Archive for February, 2012

Shared Worlds Critter Map: The Watch-It and the Seven Songs of Sirius

Jeff VanderMeer • February 16th, 2012 • News

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The Critter Map registration/donation drive for the Shared Worlds SF/F teen writing camp I help run has been a big success. The Huffington Post, Boing Boing, SF Signal and several more have picked up on it, including, of course the authors involved (Neil Gaiman, Patrick Rothfuss, and more!).

In terms of registration, we’re now well ahead of last year at this point and we have applications from students in Japan, Canada, France, Indonesia, and Germany, in addition to from all over the U.S. This really is a unique experience for the students, and a life-changing one. Go check out the Critter Map, but you can also read my entry and Ann’s below the cut…

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Please Consider Ann VanderMeer, Best Editor, for the Hugos

Jeff VanderMeer • February 16th, 2012 • News

As you fill out your Hugo ballot this year, I’d just like to put in a plug for my wife, Ann VanderMeer, for Best Editor (Short Form).

What did she accomplish as an editor in 2011?

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (Atlantic), a 750,000-word, 100-year overview of weird fiction covering everyone from Kafka to Ben Okri, Shirley Jackson to Michael Chabon, Robert Bloch to Kelly Link, and 109 more. It’s as far as we know the largest collection of this kind in a single volume and highly lauded by The Guardian and Times Literary Supplement, among others.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (HarperVoyager), an original anthology with contributors including Michael Moorcock, Lev Grossman, Holly Black, Jeffrey Ford, Charles Yu, Alan Moore, Naomi Novik, Tad Williams, and many more. It also included over 70 original illustrations from the likes of Mike Mignola and Jan Svankmajer.

ODD? (Cheeky Frawg), an e-book only anthology of reprints and originals, ranging from Jeffrey Ford and Nalo Hopkinson to Hiromi Goto and Amos Tutuola.

—Two months of Weirdfictionreview.com, which in November and December of 2011 published over 90 pieces of nonfiction and fiction from China Mieville, Thomas Ligotti, Tanith Lee, and many others. The full list for last year can be found here.

On all of these projects, I co-edited, but Ann also edited solo:

–Two issues of Weird Tales magazine, in addition to commissioning several “one-minute weird tales” video projects and exclusive online fiction.

She would have edited four in 2011 if not for the regime change.

I would much prefer it that everyone who liked these projects and wants to reward the effort that went into them—The Weird alone is like editing five or six anthologies—vote for Ann solo. I’ve seen first-hand just how much effort she’s put into all of these projects.

The Situation: Analyzing Story from a Writer’s Point of View

Jeff VanderMeer • February 14th, 2012 • Writing Tips

manager on fire

Having recently come back from Trinity Prep School in Orlando, where the students were reading my short story “The Situation,” available at GeekDad, as well as its web-comic adaptation on Tor.com, I thought I’d post some of my notes about the story. This examination is a work in progress, and although it contains sub-sections, there’s a bit of bleed between topics still. There’s an emphasis on beginnings because for certain works of the surreal how the text teaches you to read it is extremely important. I may not have time to talk about the transition from text to comic this week, but I’ll return to it next week. And, in the meantime, you can, as noted, read both the text and comic online.

The title of this post indicates it’s from a writer’s point of view, but it’s also therefore from a creative writing teacher’s point of view in some sense.

This post contains massive spoilers with regard to “The Situation,” by the way. – Jeff

Situation Bear comic--analysis
(Art by Eric Orchard)

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The Liminal People: A Great First Novel

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2012 • Culture

Omnivoracious has posted my profile of first novelist Ayize Jama-Everett, whose The Liminal People is out from Small Beer Press. It’s a great book, and the author was a great interview subject (unless the jerk in the post directly below this one.) Go check it out!

