Evil Monkey: Steampunk and New Weird


(Hawk Alfredson)

Evil Monkey:
How many Steampunks does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Jeff:
Oh no.

Evil Monkey:
Just guess, dude.

Jeff:
I have no idea.

Evil Monkey:
Two, one to change it and a second to glue unnecessary clock parts to it. (Thanks, James Burnett.)

Jeff:
Sigh.

Evil Monkey:
Now. How many New Weirdies does it take to screw in a lightbulb?

Jeff:
….

Evil Monkey:
More than a dozen. You need one to put forth a manifesto about the lightbulb, another to ascribe cosmic malice to the lightbulb, a few more to argue about whether the lightbulb is indeed light issuing from a bulb, a few more to discuss the origins or non-origins of the bulb, at least one to actually do something and get a ladder to reach the bulb, and then a few more to doubt both their own proximity to the light from the bulb and then a last few to doubt that the lightbulb, even while shining, ever actually existed. A few years later, you need a bunch of others to come around to ascribe motivations to the New Weirdies who were originally loitering around the lightbulb and to create a whole new history for the event and for the idea of “lightbulb,” which some of the original attendees of the lightbulb event will deny actually ever existed, or that the event occurred. Someone will certainly suggest that the lightbulb only existed for marketing purposes. Then, maybe, at that point, you or the lightbulb will be properly screwed. In.

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The Wesleyan Antho of SF: Spotlight on 1990s–2000s

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I just received a copy of The Wesleyan Anthology of Science Fiction (Arthur B. Evans, ed.; Istvan Csicsery-Ronay, Jr., ed.; Joan Gordon, ed.; Veronica Hollinger, ed.; Rob Latham, ed.; Carol McGuirk, ed.).

It looks like a worthy enough volume, and I certainly understand that there are space constraints and other constraints that act upon editors compiling a collection of stories–if I didn’t know it before, I know it now from co-editing The Weird with my wife, Ann.

That said, here’s the selection from 1990 to the present, the last 20 years of SF:

John Kessel, “Invaders” (1990)
Gene Wolfe, “Useful Phrases” (1992)
Greg Egan, “Closer” (1992)
James Patrick Kelly, “Think Like a Dinosaur” (1995)
Geoff Ryman, “Everywhere” (1999)
Charles Stross, “Rogue Farm” (2003)
Ted Chiang, “Exhalation” (2008)

Of these, I’ve read the Chiang (awesome) and the Ryman (also quite good). I think I read the Kelly a long time ago, but don’t recall the specifics.

But I guess my point is…are these seven stories really the epitome of the last two decades of science fiction (as opposed to fantasy)? I don’t mean to call into question the quality of these selections–what I mean is, what’s missing? What else should be there? Why is there nothing between 2003 and 2008, for example? Was nothing worthy published?

These questions I open up to you, dear readers, in the context of (1) I have no stake in these proceedings, in that I can count the number of SF short stories I’ve written on one hand and (2) I find the selections from 1980 to 1989 stimulating (Misha!!!! Memory: SF Eye! Airfish!)

Anyway, what thinks thou? And here’s the full TOC:

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Weird Tales: Vids, Fic, Mag

uncanny beauty

Weird Tales is getting back up to speed, transitioning from Stephen Segal to Ann VanderMeer as editor-in-chief, with Mary Robinette Kowal as art director and Paula Guran heading up nonfiction. The cover of the forthcoming issue is above.

On their site, they’ve now got a new one-minute video created by Gregory Bossert from text by R. Scott McCoy and original fiction—Aidan Doyle’s very surreal and sly story “Mr. Nine and the Gentleman Ghost”. Cool stuff!

Cooking Update: Trout & Steak Provencale

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Well, the timing didn’t quite work out as planned. The idea was to cook three meals last week, and I only managed two by Sunday. That’ll change this week, with any luck. Anyway, it’s a good start, and the most excellent news is I didn’t poison myself or Ann! In fact, the food turned out pretty darn good.

What did I cook? Trout with almonds and Steak Provencale…

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Steampunk Bible Roughs!

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So the rough layouts for the Steampunk Bible arrived today, and I sat down with my coauthor S.J. Chambers to review them. At this stage, the point is to have the text and images in a standardized, approved format, even if not all of the images are at high-res (some are still coming in). To adjust the text as necessary at this stage, before we’re locked in, and also to provide feedback on both the images used and the way they’ve been deployed in the layout. Many things will change, many things will stay the same.

