World Fantasy Award Winners Announced

Congrats to all of the winners! I’ve blogged the full list, with a few thoughts, at Omnivoracious. The Mieville is a worthy winner, although I thought Kiernan’s novel should’ve won. I didn’t hold out any hope for Finch although I’ll put it up against anything out there.

Nothing really controversial in the winners’ list, except in the short story collection category. I’ve read the Petrushevskaya collection and I thought it stank up the joint. I’m particularly happy to see Strange Horizons win.

P.S. Let’s all do a really really good job of passing along the next year’s judges list so that we can make this a truly “world” World Fantasy Award. There should be more than enough stuff in translation, etc., to make a dent. All that’s needed is for publishers, editors, etc., to make sure the judges get the material.

State of the Vander Union: Updates on Weird, Steampunk Reloaded, The Lambshead Cabinet, Steampunk Bible, Borne, and More

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(Steampunk Reloaded contributor copies lined up and ready to be packaged and shipped off.)

UPDATE UPDATE: Check out Ann’s great podcast interview with AISFP.

It’s that time again–project updates! Woo-hoo!

Steampunk Reloaded (Tachyon Publications). Co-edited with Ann, this antho is in stores, and contributor copies will be on their way next week. In mid-November, we will post Brazilian and Portuguese Steampunk translation teasers from Vaporpunk, along with an original Jacques Barcia story from a prior Brazilian anthology. Publishers Weekly gave the anthology a starred review and we’ve been blessed with many positive notices, including USA Today’s Pop Candy mentioning it as their book of the week.

The Weird (Atlantic/Corvus). This 750,000-word, 100-year retrospective, co-edited with Ann, has been rescheduled for next year. We’ll announce the TOC and the new publication date sometime in late November, along with some new anthology projects. (We tried to notify all contributors, but with 114 stories we might’ve missed someone.)

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (Eos/HarperCollins). Except for a couple of stragglers, Ann and I now have all art, stories, and incidental text in hand, including a few rather wonderful surprises. Despite a hectic schedule, Alan Moore has turned in “Objects Discovered in a Novel Under Construction” and Naomi Novik just sent us “Lord Dunsany’s Teacup.” This in addition to Jeffrey Ford’s rather insanely great long story “Relic” and a ton of other amazing stuff. The number of images has gone steadily upward until we can say with confidence that this will be the most visual anthology we’ve ever done. John Coulthart is contributing art, some interior design, and a stunning series of title pages for the various sections. The full TOC will be announced in a couple of weeks. Publication is set for June 2011, and will be in an oversized hardcover 7 x 9 format, with the cover printed right on the boards. Currently available for preorder on Amazon at a greatly reduced price.

The Steampunk Bible: An Illustrated Guide to the World of Imaginary Airships, Corsets and Goggles, Mad Scientists, and Strange Literature (Abrams Image). This coffee table book by me and S.J. Chambers covers all aspects of the Steampunk subculture, from art to fiction, movies to comics and everything inbetween. We’ve finalized the text and the images. A last run-through to add image credits and it’s a matter of proofs from the printer and it’ll go to press. The book will be a 7 x 10 hardcover with the cover printed right on the boards. It’s currently available for preorder on Amazon for a ridiculously low price, and will be published in April-May of 2011.

Borne (?): Originally sold to Subterranean Press as a novella, the story has clearly become a novel, which I should have finished by late January at the latest. Subterranean has been kind enough to let me submit another story–something that will be novella length–for book publication next year. Borne will be submitted to publishers once its done, rather than pre-sold. In short, this means two books of fiction soonish.

The Troika by Stepan Chapman (Ministry of Whimsy): To mark the 15th anniversary of Ministry publishing Chapman’s PK Dick Award-winning novel, we will repackage it in 2011 in a deluxe e-book edition with lots of extras. Thanks to our parent publisher, Wyrm (Neil Clarke), for greenlighting this project. We don’t have a set publication date yet.

…as for other projects…let’s just say we’ve got an original, new story from Michal Ajvaz in hand for [REDACTED TOP SECRET] and expect more work soon from Leena Krohn and others for the same book. We should also know soon whether we will add the next volume of Leviathan into the mix toward the end of 2011. Ann, meanwhile, will have some important updates/news about changes re Weird Tales in the next couple of months.

