Books You Find While Rooting Around for Weird Fiction…

…and would like to read or re-read but can’t because you’ve got to read weird short fiction…and pretend to be a Mecha-Ostrich…and things of that nature… (Wild Women has a great great story by Nadine Gordimer in the form of a letter to Kafka from his father; great William Trevor story in the Manguel antho.)

Snippets of the Hunt for Weird

Dear Diary:

Today encountered 77th supposedly classic iteration of the formula in which, on the very last page, the supernatural makes its entrance on the wings of the following:

“Why, I was delighted to meet and have a splendid conversation with your mother/ father/ wife/ son/ daughter/ brother/ sister/ gardener/ plumber/ consierge/ frog the other day in that little abandoned room far from all the light fixtures!”

“What? Why, my mother/ father/ wife/ son/ daughter/ brother/ sister/ gardener/ plumber/ consierge/ frog has been dead for years!” (Or, “What? Why I have no mother/ father/ wife/ son/ daughter/ brother/ sister/ gardener/ plumber/ consierge/ frog and have lived alone for years!”)

Ann: “Jeff, some writers are underrated for a reason.”

Compendium of Weird

That thar is the catalog image for the big book of weird fiction Ann and I are putting together for Atlantic/Corvus, to be turned in around May 1st and published in November. It may turn out to be a placeholder, but I find it oddly comforting and comfortable. Heh.

The catalog page has us both even more excited about the project, although it’s crazy in a sense to see the catalog page while we’re still working on it and have only begun to contact agents and the like for the first batch of acceptances. Still working on the title of the book, too.

Forbidden Planet Blog Celebrates Five Years

I don’t believe I’ve ever met Joe Gordon, the chief mastermind behind the Forbidden planet blog. We correspond via email, though, and I know when I do finally meet him it’ll be like meeting an old friend. And now that old friend’s blog has turned five! Joe’s written over 5,000 posts in the last five years for the blog. It’s one of my favorites–I visit it a few times a week. Highly recommended. And congrats for turning five!

Filling Out the Comments Section, Local Bagel Store Survey

There’s nothing like a bagel from friendly people who have the normal number of heads. I also am very fond of the temperature in the store. The fact that there are lights makes the place cheery and also not dark. I like to be able to see my hands when I enter a place and not have to light a candle to see the menu. There were chairs with all of the tables, and tables with all of the chairs. I also appreciated that there were no flying creatures in the store, like in some Long John Silver’s. I am afraid I did not find my long-lost brother in the store, but then I didn’t expect to.

Steampunk Reloaded–Table of Contents

(Rough of the cover)

Without further pomp or ceremony, we present our latest anthology’s full contents. We’re both extremely happy with how it turned out–including materials original to the book and some great reprints at its heart.

UPDATE: Can now confirm that Jacques Barcia’s story from a Brazilian steampunk antho last year, translated from the Portuguese, will appear as a web exclusive in October in connection with the publication of Steampunk Reloaded.

UPDATE 2/24: We’ve confirmed that we’ll also reproduce an installment of Sydney Padua’s Lovelace and Babbage comic in the anthology. – Ann & Jeff

Edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, from Tachyon, Oct. 2010
Interior design by John Coulthart, the genius behind The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, et al.

This lavishly illustrated anthology edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer builds on the strengths of the World Fantasy Award nominated first volume, presenting 155,000 words of rich and varied Steampunk stories, nonfiction, and art that plays off the idea of Steampunk not just in the context of dirigibles and other antiquated technology but also as connected to the maker movement and other aspects of the Steampunk subculture that have begun to infiltrate the literature. It includes the William Gibson story that inspired the Steampunk offshoot of “Raygun Gothic”.

Original Art by:
Winona Cookie
John Coulthart
Eric Orchard
Ivica Stevanovic

Original nonfiction by:
Gail Carriger, author of Soulless (fashion and fiction)
Jake Von Slatt of the Steampunk Workshop (maker movement)

Along with thoughts on the future of Steampunk by Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar, and others.

Original fiction by:

Ramsey Shehadeh, “The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe” – A fast-paced, riveting tale of time slips and the perils of colonialism, featuring the enigmatic Dromedons, rebellion, and a very strange train ride.

