David Langford bids us farewell after two decades with SFX
It’s farewell to a legend who’s been with us since issue one.
Twenty- one years ago I wrote in SFX # 1 about Harlan Ellison’s long delayed anthology The Last Dangerous Visions ( breaking news: still unpublished). I’ve been in every issue since then and hoped to make it to # 300, but the harsh realities of modern publishing say otherwise. So Thog, my connoisseur of Differently Good Prose, offers a farewell banquet of weird SF anatomy. His favourites – so tasty! – are eyeballs: “Franklin left his eyes on the floor, took half a step backward.” ( Kelli Stanley, City Of Dragons.) “His eyes fixed like grappling hooks on AAri’s face...” ( Rachel Pollack, Golden Vanity.) “... his eyes felt as if they had tendrils growing out of them, crawling like ants across the floorboards.” ( Sheng Keyi, Death Fugue.) “Eyes like anguished talons were clutching hers.” ( Charles L Harness, The Rose.)
Brains: “The human’s brain began to function once more; he could almost feel it sweating.” ( Poul Anderson and Gordon R Dickson, Earthman’s Burden.)
Stomachs: “The pessimism of the twentieth century has been a massive burp of indigestion; but the stomach ache is passing.” ( Colin Wilson, The Philosopher’s Stone.) “Maybe her stomach knew what it was doing when it threw up her toenails.” ( Mike Shepherd, Kris Longknife: Unrelenting.)
Big Hair: “His unruly shock of red hair towered six feet above the floor...” ( Edmond Hamilton, Captain Future And The Space Emperor.)
Lungs: “But at least in space I can breathe...” ( EE Smith and Gordon Eklund, Lord Tedric.)
Rear End: “Her buttocks were fresh- baked loaves; they were ivory eggs, they were the eggs of the lonely phoenix. They were a fist.” ( Ron Miller, Silk And Steel.) “He felt once again the desire to bite his own backside in fury.” ( Andrzej Sapkowski, Blood Of Elves.) “There has to be a natural limit to how long anyone can spend like this, in a black aluminium suppository lodged in the asshole of the earth.” ( Garth Risk Hallberg, City On Fire.)
Faces: “His dark face was pale.” ( Terry Brooks, The Wishsong Of Shannara.) “Her face had the fragrance of a gibbous moon.” ( Ron Miller, Silk And Steel.) Plus a cheesy grin: “... I said through grated teeth.” ( Ioanna Bourazopoulou, What Lot’s Wife Saw.)
Hearts: “His heart didn’t have the strength to do much of anything, except pound, and beat, and maybe squat in his mouth...” ( Gordon Eklund, Space Pirates.)
Legs: “The wind was shrieking, and so were her legs.” ( Kelli Stanley, City Of Dragons.) “Her legs were quills. They were bundles of wicker, they were candelabra...” ( Ron Miller, Silk And Steel.)
Naughty Parts: “Breasts like bronzed mangoes.” “... her tits look like soft blue balloons.” ( Garth Risk Hallberg, City On Fire.) “The nipples rose like mercury with her heat.” ( Ron Miller, Silk And Steel.) “But when she took the warm shaft in her hands, she found that she did not know how to call upon its strength.” ( Stephen Donaldson, The Runes Of The Earth.) Oh, sorry, that was actually the Staff of Law.
Lastly, adapting the words of a famous fantasy character: though twenty- one years is far too short a time to spend among you – this is the END. I am going. I am leaving NOW. GOOD- BYE! ( Puts on the Ring and vanishes.)
Watch ansible. uk for the announcement of David Langford’s final SFX column collection, The Last SFX Visions.
“Twenty- one years is far too short a time to spend among you – this is the end”