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October 14, 2005

One can get into all sorts of trouble (see Runcible 188 and 189) by speculating about the provenance of fulsome reviews posted by legions of fans who with mysterious synchronicity open accounts solely to praise one common focus of adoration. But let's risk it: Joe McNally sends another instance, involving the DVD of the non-Spielberg War of the Worlds film from Pendragon Pictures. This, according to Joe, is pretty awful; Thog likes the notion of 'the narrator and his brother being played by the same actor, with and without highly mobile stick-on tache respectively,' not to mention a certain lack of plausible UK research: 'St John's Wood is shown as AN ACTUAL WOOD.' Apparently, though, the DVD has its fans. On its Amazon page, 'a cycle seems to have developed whereby a stinking review appears, but is then followed within a day by just enough incredibly positive reviews to knock it off the front page for the title -- all of them, pretty much without exception, written by first-time, pseudonymous reviewers, all of whom think it's among the best films they've ever seen, for reasons which occasionally defy comprehension. You can check out the fun for yourself, if you're minded, here ...' 639 reviews, and counting!

Geoff Ryman's sf novel Air won the 2005 Sunburst Award for Canadian fantastic literature.

As Others See Margaret Atwood. An entry for the Guardian review-a-novel competition tackles Oryx & Crake: 'This is a journey book which exemplifies the best of science fiction, not as a plot less [plotless?] technical specification or sex in zero gravity, but a sometimes brutal and excoriating tale of what the future may be.' (Chris la Hatte) So long as there aren't any talking squid having sex in zero gravity, then ...

R.I.P. Sig Frohlich (1908-2005), US bit-part actor remembered for his role as the leading -- and last surviving -- winged monkey in The Wizard of Oz (1939), died on 30 September; he was 97. (Daily Telegraph obituary ... but was there more than one Sig Frolich? The IMDB gives his dates as 1932-2004.)

SF Is Everywhere. A sighting by Dan Kimmel: 'On the US broadcast of Boston Legal on Oct. 11 came an expected SF reference. William Shatner plays the egotistical partner of the law firm. James Spader, playing the lead attorney, was worried about wild salmon being wiped out by lice brought in by farmed salmon. "They call them cling-ons," he tells Shatner. "Klingons?" a startled Shatner replies.' As well he might.

Miscellany. Which of us wouldn't want a Squid Bear for Christmas? John Clute on Charles Harness in The Independent (but the rotters make you pay to read it all). For the fan community: 2006 TAFF ballot released.

Terry Pratchett revealed (in a 12 October Guardian feature) thirteen objects of special personal importance to him -- including his wheeled Luggage, Brewer's Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, a computer with four separate monitors, his 2004 Carnegie Medal, and 'Bob, my robot, which does all the cleaning in my office.'

Simon R. Green wishes to make my flesh creep: 'In my current novel there's a character who is a water elemental, and an assassin. Just guess what they call her. The Liquidator.'

Thog's Masterclass. Words Fail Dept. 'Flast broadcast the nonverbal equivalent of a shrug.' (Geodesica: Ascent, Sean Williams & Shane Dix, 2005)


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 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 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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