Here’s a sample of Coulthart’s initial work for the Lambshead book…

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Interesting Juxtapositions: Michal Ajvaz’s The Golden Age and Tim Robinson’s Stones of Aran

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What do we mean by slow- versus fast-paced in the books we read? What is the nature of “action” versus “introspection”? Where do nonfiction and fiction have commonalities and interstices?

These are just a few of the general questions I have been asking myself as I re-read and savor Michal Ajvaz’s The Golden Age, a novel about an imaginary island in the Atlantic and begin to read for the first time Tim Robinson’s two-volume Stones of Aran, Pilgrimmage (his trek around the edge) and also Labyrinth (his journey in the interior), about the Aran islands off the coast of Ireland.

Both the Ajvaz and the Robinson are meditations of a sort, both are recursive, both encompass folktale, history, biology, anthropology, geology, architecture, and a myriad of other elements to tell their stories.

Readers who glut themselves on one type of book—thrillers, for example—will need to adjust to the pacing of both authors. However, read in concert, the Ajvaz and the Robinson place the reader in a different context with regard to pacing. The Robinson is so wonderfully and intensely poetic, without being in the least bit florid, that you must read and re-read each chapter for fear of missing something. The Ajvaz has a kind of dreamy intensity, with a specificity that lies somewhere other than the landscapes.

The effect is as if Robinson were the rock you hold onto to in the middle of the Ajvaz River, which glints and glides along hypnotically. You can better appreciate the pacing of the Ajvaz in the context of Robinson, and you soon begin to notice the changes in that pacing much more acutely than if you had paired the novel with, say, Elmore Leonard.

Similarly, the Ajvaz, with its somewhat different focus and different idea of specificity of detail, complements the Robinson by its blurring of fact and fiction, so that in returning to the Robinson you look for fiction in the fact, and you expect story where normally you would see only description.

Which is to say, you have now entered the real-time of the authors’ vision, no longer resistant, and now that you’re synched to it, you are able to appreciate the amazing, strange, and at times transcendent treasures to be found within each book.

Both Ajvaz and Robinson know how to stop Time. Both know how to make a single moment an epiphany, a single detail. Both know how to immerse the reader, if the reader is willing to give him or herself up to being immersed.

Which leads me to the question, what juxtapositions in your reading have you found most useful, unsettling, or revelatory?

The National Museum of Women in the Arts: Loïs Mailou Jones, Elisabetta Gutt, and Leonora Carrington

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(A sculpture installation outside of the museum; photo by Ann.)

We had an extra day or two in Washington DC after the Capclave convention (post about the con here). So we looked over the lists of museums and realized we were burned out on natural history museums and the like, but the National Museum of Women in the Arts looked really interesting. So we went, and are we glad we did—it was one of the highlights of our trip.

In addition to the permanent exhibits, they were featuring the book-art of Italian artist Elisabetta Gutt and a full-on retrospective of the entire career of African American artist Loïs Mailou Jones. The two collections were stunning for completely different reasons. Gutt had taken something specific and focused on a very narrow range to create something universal. Jones had taken in everything and, using many different styles, had incorporated her experiences in the United States, Europe, African, and the Carribean to create just amazing art over a lifetime.

Gutt’s work has a kind of streamlined, deceptive simplicity to it. Here, for example, is a book housed in a nut and a decorated page from the Koran, taken from the exhibit’s catalog.

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Here, on the left, she’s created a Kafka cigarette using a page of his writings. On the right, she’s taken sheet music to create an insect exploding three-dimensionally out of the page. I immediately think of the immediacy of cricket song and love the idea of being able to show form, movement, and sound in this piece. Although I must say the description of the Kafka cigarette is one of my favorites. When challenged about Kafka not being a smoker she reportedly said, “Well, I imagined him as a smoker,” end of story.

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Jones’ work struck us by its continual evolution. She didn’t paint in one style just as she didn’t live in one place, and she let all of the places she visited into her work. We were also struck by quotes from her about how living in France had allowed her to really focus on her art in ways that being in the U.S. hadn’t—as well as the effect Haiti had on her.

