I hit the ground running from Finncon, but now realize I need some R&R from the trip. Too much white noise and I need a break. So I'm going silent for a few days. More on the weekend or Monday. Bye!
“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
I hit the ground running from Finncon, but now realize I need some R&R from the trip. Too much white noise and I need a break. So I'm going silent for a few days. More on the weekend or Monday. Bye!
Evil Monkey: Did you see this? (Not to mention Alan DeNiro's great post about it.)
Jeff: It's awful and some action should be taken.
Evil Monkey: Yeah, but me 'n' Crazy Town go waay back. I mean, I've seen him in action a couple of times. HE's been getting away with shit for over forty years. Somebody should've put a check on this long ago. Gone public.
Jeff: Yeah, but that shouldn't excuse his actions.
Evil Monkey: No way. In fact, Crazy Town's head has been on my to-cut list for ages.
Jeff: What do you think of the crowd's reaction to the groping?
Evil Monkey: I dunno. I'm sure they were shocked. Might've had just a short window of opportunity to do or say anything and were too shocked to act.
Jeff: You would have thought someone would have immediately taken Ellison off the stage and not allowed him to participate any further in the event.
Evil Monkey: That's a good point. I hadn't thought of that.
Jeff: What'd you think of the Hugo results, though?
Evil Monkey: A snooze fest mostly. Locus and Ansible, Ansible and Locus. Love 'em both. Read 'em religiously. But, c'mon, if I were them I'd be sitting out a year or two or something. It's a bit ridiculous.
Jeff: Eh. If they're the best in those categories...What about the rest of the ballot?
Evil Monkey: I dunno. I dig Connie Willis but that novella of hers wasn't that good.
Jeff: Eh, well, that's your opinion.
Here's the info on the latest Bats Segundo Show. I can't even remember what I said. Should be interesting. This is, by the way, the last time I ever talk about New Weird. Period.
In the meantime, the main Segundo site can be found here.
Here are the details for the two shows.
Author: Jeff VanderMeer
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Coming to terms with troubling generalizations.
Subjects Discussed: Mushrooms as inspiration, writing “Dradin in Love” while suffering from mono, Steve Erickson, the writer as sadistic god, on being perceived as “difficult,” genre as revitilization device, the New Weird, China Miéville, the value of taxonomies, the use of parentheses for voice, reinventing the Ambergris mythology, scholarly discourse in fiction, underground scholars, Gormenghast, Nabokov, cities, Beirut, Albumeth Boulevard’s inspirations, ephemera, balancing experimentalism and absurdism, objections to playful prose, the Dan Green dust-up, Shriek: the movie, The Church, the Shriek parties, balancing the day job and the writing life, and the importance of physical exercise for writers.
Author: Robert Birnbaum
Condition of Mr. Segundo: Detached but amused by the pair-up.
Subjects Discussed: The value of conducting interviews at a cemetery, Ed Champion’s arrest, the current state of the literary world, literary feuds, Richard Ford and Colson Whitehead, Stanley Crouch, Nicholson Baker, Leon Wieseltier, Anthony Burgess, US vs. UK journalism, Cynthia Ozick, the literary blogosphere, Birnbaum’s participation at the Oscar blog, West Coast vs. East Coast weather, reading and page limits, the “importance” of the New York Times Book Review, Gilbert Sorrentino, Sam Tanenhaus, Thomas McGuane’s Nothing But Blue Skies book tour cancellation, Laura Miller, an attempt to stop the interview by a Mt. Auburn employee, examining a Mt. Auburn Cemetery leaflet of rules, John Updike, Joan Didion, comparisons with the publishing and the music industry, the NYTBR contemporary fiction coverage, list-making, classic vs. contemporary literature, Paul Collins, small presses vs. large presses, the onslaught of galleys, BEA, Birnbaum as editor, party pictures, celebrity culture, visionary magazines, Henry Luce, artistry vs. Photoshop, California fruit labels, the advertising world, who Birnbaum will talk with, Nicole Richie, authors having emotional breakdowns, the current state of literary journalism, and staying humble.
To subscribe to the show with a podcatcher program (for later transfer to your iPod), copy and paste the following URL into your program.
To listen or to subscribe to the podcasts through Odeo, you can go here.
Please note: You do not have to have an iPod to listen the show! If you go to the main Segundo site, you can save the MP3 to your lovely machine by clicking on the bat picture.
Thanks again for listening,
The Bat Segundo Crew
Direct YouTube Link here.
One of the wonderful surprises about Finncon was a filk singing tribute to Ambergris. They did songs for all of the guests of honor. I had expected it would be a roasting, not such a lovely and truly thoughtful event. I thought their voices were great, too. Hopefully someone will post in the comments field with all of their names. One of them was also a gray cap in the masquerade, I believe, and an editor at a magazine called Legolas. We met so many people, I am having trouble keeping all the names straight.
The YouTube location can be found here.
