Thursday, May 31, 2007


So I noticed one of our cats, Shoshona the Speckle-Bellied Monkey Cat, coughing and wheezing earlier. It didn't sound like the normal kind of hairball. I had also noticed yesterday that Shoshona had been mysteriously drawn to a particular corner of the living room, Blair Witch-style.

Mystery solved. I heard her hacking up, went over and discovered she'd thoughtfully placed a rather moist art installation near the couch.

Oh, I thought, just another hairball. Odd. Right in the middle of the pool...that looks like a green-covered head. Wait. That is a head.

Somehow, Shosh had managed to hack up the remains of an eaten lizard in such a way that the severed head and neck landed right-way up like some kind of horrible bust, with the disembodied tail curled artfully around the foundation. All coated in a substance a bit like yellow curry. It was all a bit like a miniature Hannibal Lecter-created tableau

Thank you Shosh for grossing me out. Thank you SO much.


Evil Monkey: Eh. I've done worse.

Wednesday, May 30, 2007


Best American Fantasy reviewed in the May 28th Publishers Weekly:

In a genre where yearly “best of” volumes often repeat one another, the first in Prime’s new annual fantasy anthology series is a breath of eclectic and delightfully innovative fresh air. While the VanderMeers have included such fantasy veterans as Kelly Link and Elizabeth Hand, most of the 29 stories are by nongenre authors as well as gifted newcomers. Among the more memorable tales are Tyler Smith’s “A Troop [sic] of Baboons,” about a troupe of unruly baboon thespians, and Tony D’Souza’s whimsical “The Man Who Married a Tree,” about a man in love with a birch tree. This outstanding entry in the crowded “best of” stakes may not be the most commercially successful fantasy anthology of the year, but genre and mainstream fiction fans alike will be pleasantly surprised by these unconventional short fiction gems.

I just wish they'd mentioned that Matt Cheney is the series editor, since that is a weighted position that greatly influences all of the contents.

BAF should be on bookshelves around mid-July.



Gawd willin' and the crik don't rise, Sony Playstation, as part of its sponsorship of the 2007 Manchester International Festival, will be making an animation/cartoon out of my story "A New Face in Hell," to coincide with the launch of Perverted by Language, the anthology based on songs by The Fall. The animation should be widely available on the internet, and a couple of other writers will also be featured (more info on that soon).

Here's more info on the anthology:

Mechanical ducks, shark women that taste of liquorice, perverted sexual shenanigans in cramped office spaces, double-crossing Nazi apologists, bald-headed cultural subversives and celebrity deer-culling - this is just a glimpse into the wonderful and frightening world of Perverted by Language. Twenty-three writers choose a song by The Fall and use it as inspiration for a short story. Kicking off with Niall Griffiths' scalding take on the 1978 single, "Bingo Master's Break-out", the book culminates with Rebbecca Ray's devilishly saucy take on "I Can Hear The Grass Grow". This work is published in association with the inaugural Manchester International Festival (28 June-15 July 2007), the world's first international festival of new work, created by leading artists from across the spectrum of popular culture, innovation and music.

My story revolves around a mechanical duck...


Tuesday, May 29, 2007


It's exciting times here at the VanderMeer Ranch. Opportunities popping up all over the place. At least three out of the eight things below should come true within the next couple of weeks...


- I'll be contracted to write an off-off-Broadway musical.
- I'll accept an opportunity to write a coffee table book for a software company.
- I'll be commissioned to write a travel guide on a South Pacific island nation.
- I'll sign a contract to write a tie-in novel for a pretty major movie/novel/comics franchise.
- I'll be asked to allow a gaming company to make a cartoon out of a short story.
- I'll accept a ghost writing gig for a major national politician.
- I'll be asked to write a story for a fan who happens to be a top-40 musician and who wants to have the story micro-tattooed on his arms.
- I'll write the lyrics for a song for a member of one of my favorite bands.

