Fiction

Annihilation: New Novel Finished

Jeff VanderMeer • March 20th, 2012 • Fiction

Pool and Cats 014

It never fails. My subconscious likes to make me into a liar. No sooner had I posted about thinking about writing and work cycles, both posts that emphasize things other than butt-in-seat writing…my subconscious gave me a nightmare and the next morning that led to feverish writing…and here we are about four weeks later and I have a first final draft of a new novel, Annihilation.

Annihilation is about an expedition into a strange quarantined wilderness, narrated by the expedition’s biologist. I don’t really know how to describe it, except that it in part transforms my love of the wilderness of north Florida, especially the St. Marks Wildlife Refuge, into something much stranger and more sinister.

Anyway, the novel is out and about to my first readers and then I’ll make some further changes and send it off to my agent.

This is the first novel I’ve finished since Finch.

Here’s a taste of the first section, first few paragraphs (still draft)…

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The Situation Web Comic: Covered by GeekDad and Pop Candy

Jeff VanderMeer • January 27th, 2012 • Fiction, News

situation image

Thanks to Whitney Matheson at Pop Candy and Brad Moon at GeekDad/Wired for giving The Situation web comic some love.

The entire 63 pages are now up at Tor.com (the link now starts you at part 3), and I’m kinda thrilled about it. A lot of hard work on the part of the artist and the editor (Liz Gorinsky). I just love all of the images of Mord. It’s also kind of cool that the posting of the web comic coincides with Trinity Prep School students reading the short story it’s based on before our visit there in February—they get to see the comics version, too.

If Mord seems familiar from more than just “The Situation”, it’s because he also appears in much altered form in “The Third Bear,” which is reprinted along with “The Situation” story in my collection The Third Bearfrom Tachyon. Consider picking it up, as it’s earned out its advance and is still selling steadily and providing me with a little extra money, which always helps our less commercial projects.

I should note that Mord makes an appearance, along with Wick, in the novel I’m working on entitled “Borne”–same milieu as “The Situation”–and also many doppelganger appearances in “The Journals of Doctor Mormeck,” which I serialized part of right here at Ecstatic Days.

On Monday, I’ll post excerpts of “The Situation” side-by-side with part of the comics script and the relevant parts of the comic itself, to show the transformation.

The Journals of Doctor Mormeck–Discontinued Publicly

Jeff VanderMeer • December 5th, 2011 • Journals of Mormeck

nebulae

Immediately stop disseminating the journals.

G: This is unexpected.

For reasons of universal security.

G: But I am only implanting the ideas in the brain of a subpar specimen of a sub-standard alt-Earth reality, and the specimen only releases the information onto an equally backwater old-fashioned electronic source in a backwater of their pathetic version of a ever-net.

Nonetheless. There has been…leakage.

G: Only an infinitesimal number of sentient minds even read the entries of this subpar backwater specimen? A tiny, tiny percentage!

The issue is that most of them are also among the infinitesimal percentage of minds in that alt-Earth reality for whom the information can spark…actions we do not want and cannot anticipate.

G: Can I continue my dissemination in the other twelve realities of my experiment?

Yes. You can. For now.

G: Should I delete the information from the subpar thinker’s brain? And perhaps accidentally have the information wiped from their primitive every-net?

No, that will not be necessary. You need only make the subject of your experiment think that it would be better to consider his writings off-line and then slowly dessicate the parts of his brain that would supply the energy and imagination to continue to write down any residual information, while stimulating his pleasure centers when he is writing anything else. Just…don’t overstimulate…that might attract attention, given that he writes in what they call coffee shops.

G: And if he continues writing it from his own imagination?

That doesn’t hurt us at all. Let him gracefully bow out and if he comes up with a fabrication going forward, who cares.

G: I kind of liked this subpar specimen. He had spirit.

Don’t we all.

G: Very well, I’ll wind down the experiment and concentrate on the other twelve subjects.

Of course, it won’t matter at all in another million years…but then nothing will.

G: You’re always so cheery.

I’ve seen too much and I work too hard…

G: Is there anything else?

No, I think that covers it. Oh—except the number of rebel angels your operation has flushed out has risen to seven.

G: Seven left then.

Yes. Only another seven. Won’t be long now. Not long at all.

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The Situation, Art by Eric Orchard: Closer to Completion

Jeff VanderMeer • September 9th, 2011 • Fiction, News

sit-6

For those of you wondering whatever happened to the Situation comic commissioned by Tor.com and based on my novelette of the same name…it’s inching closer to completion. Eric Orchard has finished revisions to some images and speech bubbles, and it’s gone on to the letterer. So we expect it will be ready fairly soon, and should go live on Tor.com by the end of the year or early next year, at the latest.

