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It's that time of year again: the Arthur C. Clarke Award was presented on 18 May at the London Science Museum, with copious free wine before and after. Five of the six nominees (Connie Willis couldn't make it) trembled in the front row of the Imax theatre as administrator Paul Kincaid worked up suspense via such delaying devices as a special presentation to Sir Arthur's brother Fred, for his hero work behind the scenes. Then last year's winner China Miéville opened the fatal envelope as quickly as he could, and presented the souvenir bookend and £2002.00 cheque to Gwyneth Jones for her 'near future fantasy' Bold as Love. Gwyneth later recollected in tranquillity: 'The operation was really very painless. Neither fear nor hope possessed me. I didn't have a thought in my head when China stood up, besides well, now we can all clap the winner, stand around nattering for a bit and then go home....'

Adam Roberts, according to our Usually Reliable Source at the now traditional afternoon of panels before the Clarke Award evening, 'elevated himself to the title of Mega-Asshole of all time as he explained how surely our first reaction to 9/11 was gee-whiz thrillery at the fact of seeing an airplane fly into a building for real. The audience looked at Roberts as though he'd just sprouted a second head, while clearly wishing they could detach him from the first.'

R.I.P. Bill Peet (1915-2002), who scripted the animated 101 Dalmatians and The Sword in the Stone, and contributed to many other Disney classics, died on 5 May at age 87. He also wrote 35 children's books, several of them award-winners.

Zero Hour. From the Guardian newspaper's website, 14 May 2002: 'Lembit Opik MP and Guardian science editor Tim Radford discuss the possibility that an incoming asteroid will hit Earth at 2.30pm today'.

London Pub Horror. Cries of despair resounded through British fandom when the Florence Nightingale on Westminster Bridge Road, current home of the long-established evening fan meetings on the first Thursday of each month, stopped serving meals after 5:30pm. Greasy, inadequate 'bar snacks' such as potato wedges remain available for the truly desperate.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Morbid Physiology. 'His sweat was cold and clammy now, and even his anus squeezed open and shut.' (Nick Mamatas, Northern Gothic, 2001) Critical Dept. 'In these stories of madness and shivered reality, frissons are the body language of the day.' (Edward Bryant, Locus 5/02)


David Langford is an author and a gentleman. His 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. He continues to add books and Hugos.

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