The Fan Activity Achievement Awards (FAAN) were founded in 1976 by Moshe Feder and Arnie Katz. The award was presented annually from 1975 through 1980 and then became moribund until it was revived in 1994 and presented at Corflu, a convention for fanzine fans. Due to a change in the eligibility year, o awards were presented in 1996, but it has been presented annually since then. The Best Fan Writer Award was presented in the inaugural year to Don C. Thompson. From 1977-1979, Bob Shaw had a three year streak, which was broken in 1980 by David Langford, who won his only FAAN Award in 1980.
Considering David Langford as a fan writer from the perspective of 2019 is very different from his role in 1979. It has now been 10 years since his most recent Best Fan Hugo nomination and 12 years since the last time he won that award (although only 7 since he won his most recent Hugo Award for Best Related Work for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition). In 1979, he hadn’t won any of the record-tying 29 Hugo Awards that have been voted to him.
Langford began publishing fiction in 1975 with the story “Heatwave” and his first book-length piece of fiction, An Account of a Meeting with Denizens of Another World, 1871 made its appearance in 1979.
From a fannish point of view, in August of 1979, Langford published the first issue of Ansible, which ran between 4 and 10 pages in quarto format until 1987. He ceased publication of it from 4 years before picking up again as a 2 page A4 newssheet in October 1991 and has been publishing it monthly since then.
Langford may be best known as the holder of twenty-one Hugo Awards for Best Fan Writer, including an unprecedented nineteen year winning streak. During that time he also won six Hugo Awards for Best Fanzine for Ansible and a Best Short Story Hugo for “Different Kinds of Darkness.” In 2012, he won his 29th and most recent Hugo for Best Related Work for The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, Third Edition, edited with John Clute, Peter Nicholls, and Graham Sleight. Langford has tied with Charles N. Brown for the most Hugo Awards won.
In addition to his Hugo Awards, Langford has won a FAAN Award for Best Fan Writer at Corflu, and three British SF Awards, for his short story “Cube Root,” his non-fiction Introduction to Maps: The Uncollected John Sladek, and the Encyclopedia of Science Fiction. His Ansible Link column won a Non-Fiction British Fantasy Award. In 2002, Boskone awarded Langford a Skylark Award.
“Waiting for the Iron Age” was originally published by Brian Stableford in the anthology Tales of the Wandering Jew in 1991. Langford later included it in his collection Different Kinds of Darkness.
Langford explores the life of the immortal in “Waiting for the Iron Age.” His narrator is unidentified, but has clearly lived for millennia and has acquired and retained knowledge over that time, although it is also clear that at various times throughout his lifespan he’s undergone a series of rebirths of a sort, which don’t imply death, but do indicate a new start in life. During the Twentieth Century the narrator acquires the scientific terms to discuss his situation and begins to use scientific theories to express himself and a prognosis for his future.
“Waiting for the Iron Age” lacks a plot, focusing on the philosophical with a strong dose of the mathematical to look at the situation the narrator finds himself in. The lack of a storyline will make the story less accessible to many readers, but Langford does offer a distinctive take on the mental processes of someone who has lived an extremely long time with no end in sight.