Cheeky Frawg’s 2011 E-Book Schedule…It’s Cheek-a-licious!

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Major thanks to Jeremy Zerfoss for his amazing covers and to Neil Clarke for doing our e-book interiors.

Cheeky Frawg blog page
Weightless Books Secret Lives offer

My wife Ann VanderMeer and I have finally, after a few delays, finalized the 2011 schedule for our e-books imprint Cheeky Frawg. We think it’s a potent mix of eclectic titles bound together by fierce imagination, great writing, and a love for fiction tending toward the fantastical. Some of the translations will be bringing new work to English-language readers, and e-books of nonfiction titles like the wonderful science exposes by John Grant just round out a great line-up. We also have several titles to add to the 2012 schedule, but can’t announce just yet. We hope you enjoy this preview of the cornucopia of delights to come. Website and videos coming soon. – Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

ALREADY PUBLISHED

Balzac’s War by Jeff VanderMeer
The Compass of his Bones by Jeff VanderMeer
The Infernal Desire Machines of Angela Carter by Jeff VanderMeer
Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Secret Lives by Jeff VanderMeer

AUGUST/SEPTEMBER 2011

The Troika by Stepan Chapman —A joint Cheeky Frawg/Wyrm Publishing e-book of the PKD Award winning novel. A phantasmagorical look at the future that mixes vivid psychological portrayals of three wounded souls with glimpses of “advancements” at times reminiscent of Clockwork Orange. Three travelers are crossing a desert under the glare of three purple suns: Alex, who wants to be a machine; Naomi, a cryogenically frozen soldier now trapped in the body of a brontosaurus; and Eva, an old Mexican woman who has escaped being a sacrifice in an alternate reality. The novel follows their attempts to find out why they are now crossing a desert with no memory of how they got there, and delves into each character’s past in beautifully written flashbacks that feed back into solving the central mystery.

The Honey Month by Amal El-Mohtar—This beautifully written volume of short fictions and poems takes as its inspiration the author’s tasting of 28 different kinds of honey, one per day. Each tasting leads to a different literary creation, with each entry also describing the honey in terms that will make you crave it. The perfect gift book.

Women of the Supernatural: A Tartarus Press Sampler edited by Ray Russell—The first in a line of Tartarus Press samplers, partial TOC here, drawing on Tartarus Press’s exceptional record of publishing some of the best uncanny and supernatural fiction from the past and present.

The Toy Fixer by Yasumi Kobayashi—The first translation, by Gregor Hartmann, of this award-winning long story about a very stranger tinker…

Tainaron: Mail from Another City by Leena Krohn - The Finnish classic of Kafkaesque beauty. An unnamed narrator in a far-off city populated by talking insects. One of the best weird fictions of the 20th century, and a World Fantasy Award finalist.

Flying Fish “Prometheus”: A Fantasy of the Future by Vilhelm Bergsøe—Translation by Dwight Decker, with commentary, of a progressive Danish Steampunk novelette from the 1860s.

OCTOBER 2011

ODD? edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer (full TOC here)—Neither strange nor weird, but simply odd, these stories exemplify the unclassifiable while asking the question “Is it odd or are you too normal?” Featuring Amos Tutuola, Karin Tidbeck, Leena Krohn, Hiromi Goto, Jeffrey Ford, Rikki Ducornet, Caitlin R. Kiernan. A mix of previously unpublished material, reprints, obscure reprints, and new translations of classic stories. Look for the amazing animated vid by Gregory Bossert, featuring original music by Danny Fontaine. Not to mention the action figure based on the original Myster Odd character created by Jeremy Zerfoss!

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2011

It Came From the North: Finnish Weird Fiction, vol. 1 edited by Jukka Halme and Tero Ykspetäjä —A sampler celebrating the great Finnish weird fiction, the first in a three-volume set.

Discarded Science: Ideas that Sounded Good at the Time; Corrupted Science: Fraud, Ideology, and Politics in Science; Bogus Science: Or, Some People Really Believe These Things by John Grant—The exclusive e-books of the critically acclaimed nonfiction series that’s at times disturbing, hilarious, and always important for the times in which we live. All three titles will be e-published simultaneously just in time for the holiday season.

Yes, you say, that’s all well and good, but what do we have to look forward to in 2012 from Cheeky Frawg? In addition to an as-yet-untitled collection from Amos Tutuola and a previously untranslated Leena Krohn novel, here’s a preview of just a few titles. We have a lot more surprises up our sleeves, though…

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Writer, Confess Thy Eccentricities!

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Just about all writers have some kind of eccentricity to their work habits, I believe—some quirk that works for them. Mine is that I have to more or less fill up every surface of the folder holding the print-out of my novel-in-progress with words. In the photo above, it’s the folder for Borne, bowed under the weight and confusion of notes. There’s no logic to writing them down on the folder, except that there’s this mental construct in my mind. The work must be surrounded by related thoughts and ideas scrawled in a kind of protective spell. These words keep the work safe—keep bad influences out and let the work marinate and reach maturity under that protection of that binding. It makes no sense at all, but it’s the only magic I engage in, and a blank folder surface fills me with a feeling of unease.

