Molting Season!

Well, it’s molting season again for all fantasy writers. It should be over by the end of the first week of February. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’ve verbally committed my molted skin to an archive at a university library, where it will be stored in a temperature-controlled basement next to the molted skins of Jay Lake, Felix Gilman, Sarah Monette, K.J. Bishop, Jeffrey Ford, and Daniel Abraham, as every year. This is one small advantage fantasists have over SF writers and those in the literary mainstream, who have a very simplistic system of skin cell regeneration. As usual, Neil Gaiman will retire to his study, pull his so-called “leather jacket” over his head and burst forth from his moltings about ten days from now, to the accompaniment of Tori Amos on the lute. It’s painful but necessary, as our egos tend to grow too big for our current skins. But it does lead to seeing a strange image in my head of dozens of molted VanderMeers facing dozens of molted Jay Lakes in silent darkness.

31 comments on “Molting Season!

  1. Jay Lake says:

    I sense a bloody game of twelve-pack canasta coming on. Played by empty headed copies of ourselves…

  2. Sam Taylor says:

    Does the skin harden like a cicada? or does it stay floppy, like a half-deflated balloon?

    Inquiring minds want to know, in case we meet one walking down the street. ;)

  3. Dr Paisley says:

    Does the skin harden like a cicada? or does it stay floppy, like a half-deflated balloon?

    Floppy, of course, they’re Fantasy writers. Science Fiction writers’ skins are hard.

  4. cgeye says:

    This is all ghostgirls pavane and stuff…. somebody get me my copy of Leiber….

  5. Tania says:

    Floppy is the wrong word. Pliable, the skin remains pliable. Like a writer after you’ve provided them with enough adult beverage.

  6. Guttersnipe says:

    “Pliable, the skin remains pliable. Like a writer after you’ve provided them with enough adult beverage.”

    You misspelled flaccid.

  7. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    Pliable or cicada-like. Depends on the fantasy writer.

  8. oh the horror. these images will plague my dreams for many many nights.

  9. The important thing is, the husks will be in luxury accommodations. Climate-controlled, fully secure, and conjugal visits on demand.

  10. Jay Lake says:

    conjugal visits on demand.

    Not with each other, I should hope.

  11. How long are the writers vulnerable before the new skin hardens to protect the ego from the editorial process?

  12. Jeff VanderMeer says:

    The new skin never fully hardens.

  13. So that’s what it is, I’m a fledgling Fantasist myself and my skin is beginning to molt. I thought it was just a bad case of Psoriasis coming on. :)

  14. JeffVanderMeer says:

    This is not a medical site, Michael. SEEK HELP IMMEDIATELY!

  15. conjugal visits on demand.

    Not with each other, I should hope.

    Only with written permission slips, and proof of ‘influence’ or ‘homage’ to prevent plagiarism. ;-)

  16. No no, please don’t misunderstand me…I am literally a Fanatsist who is a fledgling, I got my wings just a little while ago. They broke the skin of my back just above the shoulder blades, now it looks as though I’m in for a more radical change. It might be a coincidence, but I seem to feel the quickening whenever I am in the presence of good fantasy fiction. Therefore by my calculations, around the time that The New Weird Anthology hits the streets, I should have shed my skin completely.

    Excuse me now while I go find a quiet place to, for lack of a better term, “loosen up”.

  17. JeffVanderMeer says:

    Now you have wings? It’s entirely possible that instead of being a fantasist, you have serious mental problems.

  18. Joel Polowin says:

    Now I’m thinking of P.K. Dick’s “The Father-Thing”.

  19. JeffVanderMeer says:


  20. It’s true the wings could be mental, but before any diagnosis I’ll have to consult Dr. Lambshead ;)

  21. I’m delighted by the various literary references. Alas, all I have to offer are the Singing Detective and the creepy Captain Marvel knockoff Prime .

    Oh, and Edmund Hamilton’s “He That Hath Wings” .

  22. Cat Rambo says:

    I believe Michael is actually a moth.

    I plan to make good, practical use of my skin by propping it in the car’s passenger seat in order to get into the HOV lane.

  23. So, I’ll know I’ve arrived as a fantasist when I wake up naked with a killer headache next to the ruined husk of my own skin?

    Good to know.

  24. JeffVanderMeer says:

    When you put it that way….eeeeeew.

  25. Alan says:

    If all these moulted skins are safely archived for posterity (and to avoid scaring impressionable young children), does that mean the job lot I’ve just snagged on ebay are all fakes?

    Dammit! I knew £8.73 (p&p inc.) was too good to be true…

  26. Well, that’s probably one of my early ones, from when I was only in my mid-20s. I think I’d written about 4 good stories by then, so that’s probably too much to have spent.

  27. Bloody hell. Is there no secret authors won’t tell?

  28. LOL! Of all the posts that you could’ve commented on–this is the one? ;)

    Nice to see you here.


  29. Timblynod says:

    So long as the skins resist scrawling all over each other…but if they did I wonder what sort of tales they’d write.

  30. Matt says:

    Any chance of me getting enough molted skins to pin them and mount them under glass?
    There is a county fair coming up pretty soon…

  31. Hugo Baltzer says:

    Molting Season is dear to my heart,

    Having contributed to the molt many time, I have become expert in this most horrific of experience.
    I hope you will consider my contribution for the Seasonal Archives of Molting.
    Thank you, Hugo Baltzer

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