Saturday, April 29, 2006


Caitlin R. Kiernan’s writing is incendiary, lush, and often Decadent in outlook. I’ve only just starting reading her work in the last year, but I’ve been blown away by the way in which she partakes of both traditional and cutting-edge approaches. As Publishers Weekly has noted about her most recent story collection:

Kiernan ranks as one of today's finest practitioners of 'the art of disquiet,' as Ramsey Campbell notes in his perspicacious afterword to this remarkable collection. Her enigmatic short stories are written in lyrical prose that sweeps the reader completely into strange dark worlds where characters choose to embrace madness over the mundane and nightmares offer guidance as well as fear.

Now Subterranean Press is set to publish Alabaster in September, with a stunning cover by Ted Naifeh. You have to go to the site and check out the full cover by clicking on it—the front cover here doesn’t do it full justice. It’s amazing. Even more importantly, you have to order it soon, because I have a feeling it’s going to sell out pre-pub.

So what’s Alabaster about?

An albino girl wanders the sun-scorched backroads of a south Georgia summer, following the bidding of an angel or perhaps only voices in her head, searching out and slaying ancient monsters who have hidden themselves away in the lonely places of the world. Caitlín R. Kiernan first introduced Dancy in the pages of her award-winning second novel, Threshold (2001), then went on to write several more short stories and a novella about this unlikely heroine, each a piece of what has become an epic dark fantasy narrative. Alabaster finally collects all these tales into one volume, illustrated by Ted Naifeh (Gloomcookie, How Loathsome, Courtney Crumrin, Polly and the Pirates, etc.).

It’s one of the disheartening things about reading for the World Fantasy Awards that my focus is constrained to works from 2005, so I haven’t read Alabaster yet, but I’ve peeked here and there and the writing is exceptional.


One short note about Kiernan’s introduction to her last collection, To Charles Fort, With Love. In that introduction, she recounts a search in 2004 for Innsmouth Harbor (of Lovecraft fame) that leads her and a friend to Crane Beach, whereupon they have an unsettling encounter:

“Do you see that?” she asked, sounding a little anxious…It took me a moment to see what she was pointing at. The water was almost the same steely grey-blue as the sky, blurring the horizon, misleading the eye. But then I saw it.

She might well have kept it to herself.

There was something standing in the shallow water not far from shore…It looked like a man, a very tall man standing waist-deep in the water, only its skin was a greenish black and gave the impression of being iridescent…The skin seemed very smooth, and I could make out no sign of clothing. Its head was bald, and its hands seemed disproportionately large…It was too far away to make out much about a face, but I could see its mouth, which seemed to be constantly opening and closing. The interior of the mouth appeared to be whitish. Its jaw was square and broad, and there may have been something like a short beard or goatee on its chin…After five minutes or so, it turned around, turning its back on us, and appeared to stare up at the sky…And then the dark figure slipped beneath the water and was gone. We waited another five minutes, maybe, but it never reappeared…I have considered the possibility that what we saw that afternoon might only have been a scuba diver in a wet suit. But there was no sign of a mask or air tanks, or even a snorkel, for that matter…Did we share a hallucination, Kathryn and I? Were our imaginations so whetted with thoughts of Lovecraft’s amphibious hybrids and my own ghoulish half-breeds...that we saw nothing more than what some part of our minds expected to see?

It’s probably best that I come clean about this event now, since I was involved so intimately and yet remotely. A confluence of events led to my being in that area, in the water off of Crane Beach, at that time. Not least of which was wanting to finally meet Kiernan. I had just completed an appearance at a convention in the area and was staying with writer friends (who wish to remain nameless). It was they who suggested, since I had a love of scuba diving and jet skis, that I go out on the water that day. They also suggested the route I wound up taking, since they knew Kiernan and knew she and her friend might be in the area. They, too, insisted I use their custom-made scuba suit—perhaps the most final of all the mistakes I made. (Looking back, I cannot help but think there was a bit of malice in their many suggestions.)

By the time Kiernan and Kathryn appeared on the shore in the distance, my jet ski had malfunctioned and was sinking beneath the water. My scuba tanks, mask, and mouth piece were strapped to it. I stood on top of the jet ski as it found a comfortable resting distance beneath the waves (it was not content to just sink to the bottom all at once). I shouted toward the two of them: “Help! Help! My jet ski is sinking!” I waved my arms a bit, even if this may have been a mistake given the rather bizarre Creature from the Black Lagoon customization of the scuba suit. If my mouth was constantly moving, it was because I was trying get their attention.

I certainly don’t recall looking up at the sky, unless perhaps in exasperation at the non-reaction—even the sense of recoiling from me—I received from the two on the shore. Meanwhile, the jet ski continued to settle and I was left with no choice but to “disappear” as Kiernan puts it, because I had to dive down below to extricate my scuba gear from the jet ski before it was too late. I then spent a depressing thirty minutes finding my way to shore—by which time the two people I’d glimpsed on shore had themselves “disappeared.” It wasn’t until I read Kiernan’s introduction that I knew for certain that it had been her that day.

I must admit to being a little hurt by the descriptions in Kiernan’s account. I think this is the first time I’ve ever been called an “amphibious hybrid.” Although I would like to apologize for startling the two of them.

In any event, Kiernan was nice enough to answer my questions via email early in April, and here are her answers…


Why should readers pick up your new book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
Well, I need the money.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Generally, my books are a rowdy, disreputable lot. A sorrier bunch of miscreants, malcontents, and layabouts you’re not likely to find. I freely admit this. However, I think I’ve done a very admirable job of training them not to drool in the laps of readers. And they’re almost never rude to Scientologists. Almost.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
I did once read on someone’s blog--I can’t recall just whose--that having read To Charles Fort, With Love and Low Red Moon had quite entirely cured them of a nasty bout of toenail fungus and any desire to lurk about dark alleyways. Also, Silk can be credited with having aggravated quite a few cases of arachnophobia, and I’ve gotten many nice letters from spiders thanking me for this.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
I suppose that would vary from book to book. Well, actually, truthfully, I tend to think that kids are generally much better equipped to deal with dark fantasy than most of their parents. Lately, it seems they have a little better grasp on that which is “real” and that which isn’t. Children would never have elected George W. Bush, for example. Children would have elected someone more qualified, like Spongebob Squarepants or Albus Dumbledore. A cartoon sponge or dead wizard beats a living, breathing jackass any day. Kids know this. I don’t really imagine an eight- to twelve-year-old being especially horrified at my books. Many of them enjoy Britney Spears, after all. I’ve never written anything half so disquieting as Britney Spears.

Why don't you write more about cute stuff?
Well, I have frequently mentioned Sanrio. And Dr. Seuss. And muppets. And cannibalism. And ghouls. And unfathomable eldritch horrors lurking in cosmic gulfs, awaiting the day when the stars are right again, that they might finally escape their sunken prisons of cyclopean, non-Euclidean cities and rain fire and curried sheep intestines upon the world. And I think I’ve written about kittens. And dragons. Dragons are cute, aren’t they?

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?
At this point, I suspect I’m unfit for just about everything but writing. But I might try piracy, the old-fashioned skull and crossbones sort. Or I could have a go at psychic criminology. Or I might become an evangelist. That’s the neat thing about being an evangelist. No prior experience is necessary and no one seems to care if you have a seamy past. A seamy past actually seems to be a plus. It’s something that hiphop artists and evangelists have in common, or so I’m told.

Friday, April 28, 2006


I think everyone knows about the Best American Fantasy project by now. I also hope to announce another anthology project in the next week or so. In the meantime, some updates on the other stuff I'm working on. Skip as necessary.

Coming soon: interviews with Caitlin Kiernan and Mike Arnzen.


Book Documentary
Ann and I are working on a full-length documentary on the book business. It follows me around during the whole process involving Shriek, from the initial sale through publication through the post-publication events and lifecycle. In short, it's less about Shriek and more about what happens after you sell a book. We've interviewed Publishers Weekly editors in their NY offices, recorded meetings with PR at Tor, etc. At the very least, this will be a documentary of interest to beginning and intermediate writers or anyone who has sold a first book. Even better, it may be compelling enough to find general release as a documentary. Plans right now are to wrap shooting around January 2007 and finish editing around the summer. Juha Lindroos is currently the choice as editor. Here are a couple of outtakes from the documentary:

Outtake #1

Outtake #2

European Tour
The dates are final for the European tour (well, might vary still by a day either way). In each of these cities, I will be meeting with bookstore people, editors, publishers, and, in most, doing book signings, interviews, and other events in support of my books. Helsinki is, of course, Finncon, with a ton of events planned. It's all pretty surreal. My Romanian publisher tells me there's a chance I might get on Romanian TV, for example.

July 21 - 26 - Lisbon (in support of a chapbook of "The Transformation of Martin Lake")

July 26 - August 1 - Paris (in support of the September 2006 release of City of Saints and Madmen from Calmann-Levy)

August 1 - August 3 - Brussels (okay, so this is just to chill out and drink beer…)

August 3 - August 7 - Berlin (in support of the release last year of City of Saints and Madmen from Klett-Cotta and the forthcoming 2007 release of Veniss from Piper and Shriek from Klett-Cotta)

August 7 - August 11 - Prague (in support of the February 2006 release of Veniss Underground from Laser Books)

August 12 - August 16 - Bucharest (in support of the July 2006 release of Veniss Underground and the release of "The Transformation of Martin Lake")

August 16 - August 24 - Helsinki (in support of the August release of City of Saints and Madmen by Loki Books and, of course, most importantly, as a guest of honor at Finncon)

Leviathan 5
Ann and I are still editing Leviathan 5, the dark humor volume, but we're not sure now if we'll start reading in October or push the reading period back into 2007-08, because of the Best American Fantasy obligation. I think we'll probably push it back, but we won't know for a month or two.

Odyssey Workshop
I'm a guest lecturer at the Odyssey Workshop in New Hampshire the week of June 20th. I'll also be doing a reading and Q&A session that Saturday, probably at 7pm, at Toadstool Book Shop in Milford. Sounds like a great place, and I'm looking forward to meeting the Odyssey students!

Payseur & Schmidt Project
The good people at P&S are going to do a very cool project: a perfect bound complete bibliography, along with perfect bound books of my uncollected (mostly new) nonfiction and my uncollected fiction ("Three Days," etc.), along with some kind of record, probably. All housed in a slipcase. You can buy the books separately or as part of the limited edition full set. This project will be published in late 2007.

Rough Guide to Ambergris
I'm currently re-imagining this multi-media project for the internet. Juha Lindroos will be putting this in Quicktime movie format once I've gotten it revamped. Basically, I'm keeping the funny bits, adding some more funny bits, adding more images, and cutting the actual "readings" portion way back. So it will literally be a kind of rough guide tour to the city. This project will go on the Shriek website.

Secret Lives
I've turned in this project to Prime Books and the limited edition hardcovers will be out in the next three or four months, tops. If you were in on the secret lives offer and have not received a secret life, I will be giving you a copy of Shriek (the Tor edition) as an apology. I just ran out of inspiration on the project and didn't want to force it. As it is, the finished book is about 35,000 words and just about what it needs to be. But don't despair--I will eventually complete all of the secret lives, including yours. I just need more time to think them all through. Once they're all complete, there will some sort of trade paperback edition. In the meantime, if you go to the Prime site you can still order the limited hardcover (although not the limited-limited 26-copy one).

Shriek Endurance Tour
I am planning on doing a six-to-eight city tour of the U.S. in 48 to 72 hours, probably in October, in support of Shriek. If you live in a major metropolitan area or a major airline hub and would like me to come to your city, please let me know what kinds of opportunities there would be to do a reading. Right now nothing is set in stone. How am I going to do six to eight readings in 48 hours? Magic! And some serious planning. Anyway, more details soon.

