Hibernation? Not Quite…News of The Weird, Sir Tessa, and More

First off, our Thanksgiving did involve birds, but not turkeys, as chronicled by the mighty Sir Tessa, whose quest for bears ended in turmoil involving Fred, the Beagle, and some talons.

Second, I just reviewed the Crichton/Preston novel Micro for the LA Times. In a nutshell…lifeless with some exceptional descriptions of miniature things made big. You can find pulse-pounding thriller entertainment elsewhere that’s much better.

Third, we posted the fifth week of Weirdfictionreview, including fiction from Caitlin R. Kiernan, an essay by China Mieville, interview with Liz Williams, and Leah Thomas’s web comic. Go check it out, including this blog post which details some great press for our The Weird anthology.

Fourth, no, this blog is not in hibernation, and I’m not in hibernation. We’re just working on a lot of stuff, including a very cool Cheeky Frawg website, more content for WFR.com, a little something I’m writing called The Book Murderer, and some short story assignments and more book reviews. I’ll resume my serial novel The Journals of Doctor Mormeck shortly and some other posts for this blog will appear.

As noted down-stream, I am taking on critique work right now, too.

Dominik Petr’s City of Saints, for Gallery Nemesis

Our friend Dominik Petr just finished a piece based on my mosaic novel City of Saints & Madmen, for a showing at Gallery Nemesis in Prague (December). It’s pretty darn cool. Previously, he’d done material for Veniss Underground.

vandermeers city - mr

A Manifesto for The Weird?

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There’s a lot of nonfiction and fiction today at Weirdfictionreview.com, most of it focused on Michel Bernanos and Jean Ray.

But there’s also Scott Nicolay’s Dogme 2011 for the Weird. It’s basically one writer’s credo about what he thinks will keep his weird fiction more original and unique.

You might or might not agree with it, but I think it’s useful to think about. It’s a list that most if not all of my own fiction adheres. In thinking about what weird fiction is, and how engages with the reader, it’s absolutely right to put forward, for example, the idea of not using werewolves, vampires, or zombies. Nothing can ever stop being innovative or fresh in a good writer’s hands, but the field is so overcrowded with these archetypal monsters that the effects created in fiction using them are not really part of the weird. They belong to horror or other types of fiction. There cannot be the frisson of discovery or of encountering the unknown crucial to the weird, due to the baggage these monsters bring with them. They have been overly contextualized.

Anyway, love it or hate it, I suggest you go check out Nicolay’s points.

Reading The Weird Free Web Comic: Borges, Blackwood, Jean Ray, and More

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Over at Weirdfictionreview, We’ve posted episode #4 of Leah Thomas’s intriguing web comic on Reading The Weird, which has become two mysterious characters’ epic quest across weird fiction. This latest installment is one of my favorites, as the story arc begins to become darker. That the series features the axolotl from Cortazar’s famous story is great, too.

Leah Thomas’s interview about the comic and her reading as a kid is really wonderful, too.

Meanwhile, we just did an interview for Ireland-based radio program Arena that will run next week, about The Weird compendium, and features have appeared at the Guardian online and the Financial Times, with more to come.

The Weird cover image

Weird Fiction: Going Kafkaesque, Weird Editor in Amsterdam, WFR Book Reviews, and Real-Time Weird Review Update

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Over on Weirdfictionreview.com, we’ve gone “Kafkaesque,” posting the entire introductory essay to the new anthology by John Kessel and James Patrick Kelly, along with an appreciation of Alfred Kubin. (And don’t miss fiction from Leena Krohn, interview and two pieces of fiction from Michal Ajvaz.)

Meanwhile, my co-editor on The Weird: A Compendium of Strange & Dark Stories will be appearing in Amsterdam on December 8th at the American Book Center to do an event in support of the anthology.

Weirdfictionreview.com now has a regular book reviewer, too: Maureen Kincaid Speller. For information on how to send her books, click here.

Finally, both Maureen Kincaid Speller and Des Lewis have continued their story-by-story reviews of The Weird compendium, with Maureen’s latest here (the sidebar used to have the other entries, but you may have to search for them). Des, meanwhile, is up to posts Five and Six.

VanderMeer Critique Service: Open for December

I’ll be freed up for taking on more fiction critiques to commence December 1st. If you’re interested, contact me at vanderworld at hotmail.com for rates and more information. I’m equally at home with stories as with novels, and I also am experienced with all types of fiction except Westerns, so…

The full critique service provides you with handwritten specific comments on the manuscript itself and an email of comments that apply not only to your story or novel but also your writing in general. Usually, I provide a summation and then also a break-down into elements like Characterization, Dialogue, Setting, etc. My goal is not to get repeat business because I give you something comprehensive that carries forward into your future fiction.

