2002 Log

Dec 2002 30 December: While my "conventional" publishers are plunged into seasonal apathy, Sean Wallace at Cosmos Books has been toiling away and now sends a first PDF proof copy of the Great Big Critical Collection, Up Though an Empty House of Stars: Essays and Reviews 1980-2002 -- comprising 100 deathless Langford pieces on sf and fantasy. 16 December: The aftermath of a deeply stressful weekend, during which the Ansible e-mail list was spammed with the Klez worm. Apologies to all subscribers! Normal Ansible mailings are password-controlled, but someone found and used a back-door address (previously unknown to me) for the Majordomo server. Some bounce messages from ISPs that detected the virus also went to this address and so to the list. What a mess. Thanks to (nearly) all list members for patience and understanding. No thanks to the fuckwit who took the opportunity to send everyone an unfunny JPEG attachment. The list is now disabled, and I hope we'll be back in business with a more secure server package in January [as indeed we were]. Members won't need to resubscribe. Have a good holiday season.... 12 December: New stocks just received of the Focus Multimedia reissue of the CD-ROM SF Encylopedia, which I sell to the discerning as a package with my own spiffy Windows search/view/addenda software ... details here.

Nov 2002 8 November: Belated meeting with Martin Hoare -- in a pub, where else? -- for handover of the 2002 fanwriter Hugo. 2 November: After vast delays, my fat collection of review columns The Complete Critical Assembly (out in hardback for well over a year) is now supposedly available in trade paperback from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com. At last, the affordable version!

Oct 2002 30 October: Much cheered by the first substantial review of the John Sladek collection (Maps), at The Alien Online. Other good stuff: The Unseen University Challenge has been bought for Polish translation, and "Different Kinds of Darkness" is being picked up for an Italian anthology of Hugo winners. • 25 October: A month passes with nothing much happening: although the mysterious problem with my knee keeps me in or near my home office, associated grumpiness has been bad for productivity.

Sep 2002 26 September: A fit of displacement activity: having much other work to do, I naturally frittered away several hours updating the on-line Encyclopedia of Science Fiction corrections and addenda. Far too many new death dates have accumulated since my last onslaught in June 2000. • 24 September: I seem to have spent most of this month stuck at m y desk grumbling, thanks to an inexplicable leg injury. But Ben Jeapes of Big Engine knows how to cheer me up: "Brush up your Czech, because that's where you're going to be big! Talpress in Prague, publishers of T. Pratchett, want to do an edition of The Leaky Establishment ..." And they're even offering money! • 23 September: Owing to editorial delays at Cosmos Books, my vast sf critical tome Up Through an Empty House of Stars: Reviews and Essays 1980-2001 can't appear until next year: I have seized the opportunity to extend its scope by another year and bump up the contents from 90-odd items to a round hundred. Take that, John Clute. • 2 September: After convincing myself that this must be the year that the Hugo Award voters would throw that rascal Langford out, I was boggled by news of two wins at the 2002 World SF Convention in San José, for fan writer and fanzine (Ansible). Lots of thanks to everyone!

Aug 2002 29 August: No updates since the 21st owing to a relaxing break in Snowdonia, far from the evils of phones and e-mail. Bliss. • 21 August: Charles Stross has dropped my name (as he threatened) in his Asimov's SF story "Router", which follows Greg Egan and Ken MacLeod in alluding to a little SF invention of mine: "India and Pakistan have held their long-awaited nuclear war: external intervention by US and EU nanosats prevented most of the ICBMs from getting through but the subsequent spate of network raids and Basilisk attacks cause havoc. Luckily the infowar turns out to be more survivable than the energy war -- especially once it is discovered that a simple anti-aliasing filter stops nine out of ten neural wetware-crashing Langford fractals from causing anything worse than a mild headache." • 16-19 August: Deep exhaustion at the strange and surreal Discworld convention (Hinckley, Leics), where my duties included opening a series of tributes to Josh Kirby, and presenting the sinister Live Thog's Masterclass. • 9-10 August: To Cheltenham for Contexxt (Unicon 20) and a lavish launch party for Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. Though limited by the number of copies publisher Ben Jeapes could get into his car boot along with all the wine, the event seemed to be a sell-out. It's an eerie feeling for me -- a long-time admirer of John Sladek -- to be asked to sign copy after copy of a Sladek book.... • 7 August: To London for the launch of Rob Holdstock's new Celtic fantasy The Iron Grail -- much drunkenness, gossip and cowering from terrifying electrical storms in central London.

