Archive for December, 2008

60 in 60: #10 – Paine’s Common Sense (Penguin’s Great Ideas)

Jeff VanderMeer • December 24th, 2008 • 60 in 60, Book Reviews

This blog post is part of my ongoing “60 Books in 60 Days” encounter with the Penguin Great Ideas series. From mid-December to mid-February, I will read one book in the series each night and post a blog entry about it the next morning. For more on this beautifully designed series, visit Penguin’s page about the books.

Common Sense
by Thomas Paine (1737-1809)

Memorable Line
“No man was a warmer wisher for reconciliation than myself, before the fatal nineteenth of April 1775 (massacre at Lexington), but the moment the event of that day was made known, I rejected the hardened, sullen tempered Pharaoh of — for ever; and disdain the wretch, that with the pretended title of FATHER OF HIS PEOPLE can unfeelingly hear of their slaughter, and composedly sleep with their blood upon his soul.”

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Larry at OFBlog on Tie-In Fiction

Jeff VanderMeer • December 23rd, 2008 • Culture

Larry has read a few media tie-in novels and posted his thoughts here:

http://ofblog.blogspot.com/2008/12/reading-tie-in-fiction-outsiders.html

Glad Predator came off well, although had hoped someone might comment on the strange-ass alien virus that plays a role therein.

Predator was a renovation of the familiar. If offered an Aliens novel it would be a totally different reading experience as I have some pretty radical ideas in mind. I have wanted to work out a fairly intense space opera in the Aliens universe for some time. (This would then be my last tie-in novel. And I could never do a Star Wars novel–I am in awe of anyone, like Stover, who can handle all that backstory and still move forward.)

FX’s TV Series Testees: Guilty Pleasure or Just Plain Hilarious?

Jeff VanderMeer • December 23rd, 2008 • Culture

I have been enjoying the heck out of this half-hour show detailing the adventures of two friends who make money taking experimental drugs from Testco. One turns them blind. Another makes them unable to feel pain. Etc.

The implications of each situation are skillfully played out, the dialog is crisp, and a few eccentric minor characters round things out.

I have been laughing my ass off. Anyone seen this show? Like it? Hate it?

From Squidpunk to Predator: My Year in Review

Jeff VanderMeer • December 23rd, 2008 • Uncategorized

In addition to co-editing The New Weird, Steampunk, Best American Fantasy 2, and Fast Ships, Black Sails, I started a new literary movement called Squidpunk (see video above), and published fiction in Black Clock literary magazine, the Nick Gevers-edited Extraordinary Engines, alt-culture mag Polluto, and Postscripts (some retold fairy tales). Several stories were podcast by StarShipSofa. Wired.com ran “The Situation” as a free download accompanying an interview on GeekDad. I also collaborated with The Church on a full CD soundtrack for Shriek: An Afterword.

I wrote four or five reviews for the Washington Post Book World, over 150 features for Amazon’s Omnivoracious book blog, a new Huffington Post political fiction column, a couple of reviews for the Barnes & Noble Review, a regular book review column in Realms of Fantasy (in addition to a graphic novel column and a profile of Joseph Nigg), an introduction for Rhys Hughes’ Engelbrecht collection, a review for The Believer, and a few other things I can’t remember right now. My story “The Third Bear” from last year was a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award and at least one other. “Fixing Hanover” from Extraordinary Engines was taken for the Strahan and Horton year’s bests.

I also completed Finch, the last novel in the Ambergris Cycle, began work on Booklife, began work on a Torture Squid comic with Zach Taylor, and sold a book on Steampunk DIY subculture with Jake von Slatt to Artisan Books.

Forthcoming books in 2009 include:

May – The Best of Michael Moorcock (co-edited with Ann and John Davey)
June – The Leonardo Variations - A Clarion charity anthology (edited with Ann)
September – Last Drink Bird Head – A charity anthology for literacy (edited with Ann)
October – Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for 21st Century Writers
Late October – Finch (Ambergris novel, including the limited edition)
November – The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals

In addition, I will be doing some interesting things for the Shared Worlds teen writing camp and an exciting new website and online project in support of the Booklife book. Our travel schedule is not completely set, but looks to include events in Los Angeles, Riverside CA, Louisiana, and New York City.

