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1) Communications Device[edit]

An ansible is a faster-than-light communicator used in science fiction, most prominently by Ursula K. Le Guin, who coined the term in Rocannon’s World (1966).

See Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and The Historical Dictionary of Science Fiction for more detailed listings and analyses.

2) Newszine[edit]

Fannishly, Ansible is more important as the name of David Langford's monthly newszine. Ansible was first published from August 1979, taking over from Checkpoint as the UK paper of record, to summer 1987 (50 issues in UK quarto format on an increasingly irregular schedule) and then revived in October 1991 as a monthly, initially distributed at London Circle pub meetings. The distinctive logo is by Dan Steffan.

It continues monthly through today, with issue 438 appearing in January 2024 (each year begins with number 12n+6, the proof left as an easy exercise for the reader); this count omits thirteen specials for Christmas, cons or obituaries in 1991–2002 and 2017 with half numbers such as Ansible 57½ to 362½. The revived edition started out on paper (as a single A4 sheet, two sides), but was also posted by e-mail and on Usenet since the early 1990s. It is now available on paper only in the UK or by special arrangement. The entire run of Ansible is archived on Langford's website, whose domain name comes from it.

Langford varied the title “Ansible” for news columns elsewhere. A digest of Ansible appeared as "Ansible Link" in the UK prozine Interzone since #62 (August 1992) to the last paper #295 (September 2023). On his website, Langford writes:

The Runcible Ansible was a regular preview column in Eileen Gunn's webzine The Infinite Matrix, from November 2001 until the site became static at the end of 2005. This consisted of "preview" items scheduled for the coming issue of Ansible, some of which didn't make it into print – squeezed out for space reasons or nervously omitted for libel reasons.

This was updated weekly until Week 201 on December 30, 2005; the very last Week 202 is from April 1, 2006.

Regular features of Ansible[edit]

  • A UK- and Ireland-oriented fannish calendar, also covering Eurocons and Worldcons.
  • "As Others See Us": a (frequently hilarious) chronicling of the awful things the mundane world says about sf and fans. (A best-of selection appeared Beyond Fandom, 2023.)
  • "R.I.P.": one-sentence obituaries of people connected with sf and fandom.
  • "Outraged Letters": Lettercol, mostly new material for wider dissemination with some LoCs on previously reported matters
  • "The Dead Past": Tasty news snippets from the same month 20 to 70 or more years ago.
  • "Infinitely Improbable.: A variety of news, gossip, notes and silliness.

Thog's Masterclass[edit]

Thog the Mighty is a not terribly bright barbarian hero in "Lone Wolf" fantasy novels by John Grant (Paul Barnett), loosely based on Joe Dever's gamebooks. He is known in fandom because of “Thog's Masterclass,” a department of Ansible that has run since August 1994, which features "differently good" prose examples from SF.

When David Langford edited the daily newsletter of the 1993 Eastercon, Helicon, with Paul Barnett's assistance, Thog became an in-joke. At the 1994 Eastercon, Sou'Wester, Thog the Mighty was named as a goh, and the same team co-edited the newsletter, including numerous quotations under the heading “Thog's Masterclass.”

Thog’s website.

More Reading:[edit]

Awards and Honors

Publication 1979
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Fanspeak 1966
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