There’s a wonderful photo in the exhibit of her painting along the Seine in the 1950s. Even more wonderful–she was still painting well into her eighties and what she was painting wasn’t a pale imitation of what had come before. It was vital, strong, assured.

Here are just two examples because I’m not sure if doing more would still constitute fair use.


(Reproduced in the context of an article in part about the crisis in Haiti)


(Taken from here.)

This doesn’t even begin to get at the richness and variety of her paintings, but perhaps gives you a small glimpse. It’s hard to pick a favorite, but there were a few paintings from her seventies in which she’d combined a kind of symbolic-surrealist approach with themes from Haiti and Africa that we found particularly compelling. (Unfortunately, I can’t find these online.)

Of course, the permanent collection had a lot of variety as well, including a Kahlo…but the moment of wow came to us when we rounded a corner and were confronted by a Leonora Carrington original: “How Doth the Little Crocodile,” which you can see as a reflection here and as a sculpture here. That one really got to us, in part because we’ve acquired a Carrington story for our The Weird anthology and in part because our sympathies are always going to be with the surrealists, and she is one of the best–94 and still going strong!

I think seeing the Carrington toward the very end like that, too, just made it all that more emotional. It was like seeing part of the history of surreal fantastic–a part that’s still vital and in the world. The museum’s highly recommended.

…and in that vein, do go check out Ann’s latest artist profile on io9, The oddly disturbing royal portraits of Carrie Ann Baade, one of which I’ve reproduced below.

Of Steampunk Reloaded, Backlash, and Vaporpunk Translations

Vaporpunk [capa fechada]

UPDATE: Great post on Tor.com by Amal El-Mohtar, that I love for its comparison of Steampunk and heroic fantasy along with the idea of breaking Steampunk up into tiny bits to see how it ticks. And then NPR weighs in on the Stross, although their post title kind of misses the point.

Bear with me–there’s a lot to talk about, and it’s a bit rambly…

Charlie Stross has a really thought-provoking and often spot-on blog entry that’s basically about feeling supersaturated by Steampunk. He’s sick of it, and especially of escapist versions of it. (There’s also a totally separate but related discussion to be had here regarding “commercial” versus “literary” fantasy/SF, to the extent such terms can be defined, and escapism versus realism. What’s acceptable? When do we find it fun and when do we find it icky? Is it consistent? Since there’s a lot of escapism readers seem to have no problem with whatsoever.)

Anyway, I can sympathize, since Ann and I spent a fair amount of our time earlier this year reading for Steampunk Reloaded to bring readers the best of the last decade…and I’m burned out on Steampunk. That’s one of the hazards of being an editor, exacerbated by the work S.J. Chambers and I did on the Steampunk Bible recently. I am really proud of both books, but I can’t look at another word of Steampunk right now.

That said, I think Stross’s post, as one of the waves of periodic backlash against Steampunk, while serving as a good reminder and general corrective, fails to take into account that there is a decent amount of socially and politically aware Steampunk out there, even satirical Steampunk (much of it at the short length captured in our antho). Indeed, my own “A Secret History of Steampunk,” original to Steampunk Reloaded and featuring additional contributions from Fabio Fernandes, Rikki Ducornet, Matt Cheney, Felix Gilman, Lisa Hannett, Angela Slatter, and others, attempts to recontextualize the Edisonade without ignoring its racism—perhaps what Jess Nevins refers to as “cooking”—while exemplifying the tinker/maker impulse in parts of the Steampunk community that harkens back to Ruskin and the crafts movement, among other artistic impulses.

Stross also seems annoyed at the massive amount of Steampunk coverage on io9.com and Tor.com. I can definitely see his point, but, again, given the timing, this seems a little unfair. Take, for example, Tor.com’s ongoing Steampunk Fortnight. There’s been some really serious commentary mixed in with the lighter stuff. Not just Nisi Shawl’s post (referenced below), but Jaymee Goh on Steampunk and commodification, and G.D. Falksen’s run-down of Steampunk and History with an interesting primer on issues like women’s rights and the plight of the working class in the context of the Victorian era. And, perhaps my favorite post, a wonderful personal essay by Ay-leen the Peacemaker on The Ao Dai and I (don’t miss it!).