We were privileged to witness and take part in a mad scientist laugh competition at a Finncon fan party on August 19th. Here's the video for that. It was pretty darn hilarious in person. The beginning of the video is a little choppy--some kind of problem with the camera--but it's fine thereafter.
The winner was Timo-Jussi Hamalainen aka "Godfather".
The honorary Mad Laugher is Mari-Pilvi Junikka.
Note: Under normal circumstances, I would enjoy such a cheese immensely...More on France tomorrow, with photos...And see the update at the bottom...
As planned, half-way through our visit to Paris, we moved from my editor's place to a Best Western Hotel in the heart of the city, the better to coordinate visiting with my family. We got in that afternoon, stowed our luggage in our room on the third floor, went out with friends, and didn't return until late.
As soon as we opened the door to the room, I smelled something foul.
"What the fuck is that smell?" I asked Ann.
"I don't know. It's like something died in here," she replied.
"I can't sleep with that smell in here. We have to find it."
Thus started our search for the stench, which culminated in finding a very large camembert cheese shoved under our pillows.
"What kind of sick fuck would do that to a guest?" I asked. (In the morning, we found out all guests received said cheese.)
"Don't they usually leave a mint?" Ann asked.
"Hell of a mint."
By this time it was about 2 in the morning and we'd both had a little bit to drink and just wanted to go to bed.
It was us or the cheese. The cheese had to go. There was no alternative. French culture be damned.
"I'll take care of it," I said.
"I'll bet," Ann mumbled as she crawled into bed.
I tried the refrigerator in the room, but that wasn't enough of a barrier. I could still smell the damn thing.
So I took the cheese outside our room and looked for options.
At first, I carefully laid the cheese in the wastebasket in the hallway. But I took two steps away and realized that the wastebasket wouldn't be emptied until the morning. In the meantime, the smell might find a way to infiltrate our room--or, horrors!, the entire third floor.
So I quickly grabbed the cheese out of the wastebasket and walked down the spiral staircase to the landing immediately above the second floor.
After a furtive glance over my shoulder to make sure I wasn't being watched, I left the cheese there and walked back up to the third floor.
I had the doorknob to our room in my hand and planned to turn it when I thought with anguish, What if the cheese isn't far enough away from our room?! It could, again, stay there all night, creating its olfactory nightmare. And the odd thought: it'll probably be lonely there. (I can't defend that thought much, except that it was late and I was a little drunk.)
So I quickly ran back down to the landing, doing my best Basil Fawlty imitation, grabbed the cheese, and ran back up to the third floor.
I had a sudden image in my head: thirty-something drunk man in hallway at two in the morning, holding a huge stinking cheese.
Oddly, I must say I felt a bond to the cheese. Even as I was trying to push it away from me, I felt weirdly responsible for the cheese. It wasn't the cheese's fault that it had been placed into the wrong context. In another context--for example, lunch at a café--I would have gladly surrendered to its non-olfactory charms.
Nevertheless, the cheese had to go. Turning, I spotted the elevator, which had stopped on our floor.
It was the work of a second, because I wouldn't have had the nerve to go through with it otherwise. I opened the lift door, positioned the cheese smack dab in the center of the elevator, pushed the button for the ground floor, shoved the door shut, and off it went--down, down, down, taking its putrid stenchification with it.
And then I went to bed, only slightly haunted by the thought of the night porter looking up at the elevator's arrival, only to see a rather large camembert cheese staring at him from the elevator floor. What happened then, I have no idea, but in the morning, upon leaving our smell-free room, there was no cheese still lurking in the elevator.
(I do not know what my French editor will think upon reading this account, but it will not be good.)
UPDATE: I just got this from Eric Schaller, who, along with Paulette Werger, met us in Paris. Man, do I have tricky friends. What a bastard Eric is! - JV
RE: the cheese
I had forgotten all about that.
The sick fucks were actually Paulette and Eric. We bought the cheese, but had the same problem with the funk, so passed it on to you with a bit of slight of hand, along with the cover story that we had received a similar pillow greeting:)
Your account is hilarious of what transpired thereafter.
You can post that we were the culprits not the French if you like.
Glad to have you back home, cheeseless.--Eric
Note: Flicker Photos Here (not too many: we took mostly video, and it'll take awhile to process all of that)
It's impossible to reconstruct a five-week trip from the tail-end, to be honest. It's impossible to really convey the overload of the senses, the contrasts between: the precision of the searing blue of the Romanian sky over the light-bright waving heads of sunflowers as we sped by on the way to the Danube; the magical aquamarine of the lights illuminating the buildings in the old square in Prague our first night there; the metal-oil blue glinting in the water below, seen from atop a monument in Lisbon; the placid, cool-azure leaking out from between the trees in a mossy Berlin park as we walked toward the Brandenburg Gate; the frothy gray-blue of the rain-sky over the grand square in Brussels as we drank a half-dozen types of Leffe in a cafe; the royal blue of the Parisian sky above Notre Dame made sharp by the grey of the Seine roiling below it; the cerulean-steel blue of the Helsinki sky as we approached the fortress island by ferry, seeming to presage storm or winter even in the middle of summer. All of this with a million shades between, sometimes from one moment to the next, and the tastes, smells, textures, mixed with the unfamiliar sound of foreign languages curling and intertwining with our own stilted attempts at imitation. I think sometimes I was fatigued by the sheer wealth of stimuli, senses working overtime, but loved it all the same.
