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Naturally Ansible is an anagram of BAN LIES, not to mention the very fannish I BE SLAN and (echoing my deep relationship with remaindering) SALE BIN. But Chris Priest never ceases to remind us that the best rearrangement is LESBIAN.

R.I.P. R.A. Lafferty (1914-2002), Irish-American author of offbeat, unclassifiable sf, fantasy and tall tales, died 18 March after long illness. He was 87. As a baroque stylist, gleeful connoisseur of conspiracy theories, devotee of Native American culture, conservative Catholic, reworker of old myths and coiner of new ones, Lafferty became a beloved cult figure in sf and was avidly taken up by small presses as his work grew ever more quirky, flamboyant and uncommercial. He won the 1970 short story Hugo for the genial 'Eurema's Dam' and was honoured with the World Fantasy Lifetime Achievement Award in 1990. Cherry Wilder (1930-2002), popular New Zealand-born sf author who began publishing in 1974, died in hospital on 14 March after a lengthy struggle against cancer. Her first novel was the YA The Luck of Brin's Five (1977), first of a trilogy. She kept writing for as long as she could, and had recently been discussing a new story collection with Big Engine.

Liz Williams was hideously pulped by Bantam US. 'My latest novel Empire of Bones features as its protagonist a "freedom fighter" based not-very-loosely on India's Phoolan Devi. Bantam had got as far as having the covers printed. Then they were all sent back to the shredder … when we realised that the back blurb described the heroine as a "terrorist". My agent suggested that it might sell more copies, for those inclined to purchase it for their July 4th bonfires, but it got pulped anyway.' Publication (with rewritten blurb) 28 March.

Nebulas. The final ballot for 2000-1 work goes on forever. Here's the novel shortlist: The Quantum Rose, Catherine Asaro; Eternity's End, Jeffrey A.Carver; Mars Crossing, Geoffrey A. Landis; A Storm of Swords, George R.R.Martin; The Collapsium, Wil McCarthy; The Tower at Stony Wood, Patricia A.McKillip; Declare, Tim Powers; Passage, Connie Willis. More at the SFWA web site.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Transcendental Maths. 'Ironically, the Pythagorean ideas suffered their greatest blow through one of the master's most interesting discoveries — the so-called irrational numbers. The ratio of the diameter of a circle to its circumference is 3 1/7. But if you try to turn this into decimals, it is impossible; the decimal for one-seventh begins .142857, and then repeats itself an infinite number of times.' (Colin Wilson, Starseekers, 1980)


David Langford is a writer, editor, physicist, bon vivant, and software consultant. His monthly SF newsletter, Ansible, is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. He lives in Reading, England with his wife Hazel, 25,000 books, and a few dozen Hugo awards.

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