New Era, New Trophy – World Fantasy Award

Earlier this month the organisers of the World Fantasy Award announced that they would be making a change. For over forty years the winners of the World Fantasy Award were presented with a trophy modelled in the image of renowned weird fiction author H.P. Lovecraft. However, now there is a wide-spread belief that it is time to shake things up a bit. The coveted award will no longer take the form of Lovecraft’s head, however influential that head may be. As you might expect, this alteration caused a bit of controversy in the sf/f community.

The organisers did not give an explanation for the change, but it is apparent that many feel Lovecraft is not an appropriate figure to represent the award. The problem of Lovecraft’s racist opinions, which some argue figure in his writings, is clearly of particular concern. Quite predictably, a schism appeared in the sf/f world. One side argued that Lovecraft’s influence on fantasy and horror was being denied, while others protested that fantasy has undergone significant transformations since the Award’s initiation, and a new trophy should reflect that. Lovecraft, it seems, represents the  exclusive old guard, whereas we have entered a new era in sf/f, one which is inclusive and embraces previously marginalised voices.

Regardless of your opinion, the Award’s organisers have been steadfast in their commitment to change. There is no going back. In fact, they have recently called for artists to submit their designs for the new trophy. So if you were upset with the decision to oust Lovecraft, you have the opportunity to offer a design for the trophy of your choice. However, the administration have stated clearly that “the ideal design will represent both fantasy and horror, without bearing any physical resemblance to any person, living or dead”, so bear that in mind!

 

For more on this topic:

The Atlantic published an interesting in-depth piece on this issue – Check out the article by Lenika Cruz here

See this short piece in The Guardian about the call for new trophy designs

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Highlights | 19-25 Oct 15

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The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott (Tin House)

Out this month from Tin House is The New and Improved Romie Futch by Julia Elliott. Tin House can always be relied upon to provide fantastic new fiction, and this title is sure to garner attention. Elliott tells the tale of down-on-his-luck Romie Futch who attempts to reclaim his life by enrolling as a test subject at the Centre for Cybernetic Neuroscience. There, he hope to become “new and improved” by downloading knowledge of the humanities subjects into his brain. Safe to say, things do not go as planned, and Romie ends up on the trail of a mutant beast known as “Hogzilla” – a thousand-pound boar possessing supernatural powers. Elliott’s book seems encompass everything we love – undeniably weird, with sprinkling of the speculative and Southern Gothic. We are eagerly anticipating out copy!

Find out more on Tin House’s website and read an interview with Elliott to find out more.

Read Publisher’s Weekly review of the book here and read an excerpt here

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 Vintage Classics Bronte Sisters Series
Granted, the Brontes are not contemporary authors, but the dynamic literary sisters are back in bookish news (not that they every really left!). In honour of the bicentenary of the Bronte, Penguin Vintage Editions are re-jacketing Jane Eyre (Charlotte Bronte), Wuthering Heights (Emily Bronte) and The Tenant of Wildfell Hall (Anne Bronte). These fantastic new covers deserve a mention because they so perfectly portray the eerie and Gothic themes embodied in these texts, which often gets let out in mainstream discussions of the Brontes. The jackets were wonderfully designed by Sarah Gillespie, find her stuff here. And just in time for Halloween, too – the only problem is you feel the unrelenting urge to buy the whole set!

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The Masters Review – New Voices for the Classic Ghost Story

Gothic is most certainly the theme of the week – the finial item on this list comes from The Masters Review. October is the month of all things creepy, and The Masters Review is determined to let their spooky side shine! The state their aim for the month is to “to bring you as many different takes on the ghost story as possible”, and this week’s feature is the new short story “Clean Hunters” by Lana Valencia. If you’re interested in a bit of non-fiction this Halloween season, The Masters Review has also published some great essays on the uncanny (“Something’s Wrong in the Garden”) and the darker side of literature in their Literary Terms series (“Literary Terms: Gothic, Grotesque and The Uncanny“).

Feature: Unsung Stories Live

This week, indie publisher Unsung Stories showcased some exciting sf and speculative stories in a public reading. On Tuesday 20th October, a crowed of sf/f enthusiasts gathered in the Star of Kings pub in Kings Cross, London, to hear some fantastic (and fantastical) tales in Unsung’s spoken-word event. The occasion was a great chance to hear some of the very talented voices from the sf world as they took to the mic – and is all the more significant as it is the only live-reading of purely sci-fi, fantasy and horror available in London!

The readings were a brilliant blend of touching, troubling, imaginative and comic tales. These superb stories were provided by David Hartley, Cassandra Khaw, Robert Sharp and Simon Guerrier (see below for links to their Twitter accounts). This was the second spoken-literature event run by Unsung Stories, and we have been dutifully told that there will be more to come! It is a great initiative to get both new and seasoned sf/f writers to share their work, so we will keep you informed on any upcoming events.

