Archive for August, 2011

Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: Ear-Eye!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 19th, 2011 • Lambshead Cabinet Features, News

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In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

Today, we have a special treat: an expanded version of one of the best micro-submissions to the anthology and an important part of Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet: Graham Lowther’s Ear-Eye…

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Book Lover’s Quest: Big Questions by Anders Nilsen Needed Big Book–Huge, Glorious, Awesome Book!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 18th, 2011 • Book Reviews, Uncategorized

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Big Questions by Anders Nilsenand I have had only a passing acquaintance until now…when the awesome Drawn & Quarterly Press decided to drop a metric ton on me in the form of a huge hardcover book that has been lovingly and exquisitely designed. Wow wow wow—absolutely beautiful in all possible ways.

Huh? Wha? Why? Who? say those amongst you who care not for the tactile creativity that is a well-designed book printed on a real honest-to-god offset press as opposed to in html e-purgatory.

Let me then take you through a little guided tour of how the pleasure centers of the book lover’s brain light up when encountering this kind of artifact, especially so unexpectedly…

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Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: The Poe-Bug; Dr. S. J. Chambers Explains

Jeff VanderMeer • August 18th, 2011 • Lambshead Cabinet Features, News

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In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

First up is contributor S.J. Chambers’ rumination on Poe-pathy, associated to some degree with her contribution to the Cabinet antho, Dr. Lambshead’s Dark Room. The account of meeting Dr. Lambshead concerns hypnotic techniques, including the Valdemar Method, which enabled the doctor “to extract from even the most cavernous subconscious those diseases that afflicted the soul, as demonstrated in the mesmeric stories of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Tomorrow: An expanded treatise on the famed “Ear-Eye”!

THE POE BUG
S.J. Chambers

Have you experienced these following symptoms: soaring soul, existential exigency, speaking in cryptically symbolic metaphor, vertigo caused by sublimity, vision heightened by chiaroscuro, dead-dwelling or head-swelling? Do you suffer from daydreaming reflex with reveries that include blackbirds, scents of an unseen censor or aberrant alliterative applications? If you have answered yes to more than one of these, you may be suffering from Poepathy. A terrible disease of the soul, characterized by the affectation of the imagination and its degenerate interaction with the secular world, Poepathy is derived from continual contact of the reader’s imagination with that of 19th- century American author, Edgar Allan Poe, and the dependency upon Poe’s work for constant creative stimuli.

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Tallahasee, Florida, Aug 21 at Ray’s Steel City Saloon: Lambshead Cabinet Antho Extravaganza!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 17th, 2011 • News

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Here’s the official announcement for our party, open to the public, this weekend…It should be a lot of fun. Hope to see you there! JeffV

Announcing:

A CABINET OF CURIOSITIES EXTRAVAGANZA RIGHT HERE IN TALLAHASSEE!

A book launch party for The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, an LA Times Summer Reading Selection, and The Steampunk Bible, recently featured in the NYT and Wall Street Journal.

Ray’s Steel City Saloon (lower level), Sunday August 21, 4pm to 7pm (or later)

Official program starting at 5:30pm:
—Scandelous anecdotes about the books
—The stories behind the stories
—Short readings
—Giveaways (of previous Weird Tales issues, Bull Spec magazine, Jeff’s novels, a copy of 1001 Steampunk Creations, and much more)

Free appetizers and cake!

(Full bar and Ray’s menu are available)

Featuring Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer and World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer and the unveiling two items from the Lambshead Cabinet:

—The Steampunk Workshop’s Bassington & Smith Positronic Brain, built by Jake von Slatt

—Famous Czech animator Jan Svankmajer’s cryptozoological art

With Special Guests:
—S.J. Chambers (Lambshead contributor and Steampunk Bible coauthor with Jeff VanderMeer)
—Florida State University Professor and artist Carrie Ann Baade (art available)

Fun for the whole family, with rumors of a face painter also in attendance…

Lambshead Cabinet anthology and The Steampunk Bible both available for sale and signing as well as the latest issue of Weird Tales (edited by Ann VanderMeer, art by Baade) and humor book The Kosher Guide to Imaginary Animals (written by Ann & Jeff).

More on the Books…

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Weird Comparisons

Jeff VanderMeer • August 16th, 2011 • Culture, Uncategorized

We’re not quite ready to reveal the full table of contents for THE WEIRD: A COMPENDIUM OF STRANGE AND DARK STORIES (Atlantic/Corvus), but we have finished the proofing process and provided the publisher with story notes, the extended copyright page, and the introduction.

In the interim before the reveal, I decided to go back and take a look at some of the best-of anthologies from the past couple of years and compare our table of contents to theirs. Below I’ve posted kind of a tease with regard to our book, revealing the number of stories overlapping ours, as well as the list of common writers. For the first two, I’ve put a line of ****** to indicate the year/story from which the antho correspond with our own list.

These other anthologies have a different but at times overlapping mission statement from THE WEIRD, which clocks in at 750,000 words. Our mission statement was to chart the best examples of weird tales/weird fiction over the past one hundred years. We took that brief to mean exploration of several different threads: the traditional weird tale, weird ritual, some weird SF, etc. We also took the opportunity to include weird fiction from beyond the U.S. and U.K., with 17 nationalities represented among the 116 stories . We saw Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft as representing two main strands of weird fiction, etc., and also traced other sources of influence. We also used the opportunity to commission new, definitive translations of several stories and included novellas and short novels.Non-supernatural horror without an element of strange ritual, Gothic fiction, and traditional ghost stories did not fit our brief to select “weird fiction”. We also looked carefully at all public domain material, trying to be definitive but also not rely too heavily on it for the time period of roughly 1908 to 1922. Part of this process included re-evaluating the strength of certain authors and certain classic works.