I find myself simultaneously agreeing and disagreeing with Stross’s post in large part because of the timing. For the past year Beyond Victoriana and Silver Goggles, SteamPunk Magazine and Steampunk Workshop (for a lot longer), and other sites have been posting a lot of material on the bleeding edges of Steampunk, re-examining Steampunk through perspectives that are anything but escapist—and in some cases reclaiming the “punk” part of the name. (Yep, I’m leaving out sites and foci, but feel free to add your own.)

In terms of international approaches, the Brazilian Steampunk community has been quite active, sparking publication of two anthologies, one of them pictured above. French Steampunk is suddenly ascendent (lumping individual European countries in with the UK is a big mistake, since their traditions in literature and the arts all differ, often significantly), and other communities also seem to be on the rise. Not to mention, on Tor.com, Nisi Shawl recently talked about her own, unique approach to Steampunk and about new approaches to Steampunk generally here, and Yakoub Islam is working on a Steampunk novel titled The Muslim Age of Steam–check out this fascinating post connected to that effort.

All of this new energy, combined with the trend in the past few years for more and more women authors to write Steampunk—the literature better reflecting what seems to be a rough gender parity in the related subculture—makes it seem like this is the best time to be entering into a dialogue with Steampunk as a reader or writer, despite my jaded statement above. You could even say that to some extent the forthcoming anthology Steam-Powered , focused on lesbian characters and featuring great new writers like Shweta Narayan, N.K. Jemisin, Amal El-Mohtar, and Matt Kressell, is just one early natural result of such energy and discussion. I expect there will be others.

In fact, despite the barrage of near-constant Steampunk posts and references, this is one of those times in the history of a subgenre where it simultaneously creates echoes or copies of copies of itself while also entering into new and interesting spaces. In part this is because Steampunk now offers an important entry point for writers interested in innovation precisely because it has become commercial–potentially, you can use “Steampunk” for seriously weird, beautiful, unique, non-trad material because it’s an acceptable delivery system that publishers have begun to be able to market effectively. (“New Weird” had a similar if much more limited effect in the early aughts, in part because it was too single-platform in terms of media and in part because it didn’t make a good mimic.)

I should note, perhaps ironically, that I don’t write Steampunk (despite one story I call “anti-steampunk,” “Fixing Hanover”) but have been so deeply involved in documenting it that I find this crossroads fascinating; I do realize and respect that I may have a slightly different perspective than those more personally involved with it.

Anyway, perhaps the most important reason for this post is to announce that—as part of the idea of using the aircraft carrier that is Steampunk Reloaded to escort and give visibility to other ships, er, texts—we’ll be offering not only Jacques Barcia’s “A Life Made Possible Behind The Barricades” (check out his story in a recent Clarkesworld) as a mid-November online supplement to the anthology but also translations of the beginnings of all of the stories in the recent Vaporpunk antho (a combo of Brazilian and Portuguese authors). These latter translations are courtesy of Fabio Fernandes and Larry Nolen, and meant to give English-speaking readers a taste of what Brazilian Steampunks are up to. (And, hopefully, lead to full-on translations of some stories later on.) Many, many thanks to Larry and Fabio for that. Barcia’s story will later appear in the second Apex Book of World SF, btw.

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(The antho has reached bookstores faster than expected, but contributors never fear: we are in the process of sending out your copies.)

2010 Last Drink Bird Head Award Winners

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(Ann VanderMeer at Capclave prior to announcing the awards, with Neil Clarke)

We’re pleased to announce the winners of the second annual Last Drink Bird Head Awards. The purpose of the awards is to celebrate those in the genre community who enrich us with their time, energy, and words, for causes greater than themselves. (Finalists here.) The winners for activities in 2009-2010 were announced at Capclave in Washington D.C. on the evening of Saturday, October 23, in conjunction with the WSFA Small Press Award ceremony (winner “Siren Beat” by Tansy Rayner Roberts, published by Twelfth Planet Press, edited by Alisa Krasnostein). Neil Clarke and Ann & Jeff VanderMeer presided over the ceremony. Winners receive a bird head figurine, a certificate, and chocolate.

