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July 1, 2005

It's happened again! A few days ago, John Clute and I met certain London publishers to discuss plans for a third edition of The Encyclopedia of SF. I'm not holding my breath: all this had sounded plausibly imminent at the previous such meeting in mid-June 2003....

Steven Spielberg on that solid bedrock of scientific plausibility underlying his films: 'Science fiction for me is a vacation, a vacation away from all the rules of narrative logic, a vacation away from physics and physical science. / It just lets you leave all the rules behind and just kind of fly.' (Reuters interview)

Robert Sheckley survived six hours of heart surgery -- a triple bypass and mitral valve replacement -- on 29 June. After all these health upheavals (see recent Runcibles, passim) I hope he'll have a tranquil recovery.

R.I.P. John Fiedler (1925-2005), who played the Jack the Ripper role in 'Wolf in the Fold' from Star Trek Season 2 and voiced Piglet in Disney's Winnie-the-Pooh films, died on 25 June; he was 80. (CNN obituary) John Owen, 1950s-vintage British fan, died from cancer on 29 June. Keith Freeman writes: 'He was a long time member of the Liverpool Group and attended Cons in the late 50s and very early sixties. He wrote, with Stan Nuttall, the "Sir William Makepeace Harrison" sagas that graced the fanzines of that period (Triode to start with).' NB: this JO should not be confused with UK fan John D. Owen, publisher of Crystal Ship etc. Paul Winchell (1922-2005), US ventriloquist whose genre voice roles began with The Jetsons in 1962 and who most famously voiced Tigger in Winnie-the-Pooh, died on 24 June aged 84.

Bram Stoker Awards for 2004 work were presented on 27 June. Here are the novel and screenplay winners, with what for any other award would be surprisingly many ties -- see below.

  • Novel: Peter Straub, In the Night Room
  • First Novel (tie): John Everson, Covenant, and Lee Thomas, Stained
  • Screenplay (tie): Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind & Shaun of the Dead
  • For Young Readers (tie): Clive Barker, Abarat: Days of Magic, Nights of War, and Steve Burt, Oddest Yet

Full results appear on the Horror Writers' Association website, which explains that 'To ameliorate the competitive nature of awards, the Stokers are given "for superior achievement," not for "best of the year," and the rules are deliberately designed to make ties fairly probable ...' Everybody has won, and all must have prizes!

As Others Saw Us. A late discovery in New Republic coverage of those two Gingrich/Forstchen alternate Civil War novels (6 September 2004). Reviewers Thomas J. Brown and Elisabeth Sifton delightfully explain that such alternate histories 'ooze out of the vast swamp of contemporary pseudo-literature, humid fantasy and geeky science fiction, adjacent to which is the spongy field where lurid video games are spawned, and all those graphic novels the Japanese love to read in which their country triumphs in World War II.' Suddenly I feel all humid, geeky and spongy, and am nervously scanning the back garden for lurid video games....

Jules Verne was honoured by the French post office this year, marking the centenary of his death with a set of six stamps showing scenes from his novels. The chosen books: Around the World in Eighty Days, Five Weeks in a Balloon, Journey to the Centre of the Earth, 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea, From the Earth to the Moon and ... Michael Strogoff, The Courier of the Czar. Michael who?

Miscellany. Wrigley-Cross Books (Portland, OR) is closing its shop but will continue business by mail order. Campbell and Sturgeon award shortlists. Or perhaps, with 12 and 20 items respectively, they should be called longlists. Keep Your Foul Paws Off Aslan: Mark Morford of expects the worst from Disney's Narnia. ('... is now a good time to mention that they plan to market "Narnia" as "Passion of the Christ ... for kids"?') BBC Cult TV site to close, despite this being the Beeb's second most popular online feature: who cares about a piffling 700,000 users per month?

Thog's Masterclass. Limits of Vision Dept. '"That," he said impressively, "is the blackest black you or any other mortal ever looked upon ... so black that no mortal man will be able to look upon it -- and see it!"' (Jack London, 'The Shadow and the Flash', 1903)


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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