The ODD? Anthology Has a Theme Song!

Jeff VanderMeer • June 5th, 2011 • Culture, News, Uncategorized


Above you’ll find a snippet from Danny Fontaine’s awesome theme song for our ODD? anthology and the character featured on its cover, Myster Odd. Gregory Bossert is working on a video for the song, which will include Myster Odd, a creation of artist Jeremy Zerfoss. You can hear complete songs by Danny, along with his comrades the Horns of Fury here or here.

As for the release date for ODD?, we’re contemplating a trade paperback edition along with the e-book. This trade paperback book would include all the same authors, but because of rights issues one of the stories might change. But the trade paperback requires a shift in the publication schedule, probably to September/October. We’re going to release the full Cheeky Frawg schedule in the next fortnight or so, and will finalize ODD?’s pub date by then.

ODD? Table of Contents, edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer

“Is it odd or are you too normal?”

Amos Tutuola – “The Dead Babies”

Gustave Le Rouge – “The War of the Vampires” (new translation by Brian Evenson and David Beus)

Jeffrey Ford – “Weiroot”

Leopoldo Lugones – “The Bloat Toad” (new translation by Larry Nolen)

Mark Samuels – “Apt 205″

Michael Cisco – “Modern Cities Exist Only to Be Destroyed” (published only in a limited edition previously)

Nalo Hopkinson – “Slow Cold Chick”

Sumanth Prabhaker – “A Hard Truth About Waste Management”

Hiromi Goto – “Stinky Girl”

Eric Basso – “Logues”

Edward Morris – “Lotophagi”

Karin Tidbeck – “The Aunts” (new story; previously unpublished)

Jeffrey Thomas – “The Fork”

Rikki Ducornet – “The Volatilized Ceiling of Baron Munodi”

Leena Krohn – “The Night of the Normal Distribution Curve” (new story; previously unpublished, translation by Anna Volmari and J. Robert Tupasela)

Amanda le Bas de Plumetot – “Unmaking” (new story; previously unpublished)

Karl Hans Strobl – “The Head” (new translation by Gio Clairval)

Caitlin R. Kiernan – “A Child’s Guide to the Hollow Hills”

Stacey Levine – “Sausage”

Steampunk Bible Tour: Fountain Bookstore (Richmond, VA) and University Bookstore (Seattle)

Jeff VanderMeer • June 2nd, 2011 • News, Uncategorized

Phase 1 of the Steampunk Bible book tour wraps up in the next week or so, with two awesome events. Phase 2 will consist of my coauthor S.J. Chambers’ events in England and France. Phase 3 in the late summer will include DragonCon. Here’s the info on the two final events of part 1.

Richmond, VA – June 2 (Thurs–tonight!), Fountain Bookstore, 6:30pm – Signing and discussion with coauthor S.J. Chambers. Fountain Bookstore is awesome, and I’m sure Chambers would love a great turn-out for her last event. She’ll also be interviewed by 97.3 WRIR, Richmond Indie Radio, for a bit that’ll air Friday, June 10.

Seattle – June 6, University Bookstore, 7pm – Signing and discussion with Cherie Priest (writer), Jay Lake (writer), and Libby Bulloff (photographer), major contributors to the Steampunk Bible. I particularly wish I could be at this event because the great and knowledgeable bookseller Duane Wilkins will be presiding, and because in addition to it being a great bookstore and the entertainment value of Cherie and Jay, I’d love to hear a photographer’s perspective on the book. Libby contributed more images than anyone else. Great stuff.

To buy now while there’s still money, just click on the image…

NYC Book Haul: Martin Amis, Merce Rodoreda, Werner Herzog, Sorokin, and More

Jeff VanderMeer • June 1st, 2011 • Culture, Uncategorized

(Art bought at a street market, and a book of cool stickers.)

Our trip to New York City was very bad for our financial health, in that we wound up finding certain books irresistible. Here are a few highlights, not including books gifted to us by Lawrence Schimel, and the book accompanying the Alexander McQueen fashion exhibit. I’ll be covering those in two separate posts…


Which of these doesn’t go with the others? The one on the right is an Archipelago book, btw—they do awesome editions.

My Kind of Girl by Buddhadeva Bose
The Spirit of Terrorism by Jean Baudrillard
Story of the Eye by Georges Battaille


Both of these books look fascinating. I’d heard of Ice, but not the other one, which seems to fall into a kind of pseudo-surreal mode. With guinea pigs!

