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It started as an idle joke in 1995, when I began to brighten up the masthead by putting in strange trade goods or services which could supposedly be bartered for Ansible. Now it's an expected tradition, and I struggle to think of something offbeat for this feature's vast following (Chip Hitchcock) to track down with infallible precision. Explanations appear here after a suitable interval, usually by the time of the next issue. Omitted issues had nothing cryptic in the masthead, at least according to me. David Langford
- Ansible 319 – "videos showing the act of distimming" – see "The Gostak and the Doshes" (also section title) by Miles J. Breuer.
- Ansible 318 – "red leaves, scob liver and ginkle-string" – ingredients for Wizard Blenkinsop's spell in Uncle Cleans Up by J.P. Martin.
- Ansible 317 – "the Tongs, or the Thumbcaps of Enquiry" – see Cyril Connolly's satire on totalitarian dystopias, "Year Nine".
- Ansible 316 – "the final director's cut of Parkroads" – see Gene Wolfe's short non-fact film review "Parkroads".
- Ansible 315 – "detailed pedigree listing from Twurp's Peerage" – see Terry Pratchett's Discworld books, passim.
- Ansible 314 – "Get Out Of The Dung Pits Of Glyve pass" – see Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows.
- Ansible 313 – "fun, fantasy, confusion and catastrophe" – operating procedure of the Dagenham agency in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination alias Tiger! Tiger!
- Ansible 312 – "a cold voice in a room of iron clocks" – see Alasdair Gray's Old Negatives: 4 verse sequences.
- Ansible 311 – "Lenlu Om, or a Shefth with a Zug-gun" – see Damon Knight's Beyond the Barrier.
- Ansible 310 – "health & safety instructions for a Foon" – vital information omitted from Spike Milligan's treatise "How to Make a Foon" (in A Dustbin of Milligan, 1961).
- Ansible 309 – "extracts from The Anatomy of Nonscience" – a learned work-in-progress alluded to in Anthony Boucher's story "The Anomaly of the Empty Man".
- Ansible 308 – "the paradoxes of Immenso Champernoon" – a character parodically based on G.K. Chesterton, whose scene was cut from George Bernard Shaw's sf play Back to Methuselah and published separately.
- Ansible 307 – "Martichorastic Minikins" – a festival attraction in Excession by Iain M. Banks.
- Ansible 306 – "mutual cake violating" – an inadvertent linguistic concept from John Scalzi's Redshirts.
- Ansible 305 – "the pie that bakes and eats itself" – a reflection on the human condition from Alasdair Gray's Lanark.
- Ansible 304 – "a set of harmoniously grunting peels" may be found in Alexei Panshin's Masque World, third and last of the Villiers books in which the Wu and Fabricant guide (section title) is indispensible to galactic tourists. (The hour when peels grunt is known as peelgrunt. This is important.)
- Ansible 303 – "Antagonistic Undecagonstring scores" – the only known musical score for this bizarre instrument is The Hydrogen Sonata, also the title of the latest Culture novel by Iain M. Banks.
- Ansible 301 – "Granek's Equation, Whitewick or Persholt" – spells of an apparently lethal and terminal nature in Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones.
- Ansible 300 – "the last line of the Saaamaaa Ritual", a famously unknown deus ex machina from Carnacki the Ghost-Finder by William Hope Hodgson.
- Ansible 299 – "the secret of Ookil' karabin" – "Who killed Cock Robin?", debased version from "Voices in the Dust of Annan" by Gerald Kersh.
- Ansible 298 – "an oyster shell inside a skull" – see The Weak and the Strong by Gerald Kersh.
- Ansible 297 – "simulated griamobots" – see Big Planet by Jack Vance.
- Ansible 296 – "fayalin/delinade cocktail recipes" – the first is a severely non-alcoholic drink served on special occasions throughout E.E. Smith's Lensman saga, the second an aphrodisiac served at public events organized by the Bad Guy in Anne McCaffrey's Restoree. Perhaps the mixture might cheer up those Lensmen.
- Ansible 295 – "the latest model of Outlandish Watch" – see (as if anyone needed to be told) Lewis Carroll's Sylvie and Bruno.
- Ansible 294 – "the manual for Computer 1578/32/W1" – see A.P. Herbert's Misleading Case "Reign of Error?"
- Ansible 293 – "demonstration that 1 + 1 = 1.5708" – see "Getaway from Getawehi" in The Unorthodox Engineers by Colin Kapp
- Ansible 292 – "information on Squig Stars and drunfilers" – apparently alien fashion role-models, good and bad respectively, in Mindswap by Robert Sheckley.
- Ansible 291 – "the secret of heather ale" – see Robert Louis Stevenson's poem "Heather Ale".
- Ansible 290 – "used stass-pisistors" – stasis-box components from Hexwood by Diana Wynne Jones.
