The third annual Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird occurred last weekend. It was a confluence of readings, panels, and academic presentations all held in a special effects studio in Atlanta, under the watchful gaze of silicon monsters. Attendees came from all parts of the country, as far away as Hawaii. The readings spanned the entire cosmos of Weird Fiction, from the absurd to creepy to literary and all points in-between. The lively panels were full of passionate participants.
I have no idea where my own fiction fits in this constellation but it definitely has a home, embedded there amongst the other dark stars. In fact, I pitched A SPECTRAL HUE at last year’s symposium (check the acknowledgements of the book). Thanks to everyone who had a hand in organizing this event.
Till next year!
A few of the other attendees (Silver Scream FX Lab)
Viscera by Gabriel Squailia
I’m really enjoying this novel, which would best be described as New Weird fiction. The world is dank and decayed and full of factions with really odd nomenclatures. The mood is one of the blackest gallows humor. The magic (here called ‘enchantments’) is bloody and messy. But don’t be fooled by the baroque grotesqueries. This is a character driven novel, full of memorable weirdos, such as a knife-crazy poppet, a drugged addled transman, and a mysterious trans enchantress who has a dead bear as a sidekick. It’s funny, gross and full of dark wonder.
Forget the Sleepless Shores by Sonya Taaffe
Taaffe and I run in the same circles but it was only last year that I found out that she is a massive Tanith Lee fan. Her new collection was graciously sent to me by Lethe Press (the publishers of my debut). I’m not far into this large collection of short fiction, but Taaffe has a dense opiated prose style (reminiscent of Lee), and her plots mines darker mythopoetic tropes. It’s rich writing, something to be savored.
Here’s the TOC:
Cover by Mark Bode
African American Folklore, Magical Realism and Horror in Toni Morrison’s Novels by Sumiko Saulson
Mining Dark Latino Folklore by David Bowles
Hard As Stone – Daniel Braum
Art by Dave Felton
Black Treacle by Craig L. Gidney
Art by Liv Rainey-Smith
The Lake Children by Izzy Lee
Art by Sumiko Saulson
Worm of Poe by John Foster
Art by Liv Rainey-Smith
The Baby in the Forest by Eric Schaller
Art by Paul Mavrides
The Last Plague Doctor by Rebecca J. Allred
Art by Jeanne Maskmaker
Available exclusively to attending and supporting members: https://igg.me/at/theouterdark2018
(Tickets and supporting membership are still available!)
The Outer Dark is running an Indiegogo Campaign to help fund its second annual Symposium on the Greater Weird on March 24. There are many MAGNIFICIENT rewards to those who contribute.
From their website:
The Outer Dark Symposium on the Greater Weird is the world’s only conference focusing on contemporary Weird fiction, film and art. The 2nd annual symposium will gather more than 25 writers, artists, filmmakers & editors on March 24, 2017 at Winchester Mystery House in San Jose, CA., one of the USA’s Weirdest places. Hear all the readings and panels on The Outer Dark podcast, which airs on This Is Horror, reaching thousands of listeners who are readers of Weird and speculative fiction.
Tor.com featured the Dim Shores’ Weird Fiction anthology Looming Low as one of the recommended 5 Horror Reads for Fall. My story “Mirror Bias” (referred to as “Mirror App”) gets a brief shout-out.
Looming Low, which features a who’s who of newer Weird Fiction authors, is now available as an eBook.
Critically acclaimed weird/horror S.P. Miskowski has a new collection out from Journalstone, called Strange Is the Night. Miskowski has been nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award many times.
BACK COVER COPY:
Over cocktails an executive describes to a friend the disturbing history of a strangely potent guardian angel. A young mom tries to perfect and prolong her daughter’s childhood with obsessive parenting. A critic’s petty denouncement of an ingénue’s performance leads to a theatrical night of reckoning. A cult member makes nice for a parole board hearing years after committing an infamous crime.
A multiple Shirley Jackson Award nominee, S.P. Miskowski serves up an uncompromising collection of thirteen modern tales of desire and self-destruction. Strange is the Night offers further proof that Miskowski is—as Black Static book reviewer Peter Tennant notes—“one of the most interesting and original writers to emerge in recent years.”
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.
Crean’s opera uses unorthodox instrumentation (prepared piano) to bring Machen’s trippy masterpiece to life.
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
My first Patreon post is a draft of a weird story called HAIR-NEST. It’s about race, gender and the politics of black hair. Influences/inspiration: Kara Walker, Angela Carter. And one of the characters was inspired by a certain actress/wellness guru with initials GP.
I’m still recovering from my weekend hanging out with weird fiction writers and fans. I will talk more about the panels I attended/moderated at a later time. In the meantime, here are some pictures.