Bookbanter Column: “Zombie is the New Undead” (April 11, 2011)

You sit in your favorite chair, in your favorite room of the house: the library. Your legs are comfort- ably crossed, the temperature is just right: warm and cozy. You’re reading your favorite book on your Ipad, swiping your finger rapidly across the screen to turn the page and continue with the gripping story. You’ve tuned out the world, focused on the captivating story with the unstoppable heroine who is fighting to save the day; you know she will triumph, but you still read for the inevitable surprise. As you begin a new chapter, you finally here a scratching at the door. But you have no pets; who could it be? The scratching continues, as if whatever is on the other side is trying to claw their way through the door. It is then that you hear the deep, inhuman groaning. You put down your Ipad, fear crawling its way up your spine, as you hesitantly walk towards the door. Building up your courage – kidding yourself that it’s just your little brother playing around, but you secretly know better – you fling open the door and scream as the zombie reaches out for you . . .

Zombie. Dictionary.com defines it as “the body of a dead person given the semblance of life, but mute and will-less, by a supernatural force, usually for some evil purpose.” Wikipedia says, “A fictional undead monster or a person in an entranced state believed to be controlled by a bokor or wizard.” But if I was to refer to Night of the Living Dead, you would have a concrete image in your mind of a weak, slow-moving undead human with its arms stretched out, groaning and moaning, hungrily in search of brains. While the concept of zombies has been around for a long time, George A Romero’s cult classic brought the idea of the walking dead human back to life in a whole new way, spawning countless successive zombie movies.

28 Days Later  Shaun of the Dead

Zombies have appeared numerous times in literature, but it wasn’t until the publication of The Book of the Dead in 1989 that we first saw a collection of zombie stories, based on the premise from Night of the Living Dead. The image of the archetypal zombie described above had fully solidified in our society’s conscious. But during the first decade of the twenty-first century there was a drastic change in the familiar paradigm of the zombie, thanks to the likes of 28 Days Later (2002) and Shaun of the Dead (2004) in film, and Max Brooks’ Zombie Survival Guide published in 2003, followed by his New York Times bestseller World War Z (2006).

  World War Z  Breathers

All of a sudden the zombie wasn’t a scary, slow-moving creature, but one that was an incredibly fast, terrifying nightmare, or could be funny and entertaining; a pet to be kept in your shed. It was a creature we fought a war with and barely survived. It was, jokingly, something we might one day have to face, and here were some detailed ways to protect yourself. S. G. Browne, author of the bestselling Breathers – a book about how zombies would be treated as members of society – has this to say about our contemporary zombies:

“In addition to running like Olympic sprinters and making us laugh, modern zombies are domesticated as pets (Fido), write poetry (Zombie Haiku), and have invaded classic literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies). They can also be found on the Internet going to marriage counseling, falling in love, and singing to their former co-workers (Jonathan Coulton’s “Re: Your Brains.”) In short, they’ve expanded their range, become more versatile. More well-rounded. And who doesn’t enjoy a more well-rounded zombie? Plus, zombies are tragically comical. Shuffling along, losing their hair and teeth and nails and the occasional appendage. Add the fact that they used to be us and we can’t help but relate to them.”

And what is it about these undead that fascinates us so? Browne’s last sentence does point out an interesting fact that zombies were once people, and when we recognize the person, that is when we have issues in “putting them to rest.” But what is resonating with humanity on a psychological level to want to read and watch and experience the thrill of a living corpse coming for you? Browne continues:

“The prevailing argument I often hear describes the current popularity of zombies as a direct reflection of global fears regarding the economy and terrorism. Horror as catharsis for the fears and anxiety of a society making commentary on itself. I disagree. I believe the current fascination with zombies has less to do with economic angst and more to do with the fact that zombies have been taken out of their proverbial archetypal box. No longer are they just the shambling, mindless, flesh-eating ghouls we’ve known and loved for most of the past four decades. Today’s zombies are faster. Funnier. Sentient.”

This is but one opinion on why we enjoy watching and reading about zombies. Mira Grant, author of the bestselling Feed – set in a techie near future where a virus can turn anyone into a zombie – presents another viewpoint:

“Zombies are, in many ways, a blank slate for our fears — they let us fear illness, fear sublimation, fear the terror of the familiar becoming the alien – without admitting that those fears cannot always be fought in a physical form. And in a time when so many of the classic monsters are being sexualized and humanized, zombies are one of the only things it’s still acceptable to hate and fear on sight.”