Later, in college, he would hone his talent for dialogue by taking screenwriting classes, while a job at a comic book store after college gave him new insight into the possibilities of graphic novels. “God Bless Comic Relief in Berkeley California. It was the first place that introduced me to a higher level of graphic novels. Somewhere I still have a copy of William S. Burrrough’s Tornado Alley illustrated by S.Clay Wilson. I read Paul Aster’s City of Glass graphic novel illustrated by Dave Mazzucchelli, and Watchmen. I drooled over early Paul Pope work at the same time I discovered an amazing old series called Beautiful Stories for Ugly Children. I saw the medium as a vehicle and not a genre and knew that what I wanted to write would always be influenced by the literary culture I grew up in. So I stopped trying to find an artist to draw my scripts and started writing stories that I loved.”

Who’s on the Rack? Moi? I Don’t Think So…

Jeff VanderMeer • February 13th, 2012 • Culture

So I found the solicitation under the cut to be more than a little odd, and given the references to “brutal” and “rude” and “pressures” I’m under (?!), I thought I would respond as if I were a complete a-hole—take the offensive as it were and turn the tables. Only seven answers were posted to the On the Rack feature, but you can read the full interview below.

Note that the direct link to their On the Rack feature on me does not include anything about “brutal” or “rude”…thus making me look simply brutal and rude, I suppose….but I answered completely in the spirit of the context as I saw it, because what author worth their salt is going to just go along with the idea as presented?

mordha

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Shared Worlds Critter Map: Unique SF/F Teen Writing Camp Registration and Fund Drive!

Jeff VanderMeer • February 8th, 2012 • News

sw critter map

The Shared Worlds SF/F teen writing camp 2012 registration and fund drive has begun–and it’s all being driven by the wonderful fiction contributions you can find here from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Lev Grossman, N.K. Jemisin, Scott Westerfeld, Karen Lord, Amal El-Mohtar, Eugie Foster, Michael Moorcock, Kit Reed, Tobias Buckell, Patrick Rothfuss, Gene Wolfe, Lavie Tidhar, and many more. (Including a lively Finnish contingent: Johanna Sinisalo, Viivi Hyvönen, and Leena Litikalo.)

Click on a critter and a read a story. Like what you read? Please donate. Interested in registering for the 2012 Shared Worlds camp? There’s a link for that, too.

The art by Jeremy Zerfoss was also the cover of the Shared Worlds student writing book from 2011, displayed below surrounding my wife Ann. The stories were compiled and edited by Therese Goulding. Greg Bossert created the site. Below the cut you’ll find the official press release. Please spread the Critter link far and wide. Thanks!

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Book Haul: Squeeing All the Way Home with Kelly Link, Madras Press, Small Beer, PM, and More!

Jeff VanderMeer • February 7th, 2012 • Culture

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Madras Press, run by Sumanth Prabhaker, is one of my two favorite new publishers (the second being the Dorothy Project). Madras produces these absolutely perfect little editions of stories in book form. In the case of the one above, a special edition of Kelly Link’s great story “Stone Animals” with illustrations by, among others, Lev Grossman, Daniel Handler, Ursula K. LeGuin, Laura Miller, and Audrey Niffenegger. Wow. It’s a gem.

As with all Madras Press editions, including the three pictured directly below, the proceeds go to charities, a different one for each book. Go check out their website and buy, buy, buy!

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Also in the mail today—it was a truly bountiful day—were lit mags, a novel by a new writer, from Small Beer, a Small Beer collection by Nancy Kress (one of my Clarion instructors), nonfiction by Michael Moorcock, a novel by Matt Bell, and an intriguing-looking novel from Angry Robot, all pictured below the cut.

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Trinity Prep School Event Thursday Night in Orlando

Jeff VanderMeer • February 7th, 2012 • News

As noted previously here, Ann and I are doing a public reading and presentation at Trinity Prep School in Orlando this Thursday night, starting at 7p.m. In addition to the classroom visits and workshop we’re doing with the students as part of their Visiting Writer series.

The event will be held in the Kelly Kranze Room, 5700 Trinity Prep Lane, Winter Park, Florida. For directions, visit the Trinity prep website. There’s also more information here, at the page for the visit. Books will be available for sale and signing.

