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This week I have a message from Thog: "Gwllb." According to his interpreter, this conveys deep thanks for all the Masterclass material sent in by loyal readers, mingled with gentle yet firm apologies to those whose submissions have been delayed in the backlog, found unworthy, or traced to the works of David Langford, and concluding with an unforgivable insult directed at L. Ron Hubbard. Thoggese is a richly compact language.

As Others See Us. Max Barry, author of Jennifer Government, is another sufferer from that Atwoodian fear of sf props: 'I had the idea for a story set in an ultra-capitalist world for a long time. But I didn't want to write a science-fiction book with laser guns and flying cars. I was more interested in writing a social fiction: taking the world we live in now and tweaking it a bit.' (Orbit Ezine 60) Of course no sf author could write that kind of thing.

Raymond Briggs, in his autobiographical retrospective Blooming Books, reveals that his notorious personal eccentricity began early in life thanks to his mother — who, he insists, was an inspiration for Fungus the Bogeyman. (Independent, 22 July) The mind bogles.

Science Corner: Astronomy. 'Like total eclipses, the chance to write a Dalek story only happens once in a blue moon.' (Simon Clark, Telos Publishing press release)

SF Mags Go Decimal. The Dell-owned magazines Analog and Asimov's are changing schedule to 10 rather than 11 issues a year, including two double issues apiece. Interzone's regular boast of being the only printed fictionzine to appear 12 times yearly couldn't be made in 2002, with 10 issues (two double). There's been one double IZ this year, May/June: can Mr Pringle avoid a second and stay ahead of the Dell mags? If not, F&SF surges into the lead, as I pointed out to Gordon Van Gelder — who said, 'Good lord, you're right! If we continue to publish 11 issues a year and Analog publishes 10 per year, we'll overtake them for the #1 spot of most issues in ... what, 300 years?'

Quentin Tarantino pays homage to sf in his upcoming film Kill Bill, according to a fragment of opening screenplay published in a UK newspaper. BLACK FRAME / QUOTE APPEARS: / 'Revenge is a dish best served cold' — credited not to the usual sources like Les Liaisons Dangereuses (1782) or any number of 19th-century proverb collections, but as 'Old Klingon Proverb'. (Independent Review, 22 July)

Gene Wolfe, as a writer in residence at the Odyssey workshop in mid-July, caused much on-line buzz when he walked out early. Had the ungrateful pupils refused to accept expert criticism? So it seemed when Wolfe was handed a letter of protest, supposedly from most of the class but actually from one 'disruptive' member, threatening a student boycott for such Wolfean crimes as opining that some submitted MSS were better than others. Alas, while Wolfe and the Lone Complainer exchanged strong words, many workshop members nervously stayed well clear, unknowingly giving the impression that a partial boycott was in progress.... Much dissection followed in the Locus website's letter column, where Gene Wolfe explained why he'd felt he had to go, others responded supportively (but tended to blame the whole class), and Harlan Ellison uncovered the above sequence of events.

Thog's Masterclass. Dept of Sexy Cars Make Sexy People. 'He appreciated the fact that the woman who walked beside him was young and virile by her carriage.' (Russell Thorndike, Dr. Syn Returns, 1935)    Striking Simile Dept. '... the abbot watched dazedly as they rushed like lemurs towards destruction.' (Frank Corsaro, Kunma, 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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