Recently, we hiked the Lone Cone Trail up the mountain on Meares Island, near Tofino on the west coast of Vancouver Island in British Columbia. You have to hire a boat to take you over to the island—on a wave-smashing ride—and it’s a very difficult trail, with a steep incline, and many times we didn’t even think we were on a trail—you couldn’t really tell trail from non-trail. It usually takes about five hours, but it took us over six due to the truly treacherous conditions—it was one muddy, aggressively ascending, tree-blocked, gully choked amazing experience. The craziest part is having to clamber up a ravine of huge fallen tree trunks and limbs…like, literally crawling up it over top of these fallen trees. We’ve hiked mountains in Australia and California but nothing like this.
I asked Ann what she learned from the experience and these were the top five things:
1—Little trees are my friends.
2—Rocks with green moss are not my friends.
3—Not all mud is squishy.
4—I can climb over a sh*tload of solid tree trunks on an extreme incline.
5—Jeff’s feet are bigger than mine, so I can follow in his footsteps.
More about the hike under the cut…
(Yep, that’s part of the trail…a more benign part.)
(Ann’s monster socks, which she’ll be wearing at ICFA)
We’re headed down to the International Conference on the Fantastic in the Arts (Orlando). Thursday morning, I’m reading from my monstrous novel Borne and Friday Ann has two panels (editing/copyright) and I have one (rethinking the canon). Looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones.
Meanwhile, our celebration of the ICFA theme of the monstrous continues over at Weirdfictionreview.com. Everyone from Kelly Link and China Mieville to Genevieve Valentine and Ekaterina Sedia, Lisa Tuttle and Theodora Goss. Free downloads, fiction, nonfiction, and more.
Pretty much everything Cheryl Morgan says here about panels makes sense to me. It’d be really nice, too, if con organizers as a rule got ahead of this issue and didn’t put participants in the position of having to suggest female panelists or to point out the problem.
It brought back memories of being a World Fantasy Award judge. I still remember when they announced our consensus winner, Murakami’s Kafka on the Shore I was sitting in the banquet room with a prominent NY editor for a genre imprint right in my line of sight. As Murakami’s name was announced her face twisted into a mask of anger and disbelief. Which along with some general muttering made me worry about getting out of the room unscathed.
Later, another editor generously tried to rationalize the decision by finding six degrees of separation between Murakami and the genre subculture, as if membership in that subculture was a prerequisite for receiving the award. Someone else told me it wasn’t right the award had gone to someone who wasn’t one of us—again, referring to the subculture. I then had to sit through a lecture from a fellow writer about how Kafka on the Shore wasn’t the best Murakami, and ergo wasn’t worthy of the win…despite the fact at the time I’d read everything Murakami had ever written and thus could at least be said to have some perspective on it all…and definitely not in need of the lecture. Later still, some stuck the “blame” for that choice on me, even though it had been a book put forward by another judge and the decision had been unanimous.
All I know is…that year we read thousands and thousands of pages of material and also exchanged over 5,000 emails as judges. We gave it all our undivided attention and debated all of it, and dealt with it all honestly.
There is always plenty of room for debate and for honest differences of opinions, and it’s important when looking at finalist lists and the winner lists that for judged awards most of the time the judges spend hundreds of hours reading and re-reading and agonizing. And there’s no way to get it completely right. But for most judges, the process is one that creates a further love for fantastical literature and a determination to be as fair as possible.
Thus far, the response to our call for subscribers, Oddkins, and Super Oddkins for our new ODD? anthology series has been great! In fact, it’s been good enough that we’re extending our special discounts, listed below, through October 21. We have a real chance to provide stability for this series now, at its inception—thanks so much for your support of unique and exciting fiction.
You can also help us by embedded or linking to the video above and to this post so others can take advantage of this offer.
In other news, ODD will help to bolster content and discussion on our forthcoming weirdfictionreview.com site and check out the cool Greg Bossert backdrop for the forthcoming Cheeky Frawg/ODD website, coming soon:
—Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Each volume of ODD? will contain surreal, weird, fantastical, strange reprints (some of them not available otherwise except in expensive limited editions), previously unpublished stories, and new translations of classic and hard-to-find stories. This first volume features, among others, Amos Tutuola, Nalo Hopkinson, Jeffrey Ford, Rikki Ducornet, Caitlin R. Kiernan, Hiromi Goto, Stacey Levine, and Jeffrey Thomas—with new translations by Gio Clairval, Larry Nolen, and Brian Evenson of such classic writers as Gustave Le Rouge, Leopoldo Lugones, and Karl Hans Strobl as well as a brand-new story by Leena Krohn! (Full table of contents here.)
The print versions will appear at the same time as the next e-book installment–i.e., ODD? Vol 1 will appear in print at the same time as the e-book of Vol 2. Every year starting in 2012, we will publish two volumes.
You can subscribe now and be assured of receiving each volume at a reduced price. It’s a chance to support a cool new project that brings you fiction from writers from around the world.