The students have been reading “The Situation” in both story and comics form, so it’ll be interesting to get their take on the differences, etc.

Locus Award and Rec List: VanderMeer Eligible Work

Jeff VanderMeer • February 6th, 2012 • News

I’m on record as being ambivalent about promoting one’s works for awards. I’m somewhat less ambivalent when the books in question are not my own novels but anthologies or nonfiction books where many other people are involved and deserve recognition. Between The Steampunk Bible, The Weird, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, more than 600 writers and artists are represented and had something to do with the creation of the books. It’s a little hard not to champion books where they’re more like arks full of other people’s Awesome.

Which is another way of saying, the Locus Recommended List and Survey is now up on Locus Online, and if you like any of the books my wife Ann and I were involved in, please do vote for them. The top five in each category will be finalists for the Locus Award. BUT ALSO please remember that no matter how hard any organization tries, it is impossible to list every worthy work. For example, Laird Barron mentions two worthy collections not on the recommended list.

The write-in slots, therefore, are incredibly important. If you loved something not on the recommended list, please please write in the selection.

As for us, here’s where we are eligible, with all but the Steampunk Bible already on the recommended list. We also edited ODD?, but there’s really no chance of it being a finalist, and my nonfiction collection Monstrous Creatures has been overshadowed by the Big Three listed below.

—Best Editor: Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

In addition to Lambshead and The Weird listed below, Ann and I also edited ODD?, Ann edited Weird Tales, and Ann and I edited http://www.weirdfictionreview.com, which was founded November 1 of 2011 and ran 90 pieces of fiction and nonfiction between Nov. 1 and Dec. 31 of last year. We also started Cheeky Frawg books and published several titles through that imprint. (We have come close to finalist lists in the past, but people voting for one of us separately has fractured the vote three ways.)

—Best Anthology:

The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories (edited by me and Ann) – Over 750,000 words of Weird fiction covering a century, with 116 stories, 7 new translations, and several stories that have not been reprinted in over 30 or 40 years. Over 20 nationalities are represented and the writers include Joyce Carol Oates, Kafka, Angela Carter, Michael Chabon, Ray Bradbury, Shirley Jackson, Jamaica Kincaid, and…well, here’s the list of stories/contributors. It’s the largest single-volume collection of weird literature ever published as far as we know, and received great reviews from The Guardian, Times Literary Supplement, and many more.

The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities (edited by me and Ann) – An original antho that functions as a treasury of the best of established and up-and-coming fantasy writers, including Michael Moorcock, Lev Grossman, Alan Moore, Naomi Novik, Charles Yu, China Mieville, and Holly Black. The total number of fiction contributors is more than 80, while there are also over 60 original illustrations, including work Mike Mignola, Greg Broadmore, and Jan Svankmajer. Two stories have already made year’s best anthos and the book is on the preliminary ballot for the Bram Stoker. Several individual stories from the antho are, in our opinion, among the best of the year. Here’s more information and also here.

–Best Art Book:

steampunk bible cover new

The Steampunk Bible (with S.J. Chambers) – A sumptuous full-color coffee table book of Steampunk art, fashion, machines, and more. Everyone from Jake von Slatt to…well, you name it. Over 200 images. Chances are you’ve at least flipped through this one. If you liked it, consider it for best art book as a write-in candidate. Here’s more information.

Regardless of what you vote for, vote your passion and help make the finalist list as diverse and interesting as possible. Thanks!

(I should note that Nebula voting ends soon, and Hugo voting ends in five weeks. I am going to do one post about Hugo voting and the case for nominating my wife, Ann, in a week or two.)

My List of the Best 2011 SF/Fantasy on Locus Online

Jeff VanderMeer • February 5th, 2012 • News

Locus Online just posted my best-of-2011 choices. I hate doing these lists on the one hand—it’s harder and harder for me to say “this book over this book”–but on the other hand I keep having read widely enough to be of use in creating one.

So, check it out. I hope you find it of use. And if you don’t, I encourage you to make your own list. Cheers.