Too Bloody? Wot? Too Bloody? Our Halo “Mona Lisa”? Never!

Above find the awesome part 3 of the motion comic adaptation of the novella “The Mona Lisa” I cowrote with Tessa Kum for the Halo: Evolutions antho. This episode made me tense. The music is quite good, too.

So I want votes. Is it bloody? Is it too bloody? Is it just realistic? Seems to me no more violent than my average day going down to the coffee shop and getting groceries….

Click here and scroll through the sidebar to find parts 1 and 2 if you haven’t seen them yet.

Also, they seem to have left out the famous “ice cream” lines Tessa came up with. So I suggest when you watch it, every time they say “shore leave” scream “ice cream” at the screen and take a shot of your favorite whisky…if you’re of legal drinking age wherever you live…

Service Announcements: e-Weird Tales, Beyond Victoriana, Poland, and e-Ephemera

A few things to mention that’ve slipped away from me a bit. SF Signal recently ran my interview with Polish editor-writer Konrad Walewski, and I’ve reproduced it above in case you missed it.

Jan Zeranski, an editor and writer in Poland, also sent me these additional links: Katedra and Esensja (both in Polish and, as Jan says, containing “huge database of reviews, interviews and excerpts. Esensja is a monthly semi-pro zine about modern popculture (apart from books they review movies, music and so on) and Katedra focuses on literature.” In English, the Book Institute is mostly about mainstream literature and of definite interest. “As for essays or articles I have found only one so far—at Words Without Borders. It’s a good text written by Tomasz Kolodziejczak, award-nominee science fiction author and a comic book publisher.”

AND, in other news, you can now get Weird Tales electronically!

Also, Beyond Victoriana has a very cool fund-raiser for Japan. Go check it out and donate!

Finally, Neil Williamson, who I interviewed in Warsaw about his projects and about Scottish SF (see below), has an e-book out of his great collection Ephemera. Check it out!

Ann VanderMeer Reads from Michael Cisco’s “The Divinity Student”

In Finland, we participated on the last day in a contest at a con that was about convincing an audience to like a book. Most contestants read outrageously or read outrageous texts. Ann, wearing a Tallahassee Tentacles hockey shirt (a surprise from Finnish fandom), chose to read seriously from Michael Cisco’s amazing The Divinity Student.

As a bonus of sorts, Juha Tupasela reading the numbers story, “The Man Who Had No Eyes,” from City of Saints & Madmen:

Drawn & Quarterly: Pablo Holmberg, Kevin Huizenga, and Brecht Evans

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(OMG–are those mushroom dwellers?!?!?)

Thousands of books arrive at our house every year because of the various reviewing gigs like the NYT and Omnivoracious, and because of Ann editing Weird Tales. Some publishers, time and again, become anonymous in that context. The books all look the same, or there’s something about the format that becomes anonymous.

Others stand out by a mile because they’re recognizably coming at readers from a unique or interesting perspective, and because they vary their formats and design approaches while remaining true to some central focus.

Drawn & Quarterly always puts out cool books. When they come in the door, I can’t just throw them on the stack.

Today, for example, we got Eden by Pablo Holmberg, The Wild Kingdom by Kevin Huizenga, and The Wrong Place by Brecht Evens. The art style of each, the world view behind each, and the size of each book are entirely different. But they share the D&Q vision. They’ve all got great end papers. They each are in the format best-suited for them (Wild Kingdom as a little hardcover, cover image printed on the boards, for example.) Take a look at some samples below, and definitely look for all three. Extremely awesome stuff—and am enjoying the kind of “eavesdropping on party conversation” style of the Evens.

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Random Stuff in Our House

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(Awwww, cute animals. Awww…erm, actually, there’s something kind of creepy about this image.)

Ann: So what’s your blog post called? Random Crap Around the House?

