Evil Monkey Encounters The Weird


(Weirdest thing of all? Both Jeff and Evil Monkey have agreed to learn to cook using this arcane and insane book as a reward to Ann for all of the many, many hours of reading she is doing for the big book of weird project, on top of Weird Tales and everything else…)

Evil Monkey:
“This concerns someone called Beaver Toadstone.”

Jeff:
“Doc Blaine ejaculated incoherently. I wheeled.”

Evil Monkey:
“Here I was ready to accept his offer of a good job as his secretary, and I had to go and pull a drunken boner!”

Jeff:
“Her only nourishment came from the meatballs that charitable souls chose to toss into her mouth.”

Evil Monkey:
“An incredible jumble of small, discolored lumps appeared in the glass, followed by a mass of blurry blobs and points.”

Jeff:
“Interesting, you seem to have given him siphilus.”

Evil Monkey:
“I’m not prepared to argue with a hallucination!”

Jeff:
“Dogs are dirty, birds are filthy, fish are clean except for the intestines, which are dirty.”

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Finch is a Nebula Award Finalist

The Nebula Award finalists have been announced, and my novel Finch is up in the best novel category. To be honest, when I got the call Wednesday it was a complete shock. I was in the middle of reading for the big book of weird fiction and my first response was something along the lines of “this is a joke, right?” followed by “are you sure they got the votes right?” I don’t lobby for or even mildly suggest people nominate me for awards, don’t belong to SFWA, and had no idea I was even in the running. Anyway, after Mary Robinette Kowal started laughing at my wide-eyed bewilderment, it finally kind of sunk in, and I am happy about it—especially for my publisher, Underland, and its founder/editor, Victoria Blake, and glad people have liked the book. Congrats also to the other nominees.

I’m especially happy to see crazy-ass brilliant work like the Kij Johnson up in the story category, and that, in general, the ballot more accurately reflects the landscape of short fiction (see Clarkesworld’s showing, for example).

Okay, back to reading weird fiction and finalizing Steampunk Reloaded and finishing off that Lovecraft-Borges reunion story.

Losing the Thread on a Friday: Humor Will Pull You Through

I have to admit to being a little exhausted from all of the reading for weird. About time for a break.

But I did want to share a couple of wickedly funny things that I encountered, kind of peripheral to the weird reading. They’re funny in part because they’re also serious.

The first are these great opening and closing lines to Binyavanga Wainaina’s essay “How to Write About Africa” from Granta:

Opening: Always use the word “Africa” or “Darkness” or “Safari” in your title. Subtitles may include the words “Zanzibar”, “Masai”, “Zulu”, “Zambezi”, “Congo”, “Nile”, “Big”, “Sky”, “Shadow”, “Drum”, “Sun” or “Bygone”. Also useful are words such as “Guerillas”, “Timeless”, “Primordial” and “Tribal”. Note that “People” means Africans who are not black, while “The People” means black Africans…Never have a picture of a well-adjusted African on the cover of your book, or in it, unless that African has won the Nobel Prize. An AK-47, prominent ribs, naked breasts: use these. If you must include an African, make sure you get one in Masai or Zulu or Dogon dress.

Closing: Always end your book with Nelson Mandela saying something about rainbows and renaissances. Because you care.

Heh. I love that. The other thing that recently made me cackle was a re-read of Joanna Russ’s “The Cliches from Outer Space,” which I encountered a couple of years ago in the Jen Green & Sara LeFanu-edited Despatches from the Frontiers of the Female Mind when Ann and I were putting together the first Steampunk antho (we wound up taking Mary Gentle’s story from that book).

The prelude in this satire involves Russ paying a visit on a female editor named Ermintrude who has incredibly strong forearms–“Editors develop these by screaming and tearing their hair a lot.” Ermintrude then shares with Russ the cause of her stress: the hundreds of cliched manuscripts she has to reject. I can’t reproduce the entire text, of course, but these are openings of the various cliches that Russ catalogs for the reader through Ermintrude:

The Weird-Ways-Of-Getting-Pregnant Story—“Eegh! Argh! Argh! Eegh! cried Sheila Sue Hateman in uncontrollable ecstasy as the giant alien male orchid arched over her, pollinating her every orifice. She–yes, she–she, Sheila Sue Hateman, who had always been frigid nasty and unresponsive! She remembered how at parties she had avoided men who were attracted by her bee-stung, pouting, red mouth, long, honey-colored hair, luscious behind and proud, up-thrusting breasts they were a nuisance, those breasts, they sometimes got so proud and thrust up so far that they knocked her in the chin. She always pushed them down again). How she hated and avoided men!…But this was different.

The Talking-About-It Story—“Oh my, how I do love to live in an equal society,” said Irving the physicist, looking with pride at the living-room of their conapt, which Adrienne, his wife, had decorated the interior of with her briliantly intuitive flair for interior decoration. Adrienne had been a plant geneticist, but had decided that what she really wanted was to stay at home, have eight children, interior decorate, garden, cook organically…It was her decision, so Irving respected it…[After which] Their Black maid, Glorietta, came in and announced…

The Noble Separatist Story—“Tell me, Mommy,” said Jeanie Joan, snuggling up to her beautiful, strong, powerful, gentle, wise, loving, eight-foot-tall Mommy who was President of the United States, “Why aren’t there Daddies any more?”

