September 30, 2005
Now it can be told. The mystery
complaint that caused such trouble for the Ansible
archive at Glasgow University has been forwarded at last.
Apparently, however factually based and written in a spirit of
fair comment, light-hearted squibs are fraught with peril if they
refer to fantasy author Robert Stanek. The following e-mail, with
the mysterious subject line 'Violation', was sent to Glasgow U
from a Hotmail account (as used by the best attorneys) and is
signed 'Timothy Donaldson, J.D., B.A. George Washington University
Law School' ...
'It is my estimation, after careful review, that David Langford
did willfully and with malice of forethought cause material and
economic harm to Robert Stanek through his online column.
the opportunity to correct such without recourse, David Langford
chose a course of action that caused continuing material and
economic harm to Robert Stanek.
As a university, Glasgow must uphold a higher standard or be held
equally accountable and liable. I respectfully request that you
take immediate action to remove the following pages from your
site: [Here the Glasgow URLs of
178 are given.]
As recompense, I would further ask that you cease publication of
Mr. Langford's work and remove all Ansible listings from your
For the record, I received no prior complaints about those
issues; but then, Hotmail can easily fall foul of spam filters. I
am unaware of having felt malice, or even 'malice of forethought',
towards Stanek: can readers detect this in the above links? And
since it's a truism of the book business that any mention of an
author's name has publicity value, I can't imagine where the
'material and economic harm' arises. What hideous vials of wrath,
I wonder, are poured out on people who go further and actually
give Stanek bad reviews?
As Others See Us. Applause of a sort for Joss Whedon's
Serenity: 'Writer Brian Pendreigh suggests: "As a
race, sci-fi fans make Klingons seem like regular, laid-back guys,
only better-looking and often with clearer complexions. History,
however, shows that Whedon's appeal can stretch beyond the
intergalactic anorak and reach a much wider audience." [...]
Actor Sean Maher, who plays the ship's doctor, admits that he was
put off by the science-fiction tag when he first heard about Firefly.
"But now I feel like Firefly and Serenity are
their own genre. It's not science-fiction so much as it's about
humanity and characters and dynamics between people."' (Scotland
on Sunday Spectrum magazine, 25 September)
R.I.P. Don Adams (1923-2005), US comedian
remembered as the inept Agent 86 in the 1960s TV spy-spoof series
Get Smart, died on 25 September; he was 82. In the 1990s
he voiced the title role of the Inspector Gadget cartoon.
Bond (Thomas Ross Bond, 1926-2005), US actor who played Jimmy
Olsen in the first Superman film serial (1948) and its
sequel, died on 24 September aged 79.
Cresswell (1934-2005), British author of more than 100
children's fantasies and comedies, died from cancer on 26
September; she was 71. Her best known fantasies were Lizzie
Dripping (1973, assembling stories written for the BBC's Jackanory)
and the Bagthorpe Saga which began with Ordinary Jack
(1977) and became a 1981 TV series. (BBC
Constance Moore (1920-2005), US actress and singer who
co-starred with Buster Crabbe in the 1939 Buck Rogers film
serial, died on 16 September; she was 85.
Nolan, long-time Belfast SF Group fan and con-goer, died on 27
September; he was in his nineties. He assisted James White with
novel research, and appears as ship-captain 'Seosadn Ui Nuallain,
or Joseph Nolan' in JW's The First Protector (2000).
Thog's Blurb Masterclass. Spotted on Christopher
Stasheff's The Warlock Enraged: 'On the magical planet of
Gramarye, science coexists with witches and elves [...] and
telepathy is the most common means of transportation.'
Scientist launches readers' forum with stunningly
innovative sf debate.
news weblog, with London meeting and speaker announcements
(though not much else).
The Scotsman struggles to wow fantasy fans with a
skim-the-reference-books story that should be titled
Inklings in Tepid Controversy ...
Thog's Masterclass. Beards Got Eyes Dept. 'She
saw him murmur to Jair, and saw the big red beard turn in the
lamplit dimness to stare almost incredulously at his leader.'
(C.L. Moore, 'Judgment Night', 1943)
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.