Shriek Limited Edition
Limited to 52 copies, the Shriek limited will be centered around the Tor hardcover, but with a different dust jacket. It will come in a beautiful but durable stained, lacquered box with a chapbook of scenes deleted from Shriek and a gallery of Eric Schaller's black-and-white Ambergris artwork. It will also come with a DVD of the Shriek Movie, a reading from Shriek, and the Rough Guide to Ambergris presentation. In addition, a jeweler's rendition in silver of the starfish from Shriek will be included. Along with several other goodies, including Ambergris Wartime Stout, provided by Todd Szuch, with label by Eric S. The box itself will be signed and lettered, of course. We're still pricing it but I believe the final retail price will be between $300 and $400. This should be a bargain, as I believe the value will rise quite rapidly after it's sold out. If you haven't already done so, please email me if you are interested in reserving one. (Email me at vanderworld at

Shriek Movie
Work on this movie is on schedule. Juha Lindroos and I delivered a rough animated storyboard version along with the completed script and an idea of the types of moods and texture to The Church, with help from the indomitable Cat Sparks (thanks, Cat!), and they've completed the soundtrack and are doing some voice work this weekend. Once we have the soundtrack in hand, Juha will start putting the final movie together and shoot the live-action sequences. We're set to debut at Finncon in Helsinki at the same time we debut in major cities in the U.S. (see pr below), then put it on the Internet, and debut in various countries from September through December. British Fantasy Convention will show the film in September, for example.

Shriek Promotion
The plan is to show Shriek in several major cities in August. I'm still planning the details, but if you're a fan of my fiction or if you work at a bookstore, drop me a line. You can be a big help. It's not too late to get involved with this (semi-secret) project. It should be very cool.

Shriek Web Site
Work on the site is the only thing kind of behind schedule--my fault. However, I'm not too worried as I now have a designer for it--the person who did Elizabeth Hand's website and M. John Harrison's website. I hope it will go live before June.

I am working on a story called "Appoggiatura" for John Klima's spelling bee anthology from Bantam, a story called "The Goat Variations" for an alternative history anthology, and a story called "The Circus on the Bridge" (a loose sequel to "Three Days in a Border Town"), which may end up any number of places. I'm also hoping to do anAmbergris story for Solaris called "Severance".

I've sold Romanian rights to Veniss, City of Saints, as well as "The Transformation of Martin Lake" (for inclusion in an novellas anthology).

Finnish rights to City of Saints have gone to LOKI.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006


Felicity Savage at World Fantasy in London

Felicity Savage (or "Rosie" as we knew her) was a member of the 1992 Clarion East I attended, which also included Nathan Ballingrud, Dale Bailey, Pam Noles, Cory Doctorow, et al). Felicity was very young and assured, and talented as all get-out. She proceeded to publish five novels in quick succession, the last coming out in 1998. Then she disappeared. No one I know of has heard from her. No new novels have been forthcoming. Some have said she joined an Eastern European circus.

So I'm curious where she is now, what she's up to. I picked up her EVER trilogy at a remaindered bookstore in Jacksonville, Florida. They were the oldest books on the table. Seeing them there made me more interested than ever in finding out her whereabouts. It's just so odd to put out five books and then fall off the face of the earth.

Of course, it may be that everybody but me knows what happened to her. In any event, if you do know, please add a comment. Several of her Clarion mates are wondering, too, along with people who met her at various conventions.I always imagined she'd show up again with a 5,000-page novel under her arm, wondering what all the fuss was about.

I haven't had a chance to read the EVER books yet, but in glancing at them they strike me as, in some aspects, proto-New Weird (to briefly resurrect a dead term). I'm struck by a surface resemblance to Mieville and KJ Bishop, although I think Savage's politics are much different and she is both more romantic/sentimental and more practical. (Not to mention, she was still only 22 when her fifth book came out, I believe.)

There's a brief profile of Felicity on the Tangent site as well.

Anyway, it would be nice (and a bit of a relief) to clear up this little mystery...


Exercise Tuesday:
6-mile brisk walk

(Evil Monkey: "Hey--I heard Steve Kilbey and Marty Wilson-Piper from the Church are gonna do some of the voice-over work for the Shriek movie?" Jeff: "Yup." Evil Monkey: "Woo-hoo!")


Yesterday, Hal Duncan's Vellum, perhaps the most ambitious fantasy novel of the past few years, was released in the U.S. by Del Rey and the magnificent Jim Minz. I had some things I wanted to say about the novel, but Matt Cheney beat me to it.

Go forth and buy.


Monday, April 24, 2006


Find recommended music below. But before getting into that...This is so exciting. Got an email from Tim Powles of The Church today. The soundtrack for the Shriek movie is done! Working with the script, an animated storyboard version of the movie, and some precise mood instructions, they've gone ahead and done it. I'm kind of disbelieving. Like, when I started this, this was one of the goals, but I guess I never really realized it would happen. Tim says: "All went swimmingly well. Mighty menacing and moody--demonic and whimsical--all you will need." Now I can't wait to hear it!!!

Recommended Music

I discovered the following CDs this month. One disappointment above all others was the new Neko Case, which seems formless and rambling. I know many may disagree.

The Church - Uninvited Like the Clouds
Another great CD from The Church. Their signature sound, driven by guitars at once jangly, ethereal, and threatening, remains the same, but, as usual, they riff off of it and take it places they haven't in the past. "Block" is an amazing song--atmospheric, hard-driving, and inscrutable. "Space Needle" and "Unified Field" are more poppy. A very nice mix of the melodic and a few slower songs. I just love these guys.

Nightmare of You - Nightmare of You
An amazing power pop band with a definite jangly edge. "Thumbelina" is one of the most perverse songs ever, with a wonderful melody and upbeat sound paired to very explicit lyrics. "I Want to Be Buried in Your Backyard" and "Ode to Seratonin" are also stand-outs. Lovely stuff.

Ray Davies - Other People's Lives
One of my favorite CDs of the year thus far. Most of these songs are intimate little portraits of people's lives, and even the songs rendered in broader strokes are topnotch. The music is assured and lively and seamless. I was afraid the Kinks' frontman's return to music might be half-assed, but this is great.

Rhett Miller - The Believer
Another amazing pop-rock CD from a member of the Old 97s. This is great gleaming, jangly stuff with marvelous production. "Valentine" and "Meteor Shower" are particularly fine, with Miller's voice perfect for the material.

The Cops - The Cops
Clash-influenced punk rock that I still thought was pretty interesting and catchy. Nothing that original, but definitely worth taking a listen to.

Lashes - Get It
Kind of in a Cheap Trick mode, the Lashes are another worthy power-pop band. I think I prefer Nightmare of You and Rhett Miller, but these guys aren't bad. They remind me a little of Marvelous 3 and Tsar.

People in Planes - As Far as the Eye Can See
I don't really know how to describe this band. At times, they seem a bit like Bends-ish Radiohead; at other times, they have a more traditional rock sound; at still other times, they sound a bit Pink Floyd-ish. But it all holds together and sounds cohesive. It's definitely alternative rock, but with some more subtle bits in it. You'll have to give it a listen yourself to decide where it fits in. I really enjoyed it.

The Vines - Vision Valley
Oddly, when I listen to this kinda-grunge CD all at once, it all slides together into gray. But when I do a shuffle and hear individual songs, I like it a lot. So maybe it's best to sample this one online and pick and choose the songs you want to download. (Note: On more than two listens, this one actually pales pretty quickly.)

World Leader Pretend - Punches
I hated this the first time I listened to it, and then I heard it again in a different context and I began to dig it. By the fourth listen, I'd really gotten into it. It's pretty lush pop, with some songs exploding into a more impromptu wall of noise. A lot of influences being digested here.

Arctic Monkeys - Whatever People Say I Am, That's What I'm Not
I just love these guys--danceable, and the singer has a great, honest voice. The voice makes this band, and the more-rock-than-pop sensibility to the music doesn't hurt either. This isn't another Brit-pop clone.

Clearlake - Amber
Another stellar release from a band that writes what I think of as dangerous pop/rock. It's very sinister at times, even when the lyrics are not, and somewhat dark, and yet there's also a slightly operatic feel to some of the songs.

Mysterious Songs

From here I can touch the sign.
Put your jackets on.
I feel we're being born.
The Tropic of Capricorn is below.
We stalled above the pole.
Still your face is young.
As we feel our weight return.
A trail of shooting stars.
The horses call the storm.
Because the air contains the charge.
The radio is on and Houston knows the score.
Can you feel it? We're almost home.

The crew compartment's breaking up.
This is all I wanted was to bring them home.
The crew compartment's breaking up.
This is all I wanted was to bring them home.
The crew compartment's breaking up.
To you.
- "The Commander Thinks Aloud," The Long Winters

Here's my latest playlist of what I call "mysterious" songs. There's some quality about the music that hints at deeper depths. Something that hints at something unknowable and yet slightly sinister or epiphany-related. All great songs.

Clearlake - Come Into Darkness
The Church - Destination
M83 - Fields, Shorelines, and Hunters
Woven Hand - Bleary Eyed Duty
Clearlake - I'd Like to Hurt You
Eleventh Dream Day - Ice Storm
James - Go to The Bank
Ringside - Dreamboat 730
The Church - Block
The Cure - The Hanging Garden
The Church - Chaos
Those Bastard Souls - Has Anybody Seen Her?
James - The Shining
The Dears - Summer of Protest
Thursday - This Song Brought to You by a Falling Bomb
Snow Patrol - Whatever's Left
Robbers on High Street - A Night At Star Castle
The Black Heart Procession - Before the People
The Church - You're Still Beautiful
Wolf Parade - Modern World
Peter Himmelman - Regular Daydreams
People in Planes - If You Talk to Much
The Afghan Whigs - What Jail Is Like
The Afghan Whigs - Debonair
Spoon - My Mathematical Mind
The Church - Sealine
Robbers on High Street - Hot Sluts (Say I Love You)
The Black Heart Procession - Did You Wonder?
The National - Baby, We'll Be Fine
Pleasure Forever - Meet Me in Eternity
The Black Heart Procession - Broken World
The Black Heart Procession - It's a Crime I Never Told You About the Diamonds
James - Surprise
Ringside - Tired of Being Sorry
James - Jam J
Muse - Apocalypse Please
The Church - See Your Lights
People in Planes - For Miles Around
Spoon - I Turn My Camera On
Pleasure Forever - This is the Zodiac Speaking
The Church - Aneasthesia
Clearlake - Just off the Coast
The Long Winters - The Commander Thinks Aloud

Friday off
An hour of cardio Saturday
Sunday--repeat of Thursday's upper body routine, but six sets of all and more abs and leg kicks
Monday--repeat of Wednesday's legs/back routine, but with four sets of leg extensions (180 lbs) added and more abs (sides), and also leg curls at 70 lbs (each leg)

(Evil Monkey: "Hey--how's it going? Haven't seen you in awhile. You seem busy." Jeff: "Yeah--lots of projects." Evil Monkey: "I noticed. And now that BAF thing. You're gonna crash and burn, you know." Jeff: "That the word on the street?" Evil Monkey: "It's the word on some streets, dude." Jeff: "And I know the kind of streets you wander toward..." Evil Monkey: "Yeah--a few people I met seemed skeptical that you know fuck-all about how to do a documentary or create a film. For example." Jeff: "Yeah, well..." Evil Monkey: "So--you gonna pull it off? I want to know how I should lay down my bets." Jeff: "Of course I'm gonna pull it off." Evil Monkey: "You're positive?" Jeff: "Do you know how many people scoffed at the fake disease guide?" Evil Monkey: "Good point. Okay, so I don't think I'll bet against you.")