The Guinea Pigs by Ludvik Vaculik
Ice Trilogy by Vladimir Sorokin


Steampunk Bible Tour: Philly, Library of Congress, Richmond

Jeff VanderMeer • May 27th, 2011 • News, Uncategorized

bible event
(NYC B&N Event, photo by novelist Myke Cole)

We had a great time at the event in NYC at B&N last night. A packed house, and great contributions from Jaymee Goh, Liz Gorinsky, Dexter Palmer, Ekaterina Sedia, Aleks Sennwald, Ay-leen the Peacemaker. S.J. Chambers, my coauthor, is now a seasoned book tour veteran and an excellent co-host for the event. The audience even did a shout-out for our poor left-behind Steampunk Bible blogger Mecha Underwood.

(Photo by writer Laszlo Xalieri)

We met a lot of people and we had a great time hanging out at the Dead Poet pub nearby afterwards—highly recommend that place. BUT, the tour continues!

Philadelphia, PA – May 28, Between Books (Delaware, 25 min from downtown Philly), 6:30pm. Now S.J. Chambers is headed on to Between Books, which is just outside of Philly, for an event featuring her, live music from the Absinthe Drinkers, Ekaterina Sedia, and more. I can’t recommend Between Books highly enough—it’s just one of the best SF/F bookstores I’ve ever been privileged enough to explore. So go for the Steampunk Bible presentation, but make sure you get there early enough to browse, because you’re going to want to buy books. Greg Schauer, the owner, is an awesome guy, too, and extremely knowledgeable. If you’re anywhere in the area, you really don’t want to miss this one.

Washington, D.C. — May 31, Library of Congress, 12 pm. S.J. Chambers will be giving a lecture entitled “Edgar Allan Poe: SF’s Founding Father,” followed by Q&A and signing. This is a wonderful and prestigious lecture series, and definitely worth attending.

Richmond, VA – June 2 (Thurs), Fountain Bookstore, 6:30pm.. Signing and discussion with coauthor S.J. Chambers. Kelly Justice and her Fountain Bookstore…well, there’s a potent combination. The bookstore’s awesome and so is Kelly, along with her crew of ultra-experienced, friendly staff. Another event you don’t want to miss. It’s in downtown Richmond, so there’s plenty to do nearby after the event, too. You’ll love this bookstore if you haven’t been before, and Kelly is one of those dynamic, always-on-the-ball booksellers who are keeping people energized and enthusiastic about books.

23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards: A Report by Lawrence Schimel

Jeff VanderMeer • May 27th, 2011 • Uncategorized

Katherine V Forrest

While Ann and I were at the Steampunk Bible B&N event last night, Lawrence Schimel was at the Lambda Award, also held here in NYC. He was kind enough to file the report below. For those unfamiliar with Schimel, he has twice won a Lammy, for his books PoMoSEXUALS: CHALLENGING ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT GENDER AND SEXUALITY (with Carol Queen; Cleis) and FIRST PERSON QUEER (with Richard Labonté; Arsenal Pulp), and has also been a finalist on 14 other occasions.

23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards report
by Lawrence Schimel

The “Lammies” have, in the past, tended to drag on. I was quite amused when one winner, David Lennon, quipped in his acceptance speech: “The nice thing about self publishing is that you don’t have to thank a lot of people.”

But thanks to tight organization by Executive Director Tony Valenzuela and lots of coaching of the presenters beforehand, the Awards ceremony, hosted by comedienne Lea DeLaria, moved at a good clip, especially considering they had to present awards in 24 categories, plus the two pioneer awards, a special recognition award to the University of Wisconsin Press, and a slideshow remembering queer writers who’ve passed away in 2010-2011 (where, incidentally, it would’ve been nice to have seen Joanna Russ represented).

But genre work was not overlooked throughout the evening. It was nice to see a queer speculative fiction novel win in an “open” category: Amber Dawn’s SUB ROSA (Arsenal Pulp), which won the Betty Burzon Debut Fiction Award, a special prize which also comes with a $1000 check. Curiously, this title wasn’t also a finalist in the SF category, which was presented by SF grand master Samuel R. Delany.

It was also nice to see comics accepted in different categories, competing with other prose books–and even winning, as is the case of TELENY AND CAMILLE by Jon Macy (Northwest Press), which won for Gay Erotica.

This year was the first in which there were enough titles submitted to create separate Transgender Fiction and Nonfiction categories.

