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.

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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.

Annihilation: The Questions a Translator Asks

Jeff VanderMeer • May 25th, 2014 • Writing Tips

Having been involved as a publisher and as an editor in commissioning translations, I know what a difficult job it can be—and how the best translators are seeking a kind of truth about the words and the work so that they can convey it properly.

Every once in a while I’ll get questions about my novels from a translator commissioned by a foreign language publisher. I value these interactions because translators have to be careful readers. I tend to learn something about my own work. Sometimes, too, a translator will find an error, which I can then correct in the English-language editions.

Recently, Cristiana Mennella, the translator for the Italian edition of Annihilation, emailed me a series of questions. She needed, she said, to “make sure that I got everything right to do justice” to the book. While completing translations “all sorts of doubts come to mind…I don’t know if other translators do the same as me (meaning: are a nuisance like me), but I really need to get attuned to your writing as much as I can, also in anticipation of Authority…”

It’s not a nuisance at all, but a blessing—as it is any time you get to correspond with someone immersed in something you’ve written.

But I did think it might be interesting to readers to have a sense of what questions translators ask. So, with Mennella’s permission, you’ll find the bulk of her questions and my replies set out below.

Mennella has previously translated works by Edgar Allan Poe, Kathy Acker, William Vollman, George Saunders, Doris Lessing, and many more, so I believe I’m in good hands.

Annihilation and the rest of the Southern Reach trilogy will be published by Einaudi in Italy.


(Mennella)

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Star Wars: The Crazed Gruntbark Nesting Dolls Version

Jeff VanderMeer • May 25th, 2014 • Nonfiction

Popular Mechanics asked a number of writers, including me, for our thoughts on what the next Stars Wars movie should be–and you can read their thoughts here.

Mine, on the other hand, were too revolutionary and way too subversive to make it into the feature. As a practicing curmudgeon, and someone fairly ambivalent about the Star Wars franchise in general, I wasn’t too surprised or at all concerned about this development. BUT the truth must be told. So, here’s my idea for the next Star Wars movie in all of its amazing glory…GRUNTBARK MUST HAVE HIS DAY!

***

A worm-hole in time opens up and the actions of the resistance result in Ewoks never existing. Meanwhile, a resurrected Darth Vader, cloned from a ham hock and a piece of loose scrotal skin, becomes obsessed with mazes and builds a death star around another death star, and then puts a death star around the outside of that, replicating this action until it threatens to encompass the known universe. The resistance must stop Scrotal Ham Vader from surrounding them with a death star from which they can never get out. This leads to a huge battle that features dozens of Vader replicants that have been deployed on the various death stars in place of the ineffectual storm-troopers. Only Chewbacca’s great-great grandson Gruntbark can find the secret celestial sentient light saber foretold of old, the knowledge obtained from a message sent from the past by Yoda on an ancient un-hackable 8-track cassette. As a new horror concocted by Vader—mobile, roving garbage compacters—crushes rebels left and right as they try to delay the expansion of the death stars, the fate of the universe hangs in the balance.