2004 Log

31 Dec 2004 Happy New Year to all! Today sees my last upload of the year: The Runcible Ansible 153.

29 Dec 2004 Found in a collection of Peter Cook's scripts and transcripts: "Don't take much interest in Christmas. Used to be great fun in the old days when it was simply an orgy of commercial excess, but now I find that people are tainting the whole thing with a lot of religious mumbo jumbo. Thank the Lord it's over for another year."

19 Dec 2004 Now that it's too late to buy yesterday's Guardian, I learn that it contained Chris Priest's review of The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases in its shiny new Tor UK edition. Excuse me while I polish my fingernails modestly.

18 Dec 2004 We have a new world order at The Runcible Ansible, my "weekly" column for Eileen Gunn's The Infinite Matrix. Eileen's chronic overwork led to a backlog of columns awaiting upload, and I didn't like to inflict more upon her while the log-jam persisted. Now I have my very own access and can upload the column all by myself.... Meanwhile, Gary Westfahl's encyclopedia material (see 6 Dec, below) continues to arrive for my comment as a succession of documents named, by him, ORDEALnn.DOC.

8 Dec 2004 Ansible 209 was printed yesterday and put on-line today. My apologies to everyone on the e-mail list for the cock-up which caused you all to receive a couple of messages meant for me but (wrongly) sent to the list server address. This problem was rapidly fixed, but no doubt I'll be getting complaints and queries for days....

6 Dec 2004 Another long gap. Oh, the embarrassment. I've been away again, in North Wales; have vetted some 100,000 words of draft encyclopedia entries for Gary Westfahl's (no, not John Clute's) latest project, with much more to come; and spent altogether too much time wrestling with setup of a wireless LAN at Langford Towers here in Reading. Today, I'm pleased to say, my complimentary copies of that new edition of The Space Eater (Cosmos, 2004) arrived, and very nice it looks too -- all thanks to David A. Hardy for the cover art!

11 Nov 2004 Wearing my Ansible E-ditions hat, I've just about finished typesetting John Sladek's first collection The Steam-Driven Boy for a co-produced Cosmos Books edition. This, with Alien Accounts and The Lunatics of Terra, will be deferred to 2005 -- but Keep the Giraffe Burning should be out real soon now.... Meanwhile, thanks as always for recent PayPal donations in the wake of Ansible 208!

7 Nov 2004 Went to Novacon in Walsall on the 5th and (for no particularly interesting reason) came home next day. On Saturday evening my mother phoned in great alarm to check that I hadn't been in the Ufton Nervet train wreck. No: I was indeed travelling by rail at the fatal moment, but on another line in a train run by a different company (Virgin). It feels distinctly jarring, nevertheless....

29 Oct 2004 After a week with no correction to that Independent error -- see 22 October -- I asked the website editor when it would be fixed. No one had told him! The first two words in "the late Brian Aldiss" promptly vanished from the review.

25 Oct 2004 Good news from Gollancz, where hero editor Jo Fletcher has decided that my Discworld quizbooks (The Unseen University Challenge and The Wyrdest Link) should be reissued in the cute little hardback format they use for Bored of the Rings and other egregious parodies.

22 Oct 2004 Today's Independent review of Iain Banks implies that Brian Aldiss has died -- but Brian assures me this is not so.

11 Oct 2004 Happy birthday, brother Jon! Let's upload a picture....

1 Oct 2004 Time for some more site updates. I seem to have been gloomy and distracted for most of September (sorry). Here's the 2004 Hugo design....

28 Sep 2004 To London for the 21st birthday party of Terry Pratchett's Discworld®. Can it really be that long since I reviewed The Colour of Magic, or wrote the Gollancz reader's report on Equal Rites?

5 Sep 2004 The Hugo Award! For Best Fanwriter! This may be my 24th (counting all categories), but the sense of wonder just doesn't go away. Thank you all, very much.

4 Sep 2004 At least I can follow bits of the Worldcon from afar via the official live weblog, and read some of the merry quips I probably wouldn't be able to hear if in the actual audience....

3 Sep 2004 New Scientist has my all too brief review of that nice Mr Stross's first novel. More cheering feedback: a brief commendation of Up Through an Empty House of Stars in Gardner Dozois's latest Year's Best SF introduction, and a page-long review by Michael Bishop of He Do the Time Police in Different Voices in the August NYRSF.

1 Sep 2004 Candlelit launch party in Soho Square (see CC150) for Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. You will be hearing much, much more about this book.