Pursuant to the post immediately below this one...

I know some of the answers, but not all, so...

What would constitute a comprehensive list of the best heroic fantasy ever?

I'll forget the 10-year-rule mentioned in the post below if you'll be good enough to include the pub date if it's later than 1995.


Friday, April 21, 2006


A long time ago in a different universe, I compiled first a list of fantasy I thought every writer should read. The idea was to provide as diverse a list as possible in terms of technique, ignoring things like being representative of minorities, etc. This first list is, of course, skewed to my own definitions of fantasy and my own obsessions with technique--and something I use when I teach writing courses. (Along with it, I had a subsidiary list of "right-now" authors for students to check out.)

Then, with the help of people on the Night Shade message boards, a more comprehensive list of all fantasy of any merit. This would also be a list for writers (although also readers, of course) should they want to have a comprehensive view of what "fantasy" really means. You can find the whole messageboard discussion here (although please comment here, on the blog). This list was supposed to be stuff from roughly a decade back or more.

Anyway, I thought I'd post both lists, for reaction/discussion. Should there be any interest.


1. Pale Fire, Vladimir Nabokov
2. The Gormenghast Trilogy, Mervyn Peake
3. Lanark, Alasdair Gray
4. Jerusalem Poker, Edward Whittemore
5. The Chess Garden, Brooks Hansen
6. The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, Angela Carter
7. Alice in Wonderland, Lewis Carroll
8. Ficciones, Jorge Luis Borges
9. Nights at the Circus, Angela Carter
10. Observatory Mansions, Edward Carey
11. Possession, A.S. Byatt
12. In Viriconium, M. John Harrison
13. Arc d'X, Steve Erickson
14. V, Thomas Pynchon
15. Sinai Tapestry, Edward Whittemore
16. Quin’s Shanghai Circus, Edward Whittemore
17. If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler, Italo Calvino
18. Collected Stories, Franz Kafka
19. The Master & Margarita, Mikhail Bulgakov
20. Mother London, Michael Moorcock
21. The Collected Stories, J.G. Ballard
22. A Fine and Private Place, Peter S. Beagle
23. The New York Trilogy, Paul Auster
24. Blood Meridian, Cormac McCarthy
25. The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica, John Calvin Bachelor
26. House of Leaves, Mark Danielewski
27. The Riddle Master trilogy, Patricia McKillip
28. The Baron in the Trees, Italo Calvino
29. The Other Side, Alfred Kubin
30. The Circus of Doctor Lao, Charles Finney
31. A Voyage to Arcturus, David Lindsay
32. The Circus of the Earth & the Air, Brooke Stevens
33. Gulliver's Travels, Jonathan Swift
34. Dictionary of the Khazars, Milorad Pavic
35. At Swim-Two-Birds, Flann O'Brian
36. The Troika, Stepan Chapman
37. The Fan-maker’s Inquisition, Rikki Ducornet
38. Solomon Gursky Was Here, Mordechai Richler
39. Darconville's Cat, Alexander Theroux
40. Don Quixote, Cervantes
41. Poor Things, Alasdair Gray
42. Geek Love, Katherine Dunn
43. The Land of Laughs, Jonathan Carroll
44. The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy, Ursula K. LeGuin
45. The House on the Borderland, William Hope Hodgson
46. Little Big, John Crowley
47. One Hundred Years of Solitude, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
48. The General in His Labyrinth, Gabriel Garcia Marquez
49. The Seven Who Fled, Frederick Prokosch
50. Already Dead, Denis Johnson
51. The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque, Jeffrey Ford
52. Phosphor in Dreamland, Rikki Ducornet
53. The Passion of New Eve, Angela Carter
54. Views From the Oldest House, Richard Grant
55. Life During Wartime, Lucius Shepard
56. The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox, Barry Hughart
57. The Famished Road, Ben Okri
58. Altmann’s Tongue, Brian Evenson
59. Girl Imagined by Chance, Lance Olsen
60. The Fantasy Writer’s Assistant & Other Stories, Jeffrey Ford

For this list I have marked with an asterisk every book I’ve read. The other books I have not read. I’d be ashamed of this if my only reading was in fantastical or fabulist areas, but that really comprises at most 1/3 of my reading, with the rest being mysteries, mimetic fiction, nonfiction, etc. I’ve ruthlessly disposed of anything that I have read that I didn’t think warranted being on the list—i.e., a gut reaction upon looking at the title.

I have a lot of reading to do…once I complete my reading, I will pare this list down. See you in two or three…DECADES…

Jeff V.

