Critical Mass, July 28th: a chat with Rob Hansen

Our guest for the July Critical Mass is British Fan Rob Hansen, who wrote THEN: SF fandom in the UK, 1930-1980. Currently available as an updated version from Ansible Editions.

In 2019, he co-edited a compilation of fan writings with Vince Clark: THEN Again: A UK Fanhistory Reader 1930-1979.

Available from the TAFF Ebooks site for a donation, this companion to Rob Hansen’s monumental THEN brings together the writings of many players on the stage of British and Irish fandom from 1930 to the end of 1979, telling in their own words the stories of SF groups – including the BSFA – fanzines, famous fannish addresses, bizarre fan activities and much more.

Rob’s latest ebook, FAAN FICTION (1930-2020), is also available at the TAFF ebook site.

We’ll talk about the selection and reprinting of fannish writings as Epubs (both the Ansible ebooks and the TAFF collections).

6:15 for a 6:30 start (Adelaide time), at kappy’s and via zoom.

Zoom detail:

Topic: July Critical mass
Time: Jul 28, 2021 6:30pm Adelaide at Kappy’s

Rob Hansen on SF Fandom in the UK and the reprint of fannish writing.

Rob will talk for about 20 minutes, then we’ll open it up for questions and discussion.

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 878 3800 7079
Passcode: CritMass

DisCon III Hugo Voter Packet Available

File770 notes

DisCon III notified members today that the Hugo Voter Packet is available to download at the members’ area.

This download of materials from Hugo Award finalists is supplied free of charge* as a courtesy by creators, publishers, and studios. The purpose is to allow those who are voting on the Hugo Awards to make an informed choice among the finalists. We deeply appreciate the publishers, studios, authors, artists, editors, and other creators who have generously provided their works to this year’s Hugo Voter Packet. We also ask that you honor publishers’ and creators’ request that you reserve these copies for your personal use only and that you do not share these works with non-members of DisCon III.


Black Sun, Rebecca Roanhorse (Gallery / Saga Press / Solaris) – EPUB, MOBI, PDF       

The City We Became, N.K. Jemisin (Orbit) – EXCERPT PDF

Harrow the Ninth, Tamsyn Muir ( – EPUB, MOBI

Network Effect, Martha Wells ( – EPUB, MOBI

Piranesi, Susanna Clarke (Bloomsbury) – EXCERPT  – EPUB, MOBI, PDF

The Relentless Moon, Mary Robinette Kowal (Tor Books / Solaris) – EPUB, MOBI

Come Tumbling Down, Seanan McGuire ( – EPUB, MOBI

The Empress of Salt and Fortune, Nghi Vo ( – EPUB, MOBI

Finna, Nino Cipri ( – EPUB, MOBI

Ring Shout, P. Djèlí Clark ( – EPUB, MOBI

Riot Baby, Tochi Onyebuchi ( – EPUB, MOBI

Upright Women Wanted, Sarah Gailey ( – EPUB, MOBI

Full details of material from other Hugo award categories at File770

*Note that the package, which is available to supporting members (cost US$50),
also includes the right to vote for the Hugos in all categories.

New TAFF ebook

The Road to Fame — D.R. Smith
ISBN 978-1-913451-79-0

This early example of UK fan fiction – in the modern sense of stories that make free with other authors’ characters – was written in the 1940s and first published as a collected edition in 1953. There have been multiple reprints but no previous ebook.

The expedition team led by cranky Professor Challenger in Arthur Conan Doyle’s The Lost World here joins assorted characters from other fantastic fiction – including the works of Edgar Rice Burroughs (John Carter of Mars and Tarzan), John W. Campbell, E.E. “Doc” Smith (the Skylark and Lensman series), H.G. Wells and several others – on a quest for literary immortality.

The perils en route are reminiscent of the much earlier The Pilgrim’s Progress and the somewhat later The Enchanted Duplicator:

“On the journey you will have to face such obstacles as the Impassable Precipice of Public Ridicule, the high passes of the Mountains of Contempt through which howls the High Wind of Carping Criticism, the Bog of Apathy in the lowlands beyond, and the vast waterless Plain of Mediocrity where hunt the Wild Wolves of Fierce Competition.”

This ebook takes its text from the 2004 reprint by Ruth Berman’s McArdle Press (still available; see “Acknowledgements and Publishing History” within for purchase details) and adds a substantial profile of its British author D.R. (Donald Raymond) Smith. This was written by Rob Hansen for Peter Weston’s fanhistorical journal Relapse, which ceased publication before it could be printed.

Published as an Ansible Editions ebook for the TAFF site on 30 June 2021. 25,000 words.

Atlas vs. AI

Deadline reports:

Jennifer Lopez is set to star and produce in the Netflix sci-fi thriller Atlas with Rampage helmer Brad Peyton directing. Aron Eli Coleite is writing the most recent draft of the script based off Leo Sardarian original script.

The film follows Atlas, a woman fighting for humanity in a future where an AI soldier has determined the only way to end war is to end humanity. To outthink this rogue AI, Atlas must work with the one thing she fears most — another AI.

More details at Deadline

MSFC Quiz night, June 18th

Due to the Melbourne lockdown, the MSFC have had to move their Quiz Night online.

