Posts tagged Nick Mamatas
We here at MMP HQ know that discerning Migraineers like a certain je ne sais quoi vis a vis your Weird Fiction! It has to push boundaries, must strain at the gates of innovation, and above all, entertain in ways that your standard Lovecraftian narrative simply can’t! (This is the 21st Century, after all.) Which is why we’re very pleased to announce our humble inclusion in the new weird fiction bundle from StoryBundle! It’s curated by Nick Mamatas (’nuff said!) and features some of the best groundbreaking authors around, many of whom have appeared in MMP books. Six books in the Basic StoryBundle, and another six in the Bonus StoryBundle that riff on the themes in the Basic! We could go on (and will, over the course of the next couple of weeks) but this is a LIMITED TIME OFFER and we’d rather you not waste time listening to us jaw on! Instead, here’s Curator Nick Mamatas with the skinny! Links to purchase below as well!
curated by Nick Mamatas
H. P. Lovecraft is undoubtedly one of the most influential writers of the pulp era, leaving an indelible mark on the last hundred years of science fiction, fantasy, and horror. Not only is Lovecraft a central element of genre fiction today, he has ascended to the heights of mainstream literature, thanks to editions of his stories published by the definitive Penguin Classics and Library of America lines. Lovecraft was also a cult writer whose themes were explored in underground comics, in rock music, film, and fine art. And this all while being the sort of racist, anti-Semite, and homophobe that would exclude him from dinner parties…even during his own era.
For a long time, Lovecraft’s mantle was carried in the small press, where slavish pastiche and careful avoidance of his politics were rules to be carefully followed. These days, however, Lovecraftian fiction is wider and more diverse. His themes and voice are being remixed, detourned, and exploded by a new generation of writers, and his distasteful opinions critiqued and parodied. This Lovecraftian Literature bundle explores the Lovecraftian idiom in a diversity of ways, from intense erotica to beat literature, from neo-pulp fun to theological exegesis.
Among the goodies in this bundle is the World Fantasy Award-winning anthology of She Walks in Shadows edited by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, a bundle-exclusive collection Home from the Sea by pulp master William Meikle, the Pynchonesque (!) Lovecraftian military thriller duology Radiant Dawn/Ravenous Dusk by Cody Goodfellow, a real-life attempt at “keeping it R’lyeh” by examining the metaphysics of Lovecraft’s vision of the universe by Scott R Jones…and a whole lot more!
And StoryBundle’s a cool form of alternative publishing, letting indie and small press authors join together to present bundles that pack a whole lot of reading into a price that you choose (as long as it’s $5 or above). For that $5 you get the basic bundle of six books in any ebook format. $15 (or more if you want to support the writers even further) gets you the bonus books as well.
The initial titles in the Lovecraft Bundle (minimum $5 to purchase) are:
- When The Stars Are Right by Scott R Jones
- RESONATOR: New Lovecraftian Tales From Beyond edited by Scott R Jones
- Gateways to Abomination by Matthew M. Bartlett
- Sword and Mythos by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- The Nickronomicon by Nick Mamatas
- Radiant Dawn by Cody Goodfellow
If you pay more than the bonus price of just $15, you get all six of the regular titles, plus SIX more!
- Home From the Sea by William Meikle
- Priestess: The Collected Blackstone Erotica by Justine Geoffrey
- Cthulhusattva: Tales of the Black Gnosis edited by Scott R Jones
- She Walks in Shadows by Silvia Moreno-Garcia
- Move Under Ground by Nick Mamatas
- Ravenous Dusk by Cody Goodfellow
This bundle is available only for a limited time via http://www.storybundle.com. It allows easy reading on computers, smartphones, and tablets as well as Kindle and other ereaders via file transfer, email, and other methods. You get multiple DRM-free formats (.epub and .mobi) for all books!
It’s also super easy to give the gift of reading with StoryBundle, thanks to our gift cards – which allow you to send someone a code that they can redeem for any future StoryBundle bundle – and timed delivery, which allows you to control exactly when your recipient will get the gift of StoryBundle.
Why StoryBundle? Here are just a few benefits StoryBundle provides.
- Get quality reads: We’ve chosen works from excellent authors to bundle together in one convenient package.
- Pay what you want (minimum $5): You decide how much these fantastic books are worth. If you can only spare a little, that’s fine! You’ll still get access to a batch of exceptional titles.
- Support authors who support DRM-free books: StoryBundle is a platform for authors to get exposure for their works, both for the titles featured in the bundle and for the rest of their catalog. Supporting authors who let you read their books on any device you want—restriction free—will show everyone there’s nothing wrong with ditching DRM.
- Give to worthy causes: Bundle buyers have a chance to donate a portion of their proceeds to Mighty Writers and Girls Write Now!
- Receive extra books: If you beat the bonus price, you’ll get the bonus books!
StoryBundle was created to give a platform for independent authors to showcase their work, and a source of quality titles for thirsty readers. StoryBundle works with authors to create bundles of ebooks that can be purchased by readers at their desired price. Before starting StoryBundle, Founder Jason Chen covered technology and software as an editor for Gizmodo.com and Lifehacker.com.
