Tuesday, October 31, 2006


It's Jeff, breaking in on the guest blogging to bring you a post-Halloween hangover in the form of Leisa Pichard's amazing pumpkin creation.

Leisa, whose wonderful Bunnysoft creations have a dual sense of cuteness and weirdness, just won Design Farm's internal Halloween contest with the creation above. I just love it. Photos by Ben Johnson.

Okay, now returning you to your regular programming. Tomorrow I'll break in again just long enough to post a World Fantasy schedule and link to my SF Site article.



Hello again! Thanks for checking back.

Here is the first passage from “The Steam Magnate”, which begins as a kind of travelogue. Kyra is new to the Broken Glass City, and the reader is carried with her, learning something of the odd mission she’s been sent on, and of the cityscape that will change her life:

“Kyra arrived late at night, on a crowded, rattling steam engine, at an ancient place they called the ‘City of Mirrors’ or the ‘Broken Glass City’, depending on the language used. The city earns these names from stained glass that has been superimposed onto the exteriors of the walls and walkways, as though glass were shattered and thrown about into patterns, some random, others deliberate. The murky stone beneath dilutes the clarity of the glass and creates the illusion of hidden texture inside the walls, as when the stones beneath a river are visible under shallow water.

Despite the awesomeness of the place, apparent even under the dimness of night, Kyra felt gripped by a cold and powerful fear, as she had been sent here as a vassal to one whose mind was contorted toward revenge. The one who had sent her cared little if Kyra returned. She was to find a certain person in this city, to stay out of the sight of anyone of importance, and to rest assured that those who were making her a part of their scheme considered her quite worthless. The man she was seeking, whom she knew by the name of Eson, had likely arrived some days earlier and with a great deal more opulence than her own arrival had occasioned. There was mention of a contract or deed of some kind that she was to try to obtain from him through her innocuous and seemingly guileless manner, and through deception and over an extended period if need be. It would not be an instantaneous thievery, and perhaps not thievery at all, as the contract was said to be at least half the property of her employer. So was her task set before her, a vast pool of darkness into which she must step.”

Kyra is caught between forces beyond her control. Will she accomplish her strange duty, and how will she be transformed in the process? Is she really as innocent as she seems, or are there more layers to her identity? What is in store for her in this illusory city?

A large excerpt from the story is also available on Aio’s site. This excerpt introduces Eson’s character and gives you a sense of his conflicted and ever-searching nature. I always write Eson in first person perspective (so far!) and always write Kyra and Jado in third person. So, you are hearing Eson’s account of the story directly from his mouth, as he wants you to hear it….

Here is another excerpt to let you in on Eson’s perspective. He is describing his home country, The Steam Territories, which is a cold nation to the north of the mild Broken Glass City, and a nation under tight political control:

“Everything here is run by steam. Steam billows out from the roofs of buildings, and steel pipes run along the lines of the buildings which are high, like those in the glass city, but made of a darker kind of stone. We are the lucky that can live high up, near the water’s sources, before it is piped downhill to the power stations. We’re all wealthy because of the steam sources, and so we are largely immune to outside forces. We are few in number, and all have inherited at least some wealth from our ancestors’ positions as guardians of the original springs. Many, I among them, have been able to increase our wealth greatly through private dealings with myriad and secret persons. I have my own spring that flows next to my home into a pool surrounded by rocks, mine and now Sarah’s to enjoy. Steam heats our narrow houses and the enclosed walkways running between them. The entire town is built into the hillside, and from a distance it looks only like a wall of windows and dark beams set into the slope. The twisted evergreens insinuate themselves anywhere there is a slight chance for survival, their branches pressed against our windows like spiky green hands. Rivers of evergreens run along the valley below, and the train tracks continue toward the lights of our vast and hideous capital.”

Eson lives in reverence of the mountain springs that his family lineage has long protected. The springs are the source of his power, wealth and influence, as well as supporting his inner strength and spirit. Power of all kinds, from steam and tidal power to personal and social power are key elements in the story of Eson and his world. The reader may trust him and his smooth words, or you may wonder, “What isn’t he telling me, behind all his talk of power and inheritance?” The layers of Eson’s story unfold toward surprising revelations…

More excerpts tomorrow, and other topics to follow later in the week!
Happy Halloween!

