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Sep 24, 2004

My secret is out at last. Neil Gaiman has spilled the beans about how to acquire your very own Hugo award on line ...

As Others See Us. David Gates reviews Philip Roth's alternative history The Plot Against America in Newsweek, beginning: `Literary novelists generally leave alternative history (take a big what if and go from there) to writers of pop fiction and sci-fi. This is either because of its fundamental unseriousness -- at bottom, who cares about an if that never happened -- or because of the sheer drudgery involved in elaborating some counterfactual premise.' Ansible stringer Andrew Love deduces that we can care about (say) Hamlet or Anna Karenina only because their lives really happened.

Booker Prize. David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas is the closest thing to a genre title on the six-book shortlist released on 21 September, and is regarded as the favourite. Against bookies' expectations, the list does not include Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.

As Ourselves See Us. Neil Gaiman has the last word in a Wired article on the 2004 Worldcon: `"I come from comic books," said Gaiman. "If sci-fi is the gutter of literature, comics are the place that the gutter flows into."'

R.I.P. Alfred Coppel (1921-2004), US sf and thriller writer whose sf career ran from a 1947 Astounding story to the 1990s `Goldenwing' trilogy, reportedly died in May. • Frank Thomas (1912-2004), one of the legendary `Nine Old Men' of Disney animation, died on 8 September aged 92. • Harvey Wheeler (1918-2004), US political scientist who with Eugene Burdick wrote the novel of accidental nuclear war Fail-Safe (1962), died from cancer on 6 September. He was 85. • Fred Whipple (1906-2004), noted US astronomer and co-author of the 2004 Retro Hugo winner Conquest of the Moon (1953), died at age 97 on 31 August -- just four days before the award was announced.

Only Apparently Real. David Fury, co-executive producer of the coming ABC sf series Lost, explained to SCI FI Wire that `realism is the key in making it all work. [...] We'll try to root it in real science or real pseudo-science.' (Sci-Fi Weekly)

Thog's Masterclass. Sirius Cybernetics Dept. `ENTER, the door chimed, as it slid open soundlessly.' (C.S. Friedman, The Wilding, 2004)


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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