Jeff VanderMeer's Next Book Will Explore The Strange History Of SF

Illustration for article titled Jeff VanderMeers Next Book Will Explore The Strange History Of SF

Jeff VanderMeer's done a couple of big nonfiction books about genre storytelling lately: Wonderbook and The Steampunk User's Manual. But his next project sounds like the most ambitious yet. Space Oddities & Super Freaks: The Secret History of Science Fiction and Fantasy sounds like it could be a mind-warping read.


VanderMeer, who's also the author of the Southern Reach trilogy, describes the new project thusly:

The unexpurgated behind-the-scenes story of one of the world's most popular forms of entertainment, from movie projects gone terribly wrong to mysterious rock-album SF worlds, from eccentric, flamboyant personalities to some of the most interesting art, performance, music, movies, and fiction of the 20th and 21st century…this is Space Oddities & Super Freaks.

…and not just the secret history, but also the story of the underappreciated, the eccentric, and just plain off-the-charts strange–across all forms of storytelling/media. The project will involve writers and artists from all over the world, like previous projects Wonderbook and The Steampunk User's Manual. However, this is likely the most wide-ranging book I've done yet with Abrams–roving across decades and diverse points of view, involving research and a lot of interviews.

Sometimes books like this can be organized like encyclopedias. This is not that beast. This will have clear through-lines thematically and organizationally to focus on telling the most entertaining stories, and then hang other fascinating details off of that.


And VanderMeer mentions his wife, Ann, will be working with him on this project. It sounds like it could be a huge source of fascinating stories and weird facts. Can't wait!

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Will it get into how one of the first professional organizations for rocket scientist/engineers started as a SF club, and then the fans were eventually pushed out to increase the organizations credibility?

Oh. Oh. I bet that L. Ron Hubbard is going to take up a whole flipping chapter by himself.

And if you include gaming, there's a whole chapter there between H.G. Wells and the SF authors who had a gaming club in NYC. Never mind the cross-over with TSR's fiction juggernaut of the 80s.

I'm guessing the sequel will be about the crazy stories about early fandom. From what I hear, the Baby Boomers were even more free love, free drugs and Rock n' Roll when they were at their favorite *Con.