As part of my attempts to be more consistent about blogging, I thought I’d share some relevant info and links about my Southern Reach series, which is coming out from FSG in 2014 and was just optioned by Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions. The novels are, in order, entitled Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. The subtext and thematic concerns of each play off of those titles in what I hope are somewhat sneaky ways. All three are also words used as hypnosis cues by one character to maintain control over other characters.
I posted a short synopsis of Annihilation, the first book, awhile back on this blog—as well as a short, rough-draft excerpt of the opening back when I finished it. A little later, I posted a bit from a section on the main character.
The mysterious Area X, a seemingly pristine wilderness protected by an invisible border, in which odd things are occurring, is heavily based on the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge. I’ve hiked there for over 15 years now, and the 14-mile trail I do is basically (transformed) the setting for Annihilation. Although none of the strange things in the book have occurred to me while hiking, some form of them has. For example, being charged by a wild boar or the peculiar dislocation of encountering dolphins in freshwater canals beside the trail. Other sections of the novel are based on exploring Botanical Bay on Vancouver Island. And there are other real-world affinities that make Annihilation very personal to me. (You can find nonfiction about me hiking in St. Marks in this blog entry.)
Meanwhile, the second book, Authority, is set back across the border, in the world we all know. The main character goes by the nickname of “Control” and has just taken over as the new director of the Southern Reach, the secret government agency that oversees the often ill-fated expeditions into Area X, trying to find out what’s going on. Control is another character, like the biologist, who goes his own way, but has been protected by his pedigree as a third-generation spook. What he finds in the Southern Reach is an agency that, over 30 years, has become more and more eccentric and less logical in its approaches. Not only does he have to negotiate his way through a toxic, Kafkaesque work terrain, but new information from Area X makes his job, and the tasks before him, ever more perilous and important. This situation combines with the odd notes left by the former director and newly uncovered video footage from the first expedition to go into Area X to give the novel the outward texture of a thriller. Learning more about the invisible border and other elements also makes Authority rather tension-filled.
That’s pretty much all I’m willing to share about book two for now, except to say that it starts with a few shocks and just ramps up from there, but all of it firmly grounded in Control and his viewpoint on things.
Here are some other links of possible interest.
—Happy to see someone getting the texture/tone of the Southern Reach series right.
—Speculation here about how quickly the movie rights to the books were picked up. In actual fact, they read the first novel and loved it.
—Short piece that talks about the books not being YA. This is true. But the generalizations about YA speak more to the fact it’s a catch-all category than the actual quality of individual YA books.
–Indiewire places the Southern Reach series in the dystopia category. I think that’s legit from the brief descriptions of the novel out there, but I don’t view it as a dystopic vision, really.
I’m also happy to say I’m finished editing Annihilation for FSG, except for some mop-up, and I absolutely love my editor there, Sean MacDonald. Great notes and just the entire time I’ve felt we were on the same page. I think the novel is much better because of his involvement, and I feel very relaxed about the process of completing novels two and three.
A couple of people have asked me if I feel more pressure about completing the second and third novel after the movie deal news. The fact is, I don’t at all. If anything, I feel energized. It’s great enough that it’s Paramount, but Rudin’s production company has produced some of my all-time favorite films and they have a knack for turning novels into great movies, so it just motivates me even more. Nor does the idea of there potentially being movie versions out at all influence my writing process. I’m focused on doing what’s best for the novels, period.
So, in all possible ways, I think this is just a great situation to be in, and the only thing I’m grateful for is that it’s happening to me in my forties not when I was in my twenties or something. That twenty-something Jeff probably wouldn’t have been able to take it in stride, to be honest. Forty-something Jeff has pretty much experienced every possible scenario in publishing and it takes a lot to knock him out of his rhythm.
We meant to work all day while still here in Tampa, but took some time off this afternoon to go to the Cigar City Brewery and then Del Rio’s for dinner (a great Cuban place). But before that, we stopped by the Oxford Exchange Bookstore, which was recommended to us by Liz at USF (thanks!). What a great, well-curated, unique bookstore! Definitely worth it. I haven’t bought books in awhile, and I’m sorry to say I splurged. (Well, not too sorry.)