Grant brings up an important point. The world of vampires over the last two decades has certainly been revamped (pun intended!) with the likes of Louis (Brad Pitt) and Lestat (Tom Cruise) in the 1994 adaptation of Interview with a Vampire, Angel and Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, and – of course – Edward (Robert Pattison) from The Twilight Saga. While there have been a number of stories and books about “likeable” zombie characters, no true hero has been raised from the grave.

And yet zombies continue to pervade every sphere of entertainment, as well as every genre of writing, whether it’s bestselling anthologies like John Joseph Adams’ Living Dead, or Christopher Golden’s New Dead; to original novels like Brian Keene’s The Rising, Jonathan Maberry’s Joe Ledger series, or Stephen King’s Cell; to the popular graphic novel series (and now successful TV series) The Walking Dead; to international levels with Swedish author of Let the Right One In, John Ajvide Lindqvist’s Handling the Undead. To say I am barely scratching the tip of the iceberg does not do the list of zombie literature justice. Readers may want to check out the Wikipedia page on a “List of Zombie Novels” for further details.

Living Dead  Cell  Handling the Undead

Jonathan Maberry has even brought the subject of zombies to the popular world of young adult fiction with his first book in the series, Rot & Ruin. Maberry came up with the idea when asked to do a story for the New Dead anthology: “I decided to explore the experience of a teenager dealing with something vastly beyond his control. During the writing of the novella I fell in love with the characters and the world of the Rot & Ruin (which is what everything is called that’s beyond the fence line of the small town in which the characters live).” With the success of the first book, Maberry has three sequels planned, with Dust & Decay coming out in August. Even he has been surprised with the success of the “young adult zombie” novel: “It’s won a number of awards already including the Cybils and Dead Letter Award, and has been nominated for a Stoker, the YASLA and others.”

But will the zombie fascination ever come to an end? As a bookstore employee for the last seven years, I have seen the rise of zombie fiction, and while it does seem to have slowed a little, an end appears nowhere in sight. On this topic, Grant says,

“I don’t think the zombie fascination will die down or cool off until we stop being afraid of going to the doctor, of the man on the subway, of the woman with the pamphlet telling us to repent. They’re the monsters for this modern age. The vampire had a pretty good run as the biggest bad in existence — about five hundred years, give or take. I doubt the zombie will break that record, but it’s going to try.”

While John Joseph Adams, editor of the successful Living Dead anthologies, has this to say:

“I think it’s safe to say that zombies will continue to be popular for the foreseeable future. In literature, everything zombie-related has so much competition right now, however, it’s become really hard to stand out. But I think there’s a core fan-base for zombie fiction that will buy up every zombie book they get their hands on, so it’s a safe bet from a publishing point of view–i.e., put zombies in it, and it’ll sell. (The art director corollary is “Put an airship on it, and it’ll sell.) It’ll be interesting to see how things develop; if the zombie genre is going to continue to thrive, its practitioners will have to figure out ways to innovate while keeping things traditional enough so as not to alienate the existing and loyal core fan-base. Fortunately for the genre, zombies work well as a blank canvas and can be easily made to do the writer’s bidding.”

The Age of the Zombie is still alive, undead, and well, because the archetype of the zombie has been so drastically altered. Zombies are like superheroes now, in that there is little limitation to what they may be capable of. Writers are constantly coming up with new and different ways to present the living dead, whether it’s decaying family members we feel the need to aid in Handling the Undead, or the concept of a zombie prostitute in S. G. Browne’s short story “Zombie Gigolo” from Living Dead 2, or even zombie Stormtroopers in Joe Schreiber’s Star Wars: Death Troopers. Anthologies, on the other hand, help to reveal zombie stories known authors have written, but also pose a challenge of writing a zombie story by a writer not know for this genre. In fact, in five years time it is far more likely that the remaining bookstores will have an individual zombie section, separate from their horror section. It really boils down to a relatively simple concept, which Adams pointed out above: as long as there are people buying and reading zombie stories, publishers will continue to publish it, and writers will therefore continue to write it, as well as parody it. Think of it as a never ending cycle, if you will, or perhaps an undead cycle that cannot be put to rest.

