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02.15.02

As I write I'm still palsied and hungover from the legendary sf hack Lionel Fanthorpe's 9 February celebration of 50 years (and 250 books) since he first appeared in print in 1952. It was also his 67th birthday. Characteristically, despite the presence of guests like Terry Pratchett, Colin Wilson, Jack Cohen, Guy N. Smith, Bob Rickard of Fortean Times, and even myself, the entertainment consisted largely of Lionel reminiscing, singing his own songs, declaiming his own poetry, acting in his own plays, regaling his audience with allegedly unsolved Fortean mysteries, and reading from the slim volumes of religious consolation which form much of his latter output. By that time, I'd escaped to safety in the bar.

Empire of the Rings. The Empire magazine readers' poll results are dominated by Mike Moorcock's favourite movie. Best film: The Lord Of The Rings I. Best actor: Elijah Wood (Frodo). Best debut: Orlando Bloom (Legolas). Lifetime achievement: Christopher Lee (Saruman). Less esoterically, the film also picked up 13 Oscar nominations including Best Picture, Director, Supporting Actor (Ian McKellen), and Screenplay (based on a previously published work). That noise you hear is the gnashing of Moorcockian teeth.

George Nader (1921-2002), US actor and author best remembered for his appearance in the 3D cult movie Robot Monster (1953, a Thog's Cinema Classic), died of pneumonia on 4 February, aged 80. His 1978 novel Chrome was an early example of gay sf.

Brian Aldiss helps stir the controversy: 'Heartily agree with Mike Moorcock. Lord of the Rings may have virtues as a film (particularly for those hard of hearing), but its basis is absolute crap… One passage in particular proves the superiority of SF over Tolkienian fantasy. Frodo is given a sword and told it will turn blue if orcs are nearby. He does not seem astonished. He does not respond, "Crikey! How the hell does it work then?" Of course not. Nobody could explain such nonsense, so the question is not asked. So the story blunders and thunders onwards, annihilating all minds in the audience… I enjoyed it.'

Thog's Masterclass. 'Slam Croberg, Head of Security, was impersonating a neurotic elephant with a hyperactive, pregnant mouse irretrievably installed in each ear.' (Lionel & Patricia Fanthorpe, 'The Smoothbundia Hypothesis', 2002)

 


David Langford is a writer, editor, physicist, bon vivant, and software consultant. His monthly SF newsletter, Ansible, is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. He lives in Reading, England with his wife Hazel, 25,000 books, and a few dozen Hugo awards.

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