Double Jeffrey World Fantasy Awards

Wed 8 Nov 2017 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizetl;dr 2 Jeffs won awards, so did other people. We love books and good drinks.


We went to cloudy and muggy, phew, San Antonio*, Texas, last week for the World Fantasy Convention and on Sunday — while we were at the airport waiting for our flight and chatting over a very much enjoyed beer with Scott Andrews of Beneath Ceaseless Skies — the awards were handed out.

I am delighted to report that Jeffrey Ford won for his collection A Natural History of Hell and doubly delighted to say that Jeffrey Alan Love, whose art graces the cover of that book among others, received the award for Best Artist. Congratulations to all the nominees and winners!

Jeffrey Alan Love made a huge impact at the con by pulling out his paper, pens, ink and pads and making (and giving away!) pieces of art at the bar and at the (massive! overwhelming!) group signing event on Saturday night. I took one home with me and am still amazed by his process. Can’t wait to pick up Kevin Crossley-Holland’s Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor and Loki which Jeffrey illustrated.

I spent most of my time in the dealers room chatting with people, checking out all the books, the lovely books, that everyone had brought, buying books, and sometimes selling books. We sold most of the books we brought, a lovely thing! I wonder sometimes if book rooms like this will still exist in five or ten years. They’re just like indie bookstores: if people want them to exist, they shop there. If they don’t care, they don’t buy books there, and the book room (or bookstore) disappears. I’m for them going on and on. I do love poking around and finding books I knew and did not know I wanted.

Meghan McCarron had recommended to all that the Esquire bar should be checked out and wow, that was a great hot tip. I loved the cocktails upstairs but the downstairs Cocteles de Maíz were the cocktails of my heart: that the menu was designed and printed (on paper made of corn!) by a local press, Snake Hawk Press [really, click that link], helped but wow. Also yum. What creations.

Of the Guests of Honor, I met David Mitchell and he was lovely, yay! Here’s Kelly’s picture of him chatting with Ted Chiang. I caught up briefly with Tananarive Due (one of my Clarion instructors!); I saw Gregory Manchess signing lots of books and enjoyed his art in the art show; I picked up a book by toastmaster Martha Wells; and I was sorry to miss Gordon Van Gelder being roasted, see my note above about the Esquire bar and not having a reservation there that night, darn it. Next time.

The final Guest of Honor Karen Joy Fowler did a couple of readings (thanks, schedulers!) so I got to the second one. She read chapters two and three of her next novel and all I can say is I hope it comes out sooner rather than later. She is a hell of a writer. Karen signed copies of her collection What I Didn’t See for us but then we sold them all, sorry. In fact, Kij Johnson and Kathleen Johnson signed copies of The River Bank and we sold out. Howard Waldrop then signed copies of Howard Who? and Horse of a Different Color and we sold out but we still have a few signed available from a previous visit, phew once more.

Then we came home, somewhat exhausted and ground into the floor by the act of talking to people for many days in a row — yup, that’s too much. Luckily now I get some quiet time to try and catch up on shipping and reading and erk, better go do that. (Smooth outro? Achieved!)

* — on the day we left, the day of the awards, the town was busy, people were going on about their lives, except for the 26 people murdered in a church 30 miles away. The gun laws and the amount of guns in this country are insane. Why are people allowed to have machine guns?



Shipping Going Well

Mon 19 Dec 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , , , , , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

At least, it’s going well from here — thank you! It’s busy as all get out but we are up to date to Thursday’s orders and by the end of today will have caught up again — unless there are too many orders to ship, woohoo, bring it! The post office says that US Priority Mail orders will still arrive by Christmas if ordered by 12/21, go for it!

Want some last minute present ideas? (OK, these are all going to be Small Beer books, I think.) Nothing here will stop the howling void of despair and depression taking over all from the electoral shenanigans but they will distract for various amounts of time:

Margaret Atwood selected Ursula K. Le Guin’s Words Are My Matter as one of her favorite books of the year in the Walrus:

It was a pleasure to encounter renowned SF and fantasy writer Ursula K. Le Guin’s book of essays, Words Are My Matter, and to hear her wise, informed, elegant, and occasionally testy voice discussing such joys as the early H.G. Wells classics such as The Time Machine and China Miéville’s Embassytown—which surely owes a debt to Le Guin’s own The Left Hand of Darkness, now out in a sumptuous new Penguin Galaxy edition.