Acker, Kathy, Eurydice in the Underworld*
Ackroyd, Peter, English Music
Ackroyd, Peter, The House of Dr. Dee*
Adam, Villiers de L'Isle, Contes Cruel
Adams, Richard, Shardik*
Adams, Richard, Watership Down*
Aickman, Robert Collected Strange Stories*
Alain-Fournier, Henri, Le Grand Meaulnes
Alexis, Andre, Despair and Other Stories of Ottawa
Alfau, Felipe, Chromos
Alfau, Felipe, Locos: A Comedy of Gestures
Andreyev, Leonid, The Red Laugh
Anonymous (Burton, Richard trans.) The Thousand Nights and a Night
Anstey, F. A Fallen Idol
Anstey, F. In Brief Authority.
Anstey, F. The Brass Bottle.
Anstey, F. Vice Versa; or, A Lesson to Fathers.
Apuleius, Lucius. The Golden Ass
Arnold, Edwin Lester. Lieut. Gulliver Jones: His Vacation.
Auster, Paul, The New York Trilogy*
Baker, Frank. Miss Hargreaves.
Ballard, J.G., Collected Stories*
Ballard, J.G., The Unlimited Dream Company*
Balzac, Honore, Seraphita*
Barker, Clive - some early Books of Blood*
Baron Corvo – Don Tarquinio
Baron Corvo: Hadrian the Seventh
Barth, John, Giles Goat Boy*
Barth, John, The Sot-Weed Factor*
Barthelme, Donald, Collected Stories*
Bataille, Georges, The Story of the Eye / Madame Edwarda*
Batchelor, John Calvin, The Birth of the People's Republic of Antarctica*
Bauer, Wolfgang, The Feverhead
Beagle, Peter S., A Fine and Private Place*
Bellairs, John. The House with a Clock in Its Walls.
Benét, Stephen Vincent. Thirteen O'Clock: Stories of Several Worlds
Benson, Stella. Living Alone.
Bishop, Michael, Brittle Innings
Blackwood, Algernon, The Empty House and Other Ghost Stories
Blake, William, The Four Zoas
Blish, James, Black Easter*
Boito, Camille – Senso
Bond, Nancy. A String in the Harp.
Borel, Pétrus – Champavert
Borges, Jorge Luis, Ficciones*
Boston, L.M. The Children of Green Knowe.
Bradbury, Ray, Something Wicked This Way Comes*
Bradbury, Ray. The Stories of Ray Bradbury*
Bramah, Ernest, Kai Lung Unrolls His Mat
Bramah, Ernest, Kai Lung's Golden Hours
Brautigan, Richard, Confederate General at Big Sur
Brautigan, Richard, Dreaming of Babylon
Brautigan, Richard, So the Wind Doesn't Blow It All Away
Brautigan, Richard, The Hawkline Monster
Brown, Mary, The Unlikely Ones
Bulgakov, Mikhail, The Master & Margarita*
Bullett, Gerald. Mr. Godly Beside Himself.
Burroughs, William, Naked Lunch*
Burroughs, William, The Cities of the Red Night*
Butler, Samuel. Erewhon; or, Over the Range.
Buzzati, Dino, The Tartar Steppe*
Byatt, A.S., Possession*
Cabell, James Branch, Jurgen*
Cady, Jack The Night We Buried Road Dog*
Calvino, If Upon a Winter's Night a Traveler*
Calvino, Italo, Invisible Cities*
Calvino, Italo, The Baron in the Trees*
Calvino, Italo, The Non-Existent Knight*
Campbell, Ramsey The Influence
Capek, Karel, War with the Newts*
Carey, Edward, Observatory Mansions*
Carpentier, Alejo, Baroque Concerto
Carpentier, Alejo, The Lost Steps
Carrere, Emmanuel, Class Trip
Carrere, Emmanuel, Gothic Romance
Carrier, Emanuele, The Moustache
Carrington, Leonora, The Hearing Trumpet*
Carroll, Jonathan, The Bones of the Moon*
Carroll, Jonathan, The Land of Laughs*
Carroll, Lewis, Alice in Wonderland*
Carroll, Lewis, Alice Through the Looking Glass*
Carter, Angela, Fireworks*
Carter, Angela, Nights at the Circus*
Carter, Angela, The Bloody Chamber*
Carter, Angela, The Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman*
Carter, Angela, The Passion of New Eve*
Casares, Bioy, Short Stories
Cendars, Blaise, Dan Yack
Chamisso, Adalbert von. Peter Schlemihl.
Coleridge, Samuel, The Rime of the Ancient Mariner*
Collier, John, His Monkey Wife
Collier, John. Fancies and Goodnights.*
Connell, Evan S.: Notes from a Bottle Found on the Beach at Carmel.
Cooper, Susan. Greenwitch*
Cooper, Susan. Over Sea, Under Stone.*
Cooper, Susan. Silver on the Tree*
Cooper, Susan. The Dark Is Rising,*
Cooper, Susan. The Grey King.*
Coover, Robert, Pricksongs and Descants*
Cortazar, Julio, Collected Stories*
Crawford, Marion F., Khaled
Crébillon fils: The Sofa
Crowley, John, Aegypt*
Crowley, John, Little Big*
d' Aurevilly, Barbey, Les Diaboliques
Dalton, James, The Invisible Gentleman.
Danielewski, Mark, House of Leaves*
Davidson, Avram, Collected Stories*
Di Filippo, Paul, A Year in the Linear City*
Di Filippo, Paul. Mouthful of Tongues: Her Totipotent Tropicanlia.
Dickinson, Peter. The Blue Hawk.
Diderot, Denis – The Indiscreet Jewels
Disch, Thomas, 334*
Donaldson, Stephen R. Lord Foul's Bane*
Donaldson, Stephen R. The Illearth War*
Donaldson, Stephen R. The Power That Preserves.*
Dorn, Edward: Gunslinger
du Maurier, George. Peter Ibbetson.
Ducornet, Rikki, Phosphor in Dreamland*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Fan-maker’s Inquisition*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Fountains of Neptune*
Ducornet, Rikki, The Jade Cabinet*
Dunn, Katherine Geek Love*
Dunsany, Lord, Collected Stories*
Dunsany, Lord, The Charwoman's Shadow
Eckman, Kirtsten, The Forest of Hours
Elkin, Stanley, The Living End
Ellison, Harlan, Collected Short Stories*
Emshwiller, Carol, Carmen Dog*
Erickson, Steve, Arc d'X*
Erickson, Steve, Tours of the Black Clock*
Erofeev, Venedikt, Moscow to the End of the Line
Eschenbach, Wolfram von - Parzival
Finlay, Timothy, Headhunter*
Finney, Charles, The Circus of Doctor Lao*
Flammarion, Camille – Lumen
Fleischman, Paul. Coming-and-Going Men: Four Tales.
Ford, Jeffrey, The Physiognomy*
Fouqué, Baron Friedrich de la Motte. Undine.
Fowles, John, The Magus*
France, Anatole - The Revolt of the Angels
France, Anatole. Thaïs.
France, Anatole. The Well of St. Clare.
Fraser, Ronald. Flower Phantoms.
Fuentes, Carlos, Aura
Gardner, John, Grendel*
Garner, Alan The Weirdstone of Brisingamen
Garner, Alan, The Owl Service
Garnett, David. Lady Into Fox.
Garnett, Richard. The Twilight of the Gods.
Garshin, Vsevolod, The Signal and Other Stories
Ghose, Zulfikar, A New History of Torments
Gilman, Charlotte Perkins. Herland.
Gogol, Nikolai, The Overcoat and Other Tales of Good and Evil*
Gombrowicz, Witold, Ferdydurke
Goncourt, , The Zemganno Brothers
Goudge, Elizabeth. The Little White Horse.
Gourmont, Remy – Mr. Antiphilos, Satyr
Grabinski, Stephane, The Dark Domain
Gracq, Julien, The Chateau d'Algol
Grant, Richard, Rumors of Spring*
Grant, Richard, Views From the Oldest House*
Gray, Alasdair, Lanark*
Gray, Alasdair, Poor Things*
Grubb, Davis, Ancient Lights
Gun, Guneli - On the road to Baghdad
Gupta, Sunetra, The Glassblower's Breath
Hand, Elizabeth, Black Light*
Hansen, Brooks, The Chess Garden*
Harrison, M. John, In Viriconium*
Harrison, M. John. A Storm of Wings.*
Harrison, M. John--Viriconium Nights*
Hauff, Wilhelm, Three Collections
Havoc, James, Butchershop in the Sky
Hedayat, Sadegh, The Blind Owl
Helprin, Mark, A Soldier of the Great War*
Hernandez, Felisberto, Piano Stories
Hichins, Robert, Flames
Hjortsberg, William, Fallen Angel & Grey Matter
Hodgson, William Hope, The House on the Borderland*
Hogg, James, The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner
Hospital, Janette Turner Oyster
Hospital, Janette Turner The Last Magician
Hughart, Barry, The Chronicles of Master Li and Number Ten Ox*
Hughes, Rhys, "The Darktree Wheel"*
Hughes, Rhys, The Smell of Telescopes*
Huysman, J.K., Becalmed
Huysmans, J. K. – Against the Grain
Irwin, Margaret. Still She Wanted for Company
Irwin, Margaret. These Mortals.
Jabes, Edmond, The Book of Questions
Jackson, Shirley, The Haunting of Hill House*
James, M. R. Ghost Stories of an Antiquary.*
Jarry, Alfred. The Supermale.
Jerrold, Douglass. A Man Made of Money.
Johnson, Denis, Already Dead*
Jones, Diana Wynne. Archer's Goon
Joyce, Graham, Requiem
Kadare, Ismail, Afaik
Kafka, Franz, Collected Stories*
Kafka, The Trial*
Kakar, Sudhir, The Ascetic of Desire
Karinthy, Frigyes, Capillaria
Kavan, Anna, Ice
Kerr, Peg, The Wild Swans
Kharms, Daniil, The Man with the Black Coat
Kipling, Rudyard-, The Jungle Book*
Kis, Danilo, A Tomb for Boris Davidovich
Kis, Danilo, Encyclopedia of the Dead
Kis, Danilo, Garden, Ashes
Kristof, Agota, The Notebook
Krohn, Leena, Bloodaxe
Krohn, Leena, Carcanet
Krohn, Leena, Dona Quixote
Krohn, Leena, Gold of Orphir
Krouch, Percival, The Third Finger
Krouch, Percival, The Stink By Which I Know You
Kubin, Alfred, The Other Side*
Langton, Jane, The Diamond in the Window
Lautreamont, Comte de: Maldoror*
Lee, Tanith, Flat Earth Cycle
Lee, Tanith, Red as Blood
LeGuin, Ursula K., Collected Stories*
LeGuin, Ursula K., The Wizard of Earthsea trilogy*
Leiber, Fritz Night's Black Agents*
Leiber, Fritz, Collected short stories*
Leiber, Fritz, Ill Met in Lankhmar*
Leires, Michel, Aurora
Lem, Stanislaw A Perfect Vacuum*
Lem, Stanislaw Imaginary Magnitude*
Lem, Stanislaw One Human Minute
Leven, Jeremy, Satan: His Psychotherapy and Cure by the Unfortunate Dr. Kassler,
Lewis, C.S.--the Narnia Chronicles*
Lewis, Wyndham, Malign Fiesta
Lewis, Wyndham, Monstre Gai
Lewis, Wyndham, The Childermass
Ligotti, Thomas, The Nightmare Factory*
Lima, Jose Lezama, Paradiso
Lindsay, David. A Voyage to Arcturus.
Lively, Penelope. The House in Norham Gardens.
Lorrain, Jean – Monsieur de Phocas*
Louys, Pierre. Aphrodite.
Lovecraft, H.P., Collected Stories*
Lugones, Leopoldo, Strange Forces
Luo Guanzhong, Romance of the Three Kingdoms (Moss Roberts Translation)
Macdonald, George, Lilith
MacDonald, George, Phantastes
Machen, Arthur--The Hill of Dreams
Mahy, Margaret. The Changeover: A Supernatural Romance
Mahy, Margaret. The Tricksters.
Mann, Thomas, The Holy Sinner
Marcus, Ben, Notable American Women
Marcus, Ben, The Age of Wire and String
Mark, Jan - The Eclipse of the Century
Marmon-Silko, Leslie, Ceremony
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, One Hundred Years of Solitude*
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia, The General in His Labyrinth*
Masefield, John, The Midnight Folk
Mayne, William. Earthfasts.
McCarthy, Cormac, Blood Meridian*
McKillip, Patricia, The Riddle Master trilogy*
Merimee, Prosper, Venus of Isle
Meynard, Yves, The Book of Knights
Meyrink, Gustave, The Golem*
Millhauser, Steven--Edwin Mullhouse: The Life and Death of an American Writer
Mills, Magnus Three to See the King
Milton, John - Paradise Lost*
Mirbeau, Octave – Torture Garden*
Mirrlees, Hope. Lud-in-the-Mist
Moorcock, Michael, Gloriana*
Moorcock, Michael, Mother London*
Moorcock, Michael. The Stealer of Souls.
Moore, C.L. Black God's Shadow
Morley, Christopher. Thunder on the Left.
Morris, Kenneth. The Secret Mountain and Other Tales
Morris, William. The Story of the Glittering Plain
Morris, William. The Water of the Wondrous Isles.
Morrow, James, Towing Jehovah*
Mujica Lainez, Manuel. The Wandering Unicorn.
Murakami, Haruki, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle*
Myers, L. H., The Root and the Flower
Nabokov, Vladimir, An Invitation to a Beheading*
Nabokov, Vladimir, Bend Sinister*
Nabokov, Vladimir, Pale Fire*
Nahai, Gina Barkhordar, Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
Nathan, Robert. Portrait of Jennie.
Nerval, Gerard de, Aurelia
Nesbitt, E., The Five Children and It
Nodier, Charles – Smarra
Novalis – The Bottle Imp
Nye, Robert, Merlin
O'Brien, Flann, At Swim-Two-Birds*
O'Brien, Flann, The Dalkey Archive*
O'Connell,Jack The Word Made Flesh
O'Connor, Flannery Collected Stories*
Okri, Ben, The Famished Road*
Ollier, Claude, Law and Order
Onions, Oliver, The Beckoning Fair One
Orwell, George, Animal Farm*
Oueneau, Raymond, The Sunday of Life.
Ouspensky, P.D., Strange Life of Ivan Osokin
Ovid. Metamorphoses.*
Pamuk, Orhan, My Name is Red
Pargeter, Edith. By Firelight.
Pavic, Milorad, Dictionary of the Khazars*
Peake, Mervyn, The Gormenghast Trilogy*
Pearce, Philippa. Tom's Midnight Garden
Pessoa, Fernando, The Book of Disquietude
Petronius – Satyricon
Phillpotts, Eden. Circé's Island
Phillpotts, Eden. Pan and the Twins.
Piercy, Walker, Love in the Ruins
Pirandello, Luigi, One, No On, and One Hundred Thousand*
Platonov, Andrei, The Foundation Pit
Poe, Edgar Allan, Collected Stories*
Pollack, Rachel, Godmother Night*
Pollack, Rachel, Unquenchable Fire
Potacki, Jan, The Saragossa Manuscript
Potocki, Count Jan Hrabia. The Saragossa Manuscript
Powers, Tim, The Anubis Gates*
Powys, John Cowper. Porius: A Romance of the Dark Ages
Powys, T.F. Mr. Weston's Good Wine.
Powys, T.F. The Two Thieves.
Powys, T.F. Unclay
Prantera, Amanda - Strange Loop
Prantera, Amanda - The Cabalist
Prokosch, Frederick, The Seven Who Fled*
Pynchon, Gravity's Rainbow*
Pynchon, V*
Queiros, Eca de, The Mandarin
Queneau, Raymond, Saint Glinglin
Raban, Arnold, The Rat and the Rose
Rabkin, Eris S., ed. Fantastic Worlds: Myths, Tales and Stories.
Rachilde, The Juggler
Ray, Jean, Malpertuis
Read, Herbert. The Green Child.
Reage, Pauline, The Story of O
Richardson, Maurice, The Adventures of Engelbrecht*
Richler, Mordechai, Solomon Gursky Was Here*
Rolfe, Frederick, Hadrian the Seventh
Rooke, Leon, Sing Me No Love Songs, I'll Say You No Prayers
Rosa, Joao Guimaraes, The Devil to Pay In The Backlands
Roy, Arundhati, The God of Small Things
Ruff, Mat, Sewer, Gas, Electric: The Public Works Trilogy
Rulfo, Juan, Pedro Paramo
Rushdie, Salman, Midnight's Children
Rushdie, Salman, Satanic Verses*
Ryman, Geoff, The Unconquered Country*
Sabato, Ernesto, On Heroes and Tombs
Sabato, Ernesto, The Tunnel
Saki, Collected Short stories
Saramago, Jose, Blindness
Sarban, Ringstones
Schulz, Bruno, Sanatorium Under the Sign of the Hourglass*
Schulz, Bruno, The Street of Crocodiles*
Scliar, Moacyr, The Centaur in the Garden
Seare, Nicholas, Rude Tales and Glorious
Shelley, Mary: Frankenstein*
Shepard, Lucius, Life During Wartime*
Shepard, Lucius, The Jaguar Hunter*
Shepard, Lucius, The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter*
Sherwood, Frances, The Book of Splendor
Shiel, M.P., Shapes in the Fir
Shih-Nai An – Water Margin (also called Men of the Marshes)
Shwob, Marcel, Imaginary Lives
Sisson, C.H., Christopher Homm
Sladek, John, Roderick / Roderick at Random
Smith, Cordwainer, Collected Stories*
Smith, Thorne. The Stray Lamb.
Smith, Thorne. Turnabout.
Sologub, Feodor, The Petty Demon
Stevens, Brooke, The Circus of the Earth & the Air*
Stewart, Mary. The Crystal Cave.*
Stewart, Mary. The Hollow Hills.*
Stewart, Mary. The Last Enchantment.*
Stewart, Sean, Galveston
Stockton, Frank R. The Bee-Man of Orn and Other Fanciful Tales.
Straub, Peter, Mr. X*
Strindberg, August – Inferno
Sturgeon, Theodore Collected Stories
Suskin, Patrick, Perfume*
Swanwick, Michael, Collected Stories
Swanwick, Michael, Faust
Swift, Jonathan, Gulliver's Travels*
Szilagyi, Steve - Photographing Fairies
Theroux, Alexander, Darconville's Cat*
Thurber, James. The Thirteen Clocks.*
Thurber, James. The White Deer.
Tutuola, Amos, My Life in the Bush of Ghosts
Unamuno, de, Miguel, Mist
Vian, Boris, Et on tuera tous les affreux
Vian, Boris, Froth on the Daydream
Vian, Boris, Heartsnatcher
Vian, Boris, Red Grass
Viereck, George Sylvester, and Eldridge, Paul. My First Two Thousand Years
Vonnegut, Kurt, Slaughterhouse Five*
Walker, Wendy, The Secret Service
Wall, Mervyn. The Unfortunate Fursey
Wallace, Daniel, Big Fish
Walser, Robert, Jakob Von Gunten
Warner, Rex, The Wild Goose Chase
Warner, Sylvia Townsend Kingdoms of Elfin
Warner, Sylvia Townsend. Lolly Willowes; or, The Loving Huntsman
Webb, Don, Uncle Ovid's Exercise Book*
Westall, Robert. The Wind Eye.
White, T. H. The Once and Future King*
White, T.H. The Sword in the Stone.*
Whitehead, Colson, The Intuitionist
Whittemore, Edward, Jerusalem Poker*
Whittemore, Edward, Nile Shadows*
Whittemore, Edward, Quin’s Shanghai Circus*
Whittemore, Edward, Sinai Tapestry*
Willard, Nancy, Sister Water
Willard, Nancy, Things Invisible to See
Williams, Charles - All Hallows Eve
Williams, Charles - Descent Into Hell
Williams, Charles - Many Dimensions
Williams, Charles - The Greater Trumps
Williams, Charles - The Place of the Lion
Williams, Charles - War In Heaven
Willis, Connie, Lincoln's Dreams
Winterson, Jeannette, Sexing the Cherry*
Witkiewicz, Stanislaw Igancy, Insatiability
Wolfe, Gene, Strange Travelers
Wolfe, Gene, The Book of the New Sun*
Woolf, Virginia: Orlando*
Wright, Stephen, Going Native
Wrightson, Patricia. The Ice is Coming
Wu Cheng’en – Journey to the West
Wylie, Elinor. The Venetian Glass Nephew.
Wylie, Philip. The Disappearance
Xuequin, Cao, The Story of the Stone
Yoshikawa, Eiji, Musashi
Zelazny, Roger. Nine Princes in Amber.*
Zola, Emile, La faute de J'abbe Mouret

