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Ansible [publication]

Entry updated 30 October 2023. Tagged: Fan, Publication.

Fanzine (1979-1987 and 1991-current), edited from Reading, Berkshire, UK, by David Langford. The first sequence used UK quarto format throughout, 4-10pp, and ran from #1 (August 1979) to #50 (August/September 1987) at irregular but increasing intervals; it was revived as a 2pp A4 newssheet with #51 (October 1991) and continues in this format, together with various digital and online versions.

Ansible – named for Ursula K Le Guin's coined word for an instantaneous communicator (see Ansible) – is a Newszine, a fanzine that carries news on sf and Fandom. It replaced the earlier UK newszine Checkpoint and was initially stencil-duplicated; most first-series issues have both offset-lithographed and duplicated pages. Ansible's news items were often given sparkle by Langford's witty delivery. In its early days it appeared roughly monthly, but in the later 1980s gaps between issues grew ever longer, as did the wordage; there were lengthy guest articles by Christopher Evans, Patrick Parrinder, Charles Platt, Terry Pratchett and others. In 1987, at the time of though not due to the appearance of a later newszine, Critical Wave, Langford – who had long expressed weariness with the labour of producing and especially distributing Ansible – folded it.

However, he resumed publication with #51 in September 1991, the second sequence being a monthly A4 2pp photocopied newssheet with rare extra issues (given ½ numbers, such as Ansible 116½ dated Easter 1997). Online availability soon followed; email subscriptions, currently in the thousands, and website readership now greatly exceed the number of printed copies; the website includes an archive of all back issues since the 1979 launch and also of the entire run of Ansible's predecessor Checkpoint. Ansible won the Hugo as Best Fanzine in 1987, 1995, 1996, 1999, and 2002, and as Best Semiprozine in 2005; its editor won Hugos as Best Fan Writer in 1985, 1987, and every year from 1989 to 2007. Since 1991 it has continued to maintain an unbroken monthly schedule; a digest of Ansible news items appeared as "Ansible Link" in every issue of Interzone from August 1992 to September 2023. See further reading below for compilations in ebook form. [RH/DRL]

see also: FAAn Awards; The Infinite Matrix; Longevity in Publications; Starlight SF.

further reading


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