Archive for March, 2012

Orbit Books to Release Limited Edition “Remix Novel,” Rule 35 by Arthur C. Clarke Award Finalist Charles Stross

Jeff VanderMeer • March 31st, 2012 • News

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Huh. Interesting. Orbit will be releasing Rule 35 from Charles Stross. According to Alex Lencicki at Orbit, it’s a “limited edition 150-copy remix” of Rule 34, the novel that just made the Arthur C. Clarke Award finalist list.

From the press release: “Stross’s futuristic detective novel is being enhanced by the addition of another viewpoint character known as The Cyber Curmudgeon, who has a twitter handle of PissOffMyLawn, infects cyberspace, watching from afar: a voyeur of the action, almost like a one-man Greek Chorus, with a catch phrase of ‘I might have a point!’ The Cyber Curmudgeon’s taunting infuriates another of the novel’s characters and complicates the job of DI Liz Kavanaugh. The remix proceeds from there. Here at Orbit we don’t want to divulge too much, but we’re enthusiastic about this incredibly imaginative new version of Rule 34.”

Special features of the limited edition:

—A deluxe hardcover binding made from the pulped remains of only the freshest, most recently remaindered novels by New Wave-era writers.

—A bookmark ribbon designed by Damien G. Walter that he will pre-soak in the tears of writers who never made it to the big table.

—Endpapers featuring Sheri Tepper’s whimsical drawings of winged ponies framed by a horrific Boschian-style global-warming tableau.

Rule 35 also will include a foreword by China Mieville entitled “Did Something Happen I Am Completely Unaware of While I Was Busy Writing My Next Mind-Blowing Novel?” and an afterword composed of the recently transcribed cursing of the writer Mark Billingham (a preview of his forthcoming book, tentatively entitled Listen, I Met a Total F—ing W—er At the Lit Fest).

Stross has apparently said he’ll split his earnings from the limited edition into contributions to two organizations: The International Foundation for Literary Judges with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and the Save Our Curmudgeons League.

Evil Monkey, Christopher Priest, and the Arthur C. Clarke Awards

Jeff VanderMeer • March 29th, 2012 • Evil Monkey

Evil Monkey:
Did you see that Christopher Priest threw his feces all over the Arthur C. Clarke Award?!?

Jeff:
Yes. Don’t bother me. I’m working.

Evil Monkey:
No, no. You have to respond. You have to blog something.

Jeff:
I’M WORKING, GODDAMN YOU, MONKEY!

Evil Monkey:
I’m not leaving until we talk about this!

Jeff:
I KEEL YOU WITH MY MIND BULLETS!

Evil Monkey:
I SNUFF OUT YOUR MIND BULLETS WITH MAH BUTT MISSILES!

Jeff:
I give up. But what’s to talk about? I don’t completely disagree with Priest on a general level about always striving for better, always analyzing awards processes and our own writing…but there’s little discourse to be had here directly, because he poisoned the waters by dissing his panel-mate Billingham, dismissing Tepper with “it’s about horses, man, and horses ain’t cool in my book” and calling for the judging panel to be disbanded. His Stross comment also seemed too personal. If he had merely stated his opinion of the nominated books, of which I have read only China’s, then it would be different, I think…But also, as someone who has a leg in the mainstream and in genre, it’s hard to muster up much energy one way or the other. Newsflash: Mediocre books make awards ballots all the time. I think the only mistake is to set your watch by them.

Evil Monkey:
And then Damien G. Walter set out a psychological profile of Priest! Priest is just a twisted Gollum gone insane from getting sooooo close to the Ring but never possessing it!

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Incoming Books: Polish Dying Earth Antho, Dalkey Archive, Blake Butler, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • March 27th, 2012 • Culture

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Just a few of the incoming books in the last day or two. The book in the upper left is the Polish edition of the Songs of the Dying Earth antho edited by Gardner Dozois and George RR Martin, including my story that I now call “Grod Impatient With All.”

Below the cut you’ll find new titles from Lazy Fascist press, Lethe, and Dalkey, among others. To be honest, the titles from LF and Lethe use this kind of uncoated matte cover stock that feels unpleasantly like slightly rough latex. It’s very hard for me to hold them for even a couple of seconds as the texture makes me nauseous. I’m going to have to rip the covers off to read them. Does anyone else have this reaction to that texture? Ann doesn’t. The books themselves look cool.

