Friday, February 1, 2013

The Weird -- edited by Jeff and Ann VanderMeer

Title: The Weird, a Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories
Author: Various, edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer
Publishing Information: Published in the United States by Tor of Tom Doherty Associates, LLC 2012 New York, and in Great Britain by Corvus, an imprint of Atlantic Books Ltc., 2011, London
Source: My library (a much anticipated 2012 Christmas present)

This past Christmas I was the very happy recipient of The Weird, a Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories edited by Ann and Jeff VanderMeer. Considering that the book is 1126 pages long and encompasses selections of weird fiction from throughout the 20th century, it is going to take me quite a while to read it – not that I mind.  I’ve read three stories in it so far and have truly enjoyed savoring every word.

The Weird, as the editors describe it, is a compendium and not an encyclopedia and thus is not a complete collection of all weird fiction. It is instead a deft effort to bring a well-rounded sampling of fringe stories to the greater public’s attention. They admit in the Introduction that there were many stories they wanted to include but could not due to restricted copyright permissions. However, they graciously reference some of these missing  titles and authors (as does Michael Moorcock in the Foreweird – no, that is not a typo) so that the reader can seek them out from other sources.

If you are dubious, like me, about purchasing a collection, especially one chock full of authors you may not have heard of, I strongly urge you to give this one a chance. Jeff and Ann are dedicated weird addicts and have spent much of their careers seeking out stories that burst the seams of traditional fiction. The weird isn’t really a genre unto itself – its stories encompass all other genres from sci-fi to horror, fantasy to western and beyond.  A story falls into the weird category based more on its feel, a skewed way of seeing things , if you will, rather than on it having a specific type of plot or setting. Its authors span the entire world from England to the US, South America to Japan, India to Africa. Some authors write nothing but weird fiction.  Others spend their lives creating stories set in one genre or another and then all of a sudden a gem pops out that is undefinable.  It bends the light in such a way that the reader looks up from the last word wondering – his view of reality altered, if just for a moment, into seeing the world a little bit differently.

I will spend the next few months reading the stories in The Weird and relaying back to you what I find. If you take the plunge and purchase a copy for yourself, I hope you enjoy it. Not all the stories may be to your liking, but they will all make you think. And who knows, you might stumble upon a new favorite author.  I certainly have – Saki (Hector Munro). Boy can he turn a phrase.

If you enjoy this book you might want to check out other collections by the VanderMeer’s, such as The New Weird, Steampunk  I, Steampunk II, Steampunk III, and The Thachery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities, or some of Jeff’s novels such as City of Saints and Madmen.  You can also buy back issues of the magazine Weird Tales, of which Ann was the fiction editor from 2007-2011 (Marvin Kaye now holds that post), or you can pop over to the duos website, Weird Fiction Review:

Happy reading!

Post Note:
Whilst perusing the Weird Fiction Review I stumbled upon the following blog with reviews of some of the authors from The Weird. As established in prior posts, I have found it incredibly insightful to know the background of the author before reading their works.  If you agree, I recommend taking a look at this site before reading the stories in The Weird

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all this information! Because we don't normally go for weird stories, we think we'll leave the reading up to you & decide on whether or not to get the book after we've read your posts. We also appreciate the link to the authors' information.