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Send us your letters! Locus Online has more room than the magazine for letters. They can be about Locus or the SF field in general.

August 2000

Letters on this page
Posted 25 August:

Posted 23 August: Posted 16 August: Posted 12 August: Posted 11 August:

Note: Return e-mail addresses will be posted only if you include it in your closing, or your subject matter specifically requests some sort of response; otherwise it will be omitted.

Send a letter to Locus

Dear Locus,
     To answer Malcom Edwards' question [below] about the youngest SF writers to get published, the prolific John Brunner began the novel Galactic Storm in early 1951 when he was still 16. It was published as by Gill Hunt, a housename for the Curtis Warren books, and he may have written it a year earlier.
     Jane Gaskell became a fantasy author with the 1957 novel Strange Evil, when she was 16. (She wrote it at 14.) That same year, Michael Moorcock debuted in the magazine Tarzan Adventures at 17 (with -- I'm not sure about it -- the story ''Sojan the Swordsman'').

Rick Riffel
23 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     Malcolm Edwards' letter [below] about Terry Pratchett and Brian Stableford publishing stories while teens reminded me of another British SF writer who started young. Barrington Bayley's first story was published in the May 1954 of Vargo Statten's Science Fiction Magazine (!), presumably appearing in print just as he turned 17 (he was born in April 1937). It wasn't a fluke, either, as several more stories appeared in 1955.
     (Also I believe Australian Damien Broderick started at about age 19, at any rate he seems to have published a collection of short stories at age 21.)

Rich Horton
23 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     While on the subject [of youngest SF writers -- see letter from Dennis Lien], let's not forget Terry Pratchett, who published his first short story, ''The Hades Business'', in Science Fantasy in 1963, when he was 15. Has any other major sf/fantasy author started so young? I believe Brian Stableford was a venerable 18 when his first story appeared.

Malcolm Edwards
18 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     About the Locus Awards Winners, there was the good choices as usual! Between the nominees, Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson indeed was the best one.
     It's good also to hear about Terry Bisson (the last book I've read of him was The Travel to Mars -- a delicious comedy).
     Keep doing on your excellent job!
     Cheers up!

Icaro dos Santos Franca
Universidade Federal Fluminense
17 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     I am researching H. P. Lovecraft, Clark Ashton Smith, the pulp magazines and early SF fandom. I have been searching for some time for a few old SF fans including William Frederick Anger who had correspondence with HPL and visited Clark Ashton Smith. I have been unable to locate him, his colleague Louis C. Smith, a Wilson H. Shepherd (who was associated with Donald Wollheim and printed some of Lovecraft's poetry), John J. Weir, J. Chapman Miske, or a William Miller Jr., who was an associate of James Blish and who was apparently responsible for introducing Sam Moskowitz to fandom. The Social Security Death Index leads me to believe Shepherd died in 1985. I have checked with several old fans, and no one seems to know anything about them. I am wondering if you recall whether or not any of these individuals are deceased, or whether they had obituaries in Locus not mentioned on the site.

Christopher O'Brien
16 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     In case any readers of Locus Online are still in doubt, the answer to your question on the Aether Vibrations page, "Did those physicists break the speed of light, or didn't they?" is a definite no.
     In the Nature article, Wang et al bend over backwards to stress that they haven't violated special relativity, but whether it was through a failure of communication, ignorance, or a downright disingenuous beat-up, science correspondents throughout the mainstream media seem to have got this horribly wrong.
     If you have waves of different frequencies travelling through a medium at different velocities, at any given moment the highest peaks of the overall wave will occur where all the frequencies happen to be in phase with each other. These peaks will shift over time, but nothing is actually travelling with them; they don't track the flow of energy or information in the wave, they're just an artifact of the timing. Physicists have understood for almost a century that in certain circumstances the peaks would appear to travel faster than light, and this would not contradict special relativity or enable superluminal signalling.
     I've written an applet that demonstrates the effect, at

Greg Egan
15 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     The Reformed Sufi stories [see below] appeared in Analog in the 1980s. They were written by Ray Brown, who was an '80s Analog regular, and who has since disappeared. (This seems to be not uncommon for Analog writers.) Brown's first story, according the the ISFDB, appeared in Amazing for November 1980, and his last in Analog for February 1990.
     Previously [a letter from Dennis Lien addressed] particularly young SF writers. I can't come up with anyone younger than Catherine McMullen (note that her story was also part of sort of a "stunt" issue, in that it was an All-Australian issue of Interzone, though I'd agree that the story, which was slight but fun, was definitely worthy of publication). However I did notice, in the March 1965 issue of F&SF, a story by Bob Ottum, Jr., the son of writer Bob Ottum, who was 17 at the time. (Jr. was 17, that is.) His story ("Ado About Nothing") is a short-short built around a joke, very slight indeed.
     As to very young novelists, there is the recent example of Felicity Savage, who if memory serves was 19 or 20 when her first novel (Humility Garden) was published. Still quite a bit older than Jane Gaskell, though.

