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The New Weird Paperback – February 1, 2008

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. The VanderMeers (Best American Fantasy) ably demonstrate the sheer breadth of the New Weird fantasy subgenre in this powerful anthology of short fiction and critical essays. Highlights include strong fiction by authors such as M. John Harrison, Clive Barker, Kathe Koja and Michael Moorcock whose work pointed the way to such definitive New Weird tales as Jeffrey Ford's At Reparata and K.J. Bishop's The Art of Dying. Lingering somewhere between dark fantasy and supernatural horror, New Weird authors often seek to create unease rather than full-fledged terror. The subgenre's roots in the British New Wave of the 1960s and the Victorian Decadents can lend a self-consciously literary and experimental aura, as illustrated by the laboratory, where more mainstream fantasy and horror authors, including Sarah Monette and Conrad Williams, try their hands at creating New Weird stories. This extremely ambitious anthology will define the New Weird much as Bruce Sterling's landmark Mirrorshades anthology defined cyberpunk. (Mar.)
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From Booklist

The title of this collection of stories, essays, and online discussion threads refers to a subgenre of modern horror that has roots in New Wave literature and the off-kilter fantasy spawned by Weird Tales. In contrast to the eerie nostalgia of Bradbury or the haunting supernaturalism of Lovecraft, the New Weird more often leans toward grotesque urban noir and cross-genre experimentation. The contributors here constitute a multitalented lineup ranging from such veterans as Clive Barker and Michael Moorcock to rising stars, such as Jay Lake and Alistair Rennie. Kathe Koje’s “The Neglected Garden” follows the transformation of a spurned lover who takes revenge by crucifying herself on her ex’s wire fence. China Miévelle, whose celebrated Perdido Street Station (2000) epitomizes the subcategory’s visceral blend of fantasy and realism, contributes a gritty tale about the veneration and inevitable capture of an outlaw cyborg. In the anthology’s final section, an experimental collaboration between seven authors embellishing a plot hatched by Paul DiFillipo exemplifies the New Weird’s propensity for pushing the boundaries of literary invention. --Carl Hays

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 414 pages
  • Publisher: Tachyon Publications (February 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9781892391551
  • ISBN-13: 978-1892391551
  • ASIN: 1892391554
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.1 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #247,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

22 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Kevin L. Nenstiel TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on August 10, 2009
Format: Kindle Edition
In April 2003, M. John Harrison created or appropriated a new genre category called "The New Weird" and tried to kick-start discussion on the internet. Ann and Jeff VanderMeer bring that discussion into the real world where we generalists can join in. But if this book is anything to judge by, "The New Weird" is a make-work label designed to give C-list writers something to talk about, and to sell books to gullible japes like me.

Jeff VanderMeer, in his introduction, spews a lot of post-grad lit major gibberish to persuade us not only that this new category exists, but that it's already dead and he has the right to perform the post-mortem. He claims it's the rightful inheritor of sci-fi's New Wave and the innovative grotesque horror/fantasy of the 1980's. But he never says what New Weird is. And the main text of the book probably shows why.

The editors start with what they call "Stimuli," a selection of stories that nourished the New Weird ethos. But for the most part I can't tell the difference between them and the Old Weird. These authors, including Michael Moorcock, Kathe Koja, and Clive Barker, appear to channel Lovecraft, Poe, and Shirley Jackson. This reads like the Old Weird's Greatest Hits.

But these stories are masterful compared to the section labeled "Evidence." I beg, implore, and defy anyone to explain what makes these stories either New or Weird. Jeffrey Thomas' "Immolation" is bog-standard sci-fi. K.J. Bishop's "The Art of Dying" and Jeffrey Ford's "At Reparata" are fantasies. Apart from a playful attitude toward events, there's little innovative or Weird about these stories

The tales by Brian Evenson, Steph Swainton, Leena Krohn, and Alistair Rennie are--not to generalize--crap.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By William Freedman on February 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
Until I picked up this anthology, I was only tangentially aware of New Weird. I'd heard of China Mieville; I'd read some short work by Jay Lake, Jeffrey Ford and Paul Di Filippo; and I'd associated Clive Barker and Thomas Ligotti with mainstream horror, and Michael Moorcock with mainstream sci-fi.

The VanderMeers successfully weave disparate origins into not so much a literary movement as a literary moment. I don't think any of the authors considered themselves part of a "New Weird" school; they were simply converging into a space where there was some commonality to their work. Only a couple years later, they're already proceeding along their unique trajectories and I'm not sure the New Weird exists anymore. But that's the beauty of it: These are stories that are so removed from our own space and time that this volume will be able to stand on its own for decades to come. The subgenre label might not have permanence, but these stories and these writers do.

And that's the anthology editor's craft in a nutshell, isn't it.

My favorite stories: Barker's "In the Hills, the Cities," Moorcock's "Crossing into Cambodia," Lake's "The Lizard of Ooze," Ford's "At Reparata" and, most of all, Alistair Rennie's "The Gutter Sees the Light That Never Shines". The end notes, particularly "European Editor Perspectives on the New Weird" were in the main enlightening, although some of the last hundred pages seemed like filler.

Overall, though, a most welcome and treasured addition to the top shelf of my bookcase.

The moment may have passed for a new New Weird anthology and sorry, VanderMeers, Steampunk never floated my boat. But I'm eager to see what kind of gumbo Ann and Jeff cook up next.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By J. Wood on February 4, 2011
Format: Paperback
The New Weird was not a typical literary movement, and this is not a typical anthology. It aims to do more than simply collect the defining stories of the New Weird movement. It seeks to explore the its origins, its motives, even its validity. And then it goes beyond even these discussions to explore what the implications of the New Weird movement have been, and even illustrates how those implications have differed around the world. There is fascinating scholarship here, but it easily digestible without the usual impenetrable language and obscure references.

All this scholarship, however, is grounded by the stories themselves--those by the literary forefathers of the New Weird movement, those that defined the movement itself, and then a particularly entertaining round robin tale told by a slew of excellent authors all influenced by the movement in one way or another.

And what stories. Some are more difficult reads that others. Some are more entertaining than others. But across the board every story in the collection is interesting in its own right. The stories may not be beautiful but they are striking, catching the reader with sudden glimpses into previously unseen, unimagined places. They are stories with sharp edges. They are weird stories.

Sometimes challenging, always entertaining, this is anthology that anyone with more than just a passing interest in speculative fiction should own.
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16 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Steven Warfield on April 17, 2009
Format: Paperback
A very uneven collection. There were several stories that really stood out which made me want to see more of the authors' work - the ones by Miéville, Swainston, Lake and Rennie in particular - but the rest were largely forgettable.

The forgettable ones usually tended to veer between being strange to the point of plotless (say, "Watson's Boy" by Evenson) or just plotless description ("The Art of Dying" by Bishop").

I'm also not entirely certain that the discussion of "What IS the 'New Weird'?" as a genre really added anything to the tome, as there was no clear cut definition nor concurrence as to if 'New Weird' can be classified, if it has past us by already, or if it is ongoing. A nudge in the direction to the archived discussion in the foreward would have sufficed vice reprinting it as an entire chapter.

On the plus side, I now have more promising authors' short story collections to look for.
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