Books Received–May 19 (Aqueduct Press)

Aqueduct Press, founded by the mega-talented L. Timmel Duchamp, started out as a somewhat no-frills indie focusing on publishing women writers and feminist-oriented literature. Now, no doubt in preparation for Wiscon, they’ve got a new catalog out, a nice-looking newsletter, and the latest in Duchamp’s political science fiction series.

The point of starting an indie press should almost always be not to replicate what already exists from New York publishers, but to specialize in a type of fiction or nonfiction that gets short-shrift from commercial publishers. Aqueduct has done an amazing job over the last few years of publishing great fiction and nonfiction within their niche. They deserve your support.

Good Press for New Weird and Steampunk

The New Weirdand Steampunk got some good press over the weekend.

The New Weird received an excellent review from David McWilliam on the Interzone site, reading in part, “Ann & Jeff VanderMeer’s impressive anthology is the perfect starting point for an exploration of the innovative New Weird movement in genre fiction.” The June F&SF, which should be in bookstores soon, also features a very positive review of the antho from James Sallis, which, in part, talks about my introduction, calling it “a remarkably concise, thoughtful, and balanced essay on the ‘moment or movement.'” (You can find the intro in the current issue of The New York Review of SF, btw.)

Steampunk, meanwhile, popped up on Media Bistro and OF Blog of the Fallen, with another review from Kirkus that appears to be positive but which I can’t access. It’s early days for Steampunk reviews, though. Also, the first edition is sold out except for copies still in bookstores and available through Amazon and other online booksellers. The New Weird will go back for reprint soon, as well.

Carolyn Kellogg at LA Times’ Jacket Copy Doing a Lit Tour of the USA

As she announced here recently, Carolyn Kellogg of Jacket Copy is doing a literary tour of the country. In fact, I got an email from her today as she was passing through Tallahassee, asking about literary highlights. I turned her on to every working writer’s favorite Tally place to hang out and work, The Black Dog Cafe.

By tonight, she’ll be in New Orleans. Check out Jacket Copy for her posts about her adventures.

What Do You Listen to When Writing?

I’ve been listening to this playlist now for almost three years, and it never gets old. I’ve listed them in alpha order by musician/band, but the order on my playlist is different, using the Ulysses’ Gaze tracks intermittently to provide a kind of cohesive framework. Perfect for writing. What do you listen to?

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OFB of the Fallen’s Neuropath Review

Here’s Larry’s review of the forthcoming R. Scott Bakker novel, Neuropath, along with comments.

I’ve only just started in on the novel, but the comments on Larry’s review are very interesting. I generally find OF Blog of the Fallen to post some pretty interesting stuff, and I respect Larry as a reviewer (obviously), but I have to agree with the comments. It’s not really the reviewer’s job to determine what is “difficult” or not for readers. It not only unintentionally condescends to readers, it may put off some people who would enjoy the book by convincing them they shouldn’t buy it.

I would also suspect it’s at times a self-fulfilling prophecy: that readers who are told a novel is difficult will indeed find it difficult, whereas if they’re primed and prepped for it in a more positive way, they may get over that hump more easily. In any event, as a reader, I just want the facts and an analysis of what works and doesn’t. I’ll decide for myself just how difficult or not-difficult a book is. This pre-judging is a way, sometimes intentional and sometimes not, of confining a novel to a narrow readership. Mostly, I just feel as a reader that it’s potentially corrosive to my relationship with a novel, no matter how independent minded I might be.

Thus far, for the record, I don’t find there to be anything difficult about Neuropath at all.

(Evil Monkey: You don’t find this difficult? Jeff: I find it annoying more than difficult. If I were, for example, trying to contact him for an Amazon feature and his email wasn’t on his site, or at least his publicist’s email, I’d probably just go on to the next writer. Too busy to be bothered to go to a “forum” he might or might not check right away. Evil Monkey: I think you’re difficult, VanderMeer.)

Are Editors Responsible for Who Sends Submissions? (Alternatively: What the F— is Homeland Security Doing Calling us?)

So you may remember this post, in which I said one of Ann’s submissions had been opened by Homeland Security.

Well, this morning Ann got a purported call from Homeland Security trying to verify her name and social security number. They asked for Ann “Kennedy,” not only her ex-husband’s name but the name on the envelope of the submission HS had opened. The person had the wrong social and Ann didn’t volunteer the right one.

If this call was legitimate, and we think it might have been because no one calls us asking for Ann “Kennedy”–they either call asking for her under her maiden name or VanderMeer–it does raise an interesting question: Can magazine editors be held responsible for who sends submissions to them? The sensible answer is, of course, NO. But Ann’s still going to follow up on this to try to verify the legitimacy of the call, etc.

Friday Night Videos on Amazon (and cool animated flicks here)

This time, I’ve saved the YouTube mash-up idea for the Amazon video feature. You’ll note you synch up two videos for one experience, all about a new graphic novel called Bluesman.

As for what I’m “offering” here–two kinda cool new (?) animated films. Curious what you think of them–the second one I really love. And then, two flicks by Svankmajer, the great Czech filmmaker. The second one is a remix in the sense that someone has set a soundtrack to it that isn’t from the original. I’m not sure if it qualifies as a travesty or not, but if you hate the music, the images are still cool. Check out all of Svankmajer’s videos on YouTube. One of my favorites.

Jeff

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