The Silence of the Langford

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Silence of the Langford -- 1st ed cover

The Silence of the Langford: Essays (and some stories) by David Langford is a collection of 47 nonfiction pieces from SF fanzines and other sources, mostly humorous and/or critical about SF and the SF scene, with three comic stories and a bibliography thrown in for luck. There is an introduction by Teresa Nielsen Hayden. Silence incorporates almost the entire contents of Let's Hear it for the Deaf Man, an earlier NESFA Press Langford collection issued in fanzine format in 1992.

  • Publication Date: September 1996
    (Reprinted with slight corrections, December 1997)
  • Publisher: NESFA Press, Massachusetts, USA
  • Format: B-format paperback
  • ISBN: 0915368625
  • Page Count: 278
  • Cover Artist: design by Anthony R. Lewis, photo by John D. Rickett
  • Availability: NESFA PressBook Depository
  • Reviews


Russ Allbery,, 30 May 2005

Although I liked the essays aimed directly at analyzing writing the best, the topic almost doesn't matter; Langford can make me laugh out-loud while digressing on almost any subject, hiding wonderful turns of phrase and a delight in language in the middle of the most prosaic of essays.

Ursula Le Guin, letter, May 1997

I am having a lovely time with The Silence of the Langford. I've been working on a little book for people who write but who have not realised that, basically, writing involves being able to read, & I wish I could steal some of your more elegant autopsies of dead prose as awful examples, the way farmers tack up coyote skins on the barn wall....

Tom Easton, Analog, April 1997

In 1992, NESFA published some of his material in a mimeographed chapbook, Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man. Now the same outfit offers us The Silence of the Langford. There's some overlap, but most of the book is newly collected. And it made me howl and snicker and snort, so I suspect it will you, too.

Especially if you enjoy book reviewers who first cosh their targets with lead-weighted baseball bats and then dance prolonged tarantellas on the corpses. The hatchet job done with manic verve, wit, and glee is a great deal of fun to commit as well as to read (except for the target), and I have been known on occasion to commit it (and to enjoy doing so). Perhaps very few books other than L. Ron Hubbard's final abominations really deserve such treatment, a thought that reins me in much more than it does Langford, but a witty hatchet job is still fun.

Ken Brown, Interzone 117, March 1997

The Silence of the Langford is published at $15 by NESFA Press (New England Science Fiction Association, PO Box 809, Framingham, MA 01701-0203, USA) to demonstrate to other people why Dave Langford keeps on winning Hugo awards for fan writing. It contains literally dozens of pieces, all by Langford: talks given at conventions, fan writing, short stories, reviews and criticism, and 12 columns first published in Million, the late sister magazine to Interzone. Almost all of it is funny; almost all of it is interesting; some of it is true. Much of it may be all three at once. You already know that because you read Dave's "Ansible Link" column which appears every month in IZ. (One of the older pieces in the book is a short obituary to mark the original Ansible's supposed final issue in 1987.)

I had a complicated time getting this precious volume out of Brighton – I seem to remember Andy Robertson locking himself into a toilet with the book for 45 minutes, only coming out when I threatened Belloctomy on his bookshelves. And even then I had to re-read most of a Greg Benford novel before he would deliver up the Langford volume. But it was worth it. I would be telling a lie if I said this book was "unputdownable." I had to put it down when I got to the bottom of page three because I was laughing so much I was unable to turn to page four.

Gregory Feeley, Washington Post, 1 September 1996

British writer Dave Langford is the best and funniest sf journalist now working, as well as an extremely good short story writer, whose work is too little known in this country. The Silence of the Langford (NESFA Press, PO Box 809, Framingham, Mass. 01701-0203, $15) goes some way to remedying this, as it gathers a generous sampling of his articles, reviews and speeches, along with several welcome stories. The nonfiction is for a slightly specialized audience – you have to know at least a bit about science fiction to understand why the last volume of Stephen Donaldson's Covenant trilogy "is so deviously complex, the book should have been called 'Tinker, Tailor, Leper, Spy' " – but the stories can be enjoyed by everyone. "Leaks," which has never previously been published in this country, is one of the funniest things I have read in years: It deals with a bibulous British superhero on retainer to an ill-paying state agency, who is cursed with an especially useless superpower.