October 21, 2005
Oh gosh, I thought, what have I done to enrage Savoy Books into
sending me email with the subject line FOAD? Very
nervously I opened the message of doom, to find Michael
Butterworth asking: 'Did you get your review copy of
And Die (the sequel to Adventures of Meng &
Ecker) ...?' Now there's a title that should be lots of fun to
order in bookshops.
As Others See Us. Ian Rankin grumbles that crime fiction
is underrated and excluded from major literary awards -- but it
could be worse. 'We don't get as raw a deal as science fiction
writers. Science fiction is dealing with some of the biggest ideas
-- where we are going to go as a race -- but for some reason it's
not taken seriously.' (Times,
14 October) Hey, someone noticed!
R.I.P. Teisho (aka Sadamasa) Arikawa
(1925-2005), Japanese special effects director and cinematographer
who worked on the original 1954 Gojira/Godzilla film and
several sequels, died on 22 September 22 aged 80. Other credits
include Destroy All Monsters and Frankenstein Conquers
Alastair Graham Walter Cameron (1925-2005), distinguished
Canadian-born astrophysicist known in the field as Big Al, died on
3 October. Guy Consolmagno writes: 'His many accomplishments in
astrophysics include pioneering work in the theoretical
understanding of nucleosynthesis (how elements are made in stars
and supernovae); the formation of the solar system in a turbulent
solar nebula; and the formation of the Moon by a giant impact of a
large planetesimal into the accreting Earth -- a theory regarded
as science-fictional when he first proposed it in the 1970's but
which is now widely accepted. / He was also a great fan of fantasy
and science fiction. Active in Canadian fandom in the late 1940's
and early 50's, most notably he developed a Fantasy Classification
System published by the Canadian Science Fiction Association in
linked page for 'Cameron'.] When I worked as a postdoc for
him in the late 1970s, I learned from his wife that he was still
an avid fan of the Doc Smith Lensmen novels, which he would
Louis Nye (?1913-2005), US actor/comedian who played
horror host Zombo
in episode #60 of the 1960s The Munsters, reportedly died
on 9 October aged 92. He was the Carpenter in the 1985 TV
Alice and voiced cartoon roles in Inspector Gadget.
(IMDB gives a
different birth year, 1922.)
Charles Rocket (1949-2005, real surname Claverie), US
actor/comedian who appeared in Max Headroom, Earth
Girls Are Easy and other genre TV and film
productions, was found dead on 7 October; apparently suicide by
throat-cutting. He was 56.
Blurb Masterclass, or how to praise particularly massive
books: a back cover quote from A.A. Attanasio warns that 'Ricardo
Pinto's The Chosen strikes the reader with great force.'
the long-running US workshop for beginning sf writers, returns to
Michigan State University in 2006 'despite rumours to the
contrary'. A newly formed, non-profit
Foundation now handles the overall administration.
As Others See Us II. David Honigmann on 'Guilty
Pleasures of Second-Rate Art' (Financial Times, 19
October): 'The essence of a guilty pleasure is that it is
something you know to be flawed but love anyway. My list would
include the Corrs, Vaughan Williams, immense quantities of science
fiction, A Matter of Life and Death, and Stanley Spencer.'
Perhaps modest quantities of science fiction are OK.
More Ansible Correspondence. Paul Park responds to
Ursula Le Guin's comment on the
retro-tech ansible appearing in his A Princess of Roumania:
'Ms. LeGuin is of course correct. The Roumanian ansible is a
primitive prototype, as can be demonstrated by its limited range:
it is barely powerful enough to contact ghosts in the land of the
dead, and other imminent locations. The immensities of space-time
are another matter entirely. As for its mass -- again, most of
that is merely decorative. The Roumanian engineer who worked on
the project, "Hank" Curlicu, later consulted for the
Ford motor company's department of chassis design.'
2005 Ig Nobel Prizes have some sf relevance, notably the
Peace award presented 'for electrically monitoring the activity of
a brain cell in a locust while that locust was watching selected
highlights from the movie Star Wars.'
Gorey TTF font, based on his famous serif hand-lettering.
Elsewhere, the Ogdred
Weary font echoes the variant style of Gorey's The
Thog's Masterclass. Sound of Silence Dept.
`Number one [thug] poked at his gear in the suitcase, number two
stood with his back against the hall door, and number three leaned
against the wall near the window, the automatic in his hand
filling the room with a silent buzz.' (Richard Stark [Donald E.
Westlake], The Black Ice Score, 1965)
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.