Thursday, September 28, 2006


All right. I'm off tomorrow morning for Austin. I'm a guest of the Turkey City Workshop, which sounds like a lot of fun. Looking forward to meeting everyone.

I'm also doing a reading at BookPeople in Austin at 8pm tomorrow night. This will include a showing of the Shriek movie.

Everybody behave while I'm gone.


Evil Monkey: Even me?

He’d brought something with him, on a leash. Finch couldn’t tell what it was. It seemed to have no face. Finch couldn’t tell where it started or ended. He took one look at it and never looked at it again. It smelled like an endless fall off a bridge, under a starless night, into deep water. That was the only way he could describe it later.


There is now a Mike Simanoff Memorial Blog.

The Mike I remember was a smart, funny, active guy who loved reading and was constantly curious. He sent me a monograph on crayfish names while at his job at the library in NYC. It was one of the funniest, coolest things I've ever gotten from anybody. (You'd have to see it to understand why.)

He also did a lot of work for me in my role as editor at Ministry of Whimsy Press. He performed well under pressure and I think he liked doing something involving publishing from the inside looking out.

One of the most memorable nights I can remember was in NYC when I met Mike in person for the first time, along with Gabriel and Michael Cisco and Alan Ruch from the Modern Word. We had a wonderful evening and Gabriel even invented a fake language out of bits of paper.

Ann and I liked to tease Mike because he got that kind of likeably bashful look when you did, but also because he had a quick wit and talent for the quick comeback.

We enjoyed him immensely. It came as a complete shock when he passed away. It didn't seem possible. Or probable. I thought it was some kind of sick joke at first.

It really makes you doubt the fairness and purpose of the universe when something like this happens.

At least we have our memories of Mike and some of his presence online, and although that is not enough, it is something.

I'm not at all religious, but I hope that somehow Mike knows right now how many people loved him and that he was very special. And that he is in our thoughts. He is not forgotten.


Just a reminder that Ann, Matthew Cheney, and I are actively reading for Best American Fantasy--stories published in 2006. Please take a moment to look at the guidelines and send us a story recommendation or encourage a publication or anthology that published your work to send a copy to us (or, if you're the editor of an eligible pub/antho, please send it to us). Note that we also consider online work.

This is the only anthology in the field with rotating editors. I think this is very important to keeping things fresh and is at least one reason you should consider supporting this effort with your recommendations and by buying it when it comes out.

Not to mention that we should have a substantially different list of stories from the other year's bests.


Wednesday, September 27, 2006


Tomorrow night (Thursday night) at 9pm, the Clarion Foundation Trustees will host a live chat about the workshop's move to San Diego. For anyone interested in the reasoning behind the move, interested in attending, or curious about Clarion in general, this is a great opportunity to "listen in" and ask questions.

There's more information here. And you can get a guest password from webmaster at . I'll be there, barring anything unforeseen.



Jeff: How's it going.

Evil Monkey: Fine.

Jeff: Anything new.

Evil Monkey: Just contemplating heroism.

Jeff: Okay...

Evil Monkey: Is flying a plane courageous if you're a pilot?

Jeff: Er, no.

Evil Monkey: Is making a cabinet courageous if you're a carpenter?

Jeff: I guess it depends on the context. Is he balanced over a gaping abyss and being pursued by ex-Nazis?

Evil Monkey: No.

Jeff: Then no.

Evil Monkey: Is it courageous to make a sculpture if you're a sculptor?

Jeff: Are you going anywhere with this?

Evil Monkey: Is it courageous to blow up a balloon if you work at the circus blowing up balloons?

Jeff: Now you're just being ridiculous.

Evil Monkey: Is it courageous to light yourself on fire if you're a pyro?

Jeff: Shut up.

Evil Monkey: Is it courageous to light your own farts if you're a fart lighter?

Jeff: ....

Evil Monkey: is it courageous to make snarky remarks if you're the insane mental creation of someone made just to do that?

Jeff: Yes. I think so. I give up. I take back what I said earlier. Writing is a heroic act.

Evil Monkey: Jeff, just not allowing our constituent atoms to go their separate ways is courageous. Just getting up in the morning and having a cup of coffee is courageous.

Jeff: That strikes me now as an act of extraordinary valor.

Evil Monkey: Jeff, there are a million courageous writers out there, putting words down on paper despite life's best attempts to stop them. People turning their personal crises and experience into the stuff of dreams. Don't dent those dreams. Don't undermine that heroism.

Jeff: Yessir. Permission to resume writing. Sir.

Evil Monkey: Go to it, you hero. And dig up some shit about your parents' divorce while you're at it and stuff it in there.

Jeff: Will do.

Evil Monkey: You big fat hero you!

Jeff: You big fluffy monkey!

Evil Monkey: C'mere and give me a hug.

Jeff: No, you c'mere and give me a hug.

Evil Monkey: Okay, so maybe we won't hug. But you're a hero, you!

Jeff: Oh yes I am!

Evil Monkey: Now you go do what heroes do--go sit at a desk and type!

Jeff: Will do!


Since I haven't done a music post for awhile, I thought I'd post a list of the songs I've got on my "Appogiatura of John Finch" playlist. "Appog" is gettin' so long I need something like this to keep the right mood.

It's one thing I love about itunes, being able to so easily mix-and-match what I want. Some of this is old stuff, but some of this is new, from this year.

Usually, I shuffle it all up, which works nicely, since the Ulysses' Gaze soundtrack has a lot of tracks and spread across the entire list provides a weird kind of continuity.


Afghan Whigs

The Temple
Dedicate It
Black Love
Going to Town

The Auteurs

Now I’m a Cowboy
A Sister Like You
Underground Movies


Lazy Files
Static/Diamond Bollocks

The Black Heart Procession

The Spell
The Spell


Trailer Park


Feast of Wire
Sunken Waltz
Black Heart
Close Behind
Woven Birds
The Book and the Canal


Play Dead

The Church

Forget Yourself
Nothing Seeker

The Sexual Act

Louisiana (Single CD)

Shriek Movie Soundtrack (working titles)
Calm Before Storm
Intense Build
Mild Tension
Psycho Tension Build


No Kind of Life

I’d Like to Hurt You


Kerosene Hat
Take Me (Back) To You

Darker My Love

Darker My Love
Helium Heels

The Dears

Protest – EP
Heaven, Have Mercy On Us
Summer of Protest

Death Cab for Cutie

Something About Airplanes
President of What?

The Delgados

Universal Audio
Keep On Breathing

Echo & the Bunnymen

Ocean Rain
The Killing Moon


The Black Magic Show
The Lunatic

Eleni Karaindrou & Kim Kashkashian

Soundtrack to Ulysses’ Gaze
[entire CD]

Hearts & Daggers

The Future Sound of London

The Isness
The Lovers
Goodbye Sky (Reprise)

Hotel Lights

Hotel Lights
You Come and I Go

I Am Kloot

I Am Kloot
From Your Favourite Sky


Turn On the Bright Lights


Someone’s Got It In For Me

Pleased to Meet You
Alaskan Pipeline

Wah Wah (with Brian Eno)
Hammer Strings

Joe Henry

Sampler CD

Justin Sullivan

Navigating by the Stars
Navigating by the Stars


Witching Hour

Lloyd Cole

Bad Vibes
Fall Together

Music in a Foreign Language
My Other Life
People Ain’t No Good (Nick Cave cover)

The Long Winters

The Commander Thinks Aloud

Low Skies

The Bed
Down Below Him

Magnolia Electric Company

Trials and Errors
Almost Was Good Enough

Matt Keating

(I Thought I Heard My) Head Explode

The Murder City Devils

The Murder City Devils
Boom Swagger Boom


Stockholm Syndrome

Live Radio
Knights of Cydonia (crazy town live version from their site)

Origin of Symmetry
Space Dementia

Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds

B-Sides and Rarities Volume III
She’s Leaving You

Henry’s Dream
Loom of the Land

Let Love In
Ain’t Gonna Rain No More

No More Shall We Part
And No More Shall We Part
Oh My Lord
The Sorrowful Wife

The Good Son
The Good Son
Sorrow’s Child

The Proposition (with Warren Ellis)
The Proposition #1
Road to Banyon
Gun Thing

Over the Rhine

Films for Radio
The World Can Wait
Give Me Strength


Post Blue

Pleasure Forever

Pleasure Forever
Gideon & Goliath
Meet Me In Eternity
Curtain Call for a Whispering Ghost