Living Dead 2  Death Troopers

Author’s note: The zombie works mentioned above are just a smattering of the whole body of zombie work, covering all mediums. As a reader and movie watcher, I know I have only been exposed to a small amount. I invite readers to post comments on their favorite zombie stories, or perhaps rare ones that not many are familiar, as well as anything else they might want to mention about the living dead.

2012 Hugo and Campbell Award Nominees

Courtesy of Locus.

Nominees for the Hugo Awards and for the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer have been announced by Chicon 7, the 70th World Science Fiction Convention, to be held in Chicago, Illinois, August 30-September 3, 2012. The Hugo Awards ceremony will take place September 2, 2012.

BEST NOVEL

BEST NOVELLA

  • ‘‘The Ice Owl’’, Carolyn Ives Gilman (F&SF 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Countdown’’, Mira Grant (Orbit Short Fiction) [Mira Grant Interview #1 & #2]
  • ‘‘The Man Who Bridged the Mist’’, Kij Johnson (Asimov’s 10-11/11)
  • ‘‘Kiss Me Twice’’, Mary Robinette Kowal (Asimov’s 6/11)
  • ‘‘The Man Who Ended History: A Documentary’’, Ken Liu (Panverse Three)
  • Silently and Very Fast, Catherynne M. Valente (WSFA)

BEST NOVELETTE

  • ‘‘Six Months, Three Days’’, Charlie Jane Anders (Tor.com 6/8/11)
  • ‘‘The Copenhagen Interpretation’’, Paul Cornell (Asimov’s 7/11)
  • ‘‘What We Found’’, Geoff Ryman (F&SF 9-10/11)
  • ‘‘Fields of Gold’’, Rachel Swirsky (Eclipse Four)
  • ‘‘Ray of Light’’, Brad R. Torgersen (Analog 12/11)

BEST SHORT STORY

  • ‘‘Movement’’, Nancy Fulda (Asimov’s 3/11)
  • ‘‘The Paper Menagerie’’, Ken Liu (F&SF 3-4/11)
  • ‘‘The Homecoming’’, Mike Resnick (Asimov’s 4-5/11)
  • ‘‘Shadow War of the Night Dragons, Book One: The Dead City (Prologue)’’, John Scalzi (Tor.com 4/1/11)
  • ‘‘The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees’’, E. Lily Yu (Clarkesworld4/11)

BEST RELATED WORK

BEST GRAPHIC STORY

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION – LONG

BEST DRAMATIC PRESENTATION – SHORT

  • Community: ‘‘Remedial Chaos Theory’’
  • ‘‘The Drink Tank’s Hugo Acceptance Speech’’, Christopher J Garcia & James Bacon (Renovation)
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘The Doctor’s Wife’’
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘The Girl Who Waited’’
  • Doctor Who: ‘‘A Good Man Goes to War’’

BEST PROFESSIONAL EDITOR LONG FORM

  • Lou Anders
  • Liz Gorinsky
  • Anne Lesley Groell
  • Patrick Nielsen Hayden
  • Betsy Wollheim

BEST PROFESSIONAL EDITOR SHORT FORM

BEST PROFESSIONAL ARTIST 

  • Daniel Dos Santos
  • Bob Eggleton
  • Michael Komarck
  • Stephan Martiniere
  • John Picacio

BEST SEMIPROZINE

  • Apex Magazine
  • Interzone
  • Lightspeed
  • Locus
  • The New York Review of Science Fiction

BEST FANZINE

  • Banana Wings
  • The Drink Tank
  • File 770
  • Journey Planet
  • SF Signal

BEST FANCAST

  • The Coode Street Podcast
  • Galactic Suburbia Podcast
  • SF Signal Podcast
  • SF Squeecast
  • StarShipSofa

BEST FAN WRITER

  • James Bacon
  • Claire Brialey
  • Christopher J Garcia
  • Jim C. Hines
  • Steven H Silver

BEST FAN ARTIST

  • Brad W. Foster
  • Randall Munroe
  • Spring Schoenhuth
  • Maurine Starkey
  • Steve Stiles
  • Taral WayNe

JOHN W. CAMPBELL AWARD FOR BEST NEW WRITER [NOT A HUGO AWARD]

  • Mur Lafferty
  • Stina Leicht
  • *Karen Lord
  • *Brad R. Torgersen
  • E. Lily Yu

*Finalists in their 2nd year of eligibility.

