Langford, David 1953- (William Robert Loosley)

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Langford, David 1953- (William Robert Loosley)


Born April 10, 1953, in Newport, Gwent, South Wales; son of Denis George (an accountant) and Catherine Alice Langford; married Hazel Elizabeth Salter (a civil servant), June 12, 1976. Education: Brasenose College, Oxford, B.A. (with honors), 1974, M.A., 1978. Politics: "Liberal with a small ‘l’." Religion: "Atheist (non-practicing)." Hobbies and other interests: "Real beer," antique hearing aids.


Home and office—Reading, Berkshire, England. Agent—Christopher Priest, 32 Elphinstone Rd., Hastings, East Sussex TN34 2EQ, England. E-mail—[email protected].


Atomic Weapons Research Establishment, Aldermaster, England, weapons physicist, 1975-80; freelance writer, 1980—. Ansible Information Ltd., partner, 1985-87, managing director, 1987-92, sole proprietor, 1992—, partner of Ansible E-ditions, 2003—.


British Science Fiction Association, Society of Authors, Authors Licensing and Collecting Society, Science Fiction Foundation, Milford Science Fiction Writers Conference.


Winner of What Micro? fiction competition, 1984, for the short story "Wetware"; Special European Science Fiction Award, 1984, and Gilgamesh Award, 1987, both for The Science in Science Fiction; World Science Fiction Convention, Hugo Awards, 1985, 1987, annually, 1989-2006, Hugo Awards, 1987, 1995, 1996, 1999, 2002, and 2005, for the newsletter Ansible, Hugo Award, best short story, 2001, for "Different Kinds of Darkness"; British Science Fiction Association Awards, 1986, for the short story "Cube Root," and 2003, for introduction to Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek; Skylark Award, 2002.


(With George Hay, Robert Turner, and Colin Wilson) The Necronomicon, Neville Spearman (London, England), 1978.

War in 2080: The Future of Military Technology (nonfiction), Morrow (New York, NY), 1979.

(Under name William Robert Loosley) An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871, David & Charles (Newton Abbot, England), 1979, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1980.

(With Chris Morgan) Facts and Fallacies: A Book of Definitive Mistakes and Misguided Predictions, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1981.

The Space Eater (science-fiction novel), Hutchinson (London, England), 1982, Pocket Books (New York, NY), 1983, reprinted, Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2004.

(With Peter Nicholls and Brian Stableford) The Science in Science Fiction, A.A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1982.

Strange Objects: Fact and Fiction (radio script), BBC-Radio 4, 1983.

(With Charles Platt) Micromania: The Whole Truth about Home Computers, Victor Gollancz (London, England), 1984.

The Leaky Establishment (novel), F. Muller (London, England), 1984, published with new introduction by Terry Pratchett, Big Engine (Abingdon, England), 2001.

(With Brian Stableford) The Third Millennium: A History of the World, A.D. 2000-3000 (nonfiction), A.A. Knopf (New York, NY), 1985.

The Transatlantic Hearing Aid (nonfiction), Inca Press, 1985.

(With John Grant) Earthdoom! (novel), Grafton (London, England), 1987.

Platen Stories (reviews and essays), Conspiracy Publications, 1987.

Critical Assembly (collected review columns), Ansible Information (Reading, England), 1987, revised edition, 1992.

The Dragonhiker's Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune's Edge: Odyssey Two (short stories), Drunken Dragon Press (Birmingham, England), 1988.

Critical Assembly II (collected review columns), Ansible Information (Reading, England), 1992.

Irrational Numbers (short stories), Necronomicon Press (West Warwick, RI), 1994.

The Unseen University Challenge (quiz book), Victor Gollancz (London, England), 1996.

The Silence of the Langford (essays, criticism, and short stories), New England Science Fiction Association Press (Framingham, MA), 1996.

Pieces of Langford (columns), edited by John and Eve Harvey, Auld Lang Fund Press (Tonwell, England), 1998.

(Editor and author of introduction) Wrath of the Fanglord, Rune Press (Minneapolis, MN), 1998.

(With Josh Kirby) A Cosmic Cornucopia, Paper Tiger (London, England), 1999.

The Complete Critical Assembly (omnibus edition; contains Critical Assembly and Critical Assembly II), Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2001.

(With John Grant) Guts (spoof horror novel), Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2001.

The Wyrdest Link (quiz book), Victor Gollancz (London, England), 2002.

Up through an Empty House of Stars: Reviews and Essays, 1980-2002, Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2003.

He Do the Time Police in Different Voices (parody short stories), Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2003.

(Editor and author of introduction) Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek, Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2003.

Different Kinds of Darkness (short stories), Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2004.

