Feb 11, 2005
Some of our correspondents, I regret to report, have dreadfully
low minds. Reading The Fellowship of the Ring to her
8-year-old son, Janice Eisen suffered a slight breakdown at this
passage: 'Tom put his mouth to the crack and began singing into it
in a low voice. They could not catch the words, but evidently
Merry was aroused.' Oh dearie me.
As Others See Us. Michael Jackson, of all people, has
grasped the essential point that sf is fiction: he compares press
coverage of his legal entanglements to 'watching science fiction.
It's not true.' (Thanks to Neil Gaiman for
L. Chalker (1944-2005), the well-known US sf writer,
editor (Mirage Press) and fan, died on the morning of 11 February;
he was only 60. His 6 December collapse was reported in
Runcible 153. Jack's early,
idiosyncratic sf novels A Jungle of Stars (1976), Midnight
at the Well of Souls (1977) and Dancers in the Afterglow
(1978) set a pattern of compulsive, large-scale adventures usually
involving bizarre character metamorphoses and (since Midnight)
building into multi-volume series, some of them bestsellers. John
Clute in the Encyclopedia of SF identified him, despite
cavils about overproduction, as 'a novelist of considerable flair,
with an ear acutely attuned to the secret dreams of freedom
mortals tend to dream'. Much sympathy to his widow Eva Whitley and
Philip DeGuere (1944-2005), US writer, producer and
director who worked on the 1978 tv movie Dr Strange, The
Twilight Zone (1980s revival; he wrote 3 episodes) and Max
Headroom (1987), died on 24 January. He was 60.
Vernon (1932-2005), Canadian-born actor whose most famous sf
role was the voice of Big Brother in the 1956 film 1984,
died on 3 February aged 72. He also voiced such characters as
Sub-Mariner and Iron Man in tv superhero animations.
Simon R. Green once again angles for Ansible
publicity in his latest space opera Deathstalker Coda
(2005), whose hero deals summarily with the bit-part villain of
Chapter Three despite the latter's surrender: 'He looked at
deLangford, and let his anger lash out. DeLangford's head
exploded, showering the surroundings with blood and brains and
skull fragments. The body sank slowly to its knees, blood
fountaining from the neck ...' Was it something I said?
F.M. 'Buz' Busby is slowly recuperating in hospital
following serious intestinal problems, surgery, and subsequent
complications. The greatest frustration, reports Elinor Busby, has
been his inability to hold books or magazines in reading position.
Closure! Following the report in
Runcible 156, The New York
Review of SF (February 2005) has now published the long-lost
ending of 'The Eye of Argon'. Your columnist dutifully added the
missing 254 words to
Random Fandom. Joe Gordon, fired from
Waterstone's Edinburgh bookshop for satirical weblog remarks (see
Runcible 155), has ridden the
resulting wave of publicity to
new job at the Edinburgh branch of Forbidden Planet.
Remembering the FP chain's reputation for downplaying outmoded
forms of sf like books, Charlie Stross adds: 'And hopefully this
means Forbidden Planet will, gasp, start selling sc**nc* f*ct**n
again real soon now.'
Jim Young, former diplomat with the US Foreign Service,
has found a new career: 'for the first time, I'm actually going to
be paid for acting, and in a picture with Tom Cruise in it, no
less. Yes, I'm going to be an extra in War of the Worlds.
I tend to doubt that anyone will see me on the silver screen in
this, but it's a start. Then again, I will probably be the only
person running from the CGI Martians who wrote a doctoral
dissertation dealing with H.G. Wells....'
Boris Johnson, as every sf fan knows, is the
assassin-hero of Norman Spinrad's 1967 novel Agent of Chaos.
Since BJ is also editor of the right-wing Spectator
magazine and one of Britain's more eccentric Conservative MPs,
The Guardian was delighted to report his sf connections in
recent 'Diary' column.
Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Ancient-Mariner
Astronomy. 'She said "Thank you," again and went to
look out, though she could see nothing but the old moon with a
lost star drifting between its horns.' (Patricia A. McKillip, Heir
of Sea and Fire, 1980)
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
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.