Entertainment Weekly’s Spotlight on the Southern Reach Book Covers

Jeff VanderMeer • June 27th, 2014 • News

The print issue of Entertainment Weekly that reaches subscribers today and newsstands next week includes a feature on the Southern Reach book covers–showcasing the amazing designs from various foreign editions. The image below is from the online version, available to subscribers only, I believe.

I’ve also uploaded the covers to a flickr album. Which are your favorites? The set of three to start are roughs of the German editions.

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Living on an Alien Planet: NPR’s Cosmos & Culture Runs Conversation with Karen Joy Fowler

Jeff VanderMeer • June 16th, 2014 • News

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NPR.org’s Cosmos & Culture blog has run a long-form conversation between me and PEN/Faulkner Award-winner Karen Joy Fowler focusing on animals and the environment. Here’s an excerpt:

Fowler: On the limits of empathy — I just read the new book by Frans de Waal called The Bonobo and the Atheist. A lot of it was about our natural proclivity towards empathy and how many animals we find this in, and cited many studies and observations. But in the end the book concluded that there seems actually to be what they call an empathy deficit for people or creatures that you don’t see as part of your own tribe. Not only do you not empathize with them, you actively dis-empathize.

VanderMeer: Dis-empathize, right. If sharks were as smart as chimpanzees — using our conventional definitions of worth — it wouldn’t make a difference, in a sense. So how far do you think “personhood” should go in terms of our thinking of animals? Is there a cut-off point? Or is it simply that we need to rearrange our entire thinking about this?

If you missed it, this weekend NPR’s To the Best of Our Knowledge ran an interview with me as part of a discussion of weird fiction.

Also, Laboratory Lit is a thing, and Annihilation is on their most recent list of novels. (Probably best they don’t read Authority…)

Finally, Rick Kleffel has a list of novels “better than blockbusters” that includes the Southern Reach trilogy.

Yale Writers’ Conference and New Canaan Library Event June 19: Jeff VanderMeer, Terence Hawkins, and Louis Bayard

Jeff VanderMeer • June 14th, 2014 • News, Uncategorized

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(Believe me, after the marathon of writing the three Southern Reach novels, I look a lot more Area X’d than this now…)

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

This week Ann and I will be teaching at the Yale Writers’ Conference. There are semi-public readings at the campus B&N that are mostly for the students and faculty. But for anyone in the area who’s interested, I’ll be doing this event:

Join us on Thursday, June 19 at 7:00 p.m. for a program with a trio of authors fresh from the Yale Writers’ Conference: Terence Hawkins, conference director and author of American Neolithic; and instructors Louis Bayard, author Roosevelt’s Beast; and Jeff VanderMeer, author of Wonderbook, The Illustrated Guide To Creating Imaginative Fiction. In addition to speaking about Wonderbook, Jeff will read from and discuss his latest book, Annihilation.

I’ll probably give some teasers about Acceptance, too.

I always love doing events with writers I’m just encountering, and in this case two with such intriguing novels out. Here’s some more information on both…

Terence Hawkins’ American Neolithic is America is a Police State Lite. Drones patrol the skies. The Patriot Amendments have gutted civil liberties. The Homeland Police and Patriot Tribunal have exclusive jurisdiction over all legal actions implicating national security. And then Neanderthals enter the story. Political satire, courtroom thriller, and speculative fiction, American Neolithic is also a story of loyalty, betrayal, and redemption.

Louis Bayard’s Roosevelt’s Dream. A reimagining of Teddy and Kermit Roosevelt’s ill-fated 1914 Amazon expedition—a psychological twist on the smart historical thriller that first put Louis Bayard on the map. A story of the impossible things that become possible when when the mind plays tricks on itself and when old family secrets refuse to stay buried.

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Southern Reach Trilogy Featured on NPR’s To The Best of Our Knowledge with Gaiman, Le Guin, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • June 12th, 2014 • News

I had a great time last month recording this interview for To The Best of Our Knowledge with host and executive producer Steve Paulson. He asked great questions and it was just a very energizing and fun experience.

They’ve also posted the Extended Interview on the site. The short version will be broadcast this weekend as part of an hour on weird fiction that also includes interviews with Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. Le Guin, among others.

