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JeffV
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 07:43 am:   

My Dear Rhys:

Thank you so much for the novella "The World Beyond the Stairwell" in Journeys Beyond Advice. It has given me such great reading pleasure, even though the light here is quite dim and provided by ABAQ. How wonderful to read a story that is unabashedly a tip of the hat/homage, and yet truly original, funny and yet serious. And sprinkled with the additional pleasures of meeting up with so many amazing beasties.

This, to my mind, was one of the best novellas of 2002. I hope it gets on award ballots.

I am now progressing up the staircase to your other stories in Journeys Beyond Advice. More soon. I may throw my report out of the turret down to you. Please do not hit me with a rock by mistake.

Sincerely,


Jeff VanderMeer
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, March 29, 2003 - 08:17 am:   

Ooh. My copy of Journeys Beyond Advice should be waiting for me when I get back to school.
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 02:50 am:   

Thanks Jeff!

I doubt it will get on any award ballots. That sort of thing doesn't happen to me! Even if I wrote the best story ever written, I doubt it would win anything or be selected for a *Year's Best* anthology! I've given up waiting for that...

I had great fun writing 'The World Beyond the Stairwell'. It was a great excuse to go through Borges's BOOK OF IMAGINARY BEINGS and use it as a sort of playbox to borrow monsters from!

But my favourite story in JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE is 'The Swine Taster', which is also a Hodgson-inspired piece, but even wilder...

When I wrote this, I definitely thought it was one of my best short-stories. However I think I've outdone it since then with a number of pieces, one of which is included in ALBUM ZUTIQUE #1, edited by yourself!

Just thought I'd mention that...
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steve r
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 10:12 am:   

And humbaba humbaba to you, too! But if I had to choose between the two, I'd be like Burridan's donkey, dying of starvation while trying to decide between the hay and the oats. And Mahjong Breath, while completely different, is also a corker.
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Mastadge
Posted on Monday, March 31, 2003 - 08:26 pm:   

Having now arrived back at school and read The World Beyond the Stairwell, Jeff's post makes sense to me.

Oh, yeah. And I really liked it. Too tired to articulate now. More thoughts tomorrow, if I think of it, and am not too busy/lazy to get to them.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, April 03, 2003 - 04:02 am:   

On my "Nowhere Near Milkwood" thread, I recently posted a list of my favourite fantasy books. There now follows an edited list!

I'm going to try to edit this list down to 20 books and then 10 and maybe even 5. I might even get it down to my ONE favourite fantasy book ever!

But that won't be for some time!

Anyway, here it is...

Aldiss, Brian - The Eighty-Minute Hour
Alfau, Felipe - Locos: a Comedy of Gestures
Allende, Isabel - The Stories of Eva Luna
Amado, Jorge - Dona Flor and her Two Husbands
Attanasio, A.A. - Wyvern
Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Barth, John - The Sot-Weed Factor
Barthelme, Donald - 60 Stories
Bataille, Georges - The Story of the Eye
Beagle, Peter S. - A Fine and Private Place
Borges, Jorge Luis - Ficciones / The Aleph
Bradbury, Ray - The Golden Apples of the Sun
Cabell, James Branch - Jurgen
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Crowley, John - Little Big
Delany, Samuel R. - Dhalgren
Desani, G.V. - All About H. Hatterr
Disch, Thomas - 334
Dunsany, Lord - The Charwoman's Shadow
Eddison, E.R. - The Worm Ouroboros
Esquivel, Laura - Like Water for Chocolate
Farmer, Philip Jose - The World of Tiers
Fuentes, Carlos - Aura
Gaddis, William - The Recognitions
Gupta, Sunetra - The Glassblower's Breath
Harrison, M. John – Viriconium
Hasek, Jaroslav - The Good Soldier Svejk
Hawkes, John - The Blood Oranges
Heller, Joseph - Catch-22
Infante, G Cabrera - Infante’s Inferno
Kakar, Sudhir - The Ascetic of Desire
Lawrence, Starling - Montenegro
Leiris, Michel - Aurora
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Maalouf, Amin - Leo the African
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Martinez, Tomas Eloy - The Peron Novel
Meredith, George - The Shaving of Shagpat
Moorcock, Michael - Between the Wars
Mutis, Alvaro – Maqroll el Gaviero
Nabokov, Vladimir - Glory
Nahai, Gina B. - Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
O'Brien, Flann - At Swim-Two-Birds / The Third Policeman
Pavic, Milorad - Landscape Painted with Tea
Peake, Mervyn - The Gormenghast Trilogy
Powys, John Cowper - Wolf Solent
Pynchon, Thomas - Gravity’s Rainbow
Queneau, Raymond - The Sunday of Life
Reage, Pauline - The Story of O
Richardson, Maurice - The Exploits of Engelbrecht
Rios, Julian - Midsummer Night’s Babel
Roy, Arundhati - The God of Small Things
Sladek, John - Roderick / Roderick at Random
Smith, Clark Ashton - Zothique
Stapledon, Olaf - Star Maker
Steinbeck, John - The Cup of Gold
Suskind, Patrick - Perfume
Thomas, D.M - The Flute Player / Swallow
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth
Vian, Boris - Froth on the Daydream
Vonnegut, Kurt - Mother Night
West, Nathanael - Miss Lonelyhearts
Whittemore, Edward - Sinai Tapestry
Zelazny, Roger - The Amber Chronicles
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steve r
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 01:37 am:   

