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I am filled with nostalgia by this reminder of what sf world-building used to be like: 'So they gathered bilbys, and scythed grain and collected panniers of gleebs, and then it was time to fleece the mereens again, and the days slid by ...' (John Rackham, The Double Invaders, 1967) But whatever happened to the smeerps?

As Others See Us. Alfonso Cuaron, director of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Whatsit, may next write and direct an sf film, Children of Men — presumably based on the not very good P.D. James novel. With the usual disclaimer: 'It's not really science-fiction. It's the world 30 years from now, in which for 18 years no human child has been born, for unknown reasons. Civilizations are falling apart. England is the last remaining civilization as we know it, because it's an island that's insulated itself from Europe, which is in civil wars and complete pandemonium. So the story takes place in that context.' (SCI FI Wire) Definitely nothing like sf, then.

R.I.P. Peter 'Mac' McNamara (1947-2004), Australian fan, editor and publisher, died on 1 June from brain cancer diagnosed in early 2002; he was 57. His mid-1980s sf magazine Aphelion led to the small press Aphelion Publications; he coedited the anthologies Alien Shores (1994) and Forever Shores (2003), and was still working on Future Shores in May 2004. Peter is survived by his wife Mariann. All sympathy to her and the family.   Edward Wagenknecht (1900-2004), US scholar of supernatural fiction who edited several collections, anthologies and The Letters of James Branch Cabell (1975), died on 24 May at the remarkably ripe age of 104.

Harry Harrison sends a May Observer interview with a UK pest control expert, who knows how to deal with the rigours of the job: 'Science fantasy books — sword and sorcery — are the best way to unwind. If you've had a bad day — clearing a dead [human] body out, or something — you can't go wrong with Stephen Donaldson or Michael Moorcock.'

As Others See Us II. From The Washington Post's coverage of that film The Day After Tomorrow (27 May): '[Al] Gore, who says he read the screenplay while the movie was in production and saw a screening this week, admits — as everyone does — that the movie is mostly science fiction, but grounded in some science facts.' Our correspondent Phil Margolies muses: 'I wonder what the science fiction part is grounded in?'

Publishers and Sinners. Marvel Comics's prose imprint Marvel Press — dedicated to fiction about Marvel characters — launches this month.   Penguin UK, dragging itself kicking and screaming into the 1990s, plans to save £100,000 a year by doing away with printed book catalogues in favour of on-line listings. (Publishers Lunch)

Thog's Masterclass. Strange Headgear Dept. 'Black heads in the water, struggling amid the flames, without lips or fingers.' (Joe Buff, Thunder in the Deep, 2001)


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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