Monday, May 28, 2007


We just spent a wonderful, relaxing anniversary (our fifth!) weekend in St. Augustine, doing nothing but chilling out.

However, I did manage to make my first insane purchase since the beginning of the year--a dragon head from the Splendid China exhibit in Orlando--sold to an antique shop owner in St. Augustine after the place was torn down. And just this cool head remaining. It'd been in the shop for three years, finally going steeply down in price this year. Much love to Ann for not thinking me crazy. Since there's no space in our house, Erin has it in hers now, as a guardian spirit for Riley. To Erin's credit (or perhaps she's just used to us), when we called her and asked if she'd like a huge dragon head in her house, she said, "Sure!"



Thursday, May 24, 2007


The beginning of Borne....


I found it because I had to, on the flank of shudder-sleeping Mord, one leg larger than my entire home--within that brown fur jungle, matted and stinking of carrion and chemicals and whatever small creatures had hidden themselves there. Mord had leveled a soft building when he'd fallen to his slumber and the goopy pieces mashed out to the sides of him, given a new identity as asymmetrical cocoon. I found the thing because I had to take the risk, to eat, to survive. Even sleeping, Mord rose higher than many a structure, had fangs and claws that could eviscerate quick as thought, eyes like vast, fly-encrusted beacons of self-loathing, and a mind that worked on vast, cosmic scales. But at his flanks, all he meant to me was food. When he wandered out as Seether from his lair in the basement of the cracked and dysfunctional Company, all manner of food, tantalizing and ghastly, became entangled in that ropy, dirt-bathed fur, some of it coming free during his shambling walk. As he destroyed and reimagined the city for his own unknowable reasons, so too he replenished it, in his thoughtless way. Sometimes he bequeathed to us only the corpses of unrecognizable animals, their skulls burst of an internal pressure their little eyes bright and bulging. Sometimes we found the beetles you could put in your ears, like the ones my friend Wick made, and, within the explosion of mint or lime on the tongue, there would form visions of places that I hoped had never really existed; it would be too cruel to live in this city and know of such normalcy. Sometimes, it was just packets of meat, clear surplus from the Company's bowels. You never knew--and that is why Mord had a following, a posse, a ragged flinching train of the desperate. Many times Mord would turn, and turning all unknowing or with malice relieved one of us of our life. But you never knew, and so you followed, head down in simulated genuflection, hoping Mord would provide for you.

None of us knew why the Company hadn't tried to destroy Mord while it still could, but there was little chance of that now. Perhaps he still worked for them in his chaotic way.

By now, Mord could also levitate using some arcane and coiled concentration of mind, and many an explorer or scavenger, daring to climb up that flank after Mord had, in a formless rage, destroyed a city block or cornered some of us and literally devoured us, the remnant only a smudge of the foulest breath imaginable...many an explorer/scavenger would find themselves lifted up and then, unable to hold on, fall to their deaths, Mord unawares as he glided like a boulder over his dominion, his hunting preserve, the nightmare they call this city.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007


I'm about to go away for a few days (freelance deadline). But I got an idea from this fortune from the Bamboo House, the best Chinese restaurant in the world:

A friend will soon reveal an exciting secret to you!

So, while I'm away, it would be most amusing if you would post your exciting secrets to the comments field. Anonymously, of course, if you so desire...let loose. It'll feel great!



I've just posted a short entry over at Ed Champion's blog on the underrated novel Bangkok Tattoo, which I argue is a great post 9-11 novel.

Also, one-line reviews and a cool ALIEEEN game over on the Amazon book blog.



Just as an update--Best American Fantasy, a little birdie tells me, will get a starred review in an upcoming issue of Publishers Weekly.

And...drum roll...NPR's All Things Considered will feature it on a program devoted to their summer reading recommendations. Their discussion of BAF will tentatively include a reading by Kelly Link from her story in the anthology.

I know I sound like a rabid animal of some sort, but...this really is the best antho we've ever edited.