- Ansible 289 – "umbral revelations of sempiternal Galexis" – a key concept of the Chilite religion in Jack Vance's The Anome aka The Faceless Man.
- Ansible 288 – "the winning strategy for Arky-malarkey" – see Eric Frank Russell's "Now Inhale" (April 1959 Astounding).
- Ansible 287 – "the legendary riches of Vwopdingdorp" – from a Graustarkian national anthem invented at some early age by James Blish. "Vwopdingdorp they call it, / And if Vwopdingdorp it be, / Then Vwopdingdorp and all its riches / Belongs ... to ... me." See The Tale that Wags the God, page 144.
- Ansible 286 – "gleepsites or the country you have never seen" – In memoriam Joanna Russ, with her titles `Gleepsite' (short story), The Country You Have Never Seen and, as section heading, Extra(ordinary) People.
- Ansible 285 – "a hair from the beard of Prester John" – one of the many quest objects in The Game by Diana Wynne Jones. In memoriam.
- Ansible 284 – "Ortnitz's unattainable end" – see the James Branch Cabell parody in Heavens by Louis Untermeyer.
- Ansible 283 – "remainders of The Boke of Palimpsest" – see House of Many Ways by Diana Wynne Jones.
- Ansible 282 – "Black Tom or Leper Gin" – unhealthy drinks much favoured by the rotters from Badfort in J.P. Martin's Uncle novels. (Someone sent in a supposed correction to this one, saying it's Leper Jack not Leper Gin. In fact it's both: Jack in the second Uncle book, Gin in the third. Occasionally it worries me that I bother to research such things.)
- Ansible 281 – "Tlon Rtlo Long Ongr Ngrt" – from the language lesson which opens C.M. Kornbluth's "That Share of Glory" (1952); see also David I. Masson's "Some Thoughts on Language in Science Fiction".
- Ansible 280 – "the bottled ecstasy of Martian zyzmol" – an otherwise unspecified product advertised in E.E. Smith's First Lensman.
- Ansible 279 – "full diagram of N, O and R pangas" – alien "gorgon" status relationships in Damon Knight's "An Eye for a What?".
- Ansible 278 – "the lost town keys of Killgruel" – sought after in an episode of W. Heath Robinson's Bill the Minder.
- Ansible 277 – "location of the Great Silver Vat" – a McGuffin hideaway of vast importance in Paul W. Fairman's I, The Machine (see Thog's Masterclass).
- Ansible 276 – "anzid, barbitide, sprine or wockle weed" – deadly poisons from, respectively, Barbara Hambly's The Ladies of Mandrigyn. Samuel R. Delany's Captives of the Flame aka Out of the Dead City, Neal Asher's The Skinner (plus related Spatterjay novels) and Stanislaw Lem's The Cyberiad.
- Ansible 275 – "gnoits, ponks or snelks" – local-dialect terms of abuse on the first planet visited in Eric Frank Russell's The Great Explosion.
- Ansible 274 – "interocitor schematics" – see This Island Earth by Raymond F. Jones.
- Ansible 273 – "the libretto of Earwigs over the Mountains" – an apocryphal musical or opera found in John Glashan's The Meths Festival, known for the famous Snapping Song. "What's that snapping noise, she said / As SNAP SNAP SNAP / Went the noise inside my head ..."
- Ansible 272 – "berp-nuts, Centauran libalilil or vitalots" – foodstuffs or similar from, respectively, Keith Laumer's "Retief" stories passim, William Tenn's "Winthrop Was Stubborn" and Compton Mackenzie's The Lunatic Republic.
- Ansible 271 – "Synapse Beta sub Sixteen" – key survival reflex in Theodore Sturgeon's "The [Widget], the [Wadget] and Boff"
- Ansible 270 – "samnites, smithereens or proscenium" – a mine's yield of semi-precious stones and metal in the dislocated vocabulary of John Barnes's One for the Morning Glory.
- Ansible 269 – "a cartridge with a spare key" – a Christmassy moment from John M. Ford's fabled Paranoia game scenario The Yellow Clearance Black Box Blues, featuring a cartoon of supplicants at the armoury requesting "three trench pens, two purple guns and a cartridge with a spare key".
- Ansible 268 – "the 19 equations of Sciomnia" – see Charles Harness's The Rose.
- Ansible 267 – "fifty pounds of frumpstiggle" – lucrative fee for large-scale dental work in Piers Anthony's Prostho Plus.
- Ansible 266 – "Life by Baron Bodissey" – multi-volume philosophical work often referred to in Jack Vance's Gaean Reach novels – critically reviled in the Demon Princes sequence opening with Star King, but a classic school text by the later era of the Cadwal Chronicles opening with Araminta Station.
- Ansible 265 – "netiglluk ende firseiglie blears" – a phrase of cosmic import from one of the more convoluted passages of Thomas M. Disch's fine novel Camp Concentration.
- Ansible 264 – "the stone-fruits of Gondolin" – from a bit of Tolkienian crossover silliness last year at Making Light.
