The Lucid Garden discussion

Call for Post-Modern Weird-Fic Suggestions

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message 1: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:44AM) (new)

C. | 9 comments I keep wanting to start a discussion, but haven't been able to think of anything I want to talk about right now, so instead a call for general opinion/advice.

Recently I have really enjoyed reading the weird fiction authors that play with and deconstruct the sci-fi fantasy tropes: I loved VanDermeer's "City of Saints and Madmen and Herrison's "Viriconium".

With those two as jumping off points, any suggestions of what to read next?

message 2: by Judah (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:45AM) (new)

Judah | 34 comments Mod
I'm not sure if they're in the same vein of book as what you're looking for, but for well done sci-fi, I recommend Dan Simmons Hyperion series, as well as the duology Olympos/Illium. Not quite as "out there" as the ones you mentioned, but still rather entertaining.

message 3: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:49AM) (new)

Carol | 8 comments How about Steve Erickson? I totally recommend his books.

message 4: by Dan (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:54AM) (new)

Dan | 2 comments Can't recommend Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student highly enough. Like a more refined and developed Vandermeer. Amazing throughout, with a beginning that's like having your chest cavity carved out and stuffed with words.

message 5: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 11:55AM) (new)

C. | 9 comments Dan, you've sold me on Cisco. I'll let you know what I think about it in a few weeks once I've rounded up a copy and devoured it.

message 6: by Vir (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Vir | 2 comments Carol, i'm a huge fan of Steve Erickson though i would say he's pretty far off from being a post-modern/weird-fiction writer...
still, recommended to one and all!

Anyone have thoughts on Vandermeer's Shriek? every time i start it seems i'm in for a boring personal story albeit set in a weird setting... is it worth it?

message 7: by Lane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:21PM) (new)

Lane | 11 comments Just curious, what would you call Erickson? I'm just finishing my first Erickson read, and I'm still trying to figure out what to call it. It certainly feels pretty post modern and weird to me though.

And I liked Shriek a lot. While it is personal at times, I didn't find it boring at all, seeing as how it also deals with mysterious mushroom dwellers and has running notes and commentary from a decaying fungus man. The fantastic elements and the format kept me from getting bored, but I can see how the personal arc of Janice could be tedious.

message 8: by Vir (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:24PM) (new)

Vir | 2 comments i think Erickson is fairly traditional fantasy... what he does is take the genre to its limits and explores its ramifications... so you end up with not any One Great Evil,and the Chosen One who must oppose him, but rather it is a zillion uber-strong badass characters all taking a swing at each other...
anyway, i'm jealous... you're just starting off on your Erikson adventure!

About Shriek... how important is it to have read City of Saints and Madmen before reading it? is it a problem jumping into the world with Shriek?

message 9: by Lane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:26PM) (new)

Lane | 11 comments I have a feeling we're talking about two different Eric(k)sons. I've yet to read any Steven Erikson. I've heard good things, but I'm always hesitant to start anything in a series.
After reading Our Ecstatic Days by Steve Erickson, I feel like I could use a good traditional fantasy to lose myself in though. I'm still not sure how I feel about it.

As for Shriek, I don't think it would be necessary, but I have a feeling someone who didn't fall in love with Ambergris in City of Saints wouldn't get as much enjoyment out of it. Its hard to say though, since I read City first. Who knows, maybe reading Shriek first would inform a reading of City of Saints and Madmen in a similar way (probably not though).

message 10: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

C. | 9 comments I wrote rather lengthy reviews of both ShriekCity of Saints, so I won't say too much on them here - if you're interested, their both on my "Weird-Fiction" shelf.

I liked both of them, though I liked City better, simply because I think that VandeMeer's bizarre setting works better in terse short fiction than in long novel form.

