Tanith Lee’s Weird Fiction

I wrote an article on Tanith Lee’s weird fiction on Weird Fiction Review in honor of her 70th birthday.

While Tanith Lee (1947-2015) is mostly known as a fantasy writer, much of her short fiction existed in that interstitial region between genres. Not quite horror, or fantasy, her work in this mode would most comfortably fit in the weird tale category. Lee’s ‘weird’ fiction had a distinct gothic tone, and was often underscored by her eccentric wit.

You can read the rest of the article here.

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The Great God Pan, an Opera in 2 acts, by Ross Crean

A week or so ago, a Facebook friend of mine in the composer world shared an image of CD he’d recently received, called The Great God Pan: An Opera in 2 Acts. I ended up chatting with Ross Crean, the composer of the opera based on Arthur Machen’s work. I had just come home from NecronomiCon, where there was a panel on Machen’s work. I missed that panel, but people who had attended mentioned that a panelist spoke about the “psychedelic nature” imagery that shows up in Machen’s work.

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Crean’s opera uses unorthodox instrumentation (prepared piano) to bring Machen’s trippy masterpiece to life.

My schedule at the Baltimore Book Festival (Sept 22 – 24)

 

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Saturday Sept 23


2 PM: #OwnVoices: What Does It Mean to Write What You Know? Identity and SF/F
Authors discuss what it’s like writing characters who share their own marginalized identities and mapping issues of identity into science fiction and fantasy.

Authors: Craig Laurance Gidney, Kosoko Jackson, Sam J Miller, Day al-Mohamed, K.M. Szpara

4 PM: Turning Old Monsters Into New
Still scared of the Boogie Man? Our panel resurrects the monsters you grew up with, talks about all the monsters you grew up with, from fairy tales to urban fantasy to myths and legends and the thing underneath your bed, discuss how modern fiction is reinterpreting them.

Authors: Scott Edelman, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Vivian Shaw, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews

Sunday September 24


12 PM Politics, Resistance, & Speculative Fiction
Science fiction and fantasy have always been political, and have always used genre trappings to explore the here and now through the past and future. What does that look like in the current political climate?
Authors: Lara Elena Donnelly, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Addison Gunn, Malka Older. Moderator: Scott H. Andrews

1 PM – Signing (w/ Tom Doyle)

2 PM Fantasy: It’s Epic, it’s Historic, it’s Dark or Weird or High or Low or Urban
How are all of the categories of fantasy even the same genre? From dungeons to dragons to vampires in our midst, our panel will discuss what they love, what they write, and what you should be reading.

Authors: DH AIre, Ruthanna Emrys, Craig Laurance Gidney, Jeremy M. Gottwig, Ilana C. Myer, Ruth Vincent. Moderator: Jon Skovron

Podcast: The Outer Dark panel discussion at NecronomiCon is now up!

Outer Dark Providence

The Outer Dark panel discussion at NecronomiCon is now available for your listening pleasure at This Is Horror.

The Outer Dark presents an all-new panel discussion recorded at NecronomiCon 2017 featuring Craig Laurance Gidney, Scott R. Jones, Stephen Graham Jones, Peter Straub and Sonya Taaffe. hosted by Scott Nicolay and moderated by Anya Martin (00:18:25). The discussion focuses on long term trends in Weird fiction including living in Weird sociopolitical times, the growth of the Weird Renaissance and its effect on the greater Literature Fantastica, new Weird visions by marginalized voices, destabilization versus reassurance/escapism, ‘reality as a trampoline,’ Weird fiction’s conservative past versus a different kind of Weird story emerging now, Lovecraft’s anxieties as a ‘window’ onto a much larger horrifying world, ‘new’ voices challenging our concept of what is The Weird, embracing versus rejecting fear and loving Otherness, altered market forces and the effect of editorial shifts and the rise of the small press, why speculative fiction should be interstitial, writing ‘things we don’t know,’ less explored topics in Weird fiction, and some exciting announcements about the future of The Outer Dark. This panel took place on Saturday August 19 at noon.

Link: Lovecraft’s Legacy by Paul St. John Macintosh

Over at Greydogtales, a weird fiction blog, author/critic Paul St. John Macinktosh has an essay that examines the latest kerfuffle in the weird fiction community. (Lovecraft’s racism and the legacy of his fiction in many ways mirrors the current culture war over Civil War monuments). In the essay, he highlights POC writers (N.K. Jemisin, Victor Lavalle) who subvert/revise/challenge the subtextual xenophobia in HPL’s work in addition to calling out the denialism/minimizing that many aficionados use.

If there was a huge racial component to Lovecraft’s definition of “unknown,” then you could almost read into such remarks a frustrated longing to engage with other unknown peoples, as much as fear and distaste towards them. That’s as plausible an interpretation as any claim that Lovecraft’s mature work is some kind of systematic dog-whistling for underlying racism, with Deep Ones and ocean-going cultists standing in for black Americans and Catholic immigrants.

Link: Lovecraft’s Legacy

Lovecraft Revisionism in “The Dream Quest of Velitt Boe” by Kij Johnson.

It will come as no surprise that I am not the world’s biggest Lovecraft fan. The flagrant racism and xenophobia that fuels and flavors his work is a big turn-off. And the fact that I am of the demographic that HPL saved some of his more hateful descriptions doesn’t help matters. (Sorry, but I can’t overlook the doggrell “On the Creation of Niggers,” to bask in his supposed genius, as some purists insist. In fact, such a suggestion–that I overlook HPL’s racial hatred–are borderline abusive and is a perfect example of racist gaslighting).

However, I am a fan of the recent flood of revisionist Lovecrafian mythos. They make me a Lovecraft fan-by-proxy. I gobbled up Matt Ruff’s Lovecraft Country and Victor Lavalle’s The Ballad of Black Tom with eagerness. Kij Johnson’s entry into Lovecraftiana examines gender issues where Ruff and Lavalle examined racial ones.

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Velitt Boe is a professor at a women’s college and former explorer of the Dream Lands. When one of her students has left the college in the thrall of a man of the Waking world, Boe tasks herself in bringing the student back. The student’s disappearance has cataclysmic implications, as well as  being a more mundane, university-level scandal.  The novella follows Boe as she travels the perilous Dream Lands as a middle-aged woman.

But the plot of the novella really isn’t the point, in my opinion. It’s a meandering travelogue where Johnson gets to explore Lovecraft’s wonder-filled creation. Johnson is a graceful stylist, and chooses her words with precision. Though there are moments of terror, they are still rendered in a painterly way. As a result, she imbues a bizarre beauty to the various nightmare creatures. The gugs, gaunts, and ghouls aren’t just chattering chaotic evil. They have a hinted hierarchal structure and an alien moral code. In this way, rather than outright polemics, Johnson undermines the incipient xenophobia that’s a feature of Lovecraft’s fiction.

Johnson’s novella has done the nigh-impossible: it makes me interested in reading the source text!

Necronomicon 2017 in pictures

I am exhausted from my recent trip to Providence, RI. In lieu of a write up, I’ll share some annotated pictures from the convention.

Necroreading
I read from THE NECTAR OF NIGHTMARES.  Photo by John Glover
Looming Low Pic
Holding the limited edition of the hardback of LOOMING LOW
Outer Dark
Outer Dark Podcast panel: Scott Nicolay, me, Sonya Taafe, Anya Martin, Peter Straub, Stephen Graham Jones, Scott Jones.
Weird
WALK ON THE WEIRD SIDE. (Featuring my story “Eidolon Realty, LLC.”)
An elder one gooses me
Goosed by an Elder One.