There were 1,101 nominating ballots received from members of Chicon 7 and Renovation. The deadline for online ballots and the receipt of paper ballots is July 31, 2012 (midnight PDT).

BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases for Tuesday, November 22

BookBanter's Top Ten New Releases

One of the big things I feel I’ve grown out of touch with since the closing of Borders is my knowledge and awareness of what the new book releases are each Tuesday, and I’m sure some of you also feel that unless you have a bookstore nearby, you don’t have this information readily available either.  So to help improve my awareness and get myself back in the game of knowing what’s new and coming out each week (I used just know this stuff automatically, whether I had read or would be reading any of the new releases or not), as well as to help you readers keep informed, we have BookBanter’s Top Ten New Releases.

So each Tuesday morning there will be a post on the BookBanter Blog and on the BookBanter site giving you my top ten new releases of the week.  I’ll be going through everything I can find coming out for that particular Tuesday and choosing the top ten important ones.  They’ll be mostly hardcovers, with some occasional paperbacks, focusing on Fantasy, Science Fiction, Horror, and occasional Fiction books.

So here’s the top ten new releases for Tuesday, November 22nd.

 

 

 

 


Micro
by Michael Crichton and Richard Preston

Found within the late Michael Crichton’s files, Micro was only a third complete when HarperCollins brought Richard Preston on to complete the book using Crichton’s notes and outlines. In the thrilling style of Jurassic Park, Micro is the terrifying story of that which we cannot see. Three men are found dead, murdered. The only evidence is the bodies riddled with minute cuts and mysterious a tiny-bladed robot.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 


Explosive Eighteen
by Janet Evanovich

Janet Evanovich is back with her eighteenth Stephanie Plum novel, and this time she’s pulling out all the stops. Stephanie finds herself immediately getting into trouble as soon as she arrives back in Newark after a terrible vacation in Hawaii. What’s worse is her seatmate never returned during their layover in Los Angeles, and now he’s dead, the body stuffed in a garbage can, and the killer could be anyone, anywhere.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

 

Theft of Swords by Michael J. Sullivan

Michael J. Sullivan began his career through small press publishing, and is now joining the grand stage with a big, international publisher. Theft of Swords collects the first two books in the Riyria Revelations series – The Crown Conspiracy and Avempartha. People looking to discover a great new fantasy series should grab Theft of Swords, and meet the infamous and elusive pair of thieves, Hadrian and Royce.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

The Third Reich by Robert Bolano

Originally written in 1989, The Third Reich was found amongst Robert Bolano’s papers after his death. This is the thrilling story of death and intrigue, surrounding a brilliant strategy game called The Third Reich, which seems to bear some devastating consequences for anyone who plays it.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

New Cthulhu: The Recent Weird edited by Paula Guran

Cthulhu and the works of H. P. Lovecraft have never been more popular. What better way to get started, or perhaps to improve your collection than with this original anthology of Cthulhu stories. Edited by Paula Guran, it features stories from the likes of Neil Gaiman, Sarah Monette, China Mieville, Cherie Priest, Charles Stross and more.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

Well-Tempered Clavicle by Piers Anthony

Pier Anthony is back with a new Xanth novel, the 35th, in Well-Tempered Clavicle. The likes of Picka Bones and Joy’nt are off on an adventure with newly arrived creatures from Mundania. Anthony fans will not be disappointed.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

Lightspeed Year One by John Joseph Adams

Lightspeed is an award-nominated online science fiction magazine edited by bestselling, renowned editor John Joseph Adams (Living Dead). In Lightspeed Year One, Adams collects the first year of fiction published by the online magazine, featuring the likes of Vylar Kaftan’s “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See you in Reno,” as well as reprints from such great authors as Stephen King, Ursula K. LeGuin, George R. R. Martin and more.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

Somewhere Beneath Those Waves by Sarah Monette

From bestselling author Sarah Monette comes the first non-themed collection of her best short fiction. This collection is a great addition to any fan of Monette’s work, and for anyone looking to try out this great author for the first time, Somewhere Beneath Those Waves is a perfect place to start.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