The influential French website Le Cafard cosmique, which translates as the Cosmic Bug, has awarded its latest Cosmic Bug Award to City of Saints & Madmen. Prior winners include Gene Wolfe and M. John Harrison, so I am well and truly chuffed.

As you can see above, not only did the jury get to talk about books at a cafe, they got to do so in FRANCE, those bastards. Trust me, it wouldn't have been the same if they were conferring in Tallahassee.

The google-translated page about the award is here. According to google's strangled French, it's the Cockroach Award, btw.

I believe translator Gilles Goullet deserves most of the credit, and yet another free beer. I'm beginning to wonder if going to France in October is actually a good idea, given the amount of beer I will be paying for...

Now I just hope there's a bug statue involved...


Sunday, May 20, 2007


Okay, just get used to it. There will be Riley photos from time to time...gawd...I'm getting so old I'm not only becoming a big softy but all my hair is turning white...


Saturday, May 19, 2007


I'm guest blogging, along with dozens of others, at Ed Champion's blog while he's moving to NYC. I posted today and will do so intermittently until Ed returns.

Also, note a couple of posts, one on Big Books (The Religion, Acacia, and Thirteen) and Books You Shouldn't Overlook (In the Eye of Heaven, Divergence, The Music of Razors, and Ink).

Next week, they'll be posting my short piece on Jeremy C. Shipp's Vacation, a mind-blowing first novel.



Check out this great post by Paul on the subject of new vitality in the field, and one particular new writer anthology.

I find this of interest partially because it seems to be getting harder and harder to find anthologies of original fiction that are open to new writers. Basically, you're more likely to come up through the magazine ranks and then appear in anthos, and I think that sucks. It's a combination of conservatism and just plain laziness in some cases on the part of antho editors who are little more than packagers or caretakers, but also the demands of the marketplace. It appears that if you don't have one of a certain pool of names whose BookScan numbers are through the roof, you, as an editor of anthos, are probably screwed in terms of getting adequate chain support. And thus screwed in terms of being able to sell a decent number of books.

Of course, it depends on why you're editing an antho. I would like to think that when I'm effing 75 I'll still be doing Leviathan anthos and still willing to take some risks.

Anyway, this makes original anthologies like Polyphony and others even more important. Leviathan 5 will have an open reading period as well, but we know up front that depending on the vagaries of what "names" submit or we solicit from (because we honestly love their work), we'll have more or fewer opportunities. The more chances we take, the fewer opportunities, basically. Yes, this is the reality of the marketplace, but it seems like there should be a better balance in place and a better effort to nurture newer writers. Not to mention, if Ann and I were to stop doing open reading periods, we'd eventually completely lose touch with the new, exciting stuff being done by writers in their twenties. So there are ancillary benefits, both to our work as editors but also to my writing, frankly.

I hope I'm overstating the case somewhat, or am just dead wrong.


Thursday, May 17, 2007


I'm now, finally, getting around to reading the second of Alastair Reynolds' three-part space opera. I'd read Revelation Space awhile back and been blown away for the most part. Now I'm into Redemption Ark and really, really finding it to be great.

The best space opera, for my money, has to have most of these elements:

(1) A grand, cosmic scope.
(2) The fate of a world or worlds or the universe in the balance.
(3) Truly odd and almost unknowable aliens.
(4) Some odd and mind-bending alien object.
(5) Damaged or damaging characters, fascinating because they are eccentric or fragile or mysterious.
(6) An essential strangeness, in the sense of an almost insane imagination that the reader accepts because the strangeness is couched in pseudo-scientific or scientific terms. In other words, the comfortable bucket for the strangeness provides form for the strangeness, but it's still bug-f*** strange.

The best space opera is really, really odd on a fundamental level. And I think Reynolds has that quality.

Anyway, really enjoying this second book.


Wednesday, May 16, 2007


Just finished the draft of a new (very long) story called, tentatively, either "Borne" or "Borne and the Mord". It's set in the same milieu as "The Situation". It may be the weirdest thing I've ever written. I don't know how to describe it except to say it's a cross between a surrealist Godzilla, a post-apocalytic nightmare, a biologically engineered other world, and the work of Jim Woodring.