The SEX Column and Other Misprints, Cosmos Books (Canton, OH), 2005.

The End of Harry Potter? (nonfiction), Victor Gollancz (London, England), 2006, revised edition, Tor Books (New York, NY), 2007.

Work represented in anthologies, including Other Edens, edited by Christopher Evans and Robert Holdstock, Allen & Unwin, 1987; Dark Fantasies, edited by Chris Morgan, Century Hutchinson (London, England), 1989; Tales from the Forbidden Planet 2, edited by Roz Kaveney, Titan Books, 1990; Shakespearean Detectives, edited by Mike Ashley, Carrol & Graf (New York, NY), 1998; and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases, edited by Jeff VanderMeer and Mark Roberts, Night Shade Books, 2003. Columns include "Fission Fragments," in Ad Astra, 1979-81; "Critical Mass," in White Dwarf, 1983-88, and GMI, 1990-91; "Ziggurat," in Popular Computing Weekly, 1984-85; "Disinformation," in Apricot File,1985-88; "Langford's Printout" and "Langford," in 8000 Plus (also known as PCW Plus), 1986—; "Critical Hits," in GM, 1988-90; an untitled column in New Computer Express, 1989; "Slightly Foxed," in Million, 1991—; "Ansible Link," in Interzone, 1992—; "Langford," in SFX, 1995—, "Langford," in PCW Today, 1998-2002; "Thog's Masterclass," in Frontiers, 2000-01; and "The Runcible Ansible," in Infinite Matrix, 2001-06. Contributor to periodicals, including Amazing Science Fiction, Practical Computing, Penthouse, New Scientist, Asimov's Science Fiction, Metaphysical Review, Weird Tales, New Scientist, Fortean Times, Nature, and Knave. Editor, Ansible, 1979-87, and 1991—; nonfiction editor, Extro, 1982; general editor, Starlight Science Fiction News, 1984-86.


In addition to writing science-fiction novels and short stories, David Langford is known for his biting science-fiction book reviews. He has also collaborated with other authors to produce such successful nonfiction and semi-fiction titles as The Necronomicon and The Science in Science Fiction.

Langford's first full-length science-fiction effort is An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871, purportedly written by one William Robert Loosley. The account tells of an alien craft landing in Buckinghamshire woods and attempting to communicate with a craftsman. Intending to counterbalance novels that proceed from primitive communication to sharing advanced physics in only a few pages, Langford is amused and chagrined that this book has become part of the theory that the government conceals its knowledge of spaceships.

The Space Eater concerns unlikely branches of physics that would make possible destructive capabilities beyond what the author worked on at the British government's Atomic Weapons Research Establishment. Michael Cule of Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers wrote that the novel's "chief flaw is its uneven tone. While in his short stories (from one of which The Space Eater was expanded) Langford tends to see the gloomy side of his technological enthusiasm, in the novel Langfordian flights of fancy and humor creep in; the hero turns from a Mindless Killing Machine at the start to a Thoroughly Nice Chap by the end, and for no particular reason."

Although only marginally science fiction, The Leaky Establishment is considered by several critics as Langford's best full-length work. It is a farcical story about an employee of a Top Secret Establishment who must smuggle plutonium warheads back into his workplace. Langford draws heavily on regulations, bureaucracy, and security for humor.

Langford once told CA: "My best book, it is agreed, is the humorous, satirical Leaky Establishment, which draws on autobiographical material about my former work at a nuclear weapons research installation and which makes certain points about the psychological effects of such employment. Next in popularity is the also humorous Earthdoom! American editors invariably say ‘brilliant and hilarious, but the U.S. public wouldn't understand it,’ so my most popular work remained unsold in the United States, despite U.S. reprints of the science-fiction/military adventure The Space Eater. Is there a moral here?"

More recently Langford added: "Since the 1980s I have chiefly focused on nonfiction books, columns, journalism, and contributions to science fiction-fantasy reference works, but I still publish the occasional short story when time permits, and I am pleased that these are often reprinted in anthologies of the year's best works."



Twentieth-Century Science-Fiction Writers, 3rd edition, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1991.


Analog, July, 1989, review of The Dragonhiker's Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune's Edge: Odyssey Two, p. 178; January, 2002, review by Tom Easton, p. 128; October, 2004, review by Tom Easton, p. 132.

Locus, January, 1989, review of The Dragonhiker's Guide to Battlefield Covenant at Dune's Edge, p. 15; July, 1994, review of Irrational Numbers, p. 59; June, 2000, review of A Cosmic Cornucopia, p. 29.


Ansible Web site, (June 4, 2007).

David Langford Home Page, (June 4, 2007).

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Langford, David 1953- (William Robert Loosley)

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