Monday, October 30, 2006


Hello, Readers! Welcome to my week of guest blogging on Vanderworld. My great thanks to Jeff and to Zoran Zivkovic setting this up. As Jeff said, I’m a first time novelist as well as the cover artist and illustrator for my novel, “The Steam Magnate”. Aio Publishing took the very innovative step of contracting me as author to supply artwork for my own book! We’ve had really positive feedback on the unity between the writing and the visual mood of the book, which is elegant, toned-down and literary in feel.

Check out the Aio site and follow the links for a sample of the cover painting, as well as an excerpt from the book and ordering information.

I’ll be posting some short excerpts from the book this week, to give everyone a sense of my work and of what readers can expect in books to come. (I’m at work on a second one right now!). To see some of my other artwork, please visit my art portfolio site .

So, what can you expect when you pick up “The Steam Magnate”?

The characters:

Eson- Eson is “The Steam Magnate”. He inherited a steam power legacy, and has amazing powers of influence over others. Is he a supernatural being, or merely a person of unusual talents? He is a sort of ‘demon lover’ character, romancing others toward his own ends, yet is vulnerable to both his own weaknesses and to the ill intents of others.

Kyra- Kyra is mysterious, young and enigmatic. We know little of her past, only that she has been sent on a mission by a powerful woman who wishes vengeance against Eson. Kyra walks the dangerous ground between Eson, the people he holds power over, and the people he fears. She is called upon to make ingenious use of her growing strength of character.

Jado- Jado is also young, and comes from a culture with strong ties to family and place. He takes a chance in working with Eson on a clandestine tidal power deal, compromising his values and facing dangers to his life as he ventures beyond the sheltering world of his community. Jado dreams of crossing the ocean in a solar powered boat, to the land of his ancestors.

The Story:

Reviewers have described the book as a story of power and personal transformation:

Heartland Reviews: "A literary fantasy, this story is about power, both environmental, magical, and interpersonal. The author has created an unusual world of forces both elemental and societal. The story is subtle and well-crafted—a truly literary work. Its complexities of relationships and politics make for an interesting read. We applaud the publisher for taking on a delicate work of this nature, providing a platform for a new and deserving talent."

Reader Views: "The author does an extraordinary job of illustrating the world of Eson and Kyra in both language and simple line drawings throughout the book. I would highly recommend this book for readers of all ages, from teens through adult. While The Steam Magnate has an engaging, somewhat wistful storyline that many would appreciate, it also gives pause for other readers who find within the story many aspects of their own lives as well... and it is such books that can draw the reader from their world into that of the characters; books that are to be both read and treasured."

Visit Aio's site for a full set of reviews.

Thanks for reading and visit again tomorrow for excerpts from “The Steam Magnate”!

Saturday, October 28, 2006


In the fury of deadlines, I completely forgot to blog about the Tallahassee Shriek event at the 621 Gallery. It was a great event. The art already in the gallery totally fit the mood of Shriek and the re-edited Shriek movie got an excellent response. I'm also happy about the video installation art exhibit of art by Scott Eagle, Steve Kilbey, Eric Schaller, Hawk Alfredson, and Myrtle Vondamitz III. People really enjoyed it--we were able to project it on a very large screen. (These are all artists who have inspired my fiction or have done work for my books or both.)

We had a very good turn-out (like, 70 plus) and sold a lot of books--thanks to Tracee at Borders. Thanks also to Mark Wingenfeld of Kathmandu Booksfor coming up from Orlando for the event

The Tallahassee Democrat did article before the event that you can read here. Thanks to Mark Hinson and the Democrat for their continued support.

And thanks to my wife, Ann, who planned most of it and who continues to be just, well, cute, effective, and fierce.



Aio Publishing recently sent me a copy of Dana Copithorne's first novel, The Steam Magnate. It's a beautifully designed book and the writing is ambitious and yet careful and controlled at the same time.

What's it about?

Eson inherited the steam-power legacy of his family lineage and along with it mysterious abilities, as through the use of ink and paper he funnels the good fortune of others into his own coffers. A young, enigmatic figure who wears his power like a second skin, he's hated by some, feared by others... and lonely. Recovering from a disastrous relationship with a woman of his own kind, he's at his most vulnerable when he meets a young woman who isn't who she claims to be. Wrapping her in his affection, he comes to find himself betrayed, and must defend himself against challenges far too dear.