Thursday, April 20, 2006


If you haven't heard already, Elizabeth Hand has some great news on her website:

Harcourt Trade Publishers announces the acquisition of paperback reprint rights to GENERATION LOSS by New York Times notable and multiple award-winning author, Elizabeth Hand. Like Harcourt’s partnership with MacAdam/Cage in the acquisition of THE TIME TRAVELER'S WIFE, GENERATION LOSS was acquired in a hard-soft deal with Small Beer Press by Harvest Editorial Director Tina Pohlman and Small Beer Press co-publishers Kelly Link and Gavin Grant, from agent Martha Millard of Martha Millard Literary Agency. The Small Beer hardcover is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2007, to be followed by the Harvest paperback in Spring 2008.

I heard her read the beginning of this novel at ICFA and was utterly blown away by it. It was emotionally wrenching, honest, and unbelievably well-written, in a first-person voice I found authentic and original.

I'd also like to say that Small Beer Press, as usual, is demonstrating a keen amount of brilliance with this partnership.



6 sets triceps
6 sets biceps
6 sets forearms
100 bridges
200 crunches

Upper body
3 sets bench press (bar bell, 170 lbs)
3 sets flyes (two 25 lb weights)
3 sets chest pull over (one 50 lb weight)
3 sets military press (two 30 lb weights)
25 minutes on exercise bike
3 sets of crunches will heavy ball
3 sets of bridges (40 a set)

1/2 mile run
100 crunches
3 sets of raises for obliques
3 sets at 70 lbs (each side) for obliques (pulling across)
Lower body
9 sets at 700 lbs (3 in a row--feet apart upper; lower; feet together) on incline leg press
10 sets to exhaustion (2 in a row each; 20 second rest between each 2-set combo), decreasing to 600, 500, 400, 300, and 200 lbs.
3 sets calf raise (120 lbs, plus leg weight)
3 sets leg curl (65 lbs--30 seconds rest between)
3 sets pull down latt (80 lbs, each side)
3 sets seated row (140 lbs, two-handed grip)
3-mile run followed by 3 100-yard wind sprints back to back

Upper body
3 sets bench press (bar bell, 160 lbs)
3 sets shrugs (two 25 lb weights)
4 sets bicep curls (two 30 lb weights)
4 sets triceps (immediately following bicep set, own weight to exhaustion, immediately followed by 20 lb behind back, followed by 30 lb at each side)
4 sets forearm curls (immediately following triceps set)
3 sets of crunches with ball
3 sets of leg lifts
3 sets of bridges (40 each set)
brisk 3-mile walk

Wednesday, April 19, 2006


Since it's beginning to leak out across the internet, probably best to just blog about it now. Must say--I'm truly chuffed about working with my wife Ann and Matt Cheney on this project. It's not just another year's best. Mark my words...


You can now find the full press release, guidelines, and recommendation form here as well, but in a nutshell--Ann and I will be guest editing a year's best anthology of North American fantasy fiction published in North American literary journals, magazines, anthologies, and websites. Ann and I will guest edit it for the first two years to get it off to a stable start. Matthew Cheney will serve as series editor to provide continuity. After the second year, the guest editor position will be rotating--a new editor each year--with Matt remaining as series editor. We feel this is a landmark anthology series because of the rotating editor and a greater emphasis (although not solely) on the work to be found in the literary mainstream (genre publications already being ably covered by about 20 year's bests), along with a simultaneously more narrow and broader focus in terms of what is eligible for inclusion. Prime Books will be putting a huge PR push behind this anthology.

The full announcement and call for submissions:


Prime Books announces the establishment of a prestigious new anthology series, Best American Fantasy (trademark pending), guest edited by Ann & Jeff VanderMeer, with Matthew Cheney serving as the series editor. The inaugural volume will be published in June 2007, showcasing the best North American fantasy short fiction from the preceding year. The editors will apply as wide a definition of the term “fantasy” as is necessary for the integrity and quality of Best American Fantasy—including magic realism, surrealism, postmodern experiments, and all other applicable permutations.

With prominent distribution and a stylish trade paperback format, Best American Fantasy will provide an elite forum for the best short work from U.S. and Canadian writers published in North America. A list of honorable mentions limited to fifty stories will be included in each volume.

The anthology will feature rotating guest editors, with the series editor providing continuity and stability. Ann & Jeff VanderMeer will serve as guest editors for 2007 and 2008 to help establish Best American Fantasy as one of the premier year’s best anthologies in North America.

Interested parties can find out more about Best American Fantasy at the BAF Website: (fully operational in the next couple of days). Reviewers, publicists, and other media should contact Prime editor Sean Wallace at: seanwallace @

Prime Books is an award-winning imprint that specializes in literary and cutting-edge cross-genre novels and short story collections.

About the Editors

Guest Editor Jeff VanderMeer is a two-time winner of the World Fantasy Award. His books from Pan Macmillan, Tor, and Bantam have made the year's best lists of Publishers Weekly, The San Francisco Chronicle, The Los Angeles Weekly, Publishers' News, and, among others, and his short fiction has appeared in several year’s best anthologies. Novels and story collections by VanderMeer have been translated into twelve languages. As an editor, he is best known for founding the award-winning Ministry of Whimsy Press and its landmark anthology series, Leviathan. He lives in Florida.

Guest Editor Ann VanderMeer has been a publisher and editor for over twenty years, running her award-winning Buzzcity Press. Work from her press and related periodicals has won the British Fantasy Award, the International Rhysling Award, and appeared in several year's best anthologies. Books published by Buzzcity Press include the Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist Dradin, In Love by Jeff VanderMeer and the IHG Award winning The Divinity Student by Michael Cisco. A Best of the Silver Web is forthcoming from Prime Books in November 2006. She lives in Florida.

Series Editor Matthew Cheney has published fiction and nonfiction with Strange Horizons, Locus, Rain Taxi, Rabid Transit, Pindeldyboz, Failbetter, and others. He has served on the jury for the Speculative Literature Foundation's Fountain Award, and his weblog, The Mumpsimus, was a finalist for the 2005 World Fantasy Award. He lives in New Hampshire.


In General

Literary journals, magazines, anthologies, and other venues based in North America are encouraged to submit their publications to Best American Fantasy so that the content can be considered for inclusion. All publications received will be listed in Best American Fantasy. Please send materials for consideration to both:

Matthew Cheney
Series Editor
POB 313
New Hampton, NH 03256


Ann & Jeff VanderMeer
2006-07 Guest Editors
POB 4248
Tallahassee, FL 32315

Materials only sent to one address will not receive consideration.


Eligible short fiction must fulfill the following rules.

(1) A work of respectable literary quality first published in a U.S. or Canadian periodical (magazines, anthologies, websites, etc.)
(2) Publication in English by U.S. or Canadian writers, or foreign writers who have made U.S. or Canada their home.
(3) Original publication as short stories. Excerpts from novels will not be considered.
(4) Work longer than 10,000 words will not be considered.
(5) All work to be considered must be received by January 15, 2007.

The definition of “fantasy” shall include fabulation, non-realist fiction, magic realism, surrealism, post modern experimentation, cross-genre, etc. The editors will apply as wide a definition of the term as is necessary for the integrity and quality of Best American Fantasy. Editors or individuals should not pre-judge the fantastical content of individual stories or periodical issues but simply send in all possibly relevant materials. Sending tearsheets is discouraged.

Individuals and editors of online magazines can make recommendations via the Best American Fantasy Recommendation Form, found on the BAF website at: No self-published work will be considered.

Tuesday, April 18, 2006


Alcohol Toll

The weekend in Jacksonville and St. Augustine was really nice, although we got--how else can I really put this?--shitfaced on Sunday at the Rendezvous Restaurant. I can't say we didn't enjoy stumbling around the Old City after splitting a bottle each of the following (over a period of five hours, I might add, reading Martin Amis and picking at some chicken salad, and just generally having a great time):

St. Sebastian Dark (Belgium) - Not quite as beguiling as the others we loved, but still a solid, good choice. Perhaps a bit sweet.

Corsendonk Abbey Brown Ale (Belgium) - Harsher but also better than Newcastle Brown Ale, with a nice aftertaste.

Xingu (Brazil) - A black beer, dark and smooth. One of my favorites.

Paulaner-Salvater (Germany) - Golden brown, a bit on the sweet side.

San Miguel (Phillipines) - Dark and somewhat undistinguished.

Smithwicks (Ireland) - Dark, strong, and bitter. Not our favorite.

Weihenstephaner Korbinton (Germany) - Excellent excellent excellent! Dark and with a myriad of tastes combined.

Aventinus (Germany) - Another excellent beer, this one with a hint of cloves. Also a darkish beer, a bit sweeter, but lovely.

And the grand finale (drum-roll), requiring a beer each because we love these sooo much:

Koningshoeven Trappist Ale Dubbel (Holland) - A fine trappist ale that has all the flavors we love and isn't too sweet.

(Aftermath: Moving with no excess of agility through the cobblestone streets of St. Augustine giggling at nothing in particular.)