Major thanks to my wife, Ann, for her help with everything I did in 2008–and major thanks also to Matt Staggs for his help. Thanks to all of you for putting up with such a deluge of books. More often than not, our campaigns were successful and the books got good send-offs because of you.

In terms of books published in 2008, here’s a quick overview.

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60 in 60: #9 – Gibbon’s The Christians and the Fall of Rome (Penguin’s Great Ideas)

Jeff VanderMeer • December 23rd, 2008 • 60 in 60, Book Reviews

This blog post is part of my ongoing “60 Books in 60 Days” encounter with the Penguin Great Ideas series. From mid-December to mid-February, I will read one book in the series each night and post a blog entry about it the next morning. For more on this beautifully designed series, visit Penguin’s page about the books.

The Christians and the Fall of Rome
by Edward Gibbon

Memorable Line
“Disdaining an ignominious flight, the virgins of the warm climate of Africa encountered the enemy in the closest engagement; they permitted priests and deacons to share their bed, and gloried amidst the flames in their unsullied purity.”

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Visit Anne Sydenham’s Eye Candy for Bibliophiles

Jeff VanderMeer • December 22nd, 2008 • Book Reviews, Culture, Photos

If you haven’t checked out Eye Candy for Bibliophiles, you really should. Anne’s been posting some great covers of old fantasy books and other wonderful stuff.

Riley Meets Elmo and a Giant Penguin

Jeff VanderMeer • December 22nd, 2008 • Videos

If the Elmo bores you, the giant penguin that Sir Tessa sent us kicks in after about two minutes.

The Year in Review: I Think Ann VanderMeer Deserves a Medal

Jeff VanderMeer • December 22nd, 2008 • News, Uncategorized

By anyone’s standards this was a busy year for Ann and me. I had several books of various types out (more on that in a separate post), including ones I co-edited with Ann. But of the two of us, Ann clearly had the more hectic schedule.

In addition to working a 40- to 50-hour day job, she read slush all year, selected the fiction for five issues of Weird Tales, did half the work on The New Weird, and much more than that on Steampunk, Fast Ships, Black Sails, and Best American Fantasy 2. This in addition to helping teach bat mitzvah students, and planning and doing events in Czech Republic, Romania, New York, and San Francisco, among others. She also basically served as my manager for two months while I was offline. (And even now, she’s putting together and editing The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals.)

It’s been a heck of an adventure in one of our busiest years ever, and I think for her editorial exploits she deserves a medal–especially because for Weird Tales she’s doing the hardest thing you can do as a fiction editor: pick work primarily by new writers. This is a rare skill because you can’t reply on the crutch of someone’s reputation. Many of the writers appearing in Weird Tales this year represent the next generation of exciting dark fantasy writers, and you’ll see their names appearing more frequently in part because of Ann’s patronage. (Check out this free, downloadable issue.)

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Hannukah, with Loot and Bear

Jeff VanderMeer • December 22nd, 2008 • Photos

Some new additions to our mantel, after the first night of Hannukah. Erin and Riley came over and we had a great dinner, with Ann making potato pancakes.

Below, for those who haven’t read it (I’ve posted it before), the story of me, Erin, and the Hannukah Bear…

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60 in 60: #8 – Rousseau’s The Social Contract (Penguin’s Great Ideas)

Jeff VanderMeer • December 22nd, 2008 • 60 in 60, Book Reviews

This blog post is part of my ongoing “60 Books in 60 Days” encounter with the Penguin Great Ideas series. From mid-December to mid-February, I will read one book in the series each night and post a blog entry about it the next morning. For more on this beautifully designed series, visit Penguin’s page about the books.

The Social Contract
by Jean-Jacques Rousseau (1712-1778)

Memorable Line
“Any man can carve tablets of stone, or bribe an oracle, claim a secret intercourse with some divinity, train a bird to whisper in his ear, or discover some other vulgar means of imposing himself on the people. A man who can do such things may conceivably bring together a company of fools, but he will never establish an empire, and his bizarre creation will perish with him.”

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