Jeff: Yessssss…

Ann: [not repeatable]

Can you tell there’s a deadline looming? Final work on the Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities. So your Sunday/Monday post is…Random Stuff in My House. That’s right—when I get busy but still feel the urge to post, you’re not going to the forced content of ill-conceived rants or snark. You’re gonna just get random photos of stuff in our house. Some of it out-of-focus. Enjoy! :p

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Expelling All My Internal Organs: Links and Such

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(The awesome Taylor F. Lockwood, fungi expert extraordinaire, from the e-card he sent over the holidays that I don’t think I ever responded to, alas. Check out his latest photos of bioluminescent mushrooms–I think from his latest trip to Brazil.)

I often joke that one of my writer defense mechanisms, if cornered at a con party (being shy) or about to be mugged (being prudent), is to expel all of my internal organs like a sea cucumber and flee in the resulting confusion and disgust.

Relatedly, I haven’t expelled the contents of my “Links to Blog About” folder in quite awhile–like, months, so here goes. Unlike the scenario below, it should in fact be an enjoyable experience. If you pick through it, as I work back through Time, I’m sure you’ll find something of interest.

>>>Topical! Current! Important! Drawing—eReaders for Carl Brandon Society. One dollar tickets. You buy them, the Carl Brandon Society pulls five at random as winners of eReaders loaded with stories and poems by writers including N. K. Jemisin, Nisi Shawl, Alaya Dawn Johnson, Terence Taylor, Ted Chiang, Shweta Narayan, Chesya Burke, Moondancer Drake, Saladin Ahmed, Rochita Loenen-Ruiz and more. The proceeds from the drawing benefit the Butler Scholarship, a fund that sends two emerging writers of color to the Clarion writers workshops annually. (Ann and I can tell you personally how valuable those scholarships are, having taught at Clarion San Diego this past year.)

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>>>Glory for Toni Jerrman, editor of Finnish magazine Tähtivaeltaja (among our favorites, even though we can’t read it—the layout is kinetic, beautiful, perfectly positioned between punk and genre), who has won the Rakkaudesta kirjaan Prize, which comes with a cash prize of 5,000 euros. We’ve known Toni for awhile now, and not only is he a class act, but he’s a nice guy and a great talent. The judges of the prize agree: “[Toni] has selflessly and in a long-standing manner worked to promote science fiction, fantasy and horror literature for more than 25 years. Because of his determination and enthusiasm, these literary genres, which have not always enjoyed uncritical admiration and have traditionally only been accepted by marginal groups, are now well-known among the reading public. As the editor-in-chief of Tähtivaeltaja magazine, newspaper critic, radio journalist and lecturer, Jerrman has worked to present the history of the genre and promoted the books of high-quality writers that have previously been unknown in Finland.” Congrats, Toni! (Note: earlier this year, Hal Duncan’s Vellum won the Tähtivaeltaja-award for the best SF book published in Finland.)

>>>Karen Rider guest blogged over at Booklifenow as a working parent who is also a writer. She has been using my strategy guide Booklife to help prioritize and in other ways to maximize her time and effort. Check out Booklifenow for recent features, too, on the Altered Fluid writing group and a whole lot more, most of the content generated by that work horse Jeremy L. C. Jones (thanks, Jeremy.)

Turns out Bookmarks Magazine listed my novel Finch as one of their top 50 best reads, from books reviewed in 2010.

>>>From Bar to Bar has been publishing some of the more creative author interviews you’re likely to find anywhere. Check it out—and note that next up are Ekaterina Sedia, Charles, and moi. (I’m bringing the Mord, so watch out—it will indeed get dangerous…)

>>>Despite this trailer worrying me a little bit, the new Predators movie, just out on video, has not even the tiniest bit of influence from my Predator novel in it. Indeed, Predators is a pretty banal and mediocre flick that neither Ann nor I recommend. Lawrence Fishburne was the best part of it, but he’s not in it for long. And was it just us or did the setting seem to get cheaper and cheaper looking as the film went along? Anyway, blah. Not worth your time.

>>>Fascinating interview here , including awesome book cover graphics, with Franz Rottensteiner, who has written and edited many books in the fields of science fiction and fantasy, especially about European fiction.

Jha links to all kinds of current stuff, including tons of (gasp) Steampunk posts.