Playwright Edward Albee and mystery/thriller writer Val McDermid were both honored with Pioneer Awards.

Susan Stinson and Alex Sanchez were awarded the Outstanding Mid-Career Novelists Award. Each received $5000, supported by a gift from Jim Duggins.

Susan Stinson

The presenters of the awards (a mix of authors, actresses, and even Miss New York 2010) included: Emma Donoghue, Jack Halberstam, Katherine V. Forrest, Kevin Sessums, and Stefanie Powers, among others.

The winners of the 23rd Annual Lambda Literary Awards:

Lesbian Fiction: INFERNO (A POET’S NOVEL) by Eileen Myles (OR Books)

Gay Fiction: UNION ATLANTIC by Adam Haslett (Doubleday)

Lesbian Debut Fiction: SUB ROSA by Amber Dawn (Arsenal Pulp)

Gay Debut Fiction: BOB THE BOOK by David Pratt (Chelsea Station Editions)

Lesbian Poetry: THE NIGHTS ALSO by Anna Swanson (Tightrope)

Gay Poetry: PLEASURE by Brian Teare (Ahsahta Press)

Lesbian Mystery: FEVER OF THE BONE by Val McDermid (HarperCollins)

Gay Mystery: ECHOES by David Lennon (Blue Spike Publishing)

LGBT SF: DIANA COMET by Sandra McDonald (Lethe)

Lesbian Romance: RIVER WALKER by Cate Culpepper (Bold Strokes)

Gay Romance: NORMAL MIGUEL by Erik Orrantia (Cheyenne Publishing)

LGBT Children’s/Young Adult: WILDTHORN by Jane Eagland (Houghton Mifflin)

LGBT Drama: OEDIPUS AT PALM SPRINGS: A FIVE LESBIAN BROTHERS PLAY by Maureen Angelos, Dominique Dibbell, Pega Healey, and Lisa Kron (Samuel French)

LGBT Anthologies: GENDER OUTLAWS: THE NEXT GENERATION by Kate Bornstein and S. Bear Bergman (Seal)

LGBT Nonfiction: KING KONG THEORY by Virginie Despentes (The Feminist Press)

LGBT Studies: (tie) ANOTHER COUNTRY: QUEER ANTI-URBANISM by Scott Herring (NYU Press) and ASSUMING A BODY: TRANSGENDER AND RHETORICS OF MATERIALITY by Gayle Salamon (Columbia University Press)

Bisexual Nonfiction: BORDER SEXUALITIES, BORDER FAMILIES IN SCHOOLS by Maria Pallotta-Chiarolli (Rowan &Littlefield)

Bisexual Fiction: THE LUNATIC, THE LOVER, AND THE POET by Myrlin A. Hermes (HarperPerennial)

Lesbian Erotica: SOMETIMES SHE LETS ME: BEST BUTCH/FEMME EROTICA, edited by Tristan Taormino (Cleis)

Gay Erotica: TELENY AND CAMILLY by Jon Macy (Northwest Press)
Lesbian Memoir/Biography: (tie) HAMMER! MAKING MOVIES OUT OF SEX AND LIFE by Barbara Hammer (The Feminist Press) and WISHBONE: A MEMOIR IN FRACURES by Julie Marie Wade (Colgate University Press)



Schimel lives in Spain, where he writes in both Spanish and English. His most recent book, ¡VAMOS A VER A PAPÁ! (Ekaré) has been translated by Elisa Amado and is forthcoming this fall from Groundwood, as LET’S GO SEE PAPÁ! He can be found on facebook or or on twitter as @lawrenceschimel

The Steampunk Bible Comes to Cambridge, MA, with Jake von Slatt, Jess Nevins, Aleks Sennwald, and Mike Libby

Jeff VanderMeer • May 20th, 2011 • News, Uncategorized

This coming Monday anyone in the Boston area should really check out this exciting event at Porter Square Books:

Cambridge, MA – May 23 (Mon), Porter Square Books, 7pm – Coauthor S.J. Chambers with contributors Jake von Slatt, Mike Libby, Jess Nevins, and Aleks Sennwald for book discussion, demonstration of mechanical beetles, and more.

These are all fabulous creators and it should be a really wonderful evening, led by ring-leader S.J. Chambers.