The four books below have their own constraints and obsessions. The Century’s Best Horror Fiction chooses one story per year as the best from that year. It also contains only four stories not from Anglo sources, and ignores Kafka entirely, probably defining him as not really horror–it is largely concerned with comprehensively chronicling the horror impulse in the UK and US. The anthology also includes more naturalistic horror, selecting some fine authors that simply didn’t fit into THE WEIRD.

The Peter Straub American Fantastical Tales from Library of America has, of course, the constraint of including only stories by U.S. writers, going all the way back to Poe. However, Straub had the freedom to pick any kind of dark fantasy—weird, horror, etc.—meaning that traditional ghost stories are well-represented in his anthology, and correspondingly he has more women writers from the period of 1910 to 1950. He has also selected many stories from “literary” authors, which creates a nice mix of writers who might not always appear in the same volume.

The other two anthologies, The Very Best of Best New Horror edited by Stephen Jones and Darkness edited by Ellen Datlow, both cover roughly the last 20 years of horror fiction, and intersect with The Weird during that period only partially. Neither anthology looks at fiction from outside of the US/UK/Australia.

…THE WEIRD will be out in October and we will post the full table of contents prior to publication. In the meantime, with these story lists as a partial guide, do you have your own favorite weird tale?

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The Mona Lisa: The Full 63-Minute Halo Flick…

Jeff VanderMeer • August 15th, 2011 • News, Videos

The whole 63-minute Halo motion comic flick based on the novella by me and Tessa Kum from Halo: Evolutions. Every gross, bloody, suspenseful, disgusting, fungal, roiling, boil-ridden, scary, violent, scarring, tough-person-dialogue-ridden, crazy-ass Terrorific Scooby-Doo frame of it. With “shore leave” substituted for our “ice cream” and a beat missing from the end…

Mord Announces Candidacy for President of the United States of America

Jeff VanderMeer • August 14th, 2011 • Culture

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(Jeremy Zerfoss designed the poster)

In response to (p)Rick Perry entering the Presidential race, Mord, star of my stories “The Third Bear” and “The Situation” (as well as my forthcoming novel Borne, with cameos in The Journals of Doctor Mormeck) has announced his own candidacy—based on the truth…omnivores have run this country into the ground. Here’s his platform as passed on to me.

—MORD BALANCE BUDGET BY EATING NO MORE PEOPLE THAN CAN EXCRETE

—MORD CALL FOR PALAVER WITH TEA PARTY…HEADS ON SPIKES REQUIRED, TEA OPTIONAL

—MORD TAKE ALL MONEY FROM RICH, GIVE IT TO POOR. MORD TAKE ALL MONEY FROM POOR NOW RICH, GIVE TO NEW POOR. REPEAT.

—MORD MAKE MICHELLE BACHMANN ENTER THERAPY

—MORD DESTROY BRIDGES TO ENSURE INFRASTRUCTURE EXPENDITURES

—MORD SHOVE HIGH-SPEED RAIL DOWN RICK SCOTT’S THROAT…LITERALLY

—MORD CAUSE HAVOC AND TERROR IN CONGRESS BECAUSE THEY DESERVE IT

—MORD STOMP HARRY REID’S ORCHARDS SO HE TOP WHINGING ABOUT NOT SEEING THEM ON FLOOR OF CONGRESS

—MORD MEAT WITH ALL HERBIVORES TO PREY WITH THEM ON COMMON TISSUES

—MORD GIVE NEWT GINGRICH ONE PAPERCUT FOR EACH FAKE TWITTER FOLLOWER

—MORD IMPOSE TERM LIMITS BY DEVOURING ANYONE IN CONGRESS LONGER THAN 20 YEARS EVEN IF STRINGY OR BRAIN-MEATS FLABBY

—MORD DO WHATEVER HE WANT WHENEVER HE WANT AND STOMP WHATEVER HE WANT. THE END.

The New Surrealism

Jeff VanderMeer • August 12th, 2011 • Culture

I’m going to selfishly say what I want to discover is more strangeness in fiction, and by more strangeness I mean the rise of a new surrealism that looks at science fiction and fantasy both askance and and with affection, but is less concerned with building causality and logic and more concerned with restoring a “sense of wonder” without the baggage of the golden age of SF. A sense of wonder that’s both ironic and cynical at times and that relies upon huge imaginations blasting out of the traps of “how would that happen” and “I have to figure out how that would work” and letting the dream-logic of charged images and amazing concepts flow. Anchored by compelling characters and stories that wormhole within each other and bestriding the landscape with confidence. We see some of this already in the most mind-bending of manga and anime, and in other manifestations of the imagination that understand there’s always a backstory that will work because we live in a multiverse. There’s always a reason, an explanation, for anything. On some level, in these post-post times explanations are less useful to us than journeys that expand consciousness, get at psychological truths, and convert the dross of the everyday into something amazing.

Tallahassee Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 9th, 2011 • News

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For now I’ll just let you suss it out from Jeremy Zerfoss’s great poster, but more info soon. Should be great. Don’t think we have any other Cabinet contributors within driving distance, but if I’m wrong, ping me and we’ll add you.

Donate to the World SF Travel Fund!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 9th, 2011 • Uncategorized

Go here. Find out about their peerbacker fund drive to raise enough money for a very worthy cause: bringing more international editors, bloggers, writers, etc., over to events in the U.S. or U.K. to promote cross-cultural exchange and communication. Donate!