Archive for August, 2011

The Weird: Magazine and Anthology Sources

Jeff VanderMeer • August 31st, 2011 • Culture

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Busy prepping for DragonCon, but here’s a breakdown of the magazine and anthology sources for the stories in The Weird, leaving out for now author collections, in case anyone was interested. We’ll post the full publication information for all of the stories closer to the publication date, for those who are curious.

If an anthology, the editor or editors have been listed after the title. For non-UK/US mags, the country of publication has been listed. If more than one story came from a single source, the number of stories is listed in parentheses after the title of the publication. It’s worth noting that Ellen Datlow may be the editor connected to the most number of reprints in the book, given her involvement in OMNI and Event Horizon, as well as the anthology Inferno—although we’d have to research the editors at Weird Tales and Mag of F & SF during the time of publication of those reprints to make sure.

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Table of Contents: The Weird, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer • August 30th, 2011 • Culture, News

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(rough of the cover; also see Ann’s parallel post on the Weird Tales blog)

THE WEIRD: A Compendium of Dark & Strange Stories
Edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

Pub Date: Mid-October; Publisher: Atlantic, Corvus imprint (UK edition)

Foreword: Michael Moorcock
Introduction by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
Afterword: China Mieville

Over one hundred years of weird fiction collected in a single volume of 750,000 words. Over 20 nationalities are represented and seven new translations were commissioned for the book, most notably definitive translations of Julio Cortazar’s “Axolotl” and Michel Bernanos’ short novel “The Other Side of the Mountain” (the first translations of these classics in many decades). Other highlights include the short novels / long novellas “The Beak Doctor” by Eric Basso, “Tainaron” by Leena Krohn, and “The Brotherhood of Mutilation” by Brian Evenson. This is among the largest collections of weird fiction ever housed between the covers of one book.

Strands of The Weird represented include classic and mainstream weird tales, weird SF, weird ritual, international weird, and offshoots of the weird influenced by Surrealism, Symbolism, the Gothic, and the Decadent movement. (A discussion of weird modes of fiction can be found in the introduction.)

A compendium is neither as complete as an encyclopedia nor as baggy as a treasury. Although the backbone of the book reflects the immense influence of both Kafka and Lovecraft, we have ventured out from that basic focus to provide different traditions of weird fiction and outliers that are perhaps open to debate. The anthology is meant to be both an interrogation of weird fiction and a conversation with it. We hope that readers will be delighted by the classics included and by the unexpected discoveries found within its pages.

Also, in support of both the anthology and weird fiction, we will be launching http://www.weirdfictionreview.com in October.

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Table of Contents

Story order is chronological except for a couple of exceptions transposed for thematic reasons. Stories translated into English are largely positioned by date of first publication in their original language. Authors are North American or from the United Kingdom unless otherwise indicated.

Alfred Kubin, “The Other Side” (excerpt), 1908 (translation, Austria)

F. Marion Crawford, “The Screaming Skull,” 1908

Algernon Blackwood, “The Willows,” 1907

Saki, “Sredni Vashtar,” 1910

M.R. James, “Casting the Runes,” 1911

Lord Dunsany, “How Nuth Would Have Practiced his Art,” 1912

Gustav Meyrink, “The Man in the Bottle,” 1912 (translation, Austria)

Georg Heym, “The Dissection,” 1913 (new translation by Gio Clairval, Germany)

Hanns Heinz Ewers, “The Spider,” 1915 (translation, Germany)

Rabindranath Tagore, “The Hungry Stones,” 1916 (India)

Luigi Ugolini, “The Vegetable Man,” 1917 (new translation by Anna and Brendan Connell, Italy; first-ever translation into English)

A. Merritt, “The People of the Pit,” 1918

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, “The Hell Screen,” 1918 (new translation, Japan)

Francis Stevens (Gertrude Barrows Bennett), “Unseen—Unfeared,” 1919

Franz Kafka, “In the Penal Colony,” 1919 (translation, German/Czech)

Stefan Grabinski, “The White Weyrak,” 1921 (translation, Poland)

