The Southern Reach Trilogy Comes to Tampa, Orlando, and Miami

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This weekend I’m traveling around Florida, preaching The Southern Reach Trilogy in the place it all began. If you want a primer on the NYT-bestselling series, check out both this conversation I had with top designer Peter Mendelsund on Boing Boing and this great page for the hardcover omnibus version over at FSG. The film rights to the trilogy have been acquired by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures, with Alex Garland of Shine and Dredd fame set to direct. Along the way the trilogy made multiple best-of lists and been blurbed by Stephen King, Warren Ellis, and Kelly Link, among others.

First, I’m in Tampa at Inkwood Books, 5pm, tomorrow (Friday. Nov. 14), where I’ll talk a bit about the series, do a reading, take questions, and sign books. Creative Loafing Tampa has recommended the event to its readers and provided a nice review of the final book in the trilogy.

Then, Saturday at 7pm (Nov. 15), you can join me and special guest and rising star Usman Tanveer Malik at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Malik will read from a great short story and I’ll talk a bit about the Southern Reach, read, and then participate in a Q&A hosted by Functionally Literate. Functionally Literate is a great, relatively new organization in Orlando devoted to hosting lively literary events. They’re supported this time around by Bookit, which will provide copies for sale of both the trade paperback Southern Reach novels and the hardcover omnibus.

The Orlando Weekly has an interview with me about the Southern Reach and I appeared on the Functionally Literate radio show, which you can listen to here. Malik also appeared on the show, for this episode.

Finally, I’m also appearing at the Miami International Book Fair, on Saturday, November 22, at 3pm. Check your program for details, and I’ll post more about it next week.

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Hyperstition and the New Weird I: Entities & Worlds

I am very excited to be a part of a seminar with The New Centre for Research & Practice, entitled “Hyperstition & The New Weird I: Entities and Worlds/Genres and Climates”. On December 1st, 2014, I will be their guest to discuss The New Weird Anthology, as well as my novel Annihilation. The entire 4-part seminar begins this Monday (November 17th, 2014) and is hosted exclusively online, which means that you all can register and participate, no application necessary.

To register for the entire seminar visit The New Centre: http://thenewcentre.org/seminars/hyperstition-the-new-weird-i-entities-and-worldsgenres-and-climates/

For more information about the seminar, including a syllabus and reading list, please join the Facebook Group here: https://www.facebook.com/events/386891681465252/

Some of the texts that they will be discussing:

Jeff VanderMeer: Annihilation
Michael Cisco: Member
China Miéville: The City and the City
Kathe Koja: The Cipher

Southern Reach Trilogy

The World Fantasy Convention: Southern Reach Hardcover & Limited Edition Chapbook

Southern Reach trilogy with chapbookIf you’re going to the World Fantasy Convention outside of Washington DC, you can take advantage of a rather amazing offer: the forthcoming hardcover Southern Reach omnibus, collecting all three novels and a limited edition full-color chapbook of Southern Reach art. For only $35. Just go to the Kathmandu Books booth in the book room–very close to the center of the book room, near the Tachyon Books booth.

OR you can buy one during the World Fantasy mass autograph session at 8pm Friday night OR at the Southern Reach/Steampunk User’s Manual book launch in room 1851 (Hyatt Regency) from 1-3pm Saturday. (This event will also feature food, cocktails, giveaways, and a tasting of the Southern Reach Muscadine Brown Ale created by Tallahassee’s own Fermentation Lounge.)

The 20-page chapbook, limited to 250 signed copies, includes full-color art and images from Jeremy Zerfoss, Kyle Cassidy, Eric Nyquist, Pablo Delcan, Matthew Revert, Andrew Mamo, and Martin Jarrie (his illo for the NYT review of Acceptance). Some of the amazing cover art from foreign editions is featured, along Nyquist’s interior art for the FSG trade paperbacks, two maps, Séance & Science Brigade tarot cards, and more. I will sign 250 copies and Jeremy Zerfoss, who designed the chapbook, will also sign it. (An additional 250 unsigned copies I’ll be sending out to some of my favorite bookstores as a thank you.)

