Jeff VanderMeer recently posted an extract from his introduction to Caitlín R. Kiernan’s newest and tantalizingly awesome-sounding collection, The Ammonite Violin, of which a shiny and as-of-yet untouched copy is sitting on my shelf…
“… [Kiernan’s] is a kind of dirty, modern lyricism. Like many of the Decadents, her prose is, yes, lush, but it’s also muscular, allows for psychologically three-dimensional portraits of her characters, and has the flexibility to be blunt, even shocking. Mermaids, selkies, vampires, and fairies all make appearances in this collection. However, the method of description and storytelling creates a sheer physicality and alien quality to the context for these creatures that both humanizes them—in the sense of making them real, if not always understandable—and makes it impossible to see them—so often the case when writers describe “monsters”—as just people in disguise or as caricatures we can dismiss because they exist solely for our passing frisson of unease or terror.”
Let this serve as a reminder to me both to start in on the collection as soon as possible, and to get off my butt and pull together my review of her last collection, A is for Alien, which is one of the most powerful collections I’ve read.
This has probably made its rounds of the Internet numerous times already, but this is the first time I’d thought to look for, and found it: approximate maps of China Miéville’s continent Rohagi, home to Perdido Street Station, The Scar (if only briefly), and Iron Council. Scanned from a mostly-Miéville issue of Dragon Magazine.
More from Jeff VanderMeer – brief interviews with some of this year’s World Fantasy award nominees. (My kneejerk reaction to the gallery of finalist novels’ covers: Yup, still want to cut whoever approved the slutacular cover art for The Red Tree.) Also, some interesting words on the selection process itself, since Kakaner and I had recently been discussing similar topics:
“As a former judge, I can say that it’s a very difficult and thankless task, picking the finalists, and knowing what goes into the process, it’s fair to say that the finalist list should be viewed as a winners list, in a sense. Judges will always be second-guessed, but every jury works very, very hard and reads many thousands and thousands of pages of material. It’s not a job anyone does except because they love fantasy.”
“Everyone is disturbed by it, which is good. They should be. I certainly was—I had a hard time reading the entire story through when I was doing the revisions. There are probably a bunch of people who hate the story because they see it as a particularly unpleasant sort of porn. Other readers find all sorts of stuff in it: challenges to gender roles; semiotics; Stockholm Syndrome; an exploration of relationship dynamics; the definition of humanity. It’s been really cool, especially when I embedded something in there that people caught, and also cool when they see something I hadn’t verbalized to myself while I was working on it.”
Also has some other interesting bits, including details about her writing process and her thematic interests, as well as what the Internet has done for short-fiction publishing.