For those coming here for the first time, I’m a World Fantasy Award-winning editor and writer who has edited several critically acclaimed anthologies and made the year’s best lists of Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, Washington Post, and more. I’ve taught several times at the Clarion Writers Workshops, once at Odyssey and at the Hugo House, Brisbane Writers Festival and other international events, and done mainstream literary workshops as well as focused on fantastical fiction.

Michal Ajvaz at Weirdfictionreview: New Fiction and Interview

Caplin Rous
(Image accompanying Quintus Erectus by Ajvaz, photo of Caplin Rous.)

We’re very pleased this week to feature the brilliant Czech writer Michal Ajvaz on Weirdfictionreview.com, with an interview and two pieces of fiction. Please go check it out–direct links below. “Quintus Erectus” and the interview are exclusive to WFR.

The Miraculous Side of the Universe: Interview
“I was accused of being too weird by critics who were proponents of the realistic story. And I can imagine a book that is really too weird: a book whose weirdness doesn´t come from the soul of its author and which substitutes this absence of true weirdness (which doesn´t need to be too weird in many cases) by piling up superficial effects.”

“Quintus Erectus”
“The quintus was extremely cuddly; but I must confess that its cuddliness wasn´t pleasant for me. When it tenderly nuzzled my face with its false face, where a tongue of an animal suddenly appeared in an improper place, and when the quintus began to lick me with it, I didn’t feel good.”

“The Secret War”
“The Europeans continued to hold to mathematics, even after they began to perceive mathematical equations and calculations as bizarre dramas, as evidence of the work of the same blind forces as those that cultivated logical deduction and flowed through ma­chines, forces which drove an unceasing, monotonous division and unification. The Europeans were made nauseous by multiplication because now they perceived it as a diseased swelling, a proliferation anterior to any kind of sense and order, a growth which had arisen by the dull repetition of the same numbers and their resigned coa­lescence in the whole.”

New Agent Representation and New Projects

Just a bit of official news: Ann and I are now represented by Sally Harding from the Cooke Agency. I’m happy to forward any inquiries about book rights or new projects to her, but the international rights division can be contacted at rights at cookeinternational.com and the Cooke Agency’s general email is agents at cookeagency.ca. We’ve known Sally for awhile, referred writers to her, and we are happy to be represented by her. (Also thrilled that her clients include Karen Lord and Jesse Bullington.)

With The Weird anthology having taken up all of our time, we’ve been between projects, but I can say that Ann is beginning preliminary work on two anthologies she will be editing solo, we’re sending out the bestiary antho soon (mentioned on this blog in the past), and we are together working on the ultimate, huge time travel fiction anthology, mostly reprints. In terms of my own fiction, I’m continuing on the Journals of Doctor Mormeck, finishing up Borne, and beginning to collaborate with Karin Lowachee on another project.

In addition, The Situation web comic with Eric Orchard is in the final stages of lettering, and will go up on the Tor.com website soonish. My other project with Eric, Bellysnatcher, is about one-third completed, and is based on a notebook of paintings and drawings he sent me. I also expect art from Richard A. Kirk in the next few months to start on Fungicide: New Tales of Ambergris.

Wonderbook: The Essential Illustrated Guide to Writing Fantastical Fiction, for Abrams Image, is now scheduled for spring 2013, giving me a little more time to finish it off. John Coulthart is the designer on that project.

Meanwhile, Weirdfictionreview.com has turned out to be a big success and will be a nexus for our other efforts over the coming years. This week we’ve already posted work by Leena Krohn and the latest episode of the web comic. Tomorrow, Michal Ajvaz, with Kafka on Wednesday.

As Ann and I go forward, we are eager to balance and realistically pursue our various passions, which basically take three forms: to be of use in preserving the history of fantastical fiction and adding to a general understanding of it, especially the weirder stuff, to continue to write the fiction that is most personal to me in conjunction with Ann’s love for finding and publishing great fiction, and to be of use to the future of this kind of fiction through efforts like the Shared Worlds SF/F teen writing workshop.

Obviously, this is all a lot of work and a lot of things to keep balanced, and we’re indebted to the wonderful people who have been willing to help us with much of it. This has made it a lot easier to make various efforts a reality, and we’ll be specifically mentioning people soon.

One casuality of other projects, however, has been the Last Drink Bird Head service awards, which we simply were not able to get off the ground this year. We promise to find the resources to resurrect it next year.

Win a Copy of the Lambshead Cabinet: What Fictional School Would You Like to Attend?

Over at Weirdfictionreview.com we’re running a little weekend contest. Go check it out and give us your choice for where you’d like to go to school

Meanwhile, Des Lewis and Maureen Kincaid-Speller continue their explorations of The Weird compendium.

Next week I’ll return with more of my serialized novel, The Journals of Doctor Mormeck and news about the US publication of The Weird (next year).