If you’re not going to World Fantasy, you can query [email protected] to see if any are left over. I’m going to be able to personalize copies the week after World Fantasy for those orders, so it is still possible to get in on this deal. Mark Wingenfeld of Kathmandu will take overseas orders. But you must email him soon because we’re almost out of any extras.

Also note that I have a panel on animals in fiction at 10am on Saturday at the convention. I hope to see you there.

The Southern Reach Trilogy hardcover edition has an official pub date of November 18.

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(Layout rough of an interior page of the chapbook)

Southern Reach News: Ex Machina’s Alex Garland Tagged to Direct Annihilation

As reported by Variety, Alex Garland, director of the forthcoming Ex Machina, has been brought on board by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures to direct the movie version of my novel Annihilation. He’ll also write the screenplay.

To say this is exciting news is an understatement. Garland’s script for the movie Never Let Me Go is phenomenal–and his work with science fiction in general has been unique, eccentric, and interesting in the best possible ways. Ex Machina looks fascinating, and if anyone can tackle the dual distance/passion of the biologist in Annihilation, it’s him. And I like very much the idea of the person doing the screenplay also directing–especially in this case, where Garland’s a novelist too.

Will the movie version differ from the novel? I’m sure it will. For one thing, Annihilation is a first-person narrative and film is by default more of a third-person medium. There are all kinds of changes in structure and general approach I would’ve made if writing the novel in third person.

Anyway, I’m thrilled that we’re moving closer and closer to a movie version of Annihilation. I’m planning on a Garland movie marathon of re-watches in the near future.

Thanks to all of you readers, too–Annihilation has made it to the long-list of the Good Reads Choice Awards. Go vote for your favorite here. I appreciate the many emails about your affection for the Southern Reach trilogy. (I’ll have news about an FSG hardcover of the trilogy–cover below–later this week, along with updated book tour information.)

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The Steampunk User’s Manual: Free Game and Steampunk Story Download

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Post-Halloween, it’s time to clear the cobwebs and get back to making things–and one of the things I helped make is The Steampunk User’s Manual. This is a unique look at Steampunk fashion, fiction, art, making, and much more that takes a practical and whimsical approach. There are projects you can do and projects nobody can ever do but that are fun to speculate about: like a giant steam-powered mecha-penguin commissioned specially for the book. Steampunk creators in all fields give their advice in ways that will be of use to those looking to enter the Steampunk world, but also general enough to be useful to anyone who is creative. As a full-color coffee table book, The Steampunk User’s Manual is also just darn pretty to look at. You can check out our website for more details and my esteemed coauthor has also written a pretty spiffy “7 Reasons Why Steampunk Is Totally Now.” In addition to this interview I did for the Royal Museums, Greenwich. The perfect book for you to order or to give as a gift this holiday season.

It also just so happens we’ve provided some free stuff online to supplement the book.

–Storium’s Will Hindmarch created a whole Steampunk RPG for the book’s release, which you can check out here.

—Author Richard Ellis Preston Jr. has been kind enough to allow readers to download his new story set in his popular Romulus Buckle Steampunk universe while we also showcases his giant kraken vs airship battle from a Buckle novel. (Offer good until November 9; direct link here) Featuring original art from Wonderbook’s Jeremy Zerfoss!

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The Uncanny Power of Weird Fiction–At The Atlantic

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(“How Doth the Little Crocodile” by Leonora Carrington)

Today The Atlantic posted my essay on weird fiction. The essay focuses on the ways in which beauty and humor coincide with the bizarre in this kind of fiction, using my experience coediting The Weird. Among the writers I mention or discuss are Murakami, Leena Krohn, Clive Barker, Thomas Ligotti, Leonora Carrington, Helen Oyeyemi.

Here’s a short excerpt. Please go read the essay and share it if you like it.

The intel begins to takes on an almost luminous quality—hidden linkage and lineage interwoven with literary resonance to reveal a greater, deeper sense of the complexity of the world. Confusions of writer and work become inevitable and can even be clarifying….Yet, I also began to have the sense, fostered in part by the cross-contamination of research, that around the world enclaves that never knew one another—writers who could not have read each other—still had communicated across decades and across vast distances, had stared up at the same shared unfamiliar constellations in the night sky, heard the same unearthly music: a gorgeous choir of unique yet interlocking imaginations and visions and phantoms. At such times, you wonder as both a writer and an editor if you are creating narrative or merely serving as a conduit for what was already there.

