The New Weirdby Published 01 Feb 2008
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The New Weird Ebook Description
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This avant-garde anthology that presents and defines the New Weird—a hip, stylistic fiction that evokes the gritty exuberance of pulp novels and dime-store comic books—creates a new literature that is entirely unprecedented and utterly compelling. Assembling an array of talent, this collection includes contributions from visionaries Michael Moorcock and China Miéville, modern icon Clive Barker, and audacious new talents Hal Duncan, Jeffrey Ford, and Sarah Monette. An essential snapshot of a vibrant movement in popular fiction, this anthology also features critical writings from authors, theorists, and international editors as well as witty selections from online debates.
Introduction: The New Weird: “It’s Alice?” by Jeff VanderMeer
“The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines” by Alistair Rennie
“Watson’s Boy” by Brian Evenson
“Cornflowers Beside the Unuttered” by Cat Rambo
“Jack” by China Miéville
“In the Hills, the Cities” by Clive Barker
“Forfend the Heaven’s Rending” by Conrad Williams
“Locust-Mind” by Daniel Abraham
“Tracking Phantoms” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke
“Constable Chalch and the Ten Thousand Heroes” by Felix Gilman
“The Lizard of Ooze” by Jay Lake
“Festival Lives: Preamble: An Essay” by Jeff VanderMeer and Ann VanderMeer
“At Reparata” by Jeffrey Ford
“Immolation” by Jeffrey Thomas
“The Art of Dying” by Darja Malcolm-Clarke
“Whose Words You Wear” by K. J. Bishop
“The Neglected Garden” by Kathy Koja
“Letters from Tainaron” by Leena Krohn
“The Luck in the Head” by M. John Harrison
“Crossing Cambodia” by Michael Moorcock
“Death in a Dirty Dhorti” by Paul Di Filippo
“All God’s Chillun Got Wings” by Sarah Monette
“The Braining of Mother Lamprey” by Simon D. Ings
“The Ride of the Gabbleratchet” by Steph Swainston
“A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing” by Thomas Ligotti
“European Editor Perspectives on the New Weird: An Essay” by Martin Šust, Michael Haulica, Hannes Riffel, Jukka Halme, Konrad Walewski
“The New Weird: I Think We’re the Scene” by Michael Cisco
“New Weird Discussions: The Creation of a Term” by various authors
The New Weird Reviews
This may be the best collection I've read in a decade.
I'd been through Mieville and Vandermeer, cut my teeth on Lovecraft, a pile of slipstream, Barker, but I didn't feel as though I had much of a handle on what "New Weird" was or why I was drawn to it. Boy, I loved every story in this volume, including the oddly vulgar Rennie story at the end. Perhaps if slipstream makes you feel 'a little strange' (and the _Feeling Very Strange_ anthology would make a nice companion to this book), New Weird makes you feel EXTREMELY STRANGE, as well as dizzy, unsettled and slightly queasy. I recommend this collection to anyone with a passing fancy for any of the writers therein.
I’ve been reading The New Weird lately, Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s recent Tachyon collection of the sort of bizarre, visceral, urban fantasy that’s had the placard card reading “New Weird” hung about its neck for the past few years.
If anything, this collection seems a younger sibling to the 2004 Thunder’s Mouth Press anthology New Worlds. New Weird certainly owes a debt to the New Wave (the inclusion of M. John Harrison’s “The Luck in the Head” makes this undeniably clear), and it is M. John Harrison himself, in the included Web discourse “New Weird Discussions: The Creation of a Term” who suggests “New Weird” as “a better slogan than The Next Wave.” But whereas the New Wave SF that appeared in New Worlds was unified by publication in a single magazine, The New Weird draws from the wide world of SF publications, including stories that appeared in Flytrap, The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, and Interzone, among others.
The stories included in The New Weird comprise a grand, audacious mix, as is its arrangement. The book strives wildly to create a definition for the subgenre. From the first section, “Stimuli,” which includes the aforementioned M. John Harrison story, Clive Barker’s “In the Hills, the Cities,” Simon D. Ings’ “The Braining of Mother Lampry,” and Thomas Ligotti’s “A Soft Voice Whispers Nothing,” the bar is set high, though Kathe Koja’s “The Neglected Garden” seems more lit-fic “weird” than “New Weird” and Michael Moorcock’s “Crossing into Cambodia” seems an odd choice considering its Cold War-era post-apocalyptic setting. In my opinion, Moocock’s “London Bone” would have been a far better choice to represent the postpagan sensibilities of the New Weird.
