August 12, 2005
the World SF Convention in Glasgow, finished on Monday 8 August
and had attracted 4,100 members by Sunday evening. Your columnist
still hasn't recovered from all the over-excitement,
over-indulgence and general stress. Perhaps my most significant
personal moment was the breakfast signing of contracts for the
third edition of The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, with
co-editors John Clute and myself doing the 'shop-floor work' while
Peter Nicholls broods over the enterprise as Editor Emeritus. You
will hear more of this. Orbit (Time Warner UK) intend to make the
ESF available by affordable on-line subscription rather
than as an oversized book or stack of books. Enough of that for
Hugo Awards were presented at record speed in a ceremony
hosted by Paul
McAuley and Kim Newman, whose alternate-history jape was
that these trophies commemorated the pioneering Fiction-Scientifique
author Victor Hugo, remembered for such FS masterworks as The
Jet-Pack of Notre Dame. There was a measure of British
triumphalism, and some surprises:
- Novel: Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr
- Novella: Charles Stross, 'The Concrete Jungle'
- Novelette: Kelly Link, 'The Faery Handbag'
- Short: Mike Resnick, 'Travels with My Cats'
- Related Book: The Cambridge Companion to Science
Fiction ed. Edward James and Farah Mendlesohn
- Dramatic Presentation, Long: The Incredibles
- Dramatic Presentation, Short: '33' -- Battlestar
- Professional Editor: Ellen Datlow
- Professional Artist: Jim Burns
- Semiprozine: Ansible ed. David Langford
- Fanzine: Plokta ed. Alison Scott, Steve
Davies and Mike Scott
- Fan Writer: David Langford
- Fan Artist: Sue Mason
- Web Site: SciFiction (www.scifi.com/scifiction) ed.
- John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer (not a
Hugo): Elizabeth Bear
- Special Interaction Committee Award (not a Hugo):
David Pringle, for long toil on Interzone
The Ansible win was a real shock: I'd cunningly
manoeuvred it from the Fanzine category to Semiprozine in the
belief that Ansible could never defeat the juggernaut of
Locus (which in fact placed third, behind Interzone;
statistics). Oh dearie me, this means that after twenty
years I've drawn level with the great Charles N. Brown, each of us
now having 26 Hugos....
The Novella winner enlivened the event and the later photo session
by appearing awesomely kilted as The McStross Of That Ilk. His
comment has an eloquent dignity: 'OMG! I WON A HUGO!!!
Reading the nominations for Best Novel, GoH Christopher Priest
pretended his eyesight was failing and offered unlikely versions
of shortlisted titles, such as Mr Stross's cult novel L. Ron
For those not in the know, there was further startlement when
statistics revealed that Terry Pratchett would have been a
novel finalist -- and indeed would have pushed Iain Banks off the
ballot -- if he hadn't declined his nomination for Going
Terry Pratchett explains: 'When they told me I just
thought: I can't handle this, not after all this time, and asked
to be let off. That meant I enjoyed the con hugely instead of
being a bag of nerves with a blood pressure of 200/95, and when
the fateful verdict was given on Sunday night I was eating sushi
two miles away. Best worldcon ever!'
As Others See Us. Soundbite from Glasgow taxi driver:
'I've just seen a Klingon in a kilt. You don't see that very
often. Not even in Glasgow.'
Classic Worldcon press headlines included 'Trekkies beamed in for
fantasy festival' (The
Herald) and SCI-FI FANS BEAM DOWN (Daily
Record), but Interaction received more thoughtful
R.I.P. Mark Simpson, co-founder of the
award-winning Nottingham (UK) comics shop Page 45, died
unexpectedly on 31 July.
the UK model company best known for its official Discworld®
figurines, is to close at the end of October: 'things have been
tough for the British gift industry as a whole, during the last
couple of years and, of course, Clarecraft in particular has
suffered because we have been determined to keep our manufacturing
in Britain.' A closing sale is in progress.
World Fantasy Awards novel nominations:
- Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
- Stephen R. Donaldson, The Runes of the Earth
- China Miéville, Iron Council
- Sean Stewart, Perfect Circle
- Gene Wolfe, The Wizard Knight (The Knight and
See the shortlists for other categories on
the WFA web page.
European SF Awards were also presented at Interaction:
- Publisher: Nature, UK
- Writer: Marina & Sergei Dyachenko, Ukraine
- Artist: Sergei Poyarkov, Ukraine
- Magazine: Galaktika, Hungary
- Promoter: Alain Le Bussy, Belgium
- Translator: Kees van Toorn, Netherlands
Science Corner. Apparently we can learn even from
reality TV. Strange knowledge has been granted to some chap called
Craig in Big Brother: 'The Egyptians had more advanced
star-charts than we have now.... They would have to have had
5-dimensional technology to achieve what they did.'
Hugos Again. Traditional tinkering with the rules
continues. Chris Barkley's and Patrick Nielsen Hayden's proposal
to split the Hugo for Best Editor into magazine and book
categories was debated at Interaction. There it mutated into a
slightly different split: Editor (Short Fiction) for editorial
work on magazines and anthologies, and Editor (Long
Fiction) for books. This proposal was passed for ratification at
the 2006 Worldcon. See Patrick's account of progress
Pratchett pokes a little fun at J.K. Rowling (see also
Fanthorpe haunts Wales.
Scots towns claim to be the birthplace of Star Trek's
new Philip José Farmer magazine.
Still More Awards! Booker Prize, for real
literary stuff: the most obviously sf item on the longlist is
Kazuo Ishiguro's Never Let Me Go.
for libertarian sf: Neal Stephenson, The System of the World.
for alternate history. Long: Philip Roth, The Plot Against
America. Short: Warren Ellis, The Ministry of Space.
White, for unpublished shorts by new writers: Elizabeth
Hopkinson, 'A Short History of the Dream Library'.
Accident & Emergency. Forrest J Ackerman spent the
whole Worldcon in Glasgow Royal Infirmary: he expects to be
discharged and to return home on the 17th. Reportedly Forry had an
accident while showering in his hotel before Interaction began,
and was kept under observation by concerned medics. Not wanting to
cause alarm, he asked for no mention of this at Worldcon; the word
didn't get around until the last day.
Christopher Priest had a bad fall on the escalator at the Scottish
Exhibition and Convention Centre. Though suffering cuts, bruises,
torn trousers and shock in what he called 'my John Brunner
moment', he went on to give a scheduled reading before summoning
first aid. He's home now, aching all over.
Iain M. Banks's The Algebraist caused a mild
stir thanks to London Underground posters inviting readers to
'have your mind blown to smithereens.' It seems that ads printed
in June and appearing on 4 July can still be damned by the
Advertising Standards Authority as 'not appropriate' in the light
of events on 7 July. (Guardian)
Thog's Masterclass. Neat Tricks Dept. 'The
animal seemed to have no face until it twisted its head round.
Then it opened two enormous lidless eyes.' (Paul Park, A
Princess of Roumania, 2005)
Langford is an author and a gentleman. His newsletter,
is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. His
most recent books are The
SEX Column and other misprints, collecting ten years of
columns and essays for SFX magazine; 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
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.