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The Weird Compendium: Starred Rave Review in Publishers Weekly

Jeff VanderMeer • March 27th, 2012 • News

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Extremely thrilled that Publishers Weekly has given The Weird Compendium, out from Tor in May(ebook available now) a starred and boxed review. It’s a stunner, an absolute rave. Many thanks to the reviewer for understanding what we were trying to do. Here’s part of the review. You can read the whole thing online.

“Ambitious in the extreme, the Vandermeers’ latest genre-blurring endeavor…is one of the most far-reaching and inclusive speculative anthologies to ever see print. Alongside familiar names—from Lovecraft and Kafka to Link and Kiernan—the Vandermeers unveil a menagerie of obscure authors and impressive stories from around the world….This standard-setting compilation is a deeply affectionate and respectful history of speculative fiction’s blurry edges [with] stunning diversity, excellent quality.” – Publishers Weekly

We believe we’ll be in New York City in June to promote the anthology, and be doing interviews, etc., for various places. Also expect much more media coverage

The Restorative Qualities of the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts

Jeff VanderMeer • March 25th, 2012 • News

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(I have no idea what I’m saying to Ellen Datlow and Jacob Weisman in this photo taken by Ann.)

We’re just back from the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts, and both Ann and I feel we had as much fun as we’ve ever had at a convention. There were points on both Thursday and Friday nights where I was sitting in the restaurant/bar section looking around at all of the amazingly creative people—editors, writers, scholars, artists—packed into such a small space and I just felt this incredible feeling of affection and love for everybody. A lot of the time, I have a natural inclination to position myself as someone on the outside looking in, and I can also be pretty cynical about the field, but I was getting a kind of 360-degree view of awesomeness that overwhelmed all of that. While Ann, Jacob Weisman, Ellen Datlow, and I are playing pool, there’s China in conversation with Ben Loory, Maria Dahvana Headley, and Nancy Hightower. There’s Peter Straub telling a joke to Jeffrey Ford while Charles Vess sneaks in a sly observation talking to Theodora Goss. Karen Lord walks in, yay! Kij Johnson and Kelly Link sit down next to us after pool. Karen Joy Fowler magically appears—I didn’t even know she was here, yay! Nalo Hopkinson, James Patrick Kelly, John Kessel. The mind reels. The dynamic Liza Trombi, Bernie Goodman, Gwenda Bond and Christopher Rowe, Steven Erickson, Genevieve Valentine, Merja Polvinen, Liz Gorinsky, a brief conversation with Andy Duncan (his new collection from PS Publishing is beautiful) and Sydney Duncan (who was one of the architects of the programming)…seriously, I’ll never be able to remember everyone my mind is so sieve-like these days, so apologies in advance. We had so much fun both nights in that space, although I had the thought more than once that if the roof fell in with so many amazing talents in the same place, fantastical fiction would be in real trouble.

During the con in general, having so many opportunities and little memorable moments, too. Talking shop with Gavin J. Grant in the dealer’s room, saying hi to Joe Berlant. Encountering Andrea Hairston in the elevator, congratulating her on the Tiptree. Sitting around the pool with Austin Sirkin, Rachel Swirsky, Michael Swirsky, and two from the Finnish contingent debriefing us on their surreal trip to North Korea. Lunches with Karen Lord (singing the praises of our mutual agent, Sally Harding) and Kit Reed and Ellen Datlow and more. An early breakfast with an animated China after a long night, feeling like we’re moving in slow-motion but glad to see someone who is chipper. Jeff Ford ominously saying “Monstrous creatures, man. Monstrous creatures.” Meeting Nick Mamatas’ family and having more time than usual to talk to Nick. Getting to know Kij Johnson and John Kessel better at a breakfast with (oh we know him well) Jacob Weisman. Talking to Charles Vess, who I enjoyed the heck out of. Being stopped in the hall by academics who wanted to talk about City of Saints or the Steampunk anthologies or any number of other things and having some great discussions. (Among several regrets: not bumping into Christopher Barzak, seeing Ted Chiang only from afar, missing Nancy Hightower’s presentation because we’d stayed up too late the night before, and sitting near a certain GKW at the pool, someone I don’t know very well, and stupidly letting a kind of shyness overtake me. Quite honestly, although I think people believe I’m outgoing, I’m an introvert and it takes a lot of energy to put myself out there. The truth of that kind of underscored by Jim Kelly pointing out at one point that I’d taken a seat next to an out-of-commission couch cushion marked as such by a huge sign; anti-social much?…I only thought of the best return line, of “why don’t you to sit on my lap then?” too late.)

