“The Weird” and Other Phantasmagorical Experiences

Weird-1_B2As I write this, my wife Ann and I are preparing to travel to the World Fantasy Convention in Toronto, where our anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories is up for a World Fantasy Award. Although The Weird was released in the North America back in July, reviews have been popping up again for the Halloween season in places like the Washington Post and a podcast for the National Review.

But, largely, this winter marks the end of an amazing journey for us with this anthology, which spans over 1,000 pages and 100 years of weird fiction: 116 stories by writers from over 20 countries, with eight new commissioned translations of major works. We were able to include a wide variety of writers, including Franz Kafka, H.P. Lovecraft, Margaret Irwin, Leonora Carrington, Ray Bradbury, Jorge Luis Borges, Shirley Jackson, Robert Bloch, Amos Tutuola, Mervyn Peake, Gahan Wilson, Daphne Du Maurier, Robert Aickman, Jamaica Kincaid, George R.R. Martin, Octavia Butler, Clive Barker, Harlan Ellison, Ben Okri, Joyce Carol Oates, Karen Joy Fowler, Haruki Murakami, Stephen King, Angela Carter, Tanith Lee, Kelly Link, Michael Chabon, China Mieville, and Neil Gaiman. The Weird is now being taught in many college classrooms as exemplar of dark, uncanny fiction and as a showcase for a certain strand of international fiction—it’s even helped us create a website to continue exploring this kind of fiction.

Editing The Weird was a tremendous experience, but if we had known how far it would stretch us, how it would devour our lives for more than two years, we might not have said yes. We’re glad we did, but little did we know what lay in store when I received an email while hiking in the wilds of New Hampshire during a book tour in the winter of 2009. The email was from editor Nic Cheetham, then the head of Atlantic UK’s Corvus imprint. “Do you want to do the biggest book of weird fiction ever, covering a century?” Nic asked. “We have a slot in the 2010 fall schedule where it would fit perfectly.”

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