November 4, 2005
What goes around in sf criticism, comes around. In
analysis of the complete Star Wars cycle as 'The
greatest postmodern art film ever', critic Aidan Wasley probes
'its secret, spiky intellectual heart' (oh, please let him be
joking), goes on about its knowing postmodernism, and realizes in
a blinding flash that 'The Force is, in other words, a metaphor
for, or figuration of, the demands of narrative. The Force is the
power of plot.' Like David Bratman (who pointed out the Slate
piece), I was irresistibly reminded of Nick Lowe's 1986 Ansible
Well-Tempered Plot Device', and especially
BBC Radio 4 is planning a three-part documentary on
British sf writing, to be broadcast next summer. UK authors are
already fighting for places in the queue of those reckoned
important enough to be interviewed in (provisionally) Spring 2006.
of the BBC, here's the website
for their adaptation of that nice Mr Pratchett's Johnny and
As Others See Us. Another reviewer, Dylan Otto Krider of
the Houston Chronicle, who sees right through us: 'Joseph
Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces garnered admirers
(George Lucas being the most famous) who started tapping into
age-old plots rather than plowing new narrative ground. [...]
Science fiction and fantasy writers especially took to Campbell
because he allowed them to see themselves not as dime-store hacks
but as working in the tradition of the Viking sagas and Beowulf.'
of Anansi Boys, spotted by
R.I.P. Lloyd Bochner (1924-2005), US actor best
known for his part in the 1962 Twilight Zone adaptation of
Damon Knight's 'To Serve Man', died on 29 October aged 81. Other
TV work included Voyage to the Bottom of the
Sea, Bewitched, The Bionic Woman, The
Amazing Spider-Man, Battlestar: Galactica, the
feature-length Manimal pilot, Superboy, and the
1992-4 animated Batman. Films included: The Dunwich
Horror (1970), Millennium (1989), Legend of the
Mummy (1997) and the animated Batman: Vengeance
Elmer Dresslar, US entertainer who was the voice of the
Jolly Green Giant in the famous TV ads (homaged in
Bored of the Rings), died at the age of 80 on 23 October.
Lindbohm (1927-2005), Swedish fan and sf author whose first
story (of more than a hundred) was published in 1945, died on 24
October; he had suffered from cancer for several years. He was 78.
John-Henri Holmberg writes: 'Dénis was a founder of Swedish
fandom and one of its most important members, writers, humorists,
and publishers. He was a talented author, a stimulating and
intelligent writer, a staunch friend and a wonderful, warm,
demanding and giving person. There is no one to take his place in
Swedish science fiction or in Swedish fandom.'
Parkinson (1958-2005), Chesley Award-winning US fantasy artist
and game designer, died from leukaemia on 26 October, four days
after his 47th birthday.
Michael Piller (1948-2005), American tv writer/producer
praised for his work on Star Trek: The Next Generation, died from
cancer on 1 November; he was 57. (Now
Playing magazine obituary)
Wimbush, UK actress, died on 31 October aged 81; she collapsed
at the Birmingham BBC studios after recording an instalment of
The Archers. Genre productions in film included the
psychodrama Fragment of Fear (1970) and Hammer's
Vampire Circus (1972); in TV, the Doctor
Who spinoff K-9 and Company (1981) and Century
Ben Ball, editor at Simon & Schuster UK, is leaving
to become publisher at Penguin Australia. Martin Sketchley
grumbles that he will shortly be on his fourth S&S editor,
with only two titles published.... Also leaving S&S is Tim
Binding, who like Ball worked with the former 'Earthlight SF'
authors (who are said to be unhappy about all this).
Your Lousy SF Plot Now (or, US patent office has attack of
$cientology is throwing its weight around again, claiming that the
satirical NZ site www.scienTOMogy.info
is a wicked infringement of something or other.
squid in outer space? Adam Roberts invites us all to share
his bafflement with this page.
the long-established UK convention, is not best pleased to find a
cybersquatter trading on its reputation with sf ads and links at
Old Stories Revisited.
- Steve Green on the Dark Side furore (see
Runcible 175 and
182): 'The latest Dark Side
contains the following editorial note from Allan Bryce: "As
many of you may be aware, we had a few problems recently
regarding material published that turned out to have been
'cribbed' from internet sources. We've taken steps to ensure
that this doesn't happen again, and of course would like to
apologise to any writers whose material has been published in
error--although our investigations did reveal the disturbing
fact that many of the so-called 'ripped off' reviews can be
found on a number of different sites under a number of different
names ... showing that there's plenty of this sort of thing
going on among the netheads!"
Translation: "We apologise for breaking into your home, but
have since discovered you've been broken into before, so I guess
we're not guilty after all."'
- The Hotmail Abuse Team had the last word on that
harassing email (see Runcible 188
and 189) which persuaded the
Glasgow University authorities to impersonate headless chickens.
Microsoft is made of sterner stuff: 'I have closed the account
you reported (email@example.com) in accordance with the
for our members to send objectionable material of any kind or
nature using our service.' Sic transit....
Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Born Politicians.
'Untruth was a violin which he played like a Paganini of bunkum.'
(Marlon Brando and Donald Cammell, Fan-Tan, 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.