Ansible

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An ansible is a faster-than-light communicator used in a number of stories, most prominently those of Ursula K. Le Guin, who coined the term in Rocannon’s World (1964/1966; see Entry in The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction for a more detailed listing and analysis).

Fannishly, Ansible is far more important as the name of David Langford's monthly newszine. Ansible was first published from 1979, taking over from the Checkpoint as the UK newspaper of record, to summer 1987 (fifty 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. It continues monthly through today, with issue 414 appearing in January 2022 (each year begins with number 12n+6, the proof left as an easy exercise for the reader); this count omits a dozen or so specials for Christmas, cons or obituaries issued since 1991 with half numbers such as Ansible 57½. 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 actually comes from it.

Langford has used Ansible as a source for news columns in prozines. On his website, he 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 30 Dec 2005; the very last Week 202 is from 1 April 2006.)

A printed digest of Ansible appears as "Ansible Link" in the now bimonthly Interzone. Four substantial ebook compilations – Ansible First Series 1979-1987 (issues 1–50), Ansible Second Series 1991-2000 (issues 51–161), Ansible Second Series 2001-2010 (issues 162–281) and Ansible Second Series 2011-2020 (issues 282–401) – are downloadable from the TAFF site's free ebooks library. Langford makes evasive noises when asked about the fifth volume covering 2021–2030.

Regular features of Ansible include:

  • 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.
  • "R.I.P.": short 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.
  • "Thog's Masterclass": Literary howlers from both genre and mundane works.

... as well as a variety of news, gossip, notes and silliness, under the catch-all header "Infinitely Improbable".

Awards and Honors:

Ansible has won an improbable number of awards (6 Hugos and 11 more nominations):

  1. 1987 Best Fanzine Hugo
  2. 1995 Best Fanzine Hugo
  3. 1996 Best Fanzine Hugo
  4. 1999 Best Fanzine Hugo
  5. 2002 Best Fanzine Hugo
  6. 2005 Best Semiprozine Hugo
  7. FAAn Awards for Best Newszine and Best Online News/Information Resource in 2019, and tied for the catchall FAAn category Best Watchamacallit Zine in 2020

Publication 1979
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