Vilhelm Bergsoe, “Flying Fish (Prometheus)”, translated by Dwight R. Decker – A novelette from 1869 previously unpublished in English, by a Danish writer. This progressive tale of the dirigible Flying Fish, written in the form of a letter from the future to the past, will dazzle you with its Steampunk stylings and its prescient knowledge of a genre that would not be named for more than another century!

“A Secret History of Steampunk” featuring further originals by:

Ekaterina Sedia “Two Short Excerpts from the Russian Book of the Improbable” – Eclipses and lunar seas collide with robots and airships in these delightful Russian clockwork concoctions presented in their original context as pages from the heretical (and possibly theoretical) Russian Book of the Improbable.

Jeffrey Ford, “Dr. Lash Remembers” – A harrowing tale of Steampunk disease that will make you think twice about jumping into an airship. It was recently discovered by Dr. Ford in a trunk whilst cleaning out his attic, and most probably penned by one of his forebears. Its original context as an extended fold-out broadsheet from the 1800s will be represented by facsimile.

Matthew Cheney, “Confessions and Complaints of a True Man” – Incontrovertible evidence of Steampunk invention in the time of the American transcendentalists, including mechanized elephants.

As well as contributions by Fabio Fernandes, Brian Stableford, Jess Nevins, and the Steampunk heretic known only as “The Mecha-Ostrich.”

Amazing Reprint Stories Culled from Broadsheets Far and Wide:

Daniel Abraham, “Balfour and Meriwether in the Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance”
Stephen Baxter, “The Unblinking Eye”
Winona Cookie, “The Unlikely Career of Portia Dreadnought,” “Artemesia’s Absinthe,” and “Obadiah Theremin, MD”
G.D. Falksen, “The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday”
William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum”
Samantha Henderson, “Wild Copper”
Caitlín R. Kiernan “The Steam Dancer (1896)”
Andrew Knighton, “The Cast-Iron Kid”
Marc Laidlaw, “Great Breakthroughs in Darkness”
Margo Lanagan, “Machine Maid”
Lisa Mantchev & James Grant, “As Recorded on Brass Cylinders: Adagio for Two Dancers”
Shweta Narayan, “The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar”
David Erik Nelson, “The Bold Explorer in the Place Beyond”
Cherie Priest “Tanglefoot”
Chris Roberson, “O One”
Margaret Ronald, “A Serpent in the Gears”
Catherynne M. Valente, “The Anachronist’s Cookbook”

What’re Your Top Five Under-rated Short Stories of All Time?

While Ann and I work on this insanely huge book of weird fiction, covering a century, I thought it might be fun to ask a targeted question:

What are the top five short stories you love but that you don’t think get nearly enough respect? Why should they be reconsidered?

It doesn’t have to be fantastical fiction–anything you like. If you can only think of two or three, that’s just fine.

Margaret Atwood in Tallahassee

Margaret Atwood came to Tallahassee last night to read and answer questions. I’ve written up an account for Omnivoracious.

I thought she was quite wonderful. In answering questions and talking about her books, she was happy to use terms like “speculative fiction” and refer to classics familiar within the genre like We. It became clear from her interactions with the audience that use or non-use of the term “science fiction” didn’t matter in the least. More importantly, given the environmental message of her last two novels, I can see why she would prefer not to use the term “science fiction”–it might seem somewhat limiting given that she seems committed to the idea of a sustainable future as much as she is to fiction. Regardless, it’s certainly her choice to self-define however the hell she wants to self-define.

I thought it interesting that she cites M.P. Shiel’s The Purple Cloud as a major influence in her interview in the local paper, along with Weird Tales comics, H.G. Wells, and Jules Verne.

The Third Bear–Final TOC

The TOC to The Third Bear, my first major story collection since Secret Life in 2004, has been finalized…finally. This includes the 9,000-word story “The Quickening,” which is original to the book, and which I turned in this morning. I’ll be writing some end matter and someone’s doing an introduction. Another new story, “Komodo,” has been dropped from the TOC because it’s still in progress and it might top out at thirty or forty thousand words. Not sure yet.

The Third Bear
The Quickening
Finding Sonoria
The Situation
Fixing Hanover
Shark God Versus Octopus God
The Goat Variations
Three Days in a Border Town
The Secret Life of Shane Hamill
The Surgeon’s Tale (with Cat Rambo)

Watching Che and the Baader Meinhof Complex

Among the frustrations that balance the many pleasures of having so many projects due in May is not being able to write about movies. This short post won’t really help alleviate that frustration, but…

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