Rich Horton
11 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     Is it possible Bob Bogacki [see below] might be thinking of John Steakley's Armor? Aside from the title, it fits his description: it's divided into two strikingly different parts, the first of which is about a war against aliens called "Ants", and it was originally published in the mid-80s. It was reissued a couple of years ago -- probably to coincide with the release of John Carpenter's Vampires, which was based on the novel Vampire$ by the same author (and, oddly, including some of the same characters).

David Moles
11 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     I am rather annoyed by Milestones (page 12 in the July issue) which says the allegations made against me were ‘‘never proven.’’ In fact, as you stated in your May 1998 issue, they were completely disproved, after investigation by the Sri Lankan Police. Presumably, they were fabricated to embarrass Prince Charles, with whom -- as your photo showed -- I had an enjoyable meeting.
     I am happy to say that I’m busier than ever, and although now completely wheel-chaired, can stand for a few seconds if leaning on a friend -- such as my pet T-Rex, Tyrone.

Sir Arthur C. Clarke

Dear Locus,
     The errors in my article for Publishers Weekly [see Monday 7 August entry of Field Inspections] were pointed out to me by Ellen Datlow because I hadn't seen the article yet (here in Kansas City, magazine shipments are of secondary importance -- beef comes first). As the SF/fantasy/horror columnist for the "Dallas Morning News," I know, of course, that Ellen is the fiction editor for and basically "freelances" for other hardprint publishers. Unfortunately (as I mentioned to Ellen via email), the article I turned in (back in May) was nearly forgotten by the editor working on it (despite phone calls and emails). When he did get around to editing it, it was rushed off to press. I never had a chance to vet it after changes were made. Which explains the errors regarding Datlow and D'Auria. My apologies to both of them.

Dorman T. Shindler
7 August 2000

Dear Locus,
     Comments: Why don't you remove "Horror" from the genres you cover. I am a big horror fan who used to buy Locus mainly for the quarterly upcoming books section, which says it includes horror fiction. However, the last few issues have missed at least a dozen new novels. These are books from pretty big writers in horror fiction, which are being released from large publishers, so how did Locus miss them?
     Here are some omissions for the next couple of months:

'Curse' by Andrew Neiderman (Author of 'Devil's Advocate') Pocketbooks
'Unhallowed Ground' by Gillian White Pocketbooks
'Something Dangerous' by Patrick Redmond Harper/prism
'Night Thunder' by Ruby Jean Jensen Zebra/Pinnacle
     I also checked on the listings for SFFH movies opening this Fall and noticed that "Book of Shadows: Blair Witch 2" which opens nationwide on October 27 didn't make the list. Why? The original was one of the top ten highest grossing films of last year. If you don't want to cover horror, then don't. Let Cemetery Dance or another publication take up the job. However, the fact remains that currently you are doing a poor job of it.

Eric Hoheisel
9 August 2000

[ Locus covers only supernatural horror, not including thrillers, slasher novels, etc., included by many in the horror genre. As for the lists of forthcoming films, Blair Witch 2 wasn't scheduled the last time those lists were updated (which is only quarterly); it will certainly be included next time (after all, I included the first Blair Witch film among my list of the ten most notable SFFH films of 1999, so I'm hardly biased against horror films per se). I'll try to keep those lists updated more frequently, and include a ''last updated'' date so it's clear when the list might appear to be out of date.
--ed. ]

Dear Locus,
     I have been racking my brain trying to find a series of time travel stories from the early-to-mid eighties featuring a time detective whose time machine was a trash can. I believe I read these stories in either Analog or IASFM. Does this ring any bells? If not can you perhaps suggest where else I can research these stories?
     Additionally there was another series dealing with a "reformed sufi" movement, of which I can only recall that the entire universe was actually a computer or some such which I'd like to find.
     Any help would be 'preciated.

