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Monstrous Creatures / Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies Monstrous Creatures / Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies Monstrous Creatures by Jeff VanderMeer and Jar Jar Binks Must Die... and Other Observations about Science Fiction Movies by Daniel M. Kimmel
reviewed by Martin Lewis
You love the fantastic, it is in your blood. You have devoted a substantial part of your life to it, a part friends and colleagues have sometimes suggested has been wasted. Sometimes you wonder if they are right. You have poured your blood out through your pen but you find yourself unregarded, unrewarded and out of pocket. You are invested... so you want a return on your investment. How do you crystallise this labour into something that means something? How can you -- whisper it -- moneterise it? The answer is, of course, a book.

Finch Finch by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Christopher DeFilippis
Fractured and weakened by civil war between House Hoegbotton & Sons and Frankwrithe & Lewden, Ambergris became an easy target for the mysterious gray caps, its mushroom-like underground denizens, who rose and conquered the city, subjugating it to martial law. Fungus now blights Ambergris like a cancer, the air thick with spores. Formerly human Partials patrol the streets, quasi-fungal enforcers who keep the populace in line while the gray caps build two mysterious towers. But rumors of a resistance persist.

The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories The Surgeon's Tale and Other Stories by Cat Rambo & Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Mario Guslandi
A slim booklet of only 90 pages, it assembles five pieces of fiction including the title story, a collaborative work by the two writers. It is the highlight of the book, providing an excellent mix of horror and fantasy where an old surgeon reminisces about his years as a medical student and the daring experiment attempting to bring back to life the corpse of a young woman.

Secret Life: The Select Fire Remix Secret Life: The Select Fire Remix by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
The Select Fire Remix is a slightly altered version of his short fiction collection Secret Life, published in 2004. It features about twenty pieces of short fiction (the exact number is not that easily determined, given the nature of some of the texts), ranging from realism to post-apocalyptic SF. Some stories from the original edition have been excluded and a few new pieces have been added, all that (and more) explained in the thirty pages of author's notes.

Balzac's War Balzac's War by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Sean Wright
Sometimes a story hits you with some knockout punches -- you see them coming but you just can't duck quick enough. This is one of those kinds of reads and yet... the novella (appearing in Secret Life or Veniss Underground) entices you within striking distance, lures and lulls you into a weird, hypnotic trance-like state, then wham! Not only don't you see that punch coming, but it's definitely below the belt!

Shriek: An Afterword Shriek: An Afterword by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Neil Walsh
Janice Shriek, sister to Duncan, has left a manuscript of a "belated afterword" to her brother's famous Guide, "The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris by Duncan Shriek." She wrote this afterword shortly after the Guide was published and Duncan disappeared under mysterious circumstances. However, Duncan has returned and discovered the manuscript of his sister's commentary on his work, only now she, Janice, has disappeared. Duncan, true to character, cannot resist inserting his own comments throughout his sister's commentary.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Jakob Schmidt
A jobless pilgrim enters Ambergris, the City of Saints and Madmen. Looking through a window inside a house, he sees the woman he resolves to fall in love with. A tattooed dwarf offers him his services as a matchmaker. The endeavours of the passionate pilgrim lead him to a masturbating living saint and into the mad swirl of the festival of the freshwater squid, which becomes a life-threatening trap to him, for the mysterious greycaps have chosen him as sacrifice...

Secret Life Secret Life by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Greg L. Johnson
"Jeff VanderMeer writes as if in a fevered dream." That's one opening line that came to mind while reading this collection. "Jeff VanderMeer writes with one foot rooted in the Victorian Era and the other planted in next-century's answer to post-modernism." That's another. Throw in a disarmingly witty reference to VanderMeer's own sense of humor and you have a review that begins to do justice to stories that are in turn funny, amusing, horrifying, mystifying, surreal, thought-provoking, and sometimes just plain weird.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Martin Lewis
This volume has had a long gestation period but this, the first British publication, marks the final, definitive edition. Although what would become the first part of the book was completed in 1993 and published in 1996, it didn't appear as a collection until the 2001 Cosmos Books paperback edition. It was worth the wait and when you pick up the finished product it seems less a book than an artefact. Its wraparound cover is actually composed of a short story that forms part of the book itself whilst cunningly displaying the usual information.

Veniss Underground Veniss Underground by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by William Thompson
Set within some far distant dystopian future in which human habitation has been confined to isolated and walled city-states, and the natural environment utterly destroyed, life begins in artificial vats, conception created in the imagination of genetic bioneers, birth an expression of the Living Arts. No longer limited to creating inanimate objects with mere paint and brushes, the artists of this world fashion their work instead out of the genetic clay of flesh and bio-mechanics.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by William Thompson
Straddling the ill-defined line between literature and genre, while the setting of the author's narratives draws heavily from the fantastic, employing generous use of the strange or curious incident, the style of writing and elusive narrative themes found in this book are far more frequent to literature.  He has created some of the most imaginative and truly unique landscapes and cast of characters to ever denizen either the realms of literature or fantasy.  If there was ever a true literary descendent to Jonathan Swift, this writer has every right to claim the inheritance.

City of Saints and Madmen City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Ian Nichols
This is more an invitation than a book. It is an invitation to wake up in Ambergris, after dreaming of Earth. That is, in fact, a theme in one of the four novellas which compose its first section. In "The Strange Case of X," a writer, confined to an asylum in Chicago, must explain to a psychiatrist his delusions regarding the imaginary city of Ambergris. But which city is the delusion? Ambergris or Chicago. As the story progresses, the reader becomes unsure of which is which, and their own location becomes uncertain. Do they read of Ambergris on Earth, or do they read of the delusions of Earth in Ambergris?

The Exchange The Exchange by Jeff VanderMeer
reviewed by Nick Gevers
This chapbook features a short story of rare brilliance, spooky drawings of a malicious daft elderly couple and matching pair of squid, and a range of hilariously contradictory mock advertisements... How to explain all this intricate, ingenious, and highly worthwhile nonsense?

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