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Feb 25, 2005

Many familiar names appear on the 18-strong shortlist of the first Man Booker International Prize of £60,000 for lifetime achievement in fiction. Let's be the only publication that geekishly lists them in order of sf/fantasy interest, as measured by entry length in the Clute/Nicholls and Clute/Grant Encyclopedias -- only John Updike is in both ...

  • 1609 words: Stanislaw Lem (Poland)
  • 885: Gabriel Garcia Marquez (Colombia)
  • 512: Doris Lessing (UK)
  • 315: Muriel Spark (UK)
  • 312 (191 EoSF, 121 EoF): John Updike (US)
  • 302: Milan Kundera (Czech Republic)
  • 301: Cynthia Ozick (US)
  • 295: Gunter Grass (Germany)
  • 270: Margaret Atwood (Canada)
  • 215: Ian McEwan (UK)
  • 95: Saul Bellow (Canada)
  • 79: Philip Roth (US)
  • 6: Ismail Kadare (Albania)

The rest score zero. Roth's total would now be boosted a bit by The Plot Against America, and Atwood's by Oryx and Crake despite its disqualifying lack of talking squid in outer space. The Plain People of Fandom: But what exactly is the cosmic significance of this ranking? Myself: I think I need to get out of the house more.

Andre Norton, who was 93 on 17 February, was hospitalized with 'flu and pneumonia but has since returned home to hospice care. On the 21st, her carer Sue Stewart explained that Norton preferred to await the end in familiar surroundings: 'She is losing the battle with her illness and is tired of fighting.' One can only wish this Grand Master author an easy departure. Meanwhile on 20 February, SFWA announced its new Andre Norton Award for young-adult sf and fantasy, to be run on the same lines as the Nebulas.

As Others See Us. An unusually tactful example of the famous distancing-oneself-from-sf technique: '[Kazuo Ishiguro's] latest book has already been tagged as sci-fi because of his use of clones. "But there are things I am more interested in than the clone thing," he says. "How are they trying to find their place in the world and make sense of their lives? To what extent can they transcend their lives? As time starts to run out, what are the things that really matter? Most of the things that concern them concern us all, but with them it is concertinaed into this relatively short period of time."' And so on. (The Guardian, 19 February.)

Anne McCaffrey will be honoured as the latest SFWA Grand Master at the 2005 Nebula Awards weekend (28 April to 1 May).

R.I.P. Sandra Dee (1942-2005), US actress who appeared in The Dunwich Horror (1970), died on 20 February aged 62. Sonya Dorman (1924-2005), US author and poet best known for short sf of the 1960s and 1970s, died on 14 February; she was 80. She won a Rhysling sf poetry award for her 'Corruption of Metals' (1977). Dan O'Herlihy (1919-2005), Irish-born, Oscar-nominated actor whose long career included parts in Fail-Safe (1964), Halloween III (1982), The Last Starfighter (1984), and two RoboCop films, died on 17 February aged 85. Simone Simon (1910-2005), French actress who gained cult fame in Cat People (1942) and The Curse of the Cat People (1944), died on 22 February. She was 94.

Timeslip. Yet another demonstration that we live in a truly science-fictional world, from's description of the DVD The Land That Time Forgot: 'Edgar Rice Burroughs collaborated with Michael Moorcock to write the script for The Land Before Time, adapted from his own novel.'

The Writers Guild of America award for best original screenplay of 2004 went to Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, written by Charlie Kaufman, Michel Gondry and Pierre Bismuth.

Thog's Masterclass. Extreme Heliography Dept. 'Signal Mirror: This item may be used to transmit messages in Morse or a similar code over distances of up to 5 miles in full sunlight, up to 2 miles during overcast weather, and up to 1 mile at night.' (Stargate SG-1 Roleplaying Game, 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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