I would strongly suggest that Lane was on the right path - if you read City and didn't like it, I don't think Shriek< would be for you. However, I also think that reading City before Shriek is a must - VandeMeer assumes familiarity with the general premise of Ambergris, The Silence, and the Grey Caps -- all is eventually explained in Shriek, but I think that much of the foreshadowing and impending horror would be lost if you didn't know the significance of mushrooms .

message 11: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:27PM) (new)

C. | 9 comments I've been hunting for a copy of Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student for weeks now - the NY Public library doesn't even seem to have a copy, and I haven't seen it in a single book store. Is it out there somewhere?

message 12: by Lane (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Lane | 11 comments I think it may also be available collected with a sequel as The San Venecio Canon, if that helps. Looks like its available at Amazon. I've had trouble finding him too, so I'm thinking about ordering it along with another one, though I should probably decide if I like him before ordering multiple books of his.

message 13: by Carol (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Carol | 8 comments here's the wiki for Steve Erickson...

I guess because..." Most of Erickson's novels can be described as apocalyptic..." I figured he'd fit in here!


message 14: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Michael | 6 comments Carol, the boundaries between genre-nongenre groups like weird fiction and slipstream fiction are terribly vague. The Wiki article on 'New Weird' admits as much. I wouldn't stress over definitions!

message 15: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Michael | 6 comments In this case I think that the original poster (Chris) was looking for something specifically in the 'New Weird' movement or books like them ... so in this instance the definition matters to an extent. :)

You know, it's funny because I feel as though I've talked about this several times on goodreads already!

message 16: by Michael (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:28PM) (new)

Michael | 6 comments The only movement I worry about are the ones I get after drinking coffee. Good night, everybody!

Frankly I enjoy these conversations but I feel badly when I hijack someone else's thread...

message 17: by Peggy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

Peggy | 3 comments Chris, have you tried K.J. Bishop's The Etched City? I'll also recommend Zoran Zivkovic and Kelly Link. You might also try picking up any of the Leviathan anthologies as a source for new writers in this vein.

message 18: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

C. | 9 comments Peggy - I loved "The Etched City" and Link's "Magic For Beginners," so I'll add Zoran Zivkovic to my Too Reads. Any specific titles to suggest?

As for the discussion as the the type of book I like, there's a reason I didn't mention a genre in my request for book ideas -- I really dislike classifying the books I read. I realize that it makes discussing, sharing, and finding them easier, but the line between New Weird, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, and other genres is so blurry as to be pointless. Or, even worse, they are so set in stone as to be inhibitory. Seven years ago or so when Mievelle set out his "Weird Fiction" manifesto I found the discussion endlessly fascinating, but I've sort of moved past those sort of distinctions. It might be easier to saw "Can anyone suggest a great New Weird author?" but then people might think "Such-in-Such is a great book, but it isn't New-Weird so he wouldn't be interested."

I threw out some names, used the vaguely pompous phrase "deconstruct the sci-fi fantasy tropes", and hoped people would throw some stuff back at me. The books don't have to have magic (but they might); they could have monsters, mutants, psychics, psionics, divorced single-moms, bankers, rangers, elves, or ray-guns. I love M. John Harrison, Calvino, Borges, and China Mievelle. I love Kelly Link, Don DeLillo, Dr. Norell and Mr. Strange, Mobey Dick, and Pride & Prejudice.

I think there is a place for genre distinction, but I don't know where it is. I have no problem with Dragon Lance books being shelved in a separate section near the back of B&N near the White Wolf and D&D modules, but it annoys me that Mievelle is there as well rather than in the rest of "Fiction and Literature". Does that show some sort of elitism? Perhaps, but some books clearly (and willfully) fall within the "Fantasy Genre" distinction, much like pulp detective novels and Tales from the Crypt.

I'm actually all for just shelving all fiction in one section by author - if I want David Eddings, I could go bast Dickens and stop before Faulkner, and neither would loose anything by their close proximity to such terrible trash-fantasy. And then I wouldn't have to check two section every time I wanted to find a book.

Well Michael, I have been complicit in your hijacking of my thread, so no apology needed. Keep the suggestions coming, as I can never have to many books on my "To Read Shelf"

message 19: by C. (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:31PM) (new)

C. | 9 comments I just realized I already have Zivkovic's "Seven Touches of Music" on my To Read Shelf. Who knew?

message 20: by Peggy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Peggy | 3 comments I've liked most of the Zivkovic I've read, Chris, but my favorite is the series of linking stories that appear throughout the Leviathan 3 anthology.

