Weird Comparisons

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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Donate to the World SF Travel Fund!

Go here. Find out about their peerbacker fund drive to raise enough money for a very worthy cause: bringing more international editors, bloggers, writers, etc., over to events in the U.S. or U.K. to promote cross-cultural exchange and communication. Donate!

Shared Worlds Book Haul: Hub City Bookstore, You’re The Best

(Ann bought me the sea slime book as a b-day present…)

During two readings at the Hub City Bookstore in Spartanburg, the Shared Worlds teen writing camp students bought a ton of books—just like last year, when Hub had only been open a few weeks. It’s just an amazingly good bookstore, mostly because the staff does such a great job of selecting the right books. When I walk in there it’s almost as if they’ve been reading my mind.

And now comes the news via Publishers Weekly that they’ve outstripped projected first-year sales by quite a sum. Nice job. Such a great place for a reading, too, and such a great resource for the students.

So the students weren’t the only ones to come away with a book haul. Here’s what I bought, with a few books thrown in that came from the Blue Bicycle in Charleston.

Which ones should I read first? Which have you read and recommend?


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Release Week: The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities and How You Can Get Involved!

Lambshead Cabinet

Today our anthology The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities: Exhibits, Oddities, Images, and Stories from Top Authors and Artists is officially on sale, although we’ve gotten reports of sightings in the wild starting the end of last week. All this week I’ll be posting original content here at Ecstatic Days, including material from contributors S.J. Chambers, Rachel Swirsky, and Caitlin R. Kiernan–as well as the story of how we found and acquired a piece by famous Czech animator Jan Svankmajer.

How You Can Help!

If you like the anthology—an LA Times recommended summer reading selection—and want to support unique ideas like hybrid fiction-art books, here are some of the things you can do to help:

Buy the book. It’s currently selling on Amazon and elsewhere for a ridiculously low price for a fully-illustrated oversized hardcover. Buy it for friends. Buy it for family.

Review the book. Blog, review site, or on a sandwich board in front of your local bookstore. Any mention, especially noting whatever you really liked about the book, helps immensely. And a limited number of additional review copies are available for review sites; email me at vanderworld at if interested.

Review it on Amazon. Go to the Amazon sales page for the book and tell other readers what you liked about it. A quick and easy way to help get the word out and create interest.

Make sure local booksellers carry it. The anthology seems to have a strong presence in bookstores, but you can always encourage booksellers who aren’t stocking it. You can even tell them its by some of the same people who brought them The Steampunk Bible, which has done very well.

Request it from your local library. Making sure your local library knows about the anthology not only increases library orders but allows multiple people to enjoy the book.

Spread the word through twitter and facebook. Tell people about the anthology through social media, using one of the links below. Lots of excerpts have been posted in various places—choose your favorite.

Come to the author events (more to be scheduled). We’ll be having lots of fun, including telling tales out of school, so to speak. Current schedule here. (We should have at least one prominent West Coast event to announce soon.)

NOTE: Bloggers (non-contributors) who post the link to their mention of the antho in the comments thread will be in the drawing for a free copy of the book, signed by the editors, as well as a copy of the coffee table book The Steampunk Bible, along with a few surprises…

More Info on the Anthology
I think by now, if you’ve followed this blog, you know the idea behind this unique anthology, but in case you missed it…

After the death of the famous Dr. Thackery T. Lambshead at his house in Wimpering-on-the-Brook, England, a remarkable discovery was unearthed: the remains of an astonishing cabinet of curiosities. In keeping with the bold spirit exemplified by Dr. Lambs¬head and his exploits, HarperCollins now proudly presents fully illustrated highlights from the doctor’s cabinet, including exciting stories of adventure and reproduced museum exhibits. The Cabinet anthology is a secret history of the 20th century, an art book with over 70 images, and a treasury of modern fantasy containing work by over 85 creators, including some of the genre’s most exciting names. Suitable for both YA and adult library collections.

