And, while I'm posting images, yesterday the mail brought me my contributor's copies of Jeff and Ann VanderMeer's The Thackery T. Lambshead Cabinet of Curiosities:
My contribution to the latter is "The Key to the Castleblakeney Key," but I would also note that in a long section of the introduction devoted to Lambshead's life, there is a highly dubious treatment of my own extensive research into the mysterious "death" of his wife, Helen, as well as her involvement in occult societies, and Thackery and Helen's undeniable practice inserting coded messages into documents associated with the loan of objects from his infamous cabinet to various galleries and other institutions. But I shall not take the bait...
Spooky's dad, Richard, is currently doing research in Tubigon, which is in the Phillipines. He keeps sending her emails about outrigger canoes and Google Earth and how much he loves eating squid for breakfast.
Yesterday, we managed to proof "Rappaccini's Dragon (Murder Ballad No. 5)" and "Unter den Augen des Mondes," which will both appear in Confessions of a Five-Chambered Heart. Today, I need to try very hard to proof at least four more stories, as I have to get back to work on Blood Oranges in the next two or three days. Also, lots of email yesterday.
Behind the cut, you will find my schedule for Readercon 22 (July 14-17):
Thursday (off-site): Reading/Signing for Ellen Datlow's Naked City, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, Boston (7 p.m.)
11:00 ayem Reading. Caitlín R. Kiernan. Kiernan reads from The Drowning Girl: A Memoir.
2:00 p.m. Surrealism and Strong Emotion. Michael Cisco (leader), Peter Dubé, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Edward Lawson, Robert Freeman Wexler. Surrealism in speculative fiction has been strongly associated with horror, humor, and slipstream. All these subgenres are defined by the way they make the reader feel (scared, amused, "very strange") rather than by subject matter or narrative structure. What is it about the cognitive dissonance of surrealism that makes it so useful for evoking these very different emotions? How well does it play with another important spec fic-related emotion, the sense of wonder? Is there an emotion more directly related to surrealism – perhaps bemusement, startlement, or confusion--that could itself be considered a defining characteristic of a subgenre, or is surrealism only useful in the service of another concept?
3:00 p.m. Whatever Remains, No Matter How Improbable: Horror and the Scientific Method. Gemma Files, Jack M. Haringa, Caitlín R. Kiernan (leader), John Langan, Sarah Langan. What makes The Exorcist (book only) especially terrifying to a science fiction fan is the slow, laborious exhaustion of all rational explanations for the observed phenomenon, leaving demonic possession as the only alternative. The irrationality of horror becomes much more effective when its natural opponent, the scientific worldview and method, is neither dismissed a priori nor treated as a strawman. Beginning with the presumption that science is wrong and that there is inexplicable evil in the world might well provoke these readers' unconscious skepticism; playing by science's rules and reaching that conclusion is thrillingly convincing. What other works have exploited this dynamic? Are there advantages lost when the demonic world-view is not taken for granted but is instead painstakingly established? How do works that do this read to the naturally horror-minded?
8:00 p.m. Autographs. Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan. (Yes, a signing at 8 p.m. No, really.)
1:00 PM How I Wrote Two Worlds and In Between. Caitlín R. Kiernan discusses the compilation and editing of her two-part short fiction collection.
9:00 p.m. Supernatural Noir group reading. Ellen Datlow, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Barry N. Malzberg, Paul Tremblay. Contributors to Supernatural Noir read selections from their work.
*NOTE: Given my Saturday scheduling has a seven-hour gap, and I cannot bear to attend panels I'm not on, I'll be visiting Boston most of Saturday, and will not be at the actual con.
11:00 ayem The Shirley Jackson Awards F. Brett Cox, Ellen Datlow, Peter Dubé, Scott Edelman, Gemma Files, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan, Sarah Langan, Victor LaValle (moderator). In recognition of the legacy of Shirley Jackson's writing, and with permission of the author's estate, the Shirley Jackson Awards have been established for outstanding achievement in the literature of psychological suspense, horror, and the dark fantastic. Jackson (1916-1965) wrote such classic novels as The Haunting of Hill House and We Have Always Lived in the Castle, as well as one of the most famous short stories in the English language, "The Lottery." Her work continues to be a major influence on writers of every kind of fiction, from the most traditional genre offerings to the most innovative literary work. The awards given in her name have been voted upon by a jury of professional writers, editors, critics, and academics, with input from a Board of Advisors, for the best work published in the calendar year of 2010 in the following categories: Novel, Novella, Novelette, Short Story, Single-Author Collection, and Edited Anthology.
12:00 p.m. The (Re)turn of the Screw. Michael Cisco, Caitlín R. Kiernan, John Langan (leader), Geoff Ryman, Henry Wessells. Stories in which it's unclear whether the fantastic element is real or imagined by the characters have been regarded as central to the genre by scholars such as Tsvetan Todorov (who called this mode simply "the fantastic") and Farah Mendlesohn (one of her types of "liminal fantasy"). With novels such as China Miéville's The City and the City, Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, and Sarah Waters's The Little Stranger, we seem to be experiencing a resurgence of this classic subgenre. Why now?
Okay. That's enough of a blog entry for any Saturday (though, since I don't actually get weekends...). Also, a copy of Angela Carter's The Sadeian Woman: And the Ideology of Pornography (1978) arrived yesterday. My thanks to M. Kaligawa.