News Flash: Nick Mamatas Blows Stuff Up and Exposes All B.S. In the Writing World

Jeff VanderMeer • May 15th, 2011 • Uncategorized, Writing Tips

If you haven’t noticed, Nick Mamatas, whose new, highly recommended book Starve Better: Surviving the Endless Horrors of the Writing Life is now out, has been guest blogging at Booklifenow. In fact, he’s not just been guest blogging, he’s been blowing sh*t up.

The fact is, we all need a reality check every now and again. We also need to push back against received ideas and so-called commonsense advice. So here’s Mamatas with a series of Against posts that should shake you up and make you really think about your writing and your career. You may disagree with some of it, but that’s part of defining yourself as a writer, too. He’ll be posting at least one more this coming week.

Some snippets:

Against Professionalism
“Professionalism is a complex of supposedly mandatory and proscribed behaviors that makes a writer “professional” regardless of their ability to write interesting material. Recently, at a science fiction convention I met a former student of mine, and he was very concerned about…his blog. Which he does not have. He was told, however, that today professional writers must all blog, but that these blogs must not offer up controversial political opinions, or negative reviews of popular books, or “ruffle feathers.” Everything must be “politically correct” he believed—to use that famously meaningless term I try so hard to get my students to stop using.”

Against Craft
“Writing is a balance between art and craft, but there is enough suspicion of art—it suggests snobbery, laziness, and even homosexuality in some of the more idiotically conservative quarters—that the stick must be bent in the other direction. Craft is a matter of artisanship, and artisanship is a matter of mastering a relatively small tool kit in order to solve a number of practical problems. These practical problems also allow for aesthetic flourishes to be added. You can thus have a basket with an interesting weave, for example, but you can’t have the weave by itself, without the basket.”

Against Story
“What do people want? ‘A good story.’ How do we know? People can barely say anything else. When editors describe the sort of material they’re looking to acquire, they want “a good story.” Readers are always on the hunt for “a good story.” Good stories are also useful for shutting down a variety of discussions. Are there not enough women being published, or people of color? Who cares who the author is, so long as he or she writes a good story? Can writers do different things with their stories—create new points of view, structure words on the page differently, work to achieve certain effects not easily accessible with more common presentations? Why bother—a good story is the only important thing.”

Finnish Weird–and Finnish SF/F Links Round-Up

Jeff VanderMeer • May 13th, 2011 • News, Uncategorized

Sari P
(“This is just the way we roll”: Sari Polvinen, historian and member of the Finnish SF/Fantasy community, including the infamous “mafia” group, the Helsinki SF Society.)

Yes, finally it had to end—the Finnish SF/F coverage on this blog and elsewhere generated by our visit to Finland in April (sponsored by a FILI grant and by gawd one of the best SF/F communities we’ve ever been privileged enough to encounter). A warm and heartfelt thank you to all of our hosts.

Aaaaand, we go out on a high note, with my wife Ann’s Weird Tales blog post about “The Watcher and the Weird,” detailing an unexpected and lovely result from one of our workshops, and what I would call The Return of the King–a splendid long interview on SF Signal with Toni Jerrman, editor-in-chief of the Finnish magazine Tähtivaeltaja.

In addition, the Amazon book blog, Omnivoracious, was kind enough to host my two-part feature on Finnish SF/F, featuring a video interview with this year’s Eurocon guest of honor and Finnish New Weird? antho editor Jukka Halme. The second half of that feature went live yesterdayand you can also read part one here. The features cover a wide variety of Finnish SF/F from authors known to English-language readers, and those who are not…yet.

(Logo created by Ninni Aalto, a wonderful artist, for our visit, a great Finnish fandom joke.)

I’ve also done a couple of interviews with Finnish writers or editors for SF Signal and my blog. Here’s a full list of all of the links for your easy perusal. Thanks to SF Signal and Omni, again, for hosting this material. Valloita viekkaudella ja ylivoimalla!

