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Jan 7, 2005

A soothing reply to all those As Others See Us stories was heard in Tom Purdom's guest speech at Philcon 2004: 'It used to bother me that people thought liking science fiction was weird. But then I discovered that to Americans any interest, be it astronomy or playing chess or whatever, is weird. The only thing you can do that Americans won't find weird is watching four hours of television a night.' ('Which [for Americans, at least] explains everything,' adds our ace reporter Michael Swanwick.)

Nebula Awards. Here are the novels and scripts from the preliminary ballot:

  • Lois McMaster Bujold, Paladin of Souls
  • Cory Doctorow, Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom
  • Jack McDevitt, Omega
  • Sean Stewart, Perfect Circle
  • S.M. Stirling, Conquistador
  • Gene Wolfe, The Knight
  • The Incredibles
  • Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind
  • The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King

Media Spot. From the Guardian round-up of newspaper predictions for 2005: '"You would think that the latest Star Wars instalment [out in May] would be a dead cert but I feel that the public has tired of this moribund franchise," says Wendy Ide in the Times. "For space action, look instead to the Spielberg/Cruise collaboration War of the Worlds [July]."' Space action? This implies some rather drastic changes to H.G. Wells's storyline....

Quentin Blake, noted UK illustrator of (especially) children's books, was made a CBE or Commander of the British Empire in the New Year honours list -- upgrading his 1988 OBE award. He's best known for his collaboration with Roald Dahl, but several of us have a particular nostalgic fondness for his work on the Uncle fantasies by J.P. Martin. (BBC story)

R.I.P. Kenneth Vye Bailey (1914-2005), UK sf poet and critic, has reportedly died. As K.V. Bailey he wrote many gently erudite reviews for Foundation, The Third Alternative, Vector, and other magazines; his most recent book was The Vortices of Time: Poems of Speculation and Fantasy (1998). Humphrey Carpenter (1946-2005), UK biographer whose works included J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (1977), The Inklings (1978) and The Oxford Companion to Children's Literature (1984, with Mari Prichard), died on 4 January aged 58. Will Eisner (1917-2005), legendary cartoonist who created, scripted and drew The Spirit -- and much else -- died on 3 January following a quadruple heart bypass. He was 87. Since 1987 his name has been honoured in the Will Eisner Comic Industry Awards, which he loved to present in person. His comics debut was in 1936, and even now a new graphic novel awaits publication. (SFWA obituary) Frank Kelly Freas (1922-2005), one of the best loved of all sf artists, died on 2 January aged 82. His long career began in 1950 and earned him ten Hugo awards as best artist, beginning in 1955 and with an unbroken run from 1972 to 1976; in 2001 he also received a Retro Hugo for 1950 work. Besides his hundreds of colourful, distinctively styled sf magazine and book covers, Freas spent seven years as chief cover artist for Mad and designed the Skylab 1 shoulder patch for NASA. He will be much missed. (CNN and SFWA obits)

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of the Noisy Dead. 'It caught a man between neck and shoulder, and the dead man went down shrieking, but Bahzell had no time to see more than that.' (David Weber, Oath of Swords, 1995)


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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