18 May 2015 As light relief from preparing various Langford ebooks for sale, I made up some fannish freebies by various hands for a Free Ebooks Page now added to the TransAtlantic Fan Fund site. The Langford report of my 1980 TAFF trip is included: over 37,000 words of babble first published in booklet form in 1985.
18 April 2015 Busy, busy, busy. Concerning the current Hugo Puppy unpleasantness, there's a box of links on the Ansible site – including a long sequence of pointers to Mike Glyer's comprehensive coverage at File 770 (Mike has a stronger stomach than I).
2 April 2015 As noted by guest cartoonist Steve Stiles, April's Ansible 333 marks the dread Number of the Domestic House Pet. This month's Ansible Editions ebook release from my long-suffering backlist is The Silence of the Langford:
23 March 2015 Adventures in Newport house clearance: Hazel has been packing vast quantities of glass, china and bric-a-brac for the charity shops. Pausing to pour herself some orange juice in a randomly chosen glass, she discovered by practical experiment that a long-lost Langford family heirloom had come to light. The dribble glass! We'd found the box it came in, but the thing itself looks entirely innocuous: a cut-glass design ("Made in France") concealing invisibly tiny slits that go right through. Now carefully labelled. Meanwhile, it seems there is no artefact from the cobwebbed depths of the garage that's too rusty or indescribably filthy to be eagerly claimed via Freecycle.
12 March 2015 Goodbye, Terry. Chris Priest wrote the Guardian piece; I don't feel like writing anything but must very soon deliver a column marking 20 years of SFX magazine. I'd forgotten that I reviewed the paperback Soul Music in the first issue. So many more books since then, but still not enough ... Later: a compendium of links in the SF Encyclopedia memorial post.
21 December 2014 Catherine ("Kit") Alice Lenta Langford, 24 October 1925 to 20 December 2014. The best of mothers. She died very peacefully without waking from a long sleep in the Royal Gwent Hospital.
18 December 2014 No cheerful posts here because I haven't been feeling cheerful, thanks to a steadily worsening family health crisis. It's going to be a rotten Christmas.
6 December 2014 So much for those plans to create ebook editions of my story collections (Different Kinds of Darkness, He Do the Time Police in Different Voices) when I can find the time. Time has run out: the new EU VAT regulations which apply from 1 January 2015 are extremely hostile to small ebook vendors. See the editorial in Ansible 329 and the Last Chance Saloon post at ae.ansible.uk.
17 November 2014 We're still in the four-week period of prescribed eyedrops after that operation, and each time Hazel dutifully gives the bottle a vigorous shake. So the SF quote of the season is "I always get the shakes before a drop."
26 October 2014 At last: yesterday I had that long-awaited cataract operation. The eye is still somewhat painful and weepy, but I can say without fear of metaphor that things are looking good. Since photos of bloodshot eyeballs aren't much fun, here instead is Hazel investigating a fungus in our local cemetery.
16 October 2014 Nick Parisi interviewed me earlier this year for his Nocturnia blog. After teaser posts (in Italian) about Ansible and the mysterious Langford phenomenon ...the interview itself has now appeared, happily with an English-language version below (scroll down) so I can find out what I said.
2 October 2014 Following an email alert from Nominet today, I am now the proud owner of the ansible.uk, davidlangford.uk and sf-encyclopedia.uk net domains (reserved for me since I already owned the .co.uk equivalents). Whatever shall I do with them?
14 September 2014 Kim Huett recently sent some old fan memorabilia with these rather jolly stamps on the envelope. I don't suppose I'll ever read the commemorated author Banjo Paterson, but I love the title Clancy of the Overflow. Even if to British ears it's somehow reminiscent of plumbing. Percy of the Plughole, Danny of the Drain, Sidney of the Sump....
3 September 2014 Ever since Loncon 3 I've been kept busy with deadlines, SF Encyclopedia drudgery and post-convention lurgi. Here's Ansible 326 with terse Worldcon coverage, plus some photographs I took there.
13 August 2014 Last post here before the Worldcon. I won't be reading or answering email for several days. Pete Young's massive two-volume critical anthology about the Gollancz SF Masterworks has been published as issues 3 and 4 of his fanzine Big Sky, both available here. I have a (reprinted) piece in each. That apart, it looks very impressive.
12 August 2014 Loncon 3 is now terrifyingly close. According to the email confirmation from the committee reported by several members (though I didn't get one myself), it sounds like being a long haul:
"You have bought Adult admission for Saturday Saturday Saturday Saturday Friday Friday Sunday Saturday Sunday Monday Saturday Saturday Saturday Thursday Sunday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Thursday Sunday Thursday Thursday Monday Friday Saturday Saturday Friday Sunday Thursday Friday Saturday Friday Saturday Saturday Saturday Saturday Saturday Saturday Thursday Sunday Sunday Saturday Sunday Friday Friday Saturday Sunday Friday Saturday Saturday Friday Friday Thursday Friday Monday Sunday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Sunday Saturday Sunday Saturday Saturday Friday Saturday Sunday Saturday Friday Thursday Thursday Friday."
