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Showing posts from August, 2010

Third Bear Carnival Winner!

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Step right up, folks!  Dr. Eric Schaller, Prestidigator & Mime, and I, your humble host, have consulted with our oracles and soothsayers, and after centuries of deliberation, we have discovered a winner of the Win a Unique Third Bear contest.  We were amused by all the entries, and thank everyone who participated.

Congratulations are due to Alys for this contribution:
The Fourth Bear is always there, waiting just out of sight, around the corner, behind you, where you’re not looking, to snatch the only custard doughnut, or the last piece of pie. She hoards these things, as dragons do gold, in her den. She sleeps on a bed of stale pastry, and eats it in her sleep. Sometimes, children have mistaken her for a witch. She keeps her teeth and claws polished clean, but her fur is sticky with chocolate and cherry jam and other substances best not inquired into. (Alys, please email me your mailing address, and I will send the book to you!)

Mother (contra Brody)

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Two of Joon-ho Bong's films previous to Mother, 2003's Memories of Murder and 2006's The Host, impressed me greatly, and Memories of Murder is certainly among my favorite films of this century (that sounds so much more impressive than "this decade"!).  Mother didn't get me in the gut the way Memories did, but it's certainly an excellent film: compelling, thought-provoking, and visually rich.

Third Bear Carnival: Finale

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When I came up with the idea for the Third Bear Carnival, I quickly knew one post I wanted: something by Ann VanderMeer, Jeff's wife, who first knew him as a very young and mostly-unpublished short story writer, and who was one of the first editors to publish him with any frequency.  She was Ann Kennedy back then, and it's partly the stories that put her on the path to becoming Ann VanderMeer, because in Ann Jeff found his perfect reader and his perfect love.

It took a bit of convincing for me to get Ann to write about her relationship not only to her husband, but to his stories.  Ann thinks of herself as an editor and not a writer, but she sent me a contribution back in July, and I've held onto it until now.   Much as I love what everybody else has contributed to the Carnival over these past weeks, and grateful as I am to each them ... well, this one's special...


VanderMeer Stories: A Personal Reminiscence
by Ann VanderMeer

The earliest VanderMeer stories I read came fr…

Catching Up

The end of summer continues to be busy for me (in good ways), and I've neglected a few things I should have linked to. Actually, I've probably neglected many things I should have linked to. For now, though, just a few...

I'm continuing to explore Neil Gaiman's Sandman comics over at Gestalt Mash, one issue each week. Last week was issue 5, "Passengers"; this week issue 6, "24 Hours".

And for Amazon.com's Omnivoracious blog, I interviewed Nnedi Okorafor, author of the wonderful novel Who Fears Death. (And Nnedi has just been interviewed over at Tor.com, too.)

Finally, my favorite internet item this week: a film called "Words", presented as an extra feature to a Radiolab program.

Third Bear Carnival: "The Magician"

I've got one very special post saved for tomorrow, but this post will end my own contributions to the Third Bear Carnival. To bring things to a close, I recorded a reading of a very short story hidden in the Afterword to the book, called "The Magician"... (It may take a few seconds to load and buffer.)


[Direct link]

Win a Unique Third Bear!

The Third Bear Carnival will come to an end later this week, and in honor of that, here's a contest.  I have a copy of Jeff VanderMeer's Third Bear collection that includes a unique cartoon by Eric Schaller, drawn on 24 July 2010.  This is the only copy of this cartoon that exists, at least as far as I know (most of Eric's cartoons are reproduced in bulk by the many small, innocent children he has imprisoned in a sweatshop deep beneath Dartmouth College).  It is drawn on the title page of the book, which in all other editions is unillustrated.

Here's how you can win this unique copy of The Third Bear:

In the comments to this post, write a description/explanation of 100 words or less about The Fourth Bear.  (Yes, we know all about the Third Bear now, but what is the Fourth Bear?)  The deadline is this Friday, August 27, at 12pm Eastern Standard Time.  Eric and I will then consult, and the entry that we agree is most interesting will be the winner.  All results are final …

Sandman, Batman Realities, Etc.

Last week was a busy one for me, and I completely forgot to post a link to my latest Sandman Meditation, this one on the fourth issue of the series, "A Hope in Hell".  I'm tempted to say that just as Sandman seems in the later issues in the Preludes & Nocturnes collection to be finding its feet and style, I'm beginning to feel like I sort of know what I'm doing with these columns, but I know if I say that then writing the next one will be nearly impossible.  And really, no matter appearances or what I think at this moment, I haven't any idea what I'm doing.  And that's okay.

