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 (1966). Fannishly, it is far more important as the name of David Langford's monthly newszine.
Ansible was first published from 1979 to 1987 (fifty issues in UK quarto format on an increasingly irregular schedule) and then revived in 1991 as a monthly, initially distributed at London Circle pub meetings. It continues monthly through today, with issue 400 appearing in November 2020; this count omits a dozen or so specials 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 began also being delivered by email sometime in the early 1990s. It is now available on paper only in the UK or by special arrangement. The entire run of Ansible is archived online.
Langford has used Ansible as a source. On his website, he writes: "The Runcible Ansible was a regular preview column in Eileen Gunn's webzine The Infinite Matrix, updated weekly until this site became static at the end of 2005.
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": Letters to Ansible.
- "The Dead Past": Tasty news snippets from the same month 20 to 70 years ago.
- "Thog's Masterclass": Literary howlers from both genre and mundane works.
... as well as a variety of news, gossip, notes and silliness.
Awards and Honors:
Ansible has won an improbable number of awards:
- 1987 Best Fanzine Hugo
- 1995 Best Fanzine Hugo
- 1996 Best Fanzine Hugo
- 1999 Best Fanzine Hugo
- 2002 Best Fanzine Hugo
- 2005 Best Semiprozine Hugo
- Best Fanzine Hugo nominations in 1984, 1985, 1994, 1995, 1997, and 1998, and for the Best Semiprozine Hugo in 2003, 2004, 2006, 2007, 2008, and 2010. (Without changing its single-page fannish nature it declared itself to be a Semiprozine in 2003 in order to take itself out of contention with fanzines.)
- 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
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