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10.17.03

Like so many sf fans, and in defiance of all the economic problems of climbing out of this gravity well, I've found it saddening to think that the age of manned space flight could end within my own lifetime. So here's to China and their astronaut Yang Liwei for prolonging the old dream. See CNN coverage of the launch and landing.

The shade of Robert Heinlein must be torn between predictive smugness and political alarm, since he delivered this Awful Warning to the USA in 1980 (and not as fiction): 'Is space travel dead? No, because the United States is not the only nation on this planet.' Though Heinlein's prime candidates were Japan and Germany, the same paragraph has a side bet on China: 'the potential is there.'

As Others See Us. Radio Times invited various alleged celebrities to comment on the BBC 'Big Read' list of the public's favourite books. Which clunkers should have been excluded? 'All Terry Pratchett's novels,' according to Jo Brand: 'It's a bit unfair of me because I've probably only read the first page of one of his books, but sci-fi is a genre that really makes me want to bang my head against a wall.' Her personal favourite novel on the list: Nineteen Eighty-Four.

Darrell Schweitzer sent a scholarly update on 'The Eye of Argon', whose true author I thought to be well known when I jokily quoted a mistaken attribution in Runcible 87: 'My colleague Lee Weinstein cracked the "mystery" of "The Eye of Argon" recently. The story was originally published in the fanzine OSFAN (the journal of the Ozark SF Society) #7, 1970. There is a copy of this priceless publication in the Paskow Collection at the library of Temple University in Philadelphia. Mr Weinstein has actually held this amazing artifact in his trembling hands. A subsequent issue interviews the author. This interview has been posted online. The story really is by Jim Theis, who was a well-known Kansas City fan, something of a local celebrity. In KC, his authorship was common knowledge. He was not a Clarion student.... Alas, Theis died a couple years ago at age 48.' Darrell also reveals that the 'standard' EoA text contains typos which are not in the original.

Michael Scott Rohan has been lying low and turning down convention guest invitations, since he's 'had a major health scare these last few months -- on top of the bloody diabetes, that is -- and have been in and out of hospital for tests, culminating in a couple of lung biopsies.... What I have is something called sarcoidosis, which sounds vaguely like an invasion by Heinleinesque reptilians, and indeed feels rather like that; they usually don't treat it unless it gets bad, and it leaves you with days when you're completely knocked out. But it's a lot better than what it might have been, and in most cases goes away on its own, eventually.'

Thog's Masterclass. Neat Tricks Dept. 'A minute later, he was vomiting up the breakfast he had not eaten.' (Peter Straub, Lost Boy Lost Girl, 2003)

 


He Do the Time Police in Different VoicesDavid Langford is an author and a gentleman. His newsletter, Ansible, is the essential SF-insider sourcebook of wit and incongruity. His most recent books are Different Kinds of Darkness, a new short-story collection of horror, SF, and fantasy, Up Through an Empty House of Stars: Reviews and Essays 1980-2002, 100 pieces of Langfordian genre commentary, and He Do the Time Police in Different Voices, a short-story collection that brings together, all of Dave's SF parodies and pastiches. (This is a scary thought. Are you ready to laugh that hard?)

Dave 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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