I was one of the lucky recipients of yesterday's mailmerge extravaganza beginning: "Hi, Steve Cooper / With Loncon 3 only a few days away we thought you might like details of what to do when you arrive at the ExCeL centre [much text snipped here] Your membership number is: 11 / - You have bought admission for / We hope you enjoy Loncon 3.Hi, Alice Lawson / With Loncon 3 only a few days away we thought you might like details of what to do when you arrive at the ExCeL centre ..." and so on for every subsequent member up to my own number, which is 443 ("Hi, David Langford"). Reportedly the march of the mailmerge robots went well into four figures before they managed to stop it.
1 August 2014 Once again it's Ansible Day. By the way, there are now a couple of other odd auction items on the page linked below, in addition to the stained glass. Have a look. Also on this day (a goal we'd hoped to achieve before Worldcon), the SF Encyclopedia word count passed 4,500,000. More here.
27 July 2014 Here's a teaser preview of three stained-glass panels created by Bob Shaw and now destined for the fan funds auctions at Loncon 3 in August. I bought five of these in a Novacon art show long ago (I think 1982), arranged for one to go to Bob's widow Nancy Shaw, and am still keeping the "Volcano" below for my own selfish pleasure:
5 July 2014 Jonathan Clements has posted his 2014 London Worldcon schedule, including the "Evolution of the SF Encyclopedia" panel (Friday 18:00-19:00) which is my one and only official appearance. My original low-stress plan was to have no programme items at all, but I got beguiled by that silver-tongued John Clute. Otherwise, expect to find me in the bar.
3 July 2014 I'm fond of the Inquisitor crossword in the Independent each Saturday, but don't always finish the tougher challenges. Recent ones that gave me a quiet thrill of satisfaction were #1336, the first time I've ever found it useful to know the value of e to twelve decimal places, and #1339, in which my secret powers as an editor of the SF Encyclopedia – see the entry for Stunner – enabled me to guess the gimmick from the preamble and pencil in the unclued THOMAS A SWIFT'S ELECTRIC RIFLE before tackling any actual clues. That doesn't happen every week, or indeed every year.
26 June 2014 Recent reading (courtesy of a charity stall at the canalside Reading Water Fest) included a late example of Amanda Cross's Kate Fansler mysteries, Honest Doubt. From the title I guessed that the Big Literary Theme which often pervades these academic stories was to be Tennyson, which was indeed the case: the hated Tennyson-obsessed head of a US Eng Lit department has been murdered, presumably by a colleague. Surely, I thought late in the book, it must a major clue that one of the suspects, another purported professor of Eng Lit, should quote and discuss a famous line from Coleridge ("Ancestral voices prophesying war") as a famous line from Tennyson? Clearly an impostor! But no one ever follows up this "clue", which the author apparently failed to notice, and it is decided that all the suspects dunnit in unison as in Murder on the Orient Express, a conclusion reached not so much through deduction as by watching the film and thinking "Yes, that's how it must have been. " Good grief.
Maybe, I wondered, Amanda Cross (in real life Carolyn Heilbrun) was pulling the reader's leg with that attribution? Chapter-head quotations in Kyril Bonfiglioli's Charlie Mortdecai thrillers tended to include a spurious item ("The epigraphs are all by Alfred, Lord Tennyson except one which is a palpable forgery" – After You with the Pistol). Perhaps Cross/Heilbrun also liked to slip in a booby-trapped citation? Unfortunately I haven't memorized the writings of James Joyce throughly enough to spot any possible ringer in The James Joyce Murder, and although I think I know my way around the works of W.H. Auden he's such a voluminous poet that it was no surprise to find unfamiliar quotes (misquotes?) in the Auden-themed Poetic Justice. But I note with a certain thrill that "Misquotation is the pride and privilege of the learned. " can be found in several places online, attributed to Amanda Cross.
I should insert a SPOILER WARNING before venturing on a quick synopsis of another recent detective indulgence: Jill Paton Walsh's latest Lord Peter Wimsey spinoff novel, The Late Scholar, set in a fictitious Oxford men's college called St Severin's. This involves a series of murder attempts using methods or scenarios cribbed from Dorothy Sayers mysteries, including Unnatural Death, Strong Poison, Murder Must Advertise, Have His Carcase (jolly good luck finding a haemophiliac in the cast of available victims!) and The Nine Tailors (even better luck – a convenient bell chamber!). All of which daftness is slightly distanced by the pretence that in this, ahem, alternate version of the 1950s the published novels are by Harriet Vane, based on Wimsey's cases. So Harriet the ingenious creator and conscientious researcher is reduced to Harriet the mere chronicler of her husband's career? I very much doubt that Dorothy Sayers would have approved.
Look On My Works, Ye Mighty
SF Encyclopedia All Book Pages *The Complete Critical Assembly *Different Kinds of Darkness *He Do the Time Police in Different Voices *The Leaky Establishment *The Silence of the Langford
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