- Ansible 263 – "map location of the Terrestrial Paradise" – one of the inducements offered in the introductory "Promantia" of R.A. Lafferty's The Devil Is Dead. "Given here for the first time anywhere are the bearings and correct location of the Terrestrial Paradise down to the last second of longitude. You may follow them. You may go there."
- Ansible 262 – "shirts woven from crel filaments" – garments of penance, or torture, described in some detail in one of this issue's Thog selections: Colin Kapp's The Patterns of Chaos.
- Ansible 261 – "Juba Jelly or Python Whiffets" – exotic delicacies from Uncle and His Detective by J.P. Martin.
- Ansible 260 – "the punth of the torange" – technical terms introduced for an instant clothes-extruder (torange, a word which is adopted) and its control unit (punth, which fails to catch on) by a limerick-writing inventor who was determined to give our language rhymes for "month" and "orange", in Robert Conquest's A World of Difference (1955).
- Ansible 259 – "gruff, deedle or wobbly" – uninspiring foodstuffs supplied by the universal welfare state of Jack Vance's Wyst: Alastor 1716. "The Ring of Worlds" features in the sister volume Marune: Alastor 933.
- Ansible 258 – ";48 ;800 ;508 485(;" – in honour of Poe's bicentenary, "The Tell-Tale Heart" in the cipher from "The Gold-bug". (An enciphering of the latter title would have been more logical, but needs symbols unavailable in the 7-bit ASCII character set of Ansible's email and Usenet editions.) Of course the section header "The Man of the Crowd" is also a Poe story.
- Ansible 257 – "tungtanium suction delvers" – jargon phrase from Alasdair Gray's Lanark (chapter 9).
- Ansible 256 – "the small stones of Tu Fu" – a Brian Aldiss story title.
- Ansible 255 – "bandicoots with thalassaemia" – see Part Two of Samuel R. Delany's Babel-17.
- Ansible 254 – "Poostermoolies": nonsense word used by the hero of Eric Frank Russell's Dreadful Sanctuary (because it doesn't matter what you say to a listener whose brain is addled by Evil Pop Music).
- Ansible 253 – "Snibbo or Bloggo": wonderful panacea products from the writings of J.B. "Beachcomber" Morton, as touched upon in this fanzine article.
- Ansible 252 – "Bild-A-Man Set #3": see William Tenn's story "Child's Play". Tenn also wrote "Time in Advance", a section title chosen because, most unusually, this Ansible appeared on the last day of the previous month rather than in the month of publication. (I was on holiday from 1 July.)
- Ansible 251 – "a six-ounce sheet of fluorine 80+": potential doomsday weapon in Gerald Kersh's story "The Unsafe Deposit Box" (aka "Impasse", aka "A Little Something in the Bank").
- Ansible 250 – "a recursion in metastories" (with suitable capitalization) is an Arthur C. Clarke story title, as is "The Wall of Darkness".
- Ansible 249 – "the Shining Trapezohedron": see H.P. Lovecraft's "The Haunter of the Dark".
- Ansible 248 – "'mam'ri instruction manual": future computing (?) device featured in Vernor Vinge's "Original Sin".
- Ansible 247 – "bio of Henry Rhodes Hamilton" – the enigmatic subject of an unwritten biography for which J.G. Ballard gave us only "The Index".
- Ansible 246 – "the casebook of Bulent Hellbag" alludes to Frank Key's surreal wossname "The Churn in the Muck" (incorporating "Some Ponds, A Hotel, The Hollyhocks" and thus suggesting the section title taken from an entirely different Key epic, "The Names of the Ponds").
- Ansible 245 – "the epitome of chimneytude" and the section title "Land of the Buried Sun" both come from Wintersol by Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw.
- Ansible 244 – "the inner secrets of --ing the --." See "Prott" by Margaret St. Clair.
- Ansible 243 – "Wolpec's three truths" – one ineluctable, one debatable and one incomprehensible. See John Brunner's The Traveller in Black.
- Ansible 242 – "the deadly Specium Ray" – one of Ultraman's many powers.
- Ansible 241 – "maps of the Unknown Islands" – a nod to the recent UK flooding which threatened J.G. Ballard and others. In Gerald Kersh's novel The Great Wash (1953; aka The Secret Masters), which provides a section title, mysterious maps of the "Unknown Islands" (or Lakes) prove to be extrapolations of what dry land will remain on Earth after a considerable sea-level rise.
- Ansible 240 – "Mephitoline or oil of scallatine" – exceedingly smelly substances from, respectively, Jack Vance's "The Spa of the Stars" (in The Many Worlds of Magnus Ridolph) and Terry Pratchett's The Truth.
- Ansible 239 – "klaptico, nipling or passet" – unappetizing foodstuffs from Diana Wynne Jones's The Merlin Conspiracy (1, 2) and A Sudden Wild Magic (3).
