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Fame has tapped me on the shoulder at last! Ben Jeapes, reading (for review) the just-published Dr Who spinoff novel The Suns of Caresh by Paul Saint, was boggled to come across this line: 'He'd read the greats, the likes of Ursula Le Guin, Greg Egan, Gene Wolfe and David Langford, and he admired them' (p24). Ben also found a namecheck for himself: 'Sadly it doesn't mention Big Engine, Leaky or Sladek, but it does mention Jeapes' Syndrome.'

Peter F. Hamilton performs a similar service for British author Graham Joyce in his latest novel Misspent Youth, with a walk-on part for Graham as 'a man in his eighties' some decades hence: 'Graham had won the last Booker Prize, back in 2012, when the publishing houses were collapsing in tandem with the copyright laws.' Overseas readers may mistakenly assume that since the novel features much irresponsible sex (though not with Graham Joyce), its setting is an allegorical, invented English county: Rutland.

Steve Baxter has an important theological clarification: 'I see from SFX (August) that in ITV's upcoming drama The Second Coming — "Steve Baxter is the son of God … The important thing isn't 'is he or isn't he?', he really is." — I'm to be depicted as "Jesus's 21st century successor, born in the guise of a virginal Mancunian". This is obviously inaccurate; I was born in Liverpool.'

R.I.P. Leo McKern (1920-2002), Australian-born actor fondly remembered as a standout 'Number Two' in The Prisoner, died on 23 July aged 82. His genre film parts ranged from X the Unknown (1956) to Ladyhawke (1985), notably including The Day the Earth Caught Fire (1961), The Omen (1976), and its sequel.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Now You See It … 'His two missing teeth could be seen only when he smiled.' (Jack Dann, The Memory Cathedral, 1995)


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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