I don’t recall how I first encountered the writing of Nick Mamatas. I know it happened in 2007, a year that saw me greyed out and dull from a dead-end managerial job. It pleases me to think I may have been at work when it all went down. At work entailed surfing the internet for anything to cut the boredom, which meant vainly hoping that some intersection of my interests would draw from the electronic undermind a gem. A rare enough occurrence, but it happens. And this time it did.
Mamatas had released his Lovecraftian/Beat Generation mashup novel Move Under Ground online that year (under a Creative Commons licence, it had previously seen print in 2004 through Night Shade Books); a random search had pulled up the PDF for me. It didn’t even take me one chapter for the hook to set in my jaw: I had only recently completed a giant Kerouac kick, bottoming out with the bleak apocalypticism of Big Sur, and Move Under Ground tickled that over-sensitized first thought best thought spot mightily. I consumed it in hours, and read it again the next day. From the start of the novel, I could tell that Mamatas got Lovecraft. Not the beasties and the blasphemous books and the bumpf of HPL (though he gets those too), but the deeper themes, the sublime terror of Lovecraft that manifested not so much in the Old Gentleman’s actual writing, but in the thoughts that come to the mind after you read him.
Mamatas is like that, or at least he was in Move Under Ground, which had within its early chapters a scene wherein Kerouac bests a shoggoth by delivering a “soul kiss”, rapidly followed by harrowing imagery of a R’lyeh not rising from some far-off coordinate in the Pacific, but just off the coast of Northern California, calling to its shifting bulk the dead, soulless drones of McCarthy’s America in a steady stream of pale bloated bodies and the accumulated garbage of a young Capitalism. This was a psychic R’lyeh, a principle of consuming madness made real.
Now, the heart of what makes Lovecraft interesting is dead simple, and yet it can be a hard target to hit: the world seems to be a certain way, and then the Way It Actually Is is revealed. TO KNOW is the worst curse in the Lovecraftian universe. Mamatas gets this. His aim is truer than most.
Well, that was then. That was Move Under Ground, at least. And now? Innsmouth Free Press is releasing the collected Lovecraftian fiction of Nick Mamatas, THE NICKRONOMICON. Sadly, the scuttlebutt associated with this book is that this is it, folks, that’s all he wrote. There won’t be any more Lovecraftian work coming from Mamatas after this. Which is a damn shame, especially considering the new novella that was written specifically for the collection, On the Occasion of My Retirement. But we’ll get to that.
Mamatas is fond of the catastrophe, and that fondness is here displayed to great effect. What I mean by catastrophe is more akin to the mathematical theory than any disaster. What I mean by it is this: in Lovecraft’s fiction, the protagonists are in most cases already halfway into the world that will soon be fully revealed to them, either by virtue of their heritage or character or education. They are solitary scholars, recluses and bookworms, half-mad cultists. When the horrors come, as they must, the punch has been telegraphed almost from the first paragraph. Hence the infamous last paragraph of ultimate horror typeset in italics! in a good number of Lovecraft’s stories.
Not so with the stories here. Among the tone poems (And Then, And Then, And Then…), lovingly researched pieces of ephemera (Brattleboro Days, Yuggoth Nights), and deft examinations of Lovecraft the Man and Collection of Awful Foibles (Jitterbuggin’, The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft) are some of the best tales in the genre, by anyone, and they are almost all catastrophic.
There is Wuji, in which a taiji student in late 60s Oakland undertakes a course of unusual martial training in order to help defend his neighbourhood in the middle of a turf war. It’s tricky to speak of the catastrophe in Nick’s stories without wandering into spoiler territory, but I will in this case and only as an example. There is a moment towards the end of Wuji where the narrator reveals itself to the reader. It’s a moment that can turn the entire narrative on its head, an aha! moment of cursed Knowledge. When it happens, it’s jarring, fantastic, and one of the best reasons to read Mamatas, that catastrophic moment when it all careens away to the left. In Wuji, the narrator simply takes over at the critical point: he’s been chatty and conversational throughout (Mamatas is a dab hand at dialogue) and so when the shift to first person happens, it’s smooth. (Well, maybe a spoiler of the narrator’s identity isn’t actually needed, now that I think of it. Go read it yourself!)
The catastrophe hits again in Real People Slash (a brutally funny account of one Socialist’s Lovecraftian enlightenment at the pincers of the Mi-Go), and in Dead Media (again with those Fungi from Yuggoth! but Mamatas has thought these beasties through and delivers a cosmic uppercut in the last paragraphs that’s delightful), and again in And Other Horrors (with Don Webb – a supremely twisty tale of mind-swapping and the implications of the Yith). Orrin Grey, in his clever Introduction to The Nickronomicom, notes that Mamatas has a thing for Lovecraft’s brain-raping critters and isn’t shy about using their own dread tactics, drastically moving perceptions around, both in his characters and in his readers. These shifts are true catastrophes, there’s no preparing for it, he does not telegraph his punches: one moment you’re in a squatter’s riot in Queens and the next you’re instantly freezing to death on the surface of dark Yuggoth. Mamatas is merciless.
