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The New Weird
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2015 Reads > Ann: The New Weird

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message 1: by Serendi (last edited Jan 21, 2015 02:37PM) (new)

Serendi | 846 comments I haven't read the Southern Reach Trilogy yet, but I have read Jeff VanderMeer's Veniss Underground, and I'm not sure how I would describe it, except that I was pretty sure it fell under The New Weird. (I liked it. And it was definitely weird.)

So I checked that out, and it turns out Jeff and Ann VanderMeer did a New Weird anthology in which they try to define what that means. Here's a Wikipedia article that mentions it: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/New_Weird

Anyhow, just thought I'd put this topic out there...


Brendan (mistershine) | 930 comments Haven't read that anthology yet but I love every author in that wikipedia article. I badly want another KJ Bishop novel, Etched City was so good!


message 3: by Art (last edited Jan 21, 2015 11:55AM) (new)

Art | 190 comments Serendi wrote: "I haven't read the Southern Reach Trilogy yet, but I have read Jeff VanderMeer's Veniss Underground, and I'm not sure how I would describe it, except that I was pretty ..."

Thanks for posting this. I've never even heard of this, but sounds really interesting.


message 4: by David H. (new)

David H. (farrakut) I really loved VanderMeer's Ambergris stories. So effing rad. (City of Saints and Madmen, Shriek: An Afterword, & Finch.)


message 5: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 648 comments Looking forward to exploring the New Weird! :)


message 6: by Jenny (Reading Envy) (last edited Jan 22, 2015 12:41PM) (new) - added it

Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments I own The Weird and The New Weird but haven't read them. They are signed by the Vandermeers and everything! A month of weird and new weird would be great fun for those of us who have already read the trilogy.


message 7: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4074 comments Interesting suggestion, Jenny. Along with the month's book pick, would anything in the group rules keep us from making threads to discuss the sequels? I'm game for all three.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments John wrote: "Interesting suggestion, Jenny. Along with the month's book pick, would anything in the group rules keep us from making threads to discuss the sequels? I'm game for all three."

The sequels, with spoilers, and the other weird!


message 9: by Joanna Chaplin (new)

Joanna Chaplin | 1175 comments I'll give it a go, but I bounced off both Perdido Street Station and Embassytown. I'm not sure if it's the New Weird in general or China Miéville in particular I don't care for.


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments The thing about the weird and new weird, there is such a wide range. I'd try more than one author!


message 11: by Matthew (new)

Matthew (matthewdl) | 341 comments I discovered Lovecraft a few years ago and fell in love with Weird fiction. I am just starting to scratch the surface of the New Weird though. Super excited for this month's read and ready to tackle all manner of weirdness with you. How awesome was True Detective, eh?


message 12: by Valerie (new)

Valerie (darthval) | 96 comments This is interesting. The entire time I was reading Annihilation, I kept thinking it reminded me of At the Mountains of Madness. Now I know why.


message 13: by Larry (new)

Larry Blue | 2 comments My impression, after a quarter of the way through, was that VanderMeer was consciously going for a Lovcraftian feel. Later in book is was obviously Lovecrafting (as a friend once called this style).


message 14: by Brendan (last edited Jan 28, 2015 06:23PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Brendan (mistershine) | 930 comments Larry wrote: "My impression, after a quarter of the way through, was that VanderMeer was consciously going for a Lovcraftian feel. Later in book is was obviously Lovecrafting (as a friend once called this style)."

Bookish: The locations in Area X, its monsters, and its growing sense of madness will thrill H.P. Lovecraft fans. How big an influence has he been on your work? Were there any other authors or works that inspired you?

JV: Honestly, Lovecraft has had zero influence on me.

http://www.usatoday.com/story/life/bo... (Interview may contain spoilers)


message 15: by Geoff (new)

Geoff (geoffgreer) Did he say that with a straight face?