In this first photo, just a few notes. I’ve wanted the Lethem collection for awhile—can’t wait to dig into that. Snow I have in another edition, but the font was just not right for me, so this Everyman edition is a godsend. Weirdlife is about the search for unusual lifeforms. It’s a good refresher as I dive into the second Southern Reach novel, Authority, on a couple of areas of interest.
Peter Nadas’ sprawling novel set during the middle of the last century just was too enticing to pass up—just an amazing-looking book that I’m going to be immersed in, I’m sure. Ann wanted Miss Dreamville and the new Karen Russell collection, so I added on Swamplandia, to give it another go. The Nabokov biography I had to buy since I collect all things Nabokov, including nonfiction about him. This is probably around the 80th book in my collection. Its slant is that there is a lot of politics and whatnot in the backdrop and subtext of the master’s work. To which I say, well, DUH. Too bad a world-class style and verve can blind us to what’s staring out right in front of us.
Ann also wanted the New American Haggadah, which looks fascinating for a number of reasons. Viola Di Grado’s novel from one of my favorite imprints, Europa, just grabbed me from the first paragraph and I couldn’t pass it up. Similarly, Speedboat by Renata Adler, a reprint from the 1970s, captured me and wouldn’t let me go. It’s from another of my favorite presses, New York Review of Books, which does such a wonderful job of bringing fiction into the world that might not otherwise be in print. Buying How Fiction Works was another case of having an edition where I hated the font. This more portable, better-designed edition I’m already having more luck with. I don’t agree with Wood on everything, but it’s useful to engage with his ideas.
I was so happy to find The Best of Archy and Mehitabel—a lovely set of poems/adventures featuring a cat and a cockroach. Without Michael Moorcock mentioning Archy to me a decade ago I never would’ve discovered these too joyful miscreants. Ann wanted the Book of Nice, which I pointed out was from the same publisher has her perennial favorite Bad Cats. And the Oxford Exchange also has lovely notebooks, of which I purchased two.
The ambiance of the Oxford Exchange bookstore is rather amazing—the curating of the bookstore is eccentric in a meaningful rather than frivolous way. It is on the small side, but it makes the space count, and the selections seemed to hit my sweet spot rather more often than not. The many props, including manual typewriters and card catalogues, lend a real weight to the place as well. Beyond the bookstore is a more general gift store, a coffee shop, and a restaurant. All of it combined lends itself to a great experience—and across the street is the University of Tampa, with its steely minarets and nice river walk. I highly recommend you check out the bookstore if you are in the area.
The winner of the 2013 Crawford Memorial Award, presented annually by the International Association for the Fantastic in the Arts for an outstanding first fantasy book, is Karin Tidbeck for Jagannath: Stories (Cheeky Frawg Books).
According to award administrator Gary K. Wolfe, the decision on the final award was an unusually difficult one for the nominating committee, whose members also want to call particular attention to the close runner-up, Rachel Hartman, for her novel Seraphina (Random House). Other books on this year’s shortlist are Saladin Ahmed’s Throne of the Crescent Moon (DAW), Roz Kaveney’s Rituals: Rhapsody of Blood, Volume One (Plus One), and Kiini Ibura Salaam’s Ancient, Ancient: Short Fiction (Aqueduct).
Participating in this year’s nomination and selection process were Cheryl Morgan, Ellen Klages, Niall Harrison, Graham Sleight, Liza Groen Trombi, Stacie Hanes, Karen Burnham, and Jonathan Strahan. The award will be presented on March 23 during the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts in Orlando, Florida.
It’s that time of year where people make other people aware of what they’ve done so nothing slips through the cracks re voted-on awards. So…
Ann VanderMeer did much of the work of selecting fiction at Weirdfictionreview.com and also published her last issue of Weird Tales (full contents listed here–all material chosen by her), Ann edited Steampunk III: Steampunk Revolution in 2012. This makes her eligible to be nominated for the best editor, short form, category for the Hugo Award. Her work in general, the anthology and Weirdfictionreview.com are eligible for various other awards that have the requisite categories.
