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How would a literary agent react if any sf publisher told him that printing costs had gone up and the increase for each book was being deducted from his authors' royalties? One imagines a detonation to dwarf Krakatoa. Strangely enough, famous literary agent and publisher Richard Curtis has written to his E-Reads authors with the news that the POD distributor's (admittedly modest) annual fee for keeping each title available is being deducted from ...

As Others See Us. Mark Harris wraps up his positive review of Guy Gavriel Kay's The Last Light of the Sun with a traditional acid drop: 'Most fantasy writing is aimed at airheads with little, if any, knowledge of the past.' (Toronto Globe & Mail, 6 March)

Margaret Atwood charmed an Australian audience at the Adelaide Festival on 5 March, incidentally ensuring that another issue of Ansible will be bounced by various puritan e-mail filters. 'Would you like a question period now,' she asked halfway through her session, 'or would you like the Blue-Penis scene out of Oryx and Crake?' Nobody voted for questions, and the great lady remarked: 'This is the horrible truth. We'd all rather have blue penises.'

Mary Gentle was tickled pink by the review of her 1610: A Sundial in a Grave in SFX magazine (February 2004), not merely because it's the lead item in the books section but because the reviewer seemingly fell for the non-factual bits of Mary's frame story -- such as a nonexistent French swashbuckling novel written by Alexandre Dumas's chief collaborator and allegedly translated into English by Stanley J. Weyman. Who is this too-trusting reviewer, unschooled in the naughty ways of authors? Step forward, Rhianna Pratchett, daughter of ...

Harry Harrison replies at last to the 'Celebrity Interview' squib in Runcible 109: 'Oh dear. Taras Wolansky seems to be bereft of any sense of humor. I was trying to liven up a rather turgid interview when I said that Make Room! Make Room! was all lies. It is of course a fine, factual, realistic novel. Well -- the fen laughed even if Taras didn't.'

R.I.P. Peter Garratt (1949-2004), UK psychologist, fan and author of some three dozen published stories, died unexpectedly on 2 March, perhaps from a heart attack; he was 54. David Pringle writes: 'I've known Pete for over 30 years, and he was a kind friend, so obviously this is deeply saddening for me, as I'm sure it will be for many others who knew him well -- and also for those who knew him socially, from writers' groups or sf conventions, or through his stories in magazines and anthologies.'   Mel Hunter, 1929-2004, US sf artist responsible for many magazine cover paintings since 1953, died from bone cancer on 20 February. The last of his F&SF 'robot' covers appeared in May 2003.

London Circle. The traditional meetings on the first Thursday evening of the month have moved yet again, returning to a former venue: The Florence Nightingale pub, just across Westminster Bridge from Parliament.

Thog's Masterclass. Transubstantiation Dept. 'This Caramon pooled, ordering the grain pounded into flour or maize' (Margaret Weis & Tracy Hickman, War of the Twins, 1986)


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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