H.F. Arnold, “The Night Wire,” 1926

H.P. Lovecraft, “The Dunwich Horror,” 1929

Margaret Irwin, “The Book,” 1930

Jean Ray, “The Mainz Psalter,” 1930 (translation, Belgium)

Jean Ray, “The Shadowy Street,” 1931 (translation, Belgium)

Clark Ashton Smith, “Genius Loci,” 1933

Hagiwara Sakutoro, “The Town of Cats,” 1935 (translation, Japan)

Hugh Walpole, “The Tarn,” 1936

Bruno Schulz, “Sanatorium at the Sign of the Hourglass,” 1937 (translation, Poland)

Robert Barbour Johnson, “Far Below,” 1939

Fritz Leiber, “Smoke Ghost,” 1941

Leonora Carrington, “White Rabbits,” 1941

Donald Wollheim, “Mimic,” 1942

Ray Bradbury, “The Crowd,” 1943

William Sansom, “The Long Sheet,” 1944

Jorge Luis Borges, “The Aleph,” 1945 (translation, Argentina)

Olympe Bhely-Quenum, “A Child in the Bush of Ghosts,” 1949 (Benin)

Shirley Jackson, “The Summer People,” 1950

Margaret St. Clair, “The Man Who Sold Rope to the Gnoles,” 1951

Robert Bloch, “The Hungry House,” 1951

Augusto Monterroso, “Mister Taylor,” 1952 (new translation by Larry Nolen, Guatemala)

Amos Tutuola, “The Complete Gentleman,” 1952 (Nigeria)

Jerome Bixby, “It’s a Good Life,” 1953

Julio Cortazar, “Axolotl,” 1956 (new translation by Gio Clairval, Argentina)

William Sansom, “A Woman Seldom Found,” 1956

Charles Beaumont, “The Howling Man,” 1959

Mervyn Peake, “Same Time, Same Place,” 1963

Dino Buzzati, “The Colomber,” 1966 (new translation by Gio Clairval, Italy)

Michel Bernanos, “The Other Side of the Mountain,” 1967 (new translation by Gio Clairval, France)

Merce Rodoreda, “The Salamander,” 1967 (translation, Catalan)

Claude Seignolle, “The Ghoulbird,” 1967 (new translation by Gio Clairval, France)

Gahan Wilson, “The Sea Was Wet As Wet Could Be,” 1967

Daphne Du Maurier, “Don’t Look Now,” 1971

Robert Aickman, “The Hospice,” 1975

Dennis Etchison, “It Only Comes Out at Night,” 1976

James Tiptree Jr. (Alice Sheldon), “The Psychologist Who Wouldn’t Do Terrible Things to Rats,” 1976

Eric Basso, “The Beak Doctor,” 1977

Jamaica Kincaid, “Mother,” 1978 (Antigua and Barbuda/US)

George R.R. Martin, “Sandkings,” 1979

Bob Leman, “Window,” 1980

Ramsey Campbell, “The Brood,” 1980

Michael Shea, “The Autopsy,” 1980

William Gibson/John Shirley, “The Belonging Kind,” 1981

M. John Harrison, “Egnaro,” 1981

Joanna Russ, “The Little Dirty Girl,” 1982

M. John Harrison, “The New Rays,” 1982

Premendra Mitra, “The Discovery of Telenapota,” 1984 (translation, India)

F. Paul Wilson, “Soft,” 1984

Octavia Butler, “Bloodchild,” 1984

Clive Barker, “In the Hills, the Cities,” 1984

Leena Krohn, “Tainaron,” 1985 (translation, Finland)

Garry Kilworth, “Hogfoot Right and Bird-hands,” 1987

Lucius Shepard, “Shades,” 1987

Harlan Ellison, “The Function of Dream Sleep,” 1988

Ben Okri, “Worlds That Flourish,” 1988 (Nigeria)

Elizabeth Hand, “The Boy in the Tree,” 1989

Joyce Carol Oates, “Family,” 1989

Poppy Z Brite, “His Mouth Will Taste of Wormwood,” 1990

Michal Ajvaz, “The End of the Garden,” 1991 (translation, Czech)