Dana Copithorne presents a fresh voice and a unique take on mythology, with shades of Across the Nightingale Floor's Lian Hearn. Subtle and enchanting, The Steam Magnate draws the reader into a world made up of a tempting concoction of fairy-tale charm and daily existence... of nightclubs, ancestral homes, and desert cities sparkling with mosaics of colored glass.

As for the author, her bio notes that she:

is most well known in academic circles for her paper, published in the central European journal Kosmas, linking socio-political reality in the Czech Republic with Czech science fiction and literature.

Dana holds varied interests: cultural anthropology and studies, art, literature, architecture, urban design, and meditation. She has researched Shamanic religions in Siberia, Zen aesthetics, Japanese culture, and Japanese and Buddhist traditions in architecture. She has studied English language teaching in the Czech Republic and has taught English in rural Japan. She's also a talented artist in watercolor and pen-and-pencil media who provided artwork for her own novel.

In a nutshell, she sounded so interesting and the book so intrigued me, I thought this would be a good time for a guest blogger, and Dana has been nice enough to agree.

So, starting Monday, through around November 6, she will be telling you more about her book, her other work, and, I would imagine, various and intriguing things...

(I'll be poking my head in long enough to post my World Fantasy schedule and to let you know when my SF Site column goes live.)


Friday, October 27, 2006


Jamie Morrison has posted a brief excerpt from Shriek--the publisher rant, as I call it. Or, as he calls it, The Greatest Rejection.



As for the act itself, some describe it as “insects wandering around a badly made scale model of an ancient city, after which the crowd rioted to show their displeasure.” Others describe “the incredible sight of beetles, ants, and other insects recreating miniature set pieces of ancient battles amongst the spires and fortifications of a realistic and highly detailed cityscape. One of the most marvelous things ever seen.”

Wednesday, October 25, 2006


Just turned in Appoggiatura to John Klima for the Bantam spelling bee anthology. One of the best writing experiences of my life. I went ahead and did a piece that used all of the words the other writers had used, creating mini-stories that tie together loosely, which allowed me to use a variety of styles and approaches.


Last night....

Jeff: So I have a story called "Appoggiatura" for the spelling bee anthology and then the novel "The Appoggiatura of John Finch."

Ann: And you have Secret Life, Secret Life Select Fire Remix, and Secret LiveS. From a future bibliographer: "Fuck you, Jeff VanderMeer."

At the Anadolubank in Istanbul, Hazine Tarosian has handled them all. Crinkled and smooth, crisp and softly old. To her, new bills smell like ink and presses moving at high speed. There’s a hint of friction in the paper, of burning smoke, that gives motion to the images, living contrast to inert cold coins. A burst of sunflower, bee in orbit around pollen, for the Netherlands. Ireland’s beefy headshot of James Joyce, with Ulysses on the other side. The sibilance of Egypt’s Arabic letters against a backdrop of Caliph-era battlements, in the distance a verdigris dome, last link to fabled Smaragdine. The careful detail of Thai King Bhumanibol calm upon his throne, sword across his lap, a flaming mandala at his back. Or even Portugal’s massed galleons listing, sails taut against the whorled wind, sun a complex compass.

Monday, October 23, 2006


I got tagged by Clare Dudman...

As Clare says:

Apparently it originates with Sharon J who is searching for characteristics of people for writers and asks that the following paragraph is included in the post:

Remember that it isn’t always the sensational stuff that writers are looking for, it can just as easily be something that you take for granted like having raised twins or knowing how to grow beetroot. Mind you, if you know how to fly a helicopter or have worked as a film extra, do feel free to let the rest of us know about it :-)

I'm gonna give you seven, since I'm pretty sure I've mentioned one of these before at some point and none of these are particularly revelatory. Fact is, most of my stuff is out there on the blog already or in interviews or in the fiction.

(1) My dad's nickname for me growing up was "Ham" or "Moose". I'm not quite sure why, to this day.