Autumn Disintegration by David Moody

The penultimate chapter in the terrifying horror series from David Moody, Autumn Disintegration reveals a world forty days after its end, where billions of corpses now walk the earth. There is one group of eleven, fighting to survive, doing whatever it takes, while another group employs tactics, subtlety and planning to keep themselves alive. Moody skillfully brings the two groups together, as they all know the final battle is about to begin.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

 

 

 

When the Saints by Dave Duncan

From author Dave Duncan comes the great sequel to Speak to the Devil. When the Saints picks up where Duncan left off: Anton Magnus must defend the castle from the attacking neighboring state, but fortunately Cardice has a secret weapon in Wulfgang Magnus. Only Wulfgang must choose which side he is to fight on, and whether the love for one beautiful Madlenka will sway him.

To purchase a copy from Amazon and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

World Fantasy Nominees

World Fantasy Award nominees are up (you can find more info here).  Reviews and interviews are linked below!

 

Best Novel

Best Novella

  • Bone and Jewel Creatures, Elizabeth Bear (Subterranean)
  • The Broken Man, Michael Byers (PS)
  • “The Maiden Flight of McCauley’s Bellerophon”, Elizabeth Hand (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • The Thief of Broken Toys, Tim Lebbon (ChiZine)
  • “The Mystery Knight”, George R.R. Martin (Warriors)
  • “The Lady Who Plucked Red Flowers beneath the Queen’s Window”, Rachel Swirsky (Subterranean Summer 2010)

Best Short Fiction

  • “Beautiful Men” , Christopher Fowler (Visitants: Stories of Fallen Angels and Heavenly Hosts)
  • “Booth’s Ghost”, Karen Joy Fowler (What I Didn’t See and Other Stories)
  • “Ponies”, Kij Johnson (Tor.com 11/17/10)
  • “Fossil-Figures”, Joyce Carol Oates (Stories: All-New Tales)
  • “Tu Sufrimiento Shall Protect Us”, Mercurio D. Rivera (Black Static 8-9/10)

Best Anthology

  • The Way of the Wizard, John Joseph Adams, ed. (Prime)
  • My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me, Kate Bernheimer, ed. (Penguin)
  • Haunted Legends, Ellen Datlow & Nick Mamatas, eds. (Tor)
  • Stories: All-New Tales, Neil Gaiman & Al Sarrantonio, eds. (Morrow; Headline Review)
  • Black Wings: New Tales of Lovecraftian Horror, S.T. Joshi, ed. (PS)
  • Swords & Dark Magic, Jonathan Strahan & Lou Anders, eds. (Eos)

Best Anthology

  • What I Didn’t See and Other Stories, Karen Joy Fowler (Small Beer)
  • The Ammonite Violin & Others, Caitlín R. Kiernan (Subterranean)
  • Holiday, M. Rickert (Golden Gryphon)
  • Sourdough and Other Stories, Angela Slatter (Tartarus)
  • The Third Bear, Jeff VanderMeer (Tachyon)

Best Artist

  • Vincent Chong
  • Kinuko Y. Craft
  • Richard A. Kirk
  • John Picacio
  • Shaun Tan

Special Award, Professional

Special Award, Non-Professional

  • Stephen Jones, Michael Marshall Smith, & Amanda Foubister, for Brighton Shock!: The Souvenir Book Of The World Horror Convention 2010
  • Alisa Krasnostein, for Twelfth Planet Press
  • Matthew Kressel, for Sybil’s Garage and Senses Five Press
  • Charles Tan, for Bibliophile Stalker
  • Lavie Tidhar, for The World SF Blog

The Zombie Lover: An Interview with John Joseph Adams

An Interview with Robert M. Durling

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble.com, and has published such great and bestselling anthologies as Brave New Worlds, Living Dead, Living Dead 2, By Blood We Live, and many more. He has been nominated for the 2011 Best Editor (Short Form) Hugo Award. He is the editor for Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine. He is also the co-host for the podcast, The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

In the interview he talks about how he got started as an editor, how the whole process works, some forthcoming projects he’s working on, as well as what his “dream anthology” would be. Click here to read the interview.