So, tell me, writers reading this…what’re your eccentricities?

Preview: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities

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(Contributors: you will have your copy in the next couple weeks, and an email next week about when to blog, etc.)

Next week is the official release of our new anthology, The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities from HarperVoyager in North America. We’re bursting with pride over this one, as it turned into a showcase for the imaginations and storytelling talent for some of our most talented fantasy writers as well as a smorgasbord of amazing images from the likes of Mike Mignola, Jan Svankmajer, Yishan Li, Greg Broadmore, Rikki Ducornet, and more. It’s already made the LA Times’ recommended summer reading list and gotten raves from Bookgasm and from Paul Goat Allen at the Barnes & Noble book club.

The antho includes some great stuff from established writers like Holly Black, Naomi Novik, China Mieville, Alan Moore, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Garth Nix, Jeffrey Ford, Michael Moorcock, Carrie Vaughn, Lev Grossman, Cherie Priest, and more. But I also wanted to point out that we showcase the work of many amazing new writers, including Kelly Barnhill, Amal El-Mohtar, N.K. Jemisin, Reza Negarestani, and Charles Yu—not to mention the micro-fictions section in the back, which includes several first sales. My own contribution includes the introduction, developed with Ann, which weaves Lambshead into the history of the twentieth century.

The anthology has a special dedication page, for someone who had contributed to the first volume and planned to contribute to this one: “Dedicated to the memory of Kage Baker, a wonderful writer and a good friend of Dr. Lambshead. You are not forgotten.”

We’ve just received a couple of finished copies from HarperVoyager, and they’re absolutely beautiful, with the cover printed right on the boards.

I’ll have a whole week of blogging about this anthology next week, including some cool exclusives, but for now I’ve got a preview of some pages, along with a couple comparisons between the advance reader copy and the final. Many thanks to the cover designer James Iacobelli and interior designer Paula Russell Szafranski, along with John Coulthart, who served as an image consultant and provided interior images himself, including some amazing title pages…

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Secret Lives E-book at Weightless–Win a Free Limited Edition

Weightless Books has just started carrying Cheeky Frawg’s titles, including my just-released e-book Secret Lives, which was previously only available as a signed, limited edition for $35. Now you can get it from Weightless for $2.99—and possibly win a copy of the original limited edition. You can find Secret Lives exclusively at Weightless this week, only appearing elsewhere in July.

Weightless is also carrying the rest of Cheeky Frawg’s current titles:

The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals (cowritten with my wife Ann)

The Compass of His Bones and Other Stories

Balzac’s War

The Infernal Desire Machines of Angela Carter

And, coming soon, a Cheeky Frawg website to replace our, well, our placeholder here, and a full list of our titles for 2012.

Work Lingo and Writing

The current issue of Harper’s has some great stuff in it, including an excerpt from Mark Kingwell’s introduction to The Wage Slave’s Glossary by Joshua Glenn, out next month from Biblioasis. Kingwell’s intro codifies certain things I believe about the world in general, particularly the idea of “collective delusions” that we almost all buy into, perhaps so the world won’t seem so scary or perhaps because it’s necessary to have a functioning society. Money clearly is becoming ever more of a collective delusion, especially in a dysfunctional U.S. system. There are also delusions that come over us temporarily like viruses, infected the majority and leaving the minority out in the cold: believe or you suck, basically. Luckily, these tend to be temporary or contained to certain subcultures or communities.

Kingwell talks about a number of delusions we buy into with regard to the workplace, chief among them the sanctity of work itself. A short excerpt:

The routine collection of credentials, promotions, and employee-of-the-month honors in exchange for company loyalty masks a deeper existential conundrum–which is precisely what it is meant to do. Consider: It is an axium of status anxiety that the competition for position has no end—save, temporarily, when a scapegoat is found. The scapegoat reaffirms everyone’s status, however uneven, because he is beneath all. Hence many work narratives are miniature blame-quests. We come together as a company to fix guilt on one of our number, who is then publicly shamed and expelled. Jones filed a report filled with errors! Smith placed an absurdly large order and the company is taking a bath! This makes us all feel better and enhances our sense of mission, even if it produces nothing other than its own spectacle.

Sounds like a few places I worked at before I became a full-time writer, one of which I wrote about in my novelette “The Situation,” which you can read here. (What’s the collective delusion of writers, you might ask? That this crazy career is sustainable indefinitely and that the right words matter…and sometimes buying into those delusions is enough.)

Interestingly he also name-checks three office novels: Douglas Coupland’s Generation X, Joshua Ferris’s Then We Came to the End, and Ed Park’s Personal Days. Kingwell calls all three hilarious, but believes their humor is a sign of doom, not liberation. “Indeed, the laughs render the facts more palatable by mixing diversion into the scene of domination—a willing capitulation, consumed under the false sign of resistance.” That’s a pretty sick reading of the uses of satire, but point taken. Perhaps it takes a horror writer with the sensibilities of Kafka to make satire a tertiary purpose, since I find Thomas Ligotti’s office stories not a capitulation but a clear embodiment of doom in which humor occurs almost as part of a natural process, like steam off of the head of a just-benched football player in winter.

