The SEX Column and other misprints

The SEX Column -- 1st ed cover

The SEX Column by David Langford collects all his columns and major features (excluding routine book reviews) for SFX magazine, from mid-1995 to early 2005 -- in particular, the popular monthly "Langford" column which has appeared in every issue since the first.

The SEX Column featured on the Locus Recommended Reading List for 2005 nonfiction and was a 2006 Hugo nominee for Best Related Book.

Read sample columns on line.

Further columns to 2009 are collected, along with much other new material, in Starcombing (2009).

Rog Peyton is eager to sell you this one: "I would be grateful if you could guide anyone asking about this book, towards Replay Books on ebay if paying by PayPal – I now have an eBay shop. Or if paying by cheque, to Replay Books, 19 Eves Croft, Bartley Green, Birmingham, B32 3QL. Price for the hardcover is £17.99 plus £3.00 first class postage in the UK; pbk is £9.99 plus £2.40 first class postage."

Blurb & Jacket Quotes

UNBELIEVABLE FACTS!

David Langford has written for every issue of SFX, the top-selling British magazine about science fiction, since its launch in 1995. His sparkling column -- imaginatively titled "Langford" -- is notoriously the first page readers turn to. Now at last, The SEX Column collects over 130 instalments and extra features in book form.

OUTRAGEOUS REVELATIONS!

Langford turns a wry eye on the whole SF scene, applying his famous wit to our genre's triumphs, follies, outrages, kinks, chicanery, scandal, decades-overdue anthologies, and dogged yet heartwarming attempts at English sentences. Ursula Le Guin wrote: "I wish I could steal some of your more elegant autopsies of dead prose as awful examples, the way farmers tack up coyote skins on the barn wall...."

CHEAP SHOTS!

There are an awful lot of these.

HUGO AWARDS!

Langford's 24 Hugos represent the largest arsenal of these coveted rocket trophies outside California, and the second largest in the world. Read The SEX Column and learn why ... or, failing that, discover the secret of the title.

BAD SEX!

Yes.

Critics on Langford's nonfiction ...

"Langford is a consistently entertaining stylist who takes his material seriously, but not too seriously, and who after nearly three decades remains a valuable and eminently sane voice in the field." -- Gary K. Wolfe, Locus

"It made me howl and snicker and snort, so I suspect it will you, too." -- Tom Easton, Analog, on The Silence of the Langford

"Anybody interested in recent sf would do better reading The Complete Critical Assembly and Up Through An Empty House of Stars than any of the literary critical histories of the genre currently available." -- Adam Roberts, The Alien Online

"Langford has been for years science fiction's chief critical gadfly, reading vast numbers of books and writing about them with authority, almost unimaginable zest and a lively blend of sass and sympathy." -- Michael Dirda, Washington Post

Reviews

Jocelyn Payne, Dr Dobb's Journal, 6 April 2009

... I'll have to buy Langford's book Pieces of Langford or The SEX Column. Sadly, since these aren't fantasy trilogy blockbusters, I can't just pick them off the shelf in my local Borders, I'll have to order them. But the wait will be worth it.

Adam Roberts, Punkadiddle, 20 November 2008

... this is as good an overview of SF, publishing, fandom and myriad related topics through the 90s and the beginning of the noughties as I can think of, and its writing is consistently on the Chesterton/Wodehouse side of things, not only in its inherent likeability, but in its sheer technical excellence. Nobody I can think of in genre, and few writers working today, writes comic prose as well as Langford.

Steven H Silver, SFsite.com, undated

Langford's columns cover a wide range of topics in science fiction, from the film and fandom to literature and conventions. The columns show a man who is well versed in the modern science fiction culture, across all sub-genres and media. The columns are short, often witty, and capture the state of science fiction during the ten years they cover. [...]

Given the length of each of the individual essays, Langford manages to go into a tremendous depth into his chosen topics. The essays can be read quickly, sometimes it seems to[o] quickly, but also leave the reader with a feeling of much greater knowledge than before the essay was read.