Lividng Dead Living Dead 2 Wastelands By Blood We Live By Blood We Live

An Interview with John Joseph Adams (May, 2011)

An Interview with Robert M. Durling

John Joseph Adams

John Joseph Adams has been called “the reigning king of the anthology world” by Barnes & Noble.com, and has published such great and bestselling anthologies as Brave New Worlds, Living Dead, Living Dead 2, By Blood We Live, and many more. He has been nominated for the 2011 Best Editor (Short Form) Hugo Award. He is the editor for Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine. He is also the co-host for the podcast, The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Alex C. Telander: What are some of your favorite books and authors of all time?

John Joseph Adams: I tend to shy away from naming favorite authors, but I’ll happily name favorite books and stories and movies and whatnot. The Stars My Destination by Alfred Bester is my favorite novel, and has been for a long time—really since it blew my mind when I read it and as a result helped me truly fall in love with the genre. (In my “personal bio” on my website, I talk at length about what The Stars My Destination means to me.)

Other novels I’m a big fan of include: Wild Seed by Octavia E. Butler, A Canticle for Leibowitz by Walter M. Miller, Jr., The Book of the New Sun by Gene Wolfe, 1984 by George Orwell, Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury, Earth Abides by George R. Stewart… Obviously I could go on and on! A recent favorite is Mechanique by Genevieve Valentine, which just came out and is CRAZY GOOD, and I also really enjoyed Mira Grant’s zombie novel Feed, which is a finalist for this year’s Hugo Award.

In short fiction, my favorites include “Flowers for Algernon” by Daniel Keyes, “The Deathbird” by Harlan Ellison, “Speech Sounds” by Octavia E. Butler, “The Lottery” by Shirley Jackson, and “The Ones Who Walk Away From Omelas” by Ursula K. Le Guin. (That I got to reprint those last three is quite an honor.)

Alex: In a succession of concise bullet points, how did you get from reading great science fiction and fantasy to editing award winning anthologies?

John:

  • Got inspired by fiction (and roleplaying games) to try my hand at writing.
  • Wrote a (terrible) novel.
  • Went to college and majored in creative writing.
  • Wrote some (terrible) short stories.
  • In my writing workshop classes, discovered a penchant for editing when critiquing manuscripts.
  • After graduation, moved to the NYC area to get a job in publishing and landed an entry-level editorial gig at The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction.
  • Worked for several years under the editorial tutelage of Gordon Van Gelder.
  • Pitched a post-apocalyptic anthology right when the sub-genre was about to blow up.
  • Said anthology sold and then did incredibly well, thus paving the way for me to do more.

How was that? I’d say point 7 is the critical one there.

Alex: Did you know Living Dead was going to be such a bestseller?

John: I didn’t know what to expect, honestly. At that point, I’d only done Wastelands, which was a huge (and surprise) success, and a little anthology for Prime Books called Seeds of Change. While Wastelands did really well, Seeds of Change didn’t set any sales records, though it was hard to judge anything from it because it was done with a very small print run, with little publicity etc. (In the end, it did just fine for what the publisher was attempting to do with it.) But anyway—I didn’t have a lot of evidence to suggest what I could expect. I knew zombies seemed to be blowing up like post-apocalyptic fiction had, and I was confident I’d put a good book together—one that I thought was not only qualitatively excellent, but also full of the requisite big names that should ensure sales. But I really had no idea that the anthology would break out the way it did…and if I’d ever even dreamed that it would be so successful, someone in publishing would have surely appeared in my dream to tell me how ridiculous it was to think that that could happen. But it did happen—really, it seems like it was about being in the right place, at the right time, with the right product. At that point, no one had done an anthology attempting to collect the best zombie fiction of all-time, and obviously there was a hunger for such a book in the marketplace.

Alex: Will there be a Living Dead 3?

John: I would gladly do one, but the publisher, Night Shade Books, wasn’t interested in doing a third volume. The Living Dead 2, though it has been basically just as critically-acclaimed as volume one, hasn’t sold nearly as well as the first one. Still, by anthology standards it’s done quite well, so I’m kind of surprised they didn’t want to do another. But c’est la vie. There are other anthology projects to work on in the meantime, and perhaps I’ll do another zombie anthology somewhere down the line for someone else.

Alex: Where do your ideas for anthologies come from?

John: There’s a factory in Schenectady, NY. If you send them $2.50, along with a self-addressed, stamped envelope, in return you’ll receive five index cards with anthology ideas on them. I could give you the address, but I probably shouldn’t: trade secrets and all.

Alex: Can you talk about some of your future anthologies coming out?