OK Computer
Exit Music (For a Film)



The Refo:mation (part of The Church)

Pharmakoi/Distance-Crunching Honchos...
All See It Now

Richard Barone

Cool Blue Halo
Flew a Falcon
Sweet Blue Cage

Robbers On High Street

Fine Lines EP
Hot Sluts (Say I Love You)
A Night At Star Castle
How It Falls Apart

Scott Walker

The Drift
Cossacks Are

Songs: Ohia

Ghost Tropic
The Body Burned Away
Ghost Tropic
Not Just a Ghost’s Heart


Girls Can Tell
Everything Hits at Once
Believing Is Art
The Way We Get By


A City By the Light Divided
Arc-Lamps, Signal Flares
Autumn Leaves Revisited


Wish You Away

Tim Booth

Money God
Down to the Sea

Viva Voce

Lovers, Lead the Way!
Yr Epic Heart

Willard Grant Conspiracy & Telefunk

In the Fishtank 8
Dig a Hole in the Meadow

Wolf Parade

Apologies to the Queen Mary
Modern World

"You have a message," Gustat said. A chill spread up Finch’s back. The ways a gray cap could send a message were numerous and unnerving. They seemed to delight in more macabre methods of communication. Once a dead cat they’d reanimated briefly using fungal technology had delivered a message to Kanners in rhyming couplets; he’d not been the same for months. Another time, a mushroom had sidled onto Dapple’s desk and turned itself inside out, revealing the message.


I didn't say it--they did.

A new comic strip series that you can access here.

Honestly, I think you deserve hot tea and a scone if you don't read me.


Tuesday, September 26, 2006


Erin Drew Kennedy, my stepdaughter, turned 21 earlier this month. Here's a recent photo of her with her boyfriend John Gustat (a member of the band County Hell). As I mentioned in a post a few months ago, their baby is due November 28th.

Erin and I have had some grand adventures, including being thrown out of a Chucky Cheese because one of her friends kicked the giant rat in the nuts. I also have fond memories of miniature golf. The first time I ever took her to miniature golf (she must have been 8 or 9), I showed her the correct stance and told her to hit the ball firmly but not too hard. As soon as I said that, she got that look on her face. That half devilish, half mischief-making look, and took a wild hard swing at the ball. It darted off the tee, off a tree, and directly into the hole. "Like that?" she said. "Yes, just like that," I deadpanned.

Not to mention, the incident of the Hannukah Bear.

Just the other day, I asked her, "What're you reading?"

Erin: "Nabokov's King, Queen, Knave."

Me: "That's cool."

Me thinking: That's the fifth Nabokov in the last year. We must've done something right.

For her birthday, we gave her a video camera so she can have something to record the baby with and three books: Murakami's The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle (I think she's going to love Murakami) and both The House of Leaves and Only Revolutions by Danielewski.


Sometimes the overlay of reality seemed a sham, and he was certain that one day he would turn a corner on some small, rubble-strewn street, or pass through an archway into a courtyard, and that other, lost world would be waiting for him.

Monday, September 25, 2006


Generated here.



Sunday, September 24, 2006


We just watched the end of season 2.0 of Battlestar Galactica...oh my gawd. No one in town has 2.5, disc 1. Damn them all! Damn them all to somewhere nasty!


UPDATE 9:12 pm: After driving all over town, we finally have in our possession the entire season 2.5. Thank the lords of Kobol.

Saturday, September 23, 2006


A good morning of writing and then I meant to watch some football, but first just one episode of season 2 of Battlestar Galactica. Then on with the pigskin. But no--those fraking bastards have to make every single frakin' episode a cliffhanger. Oh my gawd--Adama's ----. The ----- is divided. The -------- is in the b---. AND THERE ARE BABY FACTORIES EVERYWHERE. And what's that idiot on Kobol (sic) think he's doing attacking five of those frakin' cylons.

Well, shit, folks, before I know it, it's 9pm and I haven't watched a lick of football.

This is one of the best dramas I can remember watching.



Er, 'cause you know I haven't done enough interviews this year...

UPDATE: The first deadline for the Clarion auction has passed and the Ambergris item has gone for $250. James Crossley is the winner, on behalf of his son, Jasper Marlowe Anthony Crossley-Blasio. For the current story, that will translate into the Marlowe-Crossley Effect and for the two future Ambergris novels, into much more, including at least one mention of the full name. I'm happy to have such a rich name to work with. :)

There's about an hour and a half remaining on the Clarion auction VanderMeer item: namely, embedding you into the Ambergris milieu.

In other news, I am definitely doing two new monthly columns.

The first will be a comics/graphic novel column for Bookslut called Smacky For You. In the first installment, I review Alan Moore's Lost Girls, A.L.I.E.E.E.N. by Lewis Trondheim, and Rumo by Walter Moers, in addition to talking about the Indian comics of my youth.

The second column will be about SF/F/H for SF Site and it is tentatively entitled Adventures in the Ink Trade. It will have a video component most of the time, in addition to traditional print interviews with people like Jonathan Strahan, mini book reviews, and commentary on "issues of the day" as they say. It will debut November 1.

I'm not getting paid for either column and I'll be doing each one for a year, at which point both sides will re-evaluate the value and quality before going forward.

So, I'm not getting paid and yet I'm going to be spending about 8 to 10 hours a month writing these columns. Am I nuts? No, I'm not nuts. I'm doing the comics column because I love comics and I'm passionate about them. I'm doing the SF Site column because I know and love genre fiction, and I think doing a monthly column will help me focus more of my enthusiasms into a single and more coherent focus than at present. Which isn't to say I won't be doing blog entries, but you'll be more likely to find book recommendations and other things of that nature in the SF Site column.

I also feel that with the loss of Emerald City and the sometimes heated discussion about reviewing in general on the internet that it's a good time to harness some of my blawg energy in a more public forum.


At night, only half the street lamps in Ambergris worked, but all across the skyline phosphorescence dripped and bled and hazed in and hazed out again. Sometimes, a cloud of vermillion spores would form in mid-air and settle down over a building, stretching across its bricks or wood or stone like a second skin, before moving on or dissipating. In one extreme case, Finch had seen the spores take on the form of a huge, bloated green monster with spiraling red eyes. It had bellowed and dived down into a neighborhood to the north, smashing itself into motes against the ground.

Friday, September 22, 2006


Ain't that a thrill? (That one's for you, Emma.)

More on the Portland event on the Shriek movie blog.


Strange things sometimes flew between the two towers, and sometimes the sky there was not the same color. Sometimes, during the day, a night sky with unfamiliar stars hung like a draped cloth between those towers. Seeing something like that too many times altered you. He didn’t ever want it to become ordinary.


That's right. I love Scott Eagle.

Why doesn't this guy have more people wanting book covers from him?!?!


First off, John Joseph Adams has interviewed Ann and me for SF Wire about the pirate antho. Please note--we will be reading for this anthology in November through February. We'll have guidelines up soon and we're perfectly happy receiving electronic submissions. No muss no fuss.

Secondly, Jay Lake, Daniel Abraham, and I (under the moniker The Three Tor-eadors) will be hosting a con suite party at World Fantasy on that Saturday night, after the World Fantasy Convention. There will be booze. There will be food. There will be fun and amazing stuff.

Third, all of the audio and video stuff on the Shriek site will be back up and running by the weekend. My apologies--or, rather, streamloader's apologies--for the screw up. Also, I've been interviewed for what should be a national NPR broadcast and apparently Rain Taxi will also be doing an interview.

Fourth, I'll be going to Austin for the Turkey City Workshop next weekend. I'm also doing a reading with a showing of the Shriek film at BookPeople at 8pm on Friday. (Also, don't forget about Think Galactic's Tuesday showing of the film in Chicago.)

Fifth, the Gainesville reading Oct. 8 has been postponed. It turns out that's homecoming weekend and that's just too much competition.

Sixth, more Shriek movie showing reports will be posted in the next week, along with Europe video stuff.

Seventh, the Shriek book events for Tallahassee will include a Q&A with novelist and Tallahassee city commissioner Mark Mustian at Borders on Sat. Oct. 21 in the afternoon AND an amazingly cool party/movie showing/art exhibit/freebie giveaways/book reading event at 621 Gallery on Sun. Oct. 22 from 5pm to 8pm, with beer, wine, food, etc. More on that soon.