Karen Joy Fowler, “The Dark,” 1991

Kathe Koja, “Angels in Love,” 1991

Haruki Murakami, “The Ice Man,” 1991 (translation, Japan)

Lisa Tuttle, “Replacements,” 1992

Marc Laidlaw, “The Diane Arbus Suicide Portfolio,” 1993

Steven Utley, “The Country Doctor,” 1993

William Browning Spenser, “The Ocean and All Its Devices,” 1994

Jeffrey Ford, “The Delicate,” 1994

Martin Simpson, “Last Rites and Resurrections,” 1994

Stephen King, “The Man in the Black Suit,” 1994

Angela Carter, “The Snow Pavilion,” 1995

Craig Padawer, “The Meat Garden,” 1996

Stepan Chapman, “The Stiff and the Stile,” 1997

Tanith Lee, “Yellow and Red,” 1998

Kelly Link, “The Specialist’s Hat,” 1998

Caitlin R. Kiernan, “A Redress for Andromeda,” 2000

Michael Chabon, “The God of Dark Laughter,” 2001

China Mieville, “Details,” 2002

Michael Cisco, “The Genius of Assassins,” 2002

Neil Gaiman, “Feeders and Eaters,” 2002

Jeff VanderMeer, “The Cage,” 2002

Jeffrey Ford, “The Beautiful Gelreesh,” 2003

Thomas Ligotti, “The Town Manager,” 2003

Brian Evenson, “The Brotherhood of Mutilation,” 2003

Mark Samuels, “The White Hands,” 2003

Daniel Abraham, “Flat Diana,” 2004

Margo Lanagan, “Singing My Sister Down,” 2005 (Australia)

T.M. Wright, “The People on the Island,” 2005

Laird Barron, “The Forest,” 2007

Liz Williams, “The Hide,” 2007

Reza Negarestani, “The Dust Enforcer,” 2008 (Iran)

Micaela Morrissette, “The Familiars,” 2009

Steve Duffy, “In the Lion’s Den,” 2009

Stephen Graham Jones, “Little Lambs,” 2009

K.J. Bishop, “Saving the Gleeful Horse,” 2010 (Australia)

S.J. Chambers and the Steampunk Bible–in England and France!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 30th, 2011 • News

My co-author is going to London and Paris! Details below. -jv

After completing a highly successful fortnight tour throughout New England last May, Steampunk Bible co-author S. J. Chambers is jumping on a steamer and heading across the Atlantic. She will be making two appearances, one in London and one in Paris, accompanied by various contributors from the book.

September 6, (Tuesday), London, U.K.—Viktor Wynd’s Little Shop of Horrors/The Last Tuesday Society, 11 Mare Street, doors open at 6 pm, show begins at 7 pm—Part of the Hendricks lecture series; co-author S. J. Chambers invites you to the official U.K. celebration of the her book The Steampunk Bible (Abrams Image). Part lecture, part signing, and part entertainment, S. J. will be accompanied by contributors Jema Hewitt (author of Steampunk Emporium ) and Sydney Padua (Lovelace & Babbage) for a discussion of the movement, followed by a special performance by Victorian monster hunter, Major Jack Union. Tickets can be purchased here.

September 16 (Friday), Paris, France—Librairie L’Antre Monde, 142, rue du chemin vert, 6 pm–The French Steampunks’ present Tea Time with S. J. Chambers (coauthor of The Steampunk Bible) and Etienne Barillier (author of Steampunk! and a prominent French Steampunk member) for an evening of discussion, signing, and tasty treats. For more information, please visit:

About the Author: In addition to co-authoring The Steampunk Bible (Abrams Image) with Jeff VanderMeer, S. J. Chambers also edits The Steampunk Bible, Volume 2.0, the website companion to the book. She is the Articles Senior Editor for Strange Horizons magazine, and a regular contributor to Bookslut and Tor.com. Her writing has appeared in a diverse array of publications including The Baltimore Sun’s Read Street blog, Yankee Pot Roast, New Myths, Fantasy, Mungbeing, and in Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s latest anthology Thackery T. Lambshead’s Cabinet of Curiosities. She is a devout Poepathist and has devoted a great portion of her career to emphasizing Poe’s importance to genre, including a lecture for the Library of Congress’ “What If…SF” series. You can find out more about S. J., including her pronom, over at www.sjchambers.org

