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April 22, 2005

Further ignominy for poor old H.G. Wells. The Wells mural that for nearly 20 years was a popular feature of Market Square in his Bromley (England) birthplace has been whitewashed into oblivion. Admittedly its imagery was slightly confused -- besides a giant Food of the Gods chicken and a 1952 War of the Worlds movie flying saucer, there was also a Tripod from the 1984-5 BBC TV adaptation of John Christopher's novels. Heedless of this year's War of the Worlds remake, and hoping to become a World Heritage site in 2006, Bromley wants to replace the dilapidated mural with a new one themed for the more respectable Charles Darwin 'and his use of the local Downe countryside in the development of his theories.' Quizzed by Ansible's inside man James Swallow, the head of Bromley's heritage and urban planning committee added that 'in memory of the previous mural, we are keen to include references to Wells in the new design.' A Tripod, perhaps, caught in the very act of failing to be naturally selected.

R.I.P. Bill Bowers (1943-2005), major US fan and fanzine publisher for several decades, died on 18 April after years of failing health. He was 61. In the 1960s he co-edited Double:Bill with Bill Mallardi, and since the 1970s published seventy issues of the impressive Outworlds, with #71 still in progress; both these fanzines collected multiple Hugo nominations. He tied as winner of the TransAtlantic Fan Fund in 1976. Bill will be very much missed. John Brosnan's funeral will take place on 29 April, followed by a wake or celebration of his life as detailed here. Ruth Hussey (1914-2004), US actress best known for work other than her appearances in the TV anthology series Science Fiction Theater, died on 19 April at the age of 90.

As Others See Us. Kazuo Ishiguro continues to draw a line between his clones-for-organs saga Never Let Me Go and all those talking squid in outer space: 'The point, says Ishiguro, is not to create a science-fiction scenario but to find a metaphor through which to look at aspects of the human condition, such as friendship and ageing and the myths with which we comfort ourselves as we hurtle towards oblivion.' Likewise: 'I am not interested in devising futuristic landscapes, he says, This is the world as we know it, except for one major tweak.' (Waterstone's Books Quarterly 16)

Next, The Novelization? From a Seattle Post-Intelligencer website article on forthcoming movies: 'War of the Worlds, the Steven Spielberg-Tom Cruise remake of the Orson Welles radio classic ...'

Miscellany. Nature is now indexing its 2005 series of 'Futures' sf squibs as they appear on-line. The Science Fiction Hub is a new sf bibliographical resource allowing on-line searches of the SF Foundation catalogue and related archives held at Liverpool University: Eric Frank Russell, Olaf Stapledon, John Wyndham, etc. My little brother Jon has been interviewed in The Onion -- let me bask a moment in reflected glory....

ABA Book Sense Award. Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell was this year's fiction winner, with Philip Roth's The Plot Against America listed as one of four runner-up 'honor books'.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Noisy Quietude. 'He said, dropping his voice to a sibilant whisper of well-nigh incredible loudness: "Doorr yonder!"' (Philip MacDonald, The Polferry Riddle [UK The Choice], 1931)


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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