>>>Dustin Monk emailed me a very considerate personal micro-submission for Lambshead, based on my story Errata: “Two Pearl-Handled Revolvers – 5-chamber handguns; single action; polished; no sign of rusting. The guns were discovered next to the decaying corpse of a penguin with apparent gunshot wound to the head in a rundown condo near Lake Baikal, Siberia, by a travel journalist friend of Dr. Lambshead. The travel journalist included a note with the guns; it reads, ‘both revolvers have been fired twice…awful smell in the freezer…can’t look…several copies and errata of magazine Argosy…scribbled notes by disappeared midlist writer Jeff Vandermeer in a black book…final page, written in all caps ‘WHERE IS MY EPIPHANY, JAMES OWEN?’ The travel journalist ended his note with a post-script, as follows: ‘Ed says there’s a lot of vodka in this condo, Thack. I may never leave.’ …should read…’So much vodka in this condo, Thack, and a shaman named Ed who wants to show me the Book. I may never leave.'”

>>>The mighty Yoshio Kobayashi wrote to tell me that my story “Fixing Hanover” will be in a special Steampunk edition of Hayakawa’s SF Magazine. Good. My anti-Steampunk story keeps anti-colonizing.

>>>Sir Tessa sent me these awesome photos from Argentina, some of which may be deployed for…stuff…projects…things. Stop pushing me! You’ll just have to wait and see.

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>>>Simon Sellars (back in February of this year!) sent me links to interviews with the crazed, debauched monsters that run the delightfully perverse Savoy Press: Michael Butterworth and David Britton (divided into two parts, like a common magic trick).

>>>Ann Kjellberg (also back in February!) sent me this email, along with the link to her new journal: “I’ve worked at the New York Review since the 80s, and before that at Farrar, Straus & Giroux and the journal of the Swedish Academy, Artes. I am also the literary executor of the poet Joseph Brodsky and have published two editions of his work in translation. I felt the need and the opportunity for a serious and not medicinal literary journal. I hope you’ll have a look and want to order a copy and perhaps consider signing up for the various connective ways of being involved. The first issue includes new work by Seamus Heaney, Padgett Powell, Lydia Davis, Les Murray, Paul Muldoon, Tim Parks, Derek Walcott, Glyn Maxwell, Durs Grünbein, Robin Robertson, Mary Jo Salter, Robert Wrigley, Karl Kirchwey, and William Wadsworth, as well as several people you probably have not heard of. I would welcome your attention and I hope you will like it.”

>>>J.K. Stephens (back in January!) sent me a photo of his compleat VanderCollection (whoa!):

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>>>Jim Hall, yes we’ll be on Cultpop TV, just as soon as we finish these deadlines; email soonish.

>>>Matt Staggs (also back in January!) informed me that when I posted three youtube videos in one blog entry, synched to comment on one another, I was ahead of my time, youtube having finally caught up.

(Su Lynn Cheah—thanks for the thanks for the holiday card [December 2009!] and sorry I never got back to you!)

>>>This guy emailed to say he suspected I might be the next Michael Swanwick. I never responded. Sorry.

>>>Mother Jones believes fungi can cure small pox. Unfortunately, it leaves you with Large Pox, because fungi are perverse that way. Oh, yeah, and S.J. Chambers sent me a photo of stuff in her front yard:

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>>>Finally, there’s a Portuguese version of the Lambshead fake disease guide, with additional contributions from Portuguese writers, including these diseases emailed me by Luis Rodrigues, a great friend and translator. Here are the translated titles:

* Fulminant alomorphia, aka Metamorphosis (lots of references to Ovid and Kafka, naturally)
* Meme cancer
* Cerberitis, aka Kerberitoa Exigua
* Circumambulation
* Lovecraft’s Disease, aka Fish Plague, aka Piscis Pestis
* Egophobia
* Newborn silico-lacteous enteropathy, aka Rubbery Milk Syndrome, aka Valentino’s Disease
* Agnostic Spondylosis of the Geographic Membrane, aka Travelling Sneeze Flu
* Felix Influenza, aka Happiness Flu
* Lexical Hypersensitivity, aka Lexiconis Sensus Acerrimus
* Hippopotamus perperam animadvertu (the delusion of being always in the presence of hippos)
* Insideout, aka Organismus inversionem
* Legisreia (dictatorship as a disease)
* Omnianthropocogniscite (narcissistic paranoia, the desire to be known by all)
* Y Pandemic
* ABS (Absolute Blame Syndrome, the delusion that you’re to blame for everything that happens)
* Slan’s Syndrome, aka Convivial speculophilia syndrome (this one’s Rodrigues’s—it’s the science fiction fandom as a disease)
* Superman Syndrome, aka Superius Superio