Have just finished 'Journeys' and can divide the stories into two categories:

STUNNING CORKERS - 'Stairwell', 'Mah Jong Breath', 'Swine Taster', and 'Singularity Spectres'

SUPER CORKERS - all the others.

I think this is my favourite book to date: the small novella lengths allow that weird imagination of yours to go just that little bit further, like an intestine that finally ends up being the twisting locks of insane mermaids.

It's also infuriating. I have a couple of ideas for a story, I chuck 'em in, and look with great delight upon the result. Then, a bit later, I find you have more and better ideas in one paragraph (the small ones) than I have in my entire story! Chastened, I abandon my writing, and chase women instead. They run quickly, hurtfully quickly. This is bad for my ego and my half lung.

I also notice not one of your stories is being reprinted in new Datlow's Year's Best. This can only mean that the anthology is at least twice as good as the Leviathan series! A curry so good they can dispense with the vindaloo paste?? A crime, sir, that's what it is!
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steve r
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 01:41 am:   

Oy, what's this?????? No Calvino's 'Cosmicomics'in your favourite llist? Have you been drinking, sir?
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, April 09, 2003 - 03:08 am:   

No COSMICOMICS...? Well I had to be harsh!

I don't enjoy leaving out great books. But then again, there are lots of things I don't really enjoy doing which must be done!

Reducing this list again will be even less enjoyable!
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 05:36 am:   

I've just heard that there's a possibility JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE might also be translated into French. I thought it was just going to be WORMING THE HARPY and my forthcoming novel THE PERCOLATED STARS.

Apparently, the French publisher, Terre de Brume, has approached the *Welsh Literature Abroad* Foundation for a grant to pay for the translation. Being translated into French is really cool. It increases my chances of being read on the Parisian metro by lovely French girls with tumbling chestnut hair and green eyes...

Fingers (and croissants) crossed!
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 05:41 am:   

Bonjour, Rhys!

Speaking of which, when will we be able to read THE PERCOLATED STARS?

Cheers,
Louis
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 05:43 am:   

And congratulations, of course! I wish the Welsh Literature Abroad Foundation would pay for a Portuguese translation.

Cheers,
Luís
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 06:37 am:   

Forget French! I need to find Worming the Harpy in English!
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Des
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 07:44 am:   

Congratulations!
More fodder for the Rhys Hughes completist.
des
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steve r
Posted on Wednesday, April 23, 2003 - 02:42 pm:   

...and just think of all the other copies wot'll be bought by all those french men wanting to impress and tumble les filles with green chestnuts in their hair and eyes!
However, offhand i can't think of any French heroines in your stories - but then my memory's lousy...
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Rhys
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 03:31 am:   

I've just heard from the publisher of THE PERCOLATED STARS. He wrote to tell me that "it won't be long now" before the book is published. Hopefully this is true!

Steve: I can't think of any French heroines in any of my stories either, though there are a few Francophone girls (from Canada or the South Seas), some of them goddesses and thus susceptible to the amorous charms of Luis Rodrigues...

However, JOURNEYS BEYOND ADVICE contains the story 'The Singularity Spectres', which is about a French government plot to make French the official language of Hell. This story is full of evil French ghosts and malign French doings, which is why I'm (pleasantly) surprised that Terre de Brume are interested in it... :-)
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 03:55 am:   

LOL!
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steve r
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 09:50 am:   

Yes, I didn't want to mention the Singularity Spectres - maybe he hasn't got round to it yet. Or maybe he gets a frisson out of being bad...

My favourite Frenchman of all time is John Cleese on the battlements facing Monty Python's Arthur.

