Cloud Chamber 86
July 1998

This issue consisted mostly of a Tale of Terror subsequently expanded for publication elsehere ... so it appears as a separate item on this site.

Party Time. Being as how I'm up for 2.08 Hugos this year (my share of the Fantasy Encyclopedia being reckoned at 8%), the day after the presentation seems a good opportunity for a Victory / Sorrow-Drowning / Hold Over Funds / Delete As Necessary party here. That's Saturday 8 August, 2pm to mid-evening; modest contributions of drink, drink, food and drink are welcome as ever; usual stern rules of no smoking except in the back garden and no small children. You are all invited!

Mailing Comments

Paul K ... going back to your earlier verdict on Look at the Evidence, 'Essential reading, but you must be prepared to argue,' I do agree. Clute can get carried away. For example, I go along with his general point about the implausibly information-dead, 1955-ish future of Gordon Dickson's Young Bleys, but he builds on this by demanding AIs and Banksian Minds (which it is still uncertain will ever exist), and then there's the punchline about the chap who 'manages a multi-world conspiracy, mostly from restaurants, without a mobile phone' ... leading us into Thog's Critical Heritage Masterclass as on p93 of Young Bleys we read of this same fellow: 'Even as he spoke, he was turning to his wrist monitor, to use it as a phone.' • A slight slip of your own in mailing 65: you describe Poul Anderson's 'Goat Song' as retelling the Oedipus story, but your summary (and my own recollection) is the myth of Orpheus.

Ian ... Vance place-names: Flammarion was a 19th century French astronomer and writer who gets an SF Encyclopedia entry, and Ushant is the Anglicized name (familiar to all us Forester and O'Brian fans) of Ouessaint island, west of Brest at the top of the Bay of Biscay.

Steve ... I understand that the John Grant who writes those childrens' series (maybe the same as the one who wrote He-Man cartoon spinoffs for Ladybird) is not our John Grant. • Someone on rec.arts.sf.fandom has started using one of my own favourite-for-sheer-silliness Chesterton lines as a signature quote. Father Brown: 'Friends, we have passed a night in hell; but now the sun is risen, the birds are singing, and the radiant form of the dentist consoles the world.' Which brings me to –

Maureen ... I was irresistibly reminded of the Fat Freddy's Cat cartoon strip in which the fat one is desperately seeking the source of this terrible stench, while the cat emanates the smug thought-balloon: 'Wait until he puts on his stereo headphones.'

Everyone ... many thanks. In case I haven't said it before, I've never read Arthur Ransome; and the World Cup moves me to raging spasms of apathy, as does Wimbledon. Reviewed for SFX: Harry Turtledove's A World of Difference (hey, come on, that's Robert Conquest's title), which gets a bit into Baxter territory with an alternative solar system where Mars – or in this universe, 'Minerva' – is big enough to have evolved the sort of very human-minded aliens Larry Niven used to invent on off-days. Also read: Chris Priest's The Extremes, which is good strong stuff if not as mesmeric as The Prestige, followed by his first four novels as part of a marathon research stint intended to generate a long Priest essay for a forthcoming update of the Scribner's Science Fiction Writers (1982). Next ... Greg Bear!