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No sooner had I booked my flight to this year's World SF Convention in Toronto than dire SARS warnings filled the media, conveying that masked scavengers now stalk that infected city with chants of 'Bring out your dead!', and that unwary visitors are apt to find LORD HAVE MERCY ON US scrawled on their hotel-room doors. All this alarm will, I trust, have died down by late August....

Christopher Priest is overcome with excitement at the news that his novel The Prestige (a World Fantasy Award winner) seems set to become a film directed by Memento man Christopher Nolan from a script already completed by his brother Jonathan Nolan. See news story.

As Others See Us. Margaret Atwood explains the all-important distinction between our world and hers: 'Science fiction has monsters and spaceships; speculative fiction could really happen.' (Guardian interview, 26 April)

Jim Burns has been lying low and letting Rowena take all the flak generated by Saddam Hussein's enthusiasm for bad rip-offs of fantasy art: see Runcible #73. But now he shyly confesses to having spotted 'the really crummy copy of my The Ceremonies painting which hangs in Saddam's loveshack, mirrored bedroom, above the bed (such images it provokes!).' All publicity, Jim concludes, is good publicity.

Another SF Crossword Clue. 'Writer removes them in casual conversation (6)' (Guardian, 23 April)

Charles L. Grant was named as the writer to be honoured with this year's International Horror Guild Living Legend Award.

Hugo Complications. Earlier versions of the 2003 shortlist included 'Liking What You See' by Ted Chiang, who had in fact declined his novelette nomination, and John L.Flynn's short 'A Gift of Verse', apparently published in 2000; these were replaced by the Gregory Frost and Molly Gloss stories. The Flynn short appeared in his collection Visions in Light and Shadow, copyright date 2000, which received 7 Hugo nominations for Best Related Book in 2001: but these, it seems, were from friends and family who saw proofs, and actual publication was delayed to 2002. What a tangle.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Vacuum Physics. 'The pilot fired a bright beam from the shuttle's laser. The appalling flare of light and energy snatched the words from his mouth. Even in the silence of space, the shockwave seemed louder than a crack of thunder.' (Brian Herbert & Kevin J. Anderson, Legends of Dune: The Butlerian Jihad, 2002)

PS: The crossword answer is Asimov (think 'has 'em off').


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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