Jenny (Reading Envy) (readingenvy) | 2898 comments It's so easy to read "swamp" and assume Lovecraft. I personally found more similarities with The Martian Chronicles. If anyone has read those and understand what I mean, high-5.


message 17: by Rob (new)

Rob  (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments I think the issue is that they're both writing in the genre of weird fiction, and weird has come to= Lovecraftian. Even if they aren't related at all, we go "aha, Lovecraft!" because that's our closest point of reference, just like we might go "How Shakesperian!" if we see a play with old timey dialogue and a buncha murders.

Personally, I found the prose itself very un-lovecraftian (it's really refined, and occasionally pretty, but never grand and purpley like lovecraft) and its depiction of (view spoiler).

All of that said, it's probably a bit disingenuous for VanderMeer to claim Lovecraft had ZERO influence, given he's such a foundational figure for the genre. Just like it'd be crazy for a playwrite to claim Shakespeare had ZERO influence on them.


message 18: by Larry (new)

Larry Blue | 2 comments I'll concede that VanderMeer doesn't use the overly baroque language of Lovecraft. But he does do the 'vague but monstrous' description thing that Lovecraft did so well - the monster was "unworldly, unbelievable, and indescribable ... and sort of slug like."

I actually like this. It saves the reader from a page or two of describing an alien's body in detail. Most authors have mixed success at this and should just say, something like "a face like a lizard" and let the reader fill in the details. The vagueness also emphasizes how alien the monster/alien is.


message 19: by John (Taloni) (new)

John (Taloni) Taloni (johntaloni) | 4074 comments Two soft spoilers...I suppose I'll have to avoid these threads until I'm done.


message 20: by Daniel (new)

Daniel Eavenson (dannyeaves) | 127 comments I don't understand the need for the "New Weird" name. Lovecraftian horror pretty adequately describes all of these books and stories.

Just listened to an episode of Writing Excuses podcast on the subject that I think adds a lot to this discussion.

http://www.writingexcuses.com/2015/01...


message 21: by Rob (new)

Rob  (quintessential_defenestration) | 1035 comments The issue is that lovecraftian is often shorthand for lovecraftian mythos, and isn't necessarily in the same genre, i think


message 22: by Leesa (new)

Leesa (leesalogic) | 648 comments I'm OK with the label Weird. It's not quite horror, it's not quite fantasy, it's not quite sci fi, it's just weird.

I read a lot of weird fiction, I guess.


message 23: by Ctgt (new)

Ctgt | 329 comments Leesa wrote: "I'm OK with the label Weird. It's not quite horror, it's not quite fantasy, it's not quite sci fi, it's just weird.

I read a lot of weird fiction, I guess."


:) Me too.


message 24: by Sean (new)

Sean O'Hara (seanohara) | 2365 comments For what it's worth, Lovecraft himself referred to his work as weird fiction.

This type of fear-literature must not be confounded with a type externally similar but psychologically widely different; the literature of mere physical fear and the mundanely gruesome. Such writing, to be sure, has its place, as has the conventional or even whimsical or humorous ghost story where formalism or the author’s knowing wink removes the true sense of the morbidly unnatural; but these things are not the literature of cosmic fear in its purest sense. The true weird tale has something more than secret murder, bloody bones, or a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule. A certain atmosphere of breathless and unexplainable dread of outer, unknown forces must be present; and there must be a hint, expressed with a seriousness and portentousness becoming its subject, of that most terrible conception of the human brain—a malign and particular suspension or defeat of those fixed laws of Nature which are our only safeguard against the assaults of chaos and the daemons of unplumbed space.


I think this also sums up why some fantasy purists don't like this story. That line about "a sheeted form clanking chains according to rule" applies to most modern fantasy even when it's not horrific -- the magical elements of the story get treated mechanistically, so that rather than being a contravention of natural law, they end up being an extension of it, with clearly defined rules and limitations. There's nothing much fantastic about it -- in a Robert Jordan or Brandon Sanderson novel, the only reason magic is mysterious to anyone is that only the Special People get to use it. In Lovecraft and Vandermeer, magic is completely beyond our ken and there's no room for the protagonist to become a badass wizard who saves the world.


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