Strange Horizons Review of Twelve Collections and The Teashop

An extensive review/essay by Lara Buckerton of my mosaic novel Twelve Collections and The Teashop just appeared at Strange Horizons:

Collections are harmless, right? It’s one of their conspicuous virtues—we come and peer into the collector’s murky world, fail to understand it, tut and shake our heads, but ultimately we approve of it, as a kind of monument honouring—not exactly the Unknown Oddball himself—but the social tolerance which allows him to thrive. But what if collections aren’t evidence of liberalism and diversity at all, but of a levelling, decontextualising waste? What if collections don’t have a special life of their own, but a special death of their own?

If these sound like ostentatious questions, they’re balanced by the spare and graceful way in which Zivkovic investigates them. The tales are quite slight—sixish pages, usually—and very moreish. There’s something a bit mannered about Zivkovic’s prose (an effect of translation perhaps?)— “stay there, all the way till lunch time,” “avoided by a hair”—but chaste and clunky is a fitting style for the quietly comic, fantastika material. Fiction which relies on keeping its readers’ interpretative machinery switched on will hardly want to hypnotise them with rhetorical pyrotechnics. The time is everywhen, the place is everywhere—or at least everywhere blandly Euro—and the protagonists are all pumped full of Everyman jelly. Stylistically, faux naivety is your only man.

Nor will such fiction really need to rock out plot-wise. There are thick traces, in almost every tale, of a pair of generic devices so distinguished that you might almost call them clichés—Science fiction’s “aah-aah-creation-turned-against-its-maker” is one, fantasy fiction’s “ooh-ooh-pact-with-the-devil” the other. The reader of Tweve Collections is still entranced and tickled by a stream of incident, but her excitations generally derive from a world of nuance. As the formulae become increasingly familiar (the collectors of tangibles are collected by their collections, anybody who hands over an intangible tends to feel ominious regret), more significance attaches to the little stuff—the manner, the mood, the colour, the detail—and to the cobweb of connections unfolding underneath the tales.

Link to the full review.

Interview at Shirley Jackson Awards Blog

Filipino blogger and bibliophile Charles Tan has been conducting short interviews with a number of nominees of the inaugural Shirley Jackson Awards, including Lucius Shepard, Laird Barron, Carrie Laben, Barbara and Christopher Roden, Christopher Golden, Conrad Williams, and now my humble self. His interview with me was just recently posted:

What made you decide to use the format presented in 12 Collections?

Many prose books of mine share that format. Ursula LeGuin called it a “mosaic-novel”: A whole that is bigger than the mere sum of its constituent parts. An amalgam, not just a conglomerate. I find the term quite appropriate. The stones my literary mosaics are made of can be read and, hopefully, enjoyed, individually, but their true meaning emerges only when seen in entirety of the big picture. This is particularly evident in “Twelve Collections”: The final, twelfth collector collects collections, as if giving a frame to the picture…

Link to the interview.

OF Blog of the Fallen on Twelve Collections

Larry at OF Blog of the Fallen has some nice and insightful things to say about Twelve Collections and The Teashop:

In a day and age where it seems that even speculative fiction writers aim to pack as much descriptive verbiage into their stories as possible (often with deleterious consequences), it is refreshing to read stories written by authors who go in the opposite direction; their stories place a premium on the readers’ imaginative abilities to unpack meaning from just a few scant words.

Serbian author Zoran Zivkovic is one of those blessed few authors. Ever since I read his first novel released in the US, The Fourth Circle, back in 2004, I have marveled over how much depth there is to be found in stories that rarely go past 20 pages. In Twelve Collections and the Teashop, a 2007 limited-edition UK release (no known US release date), Zivkovic has written perhaps one of his best “story suites” to date.

In the introduction, Michael Moorcock discusses how Zivkovic’s writing reflects an older European fabulist tradition, one that was lost in the West with the rise of the Naturalists/Modernists and their (over)emphasis on verisimilitude. Moorcock posits that Eastern European authors such as Zivkovic, who came of age during the police state mentality of the Iron Curtain years, learned that being too specific was a risky matter and that much could be done with everywhere cities and such-and-such people. While this deliberate vagueness might annoy those who prefer focusing on the facts and not the vision behind the story plots, others have found the dreamlike qualities of such tales to be intoxicating, sucking one into reading and then considering what might be transpiring rather than just what really is happening there.