Chris Scala
31 July 2000

[Received just a few hours after the above was posted:]

Dear Locus,

The time-travel stories Chris is asking about were by Warren Salomen -- there were three of them published in Asimov's in the very early 80's called "Time on My Hands," "Time and Punishment" and (darn, I can't remember the other one). The hero was the classic hard-boiled film-noir detective (Ben Hardy, I think) and he did indeed disguise his time machine as a trash can in the alley behind his office.

Andy Love
11 August 2000

[ The last one appears to have been ''As Time Goes By'', IASFM Feb '84, according to the online Locus Index to Science Fiction
--ed. ]

Dear Locus,
     I was wondering if you might be able to help me locate a book I read as a child. The book was titled "Ant" or "Ants". It was a science fiction book which was divided into one or two parts. The first part took place on an alien world where humans were waging a war with Ant-like species. I read this book in 1986 (in a paperback). I later found it at a store in Cape Girardeau MO but have lost it through various moves. Any help would be appreciated.

Bob Bogacki
25 July 2000

Dear Locus,
     The August 2000 issue (People & Publishing; media subsection) indicates that Andre Norton’s Witch World novel has sold TV and film rights and this, while close, is not totally accurate. In November of 1999, Kwok, Tidwell and Weintraub took out an option on the novel; once they determine they’re prepared to move forward with the project, they will then exercise the option by buying the dramatic rights. Ms. Norton has received calls regarding this announcement and asked me to clarify the book’s status.

Jack Byrne
Sternig & Byrne Literary Agency

Dear Locus,
     In the July 2000 issue, Gary K. Wolfe says that in Dark Matter: A Century of Speculative Fiction From the African Diaspora, ‘‘[Sheree R.] Thomas sets out to represent a wide spectrum of African-American writing.’’ This is literally true but only states part of the case, because Dark Matter also includes works by Black authors who are not African-American. In particular, Nalo Hopkinson is Caribbean-Canadian, Anthony Joseph is Caribbean-British, Leone Ross is British, and Charles R. Saunders, while born in the United States, is now Canadian. (I should note that Thomas did not use the term ‘‘African-American’’ to describe the book. ‘‘Black’’ is probably more accurate, though the book specifically excludes African authors by referring to the ‘‘African Diaspora’’ in the title.)

Evelyn C. Leeper

Dear Locus,
     Why is Realms of Fantasy NEVER reviewed in Locus?
     When I look at the stories that Mark Kelly is reviewing from Asimov's, Interzone, F&SF, etc., they are, for the most part, exactly the same sorts of stories I publish in Realms. When I edited Asimov's, publishing very much the same kind of fiction that I do at Realms, it got lots of reviews, but for some reason, the magazine I'm editing today might as well be invisible.
     This isn't just ego talking -- I can't help but feel that this lack of critical attention is reflected in the Hugo and Locus polls. This leads to a self-fulfilling prophecy -- if stories published in Realms don't get reviewed, they don't nominated for major awards, and therefore writers and readers develop the impression that Realms is somehow second rate, thus leading to a scarcity of major stories by major writers who send their "big" stuff to Asimov's and F&SF first, since "everyone" knows that that's where the nominations come from.
     Don't you think your magazine should devote some attention to the country's (for that matter, the world's) largest and most successful fantasy magazine?

Shawna McCarthy
editor, Realms of Fantasy

[ Mea culpa -- I admit, my review coverage isn't all it could be. Ideally, yes, I should cover all the major magazines (and lots of the dozen or two lesser magazines that I am sent every month) in my monthly column. I'm spreading myself thin by running this website, in addition to doing a monthly review column, and developing projects like The Locus Index to Science Fiction Awards. (On top of my day job!) On the other hand, I can't resist mentioning -- not that this is an operating criterion for what I review -- that, like the late lamented SF Age, I have NEVER received a review copy of Realms of Fantasy. I buy it myself at the bookstore or newsstand. Generally -- though I haven't reviewed an issue of Analog in quite a while either -- I'm more comfortable reviewing science fiction than fantasy; my background is technical, not literary, and I tend to review stories about which I think I have something worthwhile to say. After all, we're talking about reviews here, right?, not promotion.

Anyway, as editor of Locus Online, let me take this opportunity to invite new short fiction reviewers -- especially of fantasy and horror fiction -- to offer themselves and their work for publication on this website. This may or may not lead to a position in Locus Magazine -- that's not my decision -- but I'd be happy to relinquish my reviewing chores, in part or altogether, to some new talent. Just remember: it means a willingness to turn in reviews every month, month after month, after month, after month...
--Mark R. Kelly ]

© 2000 by Locus Publications. All rights reserved.