31 May 2011 If the web page dateline can be believed, my 27 May sf column for the Sunday Telegraph went online much more quickly than usual. Didn't look until just now.... (Previous instalments linked here.)
26 May 2012 An irritating week that began with a coughing fit which avoided the traditional keyboard target but sprayed tea all over the monitor. You really don't want to know what this does to a big ViewSonic flatscreen display. Black holes! Dripping blood! I've spent five days obsessively watching pixels dry. The latest news about the long-awaited bug fixes for the SF Encyclopedia website is almost too depressing to relate. Let's just say that when I was working in software development, I'd have loved a contract whereby any bug (however major and late-manifesting) not spotted in the first few weeks doesn't count and won't be fixed except by paying for lots and lots of further "development time". Meanwhile we're still working through Freegle to get rid of the remaining surplus furniture from the Harlech flat. Two large intractable lumps taken away yesterday; interest expressed in four more, including the yellow kitchen cupboard that reputedly once belonged to Neil Kinnock (no written provenance available). Meanwhile I've been reprinted in Lightspeed.
10 May 2012 Today I discovered why I've been getting so many spam-like media press releases. A PR chap spilled the beans: "You received this as you are listed on Gorkana as generic entertainment journalist under your keywords." Oh, great. I had email from Gorkana.com last year: "One of our PR clients requested we add Ansible to Gorkana and I wanted to request some information from you. Please could you complete the missing fields in the template below?" Rather than provide such information, I replied explaining that Ansible is "a free science fiction newsletter which I run as a hobby. I do not have PR or journalist jobs to offer, nor do I want to apply for any such job or to receive either daily or weekly alerts. If adding Ansible should lead to unwelcome traffic, will it be removed at my request?" No reply; they just put me on their damned database anyway, as a target for "generic entertainment" PR – not restricted to science fiction. Ethics: that's a place in Greece, isn't it? Before launching my vast anti-Gorkana campaign ("I will do such things – What they are yet I know not – but they shall be The terror of the earth."), I tried a straightforward removal request. Twenty minutes later came a reasonably mollifying apology and promise that I've been expunged from the database. How I'll miss all those tempting opportunities to attend mundane art-show previews in far corners of the UK, or interview obscure non-genre stage and film actors ... no, come to think of it, I won't.
1 May 2012 Though confined to quarters for a week with a gammy foot, I have still somehow managed to forge that terrible implement of dread which is Ansible 298. Think of it as my revenge on a cruel, uncaring world. As it says in the issue somewhere: special thanks to Hazel for doing all the heavy lifting (visiting the copy shop, dumping the traditional batch of Ansibles at the Oxfam bookshop, taking the snailmail copies to the post, etc). Normal service will be.
20 April 2012 The end of an era approaches. For 25 years we've owned a getaway flat in Harlech, North Wales, where we used to spend several weeks each year; but various complications (some revealed in past entries here) have made it impossible to get there since mid-2009. Big decision taken. With amazing speed Hazel arranged for the place to be cleared by professionals, in our absence, and sold. We've rented a Reading garage as interim storage spsace for the furniture etc. that'll be arriving here this weekend. Much of this will have to go. Want a yellow kitchen cupboard that reputedly once belonged to Neil Kinnock? No, I rather thought you didn't. Another Sunday Telegraph review column has made it to their website.
10 April 2012 Home again. In between birthday celebrations, I've tried to photograph the BSFA Award for posterity. This year's trophies take the form of a plastic raygun outline (colour-coded by category: Paul Cornell's for short story was, perhaps in honour of his prose, purple) on a bolted-together base cunningly incorporating a couple of old sf paperbacks. The overall effect can only be described:
9 April 2012 Here I am at the tail-end of Eastercon. On Saturday evening we had the Hugo shortlist announcement, revealing that the SF Encyclopedia is up for Best Related Book. On Sunday, after all the nominees had been tormented for about 40 minutes by MC John Meaney's standup comedy routine, the SFE won as Best Nonfiction. John Clute wasn't there, and I filled in for him by saying the few words he would probably have uttered: "Rebarbative. Fantastika. Epithalamion. Haecceity."
6 April 2012 A helpful correspondent reveals my planned obsolescence: "Did you know that Essex and Suffolk Water have a Langford Recycling Scheme?" Here are a few more SFX columns posted for your Easter weekend reading pleasure. Or displeasure, as the case may be.
3 April 2012 I'm not a great collector of signed first editions, but couldn't resist a copy of The Poet and the Lunatics (1929) with the author's autograph.
2 April 2012 Another month, another Ansible: issue number 297 polluted the ether today. Now it's time to think about the coming Eastercon – but not if you don't already have a membership, because they're full up and taking no further registrations, not even day tickets at the door.
1 April 2012 No April Foolery within these solemn portals, perish the thought; but I collected some seasonal links. Naturally I was charmed to receive a namecheck from the anagrammatic Lawrence Person in his Locus squib.
8 March 2012 Just noticed that my highly condensed reviews for the Sunday Telegraph (26 February) made it to their website on 2 March. Major payola! Innsmouth House sent a freebie of their Dungeons & Trolls set of 250 fridge magnets, with which we can spell out exciting fantasy RPG encounters in the privacy of onur own kitchen. (The imperfect scan below is of the unopened package, with three overlapping sheets of magnets.)
1 March 2012 Here, brought forth with great pain and suffering, is this month's issue of Ansible.
26 February 2012 Another week of feeling grotty, with a tiresome cough that wouldn't be too bad in isolation but has a way of stirring up the pain centres behind that still-recovering eye. Today, the Sunday Telegraph published the third of my merry sf round-ups.
6 February 2012 For a few days now that bubble in my eye has been visibly shrinking; by midday Monday it was tiny and in the evening it was gone. Today's achievements: I caught up on routine SF Encyclopedia work and delivered a third batch of sf reviews to the Sunday Telegraph, while Hazel supervised a team of tree surgeons who removed various dangers and eyesores from our garden.
1 February 2012 A new issue of Ansible today, almost to my surprise since the eyesight problems made this difficult. Improvement began, or became perceptible, around 26 January (when the surgeon repeated that he was well pleased with results). There's still a distracting bubble of exotic gas – sulphur hexafluoride, who'd have guessed? – in the afflicted eyeball. But you didn't want to know that.
21 January 2012 Terrifying eye diagnosis on the 19th. Retina surgery yesterday (in Windsor rather than here because the surgeon didn't want to risk waiting for a Reading slot next week, so the day started with a 6:30am cab ride). Successful operation, I'm told, but things will be blurry at best for several days yet. The 15 January Sunday Telegraph piece finally reached their website. In print it's headed "Hot Type: New science-fiction novels"; for fear this description will be above the heads of web geeks, the online version helpfully substitutes "Sci-Fi roundup: January 15".
18 January 2012 The Ansible site, as a helpless mind slave of BoingBoing and Wikipedia among very many others, is dark today. So is part of my field of vision, all too literally. Just got bounced very quickly from GP to hospital, with a further hospital appointment tomorrow morning. So much for plans to gloat about my second Sunday Telegraph sf review column on the 15th.
9 January 2012 After much toil and travail, a new version of the SF Encyclopedia text went live today, along with a Progress Report about developments.
3 January 2012 Delayed by New Year's and a UK bank holiday on 2 January, Ansible 294 offers what may be our longest R.I.P. list ever. Sorry about that.