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04.19.02

Yet more Ansible jottings, again overshadowed by gloom as the old-time sf community dwindles …

Damon Knight (1922-2002), one of the great shapers of twentieth-century sf, died on 14 April. He was 79. Any attempt to list Knight's achievements stretches on and on: artist (the least of his talents), our genre's first critic of real stature (see his 1956 collection In Search of Wonder), winner of a 1956 Hugo as Best Book Reviewer and a 1975 SFRA Pilgrim award for distinguished criticism, author of many unforgettable stories, influential editor (especially of the 21 Orbit anthologies, 1966-80), founder of SFWA and cofounder of the Milford SF Writers' Conference, underrated sf novelist (late in life producing the sly, quirky, unexpected treats Why Do Birds and Humpty Dumpty), biographer of Charles Fort, sf/fan historian in The Futurians, SFWA Grand Master laureate (1995), popular convention guest, husband of that other fine writer Kate Wilhelm (who survives him), and all-round good fellow. Our loss is great.

Fred Clarke, Arthur C. Clarke's younger brother, had a heart attack at Easter but is out of hospital, recuperating, and should make a full recovery. Still a dedicated behind-the-scenes worker in UK sf circles (especially the Clarke Award), Fred was 81 in April.

Mike Moorcock, following his successful surgery, pondered my timely suggestion of fell, rune-carved, prosthetic toes: 'I'm not sure even I can get a good name for magical, self-willed pinkies — Antfrightener? Snakeupsetter? Frogscarer?'

More Awards. James Tiptree Award for gender-bending sf: The Kappa Child by Hiromi Goto. International Horror Guild awards presented on 13 April for 2001 work included: NOVEL Threshold, Caitlin R. Kiernan; FIRST NOVEL Ordinary Horror, David Searcy; COLLECTION Through Shattered Glass, David B. Silva; ANTHOLOGY Night Visions 10 ed. Richard Chizmar. Tim Powers's novel Declare, announced as a current Nebula finalist, has been judged ineligible owing to a limited edition published in 2000.

R.I.P. John Agar (1921-2002), US actor remembered in sf circles for his parts in 1950s B-movies like The Mole People, Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, died on 7 April; he was 81. Henry Slesar (1927-2002), US sf/fantasy author and scriptwriter — though better known for his crime fiction — died on 2 April.

Thog's Masterclass. One-Eyed Trouser Snake Dept. 'Poring over the curves of her breasts and hips, Patrick's erection pulsed wildly.' 'And then there was the old man she'd met that afternoon. He'd behaved as if a wolverine were in his drawers when she'd mentioned Chris.' (both Thomas Staab, Heart of Ice, Blood of Fire, 2000)

 


David Langford is a writer, editor, physicist, bon vivant, and software consultant. His monthly SF newsletter, Ansible, is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. He lives in Reading, England with his wife Hazel, 25,000 books, and a few dozen Hugo awards.

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