References to philosopher Harry Frankfurt and his use of the term “bullshit” satisfy on a very gleeful level. In the workplace, bullshit can be defined as “Jargon, slogans, euphemisms, and terms of art” used as weapons. Bullshit is an evasion of normativity that “produces a kind of ordure, a dissemination of garbage, the scattering of shit. This is why, Frankfurt argue, bullshit is far more threatening, and politically evil, than lying.” The bullshitter doesn’t oppose truth–s/he ignores it entirely. (Cue: footage of certain political candidates, bloggers on the internet, etc.)

The victory of work bullshit is that, in addition to having no regard for the truth, it passes itself off as innocuous or even beneficial. Especially in clever hands, the controlling elements of work are repackaged as liberatory, counter-cultural, subversive: you’re a skatepunk rebel because you work seventy hours a week beta-testing videogames. This, we might say, is meta-bullshit.

In writing, bullshit, meta and otherwise, manifests as cliches in its most basic form, but complex forms of writing-related bullshit manifest as precepts that wound a story before it is finished, an inability to closely observe and report on the details of the world, and, well, too many other ways to list here.

You could read Kingwell’s introduction as a discourse on corrupted narrative—like a story with no center that is nonetheless told in a clever or convincing way, the equivalent of the worst type of escapist fiction. If everything human-made around us, including our stories, once existed as an idea or thought from someone’s imagination, then Kingwell’s saying we need to be better storytellers, better dreamers, at both the micro and the macro level. Waking up like the guy in the first Matrix movie to find you’re just a pod dangling among a million other generic pods can be depressing, but at least it’s real…maybe. Or it might just be superior CGI. Perhaps bullshit has no hidden core. Perhaps collective delusions are the point.

Omni Interviews: Mira Grant and A. Lee Martinez (with novel excerpt)

In case you missed them, I had a couple of interviews posted on the Amazon book blog, both really interesting.

Mira Grant
“I try to approach characterization as honestly as possible. Sometimes I don’t like my own protagonists. They do things I don’t approve of, they make choices I wouldn’t make, they have beliefs I don’t share. And unless that would actively damage the story, I let them go their own way. They’re only going to be real to you if they’re also real to me. I write pages of dialog that no one ever sees, just to feel out the way different characters use words and phrases. It’s a fascinating exercise.”

A. Lee Martinez
“I usually consider humor to be secondary to the plot and characters. I know I have a reputation as a comic writer, but the humor elements usually fall into place naturally. In the end, I don’t think humor is the opposite of serious storytelling. We tend to think of humor as light and inconsequential, but great humor is often founded on observation and commentary.”

For space considerations a snippet from the new novel Mira Grant is working on got lopped off of the interview, so I’m reproducing it below.

The piece that follows is from a novel in progress, Ashes of Honor, writing under her real name, Seanan McGuire, and “finds Toby in a place she really doesn’t like being: the police station”…

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42: A Stonewall Perspective, Bass Museum of Art in Miami

Our rather awesome nephew Pioneer Winter has put together “42: A Stonewall Perspective” with Jared Sharon. Pioneer is an amazing dancer and if you’re in Miami June 28th, check it out.

From the description: “The mindset of many gays and lesbians turned away from oppression and toward freedom of expression [as a result of Stonewall]. Winter and Sharon’s art honors progressive predecessors who broke the ground on which the artists are building.


(Pioneer during a prior performance.)

Weird Tales Editor Ann VanderMeer, GoH at Apollocon This Weekend

Apollocon is this weekend in Houston! Martha Wells is the writer guest of honor and my wife Ann VanderMeer, editor of Weird Tales, is the editor guest of honor. She’ll be participating in panels, doing a visual presentation on her current projects, and no doubt having a lot of fun. She’ll also be getting a tour of NASA, which is way cool. If you’re in the area, consider stopping by—you can buy memberships at the door.

Can you afford to missing seeing Ann in fierce mode?

Women of the Supernatural: A Tartarus Press Sampler

Our Cheeky Frawg e-book imprint is teaming up with Tartarus Press to bring you Women of the Supernatural: A Tartarus Press Sampler edited by Ray Russell (founder of Tartarus). With any luck, this will be the first of a series of Tartarus samplers around some specific organizing principle—some general and some more specific. This isn’t the final TOC as we’re still working on some permissions, but gives you a sneak peek.

“The Painter of Dead Women” by Edna Underwood
“Sister Sister” by Angela Slatter
“Afterward” by Edith Wharton
“What the Eye Remembers” by Anne-Sylvie Salzman
“Terminus” by Nina Allen
“Mr Manpferdit” by Tina Rath
“A Were-Wolf of the Campagna” by Mrs Hugh Fraser
“The Cook’s Story” by Rosalie Parker
“A Mystery of the Campagna” by Anne Von Degen