Here’s more information on Steampunk Revolution, which was released in December and got a little bit lost in the shuffle…
What if Steampunk had a revolution? What if this genre that is so closely tied to the past burst forth into the future – breaking down definitional barriers and forging ahead? Steampunk Revolution features a renegade collective of writers —including steampunk legends as well as hot, new talents—who are rebooting the steam-driven past and powering it into the future with originality, wit, and adventure. Going far beyond corsets and goggles, Steampunk Revolution is not just a ride in your great-great granddad’s zeppelin—now it’s a much wilder ride.
The entire list of contributors: Christopher Barzak, Paolo Chikiamco, Amal El-Mohtar, Jeffrey Ford, Lev Grossman, Samantha Henderson, Leow Hui Min Annabeth, N.K. Jemison, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Malissa Kent, Andrew Knighton, Nick Mamatas, David Erik Nelson, Morgan Johnson, and Fritz Swanson, Garth Nix, Ben Peek, Cherie Priest, Margaret Ronald, Christopher Rowe, Vandana Singh, Bruce Sterling, Karin Tidbeck, Lavie Tidhar, Catherynne M. Valente, Genevieve Valentine, Jeff VanderMeer, Carrie Vaughn, J.Y. Yang, Jaymee Goh, Margaret Killjoy, Austin Sirkin and book design/art by John Coulthart.
Not including the original nonfiction, the original stories are as follows:
Malissa Kent – The Heart is the Matter
Caitlin Kiernan -Goggles (c. 1910)
Vandana Singh – A Handful of Rice (novella)
Note: If voting for Weirdfictionreview.com for anything, you should list “Ann & Jeff VanderMeer and Adam Mills”. Adam is our managing editor.
I know it’s pretty much the norm now to let people know what your Hugo Award-eligible works were right around this time. It still feels a little weird to me to clog up my blog with this stuff, but on the other hand this time I’ve got something fairly unique.
The Situation is a webcomic based on a short story of mine. I wrote the comics script for it and Eric Orchard did the art. It’s up on Tor.com and it did in fact come out in 2012, so it is eligible for the Hugo Award–in the category of Best Graphic story. So you’d be voting for:
The Situation (Tor.com; Jeff VanderMeer and Eric Orchard)
So, go check it out and if you like it, consider voting for it. I’m really proud of it, and I think Orchard did a great job with the art.
Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, coeditors of the World Fantasy Award and British Fantasy Award winning anthology The Weird, are pleased to announce a call for submissions for a new mega-reprint anthology.
The Time Traveler’s Almanac will function as its own time machine: the ultimate treasury of time travel stories, presented in an imaginative way, with illustrations and some nonfiction in addition to the stories. The anthology will cover millions of years of Earth’s history—from the age of the dinosaurs to strange and fascinating futures, through to the end of Time itself. The Time Traveler’s Almanac will reacquaint readers with beloved classics and introduce them to thrilling contemporary examples of the time travel genre. The UK publisher is Head of Zeus and our editor Nic Cheetham, who also was our editor on the award-winning The Weird. The US publisher will be announced soon.
Although we already material in mind we also know that we can’t see everything so we are asking for submissions as well as suggestions. If in doubt, send it. We will read submissions between January 15, 2013 and February 28, 2013. Any English-language story (or translation into English) previously published on a website, non-self-published ebook anthology, or in a print publication is eligible for consideration. Looking for REPRINTS ONLY (standard reprint rates apply). No nonfiction. Prefer works under 10,000 words. Willing to look at all kinds of Time Travel fiction, but mainly interested in work that pushes the boundaries, that is truly unique to the genre. FANTASY AND HORROR incorporating time travel are just as welcome as pure science fiction. Surreal isn’t bad either.
