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Ansible 27, July 1982

PLEASE NOTE that this old Ansible is a bit of history. Addresses may have changed (the editor's had now stabilized, but the phone number is long gone), prices and agents' credits are invalid, etc. • This issue was produced in my BWP or Before-Word-Processors era and lovingly rekeyed for the archives by Elizabeth Willey ... to whom many thanks! • Dave Langford, 1995.


ANSIBLE 27 is the newest outbreak from DAVE LANGFORD, now firmly established at 94 LONDON ROAD, READING, BERKSHIRE, RG1 5AU, UK – write it down if you haven't already. New telephone number: READING (0734) 665804. Expunge the old address and phone number from your records. Subscriptions: £1 for 5 issues in UK or 4 airmailed abroad; $US equivalent to Burns, 48 Lou Ave, Kings Park, NY, NY 11754, USA. Credits this issue go to Pete Lyon (cartoon), John Harvey (e-stencils), Keith Freeman (mailing labels as ever), Presto Print (unsung producers of many page ones) and Hazel (unsung preserver of sanity and solvency). SUB DUE on your label means 'tut-tut'; ***** means 'bloody hell!' July 82.


WHO WILL RID ME OF THESE TURBULENT AWARDS?

People with names like Smith and Doe send unattributable rumours: that, for example, lovable Jerry Pournelle got all angry at the absence of Oath of Fealty from the Hugo novel list, and was only mollified by the premature release of the information that it had split the Niven-collaboration vote with Dream Park in positions 6 and 7. That the people responsible for sending Hugo data to 'newszines' were equally miffed since Hugo counter Bob Hillis leaked the final ballot data to Locus before anyone else on the committee got to hear about it (so good ol' Charlie Brown of Locus was able to congratulate people on the nominations as early as the Nebula ceremony, weeks before Chicon's press release). That despite an official denial from SFWA, the extra story added (independent of actual voting) to the novella ballot by the Nebula Jury (chaired by Greg Benford) was indeed 'Swarmer, Skimmer' (by Greg Benford). Which brings us to Lisa Tuttle's unloved Nebula and an 'Open Letter to SFWA' from George R.R. Martin, extracts from which follow: –

'I must protest – loudly – the way SFWA has handled Lisa Tuttle's protest and withdrawal.... I don't really agree with Lisa, mind you ... all this hype and electioneering threatens to cheapen the award, but I don't think the problem is quite as serious as Lisa does, and I think the fact that Lisa herself won over a self-promoted story, and that Gene Wolfe won over the aggressively-hyped Many-Colored Land, indicates that the situation has not yet reached a terminal stage.... I would not withdraw my own story from the Nebula ballot. I think Lisa was mistaken in doing so.... SFWA did act correctly, in my estimation, in giving the Nebula to Lisa despite her withdrawal, since the votes were already in and she had won by the time her letter of withdrawal was received.... What was wrong, I think, was to totally ignore the fact that Lisa, informed of her victory, refused the Nebula.

'That's exactly what she has done. SFWA knows it. Lisa informed not one but two SFWA officers, in person, weeks before the banquet.... But SFWA's official press release makes no mention of this fact. And those who attended the banquet tell me that no mention was made of it there either. "The Bone Flute" was announced as winner in its category, and the award was "accepted" on Lisa's behalf, even though several officers knew Lisa wouldn't be accepting it at all.... She has made a difficult and considerable sacrifice on grounds of principle, and while I might disagree with her, I feel very strongly that she had a right to be heard. The whole point of her action was to draw attention to a problem. By making no mention of her withdrawal at the banquet, or in its press releases, SFWA effectively made her action pointless.

'Right or wrong, foolish or principled, Lisa's stand was a public one, and SFWA owed it to her to see it made public. Like every other award in this or any field, the Nebula is flawed. But it is strong enough to withstand scrutiny, discussion, and yes, even controversy. What it cannot stand is silence and a pretence of "business as usual" when that is not, in fact, the case.' (GRRM, mutilated by DRL.)

This is no news to Ansible readers, but it's nice to see an American and prominent SFWA member breaking that unnatural silence on the topic over there. I merely ad that Ed Ferman Himself reportedly advised Lisa that she had now made her point and ought to accept the thing: oh yeah?

Reverting to the Hugos, readers will be delighted to hear that the SECRET nominations printout, which has fallen into my hands, features such items as 'Rowley, John', 'Sucharitkul, Somtrow', 'Time Bandit', 'Excaliber', and 'Geiss, Richard' (all sic), plus annotations making it clear that the ballot expert had no idea about JWC award eligibility: neither presumably did any other committee member, since he had to ask Charlie Brown.... A last word on the JWC award comes from Thyme and is worth quoting: 'I thought that this was an encouragement award. For the last two years Robert Stallman, admittedly a good writer, has been on the final ballot, and Susan Petrey was on the 1981 ballot. The problem here is that they are both dead. What's the point of encouraging dead writers?' (Justin Ackroyd) Mind you, more than one Campbell winner is numbered among the walking dead.