Jul 2002 30 July: At last, the long pangs of anticipation are over and I can gloat over my first copy of Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek. Champagne all round! • 24-7 July: More personal website self-aggrandizement, still under construction: a new area for Langford book details including cover scans and (eventually) reviews, supplementing the main bibliography. • 13-14 July: No dramatic developments so far this month: reviewing, wrestling with software and reference book proofs, chasing overdue invoices. Maps is very nearly published, but the first batch of covers came out wrong and the printers are having another go. A certain smugness at winning twenty quid in a Spectator prize crossword, but this won't keep the wolf from the door for very long.... Have just added a number of articles and reviews to this site, plus an update log to help people find the new stuff.

Jun 2002 It's not that nothing has happened, just that I've been too harried to record my struggles with the Sladek proofs, plokta.con 2.0, a heap of reviewing, family concerns, and a small attack of software development. More in the June Cloud Chamber.

May 2002 24 May: much excitement here at the arrival of Big Engine page proofs for Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek -- 358pp! It all looks a lot better in uniform print than as a ring-binder full of tatty photocopies, and typesetter Paul Brazier has worked wonders with the difficult "Alien Territory" (a multiple-choice story laid out as a 4x9 grid of paragraphs, originally a double page spread in the large-format New Worlds). • A shameful lack of updates through the first half of the month, as I continued to struggle with research reading for Richard Bleiler's latest genre reference book. On 16 May, at last, I finished drafting my entries on Pratchett and McCaffrey to accompany the already delivered Holdstock and Stableford essays. Gasp. • The usual columns and things continue. I don't think I've yet mentioned here that weekly previews of upcoming Ansible news and gossip now appear in Eileen Gunn's webzine The Infinite Matrix -- sometimes including stuff that gets squeezed out of the monthly Ansible. Tremble in your shoes, completists!

Apr 2002 Although I'd almost hoped to slip unobtrusively off the Hugo ballot as people tire of me ... many thanks to all who voted me on to the 2002 shortlist as best fan writer (also Ansible as best fanzine)! • More arrivals: early copies of the June F&SF with my latest "Curiosities" column, and of my Discworld quizbook The Wyrdest Link (published 25 April). • Good cheer on my birthday, 10 April, with the arrival of the May Fortean Times and the first 2002 issue of the Finnish sf magazine Tähtivaeltaja, the former with a Langford column, the latter with an article on me, an interview with me and a story by me; it also cheeringly bills me above Alasdair Gray on the cover. A little earlier the Czech magazine Ikarie arrived with another Langford story translation, making me feel ever so cosmopolitan. • Also in: nominations for an award whose name I dare not yet speak, and a particularly silly and factually inaccurate denunciation of the evil "English fan" David Langford by Harlan Ellison. • Work for Supernatural Fiction Writers continues -- am now part-way through the mighty oeuvre of Robert Holdstock.

Mar 2002 • 30 March: the postman brings the first finished copy of my new Discworld quizbook The Wyrdest Link -- Gollancz trade paperback, with Josh Kirby's last Discworld cover painting. Looks good! Out 25 April. • This month's assignment: reading/rereading the complete fantasy and supernatural fiction of Brian Stableford, and drafting an essay for Richard Bleiler's Supernatural Fiction Writers (Scribner's, 2nd ed). • I'm not going to the Jersey Eastercon (Helicon 2), alas, or taking place in 2004 site selection there -- but liked the way the bid with two alternative con sites was met with another bid offering very many sites indeed. Compare Concourse with Concurrence. • SFX magazine has had me toiling on a vast feature about space opera for some special issue they're doing, hard on the heels of yet another round-up of small press books sent to SFX for review. Gollancz sent a finished cover of The Wyrdest Link

Feb 2002 A stunning surprise when the New England SF Association presented me with their Skylark Award at Boskone. I wasn't there, but Martin Hoare accepted and did not fail to phone me with the news at 3:15am British time. See Ansible 176. • Interzone published my reminiscence of James White, written as an introduction to Tor's forthcoming omnibus of three Sector General books, Alien Emergencies (April 2002). • At the Lionel Fanthorpe celebration on 9 February, I enjoyed introducing Terry Pratchett (whose just-finished Discworld novel Night Watch has a major character called John Keel) to Bob Rickard of Fortean Times, whose current issue had a big feature on The Mothman Prophecies -- based on a book by John Keel. Terry had had no idea....

Jan 2002 Happy New Year, everyone! My big job of the month, extending into February, was editorial feedback on Terry Pratchett's next Discworld draft -- provisionally titled Night Watch.