One of the nice things about accompanying Ann down here on one of her business trips is having the mornings to write.


Sunday, May 13, 2007


Erin and John took this footage--very cute!

In other news, I'll be off the radar a bit this week and not posting much, but you can check out my posts on throughout the week. Posts like The Big Books Cometh, Don't Overlook These Titles, and an Under the Radar post about one of my new favorite books.



I just did a short piece on Lou Anders' Pyr Books for the Amazon book blog, focusing on music. Lou posted a longer piece here, as well. I really want to track down the Brazilian stuff Ian McDonald talks about. (Speaking of McDonald, I'll be doing an interview with him for later in the month.)

(Also note my entry on the Tähtivaeltaja Award.)

Thursday, May 10, 2007


SF Weekly just posted my review of a first novel, Maledicte. I thought it was a very promising start for a new author.



Tähtivaeltaja-award 2007

Tähtivaeltaja-award for the best science fiction book published in Finland in 2006 has been given to Stepan Chapman's novel Troikka (The Troika, 1997). The book, illustrated by the author himself, was published in Finland by The Tree Club and translated to Finnish by Hannu Blommila.

The jury described the book as a unique, mosaic journey to a whirlwind of wondrous visions; an artistic experience with intellectual insight and pure literary pleasure.

Tähtivaeltaja-award jury consisted of critic Jukka Halme, editor Toni Jerrman, critic Elli Leppä, and journalist Vesa Sisättö.

Wednesday, May 09, 2007


My sister, blister, lee-zard, Elizabeth Vanessa VanderMeer, is...well, two years younger than me today. Happy birthday to my Edinburgh-dwellin' sibling!!


Tuesday, May 08, 2007


We've got a final cover! (One minor typo corrected after this version.)

Click on it for a larger version. Due for publication in July.

Still over the moon about the quality of this collection.


Monday, May 07, 2007


A few recent links to stuff I've done... blog
- Dungeon!
- Hand Interview

- Possibly the best interview I've conducted, with Elizabeth Hand giving very honest and interesting answers.
- Interview with Eisner judges and administrator

Right, so the schedule for the year now looks like this:

June 22-24 - ALA in Washington DC along with (I believe Steven Erickson and John Scalzi)

July 2-6 - Teaching at Clarion in San Diego

July 28 - Aug 4 - Teaching/speaking/etc. at the Shared Worlds camp in South Carolina.

Sept 1 - Guest of the Bumbershoot Festival in Seattle

Oct. 28 - Nov. 4 - Utopiales guest, Nantes, France

And gawd knows whatever else comes up. I'm planning on doing a lot more teaching/workshops. I'm also beginning to get in manuscripts for my critique service.


Sunday, May 06, 2007


Yep, we're grandparents. Here's the proof.


Friday, May 04, 2007


...or do I just mean the unpredictability? You spend 10, 15 years pulling yourself up by your bootstraps to have a shot at a sustained career only to find that, to some extent, luck and chance will have a lot to say about what happens next. That, and your ability to keep writing on a certain level. So you constantly have to react to changing situations, expectations, and fortunes. You look around you and see that many writers have what only seem like 5 to 10 years of any kind of prominence at all before fading or faltering and you wonder, as you have for almost every year you've been writing, why am I still writing? Why am I still getting published? Why'd that other guy just trip and fall into a ravine, never to be heard from again?

For me, too, having a day job all of this time there's been the whole condition of living in two worlds. In one world, I'm my own boss, more or less. In the other, I'm a cog without nearly as much control, sometimes forced to become someone else entirely. In the day job situation, you begin to feel like a mimic of sorts. Or like some kind of spy. You have a secret identity. And sometimes the disconnect between the environment of the day job and the environment of the secret identity can give you the bends. Coming back from a convention or conference, there has always been a kind of free-fall. A kind of wistful appreciation of the truth of life: I'm not actually independently wealth; I'm not actually a full-time writer; I'm either-or/neither-nor. And that can be, at times, depressing.