Cat Valente's first book from Bantam is due shortly and I can't wait to get my hands on it. The other plans for it, including music, sound really cool, too.


Wednesday, September 20, 2006


NOTE: The Clarion auction is still ongoing and you can become a fixture in Ambergris if you win the VanderBid. Two days left!

Sometimes it's important to change your environment to get past a problem in fiction, so last night instead of working at home, we drove to Anthony's and while Ann went on to a book club meeting I sat and worked at a table on the balcony outside, looking out over the street below. Crown Royal Reserve with a good cigar got the juices flowing, especially with the new Kasabian blasting in my iPOD (great stuff!).

What was the problem? Figuring out the relationships between a couple of characters. Figuring out the tone of conversation between a man and a woman. Figuring out who the interrogator was in one anonymous scene. And all of it, between the magical hours of 7 and 9 pm, became clear to me. And when I "woke up" so to speak around 9:30, there were 20 pages of scenes, half-scenes, and contextual notes all waiting for me.

Of course I was thinking it through the whole time--I wasn't truly absent--but I'd also put myself in a place where I could relax and be receptive to both my conscious and subconscious mind. Strange bits of connectivity floated into view. Odd but beautiful images materialized in front of me. Situations and details from the European trip that pertained to the story came into view without any of the extraneous context. I could see all the way down the long corridor of the story, with its many adjoining rooms and floors. The structure was as crystalline and insanely gorgeous as any real building.

It was one of those incredibly intense and sublime writing sessions that reminds you why you write: because the act of writing is pleasurable. Because when you come out of one of those writing jags, when you come out of the trance state, you regain briefly the sense of being personally connected to every cell in the body you inhabit and that body is connected to everything around you. In short, you feel like part of some immortal community. Or maybe it's just selfish euphoria, but still...

Later, looking over the notes, I saw that the waitress had come by and asked if I'd care for a mushroom appetizer and even that short exchange had become transformed into dialogue in the story...and it fit perfectly.


Tuesday, September 19, 2006


It appears that today at least Amazon is offering Shriek in hardcover and City in the Bantam trade paper for $27.50!! If anyone's interested.

I'm buried in "The Appogiatura of John Finch", an Ambergris story I thought was going to be about 7,000 words but is probably going to top out between 15,000 and 30,000 words. So sorry for delays to posting and delays to responding to email. Well, not too freakin' sorry. This is the first fiction I've written this year--and it feels great!!!


Evil Monkey: I love fictions like this.

Jeff: Hey, how do you know it's fiction.

Evil Monkey: It might be true, but it reads like fiction.

Jeff: Do you think HE wrote it himself?

Evil Monkey: "Tiny but hostile". Puffery. Cajolery. This is the most heated little lawsuit I've seen, and I've had my share.

Jeff: Yeah, you're right.

Evil Monkey: Very entertaining.

Jeff: Really sad.

Evil Monkey: Entertaining.

Jeff: Sad.

Evil Monkey: Entertaining.

Jeff: Sad.

Evil Monkey: Sad-taining then?

Jeff: Just sad.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Wow. Just saw the mini-series and the first four episodes after that. That mini-series has to be as close to perfect as you can get. Can the little girl on the botanical ship and I think it is perfect.

I know I'm late to this, Can't recommend this enough. Makes the Star Wars movies and the Star Trek movies look like crap, in my opinion.


Friday, September 15, 2006


Dear People:

I owe some of you emails. I owe some of you reads of manuscripts--novels, short stories, etc. Some of you I owe other things. None of you are going to get any of them, for the most part, this weekend, alas, and possibly into next week. I'm heavily into writing a new Ambergris story and since I've written no fiction for many months, this is a Very Good Thing since it means I will not go crazy after all and be found muttering to myself in the streets.

So, I'm going silent for awhile. Never fear, Romania Road Trips, Svankmejer searches, and much more is forthcoming on this blog.

And don't forget the Clarion auction.



P.S. I deleted the long-ass questionnaire because no one was responding to it except negatively.

P.P.S. I'm losing out to Starbuck in a Finn poll. Apparently, Jukka tells me, Many are saying you're too "sweet" and "cuddly" and -dare I say it? - "Fluffy!" in order to beat up a starship pilot. Yes, well, Ann says, "this is how you disarm people. You make them think you're sweet and then you go in for the kill. It makes you even more dangerous." Well, perhaps.


Many thanks to Zoran Zivkovic guest blogging this week in honor of his new book launch. Zoran also has sent me his publishing schedule for the next year:

Here is the list of the foreign editions of my books for the period 2006-2008. Quite frankly, I doubt that such an abundance could ever repeat itself in the future, although one has to be an optimist...

USA: Seven Touches of Music (2006), Steps through the Mist (2007) and Impossible Encounters (2008) — all Aio Publishing editions.

UK: Impossible Stories (2006), Twelve Collections and the Teashop (2006), The Bridge (2007), The Writer / The Book / The Reader (2008) and Impossible Stories 2 (2008) — all PS Publishing editions.

Germany: Hidden Camera (2008, Deutscher Taschenbuch Verlag)

Portugal: The Book (2006, Cavalo de Ferro)

Denmark: The Library (2006, Tiderne Skifter)

Greece: The Book (2006, Kedros)

Turkey: The Library (2006) and Time Gifts (2006) - both Istiklal editions.

Slovenia: The Fourth Circle (2006, Blodnjak)

South Korea: The Fourth Circle (2006), Time Gifts (2007) and The Writer (2007) - all Munidang editions.

Bulgaria: Impossible Stories (2007, Infodar)

The list, of course, is not concluded. I expect to add to it a few more countries/editions before the end of the year...

Everyone should check out Seven Touches of Music, and the others.



I started my "Polaris" adventure back in 1982 — out of spite, you might say. At that time Yugoslavia still had a communist regime, although in many ways it was positive, unlike the Eastern Bloc countries. I worked in a state-owned publishing house—there were no privately owned ones yet—editing the SF series "Centaur."

One of the new titles I proposed that year, as part of my editorial job, was the forthcoming Arthur C. Clarke's 2010: Odyssey Two, the long-awaited sequel to the famous 2001: A Space Odyssey. It was accepted by the editorial board, all right, but I was told that it could come out only in about a year and a half.

Being much younger at that time, I was also proportionally more impatient. A year and a half seemed like an eternity. Why wait that long when it could be done in a mere three months? With some luck, we might even have had it out before the original English language edition.

Other members of the editorial board remained unimpressed by my arguments and impatience. I was so frustrated by their indifference that I decided to do something revolutionary. I would bring it out myself! And quite legally, by the way.

There was a hole in the law. I couldn't found a privately-owned publishing house, but I could publish "an artistic work" of my own, as it was formally defined. It referred primarily to writers' own prose work, but also included translations.

Working frantically, I translated 2010 in 29 days. It took another month and a half to publish the book. It was quite an achievement, considering that all happened in the pre-computer era, with typewriters and printing facilities just slightly more sophisticated than Gutenberg's.

By local standards, 2010 was a spectacular success. Thanks to Clarke's enormous popularity, but also, to some minor extent, to a certain aura created around the first independent edition in a communist country, more than five thousand copies were sold in advance and twice that many after the book appeared.

I had no idea that it was only the beginning. But then I started to get literally hundreds of letters (there were no emails yet) in which my former subscribers urged me (even threatened me!) to continue. And so I did. About six months later the second "Polaris" book came out — Isaac Asimov's Foundation's Edge.

The rest is history.

In the next 18 years I published nearly 150 titles, mostly by classical American, British and European authors. "Polaris" became the longest SF series in this part of the world. I added two more series to my programs: "Rune" (fantasy) and "Sphinx" (popular science). The absolute best-seller in all three categories was, surprisingly enough, not an SF or fantasy work, but Stephen Hawking's A Brief History of Time.

"Polaris'" days of prosperity ended in 1991 when the former Yugoslavia disintegrated in a civil war. It was inevitable that my publishing atelier would suffer in a greatly diminished market with a suddenly impoverished population. During the 1990s the "Polaris" average print-run dropped to only 500 copies, but only rarely did I manage to sell more than 250.

