Weird Tales: Mike Allen on Fascinations with the Disturbing

Writer: Mike Allen
Weird Tales Story: An Invitation Via Email (Issue #350, May/June)
Writer Bio: Mike Allen lives in Roanoke, Va. with his wife Anita, a comical dog and a demonic cat. He’s the editor of Clockwork Phoenix and Mythic Delirium. His most recent fiction has appeared at Helix and Cabinet des Fées. His usual blog is here.

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Once upon a time my wife and I went out with another couple for the dinner-and-a-movie thang.

Everyone else looked to my guidance to pick the film we would see. I chose Requiem for a Dream, and thrilled at every brain-frying, stomach churning minute of it. Roger Ebert describes Requiem as “a travelogue of hell,”and it is. I became so caught up in the aggressively beautiful way that drug-induced doom overtakes and demolishes each character that it didn’t even occur to me that my companions might not be having the great time that I was.I emerged from the theater agog, and exhilarated … and the couple who came with us came out, well, quiet. Anita finally took me aside and informed me that if our companions had had any idea what they were in for, they would have begged to see something else. The movie left them shellshocked. It did me too, I suppose … but I like being shellshocked by an entertainment.Why is that? From whence grows the root for this love of the disturbing?

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Weird Tales: Alistair Rennie on Archiving the Weird

Writer: Alistair Rennie
Weird Tales Story: BleakWarrior Meets the Sons of Brawl
Writer Bio: Alistair Rennie was born in the North of Scotland and now lives in Italy. He has published short fiction in Electric Velocipede and Shadowed Realms and has forthcoming work appearing in The New Weird (ed. Jeff and Ann VanderMeer), Weird Tales, Fabulous Whitby (ed. Liz Williams and Sue Thomason) and Electric Velocipede.

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One of the functions of Weird Tales is that it not only acts as an outlet for weird fiction but also as an archive of weird fiction. It represents a legacy of weirdness that we can trace for all of 85 years which, given the proximity of the magazine’s existence (now), would appear to suggest that weird fiction is distinctively modern.

If weird fiction is distinctively modern, then it appears that the world has become so overly familiar that it requires a proliferation of weirdness in order to restore some kind of balance of interest between routine matters and a desire for mystery. And so, if the weird is a response to some kind of underlying (primitive?) impetus that requires us to make a mystery of the world (which needs to be created because it doesn’t exist), then the weirdness is surely an indication of human specificity (it is a value alongside other values, founded, as all values are, on illusions)–which is easy to believe in the sense that it is humans who apply the mysteries, not animals, unless we involve them in our creations as anthropomorphic conceits that put them well beyond our line of vision. A proof lies in the fact that our attempts to know the consciousnesses of animals are accomplished in human terms except in the context of science when they (animals) are made to seem so unpalatably inhuman (like the world itself) that the imagination is constrained to resurrect them as something they are not:

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Weird Tales: Jonathan Wood on The Egomaniacal Act of Writing

Writer: Jonathan Wood
Weird Tales Story: The Blank Card (Issue #347, Nov/Dec 2007)
Writer Bio: Jonathan Wood is an Englishman in New York. He lives on Long Island with his family and keeps 80 monkeys chained to typewriters in his garage. He passes their work off as his own, selling it to places like Behind the Wainscot, Fantasy Magazine, Farrago’s Wainscot, and Electric Velocipede. Their less coherent meanderings can be found at The Rambles of My Headspace

***

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.

The world is slipping away from us.

No… that’s not what I meant. Our idea that we ever had a grasp on the world is slipping away from us. Radio, television, mass media, internet, email, blogs … the myriad of individual points of view is multiplying.

No… that’s not what I meant. All of those individual points of view have always been there. We’re simply more aware of them. We are constantly being bombarded with them, with their interpretation of events, with perspectives at odds with our own. And as these shouting, conflicting visions of the world mount up and upon us, as each conviction we have is challenged it’s harder and harder to live life with the impression that our point of view is the one true reality. In fact it’s harder and harder to live with the belief that there is any one true reality.

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Goodbye 2007

(The notebooks I’ve filled with rough draft fiction and some nonfiction over the last year.)

It’s now December and for eleven months I’ve been a freelance writer and for the last four months I’ve made the transition to living off of fiction, book reviews, and manuscript critiques. It’s been a tumultuous year, with many triumphs and many defeats as well. I feel a bit bloodied but happy to still be standing.

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Do Writers Realize When They Write Crazy People?

Obsession is a form of madness. When obsession becomes the only thing in someone’s life, that person becomes at least temporarily insane.

When a fiction writer creates a portrait of a person whose quest or search for something or someone or some ideal becomes all-encompassing…they are creating a character who, as they inhabit the story at least, is for all intents and purposes…unhinged.

A writer should love something about every character they envision and inhabit, but to fully realize a character and to avoid sentimentality or what I can only call “falseness,” the writer has to recognize that insanity. If the writer doesn’t–can’t pull back enough to recognize it, no matter how close-in and personal the writer gets within the story–then you get the odd situation in which the writer clearly thinks they’re writing a story about a genuinely good, genuinely sane person when they’re not.

Just an interesting thing to observe, because although there are some subjective elements about characters and ambiguity, you can also say that if a character does certain things in certain contexts, most reasonable people would feel a certain way about that character after awhile.

Peggy Hailey Has a Blog!

I’ve been meaning to post about Peggy Hailey’s great new blog, Rampant Biblioholism. Peggy’s with Book People in Austin, Texas, and she also is involved with the Revolution SF site. Her tastes in books tend to dovetail with our own, and she’s also been a long-time supporter of my work, long before most readers ever had a chance to read that work. Go check it out.

Jeff

Weird Tales: Peter Atwood on My Wife is not a Spy

Writer: Peter Atwood
Weird Tales Story: All In (Issue #350, May/June)
Writer Bio: Peter Atwood is a writer and editor who lives in Ottawa, Canada, where he once grew up and to where he returned after living in Toronto, Seoul, and Cairo.

***

My wife is not a spy. She does have top secret clearance and, at times, I have first learned about an incident at work on our walk to the grocery store, out of range of the bugs it was best to assume were in the apartment. The circumstances behind these facts, sadly, are much less glamorous than they sound. (Hell, there are corporate non-disclosure agreements that wouldn’t let you reveal the dress code for casual Fridays.)

My wife, however, has met spies, and I guess I have too, and the stories that get swapped when we’re out to dinner with her embassy colleagues all have the same patina of the mundane.

In Beijing, when the secret police break into your home, little is secret about the affair. You’re likely to return to your door unlocked, your shopping list on the table, not by the phone where you left it, your bedside reading opened, and dusty footprints across the rug. But this is deliberate clumsiness-you know without doubt they were there.

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Bhutto Assassinated

More details here.

A few observations.

For those who have been equating Bhutto and Musharaff, like on CNN–they are not equivalents. Musharaff is a dictator. Bhutto was a political leader who worked within the system, no matter what you think of corruption charges, etc., leveled against her.

Bush’s press secretary using this opportunity to go fearmongering again, saying this shows why we need a war on terror, and barfing out the usual lines about “they want to destroy our freedom,” etc., is disgusting to an extreme. Especially since the organization or people responsible aren’t know yet. Especially when Musharaff may well be involved in the assassination.

Musharaff is responsible to some extent for this tragedy because of his inability to give up power and his weakness in dealing with extremists in his country.

Bush’s hypocritical rhetoric on Pakistan, the democratic crisis there, and Musharaff’s actions continue to disgust me.

Pred Done

Well, the rough draft, the last thirty pages still in long hand. But at least it’s done. Now on to revision…