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'What's with Harlan Ellison making his name a registered trademark?' asks a loyal correspondent who has been looking at Jacques Futrelle's The Thinking Machine (of which HE is credited as editor). Perhaps fortunately for all of us, ITM have no idea.

As Others See Us. John Woo explains the tremendous critical success of his Dick-based film Paycheck: '"I wanted to emphasise the romance of the story rather than the science fiction," Woo says. "Science fiction requires special effects. I don't have a mind for that. I think human behaviour is a special effect."' (The Age, Australia, 15 March)

W.H. Smith Awards. The 2004 'People's Choice' for best UK-published fiction, voted by 148,000 readers, was Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix -- leading to further 'invisibling' of the author's 2001 Hugo (see Runcible 113): 'J.K. Rowling gets the headlines for finally winning an "adult" prize,' said Publishers Lunch (17 March). Meanwhile, Terry Pratchett triumphed in the 'Teen Choice' category with The Wee Free Men.

Karen Traviss is shocked, shocked, shocked by the 17 March announcement of Swiss Army knives with USB memory-stick 'blades', as predicted in her sf novel City of Pearl. Just like Arthur C. Clarke with geosynchronous satellites, she failed to secure the patent. I wonder whether any sf satirist foretold the other amazing innovation revealed in the same news item: Swiss Army knives for air travellers, with no blades. (Dave Langford Is Not Making This Up.)

Asking For It. Thog greatly admires the bold submission guidelines of The Corpse Magazine, Aloha, Oregon: 'Needs: Stories that disturb, eviscerate and horrify.'

Iain M. Banks (for it is he) won the Best International Novel category of Italy's Italia sf awards, with Inversions.

R.I.P. René Laloux (1929-2004), French film director best known in sf for Fantastic Planet (La Planète sauvage, 1973), died on 14 March; he was 75.   Mercedes McCambridge (1916-2004), US actress who was the voice of the demon-possessed girl in the 1973 film of The Exorcist, died on 14 March; she was 87.   Belated notice: Philip Gilbert (1931-2004), Canadian actor seen in The Frozen Dead, Superman III and a 1961 Avengers episode, died on 6 January aged 72. He was the voice of the computer TIM in The Tomorrow People (1973-9).

The Dreaming, a small theatre company in York, is touring Britain in April and early May with stage versions of Robert Rankin's The Antipope (the first ever Rankin-based play) and Terry Pratchett's Eric. More information here.

Thog's Masterclass. Strange Allergens Dept. 'Primavera put a finger to my lips, her nose wrinkling in an allergy of indecision.' (Richard Calder, Dead Girls, 1993)


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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