In 2001, when I decided that the time had come to cancel "Polaris", it was partly due to these unfortunate circumstances, but also because I wanted to devote my time to writing. I had already entered my fifties and wasn't vigorous enough any more to run a parallel slalom: to be a publisher and an author at the same time. I had to sacrifice one of them and I decided that there were no more challenges for me in the publishing business. In the art of writing, however, there were still a few goals to achieve...

If you happen to wonder about the last book that appeared in "Polaris," here is the answer: Jeff VanderMeer's Dradin in Love.


I have finally revealed all--here, On Another Life.

2. If an autographed and vacuum-sealed copy of your book had been pinned in place of the Vitruvian Man on the Voyager space probe's paneling, what sort of message would we be sending extraterrestrial intelligences about the human race? What action, if any, might they take in response?

What you have to understand is that the entire space program is an elaborate PR hoax perpetrated upon the world's public to distract them from urgent Earth-based problems of lack of resources, overpopulation, and global warming. We are made to feel as if there is some "out there" to which we might eventually travel if conditions on our planet become too difficult. Or, we are given the feeling that there are peoples out there--aliens if you will--who might come rescue us or in some way change our lot on this planet.

Unfortunately, the truth is that a vast black barrier surrounds the Earth at approximately 100,000 miles beyond the Earth's atmosphere. The sun, the moon, and the stars all occur before or at this barrier, much as if a scale model of a solar system (and galaxy) had been built around us. The truth is, the sun does not heat the Earth. Nor does the Moon cause the tides. It is all an artificial construct and the scientists in the know have no clue as to who or what created us or why we are stuck behind this barrier. It's too frightening to think about, and that, again, is why we have all of these distractions, like the so-called space program. Which is more of an inner-space program.

Thursday, September 14, 2006


If anyone has wondered why I haven't emailed them or been that responsive the last few days, it's because I've been reading the advance galleys of Dan Simmons' new novel, The Terror (Jan. 2007). Telling the story of a possibly doomed arctic expedition in the 1800s, this is possibly one of the most harrowing, beautifully (and carefully) written, strangest, and just plain brilliant novels I've read in a very long time. It's one of those books that qualifies as a page-turner and a serious read that you want to savor. Unfortunately, the page-turner impulse won out over savor over the last hundred pages and I wound up finishing it last night in a fever-haze of exhaustion and sleepiness, not unlike (but nowhere close to the severity of) the condition of the trapped crews whose various fates are detailed in the novel.

Here's the description from Amazon:

The bestselling author of Ilium and Olympos transforms the true story of a legendary Arctic expedition into a thriller worthy of Stephen King or Patrick O'Brian. Their captain's insane vision of a Northwest Passage has kept the crewmen of The Terror trapped in Arctic ice for two years without a thaw. But the real threat to their survival isn't the ever-shifting landscape of white, the provisions that have turned to poison before they open them, or the ship slowly buckling in the grip of the frozen ocean. The real threat is whatever is out in the frigid darkness, stalking their ship, snatching one seaman at a time or whole crews, leaving bodies mangled horribly or missing forever. Captain Crozier takes over the expedition after the creature kills its original leader, Sir John Franklin. Every day the dwindling crew becomes more deranged and mutinous, until Crozier begins to fear there is no escape from an ever-more-inconceivable nightmare.

I have to admit to not reading Simmons after The Hollow Man, which I thought was lazy in its level of detail. But The Terror is one of those books that thrives on specific detail without it getting in the way of the plot, and makes me want to go back to some of his recent novels and re-try him.

There's much that's heart-rending, horrifying, and just plain uplifting in a grim way as Simmons' details his characters' struggle to survive. But there are also scenes of strange fever dreams, of possible second sight, of bizarre Masques held on the ice...well, let's just say that I could see this becoming a bestseller, but there's a darkness and an utter strangeness at the core of the book that distinguishes it from the run-of-the-mill and makes it top-notch. I'm still trying to absorb the book, but I'm afraid right now it's absorbed me.

A few interesting links.

Clare Dudman has interviewed Peter Wild, the mastermind behind

Tessa Kum has had a crappy flight, which makes for an entertaining read.

Grumpy Old Bookman is very interesting. I don't always agree. Like, it's fine if he doesn't like Kelly Link's work--everyone's entitled to an opinion--but postulating that he doesn't like it because she's attended university writing workshops is stupid. Still, this is often cogent and lively stuff.

As is this new forum for fantasy fiction discussion is really great.



At the beginning of the year I did what I usually do at that time: I reread some of the books that deserve to be read more than once. This seems to be the best way to start a new reading season: I am certain I won't be disappointed.

I spent the first two and a half months of the year rereading, for the sixth time in a quarter of a century, if I recall correctly, Milan Kundera's novels and story collections. Time and again, it was a very instructive reading for a fellow writer. The more often I am in the literary company of Kundera, the more I admire his unique prose talent, his colossal erudition, particularly when it comes to music, and his truly deep insights into various aspects of ambiguous human nature. An attentive author can always learn a great deal from this master.

(Another favorite of mine among Czech writers is, of course, the great classic—Jaroslav Hasek. His masterpiece The Good Soldier Svejk: And His Fortunes in the World War is my regular annual read. Kundera's books are full of referential links to Svejk, particularly his—in my humble opinion—best work, The Farewell Waltz.)

Next came another reread. I was privileged enough to read Tamar Yellin's brilliant collection Kafka in Brontëland and other stories in the manuscript form. Now that the book is finally out I greatly enjoyed once again Tamar's subtle, profound, melancholy storytelling. I am sure it will soon get the recognition it greatly deserves in the highest literary circles.

Prior to this year I had the chance to read only one of Orhan Pamuk's books: The White Castle. Two other novels by Pamuk appeared recently, almost simultaneously, in the Serbian translation: My Name is Red and The New Life. The White Castle made it quite clear to me why Pamuk is considered the greatest Turkish contemporary writer. Now, after having read these two other books, I have no doubt whatsoever: he is one of the most prominent world authors of our times. It is not by chance that he won numerous Turkish and international literary awards, the "International IMPAC Literary Award" being maybe the most important among them.

Whoever suffers the illusion that there is nothing beyond the Western world and its values should read Pamuk's masterpiece My Name is Red in order to get powerfully disillusioned. This superb novel about how the Renaissance almost took root in Ottoman Turkey is a richly woven tapestry, a luxurious fresco of a world and time many of us are totally and arrogantly ignorant about. And yet precisely that world and that period happen to be fertile ground for creating great literature.

The same compliments can be given to Haruki Murakami's book South of the Border, West of the Sun. There are no fantastical elements in it and it is therefore not typical of Murakami's opus, yet this novel about the protagonist's tragic inability to reach and sustain happiness is a genuine delight.

My most recent read, The King Amaz'D: A Chronicle by the late Spanish writer Gonzalo Torrente Ballestar, is different in tone and more reminiscent of Cervantes and Hasek. The theme of this brilliant book is about what happens when a seventeenth century Spanish monarch courageously decides, contrary to all decent expectations, to see his queen nude and how the Devil himself becomes involved in this delicate theological issue. I strongly recommend it if you happen to be fond of a healthy, intellectual laugh...

The last but not least is a debut novel I also very much enjoyed: The Steam Magnate by Dana Copithorne, a young Canadian author. I am quite certain Dana can count on a prosperous literary future.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006


Er, a more specific link, even...

UPDATE/CLARIFICATION: The main Clarion Auction page is here. Because I got my entry in late, it is not part of the main Clarion Auction, although the monies will go to Clarion (and it's up to $101.00 bid already). There are many fine, cool things up for bid. Since mine isn't listed there, if you do mention the auction, please also mention the direct listing for my item or people won't see it.

The listing (scroll down) for what I'm offering is now up. Please bid early and often. Here's the description again:

The winner of this auction will have his or her name incorporated into the next Ambergris story (or failing that, the next novel) that I'm currently working on, but not as a character per se. Instead, the person will be the creator of some object, social institution, or other cultural meme that will reverberate throughout the future history of my city of Ambergris.

For example, John Manzikert became the name of a type of automobile, The Manzikert, and a cult, the Manziists. Or, for another example, my agent, Howard Morhaim, became the founder of the Morhaim Museum.

