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Another instalment of the column that's survived the delivery at Ansible HQ of a sinister envelope leaking white powder. This proved to be a gift packet of sweets, 'Cosmic Flying Saucers filled with Sherbet Moon Powder'— or rather, thanks to some postal worker's massive boot, no longer exactly filled.

Publishers & Sinners. On 4 December, Time Warner announced the closing of its e-books division iPublish, several of whose dozen or so titles were sf/fantasy. As always, e-publishing is scheduled to be next year's big thing…while the actual sales go to outfits that (unlike the mighty Richard Curtis e-Reads in my own case) can offer real print-on-demand books through Amazon and its rivals.

Respect At Last. The Oxford English Dictionary wants knowledgeable sf readers and fans to help with citations of sf/fannish terms whose earliest printed appearance is uncertain. To offer assistance, go to:

Terry Pratchett had another mighty UK signing tour as 2001 approached its end. Overheard conversation between fascinated onlookers: 'Oh, you know, he's quite famous — he's the guy who wrote The Hobbit.'

Philip José Farmer who is 83, is recuperating at home after a stroke suffered in mid-December. Complete recovery is hoped.

Award Stuff. The British SF Association Award has a new category: Writing About SF. Single critical articles, essay collections/anthologies, and complete books are all eligible. Nominations (BSFA members only) close 31 Jan. 2001 works so far nominated are Stephen Baxter's BSFA-published collection Omegatropic and, mysteriously, Terry Pratchett: Guilty of Literature from 2000.

Thog's Masterclass. Thog is no genre snob and will always listen when a real best-selling author tells us sf people a thing or two about anatomy: 'As his eyes continued to sweep over her, he noted the lean, elegant, body; but from the smallish hips and waist there grew a breadth of shoulders that suggested exceptional physical strength.' (David Baldacci, The Winner, 1997)


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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