We also encourage you to check out the Unsung Stories website for more information about the publisher. They specialise in genre-blurring work that crosses traditional borders of genre fiction, often resulting in a wonderful mix of sci-fi, horror, crime and fantasy. So far, Unsung have published three books – Déja Vu by Ian Hocking, Dark Star by Oliver Langmead and The Beauty by Aliya Whiteley – and we are keeping an eager eye on them to see what they come up with next!

For an impressively detailed account of Unsung Live, take a look at this superb review by Andrew Wallace.

If you want to know what the readers are up to, follow them on Twitter:

David HartleyCassandra Khaw Robert SharpSimon Guerrier

Highlights // 12 – 18 Oct 15

Injection_01-1Graphic Novels: Descender and Injection (Image)

Although we primarily focus on text-based fiction, it would be completely misguided not to report speculative fiction from the graphic novel and comic-based world. Recently, Image introduced two new titled to their impressive catalogue of speculative and weird works: Descender by Jeff Lemire, and Injection by Warren Ellis and Declan Shalvey. The first volume of Descender was published this September; a beautiful story which artfully mixes glorious space opera with a touching, “coming-of-age” type narrative humanoid-robot Tim-21.

And if that wasn’t enough, Image are set to release volume one of Injection. We can’t wait for this one – it contains a serialised collection of graphic novels which detail the fall-out of a 21st century “poisoned by five crazy people”. Injection has been described as a blend of weird, science fiction, crime and horror all rolled into one. So, naturally, we had to get in on that – we are ready to dive into our copy!

e433eb8de9132a354277d9f4b44fc17aR.R.A.P. Magazine – Black Speculative Fiction Month

R.R.A.P. Magazine is a great place that forefronts diverse stories, characters and writers from different backgrounds. Of course, this is a great initiative in any context, but October is a very interesting month. During October, R.A.A.P. Magazine are championing works of black authors writing speculative, fantasy and science fiction. Hop over to their website to see their selection of the best in speculative fiction, with a fantastic mix of often marginalised voices dabbling in the speculative genres.

Follow R.R.A.P. on Twitter here for more exciting discussions about race and culture in fiction and the media.

35108-1Publishers Weeky – Big Indie Books of Fall 2015

Check the Publishers Weekly list of the Big Indie Books of Fall 2015 which is chock-full of thrilling new titles coming out this autumn. There are some great titles on the list, such as Learning to Die in the Anthropocene by Roy Scranton (City Lights), The Story of My Teeth by Valeria Luiselli (Coffee House) and Killing and Dying by Adrian Tomine (Drawn and Quarterly). It’s really important to support indie publishers – after all, they bring us some great texts that big publishing houses are reluctant to get behind. So wander on over to Publishers Weekly’s website and take a peek at the impressive range of essays, graphic novels, fiction and non-fiction on offer!

Hope you found something you like here! If you have any suggestions or have something you would like to see featured in the upcoming weeks – please let us know in the comments! Keep the conversation going – MEGLO

Author Spotlight: Jeff VanderMeer

Bookish Bio

In celebration of the news that Jeff VanderMeer will be releasing another book next year, we have decided to dedicate our very first Author Spotlight to him! Jeff VanderMeer is an American author who has been writing sf of varying degrees for the last few decades. He has been a prominent voice in the sf community, both online and in the academic world. Not only has VanderMeer contributed significantly to the Weird with his works of fiction, but along with his wife Ann, he has complied numerous influential anthologies. These anthologies have dealt with a wide range of sf-related topics, from Steampunk to weird fiction and the New Weird. VanderMeer is also a strong advocate of translated weird fiction, and he is determined to make it possible for international Weird writers to get their stories published in English for the Anglo-centric masses.

Catalogue Stand-Outs

VanderMere’s most prominent works of fiction include:

The Southern Reach Trilogy –

“Annihilation” (4th Estate, 2014)

“Authority” (4th Estate, 2014)

“Acceptance” (4the Estate, 2014)

The Ambergris Novels – 

“City of Saints and Madmen” (Tor, 2004)

“Shreik: An Afterword” (Tor, 2006)

“Finch” (Underland Press, 2009)

The paperback editions of The Southern Reach Trilogy by 4th Estate UK

The paperback editions of The Southern Reach Trilogy by 4th Estate UK

In-Depth Focus

A look at the books of The Southern Reach Trilogy 

Although the trilogy is made up of three separate novels, it is recommended that all three books should be read in sequence. The publisher, 4th Estate, made the savvy decision to publish all the books in the same year; this worked greatly to their advantage as the first book “Annihilation” proved a run-away success.