Here are a few screen captures from the almost-final PDF, without text of course.

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Black Clock #14 Available–Featuring Borne, My New Novel

Jeff VanderMeer • September 8th, 2011 • Fiction, News

I’m really thrilled that a fairly self-contained portion of the beginning of my novel-in-progress Borne is appearing in the just-released latest issue of Steve Erickson’s awesome magazine Black Clock. I’m even more thrilled to find out the loose theme: “Both in its contributors and subject matter, this new Black Clock finds women on the verge: of revelation, euphoria, madness and history.” And further thrilled to see that my friend the dynamic and awesome Katherine Min is included in this issue. I’m also very much looking forward to reading the work of the other contributors, including Sarah Vap, Jazmin Aminian Jordan, Geoff Dyer, Marisa Crawford, Kate Wolf, Rick Moody, Scott Bradfield, Samantha Cohen, and more.

You can buy the magazine here, and I highly recommend that you do. (Also, Borne the novel won’t be finished until December, and might not be published for another year, so…)

Below you’ll find a short teaser from the section of Borne running in Black Clock. It’s set in a somewhat Kafkaesque ruined, nameless city after a partial Collapse. An anonymous Company still creates bioneered creatures and sends them to places not yet Collapsed. Mord, a giant bear who used to be human, terrorizes the city. The main character came from far away—in my mind she’s Fijian, but that isn’t specified on the page.

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Cheeky Frawg to Release E-Book of Stepan Chapman’s PK Dick Award-winning The Troika: Your Memories Wanted

Jeff VanderMeer • August 20th, 2011 • Fiction, News

UPDATE: Some have asked if I still have copies of THE TROIKA to sell in the original edition. Yes, I do, most all of them from the second printing. Please email me at [email protected] for more details if you’re interested.

Way back in the 1990s, my Ministry of Whimsy press published a novel called The Troika by Stepan Chapman that had been rejected by 120 publishers and which the author had tried to salvage by sending out chapters as stand-alone stories. One of them came to Leviathan 1, an anthology I was editing in the early 1990s. It made no sense to me out of context, but I still loved it. I felt like I was looking at a puzzle piece of something larger, and so I asked Stepan if it was part of a novel, and if so if he could send more of it. He sent another piece as a submission, and this one was self-contained and we published it in Leviathan 1: “The Chosen Donor”.

Then he sent the full novel…and as I read it and the back of my skull began to explode and my brain to melt from the audacious brilliance of it…I realized we had to publish it.

We did, and not only did it win the PKD Award and also garner over 120 reviews world-wide, Stepan, in one of those ironies too delicious to seem real, sat at a table during the PKD Award ceremony with some of the most prominent editors who had rejected his manuscript—all of whom probably had perfectly valid reasons for rejection, in that it’s not a novel that fits smoothly into any particular marketing category.

What’s it about?

Under the glare of three suns, three beings travel across an endless desert. They argue, whine, wheedle and needle each other. Sometimes they switch identities when the sandstorms roar in. As The Troika rolls on, we learn more about Alex, who started out as a man, then became cyborg, then jeep. About Naomi, a veteran soldier who woke up from her cryogenic storage tank to a new life, now a dinosaur. About Eva, who fled her native land to escape her fate as an organ-donor for the emperor.

The novel reconstructs their shattered lives through amazing tour-de-force flashbacks while driving closer to the central mystery of why they are trudging across an endless desert. It’s a truly stunning book in so many ways I don’t really know how to begin. What I do know is that without reading The Troika I could not have finished my novel Veniss Underground, and without the lessons learned from The Troika I could not have taken any number of leaps of faith in my fiction. Nor could I have jumped into my current serial The Journals of Doctor Mormeck without the influence of The Troika—several techniques I’m using were first perfected by Stepan in his novel.

So, as we prep the e-book, I’m wondering if any of you remember reading The Troika and liking it this much as well, and if you’re writer, how did the book influence you, if it did? We’ll probably publish a selection of responses in the back of the e-book as a bonus for readers, along with some other cool stuff.

And, here’s an excerpt from the novel—one of the flashbacks involving the character who keeps morphing into mechanical avatars.

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Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: Ear-Eye!

Jeff VanderMeer • August 19th, 2011 • Lambshead Cabinet Features, News

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In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

Today, we have a special treat: an expanded version of one of the best micro-submissions to the anthology and an important part of Dr. Lambshead’s cabinet: Graham Lowther’s Ear-Eye…

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Cabinet of Curiosities Extravaganza: The Poe-Bug; Dr. S. J. Chambers Explains

Jeff VanderMeer • August 18th, 2011 • Lambshead Cabinet Features, News

Thackeryposter_02_080811

In honor of the Tallahassee Lambshead Cabinet Extravaganza occurring this Sunday at Ray’s Steel City Saloon (info here), I’ll be posting some special new material connected to the anthology (order it here!).

