In episode 260 of the SF Signal Podcast Patrick Hester invites Rachel S. Cordasco, Fred Kiesche, and Kristin Centorcelli to discuss Annihilation by Jeff VanderMeer, the first book of the Southern Reach Trilogy.

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Amazon has the cover and synopsis for the upcoming omnibus Area X: The Southern Reach Trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer, comprised of Annihilation, Authority and Acceptance.

Check this beauty out after the jump.
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You can follow Rachel S. Cordasco on her bookish adventures at Bookishlywitty.blogspot.com and Bookriot.com.

Haunting, mesmerizing, moving: these are just some of the words that come to mind when I think about Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance. Each novel is under 400 pages, and each packs into it so much psychological, emotional, philosophical, and ecological inquiry that you start to think that they must be huge, hulking volumes that should make your bookshelves cave in.

Now, you’ve probably seen a million reviews of this trilogy, and rightly so, for it deserves recognition and invites fascinating discussions. Therefore, instead of recapping the story or outlining the plot, I’m going to focus on three major mysteries/questions/problems in these novels and why they’re so compelling.

Oh, and by the way, there may be spoilers here. I’m not guaranteeing anything.
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Call me silly, but books excite me. Here are a few examples of upcoming books that I’m looking forward to reading.

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Eleven failed expeditions have ventured into Area X. We embed with the twelfth – a psychologist, a surveyor, a linguist, an anthropologist, and a protagonist – as they cross Area X’s mysterious border, hoping to discover their precursors’ fates.

Annihilation, first in a trilogy to be drip-fed throughout 2014, is part dark fantasy horror, part sci-fi adventure into verdant wilderness, and part bittersweet fabulism. The prose is lucid, gripping, and establishes a not altogether disagreeable sense of “breathless and unexplainable dread,” in H.P. Lovecraft’s words.

Lovecraft’s At the Mountains of Madness (1936) and William Hope Hodgson’s The House on the Borderland (1908) are significant precedents in their mix of trepidation, adventure, and rapture. Annihilation can also boast a crawler and a pit, a bit like Abraham Merritt’s “The People of the Pit” (1918).
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Here’s the cover (designed by Galen Smith) and synopsis for the beautiful and upcoming steampunk book The Steampunk User’s Manual: An Illustrated Practical and Whimsical Guide to Creating Retro-futurist Dreams by Jeff VanderMeer and Desirina Boskovich, coming out in October 2014.

Here’s the synopsis (larger cover version appear below):
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Today at Kirkus Reviews: An Interview with Jeff VanderMeer

Over at the Kirkus Reviews blog this week, I interviewed Jeff VanderMeer, author of the Southern Reach trilogy….

Check it out!

In episode 237 of the SF Signal Podcast, Patrick Hester chats with Jeff VanderMeer, author of The Southern Reach Trilogy: Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance.

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Jeff VanderMeer just revealed the cover for Acceptance, the final novel in his Southern Reach Trilogy. It features another great cover designed by Charlotte Strick with an illustartion by Eric Nyquist.

Here’s the synopsis:
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Jeff VanderMeer’s new illustrated writing guide is called Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction, and it’s jam-packed with useful writerly information and illustrations. I mean, for starters just check out that awesome cover. (If you want a closer look at this fantastic cover by Illustrator Jeremy Zerfoss, click the image to embiggen.)

Here’s the book’s description:

This all-new definitive guide to writing imaginative fiction takes a completely novel approach and fully exploits the visual nature of fantasy through original drawings, maps, renderings, and exercises to create a spectacularly beautiful and inspiring object. Employing an accessible, example-rich approach, Wonderbook energizes and motivates while also providing practical, nuts-and-bolts information needed to improve as a writer. Aimed at aspiring and intermediate-level writers, Wonderbook includes helpful sidebars and essays from some of the biggest names in fantasy today, such as George R. R. Martin, Lev Grossman, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, and Karen Joy Fowler, to name a few.

Now hang on to your hats folks. Here’s the incredibly huge and mouth-watering — and did I mention HUGE? — table of contents…
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Here’s the mouth-watering table of contents for Ann and Jeff VanderMeer’s upcoming massive time travel anthology The Time Traveler’s Almanac, coming out not soon enough…
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Ooooh, I loves me a good time travel story, so I’m looking forward to the upcoming anthology The Time Traveler’s Almanac edited by Ann VanderMeer and Jeff VanderMeer. Now I just wish I could travel to March 2014 to get it now. (See what I did there?)