This year I've transitioned to a different kind of existence and a different kind of stress. In one sense, I now feel like one person, rather than two. Being a full-time freelancer, living off of fiction and nonfiction, editing, critiquing, and teaching, it all feels like part of the same thing: being a writer. It is all part of one identity. There's no longer this kind of fracture in perception or behavior. And I like that. I like it a lot. I think I'm prepared to live in poverty, if it came to that, rather than give it up. Even with the stress of not always knowing where the money is going to come from...

So it's in this context that the surreal aspects of a writer's life come into sharper focus. Given the need to tighten our belts and streamline expenses, I had no expectation of travel this year, and especially not of going back to Europe. Hardly possible. But here it is, April, and Utopiales in Nantes, France, has extended an invitation for me to be a guest at their festival in late October.

So now, even if we're dead broke near the end of this year, we're going to France. The absurdity of it all just strikes me particularly sharply at times. In this new paradigm, it's going to take a little getting used to. But, hey, I'm not complaining.


PS This does mean we won't be able to make World Fantasy, though, and need to transfer our memberships, if someone out there hasn't bought theirs yet.

Thursday, May 03, 2007


Pulse interviewed us judges about the experience. The bit about Lost Girls is the result of emailing answers while tired. Should read that it was harder to defend the book to others because of the third act.


Wednesday, May 02, 2007


By this weekend, we'll have dealt with copy-editing Best American Fantasy. It's been a wonderful experience communicating with the contributors--so many diverse and creative people, all of them excited about being in the anthology.

Another exciting thing happened today. Michael Chabon, who had been reading an advance copy of the anthology and really enjoying it, was kind enough to give us this quote for the front cover:

"A cabinet of dark wonders, and an important—no, a crucial—map of the richness and strangeness and startling range of the modern American short story." - Michael Chabon

We're thrilled about this. The anthology has been many, many hours of hard work, but it's also been energizing because we knew we were putting together something special.


PS Some people have asked if, based on the prior post, I am indeed talking about offering a manuscript critique service. Yes, I am. If interested, email me at vanderworld at I have 20 years of experience.

Tuesday, May 01, 2007


First off, my review of Elizabeth Hand's latest books is up at SF Site, along with a description of her sainthood in Smaragdine.

Second, as of this week, I am the SF/F blogger for the Amazon Book Blog, which I believe also feeds into the Amazon Daily blog. I'll be posting three to five times a week on all things SF-Fantastical. If you have news, links, or cool stuff you think might be of interest, you can always send it to me at, so long as you include "Amazon" in the subject line for sorting purposes. I cannot promise a response, of course.

Third, I have been offered and have accepted the second reviewer slot for Realms of Fantasy. Paul Witcover is taking over the primary slot as Gahan Wilson is going to be doing one-off reviews for Realms in the future. I will also be doing a graphic novels sidebar column for Realms. This starts with the October 2007 issue.

Fourth, I will be doing some freelance reviewing from time to time for SF Weekly, in addition to my regular (anonymous) Publishers Weekly reviews, and my SF Site and Bookslut columns. I'm also doing a roundup column for the Washington Post's Book World.

Fifth, it appears there will be a Shriek limited from a mysterious new publisher.

Sixth, the Ministry of Whimsy will be revived shortly and Leviathan 5 is on the horizon.

Seventh, the WordPress site Luis Rodrigues is doing for me should go live May 15. The Shriek movie will go live shortly thereafter.

Eighth, I am now 100% freelance and will be offering editorial/critiquing services both in fiction and nonfiction. I am also well-versed in creation of educational materials, PR, etc.

Ninth, the John Klima edited Loghorrea anthology is now out, including my story "Appoggiatura," which I will podcast later this month. Klima has photos of the antho here.

Tenth, I've run out of things to say.

My business snail mail address is: POB 4248, Tallahassee, FL 32315.