Landscape, Texture, and Detail: Elinor-Klapp Phipps Park

(The road running along the edge of Elinor-Klapp Phipps Park outside of Tallahassee, Florida; this is a long post, so get the heck out while you still can.)


Sounds: Cicada firesong, reaving stacatto through the trees, the pinhole chatter of a transmission none of us can understand; recursive bobwhite harmlessly piercing; distant intelligent yarple-yap of coyote (maybe fox?); whirring kung-fu of a dozen different species of grasshopper; nervous rustle of spastic squirrels; hard fall of nuts falling from trees; cheeky call of various woodpeckers; soft crack of tree bark sundered a dozen times in rustle-bushes; sharp smack of rain drops against oak leaves, against sedgeweed and blackberry bushes; cheery peeping bark of tree frogs as soon as the rain hits.

Smells: Something dead, definitely, that’s still turning and wanting to be alive; loamy thick dead wood; stench of heat expelled from the throat; fresh-quick scent of rain coming on quickly, overtaking the heat; sour of unripe fruit; stale must of Spanish moss.

Textures: Bark, pebbles, grasses, leaves, dirt, mud, empty turtle eggshell, fungi, tufts of fur…

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Electric Six and Jarvis Cocker: Bringing the Raunch

I went over to the world’s coolest CD store (even though my daughter Erin no longer works there), Vinyl Fever, and sold some CDs, bought some CDs, and even came out ahead in the cash-flow department.

The CDs I bought are, coincidentally, linked by their somewhat raunchy, grind-it-out approach to the music and lyrics. For Electric Six, on I Shall Exterminate Everything Around Me That Restricts Me From Being the Master, this comes naturally–from a disco/funk/garage rock perspective.

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Paper Tyger’s Juliet Ulman: Editor Extraordinaire

I’ve run an interview/feature on Juliet Ulman at the Omnivoracious book blog. Juliet now runs Paper Tyger, but for over a decade she worked for Bantam Spectra. In the process, she was responsible for editing and publishing a slew of amazing books. She also provided a great U.S./NY publisher home for Veniss Underground, City of Saints & Madmen, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases. I always thought she was a great editor, but she was good at the small grace notes, too–like sending me odd gifts or funny emails. In this business, those touches make a big difference to a writer. She also did a wonderful job of making sure City and the fake disease guide got reproduced and marketed correctly.

Below find some quotes from her writers that I couldn’t fit into the piece. (Please feel free to spread the links to the feature and to this post–it’s a substantive interview.)

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The Alien Baby in Antarctica

(More alien baby in Antarctica, general alien baby here…and Henry Kaiser’s penguin tricked out with critter cam and decomposing amphipod-eaten seal head, for good measure.)


Dr. Larry Gilchrist, Ph.D.

To be honest, my first thought as research leader was: I’m not prepared for this. Then the relief poured over me as Dave and Sandra pulled the object free of the trap and I understood it was plastic. It could not have been more plastic had “Made in China” been tattooed on its posterior. Still, something about its sightless eyes mocked me. I demanded Dave and Sandra explain its presence in the trap. For several weeks, I had begun to believe they doubted my abilities as research leader, a well-deserved promotion due to my twenty-two years of seniority. I was almost certain Dave resented it—and if Dave, then Sandra.

“How did it get in there?” I asked. The trap had been empty when I had sent it down through the hole in the ice, down into that endless dark blue penetrating the seamless white.

Dave shrugged, denied culpability. Sandra merely raised her eyebrows. I could feel the heat of their disdain, but decided to ignore it. The walls of our “research station”—shack, hovel, tin-plated survival square, whatever you wish to call it—were more than usually claustrophobic.

“Where could it have come from?”

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Hot Dutch Couple Kicks Ass with Chaos…

…er, or something like that. It’s late. I’m tired. BUT, “Escober” did a great job answering my questions for an Omnivoracious feature. Check it out. They deserve your attention. Really intelligent stuff. And don’t forget all the cool stuff you can win in the contest the publisher is running…

*** What’re some of the most unusual reactions you’ve gotten to the books from fans?

Escober: One quite dramatic one that we will never forget was a reader who emailed us to tell us that he recognized his own restlessness and frustration in Sil Maier in Restless, and decided to divorce his wife and change his life completely…Some readers think at least half of what they read happened to us in real life. Even army-people think we served in Bosnia, because from their perspective it is impossible to know how it feels if you’ve never been there (in reality Bosnia is the only place we didn’t visit for Chaos, we did go to Mexico, England, Spain, etc). We think this is the best compliment anybody can give a writer–people think parts of our books are autobiographical. Some fans visit our signings wearing Escober T-shirts, which is also a great honour; in Europe people are not overly star-struck and only behave like this at rock concerts. Not at book signings.

VanderBear Judging Micro Fiction Contest

I’m judging this Brain Harvest Mega Contest. Er, well, kinda. They’re picking the top 10 and I’m picking the winners from the top 10. I hope I don’t have to demand a recount.

