Sunday, March 23, 2008

The New Weird - Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer

I thought this anthology would be interesting, and it doesn't disappoint.

There's an introduction by VanderMeer, J. To sum that up he says wants to provide a rough guide to the New Weird, acknowledging that it is quite possibly a past history thing.

On the rest of the non-fiction, there is part of a forum discussion from a few years ago, wherein the existence or not of the topic is debated. Amusingly, Jonathan Strahan calls it a load of old cobblers, then over the page comes up with this very anthology title (and also sort of implies that the New Space Opera might be something similar, and goes on to produce a great anthology titled exactly that, too). A kiss of life Super Editor, perhaps, is he?

There are some essays by others talking about the subject, and also some European editors, some from more Eastern Europe, and a German, talking about this sort of fiction in their countries and how it does commercially. The Czechs hung a fiction line of it that has done well, and not so good in dour Germany, it seems.

On the fiction front, things go from the fabulous find of a story about Jack Half-A-Prayer from China Mieville's New Crobuzon, to a poor excerpt from a novel by Steph Swainston. She is one of the names invoked along with Mieville, Di Filippo, and Bishop (whose story is rather good, and I had read before), as being part of the early moment of this stuff, around Perdido Street Station time. However, the Swainston excerpt isn't from the book mentioned - perhaps that one is better, being as it appears the first in a trilogy, and higher rated and more widely held on librarything, too. However, her writing in this excerpt isn't within a bulls roar of any of the others mentioned. Extremely cheesy science fantasy that veers more towards the romance science fiction romance subgenre at time, it seems to me. It has that crossover dabbler not quite getting it feel, it seems. Excerpts are problematic enough in anthologies without sticking in dodgy examples.

Moorcock's war story seems to be just a garden variety slightly nutty people at war, certainly not even remotely weird, particularly if you are thinking of mad scientists in Gran Bretan, or Warlords of the Air, or multiversal chasing grail hunting super nazis.

The actual cover itself isn't particularly weird, either, being sort of virginal white, with a clockwork bug - dime a dozen on the internet, these days, those sort of things, it seems.

Jeffrey Thomas has a pure SF story here, though, and I noticed a free novel released recently online - if it is anythinglike this, it will be worth checking out. Judge Dredd meets Blade Runner, or something like that.

Most of this stuff is fantasy or horror, and often both. Alistair Rennie being the classic example here of gross, grotesque horror-fantasy. This story is apparently new to the collection, so well done. I'd definitely like to see more of this.

The last fiction part includes a 'laboratory', wherein the editors ask some writers who aren't Weird enough, mostly, perhaps, to try New Weird. PDF sets it up for them, and then they take a crack at various parts of a related set of stories. Whether it was worth doing this rather than including some other good New Weird stories, I think I'd come down on the side of no, given the retrospective aim of this book.

In a good move, they have included a list of 70 odd books that are New Weirdish, while noting at the start they are leaving out Alastair Reynolds and company 'space opera new weird' books. Cyberpunk is ok, presumably, given Thomas. Then they go and leave half a page blank on their book list. Why not put them in at the end rather than waste the space? At least given the wasted paper they could have said why - don't read it/not familiar with/don't like it/publisher said no, especially as they open the book with writers than have committed space opera in the pat.

Chasm City, for example, is way weirder and more grotesque than the very tame Ligotti story that could easily have fallen out of a rift in time to 1920.

So, overall this anthology manages to make it to good, but nothing past that, and does contain a couple of excellent and a few good stories.

As a final note, the Tachyon publisher site has a 'part 8' of the Festival Lives laboratory experiment, also by PDF.


New Weird : The Luck in the Head - M. John Harrison
New Weird : Crossing into Cambodia - Michael Moorcock
New Weird : In the Cities the Hills - Clive Barker
New Weird : The Braining of Mother Lamprey - Simon D. Ings
New Weird : The Neglected Garden - Kathe Koja
New Weird : A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing - Thomas Ligotti
New Weird : Jack - China MiƩville
New Weird : Immolation - Jeffrey Thomas
New Weird : The Lizard of Ooze - Jay Lake
New Weird : Watson's Boy - Brian Evenson
New Weird : The Art of Dying - K. J. Bishop
New Weird : At Reparata - Jeffrey Ford
New Weird : Letters from Tainaron - Leena Krohn
New Weird : The Ride of the Gabbleratchet - Steph Swainston
New Weird : The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines - Alistair Rennie
New Weird : Death in a Dirty Dhoti - Paul Di Filippo
New Weird : Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered - Cat Rambo
New Weird : All God's Chillun Got Wings - Sarah Monette
New Weird : Locust-Mind - Daniel Abraham
New Weird : Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes - Felix Gilman
New Weird : Golden Lads All Must - Hal Duncan
New Weird : Forfend the Heavens' Rending - Conrad Williams


Oh Mammy, how I chop ya, how I chop ya

3.5 out of 5


A glowing charge.

3 out of 5


Urban decay contest honeymoon definitely over.

4 out of 5


Potted old bag's distributed prediction power scratched.

4 out of 5


Finally off the fence about this flower chick.

3 out of 5


Cold medicine.

2.5 out f5


Half-A-Prayer of ending.

4.5 out of 5


Union City clone shooter Blues.

4 out of 5


Fishy dead clown.

3.5 out of 5


I'm too keyed up. Rats.

3 out of 5


Stupid is the stripling who perambulates with swicidal swordswomen.

4 out of 5


Earworm: Moth In the City.

3 out of 5


BEMmy.

3 out of 5


Get me out of this worm-fest.

2 out of 5


A real balls-up he made there, right, Sister?

4.5 out of 5


Dogwhacked terror tour.

4 out of 5


Mad luftballons.

3 out of 5


Dogpack discussion.

3.5 out of 5


Buggy morality.

3 out of 5


Magazine adventures.

3.5 out of 5


Slim hipped Songboys.

3 out of 5


Blown up assistance.

3 out of 5




4 out of 5

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