AT LAST, THE 1948 SHOW! OR: THE ANSIBLE POLL

38 people, the same number as last year, voted in the tenth annual Checkpoint/Ansible poll, covering UK fan doings in 1981-82. Voters: A. Akien, S. Bostock, S. Brown, J. Darroch, R. Day, D. Ellis, A. Frost, W. Goodall, R. Goudriaan, M. Greener, R. Hansen, A. Harries, D. Hicks, K. Hoare, C. Hughes, G. James, R. Kaveney, N. Khan, C. Lake, H. Langford, N. Lowe, P. Lyon, M. Mackulin, H. McNabb, J. Nicholas, S. Ounsley, P. Palmer, D. Pardoe, M. Poland, K. Rattan, D. Redd, A. Rose, J. Scrivner, M. Taylor, P. Turner, J. Wallace, D. West, O. Whiteoak. A free issue of Ansible to one and all, with thanks.

Best British Fanzine: 35 titles nominated, plus 'No Award' and TWLL-DDU (ineligible through nonappearance). 5 points for 1st-place vote, 4 for 2nd, etc (same system in next two categories); ANSIBLE ineligible; last year's positions given in brackets; I'm unreliable on numbers of issues published since my fanzines are still packed in boxes.

1) TAPPEN (74 pts)(-): Malcolm Edwards, 28 Duckett Road, London N4 1BN; available by whim; three issues in 1981-82 and none previously. Won the Nova award and featured this year's favourite fanwriter and article: what more can I add?

2) STILL IT MOVES (55 points)(-): Simon Ounsley, 21 The Village St, Leeds, LS4 2PR; usual; two issues in 1981-82 and none previously. Personalzine modulating to genzine from 'our greatest living fanwriter' (quoth Abi Frost in A26).

3) TWENTYTHIRD (37 pts)(11th): Jimmy Robertson, 64 Hamilton Rd, Bellshill, Lanarks, ML4 1AG; erratically available; several issues published. Personalzine with near-cult status, thanks to Jimmy's energy and unpredictability, etc....

4) EPSILON (31 pts)(-): Rob Hansen, 9a Greenleaf Rd, East Ham, London, E6 1DX; usual; several issues. Personalzine with occasional contributions; a Best Buy for comment on current fannish controversies by Rob himself.

5) DRILKJIS (27 pts)(-): me (address above) and Kevin Smith (address fuzzy); usual/50p; one issue, the first in two years. Irritatingly infrequent genzine redeemed only by the great brilliance of writing, editing, production, etc.

Also with 5+ points: START BREAKING UP (26); DRYGULCH cum INDIAN SCOUT (23); NEW RIVER BLUES (21); CRYSTAL SHIP (19); DOT (18); SECOND HAND WAVE and WALLBANGER (15); VECTOR (13); ARENA (12); DEADLOSS (11); 'No Award' (10); THE CHOCOLATES OF LUST and NABU (9); FORTH (8); MATRIX (7); STOP BREAKING DOWN (6).

Best British Fanwriter: 37 nominations recorded ... 1) CHRIS ATKINSON (86 pts)(-); 2) DAVE LANGFORD (69 pts)(1st) – deposed at last! 3) JIMMY ROBERTSON (45 pts)(-); 4) SIMON OUNSLEY (43 pts)(=5th); 5) KEVIN SMITH (32 pts)(6th).

Also: Chris Evans (27); Chris Priest (20); Abi Frost & Joe Nicholas (15); Rob Hansen & Linda Pickersgill (10); Malcolm Edwards & D. West (8); Phil Palmer, Steve Sneyd & Owen Whiteoak (7); Martyn Taylor (6).

BEST BRITISH FANARTIST: 19 nominations plus 'No Award'. 1) PETE LYON (98 pts)(1st); 2) ROB HANSEN (85 pts)(5th); 3) JIM BARKER (78 pts)(2nd); 4) D. WEST (67 pts)(3rd); 5) HARRY BELL (25 pts)(6th).

Also: Martin Helsdon (13); John Collick (12); John McFarlane (10); Steve Lines (9); Ian Byers (8); 'No Award' (7); Alan Hunter & Jon Langford (6).

Best Single Issue: 30 items (3 ineligible, having appeared in the previous year) nominated, plus 'No Award'. 1) Start Breaking Up(Chris Atkinson/Linda Pickersgill)(10 votes); 2) Indian Scout (the Cretins) (9); 3) Tappen 2 (Malcolm Edwards)(7); (=4) Still It Moves 1 & 2 (Simon Ounsley) & Drilkjis 6 (DRL & Kevin Smith)(each 6).