(2) My sister Elizabeth and my best friend Duane in high school used to take Duane's video camera and do skits parodying various movies and TV shows. The worst was a Star Trek skit in which I played Scotty and Duane played Spock. I didn't want to do the lines as spoken and so I kept being contrary until Duane got so mad he started slapping me upside the head. These skits are soooo terribly acted that if any of the three of us ran for political office, they'd be used against us.

(3) I sleep with a baseball bat when Ann is out of town on business. When she's here, I don't feel the need for a baseball bat or anything else for protection.

(4) I don't eat anything after the expiration date if I can help it, fruit and milk included. I'm a little bit of a freak about this.

(5) My sister was once being harassed by a kid at a local community center. So I pushed him down and beat the crap out of him. Only afterwards did I realize that he was about three years younger than me and I could've gotten away with just giving him a good talking to instead of a beat-down.

(6) I sometimes publish under the name "Scott Miller". I haven't done this for a few years.

(7) I once gave a girl I had a crush on in high school a ton of presents and then was so shy I couldn't bring myself to ask her out or hardly even speak to her, even after she said to me things like "The dolphins in this David Brin novel seem to like sex an awful lot," which while not necessarily a come-hither sure wasn't a get-thee-gone, either.

I think I'm going to tag Jay Lake, Jeffrey Ford, Liz Williams, and Sean Wallace. But no guilt if any of ya opt out.


Sunday, October 22, 2006


I've been gearing up for the big Shriek book release party here in town. It's at 5pm tonight and so far it's not clear if it'll be cool and clear or rainy or rainy and muggy or clear and muggy. I also always live in fear of nobody coming to these kinds of things, although every event of this type that I've had in Tallahassee has been a huge success.

Anyway, I've been boring because I've been busy.

- Just turned in my latest Bookslut column, a review of Best American Comics with a short interview of Rebecca Dart, whose RabbitHead I just LOVE.

- Also turned in "American Fantasy?" to Postscripts.

- About to turn in my first SF Site column.

- About to finish my "Appogiatura" story for the Bantam spelling bee antho.

- Next week, I have an article to do for Locus on my trip through Europe and an introduction to Dick and Jane, an anthology being put out by the British Fantasy Society.

Then, it's time to gear up for the World Fantasy party Jay Lake, Daniel Abraham, and I are sponsoring that Saturday night.

After that, I'm giving myself to the end of December to hunker down and finish "The Appoggiatura of John Finch," which will top out somewhere between 50,000 and 70,000 words.

And then, after that, I'll dive right into another novel while doing edits to "John Finch."

I've got a few months clear of events and it's time to get serious about the writing.


Saturday, October 21, 2006


Er, we've been interspersing our Battlestar Galactica watching with the BBC series Only Fools and Horses. Anyone else love this series? We discovered it because of a BBC documentary on it that aired on the TV in our Prague hotel room and vowed to track it down when we got back to the US. It's absolutely hilarious. Brilliant, even.

Friday, October 20, 2006


...is the best show on television. The editing is extraordinary. And they just keep pushing the envelope. In normal TV shows half of this stuff would resolve itself as sacharine crapola. But they just keep going.

Some people have objected to the suicide bomber element, but the genius of it is that it *doesn't* fit an existing paradigm exactly. Instead of regurgitating the headlines, they've internalized it for what works for the show.

And this episode tonight was ballsy beyond belief. There's just no other way to say it.

I'll leave it to others to analyze the show. For me, it works so well on a visceral level that I just don't give a shit about the nits.



There's nothing better than Trust among pirates. And no pirate song better than "Black Sails in the Sunset."


Evil Monkey: Er, what about the Pogue's Rum, Sodomy, and the Lash.
Jeff: You have a point.
Evil Monkey: And the Murder City Devils have a pirate song.
Jeff: Lots of people have a pirate song.
Evil Monkey: But the lyrics to Black Sails don't even--
Jeff: Don't you have a campaign to run or something?

Wednesday, October 18, 2006


Janice Shriek and 621 Gallery Cordially invite you to the Official Book Release Party for

World Fantasy Award Winner
Jeff VanderMeer’s

A tragi-comic novel about love, death, art galleries, and a messed up family, set in the imaginary city of Ambergris.

