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Dec 31, 2004

In a record-length instalment posted on the last day of 2004, what can I do but wish you all good fortune in 2005? Here's to the year of the 75th anniversary of the first known fanzine, The Comet; the centennial of Jules Verne's death; and the second Worldcon to be referred to in hushed, superstitious tones as The Scottish Convention....

Roger Levy, UK dentist and author of the sf novels Reckless Sleep and Dark Heavens, was the second of six victims of a lunatic's North London stabbing spree on 23 December. He was reported as stable in hospital after the attack. This unhappy news first emerged via Erik Arthur of Fantasy Centre, who actually had an appointment at the Levy dental surgery in Wood Green that day, and was told the alarming reason for its cancellation. Best wishes for our man's speedy recovery.

As Others See Us. 'I knew he was a science fiction nut because all the books he checked out were about the planet Romulac.' (Librarian in 1970s sitcom The Love Boat) How many telltale books about Romulac do you own? Be honest, now.

Arthur C. Clarke issued a statement following the horrific tsunami disasters in South and Southeast Asia: 'I am enormously relieved that my family and household have escaped the ravages of the sea that suddenly invaded most parts of coastal Sri Lanka, leaving a trail of destruction.' More at the Clarke Foundation website.

Publishers & Sinners. Amazing Stories magazine is taking a mysterious break from publishing: not closing down, insists new editor Jeff Berkwits, but 'going on hiatus' after the January issue, as a result of its being (in his own words) 'unexpectedly successful'. (Sci Fi Wire)

Jack Chalker went into hospital on 6 December and was diagnosed with congestive heart failure. Surgery followed. His son Steven is posting reports on line, and on 31 December announced that Jack is being moved from hospital: 'The doctors expect him to be out of the nursing home in several months, and his car is being sold. [...] I know that Dad's book [in progress], Chameleon, will not be published, however that could be proved wrong. We are also moving to a one-story house with no stairs for Jack's comfort. So, just a summary: He is permanently disabled but not fully retired. However I think Chameleon might be cancelled and his latest book published will be his last published.' Let's hope for better news to follow.

Chaz Brenchley answered The Bookseller's appeal for reports of people in the book trade who'd been arrested while going about their lawful business. His own encounter was a near miss: 'I was walking home, when a large stranger loomed up beside me and said hello. "You write books," he told me. I admitted that this was true. "I know you do," he said, "I used to follow you around." At last, I thought, my very own celebrity stalker. "I'm a bouncer now," he said, "but I used to be a store detective at Blackwell's. You were just the type we were trained to keep an eye on. Cap, shades, long overcoat, you couldn't look more suspicious. You used to come in every day and you never bought a book. I couldn't catch you at it, but I just knew you were pinching. In the end I got my manager to look at you on the CCTV. 'Oh, no,' he told me. 'That's not a shoplifter. That's an author.'"' (26 November)

R.I.P. Jerry Orbach (1935-2004), US actor whose best-known genre role was as the voice of a singing candelabrum in Disney's Beauty and the Beast (1991), died on 28 December aged 69. Thomas Scott Winnett (1962-2004), Locus staff member and reviewer, died on 12 December; he was 42. (SFWA obituary)

Peter Crowther of PS Publishing receives a surprise namecheck in Alan Hollinghurst's (Booker Prize-winning) novel The Line of Beauty -- reports Lisa Tuttle, who was disconcerted by the first line: 'Peter Crowther's book on the election was already in the shops.' Further down the page: 'He had met Peter Crowther once, and heard him described as a hack and also as a "mordant analyst": his faint smile, as he flicked through the pages, concealed his uncertainty as to which account was nearer the truth.' Perhaps Mr Crowther will let us know.

Fountain Award. The Speculative Literature Foundation invites magazine and anthology editors to nominate stories published in 2004 for this $1,000 juried award. Deadline 1 February; further details here.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Repair, or Impalement. 'Binabik fixed Simon with his brows.' (Tad Williams, Stone of Farewell, 1990) Your editor remembers that Wizard Longbrows in Zu: Warriors of the Magic Mountain can actually do this.


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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