I checked only today, the Percolated Cover is on the Razorblade site, but since they seenm to update it less often than Rasputin updated his underwear...
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, April 26, 2003 - 10:28 am:   

The Percolated Cover is also up on Amazon.co.uk
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, April 28, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

Here's the next edited list of my favourite fantasy books ever:

Alfau, Felipe - Locos: a Comedy of Gestures
Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Barth, John - The Sot-Weed Factor
Barthelme, Donald - 60 Stories
Bataille, Georges - The Story of the Eye
Borges, Jorge Luis - Ficciones / The Aleph
Cabell, James Branch - Jurgen
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Crowley, John - Little Big
Delany, Samuel R. - Dhalgren
Desani, G.V. - All About H. Hatterr
Dunsany, Lord - The Charwoman's Shadow
Eddison, E.R. - The Worm Ouroboros
Farmer, Philip Jose - The World of Tiers
Gaddis, William - The Recognitions
Gysin, Brion - The Process
Harrison, M. John – Viriconium
Hasek, Jaroslav - The Good Soldier Svejk
Heller, Joseph - Catch-22
Infante, G Cabrera - Infante’s Inferno
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Maalouf, Amin - Leo the African
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Meredith, George - The Shaving of Shagpat
Moorcock, Michael - Between the Wars
Mutis, Alvaro – Maqroll el Gaviero
Nabokov, Vladimir - Glory
Nahai, Gina B. - Moonlight on the Avenue of Faith
O'Brien, Flann - At Swim-Two-Birds / The Third Policeman
Pavic, Milorad - Landscape Painted with Tea
Peake, Mervyn - The Gormenghast Trilogy
Richardson, Maurice - The Exploits of Engelbrecht
Sladek, John - Roderick / Roderick at Random
Smith, Clark Ashton - Zothique
Stapledon, Olaf - Star Maker
Suskind, Patrick - Perfume
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth
Vian, Boris - Froth on the Daydream
Zelazny, Roger - The Amber Chronicles

I've actually added a title as well as brutally erasing others, which sort of defeats the object of the exercise, but really I can't understand why I left it off in the first place!

Eventually I'll get this list down to just one title...
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 07:45 am:   

And the list gets shorter!

It pains my heart every time I have to leave a title off, but there's no other way of getting it down to my top ten!


Alfau, Felipe - Locos: a Comedy of Gestures
Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Barth, John - The Sot-Weed Factor
Barthelme, Donald - 60 Stories
Borges, Jorge Luis - Ficciones / The Aleph
Cabell, James Branch - Jurgen
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Crowley, John - Little Big
Desani, G.V. - All About H. Hatterr
Dunsany, Lord - The Charwoman's Shadow
Eddison, E.R. - The Worm Ouroboros
Farmer, Philip Jose - The World of Tiers
Gysin, Brion – The Process
Harrison, M. John – Viriconium
Heller, Joseph - Catch-22
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Marquez, Gabriel Garcia - One Hundred Years of Solitude
Meredith, George - The Shaving of Shagpat
Moorcock, Michael - Between the Wars
Mutis, Alvaro – Maqroll el Gaviero
O'Brien, Flann - The Third Policeman
Pavic, Milorad - Landscape Painted with Tea
Peake, Mervyn - The Gormenghast Trilogy
Richardson, Maurice - The Exploits of Engelbrecht
Smith, Clark Ashton - Zothique
Stapledon, Olaf - Star Maker
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth
Vian, Boris - Froth on the Daydream


This is the point where it starts to get really difficult!
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steve r
Posted on Wednesday, May 14, 2003 - 02:36 pm:   

Why suffer so? Why not just buy yourself a hairshirt, or vow never to speak to another woman, or paint a picture of Rumsfeld on the inside of your eyelids? And if you get down to the last one, then by Hughesian logic you then have to limit even more, which takes you back to where you started.
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:05 am:   

Well I've taken a day off work today, so I might as well "suffer so".

But I take your point for every other day!
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RFW
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:34 am:   

Your Royal Rhysness,

Where was Journeys Beyond Advice published?

Thanks,

Robert
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 05:51 am:   

Where? What country, do you mean?

Wales. A little town called Kidwelly in the west of Wales. Amazing castle. I haven't been there for many years, but the surrounding countryside is fantastic.

Or do you mean which publisher?

Sarob Press. The editor is a chap called Robert Morgan. Totally nice guy. Very professional and efficient. I've met him twice. The first time was several years ago in the company of Tim Lebbon. The second time was back in March. He was very drunk on both occasions. I wasn't.
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RFW
Posted on Thursday, May 15, 2003 - 08:26 am:   

I mean all those things and more.

Maybe Jeff will have copies to sell at conventions in the U.S.?

Robert
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Mastadge
Posted on Saturday, May 24, 2003 - 11:43 am:   

Rhys,

Any word on Percolated Stars other than that "it won't be long now" from a month ago?
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Rhys
Posted on Sunday, May 25, 2003 - 05:08 am:   

No word, alas!

But I'm currently hassling him a lot. I really hope to have definite news by the end of this week.