It’s a mercilessness that comes to perfect fruition in the final novella here, On the Occasion of My Retirement. Mamatas lets all the tropes come out to play – cursed statuary, antagonistic Miskatonic professors, mind-swapping that shouts out to The Thing on the Doorstep) – but he also throws cutting-edge nanotube tech (VANTABLACK! I admit it: I swooned), predatory sexuality, freaking Kafka, deconstructions of key sentences from Lovecraft’s pen, and a dizzying amount of academic-speak (my wife, who works in Ivory Towers, confirms for me its authenticity) into the mix. The effect is hallucinatory, and again, the catastrophe is there, waiting, when the identity of the narrator, their goals, the very nature of what you’ve been reading, even… shifts. It all shifts horribly. Welcome, Vertigo! Hello, Horror! Following this particular catastrophe, then, comes another joy of reading Mamatas: his skill with a great ending… “And now, administrators and administrated, acolytes and initiated, students and drop-outs, hangers-on and soon-to-be-hanged, my prefatory remarks are over and my keynote lecture shall begin. First slide, please.”
FIRST SLIDE, PLEASE. Every shift and catastrophe experienced through On the Occasion of My Retirement leads to that final sentence, which is itself a fresh catastrophe, another profound shift that waits on the other side of that last period. Which is what Lovecraft, at his best, was all about: inducing thought, triggering fear through the correlating of contents. The real italics come after you put down the book.
Nick Mamatas gets it. And Innsmouth Free Press gets Mamatas. They’ve put together a marvellous book in The Nickronomicon: beautifully set, graced with interior artwork by GMB Chomichuk (pages from a book that don’t look like cheap Simonomicon rip-offs) and a cover by Oliver Wetter. If you enjoy Lovecraft even a little, enough to have grown tired of the rehashed Mythos slurry that passes for “weird fiction” these days, you owe it to yourself to get a copy of The Nickronomicon in your hands, and into the hands of your friends. Highly recommended.
Available for pre-order now from Innsmouth Free Press
Scott R Jones is the author of the short story collections Soft from All the Blood and The Ecdysiasts, as well as the non-fiction When the Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. His poetry and prose have appeared in Innsmouth Magazine, Cthulhu Haiku II, Broken City Mag, and upcoming in both Summer of Lovecraft and Andromeda Spaceways Inflight Magazine.
Two wildly different reviews in this week for Scott R Jones’ When The Stars Are Right: Towards An Authentic R’lyehian Spirituality. The first can only be described as “glowing”, the kind of glowing that might require the reader to don a lead apron, actually, and that makes it our favourite, for obvious reasons. The second has a lot to say about the book, and much of it in the category of complaints about what the book is not. Now, Nick Mamatas (a fellow who we trust) claims that no one actually reads these reviews, and he’s very likely correct in that. But the dynamic tension between these statements from readers of WTSAR has got us thinking. Some excerpts…
the Glowing review
“There’s no denying the potency of Jones’ profound examination of R’lyehian thought. This book is a beautifully weird Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen trinity paradox, where the author prods the primordial swamp of R’lyehian existence which invokes ripples across the mindscape, thus throwing interpretations of locality and reality askew. A literary Eliphas Levi, he weaves astral light into words with such honed wit, such wisdom, such a deep passion the title of literary mage is clichéd but appropriate…”
(full review here)
the Whiny review
“… the whole books reads like a lot of random journal entries from one guy who took a LOT of psychedelic drugs, had some tentacle dreams, and then decided that collecting his own writings about his personal experiences and how you are supposed to act once you have already begun to foster the Black Gnosis equates to writing a how-to on actually getting there yourself from scratch…”
(full review here)
Have you read When The Stars Are Right? If so, what’s your opinion: is Jones a trailblazing Lovecraftian mystic? or a damp, trippy hippy with pseudopods on the brain? Does WTSAR trust in the reader to find their own way into the R’lyehian mysteries? or should it hold the seeker’s hand more, explicitly pointing to the Black Gnosis? Let us know in the comments, or better yet, write a review of your own and let us know where you post it.
And speaking of polarizing books, we here at MMP HQ are extremely pleased to hear of the imminent release of Bobby Derie’s new book, Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos, coming out later this month from the esteemed Hippocampus Press. Mr Derie has been a friend of the show for a while now, and we’ve been fortunate to watch the process of the writing of what is sure to be a groundbreaker of a book that will ruffle a few skirts and spark lively debate. Mr Derie’s research skills are frighteningly impressive: many times we’ve been on the receiving end of some casually dropped piece of Lovecraftiana scholarship that has blown our minds (and we don’t mean Upworthy-style, either!) and reformatted our perceptions of Lovecraft the Man, the Product, and the Mythos. Sex and the Cthulhu Mythos (with a snazzy Gahan Wilson cover, no less!) is available now for pre-order: we very strongly urge MMP readers to pick up their copy today, because this one? This one will be on more than a few lips upon its arrival, and if you’re at all interested in the seamy overlap between the perceived prudishness of classic Lovecraftiana and the boiling sexuality that froths between the actual lines of HPLs fiction, you’ll want in on the discussion. Order direct from Hippocampus Press here