Shared Worlds: Student Bestiaries, 2012-13 Guests, Essay Contest, World SF Fund Donation, and More!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 27th, 2011 • News

Hot on the heels of the Amazon.com grant we received last year, a lot of cool things are happening around Shared Worlds, the teen SF/f writing camp I help run along with founder Jeremy L.C. Jones.

First, check out this Amazon feature on the camp that includes some samples of the students’ bestiary entries, like this one!

Jada Thomas: With small kitten ears and a matching soft voice, this creature is known for its warming kindness and shy personality. It lives in the blazing heat and despises chilly winter nights. It is always seen creating something wonderful. This sweet creature is called a Shima. When you meet a Shima, you won’t forget it.

That’s the result of a writing exercise where they wrote about themselves as if they were fantastical beasts; we’re using those pieces as author notes in the back of the Shared Worlds student writing book, which they’ll be receiving in a few weeks. (We may actually also offer it for sale as a fund-raiser.)

Second, the Amazon feature reveals our list of guests for 2012, as well as noting that Holly Black, Karen Lord, Lev Grossman, and Nathan Ballingrud will all be guests in upcoming years. We’ll have an official press release out next week, but our 2012 guests are: Julianna Baggott, Tobias Buckell, Will Hindmarch, Karin Lowachee, Naomi Novik, and Ann VanderMeer. I will also be at the camp both weeks.

Third, Shared Worlds recently gave a donation of $250 to the World SF Travel Fund—in fact, our donation is the one that put them over the top for their original goal of $6,000. We strongly support this effort, and hope you will support it, too, since they’re now trying for additional funding.

Fourth, Shared Worlds will be partnering with Underland Press to sponsor a writing contest for teenagers. I am currently working on a nonfiction book entitled If You Lived Here: The Top 30 Fantasy & SF Worlds for Underland. Two winning essays submitted by readers about their favorite worlds will be included in the book: one in the under 18 category and one in a adult category. In addition, Shared Worlds will contribute the $500 prize for the winning teen entry and Underland will contribute $500 for the winning adult entry. More details on that in the next couple of weeks.

Fifth, you’ll soon be able to donate to Shared Worlds to help make sur we can meet financial need of applicants. The Amazon grant was wonderful because it allowed us to offer scholarships to 19 students, but we always want to make sure that talented teens who want to come to the camp are able to do so. For some, it is a defining experience that literally means the world.

For more information on the camp, read this Strange Horizons article.

Weird in a Cave, Weird in a Phone Booth, Weird in a Tunnel, Weird in a Maze

Jeff VanderMeer • August 24th, 2011 • Culture

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Living with the proof pages of our THE WEIRD anthology has been a little like living in close quarters in a cave with a snuffling, rain-soaked, ravenous bear that at times is all-too-real and at times is a ghost or a hallucination. You get claustrophobic, paranoid, jumpy, itchy, smelly, hunched over, flinchy, and irritable. You’re drinking too much coffee, poring over too many pages, eyeballs imprinted with the flash-imprinted image of story notes and page breaks and title treatments. The days merge together because you’re doing nothing other than checking things from the time you get up in the morning until when you go to bed at night. The stacks of print-outs rise. You start talking to yourself, and you start talking to the bear. You begin to wonder what readers are going to think, and every time you see the words “The Beak Doctor” you start cackling. When you come across a short novel embedded in the antho, you do a little jig. You become a sloth—just two huge eyes staring at things from matted fur—and then you realize you’ve become a sloth, but it’s too late…you’re a sloth. You’re a sloth talking to a ghost bear in a cave in the middle of the night, and you realize vaguely, with a kind of distant interest, that it’ll end soon, but you’re not sure when…so you better be on good terms with the bear.