And Nora Jemisin recommended the book in the New York Times Book Review. Also: there was an Ursula K. Le Guin symposium at the University of Oregon.

Sit back (or go jog, or shovel some snow) and listen to David Naimon and Sofia Samatar chat about The Winged Histories on the Between the Covers podcast. The Winged Histories was chosen as one of the best books of the year by NPR — yay!

The Valley Advocate ran a 3-page spread on John Crowley’s The Chemical Wedding which included interviews with Crowley, illustrator Theo Fadel, and designer Jacob McMurrary. The paper edition had many illustrations. Meanwhile the book was reviewed on Tor.com.

See the Elephant ran a review of Joan Aiken’s The People in the Castle, which was also selected as one of the year’s best books by the Washington Post. Double yay!

See the Elephant had previously run a review of Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell which much to my enjoyment began “Hellishly Good Stories.” Jim Sallis revelled in Ford’s collection in F&SF (“Formally Ford’s stories are object lessons in how to stage a narrative.”) Alvaro Zinos-Amaro reviewed it on IGMS and DF Lewis wrote reaction posts while reading the stories. Hazel and Wren also liked the book. What can I say? It struck a chord.

There is a new issue of LCRW and meanwhile the previous issue received a strong review in Fantastic Stories of the Imagination and another in New Pages.

And Mary Rickert’s collection, You Have Never Been Here, came out so late in 2015 that a lot of people read it this year, i.e. Sallis (“Reading a Mary Rickert story quite often is like sinking through layers of such worlds. We begin in one place, blink, and open our eyes to somewhere—something—else.”) in F&SF and William Grabowski in See the Elephant: “Rickert’s work, its superbly subtle handling of deepest human yearning for something to heal the howling void behind our increasingly demythologized world, shows the ineffable power—and value—of fantastical storytelling.”

Quickshots:
— Afrofuturism? The Liminal War
— Density? Prodigies
— The underworld? Archivist Wasp
— Digging a hole? Secession? Sherwood Nation
— Middle grade ecothrillers? The Fires Beneath the Sea

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Toodles!



A Natural History of Autumn

Mon 31 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizeJeffrey Ford’s story “A Natural History of Autumn” was originally published in The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction. It was nominated for both World Fantasy and Shirley Jackson awards and went on to win the Shirley Jackson Award — which gives some idea of the shape of the story. Yes, it is spooky. “Mythic and creepy” even, as Josh Johnson at Hazel and Wren calls it. If, even though it is obviously fiction, it has some nugget of truth about the season of autumn in it, it does makes me wonder if even in the height of summer I should ever be looking forward to the (Northern hemisphere) cooler days of autumn. Of course if I turn my mind to the election instead of the natural world, it is a terrifying time.

Jeff was interviewed about inspirations for the story and the research he did before writing it on the F&SF blog and for fun included “a list of my top ten favorite works of fiction (at this moment) from Japan.”

The story was reprinted in Ellen Datlow’s anthology The Monstrous, is collected in Jeff’s new collection, A Natural History of Hell, and appears today on Lithub for your enjoyment.

Update: today Late Night Library posted a new interview with Jeff:

AUSTIN WILSON: Animals feature in several of the collection’s stories, sometimes as no more than pets or wild creatures, but also anthropomorphic monstrosities. What do you think we fear more: the familiar turning on us, or the attack of the unknown?

JEFFREY FORD: I think “the familiar turning on us” is actually an aspect of “the attack of the unknown.” For most scary stories the mood and scene are more important than the menace. As for animals in the stories, it makes sense. I live in a house with 3 dogs and 6 cats. There are cows and goats and horses just across the road. Out back, there are deer eating from our garden and apple trees, and in the winter, I suppose, coyotes eating deer in the snow covered, stubble fields. At night, in spring, the fox comes, stands behind the garage and cries out with a sound like Satan choking on a wishbone. The animals are everywhere.