Speaking of having no idea what I'm doing, my latest Strange Horizons column, "Real Action", has just been posted, and as occasionally happens with these things, I read it over and disagreed with myself.  I like the structure of the ideas in the column, but I think that structure led me to simplify some of the points, and in particular to elide important complexi…

Third Bear Carnival: "The Surgeon's Tale" and "Three Days in a Border Town"

When deciding on whom to invite for the Third Bear Carnival, one person I knew I really hoped to convince to join us was Micaela Morrissette, because Jeff VanderMeer, Ann VanderMeer, and I had become aware of her short fiction at the same time -- when we read her story "Ave Maria" in Conjunctions 49 and immediately decided to reprint it for Best American Fantasy 2.  (We weren't alone in loving the story -- it won a Pushcart Prize, too!)  She has since gone on to all sorts of wonderful things, including publishing an acclaimed story in Weird Tales, "Wendigo".  My first encounter with Micaela, though, had been way back in 2005 when my story "The Art of Comedy" appeared on Web Conjunctions and Micaela helped with the layout and formatting.

And now, with Micaela writing about two of Jeff's stories, it feels like we've all come full circle!  But more importantly, here are some wonderful, and wonderfully-written, insights on Jeff's work.

(Be sure…

Miéville on Marechera

L. Lee Lowe just sent me a great link to a podcast interview with China Miéville for a new series called "The Books that Made Me".  Lee and I share an interest in the writings of Dambudzo Marechera, and I had known, but forgotten, that China also shares this interest.  One of the six books he lists as fundamentally formative in his life is Marechera's Mindblast.  Of Marechera's published work, Mindblast is the hardest to get a copy of, having been published only, to my knowledge, in Zimbabwe.  (I've managed over the years to at least find library copies of all of his other books, but not that one.)

Miéville has talked about Marechera and Mindblastbefore, and in a fascinating 2003 interview with Joan Gordon he said
I first read [Marechera] a decade ago, but came back to him recently and read all his published work. He’s quite astonishing. His influences are radically different from the folklorist tradition that one often associates with African literature. He w…

Farewell to the BAF

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Jeff VanderMeer has announced that the Best American Fantasy series, for which I served as series editor, has been cancelled. I've known about this for a while now, but reading the announcement was a particularly sad moment for me, because I'd been looking forward very much to seeing what the next few books would look like, with new series editor Larry Nolen taking over for me, new resources to open up the literature of Latin America to the book, and exciting guest editors lined up: Minister Faust, Junot Diaz, and Catherynne M. Valente.

There are lots of reasons why we couldn't bring the series beyond three volumes, most of which boil down to the fact that we weren't able to find a way to reach a large enough audience to be profitable. As Jeff wrote, "BAF did not having a wide margin for error. A cross-genre fantasy year’s best that focused not just on genre magazines but also on literary magazines, that required sympathy and generosity from both the mainstream…

The Things

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Over at The House Next Door, John Lingan offers some thoughts on both the 1951 and 1982 films of The Thing, films well worth viewing and an essay well worth reading.

The 1951 version is credited as directed by Christian Nyby, but most evidence points to Howard Hawks, who is credited as producer, having done most of the work we'd generally associate with a director.  (For the whole story of this, see Todd McCarthy's wonderful Hawks biography.)  John Carpenter, who directed the 1982 version, is a devout Hawks fan, but interestingly, The Thing is a much less Hawksian movie than some of his others.

I like both versions very much, though Hawks's seems to me relatively minor in comparison to masterpieces like Scarface, Only Angels Have Wings, His Girl Friday, Bringing Up Baby, The Big Sleep, To Have and Have Not, and Rio Bravo, each of them among the greatest films to come out of Hollywood. The Thing is wonderful on a variety of levels (though perhaps least on the level of genr…

Third Bear Carnival: "Finding Sonoria" and "Three Days in a Border Town"

David A. Beronä is Dean of Library and Academic Support Services at Plymouth State University, and author of Wordless Books: The Original Graphic Novels. He was instrumental in helping to organize last year's "Illustrating VanderMeer" exhibit, and so I thought he might enjoy joining our carnival. David posted this piece as a downloadable document on his website, and I asked him if he wouldn't mind my posting it here as well...



Two Stories from Jeff VanderMeer’s The Third Bear by David A. Beronä

As part of a reviewing process that my friend Matt Cheney developed, I was part of a group each reading two stories from The Third Bear by Jeff VanderMeer. I chose the time when I had time travelling on a plane to read these stories. I found that a different setting (I usually read on my porch looking out over the hills in New Hampshire with the sound of birds in the background) physically took me out of my ordinary world, bound by gravity, into a unaccustomed world of differen…

Sandman Meditations: "Dream a Little Dream of Me"

My latest "Sandman Meditations" column has now been posted at Gestalt Mash.  This particular column seems transitional to me, bringing myself as a reader to the foreground, because sometimes that feels necessary; the next installment goes in the opposite direction to some extent, and I expect as the experiment continues I'll be trying out different modes of narration, simply because doing all 75 or so of them in the same way would get rather tedious for all of us...

Here's an excerpt:
The third Sandman poses some problems for me, someone who has read almost no DC comics and has only the vaguest sense of their characters and history. The vagueness and sense share a source: popular culture in general. You’d have to live in some remote part of the world, away from billboards and newspapers and televisions and radios, to avoid all references to DC characters, given how many of them have metamorphosed into stars of movies and TV shows. I was going to write a sentence in wh…