First up is contributor S.J. Chambers’ rumination on Poe-pathy, associated to some degree with her contribution to the Cabinet antho, Dr. Lambshead’s Dark Room. The account of meeting Dr. Lambshead concerns hypnotic techniques, including the Valdemar Method, which enabled the doctor “to extract from even the most cavernous subconscious those diseases that afflicted the soul, as demonstrated in the mesmeric stories of Edgar Allan Poe.”

Tomorrow: An expanded treatise on the famed “Ear-Eye”!

THE POE BUG
S.J. Chambers

Have you experienced these following symptoms: soaring soul, existential exigency, speaking in cryptically symbolic metaphor, vertigo caused by sublimity, vision heightened by chiaroscuro, dead-dwelling or head-swelling? Do you suffer from daydreaming reflex with reveries that include blackbirds, scents of an unseen censor or aberrant alliterative applications? If you have answered yes to more than one of these, you may be suffering from Poepathy. A terrible disease of the soul, characterized by the affectation of the imagination and its degenerate interaction with the secular world, Poepathy is derived from continual contact of the reader’s imagination with that of 19th- century American author, Edgar Allan Poe, and the dependency upon Poe’s work for constant creative stimuli.

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War of Moomin Against Totoro, Totoro Against Moomin

Jeff VanderMeer • August 5th, 2011 • Culture, Fiction

cuteness
(No Jake von Slatt artifact was harmed during the events described in this blog post.)

Ever since Ann and I returned from the Carolinas with Jake von Slatt’s Bassington & Smith Brain, featured in the The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities it’s been nothing but trouble. Our cats will have nothing to do with it. It emits strange sounds and odors in the middle of the night. Flashes of electricity have appeared under the bell jar, appearing to reveal rips in the very fabric of space and time.

Even worse, the ongoing conflict between Moomins and Totoros previously detailed in this post has been brought into the house because of the presence of the Bassington & Smith Brain. It has quickly become the flashpoint for an ongoing, smoldering battle…as this series of still photographs demonstrates…

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The Moomins and what temporary allies they could find within the house chose the high ground within the psychotronic field of the Jake von Slatt Bassington & Smith Brain, the emanations temporarily hiding their presence from the adorable enemy.

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Lambshead Cabinet: Win Jake von Slatt’s Mooney & Finch Somnotrope!

Jeff VanderMeer • July 14th, 2011 • Lambshead Cabinet Features, News

lambylamby

Um, HarperVoyager is doing something incredibly cool in connection with the release of our antho The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities—and they’re only able to do it because Jake von Slatt, one of our contributors, is a really nice guy. He’s providing his machine-artifact the Mooney & Finch Somnotrope, created for our book, as the prize in a sweepstakes. That’s right—you could wind up owning a von Slatt original, and all you have to do is buy the book!

What is a Mooney & Finch Somnotrope anyway? Well, we gave a photo of the artifact to Charlie Jane Anders, and she wrote this micro-fiction, included in the book:

Mooney & Finch Somnotrope – These sleep simulators have become rare artifacts—even though they were mass produced in the Mooney & Finch Sheffield facility, each one of them emerged as a unique object due to the pressures of the oneiric centrifuge. However, they were only sold for three months, prior to the first reports of somnambulance addiction and peripatetic insomnia. The idea of experiencing four or five hours of sleep within a mere few minutes held almost unlimited allure for the world’s busiest captains of industry and harried matrons. But few were prepared for the intoxication of the Somnotrope’s soothing buzz, the sheer pleasure of watching its central piston raise and lower, gently at first and then with increasing vigor, until your mind flooded with dream fragments and impression of having sailed to the nether kingdom and back, all in a few minutes. It only took a few unfortunate deaths for the whole line to be recalled. (Charlie Jane Anders)

Now, as is the case with several art pieces repurposed by the writers assigned to them, von Slatt had originally given the machine a working title and description to help him in conceptualizing it: “The other is a Bassington & Smith Electro-Mechanical Analog Brain, about as smart as a common house cat. It was built to manage the systems aboard an ocean liner and was salvaged from its wreckage. A rather predictable and foolish adventure, really. I mean, whose bright idea was it to put a cat in charge of a vessel that displaced 32,000 tonnes?”

Which just means you’d be winning two machines in one artifact! A Mooney & Finch Somnotrope and a Bassington & Smith Electro-Mechanical Analog Brain!

Lambshead Cabinet