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Jan 28, 2005

Bad news for fans who buy their sf in central London: the building containing the triple bookshop Murder One (crime), Heartlines (romance) and New Worlds (sf/fantasy) will shortly be demolished. Maxim Jakubowski's crime and romance sections are moving to smaller premises on the other side of Charing Cross Road at 'about the end of March' -- but owing to lack of space there, New Worlds will cease to exist. A final book sale is already under way. Andy Richards of Cold Tonnage Books confirms: 'Yes, the real shame is that the sf section as a whole is closing. My second-hand section is just a part of it.' But his mail order business continues.

Publishers and Sinners. Possibly the most astonishing novel ever written, Atlanta Nights by 'Travis Tea' was created to test -- preferably to destruction -- PublishAmerica's claim to be a serious 'traditional publisher' with old-fashioned trappings like editorial standards. James D. Macdonald explains: 'Thirty authors answered the call by banging out a chapter or two over a long weekend. They were each given a brief outline and a few character notes. They then wrote their chapters -- without knowing what might be in other chapters, whether their chapter was first, last, or somewhere else in the narrative, what time of year it was, or much of anything else. Any accidental literary competence was rapidly blue-penciled into oblivion. The result varied from unreadable to incoherent. The manuscript was submitted to PublishAmerica by a volunteer. PublishAmerica bought the book.' The perfection of this story is slightly marred by the fact that (on counsel's advice) the hoax had to be revealed before signing a contract which guaranteed that the book was written solely by the figurehead author, whereupon PA seized the opportunity to back out. Instead it's been published by (see readers' comments), with profits going to SFWA's emergency medical fund.

Douglas Adams is officially a heavenly body. The unremarkable object that had been provisionally named 2001 DA42 -- conveniently encapsulating his death date, his initials, and his Ultimate Answer -- was confirmed this week as Asteroid Douglasadams.

British SF Association Awards shortlist for 2004 novels:

  • Alastair Reynolds, Century Rain
  • Kim Stanley Robinson, Forty Signs of Rain
  • Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange and Mr Norrell
  • Ken MacLeod, Newton's Wake
  • Ian McDonald, River of Gods
  • Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Stamping Butterflies

Six novels are listed owing to a tie for fifth place. See the other categories here.

R.I.P. Bruce Cassiday (1920-2005), US author and historian of sf and crime fiction, died on 12 January. He wrote the novelization Flash Gordon: The War of the Cybernauts (1975, as by Carson Bingham) and edited Modern Mystery, Fantasy, and Science Fiction Writers (1993).

Poetry Corner. Among the preliminaries to the UK National Science Week (March 2005), Terry Pratchett's 'Ode to Multiple Universes' was aired by BBC Radio 4 on 14 January.

Letter Column. M.J. 'Simo' Simpson gloats correctively: 'I was surprised to read a report in Screen International that my screenplay of Richard Marsh's The Beetle was "in advanced development" at the modern day incarnation of Hammer Films. Almost as surprised, it turns out, as the CEO of Hammer Films, who has expressed his liking for the script but has not yet optioned it. It seems that some staffer on the trade paper, reporting Hammer's latest co-production deal, got somewhat confused about the facts. Film journalists, eh? Who would trust them?'

Real Lit'ry Awards. The US National Book Critics Circle awards shortlist of five titles includes two of genre interest, David Mitchell's Cloud Atlas and Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. (Publishers Lunch, 24 Jan) Lambda Awards (gay, lesbian, etc) sf/fantasy/horror nominees:

  • Michael Jensen, Firelands
  • Greg Herren, ed., Shadow of the Night: Queer Tales of the Uncanny and Unusual
  • Jim Grimsley, The Ordinary
  • Jean Stewart, The Wizard of Isis
  • Nicola Griffith, With Her Body

Thog's Masterclass. Solid Geometry Dept. 'The capsule was a truncated cylinder, perhaps four meters in diameter at the base and three at the top ...' (Charles Stross, Singularity Sky, 2003)


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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