31 Aug 2004 Another gap. The Discworld event was fun but utterly exhausting. Afterwards I delivered The SEX Column and other misprints (a collection of 128 of my SFX magazine columns and features) to Cosmos Books, and went down with a filthy cold which still lingers. Now it's time to envy all the lucky sods who can make it to the imminent Boston Worldcon! I plan to wait until this is over and the award results are all in, before publishing the September Ansible .

20 Aug 2004 Today I'm off to the Discworld convention, and hope I'll meet some of the usual suspects there. The long gap since the last posting is because I've been away from home and e-mail, pottering about North Wales and incidentally reading Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell. This is the finest debut fantasy novel I've read in a good while; it's as though Jane Austen, who is gently and wittily pastiched, had extended her scope from domesticity to cover England's scientific (here, magical) debates, the London/Edinburgh literary scene, the Napoleonic wars, life below stairs as well as above, and the worlds beyond our own -- with a nice line in fresh, unexpected yet plausible magic that's distantly reminiscent of Diana Wynne Jones. It is wonderfully over-researched and over-footnoted. I'll be re-reading this one.

7 Aug 2004 More reviews: Infinity Plus says nice things about Different Kinds of Darkness, while Tom Easton's Analog review column (October 2004, received here via timeslip) calls He Do the Time Police in Different Voices " a delightful collection of SF parodies and pastiches." • "Dave Langford is a diamond ring that wears a waistcoat and tie! It is rustproof and recites haiku." "Ansible.co.uk is an eraser that affixes to any flat surface! It is covered with realistic fur and can move faster than the speed of light." Click here for an endless supply of such useful product descriptions.

6 Aug 2004 Another issue of Ansible goes down the slipway....

4 Aug 2004 People keep asking: "See you at the Worldcon in Boston?" Well, no; I can't afford it. Instead, here on Teresa Nielsen Hayden's weblog are instructions for how to survive Worldcon. Meanwhile: see you at the Discworld convention in Hinckley? For some arcane reason I'm a guest, again.

26 Jul 2004 Here's a nice US newspaper article about James White, which mysteriously mentions me. In other news, I just delivered a review of Ramsey Campbell's new horror novel The Overnight to SFX, and am reading Charles Stross's Singularity Sky for an all too brief New Scientist review.

24 July 2004 Today, E-Reads has surrendered print rights to The Space Eater (you can still get the e-book from them, though).

11 Jul 2004 Yvonne Rousseau informs me that today is the anniversary of the birth of Thomas Bowdler, heroic expunger of naughty words, in 1754. Well ... bloody hell! • Yet more reprint projects. Cosmos Books will reissue The Space Eater when I have finished withdrawing print rights from E-Reads. Also for Cosmos, I'm in the throes of assembling a nine-year run of my SFX magazine columns (plus a few other SFX features) with the tentative title The SEX Column and other misprints. Those familiar with SFX cover design clichés will know why.

4-5 Jul 2004 The site move has now happened. Do let me know if you spot any hideous glitches. (NB: This is a move of my own personal web pages. The current series of Ansible is still hosted at Glasgow University, where -- just to add confusion -- the web server went down some time after #104 was uploaded on Saturday, and was still down on Monday morning. Here's an alternative copy of the July issue!)

28 Jun 2004 Things are changing in the vast Langford web empire. At some point [3 July, as it turned out] this site will move from Demon to the ansible.co.uk domain.... Meanwhile, one side effect of Interzone's change of publisher to TTA Press is that the magazine's hosted presence at SF Site has vanished, including the twelve-year archive of "Ansible Link" columns. Since "Link" was usually a digest of the most recent (at the time of writing) Ansible, whose past issues are all on line, perhaps it isn't worth reinstating the archive here. What do you think? [Later: evidently, no one cares.]

20 Jun 2004 At last I've bitten the bullet and added the long, boring versions of my bibliography to this site: see right-hand column at the new Bibliography Central page.

19 Jun 2004 Fictionwise has released a further mass of my short stories as tiny e-books. This is a spinoff of my efforts to assemble the collections He Do the Time Police in Different Voices and Different Kinds of Darkness. I'm immensely cheered to see "Bestseller" against my name in the author list, and (for the time being) a Langford plug on the Fictionwise front page.

