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Last weekend, terrifying satellite photos of hurricane weather over Florida ('I have seen the future and it is John Barnes's Mother of Storms!'). Next weekend, the Discworld Convention. Words like sublime and ridiculous keep springing to mind....

As Others See Us. Michel Basilières takes a crack at Philip K. Dick in this weblog -- ascribing interest in Dick to movies while ignoring his fascination for the academics, avoiding the issue of his unevenness with a flat 'Dick was a terrible writer' (who 'rarely made sense'), and deftly generalizing to sf as a whole: 'The genre is obviously low-grade escapism written for simpleminded adults or, at best, clever kids. Never mind any claims its writers may make for legitimacy, no matter on what grounds or with what evidence. Simply look at the reams of crap flowing through the bookstores like so many Big Macs -- Billions Served! -- and the truth becomes obvious. Or just look at the book covers.' Tra la.

J.K. Rowling's Edinburgh Festival appearance received national newspaper coverage, raptly recording her answer when asked which character was most like herself. 'Hermione ... is an exaggeration of how I was when I was younger. Harry is a bit like me. If you squeeze together Harry, Ron and Hermione ...' Hopes that this would continue with 'Voldemort is also a bit like me' were dashed when Rowling denounced her creation Dolores Umbridge. 'I am absolutely not like her. She is a horrible woman.' (Julian Hall, The Independent, 17 Aug)

'Is Science Fiction About To Go Blind?' asks Popular Science associate editor Gregory Mone, apparently worried that this may be a symptom of too much fondling of one's Singularity. Naturally his concern focuses on that 'faction of geeky writers' comprising Charles Stross and Cory Doctorow. (Mone discovers them among the 'members of a group called Plokta', actually members of a 2004 UK convention organized by editors of the fanzine Plokta.) It's an appreciative, if occasionally bewildered, article.

R.I.P. Michael Elder (1931-2004), Scots actor and author whose 1970s sf novels mostly appeared in Robert Hale editions aimed at the UK library market, died on 28 July; he was 73. Here's an obituary by John Clute. • Peter Woodthorpe (1931-2004), UK actor who voiced Gollum in both BBC Radio 4 adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and in the Ralph Bakshi animation, died on 12 August aged 72.

We Are Everywhere. 'Golf courses, how vile they are. They resemble distant planets, inadequately terraformed by ignorant but powerful alien beings.' (Will Self, The Independent, 14 Aug)

Thog's Masterclass. Spare Parts Dept. 'Britt pushed her capri pants down over her sweeping hips. After peeling off her long, shapely legs, she straightened and stretched her nude body luxuriously.' (Adam Coulter, Debauchee, 1963)


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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