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Editing Fiction Anthologies

Jeff VanderMeer • August 24th, 2011 • Writing Tips

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Cat Rambo recently conducted a three-part interview with my wife Ann VanderMeer and me about editing anthologies and periodicals—for the SFWA website. Together, in our current editing phase, we have co-edited ten anthologies since 2007 and Ann acquired/edited fiction for Weird Tales magazine for five years. (This doesn’t include a myriad of projects dating back to the 1980s, for both of us.)

Here are the links:

Part I: “You also have to be very detailed oriented. You need patience and a belief not only in yourself but in your writers and your reading audience. Give the readers the opportunity to join you on the adventure when you discover the fiction that you love.”

Part II: ” The truth is working on an anthology is like an obsession to me, and the more difficult the execution of the idea or focus, the more I become locked in on it to the exclusion of all else. This is good on one level and fairly scarring on others. I don’t necessarily recommend it as an approach, but it does teach you a lot.”

Part III: “You have to have diversity in every project, even ones with a narrow scope, otherwise it just becomes the boring same old same old. By diversity, I am not just talking about the writer, but the story itself–the type of story and how each writer approaches their fiction. The key to balance in anthologies is being widely read and also knowing as many writers as possible so when making solicitations you don’t just go to the same old names.”

Added to that I’d point to my blog entries about anthology editing, which can be found here:

What Do You Look For in an Anthology?

Editing Fiction Anthologies

Anthologies: A Reader’s POV

Anthologies: A Writer’s POV

(Also see: Maurice Broaddus’s guest post on the subject)

I don’t have much to add to all of this except to re-emphasize that editing anthologies isn’t something anybody can do well or immediately become good at—it requires practice and a specific skillset, and it requires a different skillset to select reprints as opposed to originals. Even the skillset required to select new fiction from a slushpile or open reading period is different than that for soliciting new fiction from established writers. Not to mention the intestinal fortitude seeking out permissions can require. I wouldn’t want to dissuade anyone from editing an anthology, but if you’re going to do it…really think it through and ask yourself why you’re doing it and what you hope readers will get out of experiencing the finished book.

There is also an element of continual learning involved, because anthologies can be so different from one another if you do a variety of them. So it’s hard to say that we’re “experts”—it’s simply that having had these experiences we are presenting information and analysis of the various processes, which we hope might be of use to others. As ever, cross-ref this info to other sources of info for best results.

Below find the table of contents for three of our recent or forthcoming anthologies, with a few notes.

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Ann VanderMeer on No Longer Editing Weird Tales

Jeff VanderMeer • August 23rd, 2011 • News


(Ann VanderMeer and Stephen Segal accepting their Hugos for Weird Tales)

My wife Ann’s statement / press release is below. I have no comment except to say that Ann did great work at Weird Tales under sometimes trying and difficult conditions, and she was extremely patient, professional, and worked hard to un-ossify Weird Tales and make it true to its original mission statement: to provide a safe haven for unclassifiable and unique weird fiction. – JeffV

***

FROM ANN VANDERMEER:
(Also posted at the Weird Tales blog where you can comment.)

I am very sad to have to tell you that my editorship at Weird Tales, which has included one Hugo Award win and three Hugo Award nominations, is about to come to an end. The publisher, John Betancourt of Wildside Press, is selling the magazine to Marvin Kaye. Kaye is buying the magazine because he wants to edit it himself. He will not be retaining the staff from my tenure. I wish him the best with the different direction he wants to pursue, including his first, Cthulhu-themed issue. The current issue of Weird Tales is #358, just published. My last issue will be #359, which Kaye plans to publish in February of next year. Other stories I bought will be published in various issues thereafter.

The past five years reading fiction for Weird Tales magazine has been an honor for me. I had a blast doing this but I have also contributed to the canon of “the weird tale”—a responsibility I take seriously, not only for the readers of today, but for the readers of tomorrow. This iconic magazine originally blazed a trail for new approaches to dark fantastical fiction, and I did my best to return to that legacy. In addition to bringing home the first Hugo Award win in the history of Weird Tales, I was also only the second female editor of the magazine, and presided over the only all-female staff ever for the magazine.

