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July 8, 2005

You have read it everywhere: dozens were killed and many more injured by yesterday's terrorist bombs in London. After much frantic checking, there are still no known casualties among the sf community. It was the day of the First Thursday 'London Circle' fan meeting; our usual pub, Walkers of Holborn, was closed and the few who made it resorted to The Printer's Devil just across the road. This may have been the smallest London Circle turnout ever, with a reported attendance of six. But as one of them (Antony J. 'Dop' Shepherd) brags, 'we were not terrorised!'

'And gentlemen in England, now a-bed / Shall think themselves accurs'd they were not here ...' Actually I'm quite glad that I dropped my plans to visit London that day.

Andy Cox is changing the title of his Hugo-shortlisted magazine The Third Alternative, which from the next issue will be called Black Static. This will focus on horror, with sf content deported to TTA's sister magazine Interzone. Rumours that Interzone will clarify its position with a title change to Talking Squid in Outer Space remain largely unrumoured.

R.I.P. Chris Bunch (1943-2005), US author and tv executive who wrote sf and fantasy both alone and in collaboration with his brother-in-law Allan Cole -- notably the Sten space opera series -- died on 4 July. He was 62. (Obituary by Allan Cole) Evan Hunter (born Salvatore Lombino, 1926-2005), US author most famous for his 'Ed McBain' police procedurals, died from cancer on 6 July aged 78. He wrote three juvenile sf novels, the adult Tomorrow's World (1956), and the screenplay for Hitchcock's The Birds. Basil Kirchin (1927-2005), drummer and composer best known for scoring the cult horror film The Abominable Dr Phibes (1971), died on 18 June; he was 77. Art Rapp (1924-2005), old-time US fan who published forty issues of his 'focal point' fanzine Spacewarp from 1947 to 1950, and remained active until the appearance of #204 in the late 1990s, reportedly died in care on 24 March. He was 80, and suffered from Alzheimer's. ( report)

Critical Masterclass. From the 1997 edition of The Slings and Arrows Comic Guide, entry for Heavy Metal magazine: 'Howard Chaykin did some of his most experimental work here, making a brave if failed stab at adapting Samuel Delany's complex novella about the power of communication, "Empire," into comics form, and having more success with Theodore Sturgeon's seminal "The Stars My Destination."'

Gary K. Wolf's 15-week lawsuit against Walt Disney Co. over Who Framed Roger Rabbit? earnings was decided largely in Disney's favour. Wolf, author of Who Censored Roger Rabbit? (1981), was awarded $180,000 in underreported royalties and nearly $400,000 in damages, but not the $8 million hoped from a claim that his 5% royalty should also apply to gross receipts from McDonald's and other franchising. (Animation World News Flash Newsletter)

Outraged Letters. Stephen Baxter has had quite enough jesting about t*lking squ*d in outer space: 'You leave my talking squid alone. I'll have you know they were the subject of a question on University Challenge on Monday 27th June, along the lines of who wrote the novel in which genetically-modified squid pilot a spacecraft to an asteroid, the answer being moi, with Manifold: Time. But I have this at second hand from various acquaintances; naturally I was watching Coronation Street.' (Now there's street cred.) Craig Miller on last week's obits: 'John Fiedler had another very early contribution to science fiction in the media. He played Cadet Alfie Higgins, a regular character on "Tom Corbett, Space Cadet" in the early 1950s.' Andy Sawyer of the SF Foundation nods wisely at that Runcible 176 rumour about a BBC Wyndham documentary: 'Since then, mysterious visits have been made to the John Wyndham Archive at the University of Liverpool, and even now copies of fading pulps are being assembled for the inspection of tv cameras later this week.' (5 July) Jim Young is all excited: 'If you look very, very closely, you can actually see me briefly in War of the Worlds. As Tom Cruise is driving his van into a crowd of refugees in upper New Jersey, before getting to the Hudson River ferry boat, there's a panning shot from the driver's window of Cruise's van. You see five men standing mute alongside the vehicle. I'm the guy in the blue parka. I thought I'd actually be more visible, because they did a couple of takes of me pounding on the windshield of the van shouting "Please stop. Help us." But that's the editing process!'

Thog's Masterclass. Spare Parts Dept. 'Botha slipped out of his chair. It rocked briefly in his absence, then steadied to await the next set of perambulating buttocks.' (Alan Dean Foster, Diuturnity's Dawn, 2002)


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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