Gentle Advocacy
In recognition of individuals willing to enter into blunt discourse about controversial issues…

Winner: Ay-leen the Peacemaker (for Beyond Victoriana)

Tireless Energy
In recognition of individuals who selflessly give of themselves for worthy causes, websites, or organizations…

Winner: Leslie Howle (for Clarion West and Hugo House activities)

Promotion of Reading
In recognition of individuals whose efforts contribute to the promotion of reading or an increase in reading proficiency…

Winner: Colleen Cahill (for Library of Congress work as a genre fiction advocate and as the library’s representative to the ALA)

Expanding Our Vocabulary
In recognition of writers whose nonfiction, through reviews, blogging, and/or essays, exposes readers to new words and, often, new ideas…

Winner: Matthew Cheney

International Activism
In recognition of those who work to bring writers from other literary traditions and countries to the attention of readers in North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia…

Winner: Lavie Tidhar (for The World SF Blog)

The Neil Clarke Special Achievement Award

Winner: L. Timmel Duchamp – The Special Achievement Award is geared toward recognizing individuals who are proactive behind the scenes but whose efforts often don’t receive the measure of public recognition they deserve. The winner will receive an elegant Hieronymous Bosch bird-with-letter figurine, a certificate, and chocolate. The award is named after the first year’s winner, publisher and editor Neil Clarke. As founder of and editor for Aqueduct Press, L. Timmel Duchamp has demonstrated great creativity, care, and love as the guiding force in creating a strong line of feminist science fiction and fantasy. Although Aqueduct Press is a for-profit publisher, it serves a greater purpose in providing a valuable space for women’s fiction, often publishing otherwise marginalized authors. Further, Duchamp has often set aside her own career and fiction over the past five years to run Aqueduct Press. For these efforts, she is the 2010 recipient of the Neil Clarke Special Achievement Award.

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The awards are named after the anthology Last Drink Bird Head from Ministry of Whimsy Press (an imprint of Wyrm Publishing). The proceeds from the anthology benefit the ProLiteracy charity. Contributors include Peter Straub, Ellen Kushner, Gene Wolfe, Tanith Lee, and over 60 others. To buy the Kindle edition, click here. To buy the limited hardcover and support literacy, visit the order page.

Special thanks to Capclave for hosting the awards this year, as well as to Michael Swanwick, accepting the award for Leslie Howle, and to Anne Sheldon, accepting for L. Timmel Duchamp.

(Transcript of acceptance speeches by Ay-leen the Peacemaker and Leslie Howle after the cut…)

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Centipede Press: Luxurious Limited Editions of the Tems, Farris, Kuttner

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Centipede Press continues to put out beautiful editions, four of which just arrived in the mail: In Concert: The Collected Speculative Fiction, Steve Rasnic Tem & Melanie Tem, Dragonfly by John Farris, Sacrifice by John Farris, Masters of the Weird Tale: Henry Kuttner

Some additional photos of the lovely detail of these books below…

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Capclave in Washington, D.C.: VanderMeer Schedule

“…the townspeople took it upon themselves to lay Markov to rest. With no overarching cosmology to guide them, only vestigial formalities, each would have to decide for himself what their friend and neighbor’s eternal fate might be…In fact, Markov had already transubstantiated: he had become energy in one of its rawest, most terrifying forms. Even as his friends and neighbors lowered that disturbingly light coffin into the ground, Markov’s flesh and blood were driving a hungry, wounded tiger through the forest, directly toward Sobolonye.” – From The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant

And on that note, oddly relevant to my new novel Borne…Ann and I will be at Capclave in the Washington DC area this weekend, as Guests of Honor along with Connie Willis. You can find our schedule below. Also note that my The Three Quests of the Wizard Sarnod, published to benefit the parent organization that sponsors the con, will be available.