Weird Tales Blog:
The Watcher and the Weird (by Ann)

Amazon features:
Finnish SF/Fantasy: Johanna Sinisalo, Hannu Rajaniemi, and Moomins
Finnish SF/Fantasy: An Established Community, A Surge of Talent

SF Signal Interviews with:
Johanna Sinisalo, author of Birdbrain
Magazine editor Toni Jerrman

Ecstatic Days Interviews with:
Partial Recall Blogger Tero Ykspetäjä
Writer Viivi Hyvönen
Writer Anne Leinonen
Writer Saara Henriksson
Sari Peltoniemi

Ecstatic Days Finnish Features:
Travels in Finland
T-Day: Travels (continued)
Unexpected Development: Tallahassee Tentacles
Back from Finland: More Photos
More on the Tallahassee Tentacles
Ann VanderMeer Reads from Michael Cisco—in Finland!
Ann VanderMeer: A Photo Trip Through Finland (and Amsterdam)

it came from the south to the north
(It came from the south to the north and then left in a box…)

Blast from the Past:
The Alien Baby in Finland, with Hannu, Jukka, Al Reynolds, and more
The Alien Baby in Finland experiencing snow for the first time

ITCAME_v0_e05122011_3 - Copy
(An alternate cover for the series mentioned in yesterday’s post. There may be an installment entitled “Finnish Weird”.)

And, here, finally, is a question and answer from writer, reviewer, and radio icon Hannu Blommila about the Weird in Finland, cut from the Amazon feature, which was running long…

On the Weird side, what typifies Finnish examples of the Weird? Are there any ways it’s the same or different?

Rather difficult question. Realistic mainstream has always dominated Finnish literary scene, and it has usually – at least in the years past – been typified by its rural setting and rather conservative approach to storytelling in some cases. There are – of course – exceptions to this rule, though.

The only typifying factor I can think of would be how many Finnish speculative fiction writers seem to be quite unafraid of stepping outside the comfort zone of traditional storytelling methods – even in the context of the Weird – and try to do something fresh and unusual. Leena Krohn’s amazing Tainaron would be prime example, I think. Another writer that comes to mind would be Kimmo Saneri, who in the late 80′s wrote stories unlike anything written in Finland at the time. Utterly strange and lyrical, but always true to their own, odd internal logic. The only other writer I can compare him to would be the late, great R.A. Lafferty. Other than that, Kimmo Saneri is a true original. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to be writing anymore.

Few years ago there was actually an attempt to unify Finnish speculative writing under single banner. Another fine writer, Pasi Ilmari Jääskeläinen coined the term “Realist Fantasy” or “Fantastic Realism.” It wasn’t exactly unanimously praised among Finnish genre enthusiasts, but I still think it’s a pretty good description of what certain writers are doing, namely those operating on the fringes of realistic fiction. So, in the end, it would be very hard to pin down any straight and hard typifying examples. Finnish Weird is unfortunately very marginal, but it’s diverse. And it can only grow. [And apparently is already growing--see again the end of Ann's post.]

(Martti Polvinen-Halme is not a Finnish writer or editor, but is a part of the Finnish SF/F community.)

Amazon Feature on Finnish SF/F–and Cheeky Frawg News

Jeff VanderMeer • May 12th, 2011 • News, Uncategorized

(Art and design by Jeremy Zerfoss; rough covers for a new Cheeky Frawg e-series, and one might wind up being a SF sampler…)

You may have noticed a plethora of Finnish fiction features on this blog and elsewhere as a result of our whirlwind tour/trip in April. There have been other practical results.

For example, Cheeky Frawg is in negotiations with Leena Krohn not just to release her amazing Kafka-esque fantasy Tainaron as an e-book, but also to translate another of her novels into English. Krohn is one of Finland’s most respected writers, and we were lucky enough to meet with her in Helsinki on this trip.

Also, Jukka Halme and Tero Ykspetäjä have agreed to co-edit It Came From the North: A Finnish Fantasy Sampler for Cheeky Frawg. The first volume of this planned series will debut in November. Other (potentially exciting) developments involving cross-cultural exchange and further translations are too nascent to talk about at this time.

With regard to the recent media coverage, the Amazon book blog, Omnivoracious, has been kind enough to host my two-part feature on Finnish SF/F, featuring a video interview with this year’s Eurocon guest of honor and Finnish New Weird? antho editor Jukka Halme. The second half of that feature just went live. I’ve re-posted the video portion from part one below. The features cover a wide variety of Finnish SF/F from authors known to English-language readers, and those who are not…yet.

Writing Prompt for Today–On Facebook

Jeff VanderMeer • April 29th, 2011 • Uncategorized

From my facebook, which is where you need to post your entries:

Your writing prompt for today: “This corpse is full of birds.” Flash fiction under 200 words. Post in comments. Deadline: 9am EST tomorrow. At very least will repost on blog later in year as charity event to benefit Last Drink Bird Head service awards. (nothing too risque)

Not my facebook friend? Ooooh. You should be. It’s jeff.vandermeer