621 Gallery
621 Industrial Drive - Railroad Square
Sunday, October 22, 2006
5pm to 8pm

>Showings of the short experimental film based in the book (with soundtrack by legendary rock band The Church)

>Showings of Jeff’s other short video projects

>Samples of Ambergris Beer (brewed by Todd Szuch)

>Wine and hors d’oeuvres

>Give-aways of Church CDs and Shriek Beer

>Video displays of art by artists associated with Jeff’s work

>A Retrospective display of all of Jeff’s previous books (with placards created by Mark Wingenfeld)

>621’s exhibit of work by Gary Duehr, Linda Hall, and John Wilson

>A short, manic reading by the author

Borders will be selling copies of Shriek and Jeff’s other books.

(And don’t forget: Jeff will be doing a Q&A with novelist and city commissioner Mark Mustian at Borders on Oct. 21st at 3pm.)

Monday, October 16, 2006


Okay, I'm going away until the weekend, most probably. Too many deadlines.

Also, I'm going to be doing the yearly comic book/graphic novel summation for The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror now. Charles Vess's schedule makes it impossible for him to continue with it. And since I'm doing the Bookslut comics column anyway, it makes sense. Should be a fun gig.

Oh yeah. One cool link. Another cool link.

"American Fantasy?" completed for Postscripts and accepted. Check.
Beer kegged for party Sunday. Check.
Five parts to go in spelling bee story. No check yet.


I was still searching for the missing daughter of a wealthy industrialist when the locals brought me in on another case. They’d heard I was staying at the Hilton—an American and a detective, in a place where neither passed through with any regularity. The police deputy, a weathered old man missing an eye and with a scar running down the right side of his face, made it clear it would be best if I got into his beat-up, dusty Ford Fiesta with the lonely siren on top, and venture out into the sun-beaten city to help him. It was a crap ride, through a welter of tan buildings with no hint anymore of the green that had made the place famous since antiquity. The river had become a stream. The lake that it fed into became entombed in salt. The cotton they turned to as a crop just made it all worse. Becoming modern is a bitch for some people.

Sunday, October 15, 2006


My Fellow Americans:

I have decided, due to some last minute snags choosing a running mate, to delay my video announcement until October 31, a date that seems oddly appropriate. My apologies, but a decision of this magnitude must be made very carefully.

Mr. Ed.
Any of the Feebles
Tony Millionaire

Until then, I remain,

Evil Monkey

Saturday, October 14, 2006


Paul Di Filippo, writing in the Washington Post Book World, says in part:

Previously, VanderMeer's City of Saints and Madmen (2002) stood as the essential volume in this mythos. But his new book, Shriek: An Afterword (Tor, $24.95), is so brilliantly conceived and shockingly revelatory that it might very well surpass its predecessor...Like some delicious, delirious mashup of H.P. Lovecraft, Mervyn Peake and L. Frank Baum...this novel never allows its elaborate literary apparatus to muffle its affecting narrative about love, art, sibling rivalry, commerce, history and some really nasty 'shrooms.



Evil Monkey: Yeah, but they hate you in Peoria. Jeff: As soon as you announce your platform, they'll hate you everywhere. Evil Monkey: Good! And, Evil Monkey For President is now mine. Soon: content! Buttons! Slogans!

Friday, October 13, 2006


Saturday night after the World Fantasy Award banquet...

The Three Toreadors, Daniel Abraham, Jay Lake, and Jeff VanderMeer host a celebration of their now books and their future books, with beer, snacks, hard liquor, give-aways, swag, short readings, and random acts of literary largesse. Come observe three writers brave enough to host a party under a hideous pun umbrella.

Thursday, October 12, 2006


"An Abridged Bestiary of American Fantasy: An Overview" for Postscripts, as an editorial.

"Appoggiatura," a story for the Bantam spelling bee antho that riffs off of all the other words used by writers. (Damn you, Jay Lake, for using "transept".)

"The Appoggiatura of John Finch," a novella/novella set in Ambergris. Got about 25,000 words now.

Adventures in the Ink Trade #1, a column for SF Site, featuring a video interview with a French editor, a print interview with Jonathan Strahan, and much more.

Second Comics Column for Bookslut, featuring a review of Best American Comics and an interview with the remarkable Rebecca Dart.

And there's some other intro I'm supposed to do and I've lost the thread. Oh well. I'll know soon enough.