My current plans include final work on THE WEIRD: A Compendium of Dark and Strange Stories out from Atlantic in October. This huge reprint anthology, perhaps the largest ever published for this kind of fiction, includes 116 stories from the last one hundred years and totals 750,000 words. I will also be shepherding the anthology ODD? to completion through my and my husband’s e-book imprint Cheeky Frawg, along with completing several other anthology projects. In addition, I will continue to talk about and promote weird fiction through a new blog associated with THE WEIRD that will act as a repository of information and features, as well as providing a home for a new slate of “one-minute Weird Tales,” although they will of course be called something else. Beyond that I am considering this a chance to explore new and exciting opportunities.

If you have questions about this announcement, or interview requests, please direct them to my publicist, Matt Staggs, at [email protected] Thank you for your support.

****

Because I will not have the opportunity to write a final editorial for the magazine, I would like to say a few additional things as part of this announcement.

First, I would like to thank all my readers for coming along on this adventure at Weird Tales with me, and trusting me to find the kind of stories that you love. Thanks also to the writers and artists for trusting me to take good care of your work and to present that work to the world. I had the opportunity to bring to your attention some great short fiction while also helping further the careers of a lot of up-and-coming writers.

I also want to thank the talented people I’ve worked with: Stephen Segal, Paula Guran, Mary Robinette Kowal, Tessa Kum, Dominik Parisien and Alan Swirsky. You all are the best.

I am proud of what I have accomplished these past five years. I worked hard to publish a wide variety of weird fiction. In addition to work from Weird Tales’ stalwarts like Tanith Lee and Darrell Schweitzer, I published a new Elric novella by Michael Moorcock, and new fiction from brilliant writers like Kathe Koja, Jeffrey Ford, Michael Bishop, Norman Spinrad, J. Robert Lennon, Ian MacLeod, Felix Gilman, Sarah Monette, along with forthcoming work by Conrad Williams, Joel Lane, and Stephen Graham Jones.

With the aid of Weird Tales creative director Stephen Segal during my first couple of years, we ran many memorable theme issues, including the “85 Weirdest Storytellers” issue to celebrate 85 years of publication, an Uncanny Beauty issue, a steampunk issue and an International Fiction issue. In fact I published work by contributors from 21 countries during my five years with the magazine, more than any prior editor—including from New Zealand, Canada, Spain, Bulgaria, Philippines, Israel, Serbia, Italy, Slovakia, Czech Republic, France, The Netherlands, Brazil, Finland, Singapore, and Sweden.

I also published many, many new or up-and-coming writers, including: Ramsey Shehadeh, Jeff Johnson, Matthew Pridham, Karin Tidbeck, Leena Likitalo, Tamsyn Muir, Tom Underberg, Peter Atwood, L.L. Hannett, Alistair Rennie, Kelly Barnhill, Micaela Morrissette, Jonathan Wood, Gio Clairval, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz, Amanda Downum, Catherine Cheek, and N.K. Jemisin.

During my tenure, Weird Tales also truly entered the twenty-first century, by establishing a submissions portal and regularly producing the One-Minute Weird Tales videos, in the context of a newly revamped website.

It was a great ride, but now it’s over. I am still dedicated to seeking out the best of weird fiction wherever it is and bringing it to you. I just won’t be doing that under the Weird Tales masthead anymore.

The Trippy 1970s Science Fiction/Fantasy Album Pentateuch: Prog-Rock Multi-Media

Jeff VanderMeer • August 20th, 2011 • Music Reviews, Photos

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Check out this UK double album The Pentateuch by Patrick Woodroffe and Dave Greenslade from 1979—from my wife Ann’s huge record collection. It’s crazy prog-rock SF world-building that comes with what amounts to a coffee table book of new-age speculative philosophy, fiction, poetry and art in the middle, as well as ideograms and more…

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Talented Romanian Writer Marian Coman: Now Available in English on Kindle!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 20th, 2011 • Culture, News

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“When it comes to the Romania writers the one name that impressed me lately and that comes immediately into my mind because of this fact is Marian Coman.” (The Dark Wolf Fantasy Review)

As exemplified by World Fantasy Award winner Zoran Zivkovic and other writers, one way to a larger audience is by finding a way to self-publish your work in English and use that beachhead as a way to get more attention, find an English-language publisher, and then dive back into non-English publication when editors at Spanish, Italian, and other publishing houses read your work in English.