Also: DOT 11 & TAPPEN 3 (4); CRYSTAL SHIP 5 (3); THE CHOCOLATES OF LUST, A COOL HEAD, DEADLOSS 3, STOMACH PUMP 3 & WALLBANGER 5 (all 2).

Best Fanzine Article/Column: 38 items plus 'No Award'. 1) 'Life with the Loonies I' (Chris Atkinson/Tappen)(11); 2) 'The Transatlantic Hearing Aid' (Langford TAFF report/Nabu 11)(5); 3) 'You Must Be Mad' (Alan Ferguson/SIM 2); =4) 'Confessions of a Collector' (Simon Ounsley/SIM 1), 'Towards a Critical Standard' series (Kevin Smith/Vector) & 'What Do They Do With The Money?' (Smith/Drilkjis 6) (all 3).

Also: 'A Day of Lies' (Evans/SBU), 'Deep Cuts' (Ounsley/MATRIX), 'Desert Island Disco' (Atkinson/TAPPEN), 'Fandom Stranger' (Pickersgill/SBD), 'Of Feet and Madness' (Priest/TAPPEN), 'Sphincters at Dawn' (Kettle/EPSILON) (all 2).

Best Fanzine Cover: 41 items plus 'No Award'. 1) John Macfarlane/Indian Scout (6); =2) Harry Bell/Stop Breaking Down 7, Pete Lyon/Forth (Hamster Pie) 3 (each 5); =4) Bell/Out of the Blue 3, Rob Hansen/Epsilon 8, Hansen/Tappen 2, Hansen/Wallbanger 5, Lyon/Supernova 4 (all 3).

Also: Hansen/MATRIX 40, Hansen/STOMACH PUMP 3, Hansen/TAPPEN 1, Steve Lines/CRYSTAL SHIP 5, Jon Langford/DRILKJIS 6, Lyon/SHW (Autumn), Lyon/SIM 1 (all with 2). NB: if the Hansen triptych of the first 3 TAPPEN covers is counted as one item, it places =1st. Overall Rob's work received 20 votes (and Pete Lyon's 14), in this category, illustrating the dangers of self-competition.

Worst Thing Of 1981-2: as always the most difficult to count, with 53 nominations (plus 'Hold Over Funds') and a welter of overlapping hates. Two of my favourites with only one vote apiece were 'The US attempt to get Nicholas – foreigners shooting at our fox' and 'The campaign of slander and innuendo against really super people like Chuck Connor and Paul Turner'. On with the presentations –

1) PAUL TURNER (6 votes); 2) KEITH WALKER'S Brighton Rock (5); 3) Graham James (4½); 4) CHUCK CONNOR (3½); =5) EVE HARVEY AT CHANNELCON and THE POSTAL RATES and IAN WATSON (3).

Also: The Victory of Albacon II over Metrocon, The Fake Bob Shaw's ROCKCON PR (each 2). Again, regrouping would alter things hugely: 10 votes went to various aspects of MATRIX (Most Controversial Fanzine!), 9 to various aspects of Channelcon (eg. the beer), 5 to the Watson family, etc.


MYTHCON 1982 • 2-4 JULY, BIRMINGHAM
CHRIS MORGAN

I thought I was attending Fantasycon VIII at the Grand Hotel, but my name badge told me otherwise. This title change was not wholly unconnected with the fact that the con committee received 'very unhelpful advice' from the British Fantasy Society and sem to have broken off diplomatic relations with them. Mythcon's committee represented a considerable decorative improvement over any concom I can recall: it consisted of the delectable Anne Page and the scarcely less delectable Penny Hill, both of whom were observed to be wearing provocative costumes and carrying whips. Lust aside, this was too small a number to control things adequately: several programme items finished lamely with no committee member to propose thanks or lead applause.

The main programme items that I saw reached the heights of mediocrity. Some might have been better without being drowned by the intermittent rumble of passing buses; and some, conceivably, worse. Champion male chauvinist Chris Chivers chaired a panel on heroines, and was roundly condemned for his views by Ken Bulmer, Tanith Lee and Anne McCaffrey. 'I felt like a prick,' Chris said to me afterwards. 'You looked like one,' I said comfortingly. GoH Tanith Lee was wearing black and had fingernails bright with what might have been uncongealed blood. In a short autobiographical speech she described herself as an 'arrogant, nervous drunk with notes'. She told us she often makes revisions to her novels through being unable to read her original longhand, and explained how she came to cause several Israeli wars, an Italian earthquake and the invasion of the Falklands. Later on the Saturday afternoon she left to catch a train while they still existed. Other speakers included Eddie Jones (who extolled the virtues of Hannes Bok), Marsha Jones (who listed her favourite juvenile fantasy books) and the irrepressible Lionel Fanthorpe (who once again explained the mysteries of Rennes-le-Chateau, to publicize his and Patricia's recently published book on the subject, The Holy Grail Revealed – Newcastle $5.95. [The advance on this book, falsely reported by evil Naveed Khan last issue to be $50,000, was in fact $0.00 – royalties only. Bloody hell, Badger Books used to pay £25 a novel....]).

