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07.14.04

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 foreign books.

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. His 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 a front-page 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)

 


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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