“Annihilation” follows the story of a team of four scientist as they undertake a mission to a strange wilderness known as Area X. The group are the twelfth expedition to be sent into the strange zone by a clandestine government agency called The Southern Reach. In the following two novels, the reader gets a better look into this shadowy agency, as the story shifts from the weird wilds of Area X to the unsettling claustrophobia of confined offices and narrow hallways. The story of Area X slowing unfolds as the characters become both baffled by and obsessed with the mysteries of the unsettling landscape.

Useful Links

VanderMeer’s Wiki: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_VanderMeer#Novels

VanderMeer’s Blog: http://www.jeffvandermeer.com/

VanderMeer on “The Uncanny Power of Weird Fiction” from The Atlantic: http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2014/10/uncanny-fiction-beautiful-and-bizarre/381794/

“The Weird World of Jeff VanderMeer” from Tor.com: http://www.tor.com/2014/12/10/the-weird-world-of-jeff-vandermeer/

“A Writer’s Surreal Journey” from The Altantic:  http://www.theatlantic.com/entertainment/archive/2015/01/from-annihilation-to-acceptance-a-writers-surreal-journey/384884/

“Weird Ecology: On The Southern Reach Trilogy” from the Los Angeles Review of Books: https://lareviewofbooks.org/review/weird-ecology-southern-reach-trilogy

What is the Contemporary?

The key concern for Meglo is contemporary fiction. So, we’ve put ourselves in a bit of a difficult situation here, because this means we have to define what “the contemporary” means. On the one hand, and for the simple the purpose of this blog, “contemporary fiction” plainly means new fiction. Anyone who is writing and publishing fiction at this moment can be considered contemporary. But, then, what is “this moment”? And does contemporary really simply mean “new” or “happening now”, or is it more of a cultural construct?

The idea of the contemporary implies time, and since human beings experience life inside time, the implication is that the contemporary is also an experience. Therefore, the contemporary is difficult to categorise because it is constantly in flux; once we state “this is now”, that “now” has already past and we are living in a future moment of “now”. Yet this difficulty of the contemporary is also its strength. The beauty of the contemporary is that it is constantly moving forward, propelled by the arrow of time.

So,  where does this leave contemporary fiction? When you study literature, you learn about literary movements in blocks of time – you move from medieval, to Romantic, to Victorian, to Modernism. This is a terribly simplistic overview, but you get the picture; literature is contextualised within its (very general) historical moment. But it is not unusual to hear people state that there is no movement within contemporary fiction. But Meglo is a space that seeks to prove this sentiment is false. There is so much happening in the contemporary literary sphere, in fact, there is not just one movement, but there are several!

The contemporary captures the spirit of an age, but the irony is that that spirit only becomes concrete once the current moment has past. We encourage constant discussion about contemporary fiction, because we believe that such a dialogue is  the sphere of the contemporary. Channels of communication enable the continuous flux, and the internet is the best place to open these channels, because here, everyone has a platform and everyone has a voice.

We concentrate particularly on weird and speculative fiction, because we think that the sf community is a vibrant place full of intriguing and cutting-edge ideas. Sci-fi has moved from it’s parents’ basement to join the populace, and the results are pretty interesting. Speculative fiction is also of specific interest because it blurs those antiquated boundaries between pulp/genre fiction and traditional literary fiction. And, as we’ve readily discovered, the contemporary is pretty much all a blur!

So does the contemporary come with the “end of history”? Does it belong in the moment of postmodernism, or evern post-postmodernism? Does the contemporary emerge with the dawn of the information age? We’re not sure, in fact, nobody’s really sure (seriously, try discussing this topic with a literature scholar)! Literature is constructed from and a response to the concerns of its time. Contemporary fiction is built of our current cultural, social and historical experiences, and the conversations these experiences inspire.

So let’s keep taking, the floor is yours

-MEGLO

Intro to Meglo

A little bit about MegloBlog:

This is a space to discuss the latest news in the world of contemporary speculative fiction. There are so many impressive authors emerging right now, and we aim to keep the public informed on exciting developments and projects in the literary world.

If you are interested in fiction that blurs boundaries, this is the place for you!
We are primarily concerned with fiction that is a little bit strange and hard to place. Weird fiction, horror, science fiction, urban fantasy, magical realism … anything that feels slightly odd and unnerving, anything that breaks down the division between genre fiction and traditional literary fiction. We live in a time where binary categories and social norms are constantly shifting, so why should the norms of literature be any different!

Meglo Aims:

This site is an open channel, and we are keen to start a discussion about the state of literature in the present moment. If you would like to throw your opinions out there, please don’t be shy and leave a comment! We are based in the UK and our focus is mainly on British and North American fiction, but we are happy to hear from writers further afield.

Happy reading, happy writing, and remember to always keep an ongoing dialogue. Literature stays alive through continuing discussion of its readers!