There was a small-con ambience, due partly to the people dissuaded from coming by the impending rail strike and partly to the fact that about 40 people seemed perpetually wedged into the smallish video room. Main programme audiences were small: the only time more than 50 assembled was on Saturday evening to watch a heroic playlet wherein a half-naked Anne Page (as Vanilla, the ice cream princess) killed sundry varlets with her magic wand in order to save the race of hedgehogs. The clichéd non-sequiturs which passed for a script might have been produced by a youthful L. Fanthorpe on a bad day. And it was possible to smell the tomato ketchup ten feet away. When this was followed by a session of 'Call My Bluff' I felt an overwhelming urge to slip away to the bar. I returned an hour later to find the game still in progress. (Amazingly high pain threshold these fantasy fans have.) Later on there was a proper SF-type room party hosted by true-fan Colin Fine, with live music, cheese, rum and the traditional smashing of glasses.

For a small con there were hordes of genre professionals. Those not so far mentioned included Ramsey Campbell, Peter Tremayne, Brian Lumley – who looks and sounds less like a writer than anybody I've come across – Les Flood and Dennis Etchison. The book room was disappointing. The art show was small but full of quality: watch out for talented newcomer Sue Mason, who won a prize for best amateur artist. Several other prizes were handed out, for playing D&D or being a GoH, but no British Fantasy Awards were announced. There's a threat of its all happening again (end of June 83). (CJKM)


THE FABULOUS FILLER COLUMN

Brian Aldiss has suffered the rewards of hubris after setting his 'mini-saga' competition in the Telegraph magazine; a mini-saga was defined as a story no more nor less than 50 words long, making the judging look relatively light work: but there were 33,000 entries.... One, about phantom horses, came from Princess Margaret and failed through being only 49 words long. Meanwhile millions of copies of the hardback Hand-Reared Boy and A Rude Awakening have been remaindered at 'an insulting price' by Weidenfeld & Nicolson.... Isaac Asimov's doubtless triffic Foundation's Edge has sold to Granada over here for £82,500 (peanuts to the £500,000 reserve price for the US auction – Del Rey bagged the book and the first three as well). Our Gollancz spy reports the existence of an Asimovian afterword explaining how FE is the key novel linking all his previous ones, which should therefore all be reprinted for the benefit of students, in hardback.... Chris Priest & Lisa Tuttle 'now have a secondhand-book stall on the side of the A30 in Lewdown, which we set up every Saturday morning it doesn't rain.... We have discovered that the average British holidaymaker feels embarrassed and compromised by the presence of books in his chosen lay-by. There were we sitting and looking at several hundred feet of empty parking space, just opposite us, while meantime 40 cars were cramming themselves into the crowded far ends....' No list available, but this great British enterprise will continue till the end of summer, when 'everything will be dumped at an auction'.... Joe Nicholas Gives Candid Opinion Of Langford's First Sf Novel, Now Available At Junkshops Everywhere! 'This book (cont p.94)


IAN WATSON

A collection of miscellaneous snippets from our most indefatigable ANSIBLE correspondent....

[13 April 1982]

Scandal! Graham James-Jones has WAHFed me in Matrix: 'a heart-felt story about the possible closing of a Museum in Yverdon...' In actual fact this is or was big news, that is now getting seriously out of date, and which I hoped the BSFA would feel vitally concerned about, not least those members who are going to Eurocon this summer. In January Maxim Jakubowski passed me a letter from Pierre Versins, dated 31 Oct 81, announcing that as of 20 Oct he had retired from being Curator of the Maison d'Ailleurs, the Musée de l'Utopie, des Voyages Extraordinaires, et de la Science-Fiction. The Maison is encyclopaedist Versins' lifelong and unique SF collection which he presented to his home town of Yverdon, with himself as first Curator. Versins is deeply concerned that his successor won't be properly qualified, probably won't be nominated by the town authorities of Yverdon for another 2 years, and that until then the Maison is likely to remain closed. Versins' open letter requests all authors, researchers and editors to write to him (Rue du Four 5, 1400 Yverdon, Switzerland) so he can pass letters on to the town authorities; said letters hopefully expressing horror that this unique collection should be closed, albeit provisionally, and desire that Versins' successor should be someone of whom he approves, who would maintain the unique character of the Maison, namely, 'ouverture à la conjecture romanesque rationelle, et à elle seule, de tous temps et lieux; vision claire des domaine qu'elle embrasse' – -the alternative being what, I wonder? A sort of Fantasy Star Wars Disneyland? An irrational romp? A Skiffy Museum?