Therefore, you will be immortalized (dragged through the dirt?) in the history of Ambergris and will no doubt continue to appear in future work. In addition, I will send you a signed copy of the manuscript of the story or novel the name first appears in, and a copy of the publication it appears in (or book, if the novel) as well.

It's for a good cause and I'll put your name to devilishly good use, so...


Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Well, it appears that The Church will release the full 50 minutes of Shriek movie music on a CD. Not sure of the timing yet, but we're going to keep in close contact to work out the details. Pretty exciting...


ZORAN ZIVKOVIC: Afterword to Fourth Circle

When we published Zoran's The Fourth Circle through the Ministry of Whimsy (Night Shade incarnation), Zoran provided this afterword that gives interesting insight into the difficulties facing foreign language authors trying to break in to the English-speaking markets.



I was 45 when I wrote The Fourth Circle, back in 1993. By that time, I was the author of several books dealing in various ways with science fiction, all of them non-fiction. My sole previous excursions into the realm of fiction writing were a play, "Project Lyre," and a short story—nothing worth mentioning, although "Project Lyre" was published in a Japanese magazine.

Why would a scholar, with an MA and a PhD in science fiction, suddenly decide to turn to fiction writing, deep into middle age?

When, in 1990, after an entire decade of truly hard labor, I published The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction, a two-volume set so large and heavy it could almost have been used as a blunt instrument, I realized a simple fact: there were no more challenges for me in that direction. Indeed, what goal more ambitious could I have set for myself, as a writer of non-fiction, than an encyclopaedia?

Yet I was intellectually far too young for retirement. The solution to the problem was to find a new challenge elsewhere, outside of non-fiction writing. One possibility was to embark on an academic career. I could have accepted an offer to deliver a course on the history and theory of SF genre for the Department of Comparative Literature, Faculty of Philology at the University of Belgrade. I declined the position, however, deciding that it wouldn't be very different from early retirement.

The key factor which led me to try my skill at fiction writing was my editorial experience. In 1982 I founded "Polaris," one of the first privately owned publishing houses in the former communist countries. "Polaris" was basically a one-man show. I performed almost all the duties, from selecting titles to packaging copies to be sent to subscribers. I didn't mind this diversity, until one of the duties finally became a burden too heavy for my increasingly older shoulders.

Editing translations and original texts was never a job I much liked. It's very time consuming and largely unrewarding. Maybe I wouldn't have found it so difficult to do, if the works I dealt with hadn't seemed to me of poorer and poorer literary quality. It was inevitable that I would eventually ask myself a fundamental question. Why was I wasting my two most precious commodities—time and a certain talent—to contribute to the promotion of other writers, when I could invest them in my own writing? I could surely write better than the majority of authors I published in "Polaris." There was a certain arrogance in this stance, I don't deny it, but without it I probably would never have dared to launch myself into the turbulent sea of fiction writing.

Although rather voluminous, The Fourth Circle was written in less than four months in early 1993 while a civil war was in full swing all around me. It was a very peculiar experience, quite different from the writing of any of my non-fiction books, when I knew precisely what I wanted to do and how to do it. In the case of my first novel, there was no plan, no preconception whatsoever. Although it might sound incredible, when I typed on my monitor the simplest possible first sentence—The Circle.—I hadn't the slightest idea what would follow.

But somewhere beneath my conscious level, quite unknown to my rational self, a critical mass was gathering. My knowledge of literature in general and science fiction in particular, accumulated over previous decades, gradually transformed into a new quality. As soon as it had a chance to be released, it erupted almost like a volcano. Actually, the eruption would probably have been even stronger, had it not faced an unexpected technical obstacle: the velocity of my typing. I type, namely, (mis)using only my right hand index finger, which, after many years of such abuse, has become rather thicker and more gnarled than its left hand counterpart.
What I went through at that time was almost a personality-split. I was simultaneously a writer, mostly unconscious of what he was doing, and a reader more and more impatient due to the slowness of the writer's typing. It became particularly frustrating during the closing chapters of The Fourth Circle, the Sherlock Holmes pastiche, when I could hardly wait to see whether and how several seemingly unrelated structural threads would eventually merge to form a consistent tapestry.

In the end, the reader was rather satisfied, although somewhat reluctant and embarrassed to state it openly, due to his very close ties with the writer. The writer, for his part, was also pleased, although he remained as blissfully ignorant of what was happening as he had been in the beginning. Yet, he learned maybe the most important lesson about the holy mystery of artistic creativity: one doesn't have to know exactly how something functions as long as it functions.
The Fourth Circle was originally published in late December 1993. The following Spring it won a prestigious Serbian literary award—"Miloš Crnjanski." Curiously enough, it was a mainstream, not generic, award. The unquestionable SF elements in my novel were neglected, purposefully or not. It was primarily credited for its "literary values." One eminent critic hailed it as "a postmodern rhapsody."
I should have been more than satisfied. My first foray into literature had already proven quite a success. Alas, the limitations of that success were all too evident. As one cynic rightfully remarked, when you write in Serbian, you don't write at all. Indeed, your work is available to a theoretical maximum of about ten million native speakers, although the real number of potential readers is far, far inferior. The initial print-run of The Fourth Circle was only 500 copies, with an additional 500 printed after it won "Miloš Crnjanski." And that was it.

If I didn't want to remain first in the village, but to try my luck in the city, I had to provide an English translation of my novel. Once in English, it would become readable not only in the English-speaking countries, but throughout the world. It was easy enough to see that. To make it happen, however, was by no means straightforward and inexpensive. I confess I have always envied authors who write originally in English. First, they don't have to bother at all about providing translations of their works. Second, they never pay their translators. Their publishers gladly do that for them. But, as we all know, the world isn't a just place, particularly if you aren't among its privileged inhabitants.

Quality English translators from the Serbian are a rare breed. It's no wonder, therefore, that they are in strong demand and appropriately expensive. So, even when you manage to engage one, you are not quite certain whether you should be glad because your work will be properly translated, or sad because it is going to cost you a fortune. Sadness usually prevails, since it is an investment that very rarely if ever pays off. What you eventually get for your money is a mere chance to get to where any English speaking author is when he has just completed his work. There are no further guarantees whatsoever even of recouping your investment, let alone of making a profit. You really have to be quite a gambler to agree to such terms.
I certainly felt like one when Mrs. Mary Popović agreed to translate The Fourth Circle. And like any over-optimistic gambler I tried to see only the bright side of the whole enterprise. First of all, if there was someone able to cope with the translating challenges of my novel, it was Mrs. Popović. These were rather numerous and demanding. To start with, the four separate narrative lines needed to be distinctive in tone, which was probably the hardest task to achieve. In order to accentuate the differences between them, in the Serbian original I used four different fonts, one of them created particularly for that purpose. It referred to the episode taking place in a Medieval monastery, for which I almost invented a new language. Then, there were many intertextual references, ambiguous allusions, puns... It wasn't going to be easy money for the translator.

Indeed, the translating lasted almost six months. I spent a substantial part of that time with Mrs. Popović, assisting her in finding her way through the complex labyrinths of The Fourth Circle. I remember some moments of real trouble, almost desperation, when we struggled to find proper English equivalents for some of the subtler points in the original. I knew from my own experience (more than 50 translated books, mostly from English) that a translator's life is by no means a bed of roses. Yet, only now, working on my own novel, did I fully realize what a martyrdom it could be. Had I not written it myself, I would have been tempted to find the author and explain to him, mostly in a non-verbal way, what I thought of his linguistic and other virtuosities. By the end, Mrs. Popović and I were in full agreement: she had been shortchanged for her labour.

In my naivety, it seemed to me then that the worst part was behind me. I had a—hopefully—good novel, very professionally translated into English. What else could be needed in order to place it with an American or British publisher? Well, first I discovered I needed an agent. That came as a total surprise, since the institution of literary agents simply didn't exist in the part of the world I lived in. A writer dealt directly with publishing houses, without any intermediaries. Some American publishers, to whom I sent The Fourth Circle in late 1994, returned it unopened, briefly stating that they would only consider manuscripts received through agents.
Eventually, I managed to find an agent to represent me, although right from the start he wasn't very enthusiastic, and understandably so. At that time, with Sarajevo under siege and horrible bloodshed throughout the Balkans, anything with the prefix "Serbian" was automatically and indiscriminately identified as suspicious, to say the least. Indeed, soon one rejection slip followed another. The fact that none of them had anything to do with the literary qualities of my submission was scant consolation.