- Ansible 238 – "mnoui oil, agania root or hkpersia" – exotic "extraterrestrial odoriferents" from Robert Sheckley's The Alchemical Marriage of Alastair Crompton.
- Ansible 237 – "special call of VANDOO". In J.P. Martin's Uncle and the Treacle Trouble, this communal yell is "only used on occasions of national rejoicing" (such as when your editor gets two Hugo nominations).
- Ansible 236 – "job spec for Chief Dexitroboper" – see E.E. Smith's First Lensman.
- Ansible 235 – "Lessedrene, Temp or cauch" – sf drugs from, respectively, Philip E. High's Invader On My Back, Norman Spinrad's "The Weed of Time" and Jack Vance's Trullion: Alastor 2262.
- Ansible 234, "Nexialism for Dummies" – this essential primer may not actually feature in A.E. van Vogt's The Voyage of the Space Beagle, but it jolly well should.
- Ansible 233, "Orel's Epulotic Vulnerary" – nostrum offered by quack doctor Sergei Orel in Alfred Bester's The Stars My Destination.
- Ansible 232, "a porgee pouch" – fashionable container for the indicated drug in A Tale of Two Clocks aka Legacy by James J. Schmitz.
- Ansible 231, "working Rhennius machine" – see Roger Zelazny, Doorways in the Sand.
- Ansible 230, "a tepid mouse/torpid moose" – see Next of Kin aka The Space Willies by Eric Frank Russell. Mayor Snorkum will lay the cake.
- Ansible 229, "data on the Worp reaction" – an easy one for anyone who remembers "The Available Data on the Worp Reaction" (1953) by Lion Miller.
- Ansible 228, "operating manual for offog" – see Eric Frank Russell's "Allamagoosa".
- Ansible 227, "blue balticons from Mars" – from a list of luxury goods in Jack Vance's 1950 story "Chateau d'If" (originally titled "New Bodies for Old"). Discovered by Dan Hoey at the 40th Balticon in May: "The appearance of the word "balticons" in a story seventeen years before the first Baltimore convention of that name struck us as an occurrence of great fannish import ..."
- Ansible 226, "Old Syrian Panther Sweat" – one of the tipples favoured by Harry Harrison's Stainless Steel Rat.
- Ansible 225, "gnools, mucilids or scrupts" – undefined terms from (Michael Kandel's translation of) The Star Diaries by Stanislaw Lem.
- Ansible 224, "the formula for 3-blindmycin" – the super-aphrodisiac in Come Out To Play by Alex Comfort.
- Ansible 223, "Old Galactic plasmoids" – see A Tale of Two Clocks aka Legacy by James J. Schmitz.
- Ansible 222, "Economics 2.0 pyramid scams" – a nod to Charles Stross's Accelerando.
- Ansible 221, "CASS-9 computer systems" – CASS-9 is the prophetical US defence computer in Echo Round His Bones by Thomas M. Disch. ("Cassandra Knye" was a Disch/Sladek pseudonym.)
- Ansible 220, "the Ace of Nitwits" occurs in The House With a Clock in its Walls by John Bellairs.
- Ansible 219, "the nature of the struback" ... is never actually revealed in Brian Aldiss's short story "The Failed Men"; another Aldiss short is "Man In His Time". (I hadn't meant to do Brian again so soon – see A216 – but forgot.)
- Ansible 218, "a sufficiency of Whuffie" – see Cory Doctorow's Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom.
- Ansible 217, "the Obah Cypt" – a McGuffinish object or concept in Diana Wynne Jones's Fire and Hemlock
- Ansible 216, "petals from St Klaed's computer" – subtitle of Pile by Brian Aldiss OBE, who also gave us the title "Creatures of Apogee".
- Ansible 215, "charms against lesnerization" – see Robert Sheckley's story "Protection". Another Sheckley story title, "Slaves of Time" is used elsewhere.
- Ansible 214, "giant nuclear-powered zeppelins" – a small homage to John Brosnan's technothriller Skyship; the section title "The Sky Lords" is another Brosnan novel.
- Ansible 213, "hrönir of the eleventh degree" – see Borges, "Tlön,Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" and (section title) "The Sect of the Phoenix".
- Ansible 212, "a sponge-cat with no eyes at all" – a concept from Musrum by Eric Thacker and Anthony Earnshaw, whence also the section title "The Musroid World". ("The fear of sponge-cats is the beginning of wisdom.")
- Ansible 211, "the secrets of the fluxus quo" – suggested, along with the section title, by Patrick Woodroffe's 1987 graphic novel The Dorbott of Vacuo, or How to Live with the Fluxus Quo.
- Ansible 210, "upgrade of sebalism to chorasm" – terms for (1) lascivious and indecent behaviour, and (2) sebalism taken to an extreme, in Jack Vance's Marune: Alastor 933.