Submissions up to 10,000 words should be sent in a Word or RTF document attachment to [email protected] Please cut-and-paste the first three paragraphs into the body of your email and include prior publication information, but no need to include any biographical information about yourself. If you prefer, use snail mail by sending your work to POB 38190, Tallahassee, FL 32315, USA. Snail mail submissions should be marked on the outside of the envelope as for The Time Traveler’s Almanac consideration. No SASE is required if you prefer email response. All submissions will be responded to no later than May 1, 2013; please do not query about a submission prior to that date. Those sending in their suggestions—thanks so much, and thanks for understanding that we will not have time to reply.
Please limit the number of unique submissions per writer to 3 stories. If you plan to send more than one, make sure we see the top, best 3 stories that fit this theme, thanks! And if you have already sent us stories due to solicitation, there is no need to re-send. We’ve got them and that will just confuse us.
The rather awesome Tessa Kum and Dominik Parisien will serve as assistant editors on this anthology and will be reading and responding to your stories.
(Grandson Riley and daughter Erin posing with Weird Tales…all images in this post from Ann’s Weird Tales scrapbook…I hope I won’t embarrass the folks spotlighted too much, and apologies that I can’t post all of them.)
It’s that time of year when you take stock of what happened, celebrate your victories, and lick your wounds, while looking toward the future. The anemic number of entries on this blog might attest to how busy a year it was, but here’s a run-down. (Posting probably won’t uptick for a while—too much writing to do—but I will be on facebook a bit.) I should note that we started the New Year in New Hampshire with our good friends Eric Schaller and Paulette Werger and Matthew Cheney, during which I presented my wife Ann VanderMeer with a scrapbook celebrating her five-year tenure at Weird Tales, with images and original fiction contributed by a ton of people including Garth Nix, John Coulthart, Richard A. Kirk, Rachel Swirsky, Lavie Tidhar, Michael Bishop, Charles Tan, China Mieville, Warren Ellis, Cheryl Morgan, Lauren Beukes, and many more (hundreds and hundreds). This post is illustrated with images from that scrapbook. By then we had also switched agents, going with Sally Harding of the Cooke Agency, who has proven to be savvy, smart, and strategic.
My wife Ann had a great year personally and professionally, despite the whole stupid, pointless Weird Tales fiasco. Tor.com hired her as a fiction editor and she released her first anthology not edited with the curmudgeon (i.e., me), Steampunk Revolution—a great book, with a diverse contributors’ list, from which a couple of stories were picked up for year’s bests anthos. She also, along with me, co-edited Weirdfictionreview.com, which posted a ton of great content this year. Our co-edited The Weird also came out in North America this year, and we won a World Fantasy Award and British Fantasy Award for the anthology, in addition to going to BEA and a Minneapolis book fair. And, she assisted me with Cheeky Frawg, our imprint that published the critically acclaimed Jagannath by Karin Tidbeck (among others). She also taught at the Shared Worlds teen writing camp, as the editor in residence, and we both attended ICFA and participated in that most wonderful conference. This in addition to coordinating the Cheeky Frawg party at World Fantasy, which was a huge success. Ann also wrote the introduction to Centipede Press’s edition of Michael Cisco’s The Divinity Student, a book she originally published through her Buzzcity Press.
Perhaps most crucially, we were guests at a Steampunk convention in Victoria on Vancouver Island and subsequently went on an adventure to the western rim of the island, in Tofino, which included a trek up a mountain. Despite wild cattle, an abandoned creepy village, getting lost, crawling up a ravine of fallen cedars, something that growled at us from a den, and sudden rainfall muddying the steep ascent, we somehow made it down and survived it.
My year was taken up with a number of different solo projects for the most part, beyond Weirdfictionreview.com (full props to Adam Mills, managing editor, who did a stellar job keeping WFR going). I worked on and finally turned in Wonderbook: An Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction (Abrams Image). I also got bad bronchitis in February and, slowed down and inspired by a weird dream, wound up, in a state of delirium, writing the novel Annihilation, the first volume of the Southern Reach trilogy. I also wrote a long story, “Komodo”, for Arc 1.2, a great new British magazine, a long essay on fakes for the New Haven Review, and a story “No Breather in the World But Thee,” which sold to John Joseph Adams’ Nightmare magazine for publication in 2013. In addition, the graphic novel version of my story “The Situation,” art by Eric Orchard, ran on Tor.com early in the year. (Hopefully, it’ll be remembered by Hugo voters.) I started work, too, on the second volume of the Southern Reach series, Authority, and mapped out the third, Acceptance.
