Omnivoracious: New Amazon Blog (and My Favorite Book)

The Amazon book blog has a new name and location: Omnivoracious. The blog will still feed into the Amazon Daily blog, but Amazon wants the book blog to be autonomous from the Amazon site. One advantage of this is that I can, for example, post directly to it, rather than going through a third party. It should result in a more fluid and kinetic blog.

My first post is actually about my favorite book of the year, Shaun Tan’s The Arrival, and includes a short exclusive interview with Tan about Tan’s process. I find all of the answers fascinating.

Conversations with the Bookless: Nathan Ballingrud

In support of the short story, and specifically those talented writers who are currently “bookless,” which is to say those writers who are at that stage of their career where a collection or novel is a year or more away, I’m doing a new feature called Conversations with the Bookless, of which this is the second installment. The first, with Rachel Swirsky, can be read here. The fact is, if you don’t have a book out, it’s harder to get attention and it’s harder for reader attention to crystalize around you. I hope these interviews introduce readers to some of the great talent that, in the coming years, will be amazingly and bountifully bookful.

Nathan Ballingrud is one of my favorite short fiction writers. Since the 1990s, when he published work in, among others, Ann’s The Silver Web and F&SF, he has demonstrated a unique and penetrating point of view. Although he writes stories that are horrific, he’s not really a horror writer. Although he writes stories that could be considered penetrating character studies, he’s not really part of the literary mainstream. He has an obsession, at times, with angels.

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Steampunk Contents!

(rough cover–still changing)

We’ve finalized the contents for the Steampunk antho, with the exception of a little piece at the end (a list of steampunk novels, that we’re still querying about). This will be my eighth anthology, Ann’s third (not including, of course, fifteen magazine issues for Ann and now Weird Tales). Out in May 2008.

We’ve gone for a mix of classics and newer material, and a contrast of styles and approaches.

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Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror: Comics Summation

The Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror edited by Ellen Datlow, Gavin Grant, and Kelly Link is now out in bookstores. As I’ve mentioned before, if you buy it and Best American Fantasy, you’re more or less set for fantasy and horror for the year.

In amongst the summation material is my summation of graphic novels and comics. I want to thank Jim Frenkel for taking me on and Charles Vess, who did it for so many years, for being so helpful during the transition. Also a big thanks to my friends Andrew Wheeler and Joe Gordon (both of their blogs are awesome, too). I didn’t get the gig until August of last year, so I hadn’t been systematically looking through everything during the year. Their suggestions really helped.

In addition to a fine selection of the year’s best fiction, YBFH definitely benefits from having such comprehensive summations of fantasy, horror, movies, etc. So here’s a little sample of my own summation column to whet your appetite.

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Brothers and Beasts

The talented Kate Bernheimer has edited an anthology of essays by men about fairy tales, just now released. I’m a contributor, along with: Steve Almond, Brian Baldi, Christopher Barzak, Joshua Beckman, Greg Bills, Jirí Cêch, Alexander Chee, Robert Coover, Neil Gaiman, Johannes Göransson, Ilya Kaminsky, Eric Kraft, Norman Lock, Gregory Maguire, Michael Martone, Michael Mejia, Timothy Schaffert, David J. Schwartz, Vijay Seshadri, Richard Siken, Kieran Suckling, Maria Tatar, Willy Vlautin, Jack Zipes.

An excerpt from my essay, “The Third Bear,” below. It’s been a long time since the piece was accepted, and in between I’ve written the short story “The Third Bear,” the seeds for that story found within the essay.

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Movie Reviews: Stardust and Michael Clayton

Sometimes you have to wonder what Hollywood is thinking. That was our reaction after watching two dissimilar and yet equally frustrating films.

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Happiness Is…Tin House: Fantastic Women

I picked up what looks like an amazing anthology-magazine today, the latest Tin House, which is all fantastical stories from women. Some of my favorite, favorite writers are in here: Kate Bernheimer, Rikki Ducornet, Shelley Jackson, Kelly Link, Lydia Millet, and Stacey Levine just to name a few. Also, there’s Rick Moody’s remembrance of Angela Carter, which I’m really looking forward to. Honestly, I didn’t make the connection between Kelly Link having a story online there and this publication being out. So it was a lovely shock to encounter it in the bookstore.

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Various and Sundry

Ann and I are going to spend the day going to the movies, as a break from all of the editing and writing work. Besides, this is like the first day in a week where I haven’t felt like a coughing, sneezing wreck with a head full of cotton.

Anyway, in other news, I didn’t realize that I get to do the Amazon Top 10 SF/F Novels of the year as their SF/F book blogger, so I’m working on that. Very difficult in that there are a lot of very different things I liked this year. When it gets posted, I’ll talk about that process and list a few books bubbling just below the top 10. Always a very subjective thing, of course. And, interestingly enough, my opinion has changed on a couple of books since I first reviewed them.

Jay Lake has a couple of very interesting posts about my supposedly controversial piece on competence here and here. I’m done talking about it. I said everything I wanted to say in the initial piece and here, and if I had one wish it was that I hadn’t commented on a couple of blogs, because it’s just a waste of time. If people are going to ascribe base motives to you automatically, there’s really nothing you can do about that. (Have fun with my piece “Language of the Defeated” on Clarkesworld next month…) Oh, yeah, and in a more limited context, this piece by Kelly Link that mentions competence as well.

Going forward, I’ll be posting more interviews with the bookful and bookless, and in general promoting writers I like. And you should do the same. On your blog.

And in other news, just got off the phone with Mary Gentle, who has been very nice in allowing us to reprint a story for the Steampunk antho, so that one’s just about put to bed.


Margo Lanagan Answers the Five Questions

Margo Lanagan burst onto the scene a couple of years ago with Black Juice, which won the World Fantasy Award, with particular praise given to “Singing My Sister Down,” a harrowing and original story. Since then, she’s been writing more stories, and they’re collected in Red Spikes, released this month.

Although she hardly needs to justify herself anymore, I asked her to do so anyway, with the infamous five, er, six questions. I should note this is the first occurrence of the words “schmoogly lil wuffles” in anyone’s answers.

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Cordwainer Smith

An interesting piece on the master of strange by Graham Sleight. I’m not sure what to make of this contradiction, though: “There are certain kinds of writing he’s definitely not interested in. He’s not much of a visual writer, for instance..” followed later by “The novel is as full of striking images as any of Smith’s work.” I’ve always found Smith to be a very visual writer, whether he actually spends a lot of time describing something or not.

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