Books

The Weird

My review of the book ensconced in this month’s ‘Words We Like’ sidebar, Jeff and Ann VanderMeer’s The Weird, is published today at Strange Horizons. As you might imagine with any anthology of this sort, there are criticisms – too few female authors, a skew towards Anglo-American voices as the volume proceeds (though this neglects to mention in particular the wonderful ‘Dust Enforcer’ from Reza Negarestani). But by and large this is a wonderful collection which captures the weird mode of fiction in what feels like a faithful and creative way.

Indeed, between completing that review and it being published, the VanderMeers have published this post at the Weird Fiction Review, explaining a little about their ‘approaches and foci’ in editing the volume. You’ll get a good sense of the character of their book from this list of priorities, particularly as any single review will struggle to encompass all of them satisfactorily. In particular, when the editors write that, “Beauty and fascination are as wedded in these stories as are horror and fear of the unknown,” they nail the eroticised heart of the weird, which, as I suggest in the review, is curiously drawn to images of sensory overload.

In this way, the weird is related quite strongly to sf – that is, it is concerned with contrary information, data which contradicts what we think we know. Its difference, again as I argue over at SH, it is in what the VanderMeers call the mode’s ““slippery” quality”: this makes it not just difficult to identify in terms of genre, but, internally within a story, defiant of definitive readings.

Why are you still here? Go and read the review (and, better yet, the book).

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