In terms of publishing projects, our Cheeky Frawg imprint published not just Karin Tidbeck’s Jagannath, but also Don’t Pay Bad for Bad by Amos Tutuola and Tainaron by Leena Krohn (going live in a day or two). Jagannath has made many year’s best lists, been enthusiastically blurbed by Mieville and Le Guin among others, got a rave review on NPR’s All Things Considered, and received many other great reviews. We also firmed up a schedule for 2013 that includes a 900-page omnibus of Finnish writer Leena Krohn’s fiction and a new novel of Krohn’s translated into English, Datura. We also facilitated Wyrm Publishing/Ministry of Whimsy publishing putting out an ebook of Stepan Chapman’s The Troika, which we originally published in the 1990s and which won the Philip K. Dick Award. All of these books had covers by Jeremy Zerfoss, who did a wonderful job. The ebook interiors were all done by Neil Clarke. Our staff for Cheeky Frawg included Teri Goulding, Adam Mills, Dominik Parisien, Val Grimm, and Desirina Boskovich.
In the middle of the year, I went off to teach at Stonecoast in Maine, and that was the start of a drive down the coast of Maine with Adam Mills, on our way to ReaderCon, which was a lot of fun. I read from Annihilation for the first time and participated on a lot of panels, had a lot of great conversations. From there I drove down the coast again all the way down to Newport, Rhode Island, where I did an amazing walk along the coast looking at mansions, it turning into a great adventure in the rain. I wound up walking about 15 miles to get back to the hotel and it was one of the best times of my life. From there, I continued to follow the coast as long as I could before turning in toward Spartanburg, South Carolina, there to teach for two weeks as the co-director of Shared Worlds, a unique teen SF/F writing camp, along with such wonderful guests as Naomi Novik, Tobias Buckell, Nathan Ballingrud, Will Hindmarch, Tobias Buckell, and more.
From there, it was home again to work on Wonderbook, which has taken most of my time along with promotion for Tidbeck’s Jagannath. We had one trip, to the aforementioned Minneapolis Book Fair (thanks, Tor), where we had the pleasure of meeting, among others, Kelly Barnhill and her family, William Alexander just weeks before he won the National Book Award, and the editors of Rain Taxi (sponsors of the event), who are old friends. I also almost met Mark Danielewski, but by the time we were at a dinner party together, the meter on my meet-and-greet had run out, and I contented myself with lounging in the living room looking from time to time at the back of his hat-topped head. Sometimes you just know when you’ve had enough. (I am also happy to report, on an unrelated note, that I got into far fewer internet arguments than in the past and in general managed to avoid getting sucked into endless tactical situations that just suck time away from the writing.)
Ann spent much of the latter part of the year working on the as-yet-untitled feminist speculative fiction anthology, which has been delayed a couple of times but which we are making progress on. She also was acquiring stories for Tor.com from exciting new writers like Kali Wallace and John Chu, among others.
By year’s end, too, we had several book sales through our new agent, for projects to be published in 2013 and 2014.
–My Southern Reach trilogy, about a strange “forbidden zone” on an unnamed coast, sold to Sean MacDonald at Farrar, Strauss & Giroux in a rather awesome three-book, six-figure deal. This deal means I’ll be writing fiction for the foreseeable future.
– The Steampunk Users Manual—about cutting edge retrofuturism—sold to David Cashion at Abrams Image in an excellent deal. This is a collaboration with S.J. Chambers.
–The Time Travelers Almanac—the ultimate 500,000-word reprint time travel anthology—sold to Nic Cheetham at Head of Zeus, a new commercial press in the UK (with US publisher to follow). This is another project with Ann. We will have an open reading period in January.
In addition, I had made more progress on other novels, including Borne, The Book Murderer, and The Journals of Doctor Mormeck. I expect that in addition to the Southern Reach trilogy, these three will be finished in short order over the next couple of years.