18 Jun 2004 Still feeling intermittently knocked out by the hot weather. Another nice review of Different Kinds of Darkness, at The Alien Online. NESFA Press have announced the contents list of their Terry Pratchett collection Once More With Footnotes (marking his 2004 Worldcon GoH appearance), and rather to my surprise it contains his introductions to three of my books. Blimey.

23 May 2004 Gasp. I'm slowly recovering after delivering 35 essays to Gary Westfahl's latest sf encyclopedia project. (He gratefully asked if I'd like to do a few more.) Next on the agenda ... argh, can this be another sf encyclopedia?

20 May 2004 Different Kinds of Darkness is recommended by the BSFA's Vector....

5 May 2004 And now a positive review in Publishers Weekly! Lots of thanks to Paul Barnett for sending the scan.

4 May 2004 Nothing like the thrill of reading the first review of one's new(ish) book: Different Kinds of Darkness has a good word from SFCrowsnest....

30 Apr 2004 I'm still sweating over bloody encyclopedia entries for an American publisher, but hope to look in at <plokta.con 3.0> over the coming weekend. See some of you there?

16 Apr 2004 Home once more after a week in Wales with no net access. Much gratitude for all the birthday greetings that arrived on or around the 10th, and for the two Hugo nominations. Also this from Daniel Scruton: "it's the langford visual hack! and it's real! read about it here (note it only took a few moments for somebody to make the link ...)."

5 Apr 2004 Catching up again. First, apologies to anyone expecting to see me at the imminent UK Eastercon (Concourse in Blackpool) -- I just can't make it, alas. Second, thanks to all who responded to the unsubtle hint in Ansible 201 about donating a bit via the PayPal option: much appreciated! In other news, Terry Pratchett's new Discworld novel Going Postal (a saga of the Ankh-Morpork Post Office) has escaped my editorial attentions and is scheduled for October 2004. I liked it. I enjoyed the Bruce Sterling book too (see below) but don't yet know when New Scientist will run the review. [Later: it's in the 17 April 2004 issue.]

18 Mar 2004 More complications. I should be reviewing Bruce Sterling's new novel The Zenith Angle for New Scientist, but have been distracted by the arrival (in electronic form) of the next main-sequence Discworld novel by Terry Pratchett. Frantic editorial note-taking is under way.

16 Mar 2004 People keep saying "See you at Eastercon in Blackpool!", but unfortunately I won't be there. (Family complications.) I hope you all have fun and that the committee, which thanked me for volunteering to do several programme items for which I had not volunteered, has removed me from the schedule.

13 Mar 2004 One of the nice things about the online Locus these days is that each new issue of Ansible is treated as news and given a link on the ongoing sf event log. Many thanks to Mark Kelly for this courtesy.

27 Feb 2004 Another Friday, the day when Eileen Gunn theoretically uploads my "news preview" The Runcible Ansible to her webzine The Infinite Matrix. Real life sometimes gets in the way, and I skipped this week's delivery since last week's hadn't made it to the site -- but normal service should be resumed....

25 Feb 2004 I was getting bored with the old front page and the parrots (see Photographs), so have tinkered with it.

21 Feb 2004 Oh, splendid: The Lancet has reviewed The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases. "David Langford has produced well written, yet offensively amusing, gibberish ..."

19 February 2004 A distraction from ongoing work on Gary Westfahl's sf encyclopedia was the discovery -- via rec.arts.sf.composition -- of this true tale of pet-related terror from 1999. Now I feel too weak to write.

5 Feb 2004 More fuel for the raging ego! Gary K. Wolfe's review of Up Through an Empty House of Stars in the December Locus (transcribed by John D. Berry and e-mailed by Eileen Gunn) is extremely cheering. "Langford is a consistently entertaining stylist who takes his material seriously, but not too seriously, and who after nearly three decades remains a valuable and eminently sane voice in the field." Almost, I blush.

4 Feb 2004 My editor at Cosmos Books points out that Up Through an Empty House of Stars is on the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2003.

16 Jan 2004 Now I'm gloating over the hardbacks ... see 12 January.

12 Jan 2004 Different Kinds of Darkness is here already, a nice big box of trade paperbacks hot, or maybe faintly warm, from the printers. Whoopee!

3 Jan 2004 Exciting news about my Big Story Collection from Sean Wallace at Cosmos Books: "Different Kinds of Darkness (hard and soft editions) now available for printing / shipping. The hardcover is not yet listed on Amazon. We wants more Langford ..." Um, what can I do next? •

1 Jan 2004 Again, let us not be afraid of the obvious: Happy New Year!