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11.01.02

Fifty episodes of The Runcible Ansible! The virtual champagne is flowing into the virtual glasses here, and as we drink a virtual toast we encourage you to support the Infinite Matrix Fundfest before Eileen is reduced to rewarding her columnists with virtual money.

As Others See Us. When the BBC acquired Steven Spielberg's new sf series Taken (dealing with 'extra-terrestrial experiences' in the form of good old alien abductions), their head of programme acquisition Sophie Turner Laing was quick to explain its staggering innovativeness, unheard-of in mere science fiction: 'Taken is designed to have a wider appeal than just to fans of sci-fi, as it tells the stories of individuals and their interactions over many years.' (Independent, 23 October)

J.K. Rowling was the subject of deeply unexciting rumours that there might be eight rather than seven books about Harry You-Know-Who. Besides the five known titles (one still forthcoming), Warner turned out to have registered three more as trademarks in 2000: HP and the Alchemist's Cell, HP and the Chariots of Light, and HP and the Pyramids of Furmat. In fact, according to the Publishers Lunch newsletter, 'The extra names were all part of elaborate efforts to hide (and/or decide) the name of Goblet of Fire before it was published.'

R.I.P. Richard Harris (1930-2002), Oscar-nominated Irish actor who did little genre work but played Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, died from cancer on 25 October; he was 72.

Judging by the Cover. A literary agent with a young female client was reportedly asked by the publisher: 'Never mind the book. What does she look like?' This led to UK speculation about Interzone boosting circulation with a special swimsuit issue, while Liz Williams devised a cunning plan: 'Fortuitously (or perhaps gratuitously), I have a namesake on the Web who is a "fashion model" — when last doing a vanity search for myself, I discovered a picture of "Liz Williams", sporting waist-length blonde hair and a leather thong. Since this is a look which I have not previously considered adopting, I was thinking of emailing her and suggesting she impersonate me at conventions…'

Forrest J.Ackerman's famous sf collection has been largely dispersed to pay medical and other bills. Its home, the 18-room 'Ackermansion', was sold, and Forry has moved (with a few cherished treasures) to a more convenient bungalow: see Bjo Trimble's website for details and photos.

Twenty Years Ago. D.M. Thomas confessed all to Esquire. 'When you write the book, it's a virgin. Then when it sells, it loses its virginity. It's the off-white hotel now…' (Ansible 30, November 1982)

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Colourful Prose. 'There were pinkish streaks among the rock, and it seemed that the chromatic tint from the atmosphere owed something to these. There were a number of white veins in the rock, which bore some resemblance to marble, but the majority of it was grey. It gave an over-all impression of greyness streaked with pink and white, rather than an over-all impression of whiteness tinged with grey and pink, or an over-all impression of pink streaked with grey and white. Greyness was the predominant shade; neither black nor white but something midway between the two…' And so on, and on. ('Pel Torro', Galaxy 666, 1963)

 


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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