As ever, our mission throughout the year was to help foster community, to be of use in highlighting the history of non-realistic fiction, to help bring new translations to English-language readers, to help new writers, and to be committed to diversity of all kinds in our publishing efforts. We also continued to be guided by our mission of ignoring artificial divisions between so-called “genre” and so-called “mainstream.” Weirdfictionreview.com allowed us to spotlight a lot of fascinating material from around the world, too.
With 2013 coming ever closer, Ann and I would just like to thank everyone for their support and enthusiasm for our writing and editing projects. There are too many of you to name, but know that any and all encouragement is very important—to know that the work is of use and also because we set a pretty fast pace for ourselves and it can be fatiguing. Ann was particularly moved by all of the support during the trials and tribulations involving Weird Tales. This meant a lot to her, and made her feel as if it wasn’t just her fight alone. I’d like to add that Ann always makes me proud to be her husband, but that the way she handled everything during that time was inspirational to me and just showed a ton of class.
So, thank you—and here’s looking forward to 2013!! Below the cut find writer/artist Leah Thomas’s really wonderful comics contribution to Ann’s Weird Tales scrapbook, which seems appropriate to post going into the new year.
Ann’s Steampunk Revolution is now available from Tachyon–just in the time for the holidays! It’s got a beautiful cover, as exemplified by the cake version above, and just looks all the way around like it was made to be given as a gift.
And look who’s in it! First of all, you have some originals from the likes of Caitlin R. Kiernan and Vandana Singh, along with reprints from bestsellers like Lev Grossman and Garth Nix. Not to mention a great selection of stories from an amazing and amazingly diverse bunch of writers. Personally, I think it’s the best of the three Steampunk anthologies Ann has edited.
“This entertaining and edgy new anthology is the third installment in a bestselling steampunk series. Featuring a renegade collective of writers and artists—from beloved legends to rising talents—the steam-driven past is rebooted and powered by originality, wit, and adventure. Lev Grossman offers a different take on the Six Million Dollar Man who possesses appendages and workings from recycled metal parts, yet remains fully human, resilient, and determined. Catherynne M. Valente explores a new form of parenting within the merging of man and machine while Cherie Priest presents a new, unsettling mode of transportation. Bruce Sterling introduces steampunk’s younger cousin, salvage-punk, while speculating on how cities will be built in the future using preexisting materials and Jeff VanderMeer takes an antisteampunk perspective as a creator must turn his back on an utterly destructive creation. Going beyond the simple realms of corsets and goggles, this engaging collection takes readers on a wild ride through Victoriana and beyond.”
As some of you know, Neil Clarke has had some bad luck this year: a heart attack and now also losing his day job. Neil runs Clarkesworld Magazine and does a lot of wonderful things in the SF/Fantasy community. He also does an effortless and great job preparing our Cheeky Frawg e-books.
So we’ve decided that $1.00 from each e-book copy of Karin Tidbeck’s critically acclaimed Jagannath collection sold in November and December will go to Neil to help out, and as a thank you for his great work for us, and for the community in general. Originally, it was going to be Kindle sales only, but we thought it’d just be easier to make it all sales. This is no idle threat as Jagannath is hot–we’ve sold hundreds of e-books just in the last two weeks.
The main places you can buy the ebook of this collection lauded by NPR, Wired.com, and Locus Magazine are set out below. Not including, of course, Amazon subsidiary sites (Amazon France, etc.) and a couple of others.
Of course, any sales of this spotlighted title help Cheeky Frawg and our program of publishing excellent international fiction and translations. A trade paperback is also available.
“I can’t think of when I last read a collection that blew me away the way that Jagannath has, or one that’s left me somewhat at a loss to describe just how strange and beautiful and haunting these tales are.” – Elizabeth Hand (from her introduction)
“How weird can short fiction get and still find an audience among mainstream readers? Judging from the stories in the first book by Swedish writer Karin Tidbeck, the answer is: pretty weird…. For you, dear reader, something wonderful — and weird — is going to happen if you open this book.”
—Alan Cheuse, NPR