Scott Nicolay

Ana Kai Tangata

Tag: Area X

Stories from the Borderland #14: “Les Xipéhuz” by J.-H. Rosny aîné

First edition of "Les Xipéhuz" published by Albert Savine (1888).

First edition of “Les Xipéhuz” published by Albert Savine (1888).

A horde of conical, unstoppable, and seemingly indestructible antagonists, exterminating all organic life with mysterious heat rays, resisting every attempt at communication and impervious to all conventional weapons everywhere but a single vulnerable point…this is a familiar scenario to most of my readers, n’est-ce pas? Only I am not describing the Daleks. My subject is les Xipéhuz. The Daleks have been around for a long time—they were born the same year as me—but the Xipéhuz have been among us a good deal longer. Continue reading

Stories from the Borderland #4: “Beyond the Dead Reef” by James Tiptree, Jr.

tip2Nothing is what it seems to be chez Tiptree, least of all, Tiptree. Don’t think for a moment that knowing their legal name was Alice Sheldon, AKA Raccoona, AKA Alli, leaves you on any solid ground. Our subject is a psychologist who helped forge the modern CIA from the disjointed remnants of the OSS—and who was still leaking classified information in their first novel over a decade after they supposedly left The Agency. They must have been a regular terror at the old “tell me three things about yourself, one of which is a lie” game. Consider how well a CIA psychologist could fuck with your mind. After they pinched a pseudonym from a venerable UK manufacturer of marmalades they found they could fuck with more minds than ever through the medium of fiction. Continue reading

Henry Lien: The Elegant Art of the Literary Duel | The Outer Dark: Episode 25 — DECEMBER 30, 2015

TODA25-Henry Lien The Elegant Art of the Literary Duel

There’s no one quite like Henry Lien in spec-lit today. He has generated major buzz with just six unique stories. His first published story ‘Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters’, which features “an art form that combines figure skating with kung fu”, made the cover of the December 2013 issue of Asimov’s Science Fiction (Henry even pitched cover artist Alexandra Manukyan) and went on to be a Nebula Award nominee. His latest, critically acclaimed ‘The Ladies’ Aquatic Gardening Society’ (Asimov’s, June 2015), perhaps his most distinctly Weird tale, is about two Gilded Age grandes dames dueling for Newport high society dominance via their increasingly outrageous and environmentally devastating theme gardens. On this episode of The Outer Dark, Henry pulls back the curtain on his creative process starting with the rigorous questions he asks himself before moving forward with an idea (0:03:00), diving into stories as “thought experiments”, putting pressure on his writing and matching concept with format, the importance of humor in “humanizing” and “bridging centuries and miles”, the potential for “wonder in modest concepts” and exploring them to their logical conclusion and how he pushes outside himself to tell stories from the viewpoint of girls and women. A self-described “one-man movie studio”, he also waxes enthusiastic about the joy he gets from indulging his multimedia muse including the “crazy fun” and “intense satisfaction” of handing a story over to an artist, voicing his characters in audio rendition, and even dabbling in writing music to accompany his stories. The madcap conversa

"Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters" (Cover story, Asimov's, Dec. 2013). Art by Alexandra Minukyan.

“Pearl Rehabilitative Colony for Ungrateful Daughters” (Cover story, Asimov’s, Dec. 2013). Art by Alexandra Manukyan.

tion touches upon all his stories from the two aforementioned tales (‘Pearl’, 0:14:45) (‘Ladies’, 1:01:30)to the simple, elegant, tragic ‘Supplemental Declaration of Henry Lien’ (Interfictions, Nov. 2015)(0:24:30) and the life-changing experience at its heart that propelled him into writing spec-lit, the poignant dolphin conservation advocacy tale ‘Bilingual’ (F&SF, March 2015) (0:34:55) told unexpectedly all via Twitter, ‘The Shadow You Cast Is Me’ (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, May 2015) (1:38:30) in which he explores the uncomfortable topic of a dysfunctional marriage, and ‘The Great Leap of Shin’ (Analog, Jan. 2015) (1:50:45). His Clarion West instructors Chuck Palahniuk and George RR Martin receive some heartfelt appreciation, “worlds that can be held in a pocket” are mused upon, and there’s a Karel Čapek interlude (1:17:00), plus ruminations on the rapidly diversifying audience for spec-lit, why Henry is done with short stories for the time-being, his just-completed novel which he says is “the best thing I have written”, why it’s OK to be proud of your stories, why he supports bringing back legal dueling to resolve world conflicts (1:51:30), his own ultimate duels, his ‘Radio SFWA’ recruitment anthem performed at the 2016 Nebula Awards (2:00:00), and his recommended living authors (2:05:20) James Robert Herndon

Bilingual-CarolineSirounian2

“Bilingual” (F&SF, March 2015), art by Caroline Sirounian.

and Lian Hearn.