Put another way: I'll always remember the feel against my hand of a rough wall in the gardens at Sintra in Lisbon, and the smell of that stone, and the fragments of conversation in the background, but spend a lifetime trying to describe it in prose.
So anything I say here is an incomplete account, of events--not the sensual/tactile experience of it (which will probably be showing up in fiction for the next couple of decades). So many places in so many countries reminded me of Ambergris or immediately stimulated a deep and subconscious reaction.
Here is part 1, about Portugal.
me, Luis, Michel, and Safaa
We were met at the airport in Lisbon by the incomparable Luis Rodrigues (who blogged about our trip earlier) and a friend of his, and immediately received a cultural lesson when I tried to hug Luis and he turned his shoulder into me, before leaning over to kiss Ann on the cheek. Air kisses fine, hugging not so good. This was a lesson that applied to most of Europe, actually. I was not great at the kissing thing, almost falling over once when I missed a woman's cheek.
We also received a lesson in heat, as Europe was going through a heat wave when we arrived. We learned to move slowly, like tortoises. We learned to wear very light clothing and the importance of undershirts. "You're from Florida--you must be used to the heat," people would say to us and we would reply, "Yes, but in Florida we have air conditioning the way most European countries have heaters." No air conditioning in Lisbon or most of the places we visited.
Luis Rodrigues was even more wonderful in person than in his emails and IMs, which may seem impossible, but there it is. He's a very funny guy with a sly and constant sense of humor, and he showed us a great time. The first night we also met Safaa and Michel, with whom we had a lot of fun. I felt instantly comfortable with everyone we met in Lisbon, and perhaps in particular Michel, who just has a kind of presence about him that is hard to explain but very special.
Slowly, we adapted our way through Lisbon, which had the ambience (we learned later when we went to France) of a Little Paris. Many areas of old buildings and cafes and ma-and-pop restaurants. Lots of music and young people out at night, dressed in what came to seem American Assimilation Party Wear the farther across Europe we traveled. (One welcome change: even the McDonald's were largely housed in old buildings with lots of charm, and many times offered beer, a European staple.)
Luis took us all over Lisbon, even when he wasn't entirely sure where we were going, and we enjoyed all of it (even getting slightly lost), but I have to say my favorite place in Lisbon (and possibly most of Europe) was the Chinese Pavilion (Pavilhão Chinês), which I am not sure I can describe except to say it combined all of the ambiance of the world's best bar with a museum of oddities--from the dozens and dozens of model airplanes hanging from the ceiling to the collection of masks and gas masks on the wall. Every room had its own theme and we wound up talking long into the night twice, staggering home around 3 or 4 in the morning after an aggressive diet of rusty nails and other cool drinks. (Their drink menu was utterly overwhelming) Of course, we realized we couldn't keep up that pace for five weeks and so had to become wiser over the course of the book tour, rarely staying up past midnight most of the time thereafter.
The inside of Nirvana...
I blame Luis Filipe Silva for our late nights--and I mean blame in the most affectionate way--in that he happened to be there for both of them, and I think suggested the place at least once. At the end of the second night, we wound up walking through the square that had been the focal point of the revolution in the 1970s that resulted in Portugal going from dictatorship to democracy and Luis and Luis gave us a fascinating crash course on modern Portuguese history. It was somewhat moving to stand there, listening to them, in the darkness obscured dimly by street lamps amidst the trees that dimly buttered the cobblestones with green light.
The caves at the gardens...
We also loved the gardens at Sintra, which had been created by a mason and had all kinds of significance. But what I loved most is that the gardens had an organic feel--the intent being to create a garden that looked a bit like a natural wilderness, until you looked closer. It had grottos and dark caves, along with wonderful waterfalls and an amazing nine-story dry well that had such a resonance with me that I found myself scribbling lots of notes for short stories. At one of the caves, struck by a sudden fearlessness, I led the group into utter darkness, unable to see for a period of twenty seconds, certain I was going to trip over something, only to come out into the light again on the other side. Near the well, we also entered an area of darkness and plenty of bumped heads, lightened by laughter as we heard from ahead of us, through the black, Luis Rodrigues saying in a fishy voice, "My precious. My precious."
David Soares, it must be noted, gave us a marvelous tour of the gardens, something for which I am forever thankful, as it gave me the foundation for the story I'm writing for the Bantam spelling bee antho. And because, frankly, it was the best tour we've ever gotten of any place.