Well, I wrote a letter of support to Versins, and informed SFWA Forum too, and wrote to Matrix as I thought this should be of concern to members of the BSFA, not least those going to Eurocon, since Yverdon is only a short way from La Chaux-de-Fonds, and it seemed likely that some people might plan a day trip to this unique SF collection and could reasonably expect to find it open.

[Written, obviously, before the cancellation of Eurocon 82 in La C-de-F, and mislaid for Ansible 26: mea culpa, etc. DRL]

I note the gross discrepancy between the hysteria in Matrix over 'saving' the SF Foundation by bombarding the NE London Poly with letters of support for Dr Greenland (when these two things had nothing to do with each other), and simply WAHFing news of the imminent demise of the Maison d'Ailleurs. 'A museum in Yverdon' indeed! That's really telling the readers, isn't it?

Just sold my next novel to Gollancz for probably Jan 83 publication – title, Chekhov's Journey, an SF novel about Anton Chekhov, not Chekov of the Enterprise, though if thousands of Trekkies jump to that conclusion, who am I to complain?

[7 June 1982]

The George Florance-Guthridge story [in Jan Finder's Taplinger anthology Alien Encounters, which sports two Watson stories, another by Modesty Forbids, and a cover reprinted from Spang Blah (Dave Hardy)] took me by storm. 'It's a dreadful disease.... They call it Benziis. Usually only the very young and the very old are afflicted. But the majority suffer from it sometime, and few survive.' I'm still tussling with the profound enigma of those two sentences, which have given me a whole new outlook on mortality.... Hope you caught Lionel Fanthorpe's radio first on Midweek (Radio 4, 2 June): arm-wrestling on the air! [Lionel lost to the UK arm-wrestling champ after a titanic struggle. He also offered to repeat his youthful feat of dictating an entire SF novel in mere hours – but only if someone promised, in advance, to publish it.] Just been elected Secretary of Moreton Pinkney Village Hall, and thus will have awesome responsibilities....

I've delivered the brilliantly rewritten The Woman Factory to Playboy Paperbacks, to be greeted with the jolly tidings that PP are up for sale and no new books are being acquired – though whether mine is a new book or one in the pipeline, since I have a contract for it, is an indeterminate point. Pray for me, or something....

STOP PRESS POSTSCRIPT: Typescript read, and publication going ahead. New title, for a number of reasons (my reasons): The Woman Plant. Should be out in 83.

[29 June 1982]

Berkley/Jove have acquired not only Playboy Paperbacks but also Ace Books. (Source: Sharon Jarvis, Senior Ed at PP.) This is of course most grotty news for all writers, since it means that the new empire now has an enormous list, and backlist stretching to infinity, so their desire to acquire new titles in the next few years might be minimal....

[25 June 1982]

The latest about the Final Dangerous Visions! Ian Watson, having deposited a story with said anthology six years ago, rashly decided that he would like to see it in print, so wrote to Harlan Ellison saying that he intended to withdraw the story in 3 months' time if there wasn't some distant hint of publication by then. Mere days later, Ian was woken at dead of night by HE calling from California. 'Ian Watson, you schmoo,' cried a voice, 'now you've moved somewhere called Moreton Pinkney. I've been trying to locate you for years. There are gonna be two offers by major publishers tomorrow for the anthology. Those are – – – – and – – – – , but don't tell anyone.' Amazed at the coincidence of his letter arriving at this momentous juncture, Ian still had the wit to say: 'That's funny. I sent you a change of address, and I've already had at least one DV circular from you here.' 'Listen, Ian, I've got thirteen people looking after the letter W alone.' 'Thirteen, Harlan? That's unlucky.' 'Okay, I've shot one of them. Listen, you ingrate, I've spent years schlepping your books around America.' 'Gosh,' said Ian. 'I buy them all with my own money from Gollancz!' proclaimed HE. 'I'll sign them all for you,' promised Ian, overwhelmed. 'You coming over here?' queried HE. 'No,' said Ian, 'you put them all in a suitcase and fly over.' 'Ian, I couldn't do that to Moreton Pinkney. What, Harlan Ellison hit a sleepy little village?' 'That's okay,' Ian assured him, 'we like aggro, violence, and disorder.' 'Um,' said HE, 'you still married to that lady with the red hair?' (Obviously remembering how Judy Watson challenged him to combat at a Millington reception in 1976. Or perhaps remembering deadly Jessica Watson, also present, aged 3 in her pushchair.) 'Sure,' said Ian, 'but her hair's blonde.' 'I'm sure it was red,' said Harlan. 'That's because you were looking at her chest,' riposted Ian. (Sounds of crowd applause, that had been accompanying phone call so far in background of Ellisonian apartment, grew muted.) 'I ... I ... I....' gasped Harlan meekly. 'I'm not like that.' (IW)


Next, our other most indefatigable correspondent:

JOSEPH NICHOLAS AT 'THE STRANGE PILGRIMAGE'
A Commemoration For Philip K. Dick (1928-1982)