News From the Weird

(2:13:10) With Arkham Digest columnist and Strange Aeons fiction editor Justin “Steely J” Steele. Reviews of two of the best weird fiction chapbooks of 2015: These Last Embers by Simon Strantzas, from Undertow Publications, and The Visible Filth by Nathan Ballingrud, from This is Horror. Plus Scott and Justin look ahead to 2016, which promises to be another big year in the Weird including another author reveal from the table of contents of the much anticipated Lost Signals anthology (ed. Max Booth III/Perpetual Motion Machine Press).

This archival episode is available at This Is Horror here.

Additional Links

Caroline Sirounian

Kurt Huggins

‘Swim Wants to Know if it’s as Bad as Swim Thinks’ by Paul Tremblay

Sidecar Preservation Society

TheGreatLeapofShin-KurtHuggins2

“The Great Leap of Shin” (Analog, Jan. 2015). Art by Kurt Huggins.

Show credits

Host/Executive Producer: Scott Nicolay

Co-Host, News From the Weird: Justin Steele

Associate Producer/Show Notes: Anya Martin

Logo Design: Nick “The Hat” Gucker

Music: Michael Griffin

Old Weird, New Weird or Just Plain Weird? Panel at World Fantasy Convention 2015 | The Outer Dark: Special Presentation — NOVEMBER 13, 2015

November 7, 2015, World Fantasy Convention, Saratoga Springs, NY

Moderator: Thomas F. Monteleone. Panelists: Ellen Datlow, Michael Kelly, Anya Martin, Maura McHugh, Scott Nicolay

Description: When and where do they converge and converse?

weirdpanel-wfc2015Writers and editors discuss the roots and history of Weird fiction back to Weird Tales, 19th century authors and even The Iliad, editors’ perspectives on the Weird in their own work experiences, the Weird tale as independent of tropes, early definitions of the Weird by Le Fanu as a gothic supernatural tale and Lovecraft as dread-ridden cosmic horror, its evolution to an increasingly fluid and open vision and variety in the explosion of Weird fiction today, tapping into the strangeness of reality and the element of the unexplained but why not all odd stories are weird stories, where Weird tapers and becomes surreal, whether Weird fiction needs darkness as an ingredient and when fantasy and science fiction becomes Weird, writer Gemma Files’ suggestion from the audience that the nuance may lie in how the characters react to the Weird in the story, scares versus unease, David Lynch as Weird filmmaker, why keeping a wide open definition is better for nurturing the Weird, a peek inside the editorial process behind The Year’s Best Weird Fiction and the value of changing editors every year, the growing interest in the weird outside the spec-lit community and the upcoming Wave from Hollywood and mainstream publishing, a possible danger in letting the outside world define the weird, keeping the door open as long as we can, the role of the small presses in driving the Weird explosion, Weird as a pre-existing condition, Weird fiction in the novel form, the future of Weird fiction, the recurring theme in weird fiction of the environment rising up including when the environment is a house, when ghost stories can be weird stories, the etymology of the word “Weird” in the Anglo-Saxon “Wyrd” and its many connotations including fate/destiny/transformation, why the word “Weird” is Weird itself, following the River to an inevitable destiny versus appeal of unpredictability to the reader, Jack Spicer’s Martian, and many, many recommended authors from the 19th century to now.

Thanks to Stephen Barringer for the panel photo.

This archival episode will be available again at This Is Horror soon. In the meantime, subscribe at iTunes  or Blubrry to make sure you don’t miss an episode.

More links:

http://borderlandspress.com/

http://www.hplovecraft.com/writings/texts/essays/shil.aspx

http://weirdfictionreview.com/2011/11/dogme-2011-for-weird-fiction-by-scott-nicolay/

http://weirdfictionreview.com/2014/11/the-expanding-borders-of-area-x/

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