A few highlights below. On Saturday afternoon, Ann and I will be doing a visual preview of some of our upcoming projects, including The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, The Steampunk Bible, new issues of Weird Tales and, possibly, even some Top Sekrit projects. Saturday night, we’ll be announcing the winners of the Last Drink Bird Head Awards. Sunday morning we’ll be doing a reading…but it’s a lot more than that. Light-hearted, and featuring the infamous true-life professional cockroach//Romanian navy story…don’t miss it.

Friday, October 22

7:00pm (Ann) – Is Steampunk Here to Stay?
Michael Dirda, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Tee Morris, James Morrow, Ann VanderMeer – Lasting literature or passing fad: will steampunk be with us in the future? Authors discuss past and future of this popular genre which has an influence far beyond books.

8:00pm (Jeff) – Writers and the Internet: When Is Enough Enough?
Oz Drummond, Walter H. Hunt, Tee Morris, Karen Wester Newton, Jeff VanderMeer, Jean Marie Ward – How much of the Internet is needed for an author to successfully promote themselves and their works? And how much is too much?

9:00 to 11:00pm – Hmmm, we might be in the hotel bar.

11:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – From New Weird to Next Wave: Where’s the Action Coming This Decade?
Jim Freund (M), Alisa Krasnostein, Michael Swanwick, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer, Lawrence Watt-Evans – A discussion and exploration of writing on the fringe, writing from new generations impacting the center of genre, and all sorts of cool cross-genre fiction in between.

Saturday, October 23

10:00am (Ann & Jeff) – Best 2010 Short Fiction
Neil Clarke, Ann VanderMeer, Jeff VanderMeer
What is the best of the recent short fiction in 2010? The panel will talk about where the stars are being published, authors to watch and tales to track down.

12:00pm to 2:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – Creative Writing Workshop (pre-submitted m.s.)

3:00pm to 4:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – Spotlight on Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
Dr. Lambshead, Steampunk, Weird Tales, Imaginary Animals, and You: Join Weird Tales editor and Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer and her World Fantasy Award winning husband, writer and editor Jeff VanderMeer as they take you on a whirlwind visual exclusive inside look at a cornucopia of exciting new projects, from The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, featuring work by Mike Mignola and Greg Broadmore, to the Steampunk Bible coffee table book, from the rejuvenated Weird Tales to the insanely entertaining Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals, featuring recipes for Wookie and Cthulhu by Ace of Cake’s Duff Goldman. With discussion, interrogation, arguments, and, er, Mongolian Death Worms. Nom nom.

8:00pm to 9:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – Capclave autograph session

9:00pm to 10:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – WSFA Small Press Awards and Last Drink Bird Head Award presentation

Sunday, October 24

11:00am to 12:00pm (Ann & Jeff) – Reading
Join Ann & Jeff VanderMeer for an entertaining Sunday morning reading that should not be missed. Ann will read recipes for animals included in the Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals. Jeff will tell the harrowing-absurd true-life Professional Cockroach/Romanian Navy anecdote as prelude to a short (related) selection from his novel Finch.

12:00pm to 1:00pm (Jeff) – Writing in Shared Universes
Brenda Clough, Iver Cooper, Dr. Charles E. Gannon, Jeff VanderMeer
Shared universes have been around for many a year. Panelists will discuss the advantage, disadvantages and what it take to work in this type of writing.

The Tiger’s Golden Age and Gravity’s Rainbow

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How’d I wind up reading three books at once? I don’t know. Gravity’s Rainbow is like the bible in this trinity–I dip in and out of it, reciting sacred verse–The Tiger is my connection to the physicality of the world and my re-read of The Golden Age is my anchor to the intellect, to metaphor, to immersive strangeness.

Whatever happened to bring me to this point, it’s working out well. All three are amazing books. My first-read admiration for The Golden Age has deepened into adoration upon this second read, and brings me to the thought that I’m a little sick of lovers of self-defined commercial, escapist fiction claiming that’s the stuff that needs our support; I think it’ll do just fine without me, thanks. The first-time discoveries within The Tiger are startling and evocative, and somewhat documented in this Amazon blog entry I just posted. In parsing Gravity’s, I reflect sadly that no real banana or banana feast will ever seem as grand as that documented within these pages.

(Soon, a Capclave schedule, since Ann and I are two of the GoH at this Washington DC con this coming weekend…)

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