David and his girlfriend Gisela, by the way, are the sweetest, nicest people on Earth, and I look forward to David's fiction, which is roughly dark fantasy, being translated into English. (This applies to so many writers we met in Lisbon and in Europe in general. Such a frustration to hear descriptions of works that sounded so interesting and yet there was no way we could read them.) David also does comics and graphic novels and drew a marvelous squid in a comic he signed to me. My favorite quote from Portugal might be David saying, "We're not Goths. We are just people who like to wear a lot of black."
As for my publishers, Pedro Marques and João Seixas from Livros De Areia, I enjoyed them a lot. Pedro did the marvelous cover for my Portuguese collection and is one of the best graphic designers I've ever come across. He's also a somewhat larger-than-life character in terms of gesture and speech, which I enjoyed. João was also great--a total SF-F fan, with a nice collection of US and UK horror and dark fantasy books, and so we talked a lot about that. (I'd also note that Luis Corte Real at Saida De Emergencia is doing very cool things as well, including just releasing Alan Moore's novel. A really nice guy with a good sense of perspective.)
As for the reading itself, it took place at a FNAC bookstore, one of the largest chains in Europe. They and my publisher had done a great job of publicizing the event and the turn-out really surprised me: somewhere around 100 people were there, and I signed a lot of books after the event.
Finally, I can only echo what Luis Rodrigues already said in his blog post: "Once again, thank you all for the wonderful time: David Soares and Gisela, Safaa Dib, Michel Jacinto, Pedro Marques, all the Luíses (Filipe Silva, Corte Real) and Joãos (Barreiros, Ventura, Seixas), Modesta and Maria João, everyone at Fnac Colombo."
P.S. Holy crap--I only recognize two people here. 20 year high school reunion. Couldn't make it, alas.
A short report on the Shriek movie events here, with more to follow.
I'll be posting my thoughts about the trip to Portugal soon, with more to follow on all of the other countries. I am also doing an article on publishing in the various countries for a magazine that begins with "L" and will begin to YouTube the various editor interviews we did shortly. I think it will be useful for writers and editors in the UK and US to be able to put faces with names, and I know writers will be interested in what they have to say about the publishing situation in the various countries, since there are lots of opportunities for foreign editions right now.
(Evil Monkey: "Ha ha ha. Did you see what Nick M. said about your video intro to the movie stuff?" Jeff: "Hmm. No. What did he say?" Evil Monkey: "With his scruff and affectless tone, it felt as though he were reading these videotaped messages recorded of his own free will now that his kindly hosts in Hezbollah have explained to him that American is an imperialist pig-whore." Jeff: "That's pretty funny." Evil Monkey: "You're not mad?" Jeff: "It's one thing to give a reading. It's another to deliver a message into a video camera. I'm not an actor. I'm sure I appeared wooden. Nothing I can do about that." Evil Monkey: "Do you want me to cut Nick's head off?" Jeff: "Since that's not where he stores his brain, I don't think it would do much good." Evil Monkey: Good point! I'll cut off his ass!" Jeff: "No, no, no. Stick to Crichton and Rice." Evil Monkey: "I missed you, you sorry SOB." Jeff: "I missed you too, Evil. But you wouldn't have liked Europe. It would have made you all soft and sentimental." Evil Monkey: "Eww.")
Listening to the new Long Winters CD--my favorite of the year so far. "The Sky is Open" and other amazing songs.
So, just settling back into life in Tallahassee. I'll have photos and reports and whatnot soon. In the meantime, five photos from Finncon, taken using the phone the Finncon organizers gave us.
I'm still absorbing it all. The main thing I think I want to say is how much I loved meeting everyone. So many interesting, interesting people. It made everything except writing seem very unimportant. I was smiling so much on the plane back thinking about people and all the adventures we had. It was the most amazing five weeks of my life, I think.
Me after a long day of Finnconning...
Too cool for words--gray caps in the Finncon Masquerade!
Ann checking to make sure I'm still alive.
I fulfill my lifelong dream of standing next to totoro!
Stepan awaits the sauna.
UPDATE You can find great photos here, from Finncon. We are leaving for the US tomorrow, rather tired but having had an amazing time the last five weeks. My only regret is being so tired mentally and physically that we could not accept our hosts invitation for further fun the last couple of days, instead wandering slowly through Helsinki, Ann and I just sitting on a bench on the fortress island and alternatively reading and sleeping for most of yesterday. I will have a full report over the weekend, however.
Jukka Halme, the con organizer, will be posting shortly through Luis, but in the meantime, I just wanted to say we are having a wonderful time and you can find photos and coverage on the excellent Partial Recall blog, along with Cheryl Morgan's comprehensive coverage on her blog (I do not have that address on me).
The Shriek movie parties were this weekend and seem to have generally gone off without a hitch. In addition, the movie premiered here to a huge audience and a very good reaction.
Ann and I have just gotten the news that Mike Simanoff, friend, all-around nice guy, and former Ministry editor, has passed away unexpectedly. This has colored an otherwise wonderful experience in Finland with sadness and shock for us today. It has been a little bit difficult to concentrate. I wanted to blog about the great hospitality and experiences here in Finland, but will let others do that for now. It just does not feel right at the moment.
