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Beachcombing and Other Oddments by David Langford
Contents List

Author biography  Back to book page


  • Title Page
  • Introduction
  • No, Not Pyorrhoea
  • My Secret Life with David & Charles
  • 4004 and All That
  • The Corridors of Power
  • Getting Educated
  • Breakthroughs
  • Cuisine Unauthentique
  • Feather-Footed Through the Plashy Fen
  • A Very Short Anthology
  • Ask Aunty Agonistes
  • Science Fiction, Science Fact
  • Quest for the Perfect Title
  • Thirteen Things You Hadn’t Thought to Believe In
  • Worms and Tubes
  • Twenty Years of Uproar
  • Four Million Sandfleas
  • Beastly Numbers
  • Tiny Tale of Terror
  • The Bardic Tradition
  • What If... computers found a use for humanity?
  • Me and Hildegard of Bingen
  • Beachcombing
  • Live Thog’s Masterclass
  • Retro Nets
  • Electric Heals
  • Come and Be Healed!
  • Power! Unlimited Power!
  • Guessing at Computers
  • The Secret History of Ansible
  • Scouting for Fans
  • South Wales Alphabet
  • Six Book Introductions
  • Remembering Martin Hoare
  • Afterword: Plague Year
  • Original Appearances


In memory of five old friends whose names are dropped in this collection: Paul Barnett (1949-2020), Chuch/Chuck Harris (1927-1999), Martin Hoare (1952-2019), Rob Holdstock (1948-2009) and Mike Rohan (1951-2018).

Original Appearances

Further thanks to Claire Brialey, Pat Charnock and Rob Jackson for proofreading this collection; and to all the editors listed below who first published these pieces.

  • “4004 and All That” – Matrix #28, February/March 1980, edited by John and Eve Harvey for the British Science Fiction Association.
  • “Afterword: Plague Year” – portions appeared in Cloud Chamber #164, August 2020, edited by David Langford, and the InTheBar email list.
  • “Ask Aunty Agonistes” – SF Nexus #2, Spring 1992, edited by Paul Brazier.
  • “The Bardic Tradition” – untitled in Cloud Chamber #88, September 1998, and #145, November 2003, edited by David Langford.
  • “Beachcombing” – as “Beachcombings” in Trap Door #19, May 1999, edited by Robert Lichtman. Joan the Wad advert scanned by Brian J. Hunt.
  • “Beastly Numbers” – Fortean Times #107, February 1998.
  • “Breakthroughs” – Frontier Crossings, August 1987 (souvenir book of Conspiracy ’87, the 45th World SF Convention), edited by Rob Jackson.
  • “Come and Be Healed!” – Fortean Times #133, April 2000.
  • “The Corridors of Power” – from the editorial “Concerning a number of things” in Drilkjis #6, April 1982, edited by David Langford and Kevin Smith.
  • “Cuisine Unauthentique” – Orycon 11 Programme Book, November 1989, and (chutney recipe only) Fanfoodery: or The Plain Fan’s Guide to Happy Eating, August 1987, edited by Eve and John Harvey for Conspiracy ’87. “Afterthought” new to this collection.
  • “Electric Heals” – SF area, February 2000, edited by Mary Branscombe. First print appearance in the present collection.
  • “Feather-Footed Through the Plashy Fen” – Sglodion #3, April 1991, edited by David Langford. “Afterthought”: Cloud Chamber #97, August 1999, edited by David Langford.
  • “Four Million Sandfleas” – Plokta #10, January 1998, edited by The Plokta Cabal.
  • “Getting Educated” – Twll-Ddu #20, April 1983, edited by David Langford.
  • “Guessing at Computers” – SF area, January 2001, edited by Mary Branscombe. First print appearance in the present collection.
  • “Live Thog’s Masterclass” – first appearance in print. Speech delivered at Aussiecon Three, September 1999.
  • “Me and Hildegard of Bingen” – Fortean Times #115, October 1998.
  • “My Secret Life with David & Charles” – Focus #1, Autumn 1979, edited by Chris Evans and Rob Holdstock for the British Science Fiction Association.
  • “No, Not Pyorrhoea” – K #2, April 1976, edited by Bernie Peek and Dave Rowe; spontaneously recreated in electronic form by Kim Huett, March 2005. “Afterthought” added for Langford website appearance, March 2005.
  • “Power! Unlimited Power!” – SF area, June 2000, edited by Mary Branscombe. Overbalancing wheel graphic pinched from The New Apocrypha (1973) by John Sladek. First print appearance in the present collection.
  • “Quest for the Perfect Title” – untitled in Cloud Chamber #49, February 1994, edited by David Langford.
  • “Remembering Martin Hoare” as “Martin Hoare (Physics, 1970)” in The Brazen Nose Volume 53, 2018-2019, published 2020.
  • “Retro Nets” – SF area, November 1999, edited by Mary Branscombe. First print appearance in the present collection.
  • “Science Fiction, Science Fact” – March 1993, not previously published.
  • “Scouting for Fans” – Quasiquote #7, October 2008, edited by Sandra Bond.
  • “The Secret History of Ansible” – Science Fiction Five-Yearly #11, November 2001, edited by Lee Hoffman, Geri Sullivan, Jeff Schalles and Terry Hughes. Ansible logo by Dan Steffan, 1979.
  • “Six Book Introductions” – The Astounding Illustrated History of Science Fiction by various hands, Flame Tree Books, 2017; Maske: Thaery by Jack Vance, Spatterlight Press Signature Series reissue, 2018; New Maps: More Uncollected John Sladek, Ansible Editions, April 2019; The Complete Cheap Truth by “Vincent Omniaveritas”, Ansible Editions, June 2019; Beyond the Outposts by Algis Budrys, Ansible Editions, April 2020; Slow Pint Glass by Bob Shaw, Ansible Editions, August 2020. Bonus blurb quotation from David Garnett’s Bikini Planet, 2000.
  • “South Wales Alphabet” – Trap Door #23, December 2009, edited by Robert Lichtman; written for Skull Orchard Revisited: Art, Words & Music, 2011, by Jon Langford with David Langford and Denis Langford.
  • “Thirteen Things You Hadn’t Thought to Believe In” – Empties #13, April 1994, edited by Martin Tudor.
  • “Tiny Tale of Terror” – Cloud Chamber #86, July 1998, edited by David Langford; expanded as “Why I Haven’t Written An Article For Outworlds” in Outworlds #70, August 1998, edited by Bill Bowers.
  • “Twenty Years of Uproar” – Idea #11, October 1997, edited by Geri Sullivan.
  • “A Very Short Anthology” – Trap Door #11, February 1992, edited by Robert Lichtman.
  • “What If... computers found a use for humanity?” – T3, September 1998.
  • “Worms and Tubes” – Fortean Times #92, December 1996.
  • “Zen and the Art of Egotripping” in “Introduction” – Platen Stories, August 1987, edited by David Langford; partly from Cloud Chamber #35, April 1985, edited by David Langford.

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