John: Sure. The next anthology I have coming out is the Lightspeed: Year One anthology, which will collect all of the fiction published in the first year of Lightspeed Magazine all in one (hardcopy) volume. Since Lightspeed is an electronic magazine, it’ll be the first print publication of a bunch of the stories, so a lot of people will probably be encountering them for the first time. It’ll contain everything from when we launched (June 2010) through May 2011—our first twelve months of fiction. That should be out sometime around November.

Then I’ve got Armored, for Baen Books: From Starship Troopers and Iron Man to Halo and Mechwarrior, readers and gamers have long been fascinated by the idea of going to battle in suits of personal, powered combat armor or giant mechs. This anthology will explore the range of what can be done with the trope, from the near-future powered exoskelton technologies we might be seeing just a few years from now, to the combat armors of Starship Troopers and Halo, to the giant bipedal mechs of Mechwarrior. For more details, see this article on io9 about the anthology. It will include new stories by Alastair Reynolds, Dan Abnett, Jack Campbell, Jack McDevitt, Simon R Green, Sean Williams, Genevieve Valentine, and more. It’ll be out from Baen sometime in 2012.

And then there’s The Mad Scientist’s Guide To World Domination, from Tor: From Victor Frankenstein to Lex Luthor, from Dr. Moreau to Dr. Doom, readers have long been fascinated by megalomaniacal plans for world domination and the madmen who come up with them. Typically, we see these villains through the eyes of superheroes (or other good guys) as they attempt to put an end to their evil ways. This anthology, however, will explore the world of mad scientists and evil geniuses–from their own point of view. Evil geniuses are always so keen on telling captured heroes all their fiendish plans. Isn’t it about time someone gave them a platform such as this one to reach the masses with their messages of death and destruction? It features stories by: Carrie Vaughn, Alan Dean Foster, Daniel H. Wilson, Austin Grossman, Marjorie M. Liu, Ben Winters, David Farland, Mary Robinette Kowal, Harry Turtledove, Seanan McGuire, Naomi Novik, and more. Also out sometime in 2012.

I’ve also got another new anthology coming out in 2012 that hasn’t been announced yet, but should be made public soon.

UPDATE: On May 19th, 2011 it was announced that John Joseph Adams would be the editor of a new anthology based on the classic John Carter of Mars series. The full details can be found here.

Otherwise, I’m working on a couple of different proposals right now for 2013 and beyond, and then there’s always Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed every month.

Alex: Have you, do you, or do you plan to write your own stories and/or books at some point?

John: As I mentioned earlier, I got interested in editing through an interest in writing, but once I started working in editing, I put my writing on hold. I may return to it someday, but for now the editing is keeping me pretty busy, and readers seem to think I have an affinity for it, so for now I’ll stick with it.

Alex: What do you hope readers get from reading your anthologies?

John: That varies from book to book, I suppose. With a book like Brave New Worlds, I hope that readers feel like they’ve read the definitive anthology on the subject, and that the book has provided a clear and distinct thesis on what dystopian fiction is, and why the stories I chose are among the best examples of it. Also, obviously, I hope they’ll think about the concepts dystopian literature is known for exploring, and reflecting on those in the way that good fiction makes us do.

Alex: You also edit Fantasy Magazine and Lightspeed Magazine.  Can you talk about these projects?

John: Fantasy and Lightspeed are two online magazines published by Prime Books. Lightspeed launched in June 2010, whereas Fantasy has been around since 2005 and I just took over as editor for it recently (my first issue as editor was the March 2011 issue). Both magazines publish two original stories every month (fantasy in Fantasy, and science fiction in Lightspeed, as you would probably guess), along with two reprints. Alongside each piece of fiction, we run a piece of nonfiction, usually something riffing off the ideas in the fiction, or a feature interview.

Lightspeed’s had a great initial run: it’s a finalist for the Hugo Award this year, I’m a finalist as well, and “Amaryllis” by Carrie Vaughn (from the June 2010 issue) is also a finalist. Additionally, “Arvies” by Adam-Troy Castro and “I’m Alive, I Love You, I’ll See You in Reno” by Vylar Kaftan are finalists for the Nebula Award. Also, 9 out of the 16 original stories we published in 2010 were reprinted in a year’s best anthology. Fantasy’s doing well too, based on early reader response, but it’s only been a couple months since I took over at this point—and it’s too early for award nominations or year’s best appearances; I’ll keep my fingers crossed for next year.