Beyond that, the next three sections, “Evidence,” “Symposium,” and “Laboratory” offer mixed results. China Méiville’s “Jack” is every bit as good as it was in Looking for Jake. Jeffrey Thomas’ “Immolation” seamlessly joins the standard SF tropes of clones and offworld colonies to the urban grotesqueries of the New Weird. And K. J. Bishop’s “The Art of Dying” connects elegantly to the fin de siècle grace of her 2004 novel, The Etched City. Any of these stories alone would be worth the price of admission. Jay Lake’s “The Lizard of Ooze,” like many of his Dark Towns stories, seems a punny and punishing one-joke punch (though that joke is a reversal of Swiftian proportions) in search of a purpose. Perhaps a tale set in his City Imperishable would have better suited the collection.
The gathering of criticism comprising the “Symposium” is perhaps the most valuable element of the The New Weird, inviting repeated readings and critical analysis for years to come. The “Laboratory,” on the other hand, is best described as forty pages of filler. Reminiscent of “The Challenge from Beyond,” a round-robin Weird tale by H. P. Lovecraft, C. L. Moore, A. Merritt, Robert E. Howard, and Frank Belknap Long, “Festival Lights” is a rambling mess with plenty of star power, but little cohesion. Missing from the collection is anything from Jeff VanderMeer’s Ambergis, an editorial decision which makes me wonder if perhaps another editor could have assembled a more comprehensive collection.
For many, perhaps even most, Science Fiction is robots, rockets, and rayguns; movies and television programs with the word “Star” in the title (Star Wars, Star Trek, Battlestar Galactica); or conventions where comic-book caricatures of comic-book geeks run rampant in Dr. Who and Klingon costumes. But for those who dare to look a little bit deeper, Science Fiction is a literature of ideas, in fact, a continuum of ideas, blending philosophy and a sense of wonder. It is the intersection of the fantastic and the human. As Damon Knight once asserted, “Science Fiction is what we point to when we say it.” As a SF subgenre, New Weird bears the same characteristic DNA. What is New Weird? Why, it’s what we point to when we say “New Weird.”
In short, The New Weird is an attractive volume examining a burgeoning SF subset. Though it attempts to be a definitive word on the subject, it falls a bit shy of such lofty ideals by declaring the movement over, though its best may still be yet to come. “New Weird is dead,” writes Jeff VanderMeer in the introduction. “Long live the Next Weird.” Bollocks. Long live the New Weird.
I'm going to read this, Interfictions, and Feeling Very Strange back-to-back and write a longer review for all three, but I will say about this one that it seems to focus on genre stories that have eccentricities that tilt them into the literary realm. Yes, the characters and plots are very odd, often with no connection to any human reality, but the prose itself is very pulpy, intentionally and self-consciously so. Most of these are not much more capital-w Weird than the stories I grew up with in Dozois's and Datlow's anthologies. For instance, one of my old favorites "A Hypothetical Lizard" by Alan Moore would seamlessly fit right in here.
My biggest gripe about this book is that 300 pages of it are short stories and about 120 pages of it are hand-wringing about what does or doesn't constitute "New Weird." I really couldn't care less, and I think the importance of this book was that it inspired a new generation of speculative authors (Sofia Samatar for instance) going forward, rather than--as the content seems to have been intended--to define something that had already happened.
I enjoy Lovecraft, Mieville, pulp sci-fi, so I thought I would love this volume and was eagerly awaiting its publication. Alas, I am somewhat disappointed. Though I appreciate (on an intellectual level) the tortuous hand-wringing that accompanies the authors' attempts to define or simply talk about a genre that could be called "New Weird" (there is an entire section of the book devoted solely to a discussion among various authors about what New Weird is, whether it needs a name, and why), the stories are not always great. There are some gems (Clive Barker's story -- which was originally published in his Books of Blood -- is fabulous) but most read as if they are weird for weird's sake. Maybe that's the point of "New Weird," but many of these stories seem to lack the uncanny horror and political urgency that characterizes the work of other "weird" authors like Lovecraft and Mieville (who does have a previously published story in this volume). And without these elements, "weird" just doesn't seem all that meaningful.
One of the best anthology collections I've come across for some time. This is almost Dangerous Visions level for me with the sheer number of excellent writers in here. This is an attempt to revamp HP Lovecraft's Weird Tales for the current century.
While not "Outsider Art", these are often literate pulp stories or at least bizarro fiction. It's got throughlines back to Jack Vance's Dying Earth, Mervyn Peake, New Wave Scifi and Horror. It can be traditional and avant garde (Lynchean but with books). It's a cross-pollination of genres, the basically line being that it's got to be weird.