- Ansible 209, "crabwicks, frawlpins or gults" – items from the toolkit of the blind Norns in Roger Zelazny's Creatures of Light and Darkness.
- Ansible 208, "the extra prime number between 5 and 7" – an unlikely mathematical entity in R.A. Lafferty's Aurelia.
- Ansible 207, "Permagatol, Silonium, or Radioperforers" – technological props from Hugo Gernsback's legendary clunker Ralph 124C41+. These were swiftly identified by Gary Westfahl, who bragged on a mailing list: "For the uninitiated, here are the meanings of the terms, lifted from a lengthy compilation of science fiction neologisms still surviving in my computer from an ancient research project: Permagatol. n. A green gas which helps preserve living tissue. (Gernsback, Ralph) Radioperforer. n. A device for penetrating spaceship hulls and rendering occupants unconscious. (Gernsback, Ralph) silonium. n. A metal or alloy which radium rays cannot penetrate. (Gernsback, Ralph)
- Ansible 206, "freans, nurks, or flying snolls" – mythical creatures from Woody Allen's skit "Fabulous Tales and Mythical Beasts" (in Without Feathers, 1975)
- Ansible 205, "windowless solids with five dimensions" – a concept found near the end of H.P. Lovecraft's "At the Mountains of Madness".
- Ansible 204, "copies of Dahlgren's Air Currents and Epidemic Diseases" – nothing to do with Dhalgren! Advertised in the "magazine of the future" (i.e. of 2000 AD) material which accompanies Kipling's "With the Night Mail".
- Ansible 203, "bilbys, gleebs or mereens (but not smeerps)" – fauna and flora from John Rackham's The Double Invaders (context quotation given in A204; see also the update in A205).
- Ansible 202, "the whereabouts of Nnvsnu the Tsrungh". This cosmic entity, also known as The Seeker from Nexo Vollma (section title), inhabits the blughole of the universe – as more or less explained in Russell Hoban's The Medusa Frequency.
- Ansible 201, "The Formula for the Transmutation of Borax Without the Use of Cockatrice-Egg." – the vital McGuffin from Avram Davidson's short story "The Singular Events Which Occurred in the Hovel on the Alley Off of Eye Street".
- Ansible 200, "the Key to Murdoch's Hoard" – see George O. Smith's Venus Equilateral.
- Ansible 199, "hornswogglers, whangdoodles or snozzwangers" – see Roald Dahl's Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
- Ansible 198, "the Purple Dart Medal with Coal-sack Nebula Cluster" – an uncoveted honour from Harry Harrison's Bill, the Galactic Hero, echoing the New Year Honours item.
- Ansible 197, "tubs with two lugs, or quantities of wirtiglugs" – explained in this issue's Language Lesson, expanded as our Christmas Extra. Tut, Watson, you must learn to observe.
- Ansible 196, "Nipponanium iggy tubes" – telepathic amplifiers featuring in Margery Allingham's offbeat detective novel The Mind Readers. The section title "Whirligig World" is a small salute to Hal Clement, whose death was reported in this issue.
- Ansible 195, "xylph senses or raultronic transmitters" – see The Lost Perception by Daniel F. Galouye, who also wrote Lords of the Psychon (section title).
- Ansible 194, "mutated beavers that can telepath and teleport" – from Lionel Fanthorpe's Rodent Mutation (as by Bron Fane); the section title below comes from this book's immortal line "Police! Help! We're being attacked! We're being attacked by a gigantic beaver!" All this is in honour of the logo of the Toronto Worldcon.
- Ansible 193, "modifications of the Klydon beam" – future weaponry in "Superiority" by Arthur C. Clarke, who also provided the section title "The Battle of Pico". This takes place in Earthlight and here commemorates the unhappy end of the British sf imprint Earthlight.
- Ansible 192, "millibrachiate tentacular coelenterates" – a fondly remembered phrase from John Wyndham's The Kraken Wakes, which like the section title The Seeds of Time was suggested by his centenary celebrations.
- Ansible 191, "lendi" – alien largesse ("Any lendi, Dendi?") in William Tenn's "The Liberation of Earth" (section title), a story well worth rereading after certain wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
- Ansible 190, "chatowsies, pourrian or ahagaree" – dire foodstuffs, respectively "fetid", "vile" and "ferocious", from the Darsh cuisine in The Face by Jack Vance. Hence also the section title "The Potters of Firsk".
- Ansible 189, "quantch, pretonsuling or incoblapsimine" – an unspecified but necessary substance and two pleasurable activities, according to the "Platonian" alien in John Brunner's short story "Out of Order". The section title "The Productions of Time" is a Brunner novel.
- Ansible 188, "Williamite, or travel guides to Phthistia" – a drug and an improvised country in Robert Sheckley's Mindswap, whence also the section title "The Twisted World".
- Ansible 187, "unused reels of Müller-Fokker tape", patently from John Sladek's The Müller-Fokker Effect; the section title "The Master Plan" is a short Sladek story.