Both magazines are published in ebook format monthly, and are available for sale in various ebook retail channels (Amazon Kindle, B&N Nook, iBooks, etc.), as well as in epub format from our own stores. Additionally, both magazines serialize each issue’s content online, for free, throughout the month. So if you’d like to read the magazines for free, you can, but you just get access to the website edition and you have to wait; if you’d like to get the whole issue all at once, and in convenient ebook format, you can buy the ebook edition on the first of every month.

Alex: Do you have any advice for writers looking to get published?

John: Read a lot. And specifically read the form you’re interested in writing—if you’re working on short stories, read tons of short stories; it’s not going to help you with your short stories all that much if all you’re reading is novels. Also, write a lot. And when you write crappy stuff, don’t dwell on it; just move on to the next thing and try to do better.

Also, involve yourself in the community—go to some conventions, join the conversation on Twitter, read author blogs, etc. The internet is full of resources for writers, so now it’s easier than ever to learn the ropes from the pros and also to interact with others who are at the same level as you.

Alex: And what’s The Geek’s Guide to the Galaxy podcast?

John: It’s basically a talk radio show for geeks. But, you know, a podcast. It’s hosted by me and author David Barr Kirtley. We spend about half of each hour-long episode interviewing our featured guest, and then for the rest of the show Dave and I debate various geeky topics, usually something relevant to the subjects brought up in our interview. Some of our past guests include authors George R. R. Martin, Robert Kirkman, Naomi Novik, Holly Black, and Paolo Bacigalupi, filmmaker Alexander Phillipe (The People vs. George Lucas), and scientist Neil deGrasse Tyson. Our latest episode features an interview with science writer Mary Roach (Stiff, Packing for Mars), and then Dave and I talk about spooky stories and movies set in space. The show’s currently hosted on io9.com, and our official website is at geeksguideshow.com.

Alex: Do you have time to read for fun anymore?  What are you reading now?

John: Now and then I manage to carve out some pleasure reading time, though it’s hard, since I have so much I should be reading. Lately, I’ve managed to read a couple of pre-release zombie novels in order to blurb them—Mira Grant’s Feed, John Skipp & Cody Goodfellow’s Spore, and Daryl Gregory’s Raising Stony Mayhall. I also made time to read Mechanique, which I mentioned earlier, just because I’m such a big fan of Genevieve’s short fiction, and the milieu seemed so interesting from the description, I was dying to see what she’d done with it. (And liked it so much, I got her to write me a story set in that milieu for Fantasy Magazine.)

But those could all be seen as work, I suppose. What I’m actually reading (or re-reading, rather) right now is A Clash of Kings by George R. R. Martin. Once the Game of Thrones tv series started, and having talked about it at length with Dave on Geek’s Guide, I just couldn’t help myself and I went in for a re-read. Plus, with A Dance with Dragons due out in July, I figured it was time for me to get a refresher course.

Alex: Do you have a special anthology that you’ve always wanted to publish?

John: Well, Wastelands, Brave New Worlds, and Armored are all anthologies that deal with themes that I’ve been a fan of for a long, long time, so those are all special to me. So had I not already done them, I would have cited those in answer to your question.

But I would actually love to do a metal-sf anthology—like sf/fantasy stories inspired by metal songs. I’ve even done research into such a project; that is, I’ve hunted around to see who in the genre likes metal. Unfortunately, no one seems to think it would be a commercial enough book to succeed, and, of course, I’d be extremely limited in who I could invite to participate. It would also be really tough to not compromise the purity of the setlist that inspires the stories, since I would have a vision of what bands and songs to include, but the authors would likely have other songs and bands in mind; while we may all like metal, there’s so many varieties that it would be unlikely I could find enough people who have a similar taste in metal as I do.

BookBanter Column #1: Zombie is the New Undead

BookBanter Column

And the first issue of the BookBanter Column is up on the San Francisco/Sacramento Book Review site and it’s a good long one featuring quotes from the likes of Mira Grant, John Joseph Adams, S. G. Browne, and Jonathan Maberry all on the subject of zombies!  So be sure to check it out and feel free to add a comment in your thoughts on zombies, zombie stories, or you particular favorite.