Wednesday, October 11, 2006


I'm crazy-proud of my wife, Ann, who has just won a national award from the Women's League of Conservative Judaism for her work at her synagogue and the community. Ann is one of the regional winners of the Woman of Valor award, which will presented at a convention in Philadelphia in November. The term "woman of valor" is explained here.

I've known for years she was a woman of valor. After all, she has to put up with me.


Tuesday, October 10, 2006


My Fellow Americans and Monkeys:

It is with a grave sense of public duty and a relatively clear conscience that I hereby announce my candidacy for President of the United States of America in 2008. Having seen no other viable candidates step forward, I feel it is my duty to fill that void with a platform, vice president, and agenda that will return this great nation to the correct and proper path.

I will provide a video announcement in which I reveal the name of my vice president and some of my platform planks this coming Monday morning.

Until that time, let me just say that it will be fucking great to serve you and to give this country what it is sorely lacking right now: bananas, brutally honest discourse, and fleas.

My minions await their orders. Avaunt!


Arnold E(vil) Monkey, Esq.


I've finished the Select Fire Remix of Secret Life, and the book is now in production. With any luck, it'll be out by World Fantasy. It's gonna be a beautiful book.

See below for the table of contents.

But where is "Secret Life" you might ask? Put aside your fears, dear ones. It's there...somewhere...in the remix.


The Select Fire of VanderMeer
[The Party Remix] of the Introduction by Jeffrey Ford
(featuring artwork by Eric Schaller and Jacob MacMurray)

--intervision 1--

Water Falling (illo and story)

--intervision 2--

Flight Is for Those Who
Have Not Yet Crossed Over

The Bone Carver's Tale

The Festival of the Freshwater Squid

The General Who Is Dead

Ghost Dancing with Manco Tupac

Learning to Leave the Flesh


Detectives and Cadavers

The Emperor's Reply

The Compass of His Bones

Balzac's War

A Heart for Lucretia

Corpse Mouth and Spore Nose

The Machine


The City

Experiment #25 from the Book of Winter: The Croc and You

Last Drink Bird Head (illo and story)

--intervision 3--

A (Very Brief) Afterword

Extended Story Notes


--intervision 4--

Monday, October 09, 2006


My first Bookslut Comics Column is now online as part of their latest installment.


Friday, October 06, 2006


In 2005, we visited Seattle and we saw this really cool artwork in a local shop. We bought some of it and I emailed the artist, Heidi Estey, only to find she didn't have a website. Well, now she does--and a new show. I really like this stuff. It's weird and playful and dark without being derivative.

Here is more info, from an email Heidi just sent me.

Heidi Estey is a Seattle-based artist who has been illustrating, painting, and crafting since the early 90s. Her mordant yet sensual artwork has been praised by the Seattle Post- Intelligencer and Reader’s Guide to the Underground Press. She has had showings at Gargoyles and the late great 2nd Avenue Pizza, has contributed art for literary magazines and zines, and been part of I Heart Rummage and other crafty collectives.

Her latest work is entitled “The Rule of Thumb” and it features inspired, subtle ruminations about the control of women in the culture of men. It was inspired by a spiritual journey she has been taking for the past several years, and the libretto-chapbook for the series was written by her husband Chris. (It is Chris’s first zine since “Ghetto Chicken” back in 2001.) Her website was created by her best friend and fellow artist Hillary Brown.

The gallery showing for Heidi Estey’s “The Rule of Thumb” will be on display between October 20th and November 13th at Gargoyles Statuary, Inc., 4550 University Way NE, Seattle, WA 98105. (206) 632-4940 and 1-800-253-9672.

The opening reception is Oct. 20th 2006, between 5 PM - 7 PM, during the University gallery Art Walk.

For copies of “The Rule of Thumb” libretto-chapbook, come to the reception, or please send $2 to:

Heidi & Chris Estey
5247 15th Avenue NE #301
Seattle, WA 98105


The trade paperback of Secret Life is now officially:

SECRET LIFE: The Select Fire Remix

In answer to queries about this, the original Golden Gryphon Press hardcover is a definite "definitive" edition. In that it is actually the most complete.