The Turnabout Story—Four ravaging, man-hating, vicious, hulking, Lesbian, sadistic, fetishistic Women’s Libbers motorcycled down the highway to where George was hiding behind a bush. Each was dressed in black leather, spike-heeled boots, and carried both a tommygun and a whip, as well as knives between their teeth. Some had cut off their breasts. Their names were Dirty Sandra, Hairy Harriet, Vicious Vivian, and Positively Ruthless Ruth. They dragged George (a litte sandy-haired fellow with spectacles, but with a keen mind and an iron will) from behind the bush he was hiding in. Then they beat him. Then they reduced him to flinders. Then they squashed the flinders to slime. Then they jumped up and down on the slime. “Women are better than men!” cried Dirty Sandra.

The whole thing is brilliant, I have to say.

PS–I just wrote a short review of Musgrove’s amazing The Late Fauna of Early North America over at Omnivoracious.

But Enough About Me–What’s Up With You?

Me, I’m going to be flailing around at 9pm EST in Second life for a Copper Robot interview.

I’d also like to alert you to the publication of Real Unreal: Best American Fantasy, guest edited by Kevin Brockmeier. This is the third installment of the best-of anthology Ann and I founded with help from Sean Wallace. Underland Press is doing a lovely job publishing it, and Kevin, with the help of volume 3’s series editor Matthew Cheney, has found some amazing stories. BAF is the only series with revolving guest editors, allowing readers to get a different point of view on the field every year. Volume 4’s guest editor will be the remarkable Minister Faust. If you want to support eclectic and diverse views of the field, please buy this book. It needs your support.

Meanwhile, the TOC for BAF3 is below the cut.

Even more meanwhile, I’m buried in deadlines the rest of the week and unlikely to post more, so please do entertain me with stories of what you’ve been up to. Plug stuff. Tell me harrowing anecdotes. Ask silly questions. Whatever you like.

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Steampunk Reading Almost Done

Well, it’s been fun, but it’s almost over. As indicated in the previous post, our deadline for submissions to the Steampunk Reloaded anthology has come and gone. Ann and I are still looking through one last batch of submissions, but otherwise we’re done. And I never have to read another steampunk story again. This isn’t a complaint about steampunk so much as the fatigue you always get when mining out a particular subgenre. That said, I’m really excited about this anthology because we found so much great content, some of it very unexpected—both Ann and I think it’s an incredibly strong book. We even have some original fiction that more or less fell into our laps. There’s also original nonfiction and art, and the look of the book, under John Coulthart’s stewardship, will be much closer to The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases than the first Steampunk volume.

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When the Weird Gets Punch-drunk

Selected excerpts from readings…

“Hmmm, yes,” he muttered, “sponges did occupy my thoughts for several hours. But so what, damn it?” he suddenly yelled out. “This still doesn’t make sense!”

***

“Ha, ha, ha!” laughed Godziemba.
“Hi, hi, hi!” seconded the woman.
“He, he, he!” responded the engineer.

And, from other reading…

“Bassett Morgan is known to Weird Tales aficionados as the writer obsessed with brain transplants, the theme of nearly half of her thirteen contributions to the magazine…”

Clarion and Steampunk Deadlines–and Artists Inspired by Stephen King


(More on these three old anthos later in the week.)

Yes, this is that inevitable, unavoidable post about deadlines. First off, our deadline for sending in reprint submissions for our Steampunk anthology is today. Which means, if you want to have a story submitted, we need to get it by midnight tonight EST. If you’re an hour or so off, no problem, but we will cut things off after that point. If you have sent in a story and haven’t heard back yet, you will hear from us by Friday at the latest.

Second, March 1st is the deadline for applications to attend the Clarion Writer’s Workshop in San Diego this summer. The instructors for the first four weeks are Delia Sherman, George R.R. Martin, Dale Bailey, and Samuel R. Delany. Ann and I are teaching the last two weeks.

If you’re hesitating about the time commitment, I’d just say that in my experience that, all things being equal, there’s no good time to go to the workshop–which is to say, there will always be reasons to talk yourself out of applying. And that if you write SF/fantasy/horror of any kind, this year is a great year to apply. I don’t think you’d find more diverse approaches to fiction.

Ann and I will be there to help you through the last two weeks, when students are usually tired, and keep you focused. We love all kinds of fiction and want to help you realize your vision. (There may also be water pistol fights.) We’ll also help you with strategies for emerging from the workshop back into “real life”. Basically, we’re there for you 24-7. In addition, Tachyon Publications has kindly pledged to provide free copies of my writing book Booklife to all students, and in the evenings we can discuss aspects of the book relevant to the workshop. Ann will also be able to share her perspective as an editor. An additional bonus for those who want it will be discussion of novel structure and approaches–outside of the context of the morning sessions.

We might even cook you dinner, although considering my record as a chef, you might prefer otherwise…

Finally, I just posted about one of the most remarkable publishers out there, Centipede Press, run by Jerad Walter, and his latest astounding book–Knowing Darkness: Art Inspired by Stephen King. It’s a huge and weighty book, and amazing. Here’s a sample from the interior…

Cramming Weird

There are about 300 more weird apartments pets beaches bars castles ruins highways houses outdoor theaters cars dirt roads nights professors writers painters musicians lovers enemies creatures farms dungeons catacombs books janitors fisherfolk faces eyeballs spinal cords things in bottles clocks knives mental hospitals etc in mah brains now than 48 hours ago.

Possible Impossible: Best-of Book Lists

It’s raining here in Tallahassee, and it’s cold–in a word, narsty. Bearlike and grumbly, I’m about to go back into my hidey-hole soon and resume reading for our collosus of a weird fiction anthology for Grove Atlantic, soon to disembowel or set aside for snacking later many dozens of stories—and likely still grumbly. Picking the best meals from so many world-class cooks is almost an overload to the senses.

Meanwhile, though, a few notes on recent best-of lists of mine that’ve run on Omnivoracious and Locus Online.

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