Link to the full review.

Twelve Collections Longlisted for the BFSA

12 CollectionsIn addition to Twelve Collections and The Teashop (PS Publishing, 2007) being a finalist for the Shirley Jackson Award, my mosaic-novel has now been longlisted for the 2008 British Fantasy Society Award for Best Novella. The list of recommendations is as follows:

  • Deadbeat: The Dogs of Waugh, Guy Adams, Humdrumming
  • Starship Summer, Eric Brown, PS Publishing
  • The Mermaids, Robert Edric, PS Publishing
  • The Lees of Laughter’s End, Steven Erickson, PS Publishing
  • The City Beyond Play, Philip Jose Farmer and Danny Adams, PS Publishing
  • “The Helper and his Hero,” Matthew Hughes, F&SF, Feb-March 2007
  • The Crystal Cosmos, Rhys Hughes, PS Publishing
  • Dead Earth: The Green Dawn, Mark Justice and David T Wilbanks, PS Publishing
  • “The Lazarus Condition,” Paul Kane, The Lazarus Condition, Tasmaniac Publications
  • “Dalton Quayle Rides Out,” Paul Kane, Dalton Quayle Rides Out, Pendragon Press
  • After The War (Double Novella), Tim Lebbon, Subterranean Press
  • “The Master Miller’s Tale,” Ian MacLeod, F&SF, May 2007
  • Under My Roof, Nick Mamatas, Soft Skull Press
  • Time Hunter 11: Child Of Time, George Mann and David J Howe, Telos Publishing
  • All Your Gods Are Dead, Gary McMahon, Humdrumming
  • Hereafter and After, Richard Parks, PS Publishing
  • “The Palace,” Barbara Roden, At Ease with the Dead, Ash-Tress Press
  • Strawberry Man, Eric Shapiro, Insidious Publications
  • “Stars Seen Through Stone,” Lucius Shepard, F&SF, July 2007 & Dagger Key & Other Stories
  • “Dead Money,” Lucius Shepard, Asimov’s, April 2007 & Dagger Key & Other Stories
  • Black Tide, Del Stone Jr, Telos Publishing
  • Rain, Conrad Williams, Gray Friar Press
  • The Scalding Rooms, Conrad Williams, PS Publishing
  • Twelve Collections and the Teashop, Zoran Zivkovic, PS Publishing

Link to the complete longlist for each category.

“The Teashop” to be reprinted in Year’s Best anthology

2008 Fantasy BotYMy novella “The Teashop” (originally published in English in Twelve Collections and The Teashop) will be included in the 2008 edition of Fantasy: The Best of the Year, an anthology edited by Rich Horton. The book, which selects the best tales of the fantastic published in 2007, is scheduled to appear in early 2008 from Prime Books.

The table of contents (courtesy of John Joseph Adams) is as follows:

  • Daryl Gregory, “Unpossible” (F&SF, October/November)
  • Kelly Link, “Light” (Tin House, Fall)
  • Zoran Zivkovic, “The Teashop”, (12 Collections and the Teashop)
  • Noreen Doyle, “The Rope” (Realms of Fantasy, April)
  • William Alexander, “Buttons”, (Zahir, Summer/07)
  • Holly Phillips, “Brother of the Moon”, (Fantasy)
  • Andy Duncan, “A Diorama of the Infernal Regions”, (Wizards)
  • Rachel Swirsky, “Heartstrung”, (Interzone, 6/07)
  • Carrie Laben, “Something in the Mermaid Way” (Clarkesworld, March)
  • Matthew Johnson, “Public Safety” (Asimov’s, 3/07)
  • Benjamin Rosenbaum and David Ackert, “Stray” (F&SF, December)
  • Marly Youmans, “The Comb” (Fantasy, December)
  • Garth Nix, “Sir Hereward and Mister Fitz Go to War Again” (Baen’s Universe, 4/07)
  • Karen Joy Fowler, “The Last Worders”, (Lady Churchill’s Rosebud Wristlet, 6/07)
  • Theodora Goss, “Singing of Mount Abora” (Logorrhea)
  • David Barr Kirtley, “Save Me Plz” (Realms of Fantasy, October)
  • Erik Amundsen, “Bufo Rex” (Weird Tales)
  • Ian R. MacLeod, “The Master Miller’s Tale” (F&SF, May)