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November 11, 2005

British fandom is pursuing desperate fun at Novacon this weekend, but I've been advised to take it easy at home after having some stitches removed today (more here). How dare those rotters enjoy themselves without me? For unrelated reasons -- but let's pretend it's a savage act of vengeance -- there will be no Runcible update on 18 November. Sorry about that.

SCI FICTION Axed. All too soon after her double Hugo win (Best Website, Best Editor), Ellen Datlow's on-line sf magazine SCI FICTION is to be discontinued at the end of 2005. The parent website SCIFI.COM explains lucidly that this is part of a master plan to 'expand with exciting new ventures.' Much sympathy to Ellen....

As Others See Us. In these times of ours, even Supreme Court nominees attract sf comparisons: 'On the other hand, [Judge Samuel] Alito has the disadvantage of following John Roberts, who was just as smart but carried himself like a big man on campus: athletic build, quick humor, and good looks. Compared with Roberts, Alito looks as if he were in town for a Star Trek convention.' (Dana Milbank, Washington Post, 3 November)

Robert Conquest was one of 14 people who received the US Presidential Medal of Freedom on 9 November -- not for his science fiction, nor for co-editing the Spectrum anthologies with Kingsley Amis, nor even for his unbelievably filthy verse sequel to 'Eskimo Nell', but for the detailed exposé of Soviet atrocities in The Great Terror and other historical works. In genre circles, his most quoted saying must be the Spectrum epigraph so often echoed in Ansible:

'SF's no good,' they bellow till we're deaf.
'But this looks good.' -- 'Well then, it's not SF.'

World Fantasy Awards presented at the World Fantasy Convention on 6 November:

  • Life Achievement Tom Doherty; Carol Emshwiller
  • Novel Susanna Clarke, Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell
  • Novella Michael Shea, 'The Growlimb' (F&SF 1/04)
  • Short Margo Lanagan 'Singing My Sister Down' (Black Juice)
  • Anthology (tie) Barbara & Christopher Roden, eds., Acquainted With The Night; Sheree R. Thomas, ed., Dark Matter: Reading The Bones
  • Collection Margo Lanagan, Black Juice
  • Artist John Picacio
  • Special Award, Professional S.T. Joshi (scholarship)
  • Special Award, Non-Professional Robert Morgan (Sarob Press)

R.I.P. Moustapha Akkad (1935-2005), Syrian-born executive producer of Halloween (1978) and its seven sequels, died as a result of the 9 November suicide bombings in Jordan. Michael Coney (1932-2005), British-born sf author long resident in Canada, died from cancer on 4 November. After his diagnosis this year, he made various unpublished works (including the sequel to Hello Summer, Goodbye, perhaps his best novel) freely available on his website. A talented, quirky and underrated author, he never had quite the success he deserved -- though he won the 1977 BSFA Award for Brontomek! -- and does not seem to have been published in book form since 1989. John Fowles (1926-2005), celebrated UK novelist best known for The Collector (1963), The Magus (1965) and The French Lieutenant's Woman (1969), died on 5 November after long illness. He was 79. Several of his novels touch on genre themes: paranoid-fantasy godgames in The Magus, erotic-comic grappling with a literal Muse in Mantissa (1982), and the unashamedly sf conceit at the core of the historical labyrinth in A Maggot (1985). A genuinely great writer. (See the Fowles website, with appreciation and obituary links.) John Hollis (1931-2005), UK actor best remembered as the bald villain Kaufman in the 1960s TV series A For Andromeda and The Andromeda Breakthrough, died after long illness on 18 October; he was 74. Other genre appearances include three Superman films, The Empire Strikes Back and the TV Day of the Triffids.

Adam Roberts repents his folly: 'I seem to have gotten into mildly warm water by telling the Telegraph that female SF fans (I told that journalist some female SF fans, dammit) like looking at Keanu Reeves in leather trousers. I'm quite tempted to follow Cheryl Morgan's advice and use this as a pretext for coming out of the closet (yes, I'm the one who likes ogling Keanu etc etc) but maybe not yet. I think I shall silently retire from offering soundbites on SF to journalists. I'm so bad at it.'

International Horror Guild awards for 2004 work, presented at WFC on 3 November:

  • Novel Ramsey Campbell, The Overnight
  • First Novel John Harwood, The Ghost Writer
  • Long Fiction Lucius Shepard, Viator
  • Mid-Length Fiction Daniel Abraham, 'Flat Diane' (F&SF, 10/04)
  • Short Fiction Don Tumasonis, 'A Pace of Change' (Acquainted With the Night)
  • Collection Brian Evenson, The Wavering Knife
  • Anthology Barbara & Christopher Roden, ed., Acquainted With the Night
  • Nonfiction DM Mitchell, A Serious Life
  • Art (tie) Darrel Anderson; Rick Berry
  • Film Shaun of the Dead
  • Television Lost
  • Illustrated Narrative Hideshi Hino, The Bug Boy
  • Periodical The Third Alternative

Miscellany. Stephen Leigh has also received pseudo-legal menaces from Robert Stanek's greatest fan! (See, yet again, Runcible 189.) The One Silly Putty Ring. Googlism: the condensed lowdown on what Google thinks of Ansible. Substitute other names for equally surreal reports. Forget talking squid: the next big thing is wrestling squid.

The Arthur C. Clarke Award has once again found a new home. Its next presentation, on 26 April 2006, will be in the Apollo Cinema close to Piccadilly -- as the opening item in the annual Sci-Fi London film festival.

Thog's Masterclass. Wooden Expressions Dept. 'He met the assassin's eyes with a calm veneer.' (Mark Robson, Imperial Spy, 2006)


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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