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Nov 26, 2004

Sighs of relief have been heard throughout the scientific world. A worrying 2003 prediction, that the universe could spontaneously self-destruct in as little as 10 billion years, was revised in September to allow us a cheering 24 billion or so years. (Nature) Good news for anyone who'd been carefully not starting any long books....

As Others See Us. Howard Jacobson, who never tires of putting down fantasy, uses John Stuart Mill's mental health as a convenient springboard: 'In his dejection, Mill turns to poetry; not Virgil or Ovid, but the English Romantics, Wordsworth in particular, who he believed helped to re-educate him into common feelings. Wordsworth, notice, not Tolkien.' (Independent Arts&Books Review, 19 Nov) Indeed, many 19th-century folk who wished to be entertained by a newspaper columnist turned to Dickens, notice, not Howard Jacobson.

Ray Bradbury received the 2004 US National Medal of Arts, and Madeleine L'Engle the corresponding National Humanities Medal, in a White House Oval Office ceremony on 17 November. Eight people were honoured in each category. Bradbury accepted in person; L'Engle was represented by her granddaughter.

R.I.P. Howard Keel (1919-2004), US actor whose best-known genre appearance was in the film The Day of the Triffids (1963), died on 7 November. He was 85. Steve Green reminisces: 'His scenes were judged so boring by the producers that additional scenes were inserted (directed by Freddie Francis), using a separate cast and set in a deserted lighthouse.' • Ed Kemmer (1921-2004), star of the 1950-55 TV and radio series Space Patrol, died on 5 November aged 83. His genre films included Giant from the Unknown and Earth vs the Spider (both 1958). • Harry Lampert (1916-2004), US comics artist who inked Popeye in the early 1930s and drew the original 1940 Flash, died on 13 November -- his 88th birthday.

Martin Greenberg, sf anthologist extraordinaire, will surely be surprised to learn that he perished in a 1999 Egyptian plane crash and left a thirty-million-dollar bank account unclaimed in (apparently) the Czech Republic. So at any rate says this e-mail from BEN FARA, LAWYER BY PROFESSION AND PERSONAL ASSISTANCE TO LATE MR MARTIN GREENBERG, written all in capitals with a strong Nigerian accent....

Nova Awards for British fan publication:

  • Artist: Sue Mason
  • Writer: Claire Brialey
  • Fanzine: Zoo Nation ed. Pete Young
  • Best Fan (an occasional life achievement award): Ray Bradbury -- not the American one who has to make do with medals, but the long-time Birmingham UK fan who constructs the Nova Award trophies.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Slannish Tendrils. 'He turned to the strikingly beautiful girl sitting beside him. A girl whose long almost blue-black hair seemed so vibrantly alive that it pulsated with a sentience of its own.' (Bron Fane, 'Jungle of Death', Supernatural Stories #27, 1959)


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 couple of dozen Hugo awards. He continues to add books and Hugos.

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