmert, Paul Di Filippo, Malcolm Edwards, File 770, John-Henri Holmberg, Martyn P. Jackson, Steve Jones, Locus, Pamela Love, Petréa Mitchell, Andrew I. Porter, SF Site, Steven H Silver, Martin Morse Wooster, and our Hero Distributors: Dave Corby (Birmingham SF Group), SCIS/Prophecy and Alan Stewart (Australia). 1 October 2015.