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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 Fuck Off 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 the World. 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 1952. [Search 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 re-read regularly!' 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.'

Clarion, 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 Clarion 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.'

Miscellany. The 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.' Edward Gorey TTF font, based on his famous serif hand-lettering. Elsewhere, the Ogdred Weary font echoes the variant style of Gorey's The Curious Sofa....

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)


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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