One indicator of how much fun ICFA was lies in the fact that we stayed up until around 2am two of the nights; it’s been years since we stayed up past midnight at any con. It was all restorative, even the hangover….and it’s kind of strange but over the years at most conventions, you see people somewhat briefly or get spirited away into various recurring groups or have responsibilities because of anthologies out that preclude just sitting around and shooting the breeze, so there were people at ICFA we’ve seen for 10 or 15 years at various events and emailed a lot, but never really had the chance to talk for a bit, so that was really nice.

I think I also realized, after two years of not publishing much fiction, that lots of people do still indeed see me as a fiction writer, which was a relief. My reading on Thursday was with Nalo Hopkinson and Jeffrey Ford, introduced by the wonderful F. Brett Cox, and the room was packed. I felt incredibly privileged to read with that group, and also thrilled and energized by the reception to the excerpt from my novel “Borne” I read, especially that they laughed in the right places and didn’t laugh in the right places, too. I was still having people coming up to me and telling me how much they enjoyed it on Saturday. Which was a big boost of confidence. We’ve had our noses to the grindstone for so long now that we haven’t really come up for air in such comfortable surroundings for awhile. Not to mention signing books for people and getting to show off the advance copy of The Weird antho.

(Feeding into a burst of confidence and well-being: not only had I completed a short novel entitled Annihilation before leaving for ICFA, but Ann had read it on the drive down and loved it; I got to hear literal gasps of surprise at certain points, which was a first for me. And then arrived at ICFA to check my email and find my other first readers echoing the same reactions, with the same thoughts on minor tweaks.)

I also participated on a panel about reimagining the canon that I think went well, along with Jacob Weisman, Karen Burnham, John Rieder, and David Sandner. I’m afraid the dam burst and all of the excitement about The Weird antho came bubbling up so I talked too much (I really have to watch that when it comes to The Weird), but I hope it was at least entertaining. The sadness of taxonomy. The repatriation of the fringe with the core. The healing of the division between mainstream and genre. The necessity of seeking out international fiction. The need to test prior canon-creating anthos like the Dark Descent (focused but narrow) and Black Water (wide but wandering), both brilliant. The idea of canon as a constantly shifting thing, which made me think of canon as one central skeleton or line with other lines burning down to intersect and others shooting up out of the central line and off into the fringes. Relating some of the more hair-raising permissions stories. Was happy Terry Weyna came up to say hi afterwards. (Ann and I also got to talk about the Weird for a Locus interview, and it was fun to share some of the stranger stuff with Liza T, since she has an innate appreciation for and expertise in the in’s and out’s of publishing.)

Ann was on two panels, one on editing and one on copyright that went well; one at least will be a podcast on Locus online soon. (Although there were points during the editing panel where my inner Mord started to growl; alas, Maria and Nancy had to suffer hearing that blabbery rant afterwards.) We were also happy that a lot of people mentioned having visited Weirdfictionreview.com for our 12 Days of Monsters—our features apparently proved useful for more than one panel. We were also delighted that the IAFA posted something about the 12 Days on their site. Since we’d gone off and planned that in a kind of impromptu fashion, we were relieved that they seemed pleased. I’d also like to say we appreciated the organization of ICFA, which ran like clockwork as far as we could tell.

I must admit, due to time constraints we weren’t able to attend as many events as we wanted to, but from the great outbursts of enthusiasm when the attendees of the monsters luncheon with China Mieville burst forth from the banquet room, his speech about monsters was a huge success (and apparently will be published by IAFA in their journal soonish, possibly with an excerpt on Weirdfictionreview.com, if we’re lucky.) I’m sure other accounts will do a better job of reporting on the programming in general, and Ann might add her own impressions in the comments below as an addition to this blog post.

Anyway, in all ways we felt blessed to be at ICFA this year, after two years that had been filled with great projects, but ones that had ground us down a bit, and I think we’re going to try to attend every year from here on out.