- Ansible 186, "the Ochre Scroll or the Umbre Testament", magical books which along with the section title "The Thaumalogicon" are the three plot coupons of Ken Bulmer's fantasy Kandar.
- Ansible 185, "a reliable map of the poikilochronism" – the unstable region of timeslips in David Masson's story "Lost Ground", collected in his The Caltraps of Time. (R.I. Barycz duly sent me a piece of paper marked with an arrow pointing to a single dot, captioned "You are here. Now." As he helpfully noted, "This is the only reliable map of the poikilochronism. Keep it with you at all times.")
- Ansible 184, "a couple of bottles of Numnumo" – see Lord Dunsany's story "The Two Bottles of Relish"; the section heading "Tales of Three Hemispheres " is another Dunsany title.
- Ansible 183, "symmetriads, asymmetriads, extensors or mimoids" – enigmatic structures associated with the sentient "ocean" of Stanislaw Lem's Solaris, which also supplies the section heading "The Little Apocrypha".
- Ansible 182, "publications of the Very False Documents Press" – one of many hinted explanations for the mysterious initials V.F.D. in Lemony Snicket: The Unauthorized Autobiography. Also featured is that dubious newspaper The Daily Punctilio, whose motto is "All the News in Fits of Print".
- Ansible 181, "itchers, burning fluff, witches' jelly or mosquito mange" – alien artifacts or phenomena found in the Visitation Zone in Arkady and Boris Strugatsky's Roadside Picnic (as translated by Antonina W. Bouis).
- Ansible 180, "a functional ban-dan-bladder-stiddle" – from one of Peter Cook's legendary "E.L. Wisty" monologues, "The Man Who Invented the Wheel". The extremely primitive Drodbar was the first human to invent the ban-dan-bladder-stiddle, but the credit went to latecomer Gorbly's identical invention because he thought of a much better name for it.
- Ansible 179, "margil, orakh, simple swizzle, Martian vuzd, or zith" – a variety of alcoholic drinks. Margil and vuzd: Anthony Boucher, "Q.U.R." Orakh: Discworld. Simple swizzle: Jack Vance, The Face. Zith: Eric Frank Russell, Wasp.
- Ansible 178, "Vol 67 in The History of the Purple Poignard" – as a nod to Mike Moorcock's lost toes, this is the supposed source text of his self-parodying tale of strange prostheses, "The Stone Thing".
- Ansible 177, "Bagarthach verses, Aorach stories, or Sky" – farewell to R.A. Lafferty, whose The Reefs of Earth features the first two; Sky is a drug which gives its name to another RAL story.
- Ansible 176, "sixth-order projectors" – near-omnipotent magic technology from E.E. Smith's Skylark series, specifically Skylark of Valeron. Also in celebration of the Skylark award, the "people" section used a lesser-known Smith novel title, The Galaxy Primes, and the traditional Word Beginning With Con heading the convention listing became Conklin, name of a particularly obscure Lensman. (Also of a noted sf anthologist, adding to the general confusion.)
- Ansible 175, "dergs, gampers, grailers, leeps, feegs or melgerizers" – various invisible beasties featured in Robert Sheckley's story "Protection".
- Ansible 174, "lembas, Narya, Nenya or Vilya" – elven waybread and the Three Rings, from Tolkien.
- Ansible 173, "a mappemonde crafted from finest azulejaria" – the two unusual words John Clute felt it necessary to define in a preface to his sf novel Appleseed. Reading on, one can boggle at all the words he didn't feel it necessary to define....
- Ansible 172, "treeliths, crymorphs, zanzers or Vapours of Loth" – various items mentioned in the late Josh Kirby's captions for his Voyage of the Ayeguy series of paintings.
- Ansible 171, "spikkle, spime or Mustick" – two poisons and an antidote from Terry Pratchett's Discworld novels (specifically, Pyramids and Reaper Man). I'd been researching the second Discworld quizbook for months.
- Ansible 170, "the Worsted Monster, or an Oracular Watering-Can" – from Edward Gorey's toy theatre and script for The Worsted Monster (National Lampoon, June 1974).
- Ansible 169, "unobtainium" – generic Very Rare Element in sf discussion. David Brin actually used it in his novel Startide Rising.
- Ansible 168, "Clutchclamp, flamingo bird-baths, or a kangle-pot" – further props, the first and last being of a magical nature, from J.P. Martin's Uncle novels.
- Ansible 167, "jynnan tonnyx, chinanto/mnigs, tzjin-anthony-ks ..." – examples of the proposition, stated in Douglas Adams's The Restaurant at the End of the Universe, that every world has drinks that sound very like (but may not taste like) gin-and-tonics.
- Ansible 166, "Limestone Islands in the Sky" – see R.A. Lafferty's story "Nor Limestone Islands" ... "I will not credit whales that fly / Nor Limestone Islands in the Sky".
