The City & The Monkey

C-t-y-i. Ctyi. Cyti. Ciyt. Yict. Yict! YICT!

Evil Monkey:
Jeez Louise, Jeff, what the heck is wrong? Yer sitting in the dark mumbling crap to yourself. In a corner no less. Facing the wall.

Can’t get. Can’t get. The word right. It doesn’t mean anything anymore.

Evil Monkey:
What word? What word could be that important.

This word–see, on this piece of paper.

Evil Monkey:

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Nocturnal Conspiracies: Inspired Grotesquery


I just posted my Graphic Novel Friday feature on Omnivoracious, about David B.’s Nocturnal Conspiracies. I was originally going to review this in tandem with Koren Shadmi’s In the Flesh, but someone told me a Boston publication had already done that. Anyway, in case I don’t get around to In the Flesh, I highly recommend its surreal/dream-like stories of romantic encounters gone strange.


For this type of art to work, it must be composed primarily of what I call “charged” images. On a basic level, an image in a book or a painting can either be inert or charged, with other descriptions of this latter state ranging from “luminous” to the banal and simplistic “symbolic” (because the term inevitably reduces image to one thing or another, and evokes the word “Freudian,” which imposes strict purpose on imagery in a way I find distasteful). An inert image is one that more or less is what it represents, without any further life inhabiting it. A charged image is also what it represents, but contains some other quality that animates it in the reader’s mind. It has a resonance that connects with something universal, or perhaps even something personal.

China Mieville’s “Leave an Idea, Take an Idea”: A Wiki of Potentiality

Yes, yes, I know, you weak bastards. Yer totally sick of China Mieville. “Why, I don’t know if I have it in me to pick up the book now, because his voice is in my head and I don’t like what it’s telling me to do…”

Anyhoo…do go and check out his latest guest blogging post at Omnivoracious, because it’s quite wonderful and full of great stuff. “But he’s pullin’ a Tom Sawyer, he is,” you say. “He’s gettin’ others to paint the fence.” No, no–that’s just China Ubiquity Fatigue (CUF) talking. This truly is some very cool stuff. Even Evil Monkey agrees.


It’s melancholy when you realise there are more things you’d like to do, or write, than you’ll have time to, in your entire life. The endless triage of decent thoughts is necessary, a bit miserable, and a strong argument for the desirability of immortality. You cling even to the ones you doubt you’ll start, as long as you can bear, just in case you find the time you know you won’t.

But there’s another category of ideas, a bit less frustrating, slightly more confusing, and necessitating a different response. These are those that are really, in one’s own humble opinion, decent, with a potentially great audience, and without question worthy of pursuing…but that you know you’d mess up. If you even had time to start.

Unabashed Ego Bo–Ken Bruen!

“FINCH just blew me to hell and gone. I would have sworn you can’t unite noir and fantasy, and oh how gloriously wrong Jeff VanderMeer proved me to be. Finch is a detective unlike any you’ve encountered and is utterly compelling. He is faced with a double murder that you shake your head, go….you’re done Finch. Not quite. I loved the meeting of the grime and the sublime and oh so beautifully crafted. Rarely has a novel got it all. Think Cormac McCarthy, via David Goodis, with an amazing nod to Lovecraft and still that doesn’t quite capture the spell this novel casts from the off. Me, I loved the Heretic. That’s a hint.” – Ken Bruen

I’m a huge fan of Bruen’s novels–his spare, evocative use of dialogue and his ability to set a scene in so few words. The best of his work feels like everything extraneous has been cut away.

New From Dalkey Archive Press: The Other City by Michal Ajvaz

A short feature on Omnivoracious about Ajvaz’s The Other City. It achieves its effects in a minor key, but I found it satisfying.

With China Mieville guestblogging this week in connection with the release of The City & The City, I thought I might focus on a book that nicely co-exists with some of the fantastical concepts set out in Mieville’s novel, although very different in texture, intent, and execution. The Other City by Czech writer Michal Ajvaz repopulates the city of Kafka with ghosts, eccentrics, talking animals, and impossible statues. As the jacket copy reads, the novel serves as a kind of “guidebook to this invisible ‘other Prague,’ overlapping the workaday world: a place where libraries can turn into jungles, secret passages yawn beneath our feet, and waves lap at our bedspreads.”

That Arrogant Bastard Is In Our House Again

(Okay, so the cats didn’t care about any of this…)

Actually, it’s not Arrogant Bastard, but it’s free samples from the same Stone Brewing Company that we know and love. Next week Ann and I will gather a series of recent books, open the beer, and sip from both books and beer to determine what books go best with their thirteenth anniversary ale and their stout, for a post on Amazon. Sometimes this is a terrible job.

Oh how the anticipation rose after we realized the box was not full of more books…

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Shared Worlds Podcast Interview at Agony Column

(Taken from The Guardian’s feature on Shared Worlds and fantastical cities–thanks, Alison Flood, for picking up the story.)

Rick Kleffel at the Agony Column just ran a podcast interview with me about the Shared World camp that pretty much gives you an overview of what it is and how it works. Great questions from Rick, one of the hardest-working people I know.

Thanks to everyone who ran the Shared Worlds story yesterday, including: Omnivoracious, Warren Ellis, io9, the LA Times blog, Boing Boing,, Maud Newton, Revolution SF, Bibliophile Stalker, Simon Drax, Walker of Worlds, and especially SF Signal for partnering with us on this feature. I know there are others, but this is what’s coming up on my Google right now.

I really appreciate it. It’s a great cause, and getting the word out helps build momentum and lets more teens and their parents know the camp exists as an option. Thanks also to awesome sponsors TOR Books, Wizards of the Coast LLC, and Realms of Fantasy.

China Mieville’s Five Movements to Watch Out For; Are There Only *Five*?

Because I am a smart-arse, this might be my favorite of China Mieville’s guest posts this week, although the next one contains some mighty awesome ideas.

In a nutshell, China writes that “It’s been a while since we’ve had some red-hot literary-movement action…I thought we could save a bit of time by naming a few movements in advance, then writing books to fit. That way we could start arguing about them without having to wait through those tiresome publication schedules.”

He then sets out five such movements:

Zombiefail ’09-ism
LitFic Praetorians

He’s even got guidelines for discussion, like for Zombiefail:

What to say: ‘It’s a cultural tragedy, this commodified camp of the Death Drive.’

What not to say: ‘Moar Brainzz!’

But I think there are probably more. Are there more? I know the Romantic Underground has come and gone. We all know the fate of the New Weird–although it looks like it’s about to be shoehorned into the Noooooirdddd–and the Mundanes are still glowering out there somewhere…but what else? C’mon folks. Put on your prediction hats. We can dispense with a ton of other nascent movements in about ten seconds flat and get on with our lives.

Seriously, though–go read the piece. It’s a classic.

Mid-Week Palate Cleanser: Michael Phillips’ Nemesis

Dune-haters…tremble before the dunecat!!!

Er, found here, by way of the awesome MKR.