At the June Tun only days before, I'd remarked to Colin Greenland that following ads in Time Out and such, it could be a very crowded meeting indeed; he suspected otherwise, and was proved right by the event's drawing an audience that only just filled the City Lit in Stukely St on the evening of 9 June 1982 – which, given the humid weather, was just as well, else we might all have suffocated. it was worse up on the platform, where jackets were shed almost instantly; the first thing chairman Maurice Goldsmith (Science Policy Foundation) did when he rose to his feet was to ask for the spotlights to be turned down. With little introduction he launched into an explanation of what science policy research was all about, and threatened one of those dull [and here staggeringly irrelevant – DRL] old perorations about how SF helps predict the future, but mercifully he handed over to Peter Nicholls, who began by confessing that although he'd hoped to ad-lib from a few notes he'd had an attack of cowardice and written it all down instead.[1] Most of it revolved around his intermittent correspondence with Dick in the mid-70s and the ambivalent response it provoked in him: attracted by the man's obvious warmth and humanity yet simultaneously repelled by his hysteria and paranoia, he sometimes couldn't tell whether he was talking to Dick or his alter-ego Horselover Fat. (Pause to address the audience: 'How many of you haven't read Valis?' A good half of the 100-odd present raised their hands, and I could only wonder what on earth they thought they were doing there.) He finally met Dick at an SF conference, in Metz, France, in 1978, and like everyone else there was severely embarrassed by the long harangue Dick delivered in place of a speech; at breakfast next morning, Dick asked Nicholls whether he had 'successfully achieved sexual intercourse last night? I need to know how it's done.' 'But what was the answer? ' interrupted Brian Aldiss a few sentences later, causing us all to fall about; but none was forthcoming....

Aldiss's own contribution began with the tongue-in-cheek observation that it was perhaps us who'd died or been whisked off into an alternate reality 'run by Brezhnev, Thatcher, Reagan and the Argentinian junta – while Phil Dick remains where he always was, in Santa Ana, fighting entropy and kipple, with his 8th or 9th wife by his side....' More laughter, setting the tone for what followed. Centred around a spirited reading from A Scanner Darkly, it was devoted primarily to an appreciation of Dick's fiction, pointing the vein of black humor that underlay much of it and being by turns sober and amusing, using as a metaphor for Dick's approach the U-bend of the toilet: whereas that tended to filter out the smell of the septic tank, Dick had found a way to bypass it and get down to the 'really fertile' things most of us preferred to ignore. Aldiss concluded with excerpts from tributes in the May Locus, most notably a completely incomprehensible sentence by Roger Zelazny and an anecdote from Grania Davis about how Dick left her to swelter in a closet for several hours when one of his ex-wives called.

After a taped reading from John Brunner, Philip Strick rose to deliver the text of an article he'd written about the forthcoming movie Bladerunner, based on Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?, which Dick's death had given him the opportunity to augment with material about its author's life. It seems that the film has a different script from that over which Dick enthused, and may be much worse than feared: Strick ended with the hope that it would nevertheless spark interest in Dick's work amongst a wider audience – a laudable but probably misplaced sentiment, as I feel Dick is simply too unsettling, perhaps even too specialized, for the cinema-going public.

And that – following a reading from Peter Nicholls of Tom Disch's 'Cantata 82: an Ode to the Death of Philip Dick' (containing the clever lines '[Hollywood] did/Its level best to level his best book') – was almost it. A few (rather dispensable) 'spontaneous tributes' from the floor, from such as Andy McKillip (his editor at Granada) and Les Flood, and we were filing out into the still-humid evening.[2] It had been a good and interesting commemoration: the three main speakers had known what they wanted to say and had said it well, with wit and style, rendering the proceedings less of a funeral service than a wake, and a highly enjoyable one to boot.

Even so, no one should be in any doubt that SF has lost one of its greatest talents. (JN)

[1] The Nicholls piece has since appeared in Tappen 4; the Aldiss is scheduled for Foundation; the Brunner merely repeated the introduction to The Best Of PKD. [2] To the pub. ALDISS: Evening, George. HAY: Hello Brian, I'm about to write you a very long letter. ALDISS: Please don't, George.


Now, Australia's sexiest fan (Thyme poll result):

JUDITH HANNA AT THE ONE TUN (JUNE 1982)

