Not sf, but another influence on my early years has gone: Anthony Buckeridge
(1912-2004), OBE, author of the long-running 'Jennings' boarding-school comedy
sequence published since 1950, died on 28 June aged 92. Long before The
Simpsons, Buckeridge made `Doh!' the favourite expletive of a
short-tempered schoolmaster; in later life he dismissed the Harry Potter stories
as 'perfectly ordinary books that have been hyped up'.
J.G. Ballard's Super-Cannes may have eluded English-language
sf award listings, but has won the Tähtivaeltaja prize in Finland as the
best SF novel published there last year. Named for the magazine
Tähtivaeltaja (Star Rover), this is Finland's only SF prize for
R.I.P. Hugh B. Cave (1910-2004), British-born US author of
over 1,000 pulp and slick magazine stories plus several supernatural fiction
novels, died peacefully on 27 June. He would have been 94 on 11 July. Cave
received 1978, 1997 and 1999 World Fantasy Awards, the last for his life
achievement, which was also honoured by Bram Stoker (1991) and International
Horror Guild (1998) awards.
30 June obituary by Jack Adrian in The Independent fills the top
two-thirds of a double-page spread of the newspaper.
Publishers and Sinners. Our man at Waterstone's Bookshop in
Edinburgh had to postpone a planned discussion of John Wyndham's The Midwich
Cuckoos 'due to Penguin being in a total mess right now. The entire book
trade is ticked off with what has to be the most famous publisher around. They
are relocating their warehouse, which is obviously disruptive. Add to that a new
automated system which was untried and, yep, you guessed it, didn't actually
work, and you have a recipe for disaster. Bookstores up and down the UK are
having enormous trouble trying to source Penguin titles, from John Wyndham to
James Joyce. Great fun for booksellers having to explain this to every customer
who asks why they can't get hold of famous books.... And it looks like costing
Penguin millions in lost business.'
Science Fiction Writers Have the Bomb! It must be true, it's
headline in The Onion for 24 June 1957....
J.K. Rowling, soon after a hoax report that her sixth book would be
called Harry Potter and the Something Implausible, announces that it
will in fact be Harry Potter and the Something Else Implausible. Be
still, my beating heart. (Oh, all right, if you insist: not Pillar of Storgé
but Half Blood Prince.)
Small Press. Saucer
Smear is recommended by loyal correspondent Steve Dunn: 'It is to the
UFO community (what the magazine calls "UFoology") what Ansible
and File 770, etc. are to science fiction, i.e., a fanzine.' Fandom ...
but not as we know it.
As Others See Us. Belatedly, here's film critic Paul Byrne of the
Sydney Morning Herald issuing the traditional disclaimer about Charlie
Kaufman's utterly science-fictional
Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind: 'Kaufman writes with an
imaginative freedom that only sci-fi writers usually have, but his stories are
not strictly sci-fi. He doesn't so much transform the natural world into
something bizarre or futuristic, as make a bizarre world of his creation seem
natural.' Which is very different.
Thog's Masterclass. Hazards of Smoking Dept. 'Smith struck a
match and relighted his pipe. He began to pace the room again. His eyes were
literally on fire.' (Sax Rohmer,
The Mystery of Dr Fu Manchu, 1913)
David 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.