Nova Mob and Critical Mass members are invited to join in on Friday, June 18th from 8pm Melbourne time (7:30 Adelaide time).

There’s a general chat for the first half hour, then we settle in for 90 odd minutes of quizzing, lead by the quite querilous Roman, ably assisted by Lync & Jocko.

The details:

MSFC Quiz night
Time: Jun 18, 2021 08:00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney; 7:30 Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 815 6901 7213
Passcode: quizzy

Critical Mass June 23rd

Note that we have moved to the 4th Wednesday of the month, and our meetings now start half an hour earlier, at 6:30 pm at Kappys.

We continue our look at nominees for the Novella Hugo: this time we’re discussing Finna, by Nino Cipri (Tordotcom) and Ring Shout by P. Djèlí Clark (Tordotcom).

We will start Critical Mass at 6:30pm Adelaide time (7:00pm Melbourne).

You can attend in person at Kappys in Compton St, or join us via zoom.

Zoom Details:

When: Jun 23, 2021 6:30pm Adelaide, 7pm Melbourne

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 870 8219 8629
Passcode: 467822

A fine audio drama

A new River Song adventure, The Ruby’s Curse, written and performed by Alex Kingston.

Doctor Who: The Ruby’s Curse

A River Song Novel By: Alex Kingston
Narrated by: Alex Kingston
Length: 8 hrs and 20 mins
Release date: 20-05-2021
Language: English

1939, New York. Private-eye Melody Malone is hired to find a stolen ruby, the Eye of Horus. The ruby might hold the secret to the location of Cleopatra’s tomb – but everyone who comes into contact with it dies.

Can Melody escape the ruby’s curse?

1939, New York. River Song, author of the Melody Malone mysteries, is forced to find a reality-altering weapon, the Eye of Horus – but everyone who comes into contact with it dies. River doesn’t believe in curses – but is she wrong?

ABC podcasts Son of the Storm

Eugen Bacon, the African Australian writer and editor, lends her voice to one of the stories featured on the ABC’s Bookshelf podcast “Reading Western Sydney, a hot country town & fantasy Africa remade”.

…And entire new worlds are created, drawing upon West African mythology and the layers of colonialism, in Suyi Davies Okungbowa’s epic fantasy, Son of the Storm (read by speculative fiction writer Eugen Bacon).

Master of Djinn: absolute joy

First there was A Dead Djinn in Cairo, then The Haunting of Tram 015. A short story, The Angel of Khan el Khalili. And now a novel set in the same magical Cairo: A Master of Djinn. When someone murders a secret brotherhood dedicated to one of the most famous men in history, al-Jahiz, Agent Fatma is called onto the case.

If you enjoyed the earlier stories, then you will love the novel.

Not only does Agent Fatma have to deal with the case, but she also has to deal with her unexpected new partner! And we find out a lot more about the Ministry and how it operates.

Nova Mob: June 2nd with John Clute

Murray notes:

Dear Nova Mob and friends, our guest at the forthcoming Nova Mob is the witty, erudite, compelling, and encyclopaedic John Clute, science fiction’s foremost critic!

Frankly I’m just gobsmacked, colour me purple, tickle me pink, and over the moon. Delighted, yes definitely delighted. But expect no such cliches from our guest! Our time together will be a fireside chat, and I do recommend “some research required” for your questions to be put to John.

Already I’ve enquired gently of John about book storage problems, reflections on where the Encyclopaedias came from and where they are going, and whether the phrase “the Gene Wolfe of SF criticism” would be a good fit. With some poise he has replied:

Gene Wolfe —  I can certainly say in our conversation why that’s interesting, but also (stature aside) I’d distinguish between us. I can do questions about Fantastika; memories of Peter Nicholls; the theory of archive as applied to Collections

Fantastika has considerable appeal; the concept solves many of the field’s definitional problems. It acknowledges that the English-speaking world has taken up some ill-wrought terms to describe science fiction, fantasy, and horror, to the point where the term “Fantastic” as used by Suvin and many others cannot comfortably be applied directly to American, UK, and other English-language criticism of the field. “Fantastika” has the ring of truth to it, please dive in, it’s worth it. (The first four items steadily get more sophisticated and nuanced)

From Locus, an introduction to John:

From a certain essential Encyclopedia:

Fantastika in the World Storm – a talk by John Clute

Fantastika; or, The Sacred Grove
. Article, Fantastika Journal. Volume 1. Issue 1. April 2017. John Clute.
Start at page 13, and describes the eight or so dimensions contained in the  concept of Fantastika


A brief yet lightning-sharp review of Thomas Harris’s Hitler Wins novel, Fatherland:

An introduction to John Clute by Douglas Fratz which captures tone superbly:

“Clute has dedicated his life work to the field of SF, fantasy and horror — to Fantastika — and all of us in the field should be profoundly grateful that he has done so.”

Obligatory wikipedia entry:

John Clute’s web site and books:


You are invited to a scheduled Zoom meeting.

Topic: Nova Mob 2 June – John Clute – A Fantastika Fireside chat
Time: Jun 2, 2021 8:00pm Canberra, Melbourne, Sydney; 7:30 Adelaide

Join Zoom Meeting

Meeting ID: 417 758 3193
Passcode: nova