- Ansible 165, "twin radioceles or clinesterton beademungen" – see James Blish's story "Common Time".
- Ansible 164, "Obnoy, Kat, Domenica, Slee, and Min" – the five Bones of the Moon from Jonathan Carroll's thus-titled novel.
- Ansible 163, "Mokie-Coke, Vigroom, or Teegmee's Food" – consumables advertised in sf stories, respectively Fred Pohl's The Merchant's War, Robert Sheckley's "Untouched by Human Hands" and E.E. Smith's First Lensman.
- Ansible 161, "the true significance of 'stobor'" – see Robert Heinlein's Tunnel in the Sky.
- Ansible 160 ½, "Fort Mudge Steam Calliope Company" – an old fannish jape of Lee Hoffman's, referring to Pogo.
- Ansible 160, "oil paintings by Waldovenison Smeare" – artist found in J.P. Martin's Uncle books, in particular Uncle and His Detective.
- Ansible 159, "combs cut from the Great Sky Lantern" – see Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat by Ernest Bramah, in one of whose stories a suitor is set the task of bringing his lady a glowing comb made from lunar material.
- Ansible 158, "the cursed foot of Cwlwwymwn Rootripper" – one of the unfortunate hero's several strange prosthetics in Mike Moorcock's self-parody "The Stone Thing".
- Ansible 157, "secrets of the Diagonal Relationship" – from C.M. Kornbluth's story "MS Found in a Chinese Fortune Cookie".
- Ansible 156, "a strategy suit with a jelly pocket" – title of short piece by Ivor Cutler, in which this useful article of clothing is sought.
- Ansible 155, "infernal desire machines of Dr Hoffman" – title of Angela Carter novel.
- Ansible 154, "COPE LIGHT device" – top-secret electronics from John M. Ford's The Scholars of Night.
- Ansible 153, "secret of the old custard" – title of John Sladek story.
- Ansible 152, "mervan, twitus, furux, tox meratis or cluthe" – poisons mentioned during the brief visit to Sarkovy in Jack Vance's The Palace of Love.
- Ansible 151, "Filboid Studge" – a breakfast food, from title of Saki story.
- Ansible 150, "widgie birds" – from Fredric Brown's "Placet is a Crazy Place".
- Ansible 149, "Haslam's A General History of Labyrinths" – from footnote in Borges's "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius".
- Ansible 148, "the Throme of the Erril of Sherill" – title and McGuffin of Patricia McKillip novel.
- Ansible 147, "bentlam, condamine, D, hellflower or porgee" – drugs from, respectively, E.E. Smith's Lensman series, Cordwainer Smith's "A Planet Named Shayol", Philip K. Dick's A Scanner Darkly, George O. Smith's Hellflower and James H. Schmitz's A Tale of Two Clocks (also known as Legacy).
- Ansible 146, "Magic Pudding" – from title of Norman Lindsay's classic Aussie children's novel.
- Ansible 145, "reconditioned alethiometers" – from Philip Pullman's Northern Lights (aka The Golden Compass) and The Subtle Knife.
- Ansible 144, "a great King of Terror from the sky" – from alleged Nostradamus prediction relating to that month, July 1999.
- Ansible 143, "defence against Von Goom's Gambit" – short chess story "Von Goom's Gambit" by Victor Contoski.
- Ansible 142, "mun mun-mun, mun-mun mun (mun)" – see Robert Sheckley's "Shall We Have a Little Talk?"
- Ansible 141, "second-hand chronosynclastic infundibula" – see Kurt Vonnegut's The Sirens of Titan.
- Ansible 140, "IBM PC to Ktistec Machine upgrade" – the latter supercomputer is from R.A. Lafferty, in particular Arrive at Easterwine.
- Ansible 137 1/2, "time's obliterine" – Obliterine was a brand name of duplicator (mimeograph) stencil correction fluid; this phrase for forgetfulness was coined by Vince Clarke.
- Ansible 137, "recipe for ten-point steel" – see A.E. van Vogt's Slan.
- Ansible 136, "the secret of Spiggy Holes" – Enid Blyton title.
- Ansible 135, "Vargo Statten Magazine, vol 1, no.3" – not exactly esoteric, but this was the issue with old-time fan Chuch Harris's legendary sole fiction sale.
- Ansible 134, "pop-science books on adeledicnander" – pseudoscience from A.E. van Vogt's "Far Centaurus".
- Ansible 133, "novels by Mrs Waldo Wintergood" – see Alexei Panshin's "The Thurb Revolution".
- Ansible 132, "dogmas of Monomantic Syntoraxis" – baffling religion from Jack Vance's Araminta Station.
- Ansible 131, "the quercine penetralia" – from rebel password phrase in Gene Wolfe's The Book of the New Sun.
- Ansible 130, "Klugarsh Mind Control manual" – from Daniel Pinkwater's Alan Mendelsohn, the Boy from Mars.
