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Can this really be the 100th outbreak of Runcibility? Let the virtual champagne flow freely; decrypt the encoded caviar! I have celebrated by delivering a vast retrospective Langford story collection to my nice US publishers....

The BBC Big Read silliness continues, with a 100-strong list of the British public's favourite books whittled down by popular vote to a shortlist of 21. The odd mix of dusty classics, school set-books and recent bestsellers suggests that the exercise might have made more sense if staying power had been among the criteria — e.g. Cyril Connolly's rule that a book must last ten years to be reckoned a success. Showing the perils of competing with oneself, none of Terry Pratchett's multiple longlist choices and only one of J.K. Rowling's made it to this stage:

  1984, George Orwell

  Birdsong, Sebastian Faulks

  Captain Corelli's Mandolin, Louis de Bernieres

  Catch-22, Joseph Heller

  The Catcher in the Rye, J.D. Salinger

  Great Expectations, Charles Dickens

  Gone with the Wind, Margaret Mitchell

  Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, J.K. Rowling

  His Dark Materials, Philip Pullman

  The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Douglas Adams

  Jane Eyre, Charlotte brontë

  The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis

  Little Women, Louisa May Alcott

  The Lord of the Rings, J.R.R. Tolkien

  To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee

  Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen

  Rebecca, Daphne du Maurier

  War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy

  The Wind in the Willows, Kenneth Grahame

  Winnie the Pooh, A.A. Milne

  Wuthering Heights, Emily Brontë

So, two sf titles and six fantasies, five of the latter being at least ostensibly for children. Tra la.

John Brosnan muses on the sincerest form of flattery: 'A press release from the UK Film Council announces their backing of a new movie from the director of Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall. Called Outpost, the film is "set on a derelict oil rig where a secret genetic experiment goes horribly awry. Forty eight hours later a special military forces team arrives to investigate only to find themselves faced with a fearsome and mutating opponent." Gosh! As the co-author, with Leroy Kettle, of a novel called Slimer which was set on a derelict oil rig which contained a secret genetic engineering facility and a mutating monster, and the part author of the screenplay for Proteus, the movie based on the novel, I can only approve of Neil Marshall's good taste in his choice of subjects. I suppose the cheque for the rights is in the post?'

R.I.P? Upheavals at Bob Guccione's General Media, and a possible sell-off of Penthouse, may be linked to the apparent vanishing of Omni Online. Though not updated since the plug was pulled in 1998, this remained preserved in amber on the website ... until now?

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of 100th-Instalment Excess, or, Our Editorial Policy. 'This crazy galaxy is the price that the universe pays for order. 666, eh? By the seven green moons, it was well numbered! There's something strangely capricious about this place. Just as our universe is a motivated universe, this one is motiveless. The real universe, the universe to which we belong, has purpose; this one is whimsical, fanciful and fantastic. This is a temperamental galaxy, an hysterical galaxy, a mad galaxy. This is an insane, freakish, wanton, erratic, inconsistent galaxy; it's a completely unreasonable galaxy. It's undisciplined, refractory, uncertain and unpredictable. It's a volatile galaxy, a mercurial galaxy. [...] It's a frivolous galaxy; it's inconsistent and inconstant; it's variable; it's unstable; it's irresponsible and unreliable.' ('Pel Torro' [Robert Lionel Fanthorpe], Galaxy 666, 1963)


He Do the Time Police in Different VoicesDavid Langford is an author and a gentleman. His newsletter, Ansible, is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. His most recent books are Different Kinds of Darkness, a new short-story collection of horror, SF, and fantasy, Up Through an Empty House of Stars: Reviews and Essays 1980-2002, 100 pieces of Langfordian genre commentary, and He Do the Time Police in Different Voices, a short-story collection that brings together, all of Dave's SF parodies and pastiches. (This is a scary thought. Are you ready to laugh that hard?)

Dave lives in Reading, England with his wife Hazel, 25,000 books, and a few dozen Hugo awards. He continues to add books and Hugos.

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