Quirky Books: The New Weird edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

Friday, August 14, 2009

The New Weird edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer

Copyrighted in 2008 "the New Weird" is a collection of short stories authored by various authors. Edited by Jeff and Ann Vandermeer, as a fan of Jeff Vandermeer, Clive Barker is a contributor. The book is in four parts: stimuli, evidence, symposium and laboratory. They attempt to establish "new weird" as a genre.

Stimuli, cites authors, such as: Clive Barker and M. John Harrison as examples for understanding the concept of combining sci-fi, fantasy and horror into one literary expedition. Thomas Ligotti of "Current 93" also contributes as stimuli. These stories have a common thread. Each story combines elements associated to sci-fi, fantasy and horror. Clive Barker's "In the Hills, the Cities" creates literary fine art and it is weird thus demonstrates the underlying political subversion and quality of literature.

Symposium features an on-line chat identifying the initial axiom describing the literary style and debates whether or a new sub-genre is necessary. Justina Robson, states, "...some in from the quirky sidelines of whoever's life it is...." Another on-line discussion verifies quirkiness. As for the debate on whether or not the genre is "new" or "weird" is debatable.

The nuance of the new weird is different. The premise is not new. The absence of a benevolent force is fixation amongst several contemporary authors. Subversive political messaging in fictional literature has been around for centuries. The nuance extends fictionalizing stories by combining genres. They are also going against the mainstream who wants to minimize the written language by exploiting higher grammatical expectations of fine literature. Commanding a subgenre could be a worthwhile strategy. A short phrase identifies the genre for readers and writers so it is easier to find publication or magazines. It also creates a plateau so it doesn't get lost in ongoing progress.

Comparisons cite several sci-fi, fantasy, horror or conspiracy stories. Each story fits into one genre, yet it incorporates another genre. The laboratory presents different genres to establish the style as unique. Each is based on the same outline, yet different. Sarah Monette's version, from the dog's position, was entertaining. Go on-line to read the end of New Weird to decide if the genre is really new or weird.

It is long and without pictures. The cover image is by Mike Libby and a whole team of typographers compiled the book. The stories are interesting and well written, so the 414 pages go by quickly. I would recommend this book to authors and writers interested in staying current or ahead of the curve. Lovers of horror, sci-fi and fantasy will also be entertained. The target audience is probably educated and "the New Weird" is not a children's book.

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