Under these bitter circumstances there were also a few amusing incidents. One publisher, for example, happened to like my novel quite a bit. Alas, he concluded that, however good, it was, at least at the moment, "unmarketable." (That was the very first time in my life I met this term used in what I thought was a predominantly literary context.) Yet, I got a counter-offer from him. Could I deliver, he asked, a 100,000 word novel about the civil war in Bosnia, preferably in three months. I shouldn't restrain my vivid imagination in any way when it came to atrocities, serial rape, concentration camps and other similar pleasantries so much admired by the mass audience. Such a novel would be not only marketable, but very probably bound to hit the best-seller lists. The gentleman was rather confused and disappointed to hear that I simply wasn't interested in hiring myself out as a writer, regardless of the advance he might have been willing to offer me.
When apparently there were no more publishers to whom my agent could submit The Fourth Circle, he stepped forward with an ingenious proposal. I should change my name. What do you mean, I asked incredulously. He meant I should choose a pen name, preferably something that would sound American. Like what? Well, we could try to find an analogous version of your original name. What would that be? After a brief etymological consideration, he boldly suggested: Donald Livingston. Why would I be Donald Livingston instead of Zoran Živković? Can you really imagine, he asked, that anyone called Zoran Živković would ever be able to publish anything in the USA? I could. He couldn't. So, inevitably, we went our separate ways.

I first received notice that, against all the odds, one of Zoran Živković's works of fiction (not The Fourth Circle) had been accepted for publication in the USA in the Spring of 1999, during the NATO campaign against my country. It happened between two air raids, in the short period when the electricity was on long enough to pick up my emails. My first thought was that it was another example of the irony of fate. After many years of futile attempts I had finally achieved my goal only to become another regrettable collateral victim in the next bombing. Fortunately, fate wasn't that ironic, although I managed to escape it only by a narrow margin. I happened to live just across the street from the Chinese Embassy which was hit, allegedly by mistake...

In 2004, exactly a decade after it had become available in English translation, The Fourth Circle will at last be brought out in the USA by Night Shade Books/Ministry of Whimsy. And not only this novel, but all my fiction works: Impossible Stories (an omnibus of five related mosaic-novels: Time Gifts, Impossible Encounters, Seven Touches of Music, The Library and Steps through the Mist; also Night Shade Books/Ministry of Whimsy) and The Book/The Writer (Prime Books). With some luck, I might even see my latest, just completed novel, Hidden Camera, published in the same season.

So, as you have seen, esteemed reader, The Fourth Circle had a very long journey to make before finally reaching you. But, please, pay no attention to all the troubles it has seen. They are irrelevant. In the solemn world of literature, troubles don't count. The only thing that matters there is what an author has achieved against them.

Zoran Živković
Belgrade, early September 2003

Monday, September 11, 2006


Here's the link to the Clarion auction.

UPDATE ON THE UPDATE: This message from Walter John Williams posted on the Clarion East administrator's livejournal seems sensible and sound to me. Location is not important if the airfare is actually competitive or cheaper to San Diego.

This is jumping the gun a bit on the official press release, but as a member of the Clarion Board I would like to address some of the issues that have been raised here. So what I say here is not in any way official, but rather comments from an individual who has been a part of the ongoing discussion among the board members.

Ever since Clarion was kicked out of MSU in the last year, we have been trying to find Clarion a new home. Liz moved heaven and earth to procure a proposal from Outreach that would have allowed us to stay in Michigan. It was, quite frankly, a very good offer. There was nothing wrong with it, though by far the best part of the proposal was that a director with Liz's energy and determination came attached.

UCSD, however, came up with an offer that guaranteed five years free of financial worries, and allowed the Clarion Foundation to concentrate on raising money for scholarships. The Foundation is guaranteed full creative control. Tuition would be competetive. Public transport to and from campus is excellent. Students would be staying in air-conditioned suites, and the opportunities for interaction with San Diego's scientific community unparalleled. The Clarion Archives would have a free home in a library dedicated to their preservation.

As for the issue of accessibility to people living in the East, San Diego has inexpensive, direct flights from most parts of the country--- which is not true, by the way, for East Lansing. Once at UCSD, students will have access to shopping and other activities via public transport, and access to the university's recreational facilities, including the beach which is right there on campus. If you were planning on driving from Maine, the extra days would be a burden, but for most students this shouldn't be a problem.

I would like to end on a personal note. The Clarion Board is not some shadowy "Them" who make decisions based on arcane, incomprehensible formulae. We are your friends, teachers, and colleagues, and we based our decision on what we felt were the best interests of the workshop. We have been discussing all these issues for months. It was very difficult to leave Michigan after all these years, and after all the hard work that Liz and Mary and others put into the 2006 workshop, but if we hadn't taken all offers seriously and chosen the one that seemed the best, we wouldn't have been doing our duty to Clarion, its students, and alumni.

---Walter Jon Williams

UPDATE: Sometime in the next day, the Clarion auction will add this item from me:

Become an Ambergris Institution. The winner will have their name incorporated into the next Ambergris story (or failing that, the next novel) that I'm currently working on, but *not* as a character per se. Instead, the person will be the creator of some object, social institution, or other cultural meme that will reverberate throughout the future history of my city of Ambergris. For example, John Manzikert became the name of a type of automobile, The Manzikert, and a cult, the Manziists. Or, for another example, my agent, Howard Morhaim, became the founder of the Morhaim Museum. Therefore, you will be immortalized (dragged through the dirt?) in the history of Ambergris and will no doubt continue to appear in future work. In addition, I will send you a signed copy of the manuscript of the story or novel the name first appears in, and a copy of the publication it appears in (or book, if the novel) as well.

Grace Note: Booklist has reviewed Shriek: "A compulsively readable collection of odd anecdotes, character studies, and inventive, pseudohistorical detours that place Ambergris on the literary map beside both Gotham City and the Emerald City as one of the most memorable metropolises in speculative fiction."

So, San Diego instead of East Lansing. I can hear it already: "But East Lansing built character. There were fewer distractions." Honey-chil', what is life but one big long distraction from writing? If you get into to a six-week workshop you're paying good money for and you goof off, that's your own problem. This ain't middle school. Which ain't to say if you head off for the beach, you won't find me waiting there with a baseball bat, a butterfly net, and a stun gun.

Also, prospective students should know that I enter the classroom the first day screaming "Write or die!", having recently set myself on fire.

Seriously, though--support the Clarion auction (see below).



The Clarion Foundation is pleased to announce that the Clarion Workshop has a new home. We are sad to be leaving MSU. However, the future looks very bright. Starting in the summer of 2007 the workshop will be held at the University of California, San Diego, with very strong administration, faculty, and financial support. Our acclaimed workshop, with its excellent teaching staff, will continue
with no change in the structure of its operation. The faculty for 2007 will be Gregory Frost, Mary Ann Mohanraj, Jeff Vandermeer, Cory Doctorow, Ellen Kushner and Delia Sherman. The workshop will run from June 25 through August 3.



The 2006 Clarion eBay auction is underway. 100% of profits will be used to support the Clarion Workshop, so please bid freely. We'll be auctioning items in one-week batches from now until October 8. Many thanks to our eBay auction gurus, David Prill and Leslie What, without whom we'd be wandering in the tech wilderness.

Not familiar with eBay? It's easy to get started. Just go to eBay and click on the Register link at the top of the page. It's free, easy, and takes just a minute to do. Or look around before registering by going here.


This is the first of several guest posts from Zoran this week. You can find more information about Zoran on his website, where you'll also find his complete bibliography and this bio note:

Zoran Zivkovic was born in Belgrade, former Yugoslavia, in 1948. In 1973 he graduated from the Department of General Literature with the theory of literature, Faculty of Philology of the University of Belgrade; he received his master's degree in 1979 and his doctorate in 1982 from the same school. He lives in Belgrade, Serbia & Montenegro, with his wife Mia, their two twin sons Uros and Andreja, and their four cats.

Zoran won the World Fantasy Award for his novella "The Library," which appeared in Leviathan 3.


This is a brief account of how and why I got my new American publisher—Aio Publishing. You might think that "Aio" is an acronym, but actually it isn't. Aio—pronounced IO, or eye-oh, is Latin for yes. (If you would like to take a step back and learn more about how I started my US publishing adventure in the first place, you might find the afterword to my novel The Fourth Circle an interesting and amusing read.)

