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November 25, 2005

A traditional highlight of British fandom's awesome seasonal cycle is that old favourite 'Trouble With The London Circle Pub Meetings', and here we go again. The popular venue Walkers of Holborn was sold in mid-November and promptly closed for refurbishment -- until the end of February. Thus the 1 December event moves to the nearby Melton Mowbray, and the fate of the Christmas gathering intended for 22 December is slightly uncertain. More here.

Christopher Priest won the French Grand Prix de l'Imaginaire (best foreign novel category) for The Separation. The awards were presented at the Utopiales festival in Nantes on 11 November.

As Others See Us. An Observer bioscience article's opening sentence works hard to chill the blood: 'It is a prospect worthy of a science fiction B-movie: male couples, women past the menopause, infertile couples and even celibate clergy producing their own children.' (13 November) Presumably the reporters, Robin McKie and Anushka Asthana, were exposed to a range of Thog-rated sf films that the rest of us missed: Attack of the Fertilitoids, perhaps, or the epically tacky struggle against alien oppressors in Ed Wood's Planned Parenthood from Outer Space.

Arthur C. Clarke received the Sri Lankan government's highest civilian honour, the Sri Lankabhimanya award, presented on 14 November for 'his contributions to science and technology and his commitment to his adopted country.' (Reuters)

As Others See Us II. The Wired events calendar for December sums up the long-running Philcon: 'This sci-fi fantasy extravaganza in Philly offers Filk music sing-alongs and adults-only role playing. It's enough to make Rod Serling roll in his grave.'

R.I.P. David Austin (1935-2005), UK cartoonist who often made wry, knowledgable use of scientific and sf themes (I first saw his work in New Scientist), died on 19 November at the age of 70. Pamela Duncan (1932-2005), US actress who played the female leads in Roger Corman's 1957 B-movies Attack of the Crab Monsters and The Undead, died on 11 November. She was 72. Pat Morita (1932-2005), US actor who was in such TV series as The Outer Limits (1990s version), Space Rangers, and The Incredible Hulk, died on 24 November; he was 73. Wolf Rilla (1920-2005), German-born film director who scripted and directed Wyndham's The Midwich Cuckoos as Village of the Damned (1960), died on 19 October aged 85. He once said: 'I've made 27 films and this is the only one people remember.' (Herald obituary) Harold Stone (1913-2005), US actor whose films included The Man With X-Ray Eyes (1963) and who guest-starred in several genre TV series, died on 18 November; he was 92.

Jerry Was A Gorman. In early November, Dave Gorman's BBC Radio programme Genius awarded a prize to someone who suggested the brilliant idea of tiny GM elephants. Our correspondent 'Verity Cinnabar' finds it strange that 'an idea that could claim its pension soon can win a modern Genius award'. The laurels should of course go to a certain Heinlein story from Thrilling Wonder Stories in 1947, featuring Napoleon the tiny GM elephant with a bonus musical gift, beating time with his trunk.

Harlan Ellison & William F. Nolan will be respectively honoured as SFWA Grand Master and Author Emeritus at the next Nebula weekend in May 2007. (SFWA)

The Truth At Last. Tilda Swinton, who plays the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, dispels those persistent rumours: 'This is not a religious film, but people will project onto it what they want to.' (Independent, 18 November) The lion and the wardrobe were unavailable for comment.

Nova Awards for British fan activity, presented at Novacon 35:

  • Fanzine: Banana Wings
  • Fan Writer: Claire Brialey
  • Fan Artist: Alison Scott

Parallel Genres. Jennifer Rohn on the ineluctable difference of laboratory literature: 'Lab Lit is not science fiction. Science fiction can never be Lab Lit, no matter how realistically it is portrayed, because it is removed from reality by definition. Science fiction will always have an element of fantasy -- it will be set in the future, say, or in an impossible alternative universe. No matter how realistically crafted these fantasy scientists and their world are, or how closely they parallel actual science culture, it will never be a scene that you and I could encounter were we to walk into a research institute.' Viewed through this impartial lens, Blood Music and The Andromeda Strain are by no means sf but appear on the approved Lab Lit novel list, classified as Thrillers. Conversely, Brave New World and The Speed of Dark are Drama; while Connie Willis, whom some of us unworthily thought to be tainted with sf, writes both Drama and Humor.

Thog's Masterclass. Prestidigitation Dept (or, Yoga Exercise #42). 'As Morgan sat in another chair beside him, Duncan rolled his head in Morgan's direction and looked at him searchingly, folding his hands and tapping joined forefingers against his cheek as he rested his elbows on the chair arms.' (Katherine Kurtz, The Bishop's Heir, 1984)


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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