ICFA in Orlando–12 Days of Monsters Continues…

Jeff VanderMeer • March 21st, 2012 • Uncategorized

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(Ann’s monster socks, which she’ll be wearing at ICFA)

We’re headed down to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (Orlando). Thursday morning, I’m reading from my monstrous novel Borne and Friday Ann has two panels (editing/copyright) and I have one (rethinking the canon). Looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.

Meanwhile, our celebration of the ICFA theme of the monstrous continues over at Weirdfictionreview.com. Everyone from Kelly Link and China Mieville to Genevieve Valentine and Ekaterina Sedia, Lisa Tuttle and Theodora Goss. Free downloads, fiction, nonfiction, and more.

Weirdfictionreview.com’s 12 Days of Monsters: Kelly Link, China Mieville, and More!

Jeff VanderMeer • March 20th, 2012 • News

Over at our Weirdfictionreview.com, we’re celebrating the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts with 12 Days of Monsters. This week has gotten off to a great start, with Kelly Link’s novella “Pretty Monsters” (this week only) and an interview with China Mieville. Both are guests of honor at ICFA.

But we’re also running a wealth of other material. Visit the main site page for what we’ve posted already–showcased in the image slider.

You can also download, for this week only, a free copy of my nonfiction collection Monstrous Creatures.

What do we still have in store? Here’s the schedule…

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Annihilation: New Novel Finished

Jeff VanderMeer • March 20th, 2012 • Fiction

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It never fails. My subconscious likes to make me into a liar. No sooner had I posted about thinking about writing and work cycles, both posts that emphasize things other than butt-in-seat writing…my subconscious gave me a nightmare and the next morning that led to feverish writing…and here we are about four weeks later and I have a first final draft of a new novel, Annihilation.

Annihilation is about an expedition into a strange quarantined wilderness, narrated by the expedition’s biologist. I don’t really know how to describe it, except that it in part transforms my love of the wilderness of north Florida, especially the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, into something much stranger and more sinister.

Anyway, the novel is out and about to my first readers and then I’ll make some further changes and send it off to my agent.

This is the first novel I’ve finished since Finch.

Here’s a taste of the first section, first few paragraphs (still draft)…

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Therese Goulding Named Managing Editor of Cheeky Frawg Books

Jeff VanderMeer • March 14th, 2012 • News

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Cheeky Frawg, founded by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, is proud to announce that Therese Goulding has agreed to serve as the publisher’s managing editor. Goulding will oversee the production of the 2012-13 publishing schedule, which includes books by Amos Tutuola (Nigeria), Karin Tidbeck (Sweden), Leena Krohn (Finland), Michael Cisco, Jess Nevins, and several others. Cheeky will release its full 2012 schedule soon. Goulding provided this brief bio for those unfamiliar with her work…

Professional editor and mother of two crafty little children, Therese Goulding is a graduate of The Second City Conservatory and Writing Program and currently resides in the Chicagoland area. Therese uses her unique skill set of editing, writing, mothering, and comedy to successfully manage millions of words throughout the year. In addition to being the Managing Editor of Cheeky Frawg Books, she is a Copy Editor at G2 USA Marketing, and the Special Projects Manager for the Shared Worlds Science Fiction & Fantasy teen writing camp. When Therese is not sitting down with a good book, she can be found frantically looking for something new to read.

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ICFA Conference in Orlando–Next Week! With Monsters!

Jeff VanderMeer • March 13th, 2012 • News

The International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (ICFA) is an annual scholarly conference devoted to all aspects of the fantastic (broadly defined) as it appears in literature, film, and the other arts. It’s held in Orlando, and Ann and I will be in attendance for the first time in a long time.

This year, China Mieville and Kelly Link are the guests of honor, and the theme is Monsters. In honor of that, our Weirdfictionreview.com will be hosting “12 Days of Monsters” starting Thursday and running through the convention weekend. Highlights of our celebration will include contributions from Link, Mieville, Crawford Award winner Genevieve Valentine, Theodora Goss, Lisa Tuttle, Johanna Sinisalo, Michael Cisco, Jeffrey Ford, Aeron Alfrey, Ekaterina Sedia, and many more.

I’ll be reading a monstrous part of my novel-in-progress Borne and Ann is on a panel. We look forward to meeting old and new friends. And since several attendees have asked us about whether there will be time to talk about the process of compiling our 1,200-page Weird anthology, please ping me at [email protected] With any luck, we’ll have time to hang out around the pool at the very least or grab a coffee.

See you all there!