It's getting unbearably frustrating! The book has been waiting for publication for two years!
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Rhys
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 06:20 am:   

I've just heard from my publisher. He said that THE PERCOLATED STARS is now due to be published in exactly one month's time -- at the end of June.

I really hope this is true! And this time I actually believe him!
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steve r
Posted on Friday, May 30, 2003 - 10:02 am:   

And about time, too! Mastadge and I were getting famished!
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Rhys
Posted on Monday, June 16, 2003 - 04:41 am:   

My favourite book list continues to grow shorter:

Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Barth, John - The Sot-Weed Factor
Barthelme, Donald - 60 Stories
Borges, Jorge Luis – Collected Fictions
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Eddison, E.R. - The Worm Ouroboros
Gysin, Brion – The Process
Harrison, M. John – Viriconium
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Meredith, George - The Shaving of Shagpat
Mutis, Alvaro – Maqroll el Gaviero
Peake, Mervyn - The Gormenghast Trilogy
Richardson, Maurice - The Exploits of Engelbrecht
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth
Vian, Boris - Froth on the Daydream

Where will all this downsizing end???
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Rhys
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 03:30 am:   

I wish I'd never started this list. It was most unwise.

Now I'm down to my 10 favourite fantasy books and I'm already thinking to myself, "But why is Moorcock's *Dancers at the End of Time* not there? What about Flann O'Brien's *The Poor Mouth*? Where is Aldiss, Disch, Delany?"

But I might as well finish this hideous (and fundamentally incorrect) process!

Here we are:

Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Barth, John - The Sot-Weed Factor
Borges, Jorge Luis – Collected Fictions
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Harrison, M. John – Viriconium
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Meredith, George - The Shaving of Shagpat
Peake, Mervyn - The Gormenghast Trilogy
Richardson, Maurice - The Exploits of Engelbrecht
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth
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Luís Rodrigues
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 07:35 am:   

Painful, painful . . .

Lucky you can count Calvino's Ancestors as a single book. I have them in separate volumes!
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GabrielM
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 08:27 am:   

I'm still glad to see The Shaving of Shagpat is surviving the shaving....

But poor Maqroll....
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Mastadge
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 01:10 pm:   

And we're approaching the end of June. :-)
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steve red
Posted on Wednesday, June 25, 2003 - 02:11 pm:   

I'm (almost) willing to bet you end up with Peake or Vance...
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Rhys
Posted on Thursday, June 26, 2003 - 02:46 am:   

Well, let's get this awful process over with, shall we?

My Top five:

Ballard, J.G. - Complete Stories
Borges, Jorge Luis – Collected Fictions
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Lem, Stanislaw - The Cyberiad
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth

My top three:

Borges, Jorge Luis – Collected Fictions
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors
Vance, Jack - Tales of the Dying Earth

My top two:

Borges, Jorge Luis – Collected Fictions
Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors

My final choice:

Calvino, Italo - Our Ancestors

Yes, it's partly a cheat -- three books in one volume! But one of the reasons why I have chosen this volume is because it seems to contain so many potential unwritten stories within it. I almost feel that the WHOLE of fantasy literature could be reconstructed from this volume, if it was the only fantasy book to survive some sort of bibliological holocaust, in the same way that the whole of science-fiction writing could be reconstructed from Olaf Stapledon's STAR MAKER.

For instance the third book in OUR ANCESTORS (*The Non-Existent Knight*) seems to contain the seeds of most other comic fantasy which followed in later years.

Des Lewis has said that his favourite example of fantasy writing is one chapter of one book -- a section of Thomas Mann's THE HOLY SINNER. In a similar way, I'm also tempted to say that my favourite piece of fantasy writing ever isn't a complete book but a single chapter -- the 'Bhanavar the Beautiful' section of Meredith's *The Shaving of Shagpat*. It's a very lovely and very strange piece of pseudo 'Arabesque' fantasy...
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Ronan
Posted on Monday, January 10, 2005 - 11:56 pm:   

Hi Rhys,

I've noticed that several of your stories involve surveyors (two of them in Journeys Beyond Advice, and I think I remember a couple more that I read somewhere... rather vague, I know, I may be mistaken.)

Anyway, is there any metaphysical reason behind this use of surveyors, or a personal experience, or pure coincidence?

I'm a kind of surveyor myself (hydrographer) and I think that there are not enough stories involving theodolites! ;)
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Rhys
Posted on Tuesday, January 11, 2005 - 07:50 am:   

Thanks Ronan. I agree that there aren't enough stories using theodolites, or any form of measuring apparatus for that matter. Personally I want someone to write a story involving a Wheatstone Bridge -- but that's just my taste!

I can't think of any metaphysical reason as to why my stories contain so many surveyors, but I could invent a few reasons with hindsight, if you want me to... :-)

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