Contributors include Holly Black, Greg Broadmore, Ted Chiang, John Coulthart, Rikki Ducornet, Amal El-Mohtar, Minister Faust, Jeffrey Ford, Lev Grossman, N.K. Jemisin, Caitlin R. Kiernan, China Mieville, Mike Mignola, Michael Moorcock, Alan Moore, Garth Nix, Naomi Novik, James A. Owen, Helen Oyeyemi, J.K. Potter, Cherie Priest, Ekaterina Sedia, Jan Svankmajer, Rachel Swirsky, Carrie Vaughn, Jake von Slatt, Tad Williams, Charles Yu, and many more. Eighty-five in total!!


Links to Unique Content!

Here are links to some of the coverage so far, with more planned on at the Huffington Post, SF Signal, Suvudu, Fangoria, and many, many others.

Kirkus Reviews–Exclusive Mike Mignola image and Lev Grossman excerpt

Amazon’s Book Blog–Exclusive Mike Mignola image and Cherie Priest excerpt

Barnes & Noble Book Club–Rave review by Paul Goat Allen

i09—A table of contents feature with exclusive Greg Broadmore image

Weird Tales—My lovely co-editor talks about the more macabre side of the cabinet anthology, with excerpt from stories by Kiernan and Michael Cisco and Aeron Alfrey art.

Weirdletter—A view from Italy

Ecstatic Days—Right here on my blog I’ve posted an exclusive excerpt with commentary from Reza Negarestani (with China Mieville art)and a disgrunted artifacts image created by Rikki Ducornet.

Contributor Posts—Posts by contributors have included interesting glimpses into the cabinet by artist Aeron Alfrey, artist John Coulthart (with many images), writer Amal El-Mohtar, and writer Jayme Lynn Blaschke.


* Note: I stole some of the general “help out” info from Cat Valente’s livejournal.

My Fungal Weapons Versus Your Dragon: Fantasy Mortal Combat

So I’m bored today. So I’m gonna ask you a question. If any fantasy/SF authors got in a battle against one another and they had to fight through proxies like weapons, allies, etc, and were able to summon up anything weapon-y from their novels, including beasties as allies, to use in that conflict…what match-ups would you find interesting, and whose weapons would help them win?

Personally, I’d like to see Pern dragons versus GRRM dragons, sand worms versus Smaug, space squid versus…something.

If everybody mentions just male authors, I’m gonna send my fungal weapons after you. And they burn.

Shared Worlds Teaser


Just a little something Jeremy Zerfoss is working on for Shared Worlds teen writing camp this year. The students will get visits from guest writers Nnedi Okorafor, Minister Faust, Ekaterina Sedia, Will Hindmarch, and myself, along with editorial guest Ann VanderMeer.

Shh. Top secret.

Fire and Ice: I Doth Not Apologize for My Cheatery

(The messages on the cover of the GRRM advance reading copy are NOT from the author, but a hoax I played on my facebook friends. I repeat: A forgery.)

For the record, I am not going to apologize for pulling out all the stops in my prep for reviewing the new George R.R. Martin novel A Dance with Dragons. That means I have been rapaciously feeding off of all applicable Wikipedia entries, revisiting the fifth book, watching the HBO series based on the first novel, and in all possible ways trying to once again get a handle on this vast, sprawling cast of characters and situations. What? Sansa’s name changes? Wait. What? That dead character is actually kinda alive? Ewww. Oh, Iron Isles, why doth you have so many possible pretenders to the throne?

I defended the house from an assailant the other day with the Dance with Dragons advance reading copy. The assailant, with a long gray beard and carrying a leather-bound leviathan of a Bible, came running up the driveway with book held high, like some kind of bibliophilic hedge knight, and I met him with my Dance of Dragons, and we struggled mightily to an impasse, whereupon he gave up with a curse and we went and got some lemonade while I complained about how freakin’ huge and long this new novel is…

But. I do not apologize for my cheatery.