For the Select Fire Remix, I am rearranging story order a bit, cutting a few stories, adding incidental text, and adding two short-shorts inspired by illustrations by Eric Schaller. I have also expanded the story notes to include alternate versions of a couple of Veniss-related story fragments, the complete incomplete text of "Jessible and the Metal Dragon", and been much more honest in some of the genesis of material notes. I've also moved them to the back as end notes and added a very brief afterword.

Some people have asked if this is an epidemic, a virus, a head cold. Can you never stop futzing, Jeff?

I admit to being a victim of circumstances. City of Saints had two basic editions: one that Wildside Press did and one from Prime that incorporated additional material. Any other changes to subsequent editions were basically cosmetic and even the addition of "Learning" and "The Exchange" to the British and Bantam editions constituted including material that could be had elsewhere.

Shriek: An Afterword is, contrary to rumor, in only ONE edition. The Pan Macmillan edition simply doesn't contain a few of the final edits incorporated into the US Tor edition because of a scheduling snafu. It wasn't a conscious decision nor are the changes in any way substantive.

With Secret Life, most of the story selection was of my own doing, but not all of it, and after reading the finished book, I thought it was about five stories too long. This Remix allows me to cut while adding some value and if you already own the hardcover, you shouldn't feel compelled to buy this edition unless you're a VanderMeer completist. On the other hand, if you want an inexpensive gift for someone this holiday season, some fun touches and flourishes have been added and the cover quality is going to be vastly superior. So the way I see, it everybody wins. The essence of the original hardcover has been preserved, without some of the dross, and there is a playful quality added that may not have been present before.

All of this by way of saying that I generally intend the first edition of a book I put out to be the final one, but it doesn't always work out that way. And as I have more and more leverage, there will be fewer and fewer iterations of things.

So bear with me and if you're thinking of being cross with me, please don't be...


Wednesday, October 04, 2006


JOURNAL OF JEREMY LASSEN, 32, Unofficial Ship’s Doctor, Hot Antho. (BURDENSOME. Captured 9 Aug. of this year) Put its Capt. ENNUI and first officer SLOWE to the sword when they suggested simultaneous submissions. “No simultaneous submissions,” shouted the cook and the coxswain, dancing arm-in-arm. BURDENSOME, renamed HOT ANTHO for its fast batteries, flares, and exciting night life, accompanied our other ships under our Capt. JASON WILLIAMS after putting half the crew to land for insubordination. The rest agreed that five cents a word, 2 copies of the HOT ANTHO log, and a share of future booty was a good seaman’s wage. Capt. DOUBTER continued with the main fleet under the black flag despite the severity of his wounds. On 27 September Capt DOUBTER passed on to Our Lord, but not before muttering these odd words: “3,000 words shall be the lower limit and 10,000 the general upper.”

Shortly therefore, HOT ANTHO got under weigh at 2 P.M. to accompany INAPPROPRIATE SUBMISSION and REJECT WITH PREJUDICE under the command of Capts. VANDERMEER and VANDERMEER, our only pirate couple, on a raid toward the Upper Halves. Capt. WILLIAMS had received this coded command by way of trained seagull, but it proved as indecipherable to us as it would have been to the French and British frigates somewhere behind us in pursuit: “email submissions to peglegparrots at hotmail dot com in word or rtf format.”

At 4 P.M. the pilot put the boats of HOT ANTHO ashore about 2 miles N.N.W. of the little port town we meant to ravage. The coordinates for attack had again been writ in code (“POB 38190, Tallahassee FL 32315 USA”) and this may have thrown the pilot, who shouted out “disposable manuscripts only, with SASEs for reply,” which we all took to be an old gypsy curse. But we made off with some gold coins and the food we had been sorely lacking.

At 7 o'clock the following morning, merchantman BORING STORIES appeared off HOT ANTHO’s starboard bow. Capt. WILLIAMS signaled for a broadside, followed by boats with anchors and hawsers to take BORING STORIES without damage, but because of the outlawed simultaneous submissions that hove into view and the sea breaking over the ship this proved impossible and several boats were overset and lives were lost attempting it. The decision was made to breach BORING STORIES’ hull with cannon, and soon she was sinking, to much cheering. Capt. WILLIAMS noted that “HOT ANTHO was made for this! Adventure and intrigue and bravery. That’s what we want. Do you find this fun Lassen? I tell you, I want fun like this for HOT ANTHO.” After much conferring, Capts. WILLIAMS, VANDERMEER, and VANDERMEER decided to continue to raid up and down the coast, chasing ships, from the period of Nov. 1 to Feb. 28 of the next year. At which time, HOT ANTHO will cease reading and pillaging and find the main pirate fleet at the appointed meeting place. Then shall the world tremble before our assembled might! Arr!