I was also really happy that they had me record another three-minute bit on a favorite book, and in this case I picked Alfred Kubin’s amazing The Other Side. I don’t know when that will run.

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Southern Reach Spanish Book Covers: An Interview with Pablo Delcán

Jeff VanderMeer • June 9th, 2014 • Culture, Uncategorized

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(Finished covers)

One of the great pleasures of seeing the Southern Reach trilogy in print has been the ingenuity and sophistication of the foreign language editions. Among the absolute best of the many versions are Destino’s covers for the Spanish editions. Destino commissioned artist and designer Pablo Delcan to create these covers, which capture the surreal vibe of the novels as well as the theme of transformation running through the narrative.

I caught up with Delcan via email this month to ask him about how he created these striking images, and to share with readers some early versions. You can experience more of his amazing work at his website. Spanish readers can also check out the Destino Southern Reach webpage and also check out updates on twitter @_SouthernReach.

Read the rest of this entry »

News: Editing The Big Book of Science Fiction for Vintage

Jeff VanderMeer • June 9th, 2014 • News

Ann VanderMeer and I will be editing The Big Book of Science Fiction for Vintage. Here’s the official announcement:

Hugo Award winner Ann VanderMeer’s and NYT bestselling Jeff VanderMeer’s THE BIG BOOK OF SCIENCE FICTION, an oversized, 800-page, time capsule of the last hundred years of the sci fi canon to Tim O’Connell at Vintage, by Sally Harding at The Cooke Agency (NA).

Most of our work will be research–a lot of reading. But we will also have an open reading period for reprints. You’ll be able to submit links or electronic manuscripts of your own work or recommendations of rare or often overlooked stories you think deserve our attention. Clearly if we’re covering a century, we won’t be just focusing on the contemporary scene.

As ever, we’re committed to including work from a diverse array of sources. And, as with prior large-scale anthology projects like The Weird and The Time Traveler’s Almanac, we will go fairly far afield. Expect a book that gives you the classics but also material that will surprise you.

It may be a few months before we set up the submission process, but we’ll make sure it’s widely publicized.

The Southern Reach Trilogy: Stephen King and Vernon Reid Loving It; N.K. Jemisin Reviews It in the New York Times Book Review

Jeff VanderMeer • June 5th, 2014 • News

Twitter  StephenKing I'm loving THE SOUTHERN REACH ..
(To see the comments, click here.)

It’s been a busy week and I haven’t had time to post anything until now, but imagine my surprise Sunday afternoon when several friends told me Stephen King had tweeted that he was loving the Southern Reach trilogy, calling it “Creepy and fascinating.”

This was just a couple of days after I had my mind blown when Vernon Reid, founder of the band Living Color, tweeted that he’d finished Annihilation and Authority and loved them, writing, “”Truly visionary, epic, the best SF since Perdido Street Station…VanderMeer has done something extraordinary in the Southern Reach. Wild. Bizarre. Romantic. Evocative of Gibson, Lovecraft, Kafka. Thank you for creating something original in a world that’s referencing itself to death. It is refreshing.”

Honestly, consider my month and year made. And this was on top of N.K. Jemisin giving a great review to Authority in the New York Times Book Review’s summer reading issue.

In other news, I’ve just finished up some last tiny tweaks to the third novel, Acceptance, and also will post a tour schedule for the rest of the year. It includes awesome events with the likes of Charles Yu, Lev Grossman, and Lauren Beukes, among others.

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Tactile Interlude: Salt

Jeff VanderMeer • May 30th, 2014 • Fiction

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From a work in progress…

Pink Rose Salt (Andes) is too delicate to be mournful, yet presented as a defiant rock, so that you must work to break off its plaintiveness and in that struggle realize you were wrong all along.

Maldon Sea Salt is deceptive in its raucous and rowdy shouting–it wants to punch you in the shoulder and gift you with a golden retriever and kick the ball around, and yet has a hidden core of vulnerability.

Sel Au Vin (Cotignac) carries memories of some long-ago cabernet sauvignon cut through by a bitterness that dissolves into a bold and assertive independence, before, finally, revealing at its core a remote and eviscerating solitude.

Oak Smoked Chardonnay Salt juxtaposes accents of delicate charcoal with the ancient and wise puzzles released from the wood, creating a kind of laid-back tall tale on the palate.