Read on



Holiday Gift Guide … Which Holiday?

Mon 3 Oct 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

A Natural History of Hell cover - click to view full sizePerhaps you and your family and/or friends exchange horrible gifts and favors on Halloween? Perhaps you’ve been wondering what to give your demonic friends who seem to have all the slavering zombie tchotchkes in the world? Publishers Weekly says Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell is:

This is the perfect reader-who-has-everything gift for fantasy fans with a literary bent or vice versa. Ford brilliantly cross-pollinates the grim suburban settings of literary fiction with fantastical elements, adding dashes of humor and empathy to provide some light in dark days.

Also on the sf&f part of the Holiday Gift Guide are the new one-volume hardcover edition of Ursula K. Le Guin’s The Unreal and the Real as well as the huge new book of collected novellas, The Found and the Lost, Nisi Shawl’s Everfair, and N.K. Jemisin’s The Fifth Season.

Anyone who received all five books would be a lucky reader indeed!



Free Reads: Jeffrey Ford’s New Book

Fri 10 Jun 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | 3 Comments| Posted by: Gavin

You have one week to enter to win a free copy of Jeffrey Ford’s mind melting A Natural History of Hell:

Goodreads Book Giveaway

A Natural History of Hell by Jeffrey Ford

A Natural History of Hell

by Jeffrey Ford

Giveaway ends June 17, 2016.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter Giveaway



Victor LaValle says

Fri 6 May 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

“Jeffrey Ford can pull off any kind of story he damn well pleases. I was sure of that before I even reached the end of this excellent collection. By the end he’d accomplished more than I would’ve imagined possible. A Brief History of Hell offers genuinely disturbing moments but it also veers into high comedy. There’s bits of myth and history, heartbreak and profound insights. I’ve been a fan of Ford’s for years. Every new book he publishes is a reason to celebrate.”
— Victor LaValle, author of The Ballad of Black Tom



Who isn’t jealous of Jeff?

Fri 8 Apr 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

Ben Loory, author of Stories for Nighttime and Some for the Day, just sent us this!

“No one writes more beautifully about American nightmares and dreams. Every story is great but my favorites are “Word Doll,” “Rocket Ship to Hell,” “The Last Triangle,” and — especially — “The Prelate’s Commission.” Ford takes ideas that most writers would cling to and milk for three or four or five hundred pages and tosses them off left and right like they were nothing on his way to new worlds he seems to create out of thin air. If these stories weren’t so god damn enjoyable they’d make me jealous as hell.”



“any kind of story he damn well pleases”

Mon 28 Mar 2016 - Filed under: Not a Journal., | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

How’s your Monday? Ours is pretty great, thanks to Victor LaValle — whom you may have heard on NPR recently discussing his latest book, The Ballad of Black Tom — who just read Jeffrey Ford’s A Natural History of Hell and sent us this:

“Jeffrey Ford can pull off any kind of story he damn well pleases. I was sure of that before I even reached the end of this excellent collection. By the end he’d accomplished more than I would’ve imagined possible. A Natural History of Hell offers genuinely disturbing moments but it also veers into high comedy. There’s bits of myth and history, heartbreak and profound insights. I’ve been a fan of Ford’s for years. Every new book he publishes is a reason to celebrate.”

Jeffrey Alan Love, whose art graces the cover had some good news, too:



Jeff Ford says

Mon 13 Jan 2014 - Filed under: Not a Journal., , | Leave a Comment| Posted by: Gavin

“Eileen Gunn’s terrific new story collection, Questionable Practices, is a unique amalgam of big ideas and versatile styles packed into short pieces devoid of loose threads and excess baggage. Gunn manages to perfectly balance themes of thought paradox, gender politics, corporate culture, time travel, steampunk, with a storyteller’s ability to immediately draw the reader in through character and drama. Real science fiction, great humor, and some cool collaboration with Michael Swanwick make this a good choice for SF short fiction fans.”

Sounds about right to us!