As Jeff is currently touring around Europe, I think it is appropriate to focus on this continent for a moment.
For some evil minded (mostly Europeans - of course), Europe is an aging continent clinging uselessly to its glorious past. Not as bold as America, not as quick as Asia, Europe has lost the race to future. For these people, Europe is a huge History Park - with splendid sights and historical monuments spread inconveniently over a too big area. And the quality of the services for tourists are burdened by the lack of common language and odd local customs.
For those of us who live near these gothic churches, grim graveyards and places with almost mythical sounding names like Hastings, Waterloo, Poltava or Marathon, these places are metro stops, train stations and location of the nearest Ikea is. Oddly enough, we are the first to forget what these places symbolise, what they still should mean to us.
The biggest problem for Europe is to define itself. Where does Europe end? Should Turkey or even Ukraine be included or not? The futile effort of European Union to draw up a unifying constitution failed for the lack of common nominators between the 25 countries. Our culture is too diversified, our visions for the future too contradictory to be shared. Just the mention of Christianity almost ignited a new religious war between Poland, Italy and the rest of continent.
The only common thing between all European countries is the history - the devastating wars and bloody conflicts which nobody wants to relive. Peace in Europe is just about the only thing we all can agree upon. For at least as long as we can remember the lessons of the past.
Looking around the world today, one can only wish that other parts would remember this too. That everybody else would be as fed up with useless fighting as us Europeans.
From the land of Linux and Nokia Kimmo Lehtonen is a Finnish SF active and a writer of speculative fiction. His third novel, LUEMINUT (README), is available on the web under Creative Commons license, but unfortunately only in Finnish.
...and we haven't even left.
Four amazing days, Tritonic, my publisher, taking us up into the mountains, to Brasov and then the Danube Delta, where I saw storks and black ibis and swans I'd never ever seen before!!!! (Road Trip--
We miss Bogdan, Mireille, Michael, Horia, Ona, and all the rest very much. Everyone was so amazingly wonderful. I don't really know how to describe it, except I'm both very sad right now at leaving but glad to know that I will be seeing these people again.
The book launch was huge, with an interview for Romanian TV and radio, and coverage and interviews in six or seven newspapers. Everything went wonderfully well.
Ann and I are in the airport for Finland and know that will be amazing and wonderful, too.
More soon. I'm doing a crappy job of coverage of our tour, but we will have video and photos and a complete report when my tired brain can process all of it.
Hannes has done such a nice job summarizing our Berlin trip that it's hard to know what to add, except that we had a lovely time exploring Berlin--from the gardens to the many amazing museums, to the night we played pool with Hannes for some reason chasing me around the pool table; I showed amazing agility in avoiding him. Not to mention Hannes' and Sara's really quite fascinating rabbits: George and Elliot.
Prague, meanwhile, has also been great. Something new around every street corner.
Jeff: So what did you like most about Prague?
Ann: Chin chin chin.
Jeff: The toasting?
Ann: Yeah. The toasting. Right.
Jeff: That's a lot of chin, ya know.
Ann: Thank you.
Jeff: You're welcome. Obregado.
Ann: But, seriously, I loved the Adolph Born exhibit. It was amazing--and he seems influenced by early grotesque art. Also, the old Jewish center, the synagogues and the cemetery.
Jeff: Yeah. And Czech beer is pretty damn good.
Jeff: Yes, but I'm your philistine.
Ann: True enough. I also liked the gardens above the national palace. There was a concert going on--rock/pub punk/ska--and then we wound up in this really cool place drinking beer outside in the rain.
Jeff: Yeah, that was pretty amazing.
Ann: With our umbrellas and the dogs.
Jeff: Everyone seemed to have three dogs.
Ann: And all the dogs had enormous balls for some reason.
Jeff: Yes, this is true.
Ann: Except for the girl dog. She had to put up with a lot from the others...And the chairs were tree stumps with rain-resistant cushions.
Jeff: And there was a wrought-iron staircase curling up into nowhere.
Ann: And a cupola that looked like it was from the last century.
Jeff: And the beer was very good and someone was smoking a joint nearby, which was also good.
Ann: And there was an abandoned faery palace right next door.
Jeff: And we walked home over the bridge in the rain, with a thousand people streaming past us toward the concert where the Pet Shop Boys were going to play.
Ann: And there was a rainbow.
Jeff: And there was a two-spired palace rising above the bridge.
Ann: And the night before, you had a book store reading where you got to sign the ceiling and draw one of your Cheshire cats!
Jeff: And I tickled you!
Ann: That was bad. But the cat had a hat and a cigar, so it was okay.
Ann: We looked for Svankmajer, too.
Jeff: We looked high and low.
Ann: We have video footage of our search.
Jeff: Down cobblestone streets, past curved-wall buildings that looked like they came out of a painting by Hawk Alfredson.