>>>Luis also sent me photos of this book that I never posted…and that’s it. I think I’ve expelled all of my internal organs. Keep the links and emails coming, now that I’m caught up…

Photo on 2010-03-14 at 02.06

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Photo on 2010-03-14 at 02.08 #2

Weird Tales One-Minute Video: Rochita Loenen-Ruiz’s “Catching an Angel”

I really like Rochita Loenen-Ruiz‘s fiction, and Weird Tales has just posted a new one-minute video micro-fiction of hers (video by Gregory Bossert). So I’m heading off to no-internet land this afternoon but thought I should post this one before I go.

The new Weird Tales issue will be out soon, Ann tells me, and you can find a lot more cool stuff on their website.

Are Dreams Really As Weird As All That?

Hello Vanderworld readers. Sorry I’m so late to my own guest blogging gig. But now I’m here, and better late than never. I’ve done the guest blogging thing before — here’s my intro in case you don’t remember — and for those of you who are seeing me for the first time, I’ll elt you in on a secret: I’m totally black.

I know, it was a shock for me, too.

But today I am not going to talk about “black stuff,” I want to talk to you all about dreams.

This weekend many of my friends went to go see the new Christopher Nolan flick Inception, and most of them came back raving about it. I plan to see the movie soon, but in the meantime I’ve been poking around at the reviews to see what people are saying. Some folks, like Rex Reed, are so apoplecticly upset about this movie that they aren’t making much sense. Others are less angry about the movie, but many critics wrote something along the lines of this riff from the NYTimes’ A. O. Scott:

Mr. Nolan’s idea of the mind is too literal, too logical, too rule-bound to allow the full measure of madness—the risk of real confusion, of delirium, of ineffable ambiguity—that this subject requires. The unconscious, as Freud (and Hitchcock, and a lot of other great filmmakers) knew, is a supremely unruly place, a maze of inadmissible desires, scrambled secrets, jokes and fears. If Mr. Nolan can’t quite reach this place, that may be because his access is blocked by the very medium he deploys with such skill.

Not having seen the movie, I can’t speak to whether Nolan’s idea of the rigid dreamspace isn’t weird enough, but each time I see this criticism I balk at it. Yes, dreams can be really weird and trippy and balls-out insane, but most of my dreams are a lot like real life, except they skip around in silly ways. Dream logic is not Earth logic, but mine does often have a sensible logic. Am I weird?

I feel like I’m not, because when I hear people talk about their dreams, it’s not always filled with Freudian symbolism and backwards-talking dwarfs. Often the weirdness comes from them being in places they shouldn’t be — my grandmother’s house when I was 10 — or around people they don’t have much contact with — Stephen King gave me his scarf to keep warm — or doing things they wouldn’t normally do — I was performing in the Oscars but didn’t ever go to rehearsal, crap! Everyone has trippy dreams, I’m sure, but I’m not convinced that a very realistic dreamscape is unrealistic in itself.

Still, I am willing to entertain the possibility that I am weird. I am a semi-lucid dreamer, as in I can often direct the way my dream will go, though not always because I realize I’m dreaming. I can remember many times in dreams where I thought “It would make sense if X happened right now” and then X will happen. I often wake up and remember my dreams progressing in a very linear fashion — very fiction-like — and making sense most of the way through even if I don’t direct them. Some of my dreams would make decent short stories if I could actually remember how they began.

Maybe Christopher Nolan is like me, and thus Inception‘s vision of the unstructured dreamscape isn’t off the wall because his own dreamscape isn’t. I don’t think it’s necessary to have trippy dreams all the time to be creative. Honestly, I enjoy the break. But now I wonder: how many people out there are having these crazy dreams all the time? Is it just me and Chris who have boring dreams?