- Ansible 128, "full peals of Kent Treble Bob Major" – see Dorothy Sayers's The Nine Tailors.
- Ansible 127, "book 2 of Aristotle's Poetics" – lost, but see Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose.
- Ansible 126, "Casaubon's Key to All Mythologies" – see George Eliot's Middlemarch.
- Ansible 125, "Brother North-Wind's Secret" – see John Crowley's Little, Big.
- Ansible 123, "Voorish Sign, or the powder of Ibn Ghazi" – useful when dealing with invisible Cthulhoid entities; see H.P. Lovecraft's "The Dunwich Horror".
- Ansible 122, "questions requiring the answer 'Fourteen'" – embarrassed shuffle; that was the number of Hugos I had then accumulated.
- Ansible 121, "Ah Pook's secrets of fear and death" – phrase from William Burroughs's "Ah Pook Is Here".
- Ansible 120, "the black wine of Thentis" – name under which John Norman introduced coffee into his Gor books.
- Ansible 119, "the contents of Joanna Southcott's box" – I explained this as follows in Usenet rec.arts.sf.fandom: "She was the focal point of an 18th-century English sect and prophesied lots of things, including that she was pregnant with the new Messiah (no birth recorded) and that the world would end in 1774. The mysterious Box of occult writings and presumably equally reliable prophecies was to be opened after her death, but JS rather awkwardly specified that this must happen in public, in a time of national danger, and in the presence of 24 Church of England bishops. James Randi claims that the box eventually went missing without this terrifying quorum ever having been gathered around it, but even today an outfit called the Panacea Society is still begging the bishops to co-operate."
- Ansible 118, "Laxian Key (but definitely not Tangreese)" – see Robert Sheckley's story "The Laxian Key", updating the fairytale of the mill that ground out salt, with Tangreese as the unwanted but unstoppable output.
- Ansible 117, "Can-D or Chew-Z" – drugs from Philip K. Dick's The Three Stigmata of Palmer Eldritch.
- Ansible 116 1/2, "apotropaic narcosis, haecceity or £50" – phrase from John Clute's legendary essay title "I Say, Begone! Apotropaic Narcosis, I'm Going To Read the Damn Thing, Ha Ha"; another favourite Clute word; cost of hardback Fantasy Encyclopedia which this issue celebrated.
- Ansible 116, "titanium Icelandic Fontoon" – from Frank Key's surreal story "The Churn in the Muck", incorporating "Some Ponds, A Hotel, The Hollyhocks" and collected in his book Twitching and Shattered.
- Ansible 115, "reliable catalogue of the finis Africae" – see Umberto Eco's The Name of the Rose
- Ansible 114, "the Lost Books of Elephantis" – referred to in various places including James Branch Cabell's Something About Eve.
- Ansible 113, "the ichor of the Sons of the Bird" – from Robert Heinlein's "The Unpleasant Profession of Jonathan Hoag".
- Ansible 112, "Kolwynia, the Key That Was Lost" – from Roger Zelazny's Jack of Shadows.
- Ansible 111, "an nth-complexity infinite binary loop" – fake jargon from "Good Times" e-mail virus hoax, in those halcyon days when they were all hoaxes.
- Ansible 109, "full transcription of the Dirac beep" – see James Blish's "Beep" and/or The Quincunx of Time.
- Ansible 108, "green Lepti liquor or Wintenberry jelly" – delicacies from Karres in James H. Schmitz's The Witches of Karres.
- Ansible 107, "Theriac or Mithridatium" – legendary universal healing elixirs/antidotes.
- Ansible 105, "eldritch, blasphemous ichor" – H.P. Lovecraft passim.
- Ansible 104, "counterexample to Goldbach's Conjecture" – still unproved (I believe) hypothesis that every even number greater than two can be expressed as the sum of two primes.
- Ansible 103, "the golden apples of the sun" – Ray Bradbury title, quoting Yeats.
- Ansible 102, "pronunciation of 'pyrzqxgl'" – magic word from L. Frank Baum's The Magic of Oz, allowing transformation into any shape if correctly pronounced.
- Ansible 101, "the worst thing in the world" – what awaits in Room 101 in George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four.
- Ansible 99, "lyrics of the song the Sirens sang" – see Sir Thomas Browne's Urn Burial.
- Ansible 96, "all-purpose plot coupons" – see Nick Lowe's "The Well-Tempered Plot Device" in Ansible 46.
- Ansible 95, "Maltese Falcon" – the classic McGuffin – needs no explanation.
- Ansible 94, "used sevagrams" – see famous last line of A.E. van Vogt's The Weapon Makers.
- Ansible 93, "beneficent mansuetude" – one of many phrases from Stephen Donaldson's second Chronicles of Thomas Covenant that excited my, er, admiration. "Analystic refulgence" was another.
- Ansible 92, "haecceity" – a favourite critical term of John Clute's.
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