Ann: When we finally found his gallery, it was closed!
Jeff: But I put my signed Czech copy of Veniss Underground through a broken gallery window anyway!
Ann: But I found the mail slot and got you to do it the right way.
Jeff: True. I was stupid.
Ann: This is often the case.
Jeff: And it was very nice meeting Czech SF/fantasy readers, and especially Martin, my editor, and Tomas, my publisher. Both very fine people.
Ann: I'll never forget Tomas popping open a bottle of champagne and pouring it over a corner of a copy of the Czech edition of Veniss Underground.
Jeff: Nor I. I thought he was about to damage a saleable copy!
Ann: [hits Jeff in the shoulder]
Jeff: Ow! Well, maybe I enjoyed that.
Ann: And I'll never forget Prague at night, on the river, with the lights on the palace. Just wonderful.
Jeff: And I'll never forget kissing you on the bridge!
Ann: You're a very naughty boy.
Ann: So now where are we going?
Jeff: Romania! Michael and Horia are going to show us around the country. 2000 kilometers in four days! Two book release parties for Veniss! The Black Sea! Dracula's Castle! And much more!
Ann: I can't wait! Why, this is like a dream!
Jeff: Yes, yes it is.
Ann: Thank you for not bringing Evil Monkey along with us.
Jeff: You're welcome.
Tor's own Liz Gorinsky has great news for all Jeff VanderMeer fans residing in or planning to visit New York:
FROM UNDERGROUND: A night of strange and varied entertainments centered around Jeff VanderMeer's novel Shriek: An Afterword. August 20, 2006, 7-11 p.m. at Galapagos Art Space [70 North 6th Street between Kent and Wythe, Williamsburg, Brooklyn (718 782-5188). Subway: L to Bedford Ave]. $7.
In honor of the release of Jeff VanderMeer's groundbreaking, mind-bending novel Shriek: An Afterword... a multidisciplinary event centered around the Brooklyn debut of "Shriek: The Movie," a short film based on the novel of the same name, directed by Juha Lindroos and with an original soundtrack by legendary art-rock band The Church. Before and after the screening, a full slate of fantastical acts including readings by Catherynne M. Valente, Ellen Kushner, and Scott Westerfeld; burlesque by Jo Boobs and Bambi the Mermaid; rap by Schäffer The Darklord; and visual art by Hawk Alfredson. MCed by ¡Jeff! the Clown, with interstitial soundscapes by Nick Lesley.
Also, a reminder that Shriek: An Afterword is officially on sale in the United States as of today. Grab yourself a copy of the book now!
Another missive from Berlin, after having just brought Ann & Jeff to the train station and before work keeps me from writing to tell you how much I enjoyed haveing the VanderMeers stay with us. Yesterday we visited the park of Sanssouci, the Prussian castle in Potsdam a 40 minute drive by S-Bahn out of Berlin. Apart from a little rain it was a wonderful day and we must have hiked through those beautiful gardens for some hours. Then we found a small restaurant in the pedestrian area of Potsdam where Ann & Jeff again tasted a different kind of German beer (besides food, of course).
Back at the apartment we took a nap, which we really needed, Sara and me did some more work on that Star-Wars-translation we should have finished a week ago, and in the end decided to go to a pub nearby and spend the evening shooting some pool. This turned out to be a lot of fun as we all four play at genius level, meaning it takes us quite some time to shoot a ball into a hole. We had some more beer, playfully trying out new titles for the German edition of Shriek (I think Shriek - An Aftershave made it, but I'm not sure) and at one point I remember me running after Jeff around the pool table and screaming at him, but I am not sure what that was all about. Ann this morning at breakfast said that she had not had as much fun in a long time and there is nothing I could add to that ...
All in all I cannot emphasize enough what great guests Ann and Jeff have been, as intelligent people to talk to and have fun with. Both readings here in Berlin went very well, and I am looking forward to visiting the master of Ambra and his wife in Florida some time. I am deeply honoured to have them stay at our apartment, and I think one of the great things about my job as an editor and translator is meeting people like them. I wish them the best on their further journey, and if you live anywhere near the places they come to, try to drop in!
Cheers to you!
See below for the Clarion East faculty. I'm really happy to be teaching at Clarion, to give back a little something to the community.