Er, then add in five bourbon-and-diets spaced out over the day before and two particularly good cigars. Then add in about an hour of intense cardio over the weekend, plus a lot of walking, 150 push ups, 300 bridges, 200 crunches, and four sets of calf raises, tricep curls, and bicep curls. Plus we didn't eat that much, so all in all, not too terrible. And it's back to the jogging and the gym this week, so...

Upcoming Posts

Much more about finds at Chamblin's shortly, and interviews to post, whatever happened to Felicity Savage, and news to blog about...all coming up this week...

Wotmania Interview

Oh---and this interview just went live at



Evil Monkey: "Oh, you can't get away without posting this Q&A section from the Wotmania interview, Jeff."

Q: The last question is the traditional question of the OF: If you owned
monkeys, how many would you own, and what would you name them?

I do own a monkey. His name is Evil Monkey and his girlfriend is
Ape-Gone-Wild. Although "own" is probably too strong a word--I have a monkey
named Evil Monkey, let's just say. And he's prone to collecting the heads of
writers he doesn't like, but then returning them in a fit of guilt.

But if I did actually *own* monkeys, they would be woolley monkeys and there
would be four of them, and they would take great delight in trashing our
house while we were gone. They would climb up the chimney and drop out of it
in great chuffing snuffles of black dust. They would terrorize the cats and
try to take the car out for a spin. They'd converse with the mailman and
chase away Jehovah's Witnesses. They'd get into the liquor cabinet and,
drunk, repaint the walls a nice banana color. In the evenings, they'd curl
up on the couch and watch the Simpsons while drinking banana dacquiris. In
all ways, they would live contented and full and unselfconscious lives while
in the little office in the back, I would be typing away, the music up loud,
trying to drown out the wonderful din and play of their monkey business.

Friday, April 14, 2006


If you missed it when I linked to it the first time, maybe the inclusion of this photo of Jacob McMurray from Payseur & Schmidt will convince you to check out my interview on SF Site. They're doing fine work and deserve a lot of attention.


(Evil Monkey: "Vote me for in this!" Jeff: "Er, in what category." Evil Monkey: "Any category! Write me in! Sign me up!" Jeff: "That's a bit crass, isn't it?" Evil Monkey: "Everybody else is doing it!" Jeff: "Calm down. We're never going to do that here." Evil Monkey: "Aha! But by publishing my rant you're kinda telling people to vote for you." Jeff: "Actually, no, I'm not. However, I will be trademarking my ass, now that Harlan (TM) Ellison (TM) has trademarked his name." Evil Monkey: "Harlan (TM) Ellison (TM) is an ass." Jeff: "Jeff VanderMeer's Ass(TM}--brought to you by Nabisco(TM)!" Evil Monkey: "Evil Monkey's Ass(TM), brought to you by bananas!" Jeff: "China Mieville's Ass(TM), brought to you by Bolsheviks!" Evil Monkey: "Carol Emshwiller's Ass(TM), brought to you by Wheatabix(TM!)" Jeff: "Jeffrey Ford's Ass(TM) brought to you by the New Jersey Tourism Commission!" Evil Monkey: "Gavin Grant's Ass(TM), brought to you by Scotland and Kelly Link!" Jeff: "George R.R. Martin's Ass (TM), brought to you by the Kill The Ones You Love Society!" Evil Monkey: "Michael Crichton's Ass(TM), brought to you by Evil Monkey! Along with his head!" Jeff: "Oh, my. Best stop now." Evil Monkey: "But we're just getting started!" Jeff: "Yes, but it's time for my R&R." Evil Monkey: "Oh, you're no fun anymore.")

Thursday, April 13, 2006


This weekend Ann and I are going up to Jacksonville for some R&R and to divest ourselves of some books at Chamblin's Book Mine. So, this space will be silent until late Sunday/early Monday (at which time I hope to announce some fairly major news).

Next week, interviews with Caitlin Kiernan and Michael Arnzen, among other stuff.

Exercise today was 6 sets for triceps (70 lbs), 6 sets for biceps (21s; 45 lbs), 9 sets on incline leg press at 680 lbs (followed by another 10 sets, reducing the weight by 100 lbs after each 2 sets), 3 sets leg extensions (180 lbs), 6 sets lat pull down (135 lbs), 3 sets seated rows (135 lbs), 3 sets leg curls (60 lbs), 3 sets bench press (2 45 lb weights), 3 sets flyes (2 30 lbs weights), 3 sets overhead chest push up on bench (65 lb weight), 3 sets reverse flyes (2 35 lb weights), 3 sets military press (2 35 lb weights), 3 sets shrugs (2 35 lb weights), etc., et al. 30 minutes on bike, and 1/2 mile jog. 20 minutes abs.

So while we go off for our R&R, I leave you with one of my more experimental stories, from Secret Life, just to fuck with your minds. Evil Monkey suggested I do it.




I. The Detective

The rabbit was dead. Was white. Was dead. Was six feet long. Supine on the ground. A trace of red against its mouth. A pocket watch half buried in the sand. Rubbery and indistinct, a blackish waistcoat curled across its midriff. While above us the mountain rose like a threat or a throat.

I could smell the death in its matted fur. I could feel its death in the complete, the utter stillness of the body. The eyes stared out into a great nothing, a vast nowhere.

I was supposed to solve this.

Brown eyes, flecked with green. Fur around the mouth, stained green with grass. There was no grass anywhere around here. Bitter winds. Desiccated. Husk.

I stood up, fought the urge to struggle against the gentle pressure on the nape of my neck.

Hush. Dusk. I had spent an hour staring at this apparition, with no insight forthcoming.

What makes death solvable or soluble? What might be considered a clue? The red hissing from the mouth like a sleek ribbon of snake? The wound to the belly, spilling out like sawdust? The tick tock of the watch on my wrist, telling me to hurry. Should I solve the crime, I’d be much lauded. Should I fail, none would care but me.

Behind me somewhere lay the city of teeth and blood and exhaustion and skies full of smoke and streets at night lighted like strands of emeralds, the towers set to rise like knives cutting the underbelly of the blank sky.

Here, in the desert, the sky was a deep blue shot through with deeper cloud, masked by the mountain rearing out of the sand.

Out here, I had my familiar. In the city, my familiar could not always manifest himself, make himself known to me. No one could manifest in the city all the time. Out here, he could stretch, uncurl, spread his wings of manta ray black to their fullest extent. The desert glinted off of them, melting into a relaxation that seemed earned.

“Rabbit,” I said. To hear myself say it. It sounded just like I wanted to hear myself talk.

“Rabbit,” my familiar agreed.

I had no name for my familiar. I felt no need for names, even for myself. How could anyone mistake him for another? His shape formed a shadow across me, his breath a black spurling of memory, cloves, desire, and cinnamon. With the desert’s red dust around us, the mountain rising, it seemed I could be his familiar. His voice like a smooth rasp of cloud across a night sky. His flickering appearance like the glimmer of a coin at the bottom of a pool of still water. In a courtyard in the city. Where a hundred thousand familiars…

“It’s not from here.”

My familiar rippled and coalesced behind me, over me.

“Not from there, either.”

Where a hundred thousand familiars gathered, the motion of their passage a mighty wave across a parched land…

Helplessness and shame overtook me, the emotions I always feel at the scene of a crime. The death that cannot be catalogued except by time. The death that cannot be avenged except by the deceased, the only person who cannot avenge…anything.

What could my familiar and I do? The taste of continuous failure was like sand on my tongue. I could not remember any of my other cases.

What I cannot solve may kill me.


Sunset. Reds peeling off across the reds of the corpse, the fur flush with dust and dirt and sand.

I felt the tickle in my throat caused by the umbilical that hung between me and my familiar—this cloak, this being that spread out behind me through the celestial air. My familiar was feeding me, and I did not want to be fed.

I saw a children’s book. I saw a large white rabbit. I saw a girl in a dress. I saw a talking caterpillar. The familiar was feeding me what was not familiar. But the story seemed familiar somehow. As if I had pressed my face against a fogged up pane of glass, just barely able to see inside a house of marvels. I shuddered. Stop feeding me.

“You don’t recognize it.”

If a familiar could ever feel disappointment, I felt that emotion course through its undulating body and into mine. The itchiness in my throat became severe.

“This is not a real murder,” my familiar told me. “This is a dream of murder. It will fade, if you do not recognize it.”

I began to panic. I began to have memories from before the city. I really was a detective once. I knew this; it had not been fed to me. All the blood cells, the flesh, the skin, the nerves crawled with this knowledge.

What I cannot solve may kill me.

The red desert dust, the clot of dust in the air, like a stroke about to claim me. I could feel the tube from its body to mine in the back of my head, my neck. I could feel it there, coiled like a question mark. The taste of lime on my tongue.

He should have had a real waistcoat. He should have been somewhere else, this rabbit. Not here.

“You will see,” my familiar said. And then said again, in another way: You will see. And you will be amazed.

For that was when the white rabbit shuddered. That’s when the white rabbit shivered. Shook, coughed, wiggled its ears. Shook. Sat up. Wiped the blood from its mouth.

“I thought you were broken,” I said to it. “I thought you were dead. I thought you did not know what you were.”

The creature turned to me, its eyes brown and deep: as deep as hazelnut in winter, by a fireplace, in a city, but not the city, except I should not have that memory. Was it fed to me? Was it me?

It turned to me, this creature, and said, “You are the broken one. I’ve been sent to solve you.”

“Solve me? But I’m not dead?”

“How do you know?”

II. The Accounts of Others

“Get out of my brain!” he shouted while at some far flung trading post. Dirty shanty town without enough water. Faded grass. A couple of horses looking close to gone. This place would not be here much longer.

“Get out of my brain!” he shouted again.

I didn’t know if he meant the city, or the familiar rising half invisible above him.

The familiar was dead white—it was just drifting in the breeze, in the pale sunlight. The umbilical was like a dry reed. The man could have pulled himself free at any time.

Was I the only one among them who could see it?

I met his wild stare.

“I’ve come to take you back to the city,” I said.

He ignored me. He was already there.


There was nothing to stop me from getting there. I had been walking for a long time, but there was still nothing to stop me. Why should there be? I could either walk or stop walking. There’s no real decision in that, is there?

The desert spread out ahead of me, the city where it had always been: in front of me. It never changed. It always seemed to be in the same place: a dark glitter, a black speck in the corner of my eye. A hint of a scent, taken by the wind. I never made any progress toward it. It never made any progress toward me. You could say we were equals in a way.

Sometimes I passed other people, most of them dead, their flesh flapping off them like little flags. Sometimes I passed no one but the ever-wheeling hawks against the blue disease that was the sky. It did not matter. Walking mattered. Finding water mattered. Finding food mattered. Eventually reaching the city mattered. Not minding the mirages mattered.

The mirages could become intense. A mirage could kill you if you let it. You had to want to let it. You had to want to let it inhabit you. It could take any shape, any form.

Like a familiar. I had heard tales about the familiars. The city blossomed with them, all manifesting in different ways. Manta rays. White rabbits. I heard about a detective once. Just once. But never again.

People in the city had lost the thread of living without familiars. People there had just lost the thread, period. Deep wired into the spinal cord. Sucking into them. Sucking out of them. A city of spines. A city of familiars. A city of people. A city of not-people. Had it created them or had they created it?

Sometimes, as I walked, I didn’t think I ever wanted to reach it, though the blisters on my feet yearn for it. Sometimes, it seemed the promise of bliss.

Walking is good, but walking to change you. Endless walking. When it first occurred to me that the city wasn’t getting closer, I wondered if perhaps I didn’t deserve the city. Sometimes, I thought it didn’t deserve me. Perhaps both were true. But, regardless, there was nothing else to see on the horizon. Nowhere else to head for. It really was the last. The only.

