David Langford

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David Langford

David Langford (born April 10, 1953, in Newport, Monmouthshire) is a British science fiction author and critic. He publishes the science fiction newsletter Ansible, which he describes as "The SF Private Eye".

His first job was as a physicist at the Atomic Weapons Research Establishment at Aldermaston, Berkshire, an experience which he later hilariously parodied in The Leaky Establishment.

Contents

Literary career

In fiction, he is most noted for his parodies. A collection of short stories, parodying various science fiction, fantasy fiction and detective story writers has been published as He Do The Time Police In Different Voices. Two novels, parodying disaster novels and horror, respectively, are Earthdoom! and Guts!, both co-written with John Grant.

His novelette An Account Of A Meeting With Denizens Of Another World 1871, is an entertaining account of a UFO encounter, as experienced by a Victorian, but is notable chiefly for the framing story, in which Langford claimed to have found the manuscript in an old desk. This has led some UFOlogists to believe the story is genuine. Langford freely admits the story is fictional when asked - but, as he notes, "Journalists usually don't ask."

The first collection of his nonfiction and humourous work, Let's Hear It for the Deaf Man, was published in 1992 by NESFA Press. A follow-up collection, consisting of 47 nonfiction pieces and three short stories, was published as The Silence of the Langford in 1996.

His 2004 collection Different Kinds of Darkness is a compilation of 36 of his shorter, non-humorous science fiction pieces, the title story of which won the Hugo Award for Best Short Story in 2001. He also got one serious science fiction novel published in 1982, The Space Eater.

Langford has won numerous other Hugo Awards, mostly for his fan journalism: 18 for Best Fan Writer and 5 for Ansible as Best Fanzine.

David Langford also runs a "tiny and informally run software company" with science fiction writer Christopher Priest, called Ansible Information.

Basilisks

A number of his stories are set in a future containing images, colloquially called "basilisks", which crash the human mind by triggering thoughts that the mind is physically or logically incapable of thinking. The first of these stories was "BLIT" (Interzone, 1988); others include "What Happened at Cambridge IV" (Digital Dreams, 1990); "comp.basilisk FAQ" (Nature, 1999), and the Hugo-winning "Different Kinds of Darkness" (F&SF, 2000).

The idea, a form of the motif of harmful sensation, has appeared elsewhere; in one of his novels, Ken MacLeod has characters explicitly mention (and worry about encountering) the "Langford Visual Hack".

See also

External links

Short stories

  • comp.basilisk FAQ (http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/DynaPage.taf?file=/nature/journal/v402/n6761/full/402465a0_fs.html)
  • BLIT (http://www.infinityplus.co.uk/stories/blit.htm)nl:David Langford
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