P.S. David Davis has some further thoughts on the weird based on the essay, over at Weirdfictionreview.com. And my prior essay, posted on this blog, “Bear vs Texting Man,” has some relevance as well.

Texas Book Fest’s Lit Crawl Jeopardy Brawl: Be There Saturday Night

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Okay, maybe “brawl” is a strong word to describe “Nerd Jeopardy,” but whatever you want to call it–I prefer “Heroic Heroes Jeopardy”–I’ll be part of it Saturday night at 8:30pm at Wonderland in Austin (1104 East Sixth St). You can even click “going” on the facebook page. The Austin LitCrawl is full of amazing events, in support of the Texas Book Festival. (Here’s info on my festival appearance earlier on Saturday.)

My opponents appear to have unfair advantages, such as possibly knowing much more stuff than I do. But I’ll have at least two sisters-in-law–Jody and Jennifer Bordman–in the audience to heckle me toward an honorable and not-to-distant defeat. I’ve also been told by my agent Sally Harding and my publisher Farrar, Straus and Giroux that there will be “some kind of penalty” if I lose. Since they have money riding on the results.

Besides, maybe I do have a shot. I’ve been in the backyard for three straight days now, slapping home-made buzzers glued to tree stumps and shouting answers in the form of questions at the squirrels. Things like:

“What is air?”
“What is ice cream?”
“Who is Solomon Gursky?”
“What is the daily double?”
“What is the hair on the back of your neck?”
“Who is the Vice Admiral of Guam?”

Who are my opponents?

Charles M. Blow has been a columnist at The New York Times since 2008, is a CNN commentator, and has appeared on MSNBC, CNN, Fox News, the BBC, Al Jazeera, and HBO. Blow lives in Brooklyn with his three children.

Kate Payne is an author and freelance writer, and a frequent consultant for design, decor, cooking, and crafting publications and sites. She lives in Austin with her wife and teaches classes on food preservation and other topics both privately and at culinary centers across the country. Her books Hip Girl’s Guide to Homemaking (HarperCollins, 2011) and Hip Girl’s Guide to the Kitchen (HarperCollins, 2014) are available wherever books are sold. Read more about Kate on her blog (http://hipgirlshome.com/) and website (http://katepayne.net/).

Paul W. Morris from the PEN Center is going to be moderating. So come one, come all. It would probably be more intense if the combatants knew each other or harbored long-standing grudges. But the truth is we don’t, and all you can hope for is a grudge nursed for less than 30 minutes, stemming from some green-room dispute. Which might still be spectacular.

What I can say is: Nerd Jeopardy is likely to be a lot of fun. I hope to see you there.

Jeff VanderMeer Tour Dates: Through The End of 2014

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(Southern Reach art by Tony McMillen)

“I’m loving the Southern Reach trilogy…Creepy and fascinating.” – Stephen King

“[A] masterpiece.” – The Guardian

“An instant SF classic.” – The New Statesman

>>Recently read by Catherynne M. Valente, who tweeted about it. Not familiar with the S.R. series? Check out this link.

Since Acceptance, the third book in the Southern Reach trilogy has come out, I’ve done an event with both a live owl and with a plastic owl. I’ve done a gig with Lev Grossman and Lauren Beukes, which was very cool, and met the fine folks at a number of bookstores, including Politics & Prose in DC. The novel even made the New York Times bestseller list. But the fun isn’t over yet. See below for the last tour dates.

Austin, TX

October 25, 1:45pm–Texas Book Festival , “The Stuff of Stars,” reading, Q&A, and signing with Ofir Touché Gafla and moderator Lincoln Michel. At the Central Presbyterian Church.

Science fiction has often been a genre used by writers to celebrate the possibilities of the imagination and to critique the world of the present. From robots to black holes to even Frankenstein, sci-fi authors focus our attention outward to the stars in order to reveal the inward aspects of humanity. Ofir Touché Gafla and Jeff VanderMeer discuss how they use science fiction to take readers through their universes.