And sometimes I would I would drop to my knees in a wordless rage. How could it keep evading me? How could it make me keep on walking?

And it’s true. I admit it. Eventually, I begged the city to accept me. I stood there and begged for this dot at the corner of my vision to let me get close.

But by then it was too late. By then its absence had become too familiar.


The tube of flesh is quite prophetic. The tube of flesh, the umbilical, is inserted at the base of the neck, although sometimes inserted by mistake toward the top of the head, which can result in unexpected visions. The umbilical feeds into the central nervous system. The nerves of the familiar’s umbilical wind around the nerves in the person’s neck. Above the recipient, the manta ray, the familiar, rises and grows full with the knowledge of the host. It makes itself larger. It elongates. The subject goes into shock, convulses, and becomes limp. Motor control passes over to the familiar, creating a moving yet utilitarian symbiosis. The neck becomes numb. A tingling of lime forms on the tongue. There is no release from this. There should be no release from this. Broken out from their slumber, hundreds are initiated at a time, the tubes glistening and churling in the elision of the steam, the communal need. Thus fitted, all go forth in their splendid ranks. Thus filled, all go forth in their splendid ranks. The eye of the city opens and continues to open, wider and wider, until the eye is the world.

This is what I have been told. I never witnessed it myself. I heard it from a walker. A man who told me that the city is a mote in his eye. I suppose it might not be true. I cannot verify it. I cannot deny it.


A city in her head that could not be true made her wince. A city that she had been searching for her entire life—all across the wastelands that often revealed more of their past than made her comfortable. A city that pulled her out of herself. Something that was more than a thought but less than an idea. A city that became so real to her, in its scraps and tatters, that her own life became the abstraction. She saw glistening spires and sudden terror, and an illumination that nearly blinded her. She saw great black shapes passing through the sky, attaching themselves to more mundane shapes. She saw causeways made of air that bore weight. A thousand images that could not be real, that would never be enough to sustain her in that vision, that delectation, forever on the tip of her tongue, the word she could not say: the name of the city.


I left my lover in the city because I found the city too immense. Now all I had of her was memories. Rosebuds. Rose petals. Dried roses. Flowers found in parks and more dangerous places. The thought of the forests in the south of the city where you could always find the blood soaked remains of a person for whom the familiar had become strange. The visitations in the north. The long palatial glide down the ramp above which gather the umbilicals. The music of the city, that permeates the air, reaches into the stones, the trees, the rich dirt. The fragrance as of a thousand perfumes, the air jagged with the musk of familiars. The clean, strong lines of buildings. The way everything is planned, one can hardly contain it in one’s mind. It’s like sunlight shining on marble that turns to water that ripples with light as seen through a mirror.

I had broken from the city as she could not. I proved stronger than my familiar, and feasted on his memories. Now, in exile, I lie in her arms every night and make love to her. Although she is not here, in these tiny rooms in forgotten towns, she stares at me from the bed, and this comforts me. She has become my familiar.

The city? I remember little of it now. It is like a long caravan disappearing into distance and time. Day by day, my lover conquers more and more of my memory. Perhaps one day, it will seem as if I never lived in the city at all.


A story, passed along in the wastelands as a warning:

Two men are fighting in the dust, in the sand, in the shadow of a mountain. One says the city exists. The other denies this truth. Neither has ever been there. They fight until they both die of exhaustion and thirst. Their bodies decay. Their bones reveal themselves. These bones fall in on each other until each man is the other.

One day, the city rises over them like a new sun. But it is too late.

III. The Detective

“You are the broken one. I’ve been sent to solve you.”

It’s dusk now, when the rabbit tells me this. It’s dusk and there’s no light except the lights of the city at our back. An unimaginable sorrow comes over me. I cannot help it, even with my familiar pumping good thoughts, good images, into me through the umbilical, the cord, the chord, the knot, the fence, the gate, the conduit that reaches him into me.

“No, you’re not dead,” the rabbit says. “And there lies part of the problem.”

“Familiar?” I say. “Familiar?”

But there is no answer. Just the rabbit. Staring me in the eyes. Trying to tell me something.

“Do you want to return to the city?” he asks me.

I turn away to look back at the city. It is as a mote in the corner of my eye.

I tell him, “No. Not really.”

“Then don’t be afraid to leave this behind.”

The rabbit stands over me. His fur is rough, his scent thick. He brings his arms around my head as if in an embrace. There is a slight sound, indescribable, as he detaches my familiar. My familiar detaches. The weight lifts. The tickle in my throat is gone. I cough, cough again.

Above me, in the dark, with no moon, just the afterglow of sunset, my familiar floats, his voice no longer in my head, my mouth, my guts, my guilt. He is taken on the breeze. He is taken from me. Away. Toward the city. I crane my neck to watch him go. I watch him go: a black manta ray drawn to the lights.

I am alone with the rabbit. I am alone. I was sure the rabbit had been created by my familiar, but now I am not so sure. I am frantically searching my memory for some prior experience, some glimmer, some fragment that will help me.

The rabbit’s hand is surprisingly human. He takes my hand in his. He whispers in my ear. And the black waistcoat unwraps itself from his torso and rises, whole and glistening, above his head, plugged into his neck. His familiar’s tube is bifurcated. As he whispers, part of it coils around my own head. It connects. And there is no city. And there is no sand, no thirst. And I am weeping. I can see the girl and the rabbit and the caterpillar and the rest of it. It is no comfort. I am nowhere again, like the first time, walking with the rabbit into the desert, the familiar’s familiar.

By what right should I have achieved this state? By what right should I never solve my case, only to have it solve me?

Wednesday, April 12, 2006


As everyone should know by now, R. Scott Bakker and I have been friends for a long time. We first met near Samarkand in 1987, where he was researching a little-known warrior sect and I was deciphering evidence of a vast body of water where now there naught but desert. It was my hope to prove that cephalopods of a freshwater variety had once claimed the area as their uncontested domain. Oddly, Bakker’s research and mine coincided when he deciphered some long-buried cuneiform about his warrior sect as “squid heads”. At once we decided to split up our findings—he would use the warrior sect angle as the foundation of his nascent series of heroic fantasy novels and I would focus on the consequences of squid when injected into fiction. I believe he thought back then that I’d gotten the better part of the deal, but there seemed no other way to be fair.

A rather fanciful rendering by a passing expert at etchings of my meeting with R. Scott Bakker in the Congo. This particular artist, Buckwaldo Mudthumper III, depicted everything in terms of the missionary David Livingstone’s exploits, alas.

The second time we met, it was on opposite sides of a tribal struggle in the Republic of Congo, about the time Redmond O’Hanlon wrote his classic No Mercy. By the 1990s, the middle of Africa was a political mess. With no choice but to acquiesce, we each at the same time agreed to serve as mercenary muscle for different villages in the interior. So it was that whilst engaged in a fire fight across a damp bit of creek that I saw a familiar face through the scope of my submachine gun and shouted out, “Scott! Is that you? It’s Jeff! Remember the squid?!” Mercifully, he did, as he was at that moment aiming a grenade launcher at me. Our resultant meeting was fortuitous in that we managed to patch things up between both villages. The military force that arose from that encounter was strong enough to bring us to the capital, and then onto a plane secretly chartered by the CIA back to our respective countries for a rather sound debriefing.

I’m afraid our third meeting was anti-climactic. At the 2003 World Fantasy Convention, we were on a panel together about “the death of SF,” a subject we knew nothing about. Instead of talking about it we recalled our meeting with a CIA operative named “Brandy Wine” who told us, while flying back to the West, that several supposedly dead SF writers had been abducted by the CIA and were having their “brain juices” analyzed for any possible future-telling ability applicable to various regional conflicts across the globe. After that, we had a rum-and-coke together, lit up some smuggled Cuban cigars, and closed the night out with a rousing chorus of “Hey Nonny Nonny” from the roof of the fine establishment that housed the convention.

Our recent “tiff” (cooked up by our mutual publicist, I.C. Noureesen) aside, I have not seen Scott since, so I thought it would be a good idea to interview him as to his literary exploits. His fixation with warrior sects has gotten him far indeed, as Publishers Weekly notes:

In the shattering climax to Canadian author Bakker's magnificent fantasy saga (after 2005's The Warrior-Prophet), the Holy War army has finally reached the gates of the holy city of Shimeh. The warrior-prophet, Anasûrimbor Kellhus, learns that the Thousandfold Thought, a great "transition rule" that promises to transform the two warring faiths of Inrithism and Fanimry, offers the only way to bring peace to the world of Eärwa and avoid a Second Apocalypse...A large and varied supporting cast of heroes and scoundrels add further emotional realism. The Prince of Nothing trilogy is a work of unforgettable power.

You can buy his books in the UK and the US

Scott was thoughtful enough to reply via email rather than the stone tablet postcards that have been our little joke on the postal service for the past twenty years (making this process much faster).

R. Scott Bakker Walks the Plank

Why should readers pick up your book as opposed to, say, just about anybody else's book?
The obvious answer is that I get a slice of every dime they spend, whereas if they purchase, say, your books, I don't see a red cent. The not-so-obvious answer is that I could be writing what they're looking for. If your imagination was scarred by Tolkien, yet you feel as though you're 'out-growing' the genre, or otherwise suffering epic fantasy fatigue, then there's a good chance that I have the book for you. I take the EPIC part quite seriously.

Does your book have any socially redeeming qualities? If so, what are they?
Many people seem to think my books are sexist. Some people think them wantonly violent and nihilistic. Others blasphemous. I happen to think they have social value precisely because they provoke people to debate these things. But one of the creepiest facets about getting published is the realization that you really don't control the meaning of your works anymore, that post composition, the writer really becomes just one more reader, one more perspective. This is why people should call me to account on questions of social value. I'm just another interpreter, just as liable to be wrong. And I take risks.

Does your book have any medicinal or mental health value to readers?
I've received correspondance from the world over from people thanking me for the way these books have loosened their bowels. Apparently in Poland, where I'm huge, sales of the Metamucil have plunged 16.7%. These books literally make people shit. Out with the bad, I say.

On the flip side, a lot of people seem to take up smoking after reading them. Here in Canada, where I'm pretty big, the number of illegal 'grow-ops' has increased some 59% since The Darkness That Comes Before was released.

Some shit is good.

Assume your book has been filed under "Ages 8 to 12" in the children's section, perhaps by mistake, perhaps not. How horrified do you imagine a child would be after reading your book, and why? How many years of therapy would the child take to recover from the experience?
Not all trauma involves horror. Kids tend to be pretty stupid. I mean, they don't even know how to drive. You can't even leave them alone without locking them up, or paying someone to guard them. The vast majority of them actually believe in things like 'Santa Claus' or - get this - the 'tooth fairy.' That tells me that they're simply not rational, and if they're not rational, there's no saying how they would react. For all I know they would giggle all the way through my books.

(My wife gets mad at me when I talk like this, but I don't see what the worry is. What are they going to do? Beat me up? Kids are not only stupid, they're also pretty wimpy. I could take 20, maybe 30 of them at least. More if I had weapons.)

But one thing's for sure, even if they laughed, they would never recover. Necrophilic gods. Homosexual barbarians. Masturbating skin-spies. These things would be tattooed into their psyche, so deeply they could end up voting for Ralph Nader when they grow up.

Why don't you write more about cute stuff? Why all the drama?
'Cute,' as they say, is in the eye of the beer holder. Obviously your hand is empty. My books are packed with cuteness. I just use all the murder and mayhem for contrast, you know, to really make it special. I mean, really, what does a flower mean in a floral shop? Graveyards are where all the real work is done - in both senses of the word.