Yet Hickory Smoked Sea Salt has a swagger that makes the Oak Smoked seem stodgy and provincial–like a novelist who’s only good at describing one particular wooded lot in Pennsylvania. Hickory Smoked is lurching solid on the deck of a boat and reeling in the nets and then going out drinking late at bars. Rinse. Repeat.

Polish Rock Salt is quarry-sound, practical and trust-worthy, with not a hint of deviousness right through to the clean aftertaste.

Hawaiian Pink is the aftermath of a dive into the sea around noon, punctuated by seeing a parrot fish, then crawling back onto the beach, lounging under a hat, hoping for a f—ing beer not seen in commercials but not getting it.

Pinot Noir Flake Salt sits like coral on the tongue, cuts to the back of the throat, recedes into a delicate froth and memories of a short story by Boris Vian.

Black Truffle Sea Salt has a richness that begs to be tasted grain by grain, descending to the tongue by way of a golden set of tweezers, perhaps crafted during the early Renaissance and acquired by Catherine the Great; too much and you’ll be lost forever.

Oh for the love of god I need water.

Finnish Weird: It’s the Hot New Thing from the Cold Place

Jeff VanderMeer • May 28th, 2014 • Book Reviews, Culture

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(Oh–there it is. Finnish Weird. Popping up amongst the ‘shrooms.)

Finnish Weird now has a fruiting body: a one-off magazine that allows you to sample some of the best examples of this delectably strange Nordic truffle. Download these infectious spores or enjoy them right there online.

In addition to iconic Finnish writer Johanna Sinisalo’s editorial, “Rare Exports,” Finnish Weird includes an essay “Finnish Weird From the Land of the North” by Jussi K. Niemela and features Emmi Itaranta, Jenny Kangasvuo, and Tiina Raevaara. Fiction and interviews and essays all come with a great visual presentation, too.

Mentioned in the nonfiction is It Came From the North, an anthology of the Finnish fantastic edited by Desirina Boskovich from our own Cheeky Frawg Books. In honor of Finnish weird, we’ve discounted it for Kindle to $2.99 for one week only. If you’d prefer a different seller, we recommend Weightless (although we can’t discount that version).

So go read Finnish Weird and check out It Came From the North if you’re so inclined.

It Came from the North--Finnish Fiction

Summer Reading Lists: Southern Reach Influences, Tove Jansson, Rachel Carson, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • May 27th, 2014 • News, Uncategorized

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(Google honoring Rachel Carson, born on this day in 1907)

For your summer reading consideration…first off the HuffPo list of ten influences on the Southern Reach trilogy, including Under the Sea-Wind by Rachel Carson:

This was the famous naturalist’s first book, and it contains her observations of several coastal environments in the 1930s. Taken just as an intricately detailed account, Under the Sea-Wind has a mesmerizing rhythm that places the reader under a spell. But not only does this book fascinate with its documenting of the lives of animals and the environment around them, it describes pre-World War II landscapes that today do not exist in quite this complexity. This chronicle is thus also an important account of our natural history.

I also contributed to a Conde Nast Traveler list of summer reading, along with David Sedaris and several others. I chose Tove Jansson’s The Summer Book as my classic summer read. Go check out the other recs.

My novel Authority made this New York Post list of the 29 best summer books, along with work by Emma Straub, Haruki Murakami, and more.

Authority’s also on this Tampa Bay Times best-of summer list, along with intriguing titles by Emma Donaghue and John Waters.

GQ’s list of May recommendations includes…um, you know, Authority, but also some *other* books that might be of interest.

If you’re looking for some rock-solid trade paperback fiction, the latest New York Times’ bestseller list includes quite a few interesting titles, including David Eggers’ The Circle. In a first for me, Authority also pops up on the list.

I should also point out this Coode Street podcast if you want some summer listening, in which Gary K. Wolfe and Jonathan Strahan have a conversation with me. I think it turned out really well. Other recent episodes feature the likes of Joe Abercrombie. (I also highly recommend any of Bookworm’s interviews, except the one they did with this bastard.)

And, if you have a question through early June, I’m answering them over at Goodreads–at least one a day.

Finally, FSG Originals has a roundup of some of the great press for my novel, for those who are interested.