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Miraculously restored to you after suicide threats from countless distraught readers, The Runcible Ansible takes its text this week from E. Nesbit's classic The Story of the Treasure Seekers (1899): 'If what we have written brings happiness to any sad heart we shall not have laboured in vain. But we want the money too.'

As Others See Us. SF was once again defined on British TV, in a 27 February Newsnight discussion of whether allowing designer babies could lead to a genetic underclass as in Gattaca. Applying superior scientific logic, Professor Steve Jones explained that this was a ridiculous speculation, since 'Gattaca is a science-fiction film — it's cowboys and Indians with rocketships.'

Ken MacLeod sightings (see Runcible 65) continue to proliferate. This just in from Priscilla Ballou: 'There's also a news reporter at Boston's WBZ named Ken MacLeod. He is distinquished by the dramatic wide-brimmed hat he wears during stand-ups outside in the winter. Does "our" Ken MacLeod wear cool hats?' Not as far as I remember. Here in Britain we generally leave that kind of thing to Terry Pratchett. (Who has just finished yet another Discworld novel, entitled Monstrous Regiment. It is, of course, largely about women.) Meanwhile the real Ken MacLeod won my heart by opening a Usenet posting about leftist politics with: 'Let us prise off the tinfoil hat of ideology and focus the orbital mind-control beams of reason.'

Red House Awards 2003. Contenders for these UK children's book awards — voted by children — include Lemony Snicket's The Ersatz Elevator and Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl: The Arctic Incident in, respectively, the younger and older readers' categories. Presentations to follow on 14 June.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Rare Bindings. 'Bonnie was curled up on the sofa, reading a French novel in tight pants and a blue velvet shirt that was buttoned only halfway up the front.' (Walter Mosley, Bad Boy Brawley Brown, 2002) • Astounding Stories of Super-Science Dept. 'As I think you were told before, thyrium-261 is not indigenous to Earth. It comes from a binary star system called the Pleiades, a system not far from our own. • Now, as you can probaby imagine, planets in binary star systems are affected by all sorts of forces because of their twin suns — photosynthesis is doubled; gravitational effects, as well as resistance to gravity, are enormous. As such, elements found on planets in binary systems are usually heavier and denser than similar elements found here on Earth. Thyrium-261 is just such an element. / It was first found in petrified form in the walls of a meteor crater in Arizona in 1972.' (Matthew Reilly, Temple, 1999)


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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