—For the 3 initial volumes in e-book form, $19.00 (regularly $21)
—For all 3 initial volumes in trade paperback form, $42 (regularly $45)
—For the next two volumes in e-book form and all three in trade paperback form, $51 (regularly $59)
—Shipping and handling within the US is included free for print volumes; outside of the US please add $25
Or, become one of our valued “Oddkins” for $65 and receive the e-book and trade paperback versions *plus* all kinds of…odd and unique extras…with the delivery of your trade paperbacks. (US only offer: Extend it now to an additional year for only $110 total.)
—Oddkins living outside of the US alas must add $30 to cover shipping.
A “Super Oddkin” at $275 receives every volume until we die or the series is discontinued (this $275 value is guaranteed with books of equal value written or edited by us should ODD? end early) For those outside of the US, a Super Oddkin status is $400.
—You may designate different delivery email/addresses for the print versus ebook versions if ordering both; i.e., give one version as a gift.
Send a check made out to “Jeff VanderMeer” to POB 4248, Tallahassee, FL 32315, or paypal to [email protected] - you must confirm via email before October 22 that you plan to take advantage of this offer.
Big Questions by Anders Nilsenand I have had only a passing acquaintance until now…when the awesome Drawn & Quarterly Press decided to drop a metric ton on me in the form of a huge hardcover book that has been lovingly and exquisitely designed. Wow wow wow—absolutely beautiful in all possible ways.
Huh? Wha? Why? Who? say those amongst you who care not for the tactile creativity that is a well-designed book printed on a real honest-to-god offset press as opposed to in html e-purgatory.
Let me then take you through a little guided tour of how the pleasure centers of the book lover’s brain light up when encountering this kind of artifact, especially so unexpectedly…
We’re not quite ready to reveal the full table of contents for THE WEIRD: A COMPENDIUM OF STRANGE AND DARK STORIES (Atlantic/Corvus), but we have finished the proofing process and provided the publisher with story notes, the extended copyright page, and the introduction.
In the interim before the reveal, I decided to go back and take a look at some of the best-of anthologies from the past couple of years and compare our table of contents to theirs. Below I’ve posted kind of a tease with regard to our book, revealing the number of stories overlapping ours, as well as the list of common writers. For the first two, I’ve put a line of ****** to indicate the year/story from which the antho correspond with our own list.
These other anthologies have a different but at times overlapping mission statement from THE WEIRD, which clocks in at 750,000 words. Our mission statement was to chart the best examples of weird tales/weird fiction over the past one hundred years. We took that brief to mean exploration of several different threads: the traditional weird tale, weird ritual, some weird SF, etc. We also took the opportunity to include weird fiction from beyond the U.S. and U.K., with 17 nationalities represented among the 116 stories . We saw Franz Kafka and H.P. Lovecraft as representing two main strands of weird fiction, etc., and also traced other sources of influence. We also used the opportunity to commission new, definitive translations of several stories and included novellas and short novels.Non-supernatural horror without an element of strange ritual, Gothic fiction, and traditional ghost stories did not fit our brief to select “weird fiction”. We also looked carefully at all public domain material, trying to be definitive but also not rely too heavily on it for the time period of roughly 1908 to 1922. Part of this process included re-evaluating the strength of certain authors and certain classic works.
The four books below have their own constraints and obsessions. The Century’s Best Horror Fiction chooses one story per year as the best from that year. It also contains only four stories not from Anglo sources, and ignores Kafka entirely, probably defining him as not really horror–it is largely concerned with comprehensively chronicling the horror impulse in the UK and US. The anthology also includes more naturalistic horror, selecting some fine authors that simply didn’t fit into THE WEIRD.
The Peter Straub American Fantastical Tales from Library of America has, of course, the constraint of including only stories by U.S. writers, going all the way back to Poe. However, Straub had the freedom to pick any kind of dark fantasy—weird, horror, etc.—meaning that traditional ghost stories are well-represented in his anthology, and correspondingly he has more women writers from the period of 1910 to 1950. He has also selected many stories from “literary” authors, which creates a nice mix of writers who might not always appear in the same volume.
The other two anthologies, The Very Best of Best New Horror edited by Stephen Jones and Darkness edited by Ellen Datlow, both cover roughly the last 20 years of horror fiction, and intersect with The Weird during that period only partially. Neither anthology looks at fiction from outside of the US/UK/Australia.
…THE WEIRD will be out in October and we will post the full table of contents prior to publication. In the meantime, with these story lists as a partial guide, do you have your own favorite weird tale?
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Jeff VanderMeer is a three-time winner, thirteen-time finalist for the World Fantasy Award. His Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, the world's first full-color, image-based writing guide, is now out from Abrams Image. His Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, Acceptance) will be published by FSG, HarperCollins Canada, and The Fourth Estate (UK) in 2014, as well as 12 other countries. The film rights have been optioned by Scott Rudin Productions and Paramount Pictures. Prior novels include the Ambergris Cycle (City of Saints & Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, and Finch) and Veniss Underground. His short fiction has appeared in American Fantastic Tales (Library of America), Conjunctions, and many others. He writes nonfiction for The Washington Post, the LA Times, The Guardian, and many others. He has lectured at MIT and the Library of Congress and helps run the Shared Worlds teen SF/Fantasy writing camp out of Wofford College. With his wife Ann he has coedited several iconic anthologies, most recently The Time Traveler's Almanac and The Weird. You can contact him at pressinfo at vandermeercreative.comMore...
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