Prior to Aio Publishing I had as many as four other US publishers, but for various reasons none of them seemed quite ideal. In any case, they all published only one of my books each. We don't live in an ideal world, of course, but I was still hoping I could find a better publishing solution.

I had no illusions about being accepted by one of the publishing industry majors, primarily because my writing is rather far from what they mostly appreciate and bring out. If my prime ambition had been to get rich, I would have tried to produce something closer to their standards. But I have always had other ideals in the ancient and noble art of prose writing.

I first learned about Aio Publishing through my friend Dean Thompson with whom I occasionally discuss various aspects of the US publishing scene. He emailed me about a year ago to tell that there was a recently founded publishing house I might be interested in considering as a perfect home for my books. He suggested that I should visit its website.

It was enough for me to read only two sections at the site to realize that I was indeed in the right place: "Our Values" and "Our Creed". All my publishing—and not only publishing—ideals were splendidly summarized there. If anyone ever decides to compose an alternative publishing movement manifesto, its main principles are already formulated in these two pages.

I am experienced enough to know, though, that ideals don't always go hand in hand with reality. I was therefore greatly relieved when I found out that with Aio's books the match was impeccable. They seem to be objects of art in themselves, regardless of their contents.

I was fortunate enough to find what I had always been looking for among US publishers, but it was only half of the task. The feeling should be reciprocated, of course. What if my writing didn't fit Aio's preferences? Not without some trepidation, I got in touch with Tiffany Jonas, editor and publisher, and sent her a number of my books.

Before long I heard back from Tiffany. She decided to take not only one but three of my books, to appear in annual intervals between 2006 and 2008: Seven Touches of Music, Steps through the Mist and Impossible Encounters. It is my first multi-book deal in the US so far.

Seven Touches of Music is just officially released and it is without doubt the most beautiful of more than eighty foreign and Serbian editions of my prose books. I can now only humbly hope that the contents won't betray the perfect form...

Saturday, September 09, 2006


Zoran Zivkovic will be guest blogging on my blog next week in honor of the U.S. publication of his story suite Seven Touches of Music. His first post will be on Monday.

I'm at the SIBA Convention in Orlando, which is at the rather insane Gaylord Resort and Convention Center. It has scale replicas of other parts of Florida, like the old fort in St. Augustine, Key West (complete with salt water lagoon), and in general is like some kind of insanely dysfunctional biosphere. I don't even want to know how much it costs to keep this place lit up for 24 hours.

Tor is treating us well and last night we had the Shriek party at Mark Wingenfeld's place. Mark's been a big supporter from way back and he threw a great party. Mark is also Kathmandu Books, an indie bookseller.

Everyone at SIBA has been very nice and I have tentative commitments for bookstore signings/readings in Miami and West Palm Beach as a result. In addition, Ann and I may be editing yet another anthology. And it was also confirmed that I will be one of Trinity Prep School's visiting writers, probably in April 2007.


Thursday, September 07, 2006


Ambergris in Europe

(A "rough draft" of a video I'm working on that will eventually include readings from Shriek, etc. Robert Devereux contributed the music. The edits are a bit rough, but it'll give you an idea of the stuff we saw in Europe and also fits nicely with the Building Blog interview mentioned below. The direct link is here.)

Bookslut and The Building Blog have both done interviews with me. Both are unique in that the questions asked were 90% new, which was refreshing. When you throw in an interview next week in which I'm going to be asked about the economics of fantasy, I think that'll be it for me. Stick a fork in me interview-wise. I'm done. (50 interviews, including the Europe ones, in less than a year--that's enough.)

The Bookslut one focuses on the inner workings of Shriek while the Building Blog one focuses on my relationship to architecture, to ideas about space, etc.


The On an Other Life blog has been posting thoughts on Shriek every few chapters read. It's pretty interesting stuff, but does contain a few spoilers (for those who worry). His final post contains some interesting analysis, although I still think this is primarily a family chronicle with other stuff layered in.


Also, Jay Tomio has posted all but his top 10 all-time fantasy books and, if I didn't mention it before, the first issue of his new magazine Heliotrope features an essay I wrote on the novella that was first presented at the 2004 AWP Conference.


And the Believer has a great interview with the writer Padget Powell, which includes this wonderful exchange:

BLVR: You’ve been employed at the University of Florida for twenty-plus years. In that time, have you developed any sound philosophy on the teaching of writing?

PP: In the beginning one admits he knows not what he is doing and is possibly effective. In the end one gets tired, begins to believe he knows what he is doing, and is not possibly effective. My regular approach these days is usage instruction followed by begging for coherence. If we get past those hurdles, we might look at what I call The Rules, and at Miss O’Connor’s dictum (in a letter to Hawkes): “The higher the fantasy of action, the more precise the writing, and that is the way it ought to be.”

BLVR: The Rules? I’m intrigued…

PP: Rule 1 is The Gosling Rule. The story concerns the first thing the reader sees move. Rule 2 is that the problem, or the apparent and necessarily related problem, must appear soon, in the first paragraph if not the first sentence. Rule 3 is a complex function [wh = f(c1,c2,c3... + e + t)] involving withholding. Rule 4 is the bar test: everything must be said more or less as if you might say it to a stranger in a bar. Rule 5 is the doozie quotient. Rule 7 is the 3 Questions: Did it, could it, should it happen? Before any of these rules apply the writing must place itself unmurkily on the spectrum of credulity.


BLVR: So, are your usual outlets not receptive to your surreal work? Would you say a story like “Manifesto” is exemplary of the direction you’ve swung?

PP: The larger commercial venues do not receive wacky mode. “Manifesto” is about halfway out on the surreal moonshot, I’d say. It’s a dialogue between two men who appear to be one man, for the convenience of smooth flux. That is one of the entertaining things about it, to me—a dialogue that is a monologue. I have thinner and weirder action than that, I’m afraid.

BLVR: What sort of publishing snags have you run into with this kind of work?

PP: Snags? Just, you know, “We pass, we pass, we pass…”

BLVR: I think it’s admirable that you refuse to lasso your creative potential for the simple sake of commercial viability. It seems you just let your writing fly and if that means nobody wants what comes of it, so be it.

PP: Nothing to admire. No sacrifice involved, but rather an enfeeblement that prevents any other kind of writing than that which one does. I used to ask Don why he did not write a blockbuster and cash in, to which he’d say, “Can’t.” I thought he meant can’t violate my pure vision, my self. He meant “can’t,” as hard as that is to believe, given his range (to wit, his satires). By the way, on the subject of his Southernness, folk should have a look at “The Sea of Hesitation.” Only a Southerner at heart knows that much about the Wawer off the top of his head, and can write “Proceed with your evil plan, sumbitch.”


In other news, Niall Harrison has amassed a huge body of evidence about the un-term slipstream. Very cool and worth checking out.


And you've probably seen this link at the Building Blog about Herzog and this Antarctica movie he's doing, but if you haven't, check it out. Ethereal! The cool musician Henry Kaiser was there with him, to do the soundtrack.


Finally, here's an article on Bookslut about the Ellison Hugo thing. It's an interesting article, but it does have the limitation of being fixed in time. Which is to say, it can't possibly sum up the continued evolution or devolution of the discussion on the blogosphere, which is constantly shifting and seems more subtle than the summations of people's positions given by the writer of the article. That's not her fault. It's just not possible to keep up, which I find interesting.

I'm off for the weekend. Have a good one.


PS Tero at Partial Recall has the words to all the Finncon filk songs on the work of the guests of honor.


I love this guy. What can I say? I haven't even read the book and I still love it. I don't care if it turns out to be the biggest con game in the history of literature. I don't care if it turns out to be utter crap. The level of play and imagination at work here is monumental. And every time somebody pushes the envelope at this level, it allows a dozen renovators room to work and another dozen experimenters to look not quite so out there in readers' eyes. It pushes the fringe way the heck out there to the horizon.


Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Streamloader is so screwed up right now that there are some things on the Shriek website that don't work. I'm gone to Orlando this weekend so I can't fix them right now, but will when I get back. All the links will be functional by Wednesday.

Thanks for your patience. I appreciate it.


