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.

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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.

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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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DISCUSSION

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.