CLARION 2007 FACULTY ANNOUNCED
The 2007 Clarion faculty has been chosen. They are:
Cory Doctorow: science fiction novelist, blogger and technology activist. He is the co-editor of the blog Boing Boing at http://www.boingboing.net and a contributor to many newspapers, magazines and websites, including Wired. He was formerly Director of European Affairs for the Electronic Frontier Foundation and will shortly serve as the Fulbright Chair at the Annenberg Center for Public Diplomacy at the University of Southern California. http://www.craphound.com
Gregory Frost: writer, film researcher & teacher. The author of numerous short stories as well as fantasy novels, including 'Fitcher's Bride's. His work has been nominated for the Nebula and Theodore Sturgeon awards. He was the Fiction Writing Workshop Director at Swarthmore College in 2004 and this will be his third summer as a Clarion instructor. http://www.gregoryfrost.com
Ellen Kushner: writer, producer, storyteller and host of WGBH Radio's 'Sound & Spirit' series. Her first novel 'Swordspoint: A Melodrama of Manners' has been hailed as the progenitor of the Mannerpunk school of fantasy. Her second novel 'Thomas the Rhymer' won both the 1991 World Fantasy Award and the Mythopoeic Award. Her short fiction appears in various anthologies. This will be her second stint as a Clarion instructor. http://www.ellenkushner.com
Mary Anne Mohanraj: writer & academic; author of literary fiction, erotica, poetry and publisher of two online magazines. In addition, she teaches creative writing and composition and directs an arts foundation. She is currently a visiting professor at Roosevelt College and a winner of a Skowcroft Prize for Fiction. http://www.mamohanraj.com
Delia Sherman: her first novel, 'Through a Brazen Mirror' was published as one of the prestigious Ace Fantasy Specials. Her second novel 'The Porcelain Dove' won the Mythopoeic Award for Fantasy Fiction. Her short fiction has appeared in numerous magazines & anthologies. A 1990 Campbell Award nominee, she has twice served as a judge for the Crawford Award for Best First Fantasy Novel http://www.deliasherman.com
Jeff VanderMeer: two-time World Fantasy Award winner whose books of fiction and edited anthologies have been finalists for the Philip K. Dick Award and the International Horror Guild Award. He is best known for writing 'City of Saints & Madmen', 'Veniss Underground' and 'The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric and Discredited Diseases' http://www.jeffvandermeer.com
I just wanted to drop a quick note to say that today is the official release date of Shriek in the US and Canada! (Coinciding with that, Borders ran a promotion for Shriek in their national e-newsletter, including a link to a preview of the Shriek movie.)
Ann and I are celebrating here in Prague after having a blast with Hannes and Sara in Berlin. Hannes' bookstore is wonderful and everyone we met was so nice. We showed part of the Shriek film and it went over very well. Berlin is huge and has so many different things to do and see. Too much to blog about now, to be honest.
Now we're in Prague and marveling at this amazing city, walking around with our mouths open. Every street corner is making me scribble notes for stories.
Anyway, we'll open a bottle of champagne tonight, and then tomorrow see Shimon and possibly Jan Svankmajer. At the very least, we hope to track down the store he and his wife run.
We found copies of the Czech edition of Veniss in the stores today--really nice, part of their New Weird line that includes KJ Bishop and China Mieville. Oh well, I guess I'll live with the term while here in the Czech Republic.
We saw an amazing exhibit today of the work of illustrator and artist Adolph Bern (Bonn?). I'll have to get out the book we bought and get the name right. Along with a stunning exhibit of photography which I'll blog about later--along with more about Berlin.
Meanwhile--what the fuck? Cheryl Morgan's shutting down EC? Well, we'll have to get to the bottom of this in Finland.
The shortlist for this year's World Fantasy Awards has been announced. As you know, Jeff was on the judges panel, along with Steve Lockley, Barbara Roden, Victoria Strauss and Andrew Wheeler. Jeff is unable to blog right now, but he asked me to post the following message: "Congrats to all the finalists. I really enjoyed working with the other judges, it was a wonderful experience."
And the nominees are:
Hallo again from Berlin! Another missive to tell you what Ann & Jeff are up to over here. Yesterday they continued their tour of the city, visiting the museum isle and the famed Pergamon Museum with the incredible »Pergamon-Altar«. Then they walked all the way to »Hackescher Markt«, which used to be a haven for artists in Berlin Mitte but now is way to expensive for most of them. Still it's a beautiful area with lots of shops and cafés.
In the evening we met at the Otherland bookshop where we were already busy preparing for the night's reading. Around twenty people turned up, which is ok, but not spectacular. Jeff first read a small part of the King Squid section, a longer part from Martin Lake, and »Bookman Old Style« from the font pages.
Our good friend Harald had downloaded the first five minutes of the Shriek movie and organized a beamer, so we got an advance look at what promisies to be a very interesting art movie (nice to see our friend Liz Hand as »Janice Shirek«, by the way).
Afterwards we - Ann & Jeff and half a dozen of people from the shop and the attending masses - moved on to a German restaurant around the corner where we could still sit outside comfortably from 10 pm 'til after midnight, drink beer, eat some typical German food (well, some of us did) and talk about the internet, literature and lots of other things that came up in such a pleasently mixed crowd. As has become a bit of a tradition, we cooled off later in our living room watching one of our pet rabbits, Eliot, hopping about and begging for bits to eat. Ann & Jeff seem to have taken to her - and her sister George, who is a bit shy - quite a bit.