Tuesday, September 05, 2006


Note: Evil Monkey Update Below. 10pm
Another Shriek movie showing, in Chicago, later in the month. From Think Galactic, a great left-leaning SF group.

I'll also be appearing at the Southeastern Independent Booksellers' Alliance conference in Orlando, giving my multi-media Rough Guide to Ambergris presentation this Friday. Thanks to Tor for setting that up. That night, there's a private party that includes a showing of the movie. If you're in the Orlando area and interested, drop me an email.

September 30, I'll be doing a reading at BookPeople in Austin, along with a showing of the movie.

October 8, I'll be doing the Rough Guide in Gainesville, Florida, at the Thomas Center.

October 21, I'll be doing a reading/signing at Borders here in Tallahassee, along with (finally) a book release party for Shriek that night.

For more details on these events, check your local listings. I'll also be at

In other news, the pirate antho Ann and I are editing will have guidelines and a reading period decided Real Soon Now. Tentative title of the antho is Fast Ships, Black Sails.

Reading also continues for Best American Fantasy.

And I am doing the first installment of what may turn out to be a monthly column on Comics/Graphic Novels for Bookslut. First column will appear in the October issue and will focus on Alan Moore's Lost Girls.


(Evil Monkey: Hey, fuck up. Did you see this:

This book is fucked up. That’s the only way I can explain it. Plainly, simply, without a doubt, fucked up. So bizarre, I’m not even sure where to begin. The first story was about a necrophiliac missionary that falls in love with a wooden puppet and is nearly sacrificed by a dwarf to a bunch of mushrooms. How a man can write a story like that is beyond me. It’s so out there I don’t think its here anymore.

Jeff: Hey, Monkey Buttface. No. I did not.

Evil Monkey: You can read the whole thing here.

Jeff: He's not a necrophiliac.

Evil Monkey: Listen, fuck up. If your reader says he is, he is. If your reader says he's out there bangin' toads up the ass, then he's out there banging toads up the ass.

Jeff: Don't you have some yardwork to do?!

Evil Monkey: I just gotta rake up all these heads I done cut off.

Jeff: Who is it this time?

Evil Monkey: Well, I cut off Ellison's heads! But they grew back. Seventy times!

Jeff: So it's just Ellison heads out there?

Evil Monkey: Just a whole yard full of Ellison heads.

Jeff: Man, I cannot take you anywhere.

Evil Monkey: I do what I do for society.

Jeff: Society? You fuck up.

Evil Monkey: "How a man can write that is beyond me."

Jeff: I keel you. I keel you with a baseball bat.

Evil Monkey: First ya gotta catch me. [Runs out the door, onto a lawn covered in Ellison heads.]

Jeff [pausing at the door, calling out]: I'm not going out there until you clean up those Ellison heads, Evil! I'm telling you. Clean them up, or it'll be your head. Or else. Or else I'll...I'll stop writing you.

Evil Monkey [suddenly back inside, with a menacing grin]: Well, maybe I'll just stop reading you...)

Sunday, September 03, 2006



You can find the photos from our full trip here. But they don't tell the whole story, because a lot of it is in video form. Brussels, I'm afraid, we shot no footage of--we were too busy drinking beer--and a full report on Finncon will have to wait for another few days (including the sauna!), although the photos do tell much of the story (including our visit with Leena Krohn!). Too much to summarize here. As for Romania, Horia Ursu has an account here that he has promised to translate into English, and we're working on a Romanian Road Trip video. My sentiments here still apply. Just lovely wonderful people who we bonded with immediately.

Below you'll also find more on France, Germany, and the Czech Republic, although time constraints are making me have to shorten my accounts.

France (continued)

See the cheese story first if you haven't already...

In France, City of Saints & Madmen wasn't coming out until September, so we were there mostly to meet my editor Sebastien Guillot, along with a cavalcade of friends, some of whom I'd worked on in Machiavellian fashion to get to arrive in Paris around the same time as me. In addition, Mike & Linda Moorcock now spend their summers in Paris, so we were looking forward to seeing them again, as well.

Adventurous, we traveled from the airport by subway, all the way across Paris to Malakoff, the little neighborhood south of Paris where we would be staying with my editor. In so doing, we got a nice cross-section of the city's population (and the dour, grafitti'd area leading into the city), and a contrasting view of beggars. In Lisbon, almost every beggar had some disfigurement. In Paris, every beggar was fat and aggressive--getting on the subway train and basically yelling, "Give me your money!" (In Prague, as we would discover, beggars sat in a kneeling position, holding a cup out in front of their bowed heads.)

"Welcome to the Sahara," Sebastien said when we finally met in the subway station, and he wasn't kidding. Paris had been in the middle of a heat wave, and it wasn't going to get better any time soon. The heat was stifling, made any movement a careful thought ahead of time. Sebastien's tasteful and economical apartment was nicely furnished with two young cats, who had a penchant for occupying the long, empty flower pot near an open window leading to a three-story plunge. They looked really cute there, but precarious as well. We soon met Alex, Sebastien's girlfriend, a children books editor. Ann and I hit it off with them right away--just such lovely people, with a great sense of humor.

That first night, we had dinner with Sebastien, Alex, and the artist who did the cover design for the French edition of City of Saints. It was our first experience with food in Paris, and I have to say that we didn't have a bad experience with food while there. Every meal we had was wonderful. The corner pub near Sebastien's flat, for example, had the most amazing salads. And everyone was nice. There's that cliché still mentioned in guidebooks about Paris--the waiters will be snooty, people will be irritable if you can't speak French. But we didn't really experience that. Paris seemed welcoming, beautiful, and filled from top to bottom with stunning scenery and a multitude of cafes.

The second day in Paris, Sebastien took us to Verseilles, on possibly the hottest day in Europe for us. Verseilles is staggering for its vast size and on that day, we were literally staggering from the heat, pouring water over our heads, buying ice cream, fanning ourselves. It was a great bonding experience and it was very kind of Sebastien to take us there. Some of the video we shot will probably wind up in various short films. The opera house in particular was pretty amazing.

The next few days we hooked up with Mike and Linda Moorcock, Emma Taylor & Neil Williamson, Paulette Werger & Eric Schaller, John Coulthart, David Moles, my sister Elizabeth and my mom, Penelope. Sebastien was there for some of it. You can find the photos of some of our adventures on Flicker.

Basically, it was a lot of talking and walking and going to the Grand Pavilion and other places, great dinners and lunches. Cafes. Ann, John, and I went to the Museum of Erotica, which was a bit of a let down in some ways. We also went to an insane museum of lost technology, which really was pretty amazing.

During one memorable episode, I wound up panhandling using Mike M's hat. I can't quite remember how that happened, except I think I'd had a beer and had been given the choice of dancing or panhandling by Mike. I chose panhandling, although the one guy I approached looked at me disdainfully and gave me nothing.

We also have video of Sebastien being interviewed about his Interstices line, of which City of Saints & Madmen is part. That'll go up later.

Oh yes--and John Coulthart blogged about the prize we awarded while in Paris...

Also, David Moles blogged about his two days in Paris. I have to say, he was very patient with all of my family's marching around...


For now, I think Hannes did such a fantastic job of telling about our trip that all I can say is read the entries (here and here and here) and it was just a pleasure to stay with Hannes and Sara and see the bookstore, Otherworlds. Hannes and Sara, like all of my editors, are hard-working, dedicated, ambitious people. They have an amazing library, too. We had a great time in Berlin, although we have few photos because we took mostly video. Hopefully, we'll have time to put together something video-wise about Berlin. The pool playing the last night was especially fun!

Czech Republic

I think this entry still sums it up best, but we are working on a "Where's Svankmejer" video because I think the visuals of Prague deserve it. Martin Sust, my editor, I must say, is one of the hardest working people I've ever met. He's doing a Czech edition of F&SF and soon of Asimov's, in addition to all of his other editorial projects--and he's not even 30 yet.

Also gotta love this Prague 360. And some Czech launch photos.

More soon...

Friday, September 01, 2006


Here's a link to photos from the Romanian part of our trip by Horia, one of my publishers there. I'll post more about Romania over the weekend. Still readying the Romanian Road Trip Video...Horia's hilarious.


The Believer is out with the Shriek review.
SF Site review--very nice

More photos, video, Shriek movie showing announcements, etc., over the weekend.