Land-Hugger Writer Guidelines
(For Cowards Only)

Fast Ships, Black Sails, to be published by Night Shade Books, wants exciting, bone-rattling pirate fiction set in the past, present, or future, covering the full spectrum of parrot-carrying, booty-taking, grappling-hook pirate adventure and fun. Submissions should be between 3,000 and 10,000 words, with payment set at 5 cents per word to 10k, two contributor copies, and a share of royalties. No simultaneous submissions. No boring stories. Electronic submissions to peglegparrots@hotmail.com in Word or RTF format. Snail mail submissions to POB 38190, Tallahassee FL 32315, USA, with SASE for reply only. We will read from November 1, 2006, through the end of February, 2007. – Captains Ann and Jeff VanderMeer

sEcReT LiFe CoVeRs

Just a few iterations of the Prime Books cover for Secret Life. Design by Garry Nurrish. Out in November, I think. This trade paperback will be a little different than the GG edition in hardcover. I've deleted some of the earliest stories, put the story notes at the end, and am adding some sort of Afterword, in addition to some little hidden doors and passageways... Thanks to GG for giving the go-ahead on this project.



Jayme Lynn Blaschke has his account of the Turkey City Workshop, along with photos. Damned pirate panderer... (And if you follow Lou Antonelli's signature under comments, you'll get Lou's, too.)

He’d killed a gray cap once. He wondered if Heretic even had an inkling of that. It had taken two hours with a knife and a gun. It had taken a bloody long time. To cut through all the layers. To find what was vital and what was not…


Andrew Wheeler's blog is one year old and he has posted an entry summarizing that first year. A lot of interesting stuff.

Congrats, Andy, and thanks for a very cool first year.


He knew how irrational his thoughts had become. He was supposed to be here. Heretic had asked him to be here. But he couldn’t help it. It was one thing to talk to a single gray cap during the day. It was another to be among many of them at night. It brought back memories of the war. It reminded him of night duty in the trenches, the crude defenses H&S had created for its irregulars. Sighting through the night scope. Hoping not to see anything. Feeling the sweat and fear of the others to either side, the flinch and intake of breath at the slightest movement.

Monday, October 02, 2006


UPDATE: Shaken and Stirred and SFcrowsnest both review Shriek. It's very pleasing to me that they both got it. I mean, they both got what the book is about and my intent with the book. I dislike positive reviews that misinterpret a lot worse than a negative review that understood what I was doing and just didn't like it. It's really satisfying as a writer when you hit the mark with the reader. Feeling really good about that today. Also, an audio interview with Rick Kleffel at the Agony Column

Back from Austin and the Turkey City Workshop. Lawrence Person was a thoughtful host and I appreciated his attempts, and the other workshoppers, to make me feel at home. It was also a bit of a thrill to sit next to Howard Waldrop during the workshop. I must confess, there was a bit of pandering: Jayme Blaschke workshopped a pirate story with, er, an element in it dear to my heart. The story's great and I've asked he submit it to the antho for consideration. But I did think I was gonna die laughing over that.

I workshopped part of "The Appogiatura of John Finch" and got some very useful comments. I wanted, in particular, to get a sense of reader expectations of the future narrative and a sense from those who had not read my Ambergris stories before as to whether I had put enough info in for it to make contextual sense.

Right now, the story is at about 20,000 words and since I'm less than half-way through, I have this feeling that what I'm actually working on is a short novel. In any event, if I keep truckin' along I'll have a rough draft of the whole thing by November.

Thanks also to the BookPeople peeps (thanks Peggy!) for hosting my reading and to Rick and Brandy for great breakfast conversation Sunday morning.

BTW--totally agree with Jeff Ford about the situation in this country right now.

“When they give you things, ask yourself why. When you’re grateful to them for providing the things you should have anyway, ask yourself why.” – Lady in Blue, rebel broadcast