Were whispered plots hatched in heated corners? I didn't detect any – there seemed to be more perspiring than conspiring in the air; any Australian knows all about the correlation between heat and apathy; it is after all the key to our national character. And a bloody good imitation of muggy Sydney weather it was too; just the weather for an ice-cold lager (if you like that sort of thing), far too hot to plot. Was anything going on except complaints about the heat? So far as I could see, nothing but determined drinking and desultory gossip. Clumps of people inside in the warm, just as many outside trying to cool off, Brian Smith and Andrew Stephenson wearing jackets to protect them from the weather. Bits of paper were passed around – Shoestringcon flyer; another for the Foundation's Phil Dick memorial gathering; a Small Mammal materialized and Joseph says there must have been a Martin Easterbrook behind it. Rob Hansen took a break from handing out Epsilon 11 to expound to a maniacally-grinning TAFF winner the difference between the bodily profiles of British and US fen – the former typically long and stringy but for a bulge at the tum, the latter all bulge from ankles to eyeballs: hair is, of course, optional; proof of the hair-variance postulate perambulated in the forms of the shorter-haired Phil (Piglet) Palmer – mown to a monotone summer lawn; Steve Higgins – still silver streaked; Joseph's new cherubic choirboy bob; not to mention Martyn Taylor minus not only wisdom teeth but also beard, the latter sacrificed in order to reduce weight (yes, that's what he said). The only sign of conspiring was up the stairs, where all the hot air rises, in the salubrious lobby outside the bogs, a certain ferociously mumbling Ansible editor waylaid all comers, exacting tribute of gossip or promise of Tun report before he'd let any pass. The dread conspirator of the Tun unmasked ...? (Judith Hanna)


COA

ANDREW BROWN, 1 Hilda Cres, Hawthorn, Vic 3122, Australia • BRIAN EARL BROWN & DENICE, 20101 W Chicago #201, Detroit, MI 48228, USA • MIKE DICKINSON & JACKIE GRESHAM, c/o 146 North Parade, Sleaford, Lincs, NG34 8AP [August] • GRAHAM ENGLAND, August-Bebel-Allee 26, 2800 BREMEN 41, West Germany • ALAN FERGUSON, 50 Durlston Rd, Kingston-upon-Thames, Surrey • COLIN FINE & NICK LOWE, 205 Coldham's Lane, Cambridge • STEVE HIGGINS, 548 Tizard Hall, Southside, Watts Way, S Kensington, London, SW.7 • NAVEED KHAN, 3 Holmes House Ave, Winstanley, Wigan, WN3 6EA • KEN MANN, Daumierstraat 7*, 5623 EV EINDHOVEN, Netherlands • CAROLINE MULLAN, 76 Manville Rd, Tooting Bec, SW.17 • JOE NICHOLAS & JUDITH HANNA, 22 Denbigh St, Pimlico, London, SW1V 2ER [August] • CHRISTOPHER M OGDEN, 202 Heywood Rd, Prestwich, Manchester, M25 5LD • DAI PRICE, 'Shrevewood', 158 Reading Rd South, Church Crookham, Aldershot, Hants, GU13 0AH • DAVID & ANN PRINGLE, 124 Osborne Rd, Brighton, BN1 6LU • JOYCE SCRIVNER, 2732 14th Ave S Lower, Minneapolis, MN 55404, USA [minute correction] • HELEN STARKEY, 37 Chatsworth Rd, Kilburn, London, NW.2 • In addition KEV SMITH and THE DOREYS are moving soon to Manchester and NIC HOWARD is living in Basingstoke while buying a house in Reading.

CONS

Chicon (82 Worldcon) provoked me to an erratum on p.1, where 'Bob Hillis' should read 'Bill Evans' as on the Hugo ballot egregiously enclosed (only modesty and poverty preventing the further enclosure of a $15 International Money Order and detailed voting instructions with each copy). Spies report that nice Andy Porter called up to withdraw his semi-pro fanzine Starship from the ballot and was put out to learn it hadn't got there.... Eurocon 1982 Cancelled! The Swiss Eurocon proved to be entirely a one-man show from Pascal Ducommun who, unable to get any help whatever, suffered a nervous collapse. Films, art, Eurocon business meeting (the latter important to supporters of the British 1984 bid) all transferred to the German 'Festival der Fantastik' in Mönchengladbach (rather nearer than La Chaux-de-Fonds) on 20-22 August. Though not officially a Eurocon, this event looks the next best thing for '82: Marjorie and John Brunner, who reckon the weekend to cost DM200-300 depending on extravagance (at DM4.26 per £ as of late June), have PRs and tourist data: if you're interested send SAE quickly to them at The Square House, Palmer St, S Petherton, Somerset, TA13 5DB.... Colnecon (26 June) suffered grotty attendance due to the rail/tube strikes.... Mythcon: a late Nic Howard report praises the 'Dunkirk spirit' at the event, deplores the nonappearance of the British Fantasy Awards despite their already having been voted on (next year Nic is a co-administrator and Ansible will get the facts real fast – won't it?), and mysteriously alludes to the 'unexpurgated version' of the feud between con and BFS: 'different from both other versions'. Which other versions? Faircon (July 23-6, Glasgow) has arranged lower room rates: £12.50 sngl, £10/person dbl, £15 and £14 with bath.... Albacon II: PR1 now due, and last issue my brain must have rotted – forgot to mention GoHs Tanith Lee & James White, FGoH A/v/e/d/o/n/ TAFF winner.