Now the talented Romanian writer Marian Coman has taken the bull by the horns, found a translator, and published a short e-book collection via Kindle: Fingers and other fantastic stories.

It has a great cover, and it’s inexpensive. Go forth and buy.

Also, Coman is looking for signal boost for his book. You can contact Coman via facebook or via his email: marian.coman @ obiectivbr.ro if you’re interested in interviewing him or doing a review or mention and need more information.

Coman is a noted Romanian novelist and journalist. He is the editor of the daily lens – Voice Braila. He has two critically acclaimed collections of stories published in Romania, and he won a prize from the European SF Society. Work has also appeared in several publications, including the 2007 Millenium Est anthology edited by Horia Ursu and myself, which presented Romanian writers in French translation at the Utopiales convention.

We were lucky enough to meet Marian in Bucharest a few years back—very interesting guy with good taste in fiction.

(Please feel free to link to this post, or even just re-use the info however you like on your own blog.)

Cheeky Frawg to Release E-Book of Stepan Chapman’s PK Dick Award-winning The Troika: Your Memories Wanted

Jeff VanderMeer • August 20th, 2011 • Fiction, News

UPDATE: Some have asked if I still have copies of THE TROIKA to sell in the original edition. Yes, I do, most all of them from the second printing. Please email me at [email protected] for more details if you’re interested.

Way back in the 1990s, my Ministry of Whimsy press published a novel called The Troika by Stepan Chapman that had been rejected by 120 publishers and which the author had tried to salvage by sending out chapters as stand-alone stories. One of them came to Leviathan 1, an anthology I was editing in the early 1990s. It made no sense to me out of context, but I still loved it. I felt like I was looking at a puzzle piece of something larger, and so I asked Stepan if it was part of a novel, and if so if he could send more of it. He sent another piece as a submission, and this one was self-contained and we published it in Leviathan 1: “The Chosen Donor”.

Then he sent the full novel…and as I read it and the back of my skull began to explode and my brain to melt from the audacious brilliance of it…I realized we had to publish it.

We did, and not only did it win the PKD Award and also garner over 120 reviews world-wide, Stepan, in one of those ironies too delicious to seem real, sat at a table during the PKD Award ceremony with some of the most prominent editors who had rejected his manuscript—all of whom probably had perfectly valid reasons for rejection, in that it’s not a novel that fits smoothly into any particular marketing category.

What’s it about?

Under the glare of three suns, three beings travel across an endless desert. They argue, whine, wheedle and needle each other. Sometimes they switch identities when the sandstorms roar in. As The Troika rolls on, we learn more about Alex, who started out as a man, then became cyborg, then jeep. About Naomi, a veteran soldier who woke up from her cryogenic storage tank to a new life, now a dinosaur. About Eva, who fled her native land to escape her fate as an organ-donor for the emperor.

The novel reconstructs their shattered lives through amazing tour-de-force flashbacks while driving closer to the central mystery of why they are trudging across an endless desert. It’s a truly stunning book in so many ways I don’t really know how to begin. What I do know is that without reading The Troika I could not have finished my novel Veniss Underground, and without the lessons learned from The Troika I could not have taken any number of leaps of faith in my fiction. Nor could I have jumped into my current serial The Journals of Doctor Mormeck without the influence of The Troika—several techniques I’m using were first perfected by Stepan in his novel.

So, as we prep the e-book, I’m wondering if any of you remember reading The Troika and liking it this much as well, and if you’re writer, how did the book influence you, if it did? We’ll probably publish a selection of responses in the back of the e-book as a bonus for readers, along with some other cool stuff.

And, here’s an excerpt from the novel—one of the flashbacks involving the character who keeps morphing into mechanical avatars.

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