Have you tried Viktor Pelevin? I'm thinking of A Werewolf Problem in Central Russia, but I think his novels would suit, too. Or maybe Patrick McGrath, if you like it dark. And if you haven't checked out Glen David Gold's Carter Beats the Devil or Paul Malmont's The Chinatown Death Cloud Peril, you should give them a looksee.

message 21: by Peggy (last edited Aug 25, 2016 12:32PM) (new)

Peggy | 3 comments Ooooh! I just thought of another one: Ray Vukcevich, who has a decidely odd mystery called The Man of Maybe Half A Dozen Faces and a collection called Meet Me In the Moon Room.

message 22: by Moonglum (new)

Moonglum | 4 comments I recently discovered Jay Lake. I've yet to read Main Spring, but am about finished with Trail of Flowers. Its good-- you have boxed dwarves, numenous phenomena, torture, dark sado-mascistic acts, monsters, a matriarchal organized crime family, and black sorcery. What more could a person want?

message 23: by Adam (last edited Mar 25, 2008 12:20PM) (new)

Adam | 10 comments Zivkovic is fun especially his short novel Hidden Camera and his mosaic short story pieces. On Shriek in the end I liked it but the first third sucked..really boring with a really unbelievable romance..but the last two thirds are great..good as anything by Vandermeer...but Veniss Underground and City are still his best work so start there. No one has mentioned Jeffrey Ford! All his work is great, especially his short stories. Link, Harrison,Bishop, and Cisco are great.
My list of must read weird fiction:
Gene Wolfe-Fifth head of Cerberus
Michael Swanwick-Stations of the Tides (or his short stories)
All Rhys Hughes
Isak Dinesen-Seven Gothic Tales
Angela Carter -Infernal Desire Machines of Doctor Hoffman, short fiction
Thomas Ligotti-short stories
all Bruno Shultz
Robert Irwin Arabian Nightmare
Mervyn Peake-Gormenghast Novels
most Kobo Abe
Cormac McCarthy-Blood Meridian
All Boris Vian
All Pynchon (except Vineland)
All Borges
okay enough I'll shut up.

message 24: by Lane (last edited Mar 26, 2008 07:25AM) (new)

Lane | 11 comments I have to concur with the Jeffrey Ford recommendation. The only problem I have with Ford is that I can never find his earlier, weirder novels or his short stories. If you can only find his latest novels, it can be hard to understand why Ford is listed alongside obvious weird writers like Mieville and Vandermeer. I definitely recommend his latest novels (at least Girl in the Glass and The Portrait of Mrs. Charbuque; I haven't read his latest one which was only recently released) too, though they're more period mysteries. I had to hunt down used copies on Amazon to find any of the Well Built City Trilogy, which hopefully will be reprinted soon in collected form, or his short stories.

message 25: by Nancy (last edited Apr 03, 2008 11:01AM) (new)

Nancy I'm not sure if Lucius Shepard would fall into this category.

When I first came across his short story, The Jaguar Hunter, I had serious doubts as to how accurately an Anglo-American writer could portray the people, culture and landscape of Latin America. Based on his writing, it seems that Shepard has spent a lot of time studying people and cultures, unlike the average tourist who rarely leaves the resort areas.

I love Shepard's poetic and sensual prose, memorable characters, and vivid and colorful settings.

Read /The Jaguar Hunter here:

message 26: by Lane (last edited May 06, 2008 11:16AM) (new)

Lane | 11 comments Though you can argue that The Jaguar Hunter is more magical realism, I think some Lucius Shepard stories definitely have postmodern or weird elements. For example The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule, uses interludes of art history excerpts and deals with a society and ecosystem that live on a giant sleeping dragon.