Can’t wait to see the final table of contents!

Here’s the synopsis:
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Press Release: Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach Trilogy Acquired

We reported this some weeks back, but the press release just came in now: Jeff VanderMeer’s Southern Reach trilogy (Annihilation, Authority, and Acceptance) has been sold in multiple six-figure deals.

Press release follows…
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[Do you have an idea for a future Mind Meld? Let us know!]

In recent years, the ascension of several former Third World countries to a better economical and geopolitical standing (the best example of which are the like the BRICS – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa) has been slowly but steadily bringing a change of paradigms in the way science fiction sees the world. Could it be that novels like Paolo Bacigalupi’s The Wind-Up Girl, Ian McDonald’s Brasyl and The Dervish House, to name just a few, are some of the harbingers of this change? Or, as their authors are Western in origin and haven’t lived in the countries they portrayed, would they still be focusing on the so-called exotic aspect of foreign countries and therefore failing to see the core of these cultures?

We asked this week’s panelists:

Q: How do you Write Science Fiction on a Post-Colonial World? Do you think belonging to a Non-Western culture is essential to write a really good, convincing story about it? Is being an outsider to the culture you want to write about, an enriching or impoverishing experience (or doesn’t it matter in the end)?

Here’s what they said…

Joyce Chng
Born in Singapore but a global citizen, Joyce Chng writes mainly science fiction (SFF) and YA fiction. She likes steampunk and tales of transformation/transfiguration. Her fiction has appeared in Crossed Genres, Semaphore Magazine, Bards and Sages Quarterly and Everyday Fiction. Her urban fantasy novels Wolf At The Door and Obsidian Moon, Obsidian Eye (written as J. Damask) are published by Lyrical Press. Her short story “The Sound Of Breaking Glass” is side by side with luminaries in The Apex Book of World SFF vol II. Her blog is found at A Wolf’s Tale. She wrangles kids and promises she is still normal.

I have to disagree, though a writer from a non-Western culture might understand the nuances of being a post-colonial writer better.

A Western writer who wants to write a convincing story has so many opportunities at his or her fingertips. Thanks to globalization, we have access to the Internet, the chance to talk to people living in non-western countries via a plethora of tools and gosh, libraries. Accessing information now is so easy, so simple – many do not even have to step out of their rooms. At the same time, you can ask a friend who is from the said culture(s) you are writing about to vet it. Do not be afraid to ask questions. Research. Let it be an enriching experience. Worldbuilding does not emerge out of the ether nor do you pluck it out of thin air.

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Eight Weird Thoughts I Gleaned From THE WEIRD


“This is one of the effects of reading weird fiction: it does not dictate your imaginative path, but impels you to make your own.” – from “The Weirdness Addendum.”

At year’s end I finished reading the massive anthology The Weird, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. I’ve been digesting it ever since. It was a humongous capstone to an edifice of weird anthologies for the year that included their Odd? anthology and The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities project. At the end of reading The Weird I found I needed a period of time to absorb what I had read, as I took a “devour the whole thing” approach to it. Now, with some time to reflect on it, I want to write about some thoughts and ideas that have resulted from that reading. Rather than write a standard review, which seems difficult to do, I want to reflect on. . . not what I have learned necessarily, but what that reading has done to stimulate my thinking and my imagination.
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VIDEO: Jeff VanderMeer Interviews Editor/Writer Konrad Walewski

Jeff VanderMeer talks with editor, writer, and translator Konrad Walewski, a prominent figure in the Polish Science Fiction and Fantasy scene. As a co-founder of, and editor for, the Magazine of Science Fiction & Fantasy in Poland, Walewski talks about Polish SF/F, a new anthology of stories about time, the Polish version of the Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, his relationship with Gordon Van Gelder, and more. Recorded April, 2011 in Warsaw.