October 25, 8:30pm–Texas Book Festival LitCrawl, Jeopardy edition at Wonderland (1104 E 6th St). Battle for Jeopardy supremacy against Charles Blow and Kate Payne, with host Paul Morris.

(I’ll also try to go to all three author reception events. See you there! – JV)

Washington D.C., World Fantasy Convention Events

November 7, 8pm–Autograph Party at World Fantasy

November 8, 10am–WF Convention Panel: The Role of Animals in Fantasy with fellow panelists Goldeen Ogawa (M), Judi Fleming, and Garth Nix.

November 8, 12-4pm–Steampunk User’s Manual/Southern Reach party (more details soon; inquire via [email protected] for a special Southern Reach offer debuting at World Fantasy)

Acceptance--FSG

Florida

November 14, 5pm, Inkwood Books in Tampa, FL, reading, signing.

November 15, 7pm Functionally Literate reading series (with Usman Tanveer Malik) in Orlando at the Lowndes Shakespeare Center. Reading, Q&A, with slideshow and signing.

November 19-21–The Center for Literature, Wonderbook workshop (cosponsored by the Miami International Book Fair) in Miami – must sign up for the workshop

November 22,3pm–Miami Book Fair International – Event along with Daniel Suarez and Geoff Nicholson (reading, discussion, and signing in Room 8525, Building 8, Miami-Dade College)

New York City

November 23, 2pm–Barnes & Noble Tribeca, Steampunk User’s Manual event with special guests TBA

November 23, 6pm–Steampunk User’s Manual party (save the date–details TBA)

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(Southern Reach art by Andrew Mamo)

Mike Allen’s Unsettling Collection Unseaming

Mike Allen first made a real splash with his unique Clockwork Phoenix series, which he edited in addition to Mythic Delirium. But he’s an interesting and unsettling writer of dark, weird fiction as well, with a first collection out that’s beginning to get some buzz. Library Journal just gave his Unseaming a starred review. You can buy the collection here. Recently, I interviewed Mike about his work and weird fiction via email.

When did you start writing?
I’ve made stabs and feints at writing since grade school, but it was never a constant thing. For much of my youth I thought I was going to be an artist when I grew up, and I started out college as an art major before eventually figuring out that my passion lay with writing. (Though my preoccupations in art and writing were much the same; see one of my old drawings below as an example, heh.)

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What drew you to horror and weird fiction?
There’s a broad reason and a narrow reason, both rooted in morbid curiosity and childhood trauma. The broad reason: I’ve always had a love-hate relationship with the dark and the monsters in it. In fact, one of the stories in Unseaming stems from a nightmare I had as a toddler. This part of my nature metastasized permanently in the third grade, when our teacher read “The Tell-Tale Heart” and “The Raven” to us for Halloween, setting off night terrors that bedeviled me for years. Becoming a connoisseur of horror and finally a writer of horror made it possible for me to regain control over my own imagination.

[Read more…]

Book Release Day: Julia Elliott’s Sublime The Wilds

The Wilds

Julia Elliott’s phenomenal first short story collection is out this week and I hope you will buy it. I hope you will buy copies for your friends. The Wilds is wonderful in every way. The stories range from mainstream realism and magic realism to surreal science fiction—all unique, all demonstrating Elliott’s wonderful ability to see the absurdity and seriousness of life in equal measure. In a tie with Laura Van den Berg’s The Isle of Youth, it’s my favorite collection of the year.

Here’s an interview I did with Elliott for the Tin House blog (excerpt below). Go read it. Go buy the book.

Jeff VanderMeer: What do texture and tone mean to you when writing a short story? And do you have to get them right before you can finish a rough draft?

Julia Elliott: As a hedonistic texturist, my initial impulse is to cram every particle of a story with texture and tone, so that each and every sentence bursts with perfumed, purple language like an overripe fig—an oozing, fermenting, parasite-infested mess of a fig. When I return to early stories, I’m struck by the electric, visceral moods that end up going nowhere—especially plot-wise. Although I’m now more ruthless about gagging and straight-jacketing the bad poet within, I don’t feel at home in a narrative unless I’ve created a palpable texture that I can inhabit as I work out character motivations and plot, elements that occur less instinctively for me.