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December 16, 2005

The Runcibleometer keeps ticking away, and next week we attain the perhaps significant figure of 200 instalments. Could this be an omen, even a portent? Echo answers with a random fortune cookie from Thog's files: 'The air grew so thick with tension that even the wind outside backed off to a safe distance.' (Greg Vilk, Golem, 2005)

Michael Swanwick reports: 'I drove up to Kingston, New York, yesterday [13 December] for Robert Sheckley's funeral. Present for the memorial service were his family, including his four children and three of his five wives, and a clutch of friends, including Barry Malzberg, Edward Summer, and illustrator Steve Hackman. Bob's daughter, novelist Alisa Kwitney, read a moving and loving eulogy that began, "Robert Sheckley was a lousy father," and Barry extemporized a beautiful tribute ending with the words, "Not bad. Not bad at all." I took it upon myself to speak on behalf of Sheckley's Russian admirers. His ashes will be buried in the spring, when the ground thaws, in the Artists' Cemetery in Woodstock. So he will remain in death, as he was in life, a bohemian.'

Michael Moorcock -- who's visiting Britain in mid-January to launch his new book -- writes: 'Glad to hear that Robert Conquest was honoured by George W. Bush, since they are evidently soul mates. Nobody mentioned, however, that he is the original for Robert DeFete in the Jerry Cornelius stories. [...] I saw the Universal guys in Hollywood a short time ago and the Elric movie is moving forward nicely. I suspect King Kong will make them more cheerful about fantasy stuff after the predictable disappointments of Riddick and Van Helsing. We have also agreed to shoot in Arizona, which has far stranger and just as dramatic landscapes as NZ and isn't so far to go to work. [...] I'm definitely going to have to sneak in to Narnia. I have this wretched, sinking feeling that I'm going to enjoy it. A substitute, anyway, before they start making E. Nesbit movies.'

R.I.P. Gregg Hoffman (1963-2005), US horror film producer best known for Saw (2004) and Saw 2 (2005), died on 4 December; he was only 42. (Obituary by Kim Newman in The Guardian). Richard Pryor (1940-2005), US stand-up comedian who appeared in The Wiz (1978) and Superman III (1983), died on 10 December after many years of heart and MS trouble; he was 65. J.N. (Jerry) Williamson (1932-2005), prolific US horror author and editor of the 'Masques' original anthologies (1984-1991), died on 8 December aged 73. The first of his 30+ novels was The Ritual (1979). He received a 2003 Horror Writers of America Lifetime Achievement Award.

The Horror! The Horror! This very pure site exposes 'the darker and esoteric meanings of the Chronicles of Narnia', including the foul-minded author's habitual profanity: 'The word "ass" appears in 4 of the books. Being British, it probably did not mean the same to him as it does to Americans (as a swear word), but he could have left it out, especially since he only used it four times and did use "donkey" in other places. However, considering the filthy state of his mind, it is possible that he thought this cute.' Other parts of the analysis are, shall we say, less balanced.

Miscellany. Studio Ghibli Earthsea poster. [Later: Petrea Mitchell points out a non-Flash version, plus further information and uncertainty.] Another Space Cadets conspiracy theory. UK oil terminal fire traced to aliens? (Scroll down to 'In August 1976 ...') Sheckley homage from 1978.

Thog's Masterclass. True Romance Dept (or, Precursors of Gor). 'I looked at Miellyn, took her slender unmanacled hand in mine, and smiled as we walked through the gates of the city. Now, after all my years on Wolf, I understood the desire to keep their women under lock and key that was its ancient custom. I vowed to myself as we went that I should waste no time finding a fetter shop and having forged therein the perfect steel chains that should bind my love's wrists to my key forever.' (Marion Zimmer Bradley, The Door Through Space, 1961; final lines)


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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