If you're looking for straight up new weird though, a new one I'd recommend would be Thunderer by Felix Gilman. If you're looking for something in the vein of Mieville's Bas Lag books or Jay Lake's Trial of Flowers, I don't think you can do much better. Though I think Gilman may be signed to do another one in the same setting, Thunderer is stand alone. Hopefully he'll follow in the footsteps of Mieville and keep doing stand alone books and not just infinite sequels.

message 27: by Ubik (new)

Ubik | 3 comments Wow, you are just full of good suggestions, Seth. I came in here to see some recommendations and I am now definitely going to check out Hotel De Dream and Mission thanks to you (we already discussed Shaw and Watson's stuff is already on my list). Thanks again

message 28: by Ubik (last edited Oct 01, 2008 05:37PM) (new)

Ubik | 3 comments Sorry for double-posting when I know there is an edit feature, but the "add author/book" feature goes away in edit mode so...

I, too am a little confused as to what the OP considers counting and what not so Im jus going to list off some stuff and hope its in the neighbourhood of what youre looking for.

-Amnesia Moon by Jonathan Lethem. Im actually a little shocked that I havent seen his name come up yet. But I think out of everything Im about to throw at you, this one fits you the best

-The Wooden Sea: A Novel by Jonathan Carroll (I loves me my Jonathans :)). Believe everything you hear about this one. Its truly awesome, poignant, funny, etc. One of my favorites

-In the Country of Last Things by Paul Auster. Im not sure if this will fit in with your sensibilities, but here it is anyway just in case. Its a post-apocalyptic Dystopian (future/past/alternate dimension-doesnt say) with the main character just trying to make some sense out of the current life she is in. Its a little too short, but its absolutely wonderful.

And as for the term "New Weird", when I learned the term, it was most associated with stuff like Carlton Mellick III writes. Maybe Im wrong though. Ive only read one of his, The Menstruating Mall, and while it was definitely unique (and I have a HUGE virtual hard-on for any story that involves characters inexplicably trapped somewhere -- read: The Exterminating Angel, The Cosmic Puppets , etc) and entertaining in its own right, I thought of it as kinda juvenile. Since thats the only thing Ive read that I know of as being termed 'New Weird', I wonder if a lot of stuff is written on that level?

And where does Tom Robbins fit into all this? Ive only read Skinny Legs and All and while I definitely wouldnt call it 'posthuman', its undoubtedly weird...

message 29: by Matt (new)

Matt The mention of Zivkovic above brings to mind one of my favorite books: The Quiet Girl by Danish author Peter Høeg. It is about a telepathic clown who is hired by a secret order of nuns to save some children with mystical abilities. It is one of the most beautiful, mesmerizing, and strange books I have ever read. I can't recommend it enough.

message 30: by Adam (last edited Oct 03, 2008 10:02AM) (new)

Adam | 10 comments Mellick and company call their stuff Bizarro. New Weird was a term briefly championed by Mieville and M. John Harrison(and rejected by and then mysteriously anthologized by Vandermeer). Both are attempts at creating marketing categories for fiction like gonzo and slipstream. That is my understanding at least. For some reason with Lethem and Carroll, I enjoy their books when I read them and then I am left feeling hollow. Anyone else have a thought on these authors. The Auster book was pretty good, but I always wonder why non-scifi authors when they decided to write science fiction either do post apocalyptic(along with coming of age something I could really do without ever reading again)or simplistic dystopias.

message 31: by Amanda (new)

Amanda | 16 comments Adam
I am left feeling the same way after reading Carroll lately. Havn't read any Lethem, but have abook of his I'm going to start soon. Harrison is a genius in my eyes and Mieville's one of my favorites

message 32: by Paul (last edited Jul 24, 2009 07:48PM) (new)

Paul Crittenden (mophreo) | 1 comments Above me, years ago, Dan recommended Michael Cisco's The Divinity Student and I completely agree. I would add The Troika by Stepan Chapman, published by VanderMeer's Ministry of Whimsy Press. It's the story of a jeep, a brontosaurus, and an elderly Mexican woman as they cross a seemingly endless desert. It's equal parts fantasy, SF, and psychedelic psychological character study. Very good read and I cannot recommend it highly enough.

message 33: by Judah (new)

Judah | 34 comments Mod
Peggy wrote: "Chris, have you tried K.J. Bishop's The Etched City? "

LOVE The Etched City! *When* is she going to ut something new out??

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