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April 15, 2005

John Meaney reports from the heady world of tie-in publicity: 'In that well-known bookshop, F****s, the atmosphere was buzzing in the SF section tonight [8 April], as staff discussed their new promotion strategy. With a screening of Hitch-Hiker's Guide To The Galaxy about to occur in London, the opportunities were shimmering: costumes, glamorous hair-dos, and ... "I know," said one of the booksellers. "We could bring Douglas Adams into the shop." I told her it was an excellent idea, and one that he surely would have approved of.'

R.I.P. John Brosnan (1947-2005), Australian writer, magazine columnist and sf film expert long resident in Britain, was found dead in his flat at Ortygia House, Harrow, on 11 April, after friends were unable to contact him. The cause of death was acute pancreatitis. John wrote five books on genre cinema, many sf adventures, some pseudonymous horror novels (often in collaboration with Leroy Kettle) as 'Harry Adam Knight' and 'Simon Ian Childer', and most of the film entries for the 1979 Encyclopedia of SF. He was a central member of London 'Ratfandom' in the 1970s; his scurrilous gossip-sheet Big Scab shared the 1974 UK Nova Award for best fanzine. [Later: John Clute in The Independent, 16 April.]

Rob Holdstock and Roy Kettle add: 'There are many truths about John Brosnan, and many conundrums. A simple truth is that John had more years left in him than he was finally prepared to fight for. He lost the spirit for life. Not even the success of a book published (Mothership, 2004), its sequel almost completed and a humorous book in the preparation stage could elevate him from the demonic depression into which he had descended. But by then his health was in free-fall and he was refusing to do anything about it. And yet: John's demon was also his triumph. He leaves some bloody funny memories, and one superb piece of theoretical human psychology. John's twin pet hates -- organised religion (he was an ardent Dawkinist) and alternative therapies, especially homeopathy, were often the starting pistol for spirited and hilarious evening discussions with his friends. And the theory? He always believed that the "default" condition of the human mind was "depression", and all other emotions -- happiness, contentment, libido, ambition and so forth -- merely the unfortunate side effects of the evolution of intelligence. He fought this corner fiercely. Then, in the mid 90s, an article appeared in New Scientist claiming much the same. The triumphant crowing of that boy went on for years! John was never more happy than when being proved right that depression was the best! We'll all miss him hugely; a celebration evening for John will be announced shortly.'

As Others See Us. Janice Eisen is much amused that 'people who dedicate their entire lives to a single movie [The Big Lebowski] should look down on sf fans.' Thus a spokesman explains the regular Lebowski Fest: 'People have likened it to a "Star Trek" or science-fiction convention, but we have women and nobody speaks Klingon.' ( article)

Philip Pullman and the Japanese illustrator Ryôji Arai will share the 2005 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award for outstanding work in children's literature, presented in May.

Larry Niven & Jerry Pournelle are to receive the 2005 Heinlein Award for 'outstanding published work in hard science fiction or technical writings inspiring the human exploration of space.' Which reminds me that the latest N&P novel to arrive here for review is a fantasy, Burning Tower, whose UK Voyager edition has a jacket painting of a huge, blazing, medieval fortress. Cover artist Steve Stone was presumably not informed that the setting is prehistoric America, fourteen thousand years ago, or that Burning Tower is merely a female character's name....

Miscellany. Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy: Adams expert M.J. Simpson doesn't like the film. Yo-Ho-Ho! Does J.K. Rowling know about this download opportunity? Other authors, and their agents and lawyers, should check the same page's alphabetical index....

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Big Science. '"The laboratory covers a dozen floors," the general said, "and in it we have every kind of equipment known. We can produce temperatures of minus 900° Kelvin and we can build up our furnaces to half a billion degrees ..."' (Silas Water, The Man with Absolute Motion, 1955)


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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