Overall, The SEX Column provides a good introduction to both science fiction at the turn of the millennium and the writing of David Langford.

Christian Sauvé, July 2006

Cosmos Books have been doing an awfully good job at publishing Langford's back-catalogue, and The SEX Column is another winner.

Paul Skevington, SFCrowsnest, February 2006

There is one line within this book that I find myself very strenuously disagreeing with. In his introduction, David Langford states, 'You are advised not to gobble this collection at one sitting.' Being the consummate rebel that I am, I defied the author's warning and read the thing from start to finish. I must admit though that this was probably more to do with an inability to stop reading than with any James Dean-like leanings I may possess. [...]

There is so much great stuff in this little book, I'd have to mention every single article if I were truly to do it justice. As I'd imagine the author would be none too pleased if my review consisted of a reprint of the entire text of the collection, I'll refrain from doing this. [..]

I'd like to end by saying that there isn't really one reason to buy this book. There are several. If you want to wake your partner up at night whilst you're trying to stifle your giggles with a gob full of duvet, buy this book. If you want to learn more about the history of SF, buy this book. If you love books at all...oh you get the point.

Denny Lien posts a correction to the Fictionmags mailing list, 19 December 2005

I'm just finishing Chum Dave Langford's marvelous collection THE SEX COLUMN AND OTHER MISPRINTS, and in the process noted a rare error from the Langfordian typer than he didn't correct in his footnotes. In his article on skiffy plagiarism, relating the case of the guy who resold Gardner Fox's ESCAPE ACROSS THE COSMOS three times under three different names, he has the details wrong: the books were TITANS OF THE UNIVERSE by "James Harvey" or "Moonchild" and STAR CHASE by "Brian James Royal" (1978 Manor pb and 1978 Nelson hc). Dave had the wrong pseudonym paired with wrong title.

And isn't this about as pathetic a case of anal-retentive pedantry as one can imagine -- correcting the details of two essentially identical plagiarisms of the same utterly minor novel from almost three decades ago ...

Chris Hill, Vector 244, November/December 2005

There are many positive things you can say about SFX magazine. It is nicely produced, it has a sense of humour, the film and television coverage is pretty good -- there are a number of enjoyable programmes (Buffy, Farscape, The Dead Zone, etc) that it would not have occurred to me to give a try if it were not for the push they were given by SFX.

However, even the most fair-minded fan would have to admit that the coverage of written sf & fantasy is often less than good. In particular, with the exception of a few 'star' reviewers like Jon Courtenay Grimwood, their reviews show little depth of knowledge of the genre (it could be argued that this is not necessarily a problem, given that most of the readership seems to display little depth of knowledge of the genre, as evidenced by the annual readers' poll which seems to vote for the same writers year in, year out)

Thank goodness, then, for David Langford's regular column, present since the first issue and now gathered together in another nicely produced collection from Cosmos books. The book shows Langford's usual eclecticism, bringing together articles on, among other things, writing, both good and bad, awards, censorship, electronic publishing and fandom plus obituaries, convention reports and so on. In fact, for the casual reader not already mired deeply in that world, this book forms an excellent overview of the full range of interests of fandom, written with Langford's traditional wit and style.

In his introduction, Langford advises that this is a book to dip into rather than to read from cover to cover (a luxury the reviewer, alas, does not have) and there are good reasons for this. There are various points where information and comments are repeated, something that would be less likely to be noticed when the original articles were published but rather obvious when read in quick succession. Even so, with the individual articles being fairly short, I imagine most readers finding themselves thinking 'just one more article and then I'll put it aside' until, suddenly, they find they have almost finished the book!

One thing to bear in mind is that the readership of the book is likely to have little overlap with the readership of the original columns. So for the established fan there is a certain amount of familiar material here, ideas that Langford has written about in other places. But there is also much that is new, even for the most avid fan.

I do not know if SFX themselves plan to give this book any sort of publicity; let us hope so. If some of the more insular readers seek out Cosmos books for this, maybe it will lead them to try other things as well (Langford's other collections for a start) and maybe open up a new world for them.