December 30, 2005
The Omega Point. Two hundred and one instalments of The
Runcible Ansible! Not a round number at all, but nevertheless this
is the end. Lots of thanks to our wonderful editrix Eileen Gunn
for allowing me free rein for so long.... Anyone interested in
taking over publication of the column should send offers of vast
remuneration to the
usual address. Happy New Year to everyone, and thanks for
all the fish.
Zirn Left Unguarded, The Jenghik Palace in Flames, Jon
Westerly Dead. Further momentous announcements about
The Infinite Matrix
itself can be found in
latest editorial. Overhead, without any fuss, the stars ...
UK New Year Honours. Not a good year for contemporary
literature, with only two people in
whole vast list being honoured in this area. One of these
has written enough fantastic fiction to have an entry in the
Clute/Grant Encyclopedia of Fantasy: Jeanette Winterson,
OBE. Another OBE, for drama, is Robbie Coltrane -- whose
three-decade acting career is frequently condensed to 'Hagrid in
the Harry Potter films'.
As Others See Us. Clive James, waxing nostalgic
the Times Literary Supplement about his early
reading of 'sludge fiction', somehow digresses from Bulldog
Drummond to small-screen sf: '... the classically awful British
television SF series Blakes Seven: no apostrophe in the title, no
sense in the plot. The depraved space queen Servalan, played by
the slinky Jacqueline Pearce, could never quite bring herself to
volatilize the dimly heroic Blake even when she had him square in
the sights of her plasmatic spasm guns. The secret of Blake's
appeal, or Blakes appeal, for the otherwise infallibly fatale
Servalan remained a mystery, like the actual wattage of light bulb
on which the design of Blake's spaceship, or Blakes spaceship, was
Iain Banks is allowing himself to be typecast again for
Celebrity Mastermind (BBC1, 2 January, 7pm), where he will
answer questions on that profoundly Cultured subject 'Malt Whisky
and the Distilleries of Scotland'.
R.I.P. Kenneth Macksey (1923-2005), author and
editor best known for books of what-if speculation like his The
Alternate History of the German Invasion of England, July 1940
(1980) died on 30 November.
Vincent Schiavelli (1948-2005), popular US character actor
whose many genre film/TV credits included Batman
Returns, Buckaroo Banzai, Buffy, Ghost
and Star Trek: TNG, died on 26 December. He was 57.
In Typo Veritas? Unexpected Contents Dept:
'There, in the room full of mirrors, she threw her head down on
the disarrayed sheets, lifted herself up, and I saw myself slide
into her up to the hilt with a gasp, because now she was burning.
She was burning inside, gripping me with the liquid entirely of
hot bathwater," (Richard K. Morgan, Altered Carbon,
Del Rey edition, 2003)
Robert E. Howard is rarely news these days, but there's
modest rejoicing that his old house in Cross Plains, Texas -- now
the Robert E. Howard Museum -- survived the raging grass fires
which on 28 December destroyed scores of local homes and a church.
Space Squid Are Everywhere. Niall Harrison has been
watching Aaron (The West Wing) Sorkin's earlier show, Sports
Night: 'I was impressed to discover that Sorkin seemed to have
been right on the ball when it came to developments in space
technology. From "The Sweet Smell of Air" (January
2000): the show's producer, Dana Whitaker, wants to talk to her
boss, Isaac Jaffe, about a Michael Jordan interview, but Isaac is
more interested in something else....
DANA: Hi, Isaac--
ISAAC: Hi. Dana, listen to this, this is fantastic. [reads
from magazine] "Bioengineering might one day create
living creatures adapted to survival in space."
ISAAC: Space birds.
DANA: ... OK.
ISAAC: Don't you wanna know how they're gonna fly without air?
DANA: Uh ... OK.
ISAAC: It says here they're gonna fly on sunlight.
DANA: ... So, we got this Michael Jordan offer ...
ISAAC: And further out where the sunlight grows weaker, they're
gonna bioengineer a squid.
DANA: ... Squid?
ISAAC: Yes! Swimming not in water, but in space. [reading
again] "Drawing volatile fuels from Jovian moons to power
their gentle but efficient propulsion systems."
DANA: ... uh ... Michael Jordan ...?
ISAAC: "Their utility could be comparable to that of horses
and mules in the winning of the West."
ISAAC: I can see myself out there. Sitting alone by the fire. A
space squid my only companion.
This episode was first aired in January 2000. Niall again: 'I
note that Time, which of course features a time-travelling
space squid, was published in August 1999. To date, however,
reports that Sorkin is a closet Stephen Baxter fan remain
treat from Frank Key of Hooting Yard: synopses from 'the
thrilling new drama Blodgett And His Pals Hanging Around On A
Mysterious Island After Surviving A Plane Crash.'
50 Best Robots.
Langford SFX columns
obit in the Telegraph.
of turnips: Joss Whedon on being quoted out of context by
Entertainment Weekly (link stolen from
Steve Sneyd adds a poetic footnote on Ken Bulmer, whose
funeral was scheduled for 12:30pm today at Tunbridge Wells
Crematorium: 'Vignette, which he published in 1954, was
almost certainly the first anthology of sf poetry to appear in
this country (though he didn't describe it as such, rather as a
one-shot poetry fanzine for OMPA). Inter alia it included
Brunner, poems reprinted from '41 US fanzines, and a reprinting of
Arthur C. Clarke's pioneering article in a 1938 Novae Terrae
calling for a poetry of science fiction.'
Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Time & Motion
Studies. 'The first step is to put the fleet on one-hour-alert
status instead of twenty-four. ... It'll take about six hours to
bring us up to one-hour readiness.' (Lois McMaster Bujold, The
Vor Game, 1990)
Dept of No Matter Where You Go, There You Are. 'Rafe was
in Thendara. / That meant Kadarin and Thyra were -- somewhere. /
And so was the Sharra matrix. / And so -- all the Gods of Darkover
be merciful -- so was I.' (Marion Zimmer Bradley, Sharra's
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.