Béalu in Unstuck #2

January 6th, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

One of a handful of fledgling litmags singled out for praise by The New York Times, Unstuck further distinguishes itself from the pack by preferring spec, publishing

“literary fiction with elements of the fantastic, the futuristic, or the surreal—a broad category that would include the work of writers as diverse as Abe, Ballard, Borges, Calvino, Tutuola, and (of course) Vonnegut, everything from straight-up science fiction and fantasy to domestic realism with a twist of the improbable.”

Over the holidays, the Austin-based litmag debuted its second issue, which features my translation of Marcel Béalu’s classic story “The Water Spider.” The Unstuck site is featuring an excerpt, and over at Weird Fiction Review, I provide some context and history for the tale, in the first of two planned posts on the author.

Unstuck #2 features  buy it for more than 500 pages of elephant men and minotaurs, magic charms and lost islands, talking dogs and miniature husbands, orphans reared in libraries, zombie bank robbers, mechanical cattle, and many other curiosities. You’ll find new fiction and poetry from writers like Kate Bernheimer, Jedediah Berry, Edward Carey, Matthew Cheney, Brian Conn, Rikki Ducornet, Caitlin Horrocks, and Jonathan Lethem.

Oumou Sall Seck: Save Mali

January 3rd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Oumou Sall Seck’s impassioned op-ed plea came out in last Saturday’s New York Times. Her plea is cogent and gripping, and made for a sobering note in this season of celebrations.

In 2004, I became the first woman to be elected mayor of a town in northern Mali. It wasn’t easy in this ultraconservative region. We built a community center to encourage the economic self-sufficiency of women, who accounted for more than half the town’s population of about 16,000. Despite many difficulties, the initiation of development projects created a real sense of hope among the population. Even if the economy was slow to take off, it was progress. Now it is all in shambles.

Jihadist criminal groups like Ansar Dine and the Movement for Unity and Jihad in West Africa, working with drug traffickers and armed separatists, are threatening democratic institutions, national unity and secularism in Mali.

President Obama must not allow northern Mali to become a hotbed of terrorists and drug traffickers that poses a danger to the entire world.

The United States has intervened in less dire situations. I call upon its conscience. Please help us get our families out of their wretched distress. We are innocent victims. We cannot do it alone.

Game for Swallows on Year’s Best List

January 2nd, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

At Comic Book Resources, Zeina Abirached’s A Game for Swallows finds a comfy home at #44 on the year’s best list, just behind Ed Piskor’s Wizzywig, a book I much enjoyed from Top Shelf, and a compilation from the Rucka run on The Punisher & Punisher War Zone. I wish there were some pithy and thematically appropriate conclusion to be drawn from this, but meanwhile… thanks to Alex Dueben for saying

“Abirached tells the story of the Lebanese Civil War from the perspective of a child, telling the story of a single apartment building in a single night. Visually dynamic, with more tension than most thrillers, it is a powerful tale about events that resonate to this day.”

Last Days of An Immortal Makes Waves

January 1st, 2013 § 0 comments § permalink

Happy New Year! Surfacing from holiday silence and post-food sloth with good tidings: Archaia’s Last Days of an Immortal has started to pick up momentum following its late fall release with a starred review from Publishers Weekly and thoughtful, effusive commentary elsewhere on the interwebs.

Subtle, mature, and inventive, French team De Bonneval and Vehlmann deliver deliberate science fiction that evokes the classic books of the 1950s and 1960s, with a particular kinship to Michael Moorcock’s Dancers at the End of Time series.

De Bonneval’s art cleverly recalls Artzybasheff and other “googley” ’50s SF masters, while the story mirrors that era’s sly social satire, which investigated how technology affected our psychology and relationships and, in turn, where that brought culture. Vehlmann’s story expands on this heritage with a smart new twist.

Jason Wilkins of Broken Frontier says

The product of French collaborators Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Bonneval, Last Days of an Immortal is another beautifully realized European import brought to North American readers by Archaia Comics and further proof we’re still a little behind our neighbours across the Atlantic when it comes to diverse and eclectic funny book content. A thought-provoking fusion of high science fiction and pop philosophy, Last Days of an Immortal explores such weighty themes as extra-terrestrial multiculturalism, cloning, immortality, and the convoluted legalities that arise from these ideas.

One part philosophical treatise, one part high-concept sci-fi police procedural, Last Days of an Immortal is a quiet, reflective exploration of what it means to remain human when the world around us is in a state of constant flux and we ourselves refuse to change. A poignant and pointed metaphor for the fast-paced digital age we currently wade through, Last Days of an Immortal is a refreshing break from the mainstream current obsession with universe-spanning events and reboots. Highly recommended for the pop philosopher in all of us.

and Scott Marshall at Publish or Perish adds

Last Days of an Immortal is an ingenious piece of writing wrapped in an imaginative art style that creates a vision of the future that is both contemporary and quaintly old-fashioned, as if a graphic novel had arrived from the era of Aldous Huxley. Long may it survive.

London comix blog The Gosh! has linked to my two-part discussion of genre and Last Days at Weird Fiction Review.

Congrats to creators Fabien Vehlmann and Gwen De Bonneval!

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