Archive for April, 2008

Omnivoracious’ Old Media Monday

Jeff VanderMeer • April 29th, 2008 • Book Reviews

The Amazon book blog runs a Monday feature called “Old Media Monday” that I urge you to check out. (Here’s the index, including today’s post.) It’s a very useful round-up of reviews posted by Amazon books editor Tom Nissley.

The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli: An Instant Noir/Hardboiled Classic

Jeff VanderMeer • April 28th, 2008 • Book Reviews


Order Here: The Cold Spot by Tom Piccirilli

Chase is smart enough to be a wheel man for his grandfather Jonah, as hard an SOB as you’ll find in noir fiction, but not smart enough to get out of the business. After he finds himself on the outs with Jonah, Chase strikes out on his own and heads south, winding up in Mississippi. There, he falls for a sheriff’s daughter and tries to reform his act, even as he knows his lover (and then wife) is as much drawn to him for his rakishness as any other quality.

His new life can’t last for long, of course, and when tragedy strikes Chase finds himself on a path back to his grandfather, back to the secrets of his past, and back into a life on the other side. What follows is a short, sharp shock to the system, and one of the best crime novels I’ve read in a very long time.

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Romanian Predator, Portuguese City of Saints

Jeff VanderMeer • April 28th, 2008 • News

Although the deal is still being worked out, it does appear now that a Romanian-language edition of Predator: South China Sea will indeed appear around the same time as the English-language edition. In fact, we will be in Romania (it looks like) around the release date, following our appearance at the Czech Republic convention. A Romanian New Weird looks to be in the works as well.

Also, the Portuguese City of Saints & Madmen is definitely going ahead in late 2008, early 2009.

Embracing Our Other Selves: Formula for Creating Your Literary Name

Jeff VanderMeer • April 28th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Interesting post expressing irritation about midlist authors in a “death spiral” of reduced sales having to use a pen name. Thanks to Gwenda for the link. (My current pen name, btw, which I’ve been using for over 25 years, is “Stephen King”.)

Really, though, I think we should embrace our other selves. A pen name provides a kind of freedom to reinvent oneself. It also depends on how much ego you have tied up in your name. If necessary–and even if unnecessary–I’d happily write under other names. In fact, should I ever finish this book for middle schoolers that I’m working on, I’ll be using the name “Buckwaldo Mudthumper” (so back off, Felix Gilman, Mr. Punkpunk–it’s taken!).

So, what’s your literary pen name? THIS IS THE OFFICIAL FORMULA (as created by, um, me):

(1) Use the first name of your favorite writer as your first name.
(2) Use the name of your first pet as your middle name or for your middle initial (if your pet had a separate last name…you’re a freak).
(3) Use the first or last name of your favorite character in fiction–your choice–as your last name.

Thus, I would be Vladimir Tiko Ahab…er, or not.

Jeff

Nick Mamatas and Ellen Datlow Editing Open Antho

Jeff VanderMeer • April 28th, 2008 • Uncategorized

In case you missed it on Nick’s livejournal, he and Datlow are editing a ghost story anthology for Tor Books. And, it has an open reading period. I believe this is the first time a Datlow edited or co-edited antho has read unsolicited submissions (although, of course, she did so, exhaustively, for SciFiction). So go to Nick’s livejournal and READ THE GUIDELINES VERY CAREFULLY. It’s a nice opportunity.

Elfpunk?

Jeff VanderMeer • April 27th, 2008 • Uncategorized

And I thought that the ABC Book Show presenter was joking

James and Kathryn Morrow’s European SF Anthology

Jeff VanderMeer • April 27th, 2008 • Culture, Videos

My Pop Culture video interview, above, and Amazon feature. The book is just out in trade paperback.

Vladimir Nabokov and My Bookshelves

Jeff VanderMeer • April 27th, 2008 • Book Reviews, Culture

With The Original of Laura, Vladimir Nabokov’s final novel, now set to be published, and NPR re-running a feature today on Lolita, I thought it might be a good time to share photos of my Nabokov collection (after the cut below).

Nabokov is and probably always will be my favorite fiction writer. Why? He was a master prose stylist but also created incredibly subtle characterizations. He often deployed satire and humor, but it was always anchored by tragedy and by depth. He was unafraid of using experimental structures, but he did so because his characters demanded it. He did not shy away from showing cruelty and violence–and understood the necessity of doing so. It’s for this reason that his style works, because it supports something much rougher and less polished underneath. Most of his novels demand a second, a third, a fourth, read–and the books change every time you read them. Some day I hope to have the time re-read Nabokov from beginning to end. Along with doing a biography of Angela Carter, one of my dream projects would be to do a book on Nabokov, focusing on my favorites among his works. (I think I’ve read every major piece of criticism on Nabokov by now.)

The photo above, by the way, is by Jacob McMurray for my SF Site piece on lost books. At the time I suggested Martin Amis might finish The Original of Laura:

Nabokov intended to complete this novel after finishing Look at the Harlequins!, but ill health prevented him from doing so. For many years, all Nabokovites had to sustain them were such Laura notes as “Inspiration. Radiant insomnia. The flavour and snows of beloved alpine slopes. A novel without an I, without a he, but with the narrator, a gliding eye, being implied throughout.” None of which revealed much about the plot. In 1999, a friend of the Nabokovs — a roving entomologist on a Fulbright — found a series of notecards hidden in the casing of a Nabokov butterfly case donated to Cornell University upon his death. The notecards sketched out a preliminary draft of The Original of Laura. Dmitri Nabokov then enlisted the help of Martin Amis to complete the novel. In that a first person narrator replaces Nabokov’s “gliding eye” and that Amis inserted several seedy characters and changed the setting of the novel to London’s underbelly, one might wonder if it would have been better had the notecards remained with the butterflies.

Of all the photos below, the one that is most frustrating to me–if a photograph can frustrate–is the one showing Nabokov’s Russian translation of Alice in Wonderland. It would be wonderful to know Russian and be able to read his version, since I imagine it is significantly changed from the original to fit his native language.

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Defrosting Squid Is Always a Pain

Jeff VanderMeer • April 27th, 2008 • Uncategorized

I sympathize with these scientists. We had a similar problem–had a squid over, had to freeze him for a variety of reasons (mostly, squabbling with the neighbors), and then when it came time for defrosting…dear lord! What a mess! Granted, he was pretty shoved into the freezer, so… (Thanks to Larry for the link.)

Steampunk: Just Another Working Saturday

Jeff VanderMeer • April 26th, 2008 • Uncategorized

Jeff: So…that Steampunk special offer

Ann: Yeah, we’ve got to sign 20 copies, right?

Jeff: It’s closer to 150…

Ann: Motherf***er. But just sign, right?

Jeff: I promised zeppelins.

Ann: You what? You what?

Jeff: We’ve got to draw blimps which each one.

Ann: I can’t even draw a blimp.

Jeff: We have to now.

Ann: How long is this offer good for?

Jeff: Until May 15th.

Ann: [unprintable]

Jeff: Make sure your handwriting is legible.

Ann: Make sure you guard your nuts.

UPDATE: Two samples of blimps gone awry…We’re doing the signing and blimps first and then personalizing…

Jeff: I should have been an illustrator!

Ann: We’d really be starving then…

A few more images..

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