It’s certainly an eye-opening experience, somewhat different from working on a novel or story collection or anthology–although so many of the books I’ve done have had some illustrative component that it’s not as foreign as it might have been.

The book will be out in May of next year, which is practically right around the corner, and features contributions from, among others, Jess Nevins, Libby Bulloff, Bruce Sterling, Desirina Boskovich, Jake von Slatt, Rick Klaw, etc. Those interviewed for the book include Sean Orlando, Scott Westerfeld, Ay-leen the Peacemaker, Evelyn Kriete, Ekaterina Sedia, Dexter Palmer, and more. Too many are involved for me to provide a complete list right now.

A very, very special thanks to Jake von Slatt, to acquiring editor Maxine Kaplan and David Cashion at Abrams, and to our editor on the book now, Caitlin Kenney, who has been nothing short of awesome in every way, including developmental edits on the text.

Here’re a few more photographs of rough pages, noting, again, that nothing here is final and some images are placeholders. Enjoy!

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Omni Features on Nnedi Okorafor and PW’s Rose Fox

For your Friday reading pleasure, may I recommend this great interview with author Nnedi Okorafor, conducted by Matt Cheney, as well as this equally cool interview with Publishers Weekly’s Rose Fox that I just posted this morning. Wonderful answers from both interview subjects. Okorafor’s novel will be on my best-of-the-year-so-far post for Amazon in early September.

In other news, Matt Cheney just finished off the Third Bear Carnival with an unexpected surprise: my wife Ann wrote a short essay about my fiction. It was really sweet of her and made my Friday. (Matt just posted a podcast of my short-short “The Magician” the day before.)

Win a Unique Third Bear


(Yes, it’s a story collection. Yes, no one reads them. Yes, go buy it now And, no, this crapulous illo is not how your unique 3B would be personalized.)

The Third Bear carnival has been going on for awhile, but Matt Cheney has upped the ante by staging a “fourth bear” contest that ends Friday. I have to say, the idea of a fourth bear blows my mind. Go check it out. You might win a one-of-a-kind book with a unique illo by Eric Schaller (who did a lot of the art in my City of Saints).

The Third Bear Carnival has already led to some illustrative work, the first below by Eric and the second by Paul Smith’s fiance. I’ll link to the full-on carnival early next week. Thanks to everyone who has contributed–it was a wonderful surprise.

erics

rabbit

Shared Worlds Teen Writing Camp This Summer…

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(What happened in week 2, after I left Shared Worlds? My alien baby remained behind, and this photo by Miranda Severance provides some evidence…)

On Omnivoracious, I just posted an account of Shared Worlds 2010, a teen SF/fantasy writing camp for which I serve as assistant director. This is our third year running, and we believe SW is the only camp of its type in North America due to our unique approach.

If you’re a teenager interested in writing SF/fantasy or the parent of a teenager with such interests, consider signing up next year. It’s a really great experience for the participants. The guest instructors for next year will include myself and my wife, Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer, as well as Nnedi Okorafor, Ekaterina Sedia, and Will Hindmarch, with more to be announced later.

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(Students Taylor Livingston and Harmony Riley, posing with the alien baby.)

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(Student Killian Glenn.)

Who were the 2010 Shared Worlders? Here’re their bios from the back of the SW chapbook that features samples of their writing…

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Finch is a World Fantasy Award Finalist!

Update: Amazon blog post about the awards.

I’m thrilled to say that my novel Finch (UK version pictured in the upper right corner) is a finalist for the World Fantasy Award.

I’m not big on awards, but the World Fantasy Award means a lot to me–the one I won in 2000 for “The Transformation of Martin Lake” more or less led to a publishing deal for City of Saints, along with Mike Moorcock agreeing to do an introduction.

This is something like my eighth or ninth nomination, with two wins. Having served on the jury, I know how tough it is to get on the ballot, and, for that reason, I’m quite frankly just happy to be a finalist. We should always celebrate the finalists. Finch has now been a finalist for the Nebula Award, Locus Award, and the World Fantasy Award.

Lots of good stuff on the ballot, but I would like to point out Kiernan’s Red Tree, which I loved, and Steve Duffy’s “The Lion’s Den,” which we picked for our The Weird anthology.

Swedish SF/Fantasy: Karin Tidbeck’s Story Collection

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The cover of the forthcoming first story collection by Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck. Tidbeck attended Clarion San Diego this year, and we believe you’ll be hearing a lot from her in the future. She’s currently in the process of translating a lot of her own work into English.