INFINITELY IMPROBABLE

TAFF slate USA – >Albacon now finalized: Grant Canfield, Larry Carmody, A*V*E*D*O*N C*A*R*O*L and Taral. Need I add that now I'm no longer an administrator, Ansible is no longer impartial? ... Brian Aldiss, overcome by too many comparisons of Dick with Dickens, remarked at the City Lit that 'maybe we'll all be here in a few years likening Christopher Priest to J.B. Priestley.' Meanwhile, CP's books-for-sale may be viewed by appointment in Lewdown (see p.2): dial 01-864-1957 and hope he's in Harrow. This phone number also appears, fascinatingly, in the 15 July New York Review of Books: there's this ad offering 'SECLUSION IN BEAUTIFUL DEVON COUNTRYSIDE. 17th century cottage ... full of books.' Only £300/month, too: surely not another Platt hoax? ... Very Boring: 'We the undersigned feel that Chuck Connor, as a member of the BSFA, is entitled to the right of reply in Matrix, a society journal, when he is attacked in M by other society members....' 30 people, most of those to whom it was sent, signed this petition 'to show dissatisfaction with G. James's handling of the affair', says Bernard Earp, who begs this last public mention before (controversy having cooled) the thing is forgotten.... Shards Of Babel is Roelof Goudriaan's Euronewszine, $2 for 4 issues to Postbus 589, 8200 AN Lelystad, Netherlands: excellent Continental coverage.... Eurocon 7 is (since last page) officially incorporated into the German 'Festival' with the possibility of an extra Eurocon Day being added beforehand (19 Aug) to fit in spare programme items. DM30 att, DM15 supp to Walter Jost, Nordstr. 110, D-4050 Mönchengladbach 2, West Germany.... Skiffy Film Evening 24 July (11pm-8am) at ABC, London Rd, W Croydon: Forbidden Planet, Andromeda Strain etc plus snack, all £5.... Pzyche is Faber's latest, from one Amanda Hemingway (26): Dave Garnett asks why unlike her I didn't have my novel launched at a party from the Mayor of Lewes (her dad). This sf novel, quoth Amanda, was 'like having a trial ski run before attempting Mont Blanc. My next book will be a serious work of contemporary fiction.' Gorblimey.... Extro 3 (highly professional with an ISSN) is out, as is Interzone 2 (a mere fanzine with no ISSN, observes Pete Lyon – just kidding, folks): E1,2,3 available from me at 95p each, post free.... Best Of The Bushel (Bob Shaw's selected articles) now out of print from Rob Jackson; 'Eastercon Speeches' still available.... Frankenstein In Love recently appeared at the Cockpit Theatre, London, directed by someone called Malcolm Edwards.... Salman Rushdie's Masterpiece, Booker Prize or no, is according to R.I. Barycz his cream bun slogan: 'Naughty, But Nice.' ... Hugo Nominations: 'interesting to note in which categories it is most difficult to get on the ballot: 1) Pro Editor; 2) Best Fanzine; 3) Dramatic Presentation. So much for that old SF stuff, eh!' (John Foyster).... Balrog Award went to Kurtz's Camber the Heretic, if anyone cares.... Living Deaths: no longer involved in fandom are Trev Briggs (data: Alan Ferguson), Victoria Vayne (Taral) and, so he says, Greg Pickersgill ('It took me 14 years to realize the great truth – you can get out'). Jimmy Robertson reports an exciting marital breakup and Dick Bergeron a financial crisis delaying Warhoon 29 (this, from a man whose working overhead I always believed to consist of 50 Picassos?).... SF Poetry Association is devoted to usual SF activities of publishing each other's work and giving one another awards (the 'Rhysling', for goodness' sake!): $6/year to 1772 N Mariposa #1, LA, CA 90027, USA.... Pete Lyon was last seen struggling to 'reproduce 4 Poussin Paintings complete with semi naked shepherdesses, satyrs, grapes and general bacchanalian goings on' in time for R.L. Fanthorpe's 'cosmic conspiracy theory involving Knights Templar, batty frog priests and buried treasure' (see p.2).... Charlie Brown Is A Big Time Capitalist, reports almost famous US person Joe de Bolt, who told us that on his trip to Russia the Locus editor was regarded with awe as one who employed people: as we might look at one who owned human slaves.... Angela Carter, at a recent Reading skiffy evening, was horrified to hear Ian Watson's Chekhov's Journey involved, as did a short story she was working on, the Siberian explosion all those years ago.... A27 delayed by move and GPO: sorry.


Hazel's Language Lessons #18: Malay

tahi tikus: mustard. (Literally: mouse-turd.) –
English-Malay Dictionary, Sir Richard Winstedt, '52.

Ansible Twenty-Seven (13 July 1992)
Dave Langford, 94 London Road,
Reading, Berkshire, RG1 5AU, UK