TOC: Steampunk II: Steampunk Reloaded

Mentioned in passing a few days ago, merits more attention. Jeff VanderMeer has posted the table of contents for his and Ann VanderMeer’s upcoming anthology

Steampunk Reloaded:

Original stories:

  • Ekaterina Sedia, “Two Short Excerpts from the Russian Book of the Improbable”
  • Jeffrey Ford, “Dr. Lash Remembers”
  • Matthew Cheney, “Confessions and Complaints of a True Man”
  • Ramsey Shehadeh, “The Unbecoming of Virgil Smythe”
  • Vilhelm Bergsoe, “Flying Fish (Prometheus)”, translated by Dwight R. Decker
  • As well as contributions by Fabio Fernandes, Brian Stableford, Jess Nevins, and the Steampunk heretic known only as “The Mecha-Ostrich.”

Original Non-fiction Articles by:

  • Gail Carriger, author of Soulless (fashion and fiction)
  • Jake Von Slatt of the Steampunk Workshop (maker movement)
  • Mike Perschon, the Steampunk Scholar (the future)

Reprints:

  • Daniel Abraham, “Balfour and Meriwether in the Adventure of the Emperor’s Vengeance”
  • Stephen Baxter, “The Unblinking Eye”
  • Winona Cookie, “The Unlikely Career of Portia Dreadnought,” “Artemesia’s Absinthe,” and “Obadiah Theremin, MD”
  • G.D. Falksen, “The Strange Case of Mr. Salad Monday”
  • William Gibson, “The Gernsback Continuum”
  • Samantha Henderson, “Wild Copper”
  • Caitlín R. Kiernan “The Steam Dancer (1896)”
  • Andrew Knighton, “The Cast-Iron Kid”
  • Marc Laidlaw, “Great Breakthroughs in Darkness”
  • Margo Lanagan, “Machine Maid”
  • Lisa Mantchev & James Grant, “As Recorded on Brass Cylinders: Adagio for Two Dancers”
  • Shweta Narayan, “The Mechanical Aviary of Emperor Jalal-ud-din Muhammad Akbar”
  • David Erik Nelson, “The Bold Explorer in the Place Beyond”
  • Cherie Priest “Tanglefoot”
  • Chris Roberson, “O One”
  • Margaret Ronald, “A Serpent in the Gears”
  • Catherynne M. Valente, “The Anachronist’s Cookbook”

[reminded by Mad Hatter]

TOC: The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer

Jeff VanderMeer has posted the table of contents to his upcoming story collection The Third Bear:

  1. “The Third Bear”
  2. “The Quickening”
  3. “Finding Sonoria”
  4. “Lost”
  5. “The Situation”
  6. “Predecessor”
  7. “Fixing Hanover”
  8. “Shark God Versus Octopus God”
  9. “Errata”
  10. “The Goat Variations”
  11. “Three Days in a Border Town”
  12. “The Secret Life of Shane Hamill”
  13. “The Surgeon’s Tale” (with Cat Rambo)
  14. “Appoggiatura”

REVIEW: Finch by Jeff VanderMeer

REVIEW SUMMARY: A Salvador Dali painting in prose form.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: John Finch, detective, must solve a double homicide of a human and gray cap, even as the city of Ambergris slides into chaos.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Surreal tone; emotionally powerful; great mashup of the real and unreal

CONS: Anti-climactic ending; early difficulty in understanding sentence structure

BOTTOM LINE: The vibrant storytelling of a perversely beautiful city and its hard-boiled detective is well worth the reading.

In this gritty crime noir/fantasy mashup, World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer creates a narrative that is distressingly real, and yet so unreal as to be absurd. Like a Salvador Dali painting in prose, Finch mixes the mundane and the fantastic and then melts them together into one surreal but powerful work.

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GUEST REVIEW: Booklife by Jeff VanderMeer

[SF Signal welcomes the return of guest reviewer Jason Sanford!]

REVIEW SUMMARY: An excellent book for writers of all levels, from beginner to seasoned veteran.

MY RATING:

BRIEF SYNOPSIS: Best-selling author and social media maven Jeff VanderMeer shows how writers can both survive and thrive in today’s 24/7 interconnected world. From creating goals to managing social media platforms, VanderMeer uses his own experiences to demonstrate what works and what doesn’t, all while highlighting methods to keep your balance in both life and writing.

MY REVIEW:

PROS: Concise, insightful, full of great advice which is based on real-world experience. Booklife has something to teach any writer.

CONS: A minor issue, but the book’s non-linear style would have benefited greatly from an index.

BOTTOM LINE: Even if it’s been years since you bothered reading a “how to” book related to writing, check out Booklife.

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