Today we intend to meet in Kreuzberg in the afternoon and climb the famed hill which gave that part of the city its name, which will take roughly ten minutes. Ann & Jeff are hiking aruond quite a bit, so it might be a good idea to give them some time to relax - we'll see. And tomorrow we'll be off to Potsdam to visit the famed gardens of Sanssouci, but that's for another blog to tell.
Again, more tommorrow, and cheers to all of you!
My name is Hannes Riffel and I have the pleasure to be host to Ann and Jeff VanderMeer for their stay in Berlin. I am Jeff's German editor, working freelance for Klett-Cotta in Stuttgart, having been in charge of Stadt der Heiligen & Verrückten (the German City, which is identical in content and design to the British TOR edition), and I will translate his Shriek for publication in Fall 2007. Apart from that I co-own the Otherland bookshop here in Berlin, run a small press with some friends and am just about finished translating Vellum by Hal Duncan for Fantasy Productions/Heyne. But enough about me ...
Ann and Jeff arrived by train from Brussels and Cologne late on Tuesday save and sound after a bit of a mix up about trains and train stations. My wife Sara and me took them to an Indian restaurant and we spent a very nice evening there, got to know each other and came to the conclusion that we will be able to spend some of the time in the next five days together without too much irritation on both sides. Seriously, Ann and Jeff are wonderful guests and I am sorry that we have work to do and will have to leave them to fend on their own part of the time.
Yesterday Ann and Jeff explored the city (at least that's what they told us), shopping at the Potsdamer Platz, walking through the Tiergarten, marvelling at the Brandenburg Gate and drinking beer and reading at a riverside Biergarten. Yesterday evening the first of the two Vanderevents in Berlin was held, a reading at a special meeting of the Andymon science fiction club. Attendance was numerous with between 25 and 30 people gathering in the garden of the »Kulturbund Treptow«. Jeff read some excerpts from the English City, and his German translator, Erik Simon, a writer of distinction himself who had come all the way from Dresden for the occasion, read funny bits from the glossary of the German edition. A lively discussion ensued and a fun evening was had by all, as far as I can tell. Jeff got to sign quite a few copies of the German City, brought along or bought on the spot. Thanks to all of you
Afterward we returned to Schöneberg, the district we live in, and spent some more time sitting outside the pub at the S-Bahn station around the corner from our home. Ann and Jeff discovered to their delight that the pub carried Aventinus, a classic strong German beer they both like a lot. It is such a pleasure to meet people with such good taste!
Ok, enough for today -- we have the reading in our bookshop coming up tonight, and there people will get an advance look at the Shriek movie (if technology does not let us down). Whether it will be a bilingual reading as yesterday was will depend on the people turning up. As it is, we have Boris Koch, a fine writer of sf and horror, waiting in the wings to read some German sections, if need be. Otherwise, I'd prefer to keep this strictly English, but we'll just have to see about that. Please come in droves and help us decide (our address is one the Otherland webiste mentioned above).
More tomorrow. Cheers to all of you.
Robert Devereux writes to tell us about the upcoming Shriek movie event he's organizing:
SUN. August 20 - Pittsburgh, PA - 9pm - Shadow Lounge (6028 Penn Circle South, Pittsburgh, PA 15206 Phone - 412.363.8277). $3
Not in Pittsburgh? Please refer to the schedule on the official movie blog to see if Shriek is coming to your town.
In my last entry, I promised to share the results of my soul-searching, trying to find clues and hidden impulses behind my latest (cinematic) foray into the world of zoophilia.
I intend to keep my promise since I’ve dug up some insights which many of you may be able to relate to.
But I’ve been slightly distracted by the latest re-eruption of the Middle-East conflict which has been going on for the last 3,000+ years, ever since Moses got the idea that he finally discovered the one and only truth for ALL of mankind.
I’ve written a little poem which helped me articulate my own feelings about the crisis. Perhaps you’ll enjoy it too.
The Mono Plague
Peace is heresy
Before gods demanding victory!
Had a few who liked peace,
The jealous god of the Jew,
And the Slave
(The world “Muslim” means slave)
Turns His worshippers
Seeking only victory,
Since Peace be heresy.
And I’d be glad,
And thus I shout a quote from Nietzsche,
“Is not just this godlike
That there are gods, but no God?”
Our trip has been marvelous thus far. Everyone in Lisbon was so friendly (Luis' account is quite accurate) and Paris was the same. Stayed the first part of Paris with my editor, Sebastien Guillot (I'm sure I've spelled the last name wrong alas!) and his girl friend Alexandria, and their two amazing cats. We visited Versailles and had some great meals in Paris. Then we moved into the middle of Paris and visited with friends. Also got to decide the Trevor story contest with Mike Moorcock, who is in fine health and good spirits.
Now we're in Brussels, and enjoying the beer, etc. Tomorrow, we leave for Berlin.
I should note that there is now an open Pittsburgh Shriek movie event hosted by Robert Devereux on August 20th--more details on that soon--and a NYC open event, which Liz Gorinsky will have more information on soon.