To Read or Not to Read? Surely…Read? (June 10th Facebook Discussion)

I posted the following status message on my Facebook profile page…

Jeff VanderMeer: Writers who don’t read a lot are like musicians who never listen to music. Don’t care how busy you are, you’re stunting your professional development.

…and then this interesting conversation broke out, offered up to all you blog readers not on Facebook. I was going to edit the entries but decided with fact-checking and all…I didn’t have the time. Beside, they read just fine. So here they are in the raw, with just a couple of “I agrees” from Angela Slatter (who has a new post on networking here) and administrative bits flensed. I should note that Steve Hlavac is an awesome photographer, and adds a different perspective to what’s mostly a writer-dominated conversation.

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Facebook Statuses You Might’ve “Missed” If You’re Not My Facebook Friend

See. See what yer missing, from just the last day, over at Facebook? (Or not)

– Repubs–stop talking about government “interference” in health care. We’re already being held hostage by insurance companies. And ya know what–*preventative* medicine makes sense. We live in a crazy world when idiotic ideas can get any traction. It’s like Alice in Wonderland with thirty mad hatters.

– To the two naked weirdoes getting it on in the ridiculous heat of San Luis park in the dirt: thank you for completely disgustifying my hike. And, ma’am, that butterfly tattoo is big enuf to be a pterodactyl.

– Writers who don’t read a lot are like musicians who never listen to music. Don’t care how busy you are, you’re stunting your professional development.

– With about a month til 41, here’s the tally: creaky left knee, squinty right eye, scar on left tricep, scar on bottom of right foot, the ghosts of about two thousand papercuts, possible cavity, partial deafness in left ear, clear onset of possible halfheimer’s. Not bad!

– The wonderful Rina Weisman informs me I can buy decorative Finches for the Finch/Booklife book release party at World Fantasy. Only problem is, to complete the symbolism, they’ll have to be packing heat, be infiltrated by fungus, eat squid, and be able to survive being blown up by bombs.

– Statements that you definitely ignore if married, #1: Gym cafe cashier says “If I ever need a workout, I know who to go to.”

– Happy International Turn Off Your Computer, Hit Your Boss, and Have Some Vodka Day! (being self-employed, I hate this day)

– The geckos that have replaced the anoles over time are pinkish-translucent with mottled bands. Gold-flecked black eyes and tiny pink tongues. Come out at dusk and have a knack of blending with wood and shadow. Feast on moths and night wasps. Look up at me with a curious combination of wariness and lack of guile.

Veniss Underground in Poland: Google Says “Hallucinogens Not Needed”

Veniss Underground comes out in Poland in July, apparently–looks like a lovely edition! I believe that Shriek: An Afterword comes out later, if I am remembering correctly what my agent told me. Here’s some of the Google translation of the description from that page, just to show you how Google can give you the gist but still be silly. Alas, I don’t know Polish. Do hope to visit in the next year or two.

“The underground venisse to dark beauty and a true story koszmarna, winning fantastic land assault, which transforms in a completely new quality. Jeff VanderMeer has not wasted time to create a conventional, coherent futuristic world, instead of its characters are simple and almost mitologicznÄ… live in the countryside, many of which owe both Hieronimowi Boschowi and Salvadorowi Dali, as well as SF authors such as JG Ballard and Simon ings. RozgrywajÄ…ce the world outside the disaster progressed side by side with a deep reflection and discovery by the protagonists themselves. Are also full of intense, scattered pages of the novel at all moments of beauty and horror, alive wyjÄ™tych directly from the bad dream.

Warning: Readers’ underworld venisse discourages the adoption during the reading of hallucinogens. Will not be needed. And well.

Last Drink Bird Head: An October Surprise

Cover design by Jacob McMurray, art by Scott Eagle, the devilish surrealist. The first release from my newly woken Ministry of Whimsy Press, with information up soon on the site of our new protector, Wyrm Publishing. A planned October release in a limited hardcover edition.

Contributors include Michael Bishop, Gene Wolfe, Tanith Lee, Peter Straub, Stephen R. Donaldson, Michael Swanwick, Henry Kaiser, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Bruce Holland Rogers, Conrad Williams, Daniel Abraham, Ellen Kushner, Holly Phillips, Jay Lake, K.J. Bishop, Jon Courtney Grimwood, Sonya Taaffe, Tim Pratt, Sarah Monette, Rikki Ducornet, Nick Mamatas, Nicholas Royle, Marly Youmans, Liz Williams, Brian Evenson, Steve Aylett, Cat Rambo, Richard Butner, and a ton of others….

And below, the original inspiration for the anthology, art by Eric Schaller (which will serve as the fronticepiece). I did a short piece based on the art for Secret Life Redux, which may or may not go in the anthology. Then Matt Cheney did a smart-ass piece based on the name of the art, Last Drink Bird Head, and then a lightbulb clicked on in my head. Now it’s a charity antho for literacy coming out just in time for World Fantasy. (Right now, plans are to have a party after the opening ceremonies, Thursday night, called Last Drink Bird Head that celebrates the release of Finch, Booklife, LDBH, a new Weird Tales, and, erm, some probable surprises.)