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Grumble, grumble. Here I am at home in Reading, as usual, trying to stifle envy of all the lucky folk who can attend the current Worldcon in Boston, Noreascon 4....

Booker Prize. The 2004 longlist of 22 novels includes David Mitchell's borderline/slipstream Cloud Atlas as the bookies' favourite, and Susanna Clarke's very fine fantasy Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell as one of four 'joint second favourites'. The shortlist should be announced on 21 September, and the winner on 19 October. (BBC News)

As Others See Us. The Daily Record warns that reading fantasy may be bad for your sex life: 'Penguin books quizzed 1000 females about the holiday reads they would look for in a mate. / They found fantasy fiction like JK Rowling's series, JRR Tolkien's Lord Of The Rings and Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels put girls off. / Sex and relationships expert Tracey Cox [...] said men escaping into alternative realities appear to have less grip on the real world.' Oh dear!

Brian Aldiss makes another comeback: 'I have returned safely from my visit to Albania. My third visit. There is still no SF to be had there. However, I did discover (along with about fifty others) a Lost City! This is the lost city of Buktrint, founded by Rome four centuries BC. They're still hacking it out of the forest. A magical place....'

Harry Potter and the Very Great Wickedness. This review in The Wave leads us to marvel once again at the courage of those who are prepared, in the name of religion, to make utter idiots of themselves.

Adam Roberts had a timeslip experience: 'The workload of my summer has magically lightened. I had planned to spend it writing a new novel for Gollancz, to be called Gradisil. I had thought that this novel was not yet half completed. But checking the French Amazon site I discover that it has verily been finished, published and indeed sold out.'

Seiun Awards for sf in Japanese translation:

  • Novel: David Brin, Heaven's Reach
  • Short Story: Ted Chiang, 'Hell Is the Absence of God'
  • Media: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers

R.I.P. Elmer Bernstein (1922-2004), prolific Hollywood composer whose genre credits included Ghostbusters (1984), died on 18 August aged 82. While briefly under a cloud in the McCarthy years, he scored such low-budget films as Robot Monster and Cat Women of the Moon (both 1953).

Interaction, the 2005 Glasgow Worldcon, is offering you -- yes, obscure but secretly talented you! -- the opportunity to design the convention's Hugo base. More details here.

Thog's Masterclass. Neat Tricks Dept. 'My tongue clove to the roof of my mouth, but I managed the one word, "Immortality!"' (Milton Lesser, Secret of the Black Planet, 1965)


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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