If no one buys your book and you are unable to continue publishing your fiction due to the intense vilification that occurs in the media, what line of work will you go into?

Tuesday, April 11, 2006


Work on the Shriek movie proceeds apace. The script is complete (although I'm sure that some of the dialogue and scenes will change once final shooting commences). In addition, Juha Lindroos has completed the animated storyboard version--it's kind of a rough, low-res version of the film. Lots of stock footage and placeholders, which will be useful for The Church so they can score the film. Once they've done that, Juha will shoot the final footage and combine it with the voiceover, the music, and and dialogue. Right now, it looks like it will top out at around 12 minutes. I'm extremely excited about this project as I see it begin to take shape.

In a few weeks, I'll have some exciting information on how and where the film will debut, in addition to the internet.

BUT, the most exciting news right now is that The Church's new CD Uninvited Like the Clouds comes out April 17th. You can buy it at Cooking Vinyl or you can buy it directly from The Church, with pre-orders signed. I've heard two tracks off the CD, "Space Needle" and "Unified Field" and love them both. I've also heard samples of "Easy" and "Never Before," which are awesome. Sounds like another stellar Church CD. (Scroll down on this site to hear samples.) Here's some info from the Cooking Vinyl site:

It was received, played and produced by Steve Kilbey, Peter Koppes, Tim Powles and Marty Willson-Piper, with select guests, in the summertime, at Spacejunk 1 and Dodgy Sound studios in Sydney.

The Spacejunk sessions largely centred on the random, self-generating process of live interaction that spawned two recent, highly regarded Church albums, After Everything Now This and Forget Yourself. The Dodgy sessions were generally more considered, structured and traditional.

Perhaps as a result, the album's expansive textures and arresting melodies form a kind of bridge between the euphoric pop of the band's fortuitous radio intrusions (see "Almost With You", "Metropolis", "Under the Milky Way") and the ominous, unsettled light of their more kaleidoscopic art-rock trips.

Man, I love this band.


3 sets abs
3 sets bridges (40 each set)
3 sets bench press with barbell (150 lbs--don't have plates for more at home yet!)
3 sets biceps curls (2 30 lb weights)
3 sets forearm curls (2 15 lb weights)
3 sets triceps (2 30 lb weights)
3 sets shoulders (front; 12 lb weights)
3 sets shoulders (side; 12 lb weights)
5-mile walk, brisk


Solaris Books has burst onto the scene with an ambitious but carefully crafted focus and mission. Consultant Editor George Mann of the newly formed Solaris Books was kind enough to answer a few questions about this exciting new enterprise for my blog.

What's the purpose of your new imprint?
There are two answers to that, really. In bold and simple terms, the purpose of SOLARIS is to publish great science fiction and fantasy books, to bring a range of high quality, well written novels and stories to the market. But there is more of an agenda behind the imprint too. For a number of years now, we (myself and Publisher Marc Gascoigne) have seen a gap widening in the publishing industry, between what the major corporate publishers are doing on one hand, and where the reach of the small and independent press ends on the other. In both the US and UK book market, particularly within the SF and fantasy genres, there seems to be little or no room left for the midlist. There are so many fabulous authors out there at the moment who can't get a break, or authors whose sales figures aren't quite high enough to keep their books in print. What we've ended up with is a raft of authors who should be in print, and who aren't, and I'm not just talking about talented newcomers either. Look at the number of well regarded writers who have had critical - and even commercial - acclaim in the past, but who don't have an outlet for their work in the current climate. It may be that their sales figures just aren't quite high enough, or they take two years to write a novel - either way, I think, as readers, that we're missing out. Not only that, but it works both ways too; some writers are 'too prolific' for the mainstream - their editor only wants one book a year, but they're writing two. Again, it's left to the small press to pick up the slack. That isn't to say the small presses aren't doing a wonderful job. A lot of these writers are being picked up by limited run publishers who put out gorgeous editions to a collector's market - but that's just it, it's a collector's market and it can't seem to reach any further than that.The small and independent presses don't have the weight of mass market distribution to back them up. I believe passionately that there's room for some of those books to be published into the wider market, and that's where SOLARIS comes in. We publish simultaneously into both the US and UK markets and we have mass market distribution into book trades in both markets. This allows us to take a few risks - to be confident that we can do the books justice whilst being prepared that we may not reach the dizzy heights of 100,000 copies in the first print run.

How do the authors you've chosen embody your mission statement?
Well, we've just announced our first three titles and I think they all embody our mission statement admirably. Take Ashok Banker as an example. Here's an author who has established himself, particularly in the UK and India, as a writer of epic fantasy, an exceptional talent whose career has really taken off in the last few years. His six-volume Ramayana sequence is a retelling of one of the classic Indian myths and has received a great deal of acclaim from readers and reviewers alike. When we began talking to Ashok about Solaris he came to us with an idea for a vast and epic Space Opera, in the mould of Greg Bear's Forge of God or Peter F. Hamilton's The Reality Dysfunction. For Ashok, this is a major change of pace and style - but the work he's producing is outstanding. We've given him the breathing room to do something different, without taking away from his existing work as a fantasy writer. The result is a book - Iron Gods - that I know Ashok is going to be very proud of. We want people to push the boundaries of their own talent, to see us as people who'll listen to their idea that's a little bit off centre from what they usually do. The book still has to tell a great story, of course - but what I'm getting at is the fact that we don't want people to be constrained by the marketing they may have received in the past.

Jeffrey Thomas - an author I know needs no introduction to you - is an author desperately deserving of a mass market break. He's a fabulous writer, an author of stunning imagination and talent - and his short fiction has been causing waves in the small press for years. Deadstock, his new Punktown novel, is very exciting indeed. It's full of all of Jeffrey's usual quirks and neat ideas, full also, of the colour and vibrancy of his Punktown short stories, and someone should have commissioned him to write it a few years ago. I have no doubt that people are going to go mad for this book.

Natasha Rhodes is an author we've worked with before, on the incredibly successful novelisation of the movie Blade: Trinity, amongst other things. She's another one of those talents whose been hidden for too long, who needed a chance to show people what she can do - and Dante's Girl is that book.

And we're also publishing short stories - anthologies full of new and vibrant fiction from some of the genre's best known - and less well known - names.
At the end of the day, we want people to push boundaries. We want people who've become established and marketed as mass market fantasy writers to show us the SF novel they've always wanted to write, and vice versa. Hopefully people will be able to tell from the sheer passion that we're putting into this project that we really believe that. We're doing it because we feel strongly that these writers should be given a chance to show people what they can do.

How are you different as a publisher from other editors and publishers in the UK?
I think one of our main strengths - and points of difference - comes from the fact that we're both a UK and US publisher at the same time. We buy rights for both territories and then publish simultaneously into both markets, through our excellent distribution partnership with Simon & Schuster in the US and Hachette Books in the UK. This means we get exposure in both markets, directly to the bookshops that can make a real difference. It also means our risks are shared across both markets, so we can be a bit more willing to try something than a mass market publisher in one of those territories may be a little nervous of. We've also got a lot of experience - through our other imprints, Black Library and Black Flame, we've sold over 3 million units of books in the last three years.

One of the great things about Solaris, however, is the close knit group we have working on the range. Aside from Marc Gascoigne and myself we have two very talented Commissioning editors, Christian Dunn and Mark Newton. We tend to work by committee too, if you're talking to one of us, you're talking to all of us, and we all share responsibility for what we buy and publish and what we don't. It's a very healthy atmosphere and it really means each book is getting attention from everyone.

How do you think your prior experiences in the book business helps you as an editor?
I think it's invaluable. Both myself and Mark Newton worked at UK book chain Ottakar's for many, many years and it's given us a real perspective on what the book buyer wants to see. It means we have a commercial sensibility that allows us to market our books to the right people, and also means we know how to get them on book shelves in book stores too. Not only that, but over the ten years I spent working in the book trade, I was exposed to so many different ways of publishing and promoting a book, and so many different authors too. It's had a very positive impact on the list, to be able to call those authors and see if they want to work with us. It's also shown me that if people really care about a book, and if they can pass that passion and enthusiasm on, they can make a book a success. It's about how much time and energy you're prepared to spend backing a book that you really believe in. To me, that's the core of SOLARIS; it's about books that we believe in and are prepared to go out on a limb to promote.

What are your plans for 2007 and beyond?
Well, we're launching in Spring 2007 with a season of five titles, and this will be followed with one or two books a month for the first year. We're looking at some great books at the moment, a real mix of core fantasy and science fiction, as well as some other, more challenging stuff. In a few weeks we hope to announce another few titles and we'll then be in a position to talk to people about the shape of the launch and the books we're going to be promoting in the first part of 2007. Our website will get a massive overhaul. And we'll be talking to more authors at conventions around both the US and UK - so look for us at Eastercon and Worldcon too. The future's very exciting for SOLARIS.

Sunday--added a 9-mile walk along Lake Jackson. Lovely, lovely hike, with some incline.
20 minutes of abs work (crunches, machines, etc.)
Pull down lat - 3 sets at 135 lbs
Upright row - 3 sets at 135 lbs
Incline leg press -
3 sets high at 660 lbs (14 reps each)
3 sets middle at 660 lbs (10 reps each)
3 sets feet together high at 660 lbs (6 reps each)
(each high, middle, together sets done without rest btwn)
followed by (without rest following the last feet together set)
1 set of 12 reps high position at 500 lbs
1 set of 12 reps middle position at 400 lbs
1 set of 12 reps high position at 300 lbs
1 set of 20 reps legs together at 200 lbs
Leg Extension - 3 sets at 200 lbs (one to-exhaustion set after 3rd set at 100 lbs)
Leg Curls - 6 sets at 60 lbs, 3 sets each leg individually (no rest between sets)
Seated plates for calves - 6 sets of 20 reps at 150 lbs (plus leg weight)
Assisted squat - 3 sets of 8 at 250 lbs (30-second rest between sets)
Leg raise for calves - 3 sets, own weight, straight toe, facing in, facing out, 20 reps each
(no rest btwn end of last leg extension and first leg curl; ditto between curl and seated plates, plates and squat, squat and raises)
3-mile jog around track
3 windsprints, 1/12th mile each, to finish
hobble downstairs to collapse

Man, that was a killer leg work-out. Probably the best I've ever had, just in terms of going one right into the other, no more than a minute rest between sets on any one machine. My legs were like spaghetti afterwards. Very satisfying. I skipped the chest stuff because I think I've been lifting too much weight for my shoulders to bear--in terms of lifting the free weights into position. So I'm switching to barbells for bench press for now, and taking a few days off in the meantime. Will strengthen shoulders, etc., in the meantime.

Raj asked if I'd gotten a trainer involved. Actually, a friend who is heavily into weight lifting got me started--showed me the ropes. Then I bought three books on the subject, read those, triangulated info, and came up with a routine that worked for me. At first, it was lower body and back and then on other days, upper body. Now it's full-body for the most part to mix it up.

Late last year I did hire a trainer for four sessions to show me how to use all the machines and possible free weight stuff, so I could mix-and-match better.

In another four weeks, I will switch it up again and do different machines and a few different free weight lifts so my body doesn't get used to things.

When we get back from Europe, I'll hire a nutritionist to get my diet optimum, rehire a trainer for a few sessions to show me a few more things and check my technique, and then start work on the ultimate goal: to be at my optimum weight, diet, and musculature by the time I'm 40. I think that'll be probably mean building more muscle in abs, forearms, shoulders, back especially and getting down to about 205 lbs. We'll see.