I found this sitting in “draft” when trying to tie up some loose ends, and apologize to the winners for the lateness of the post — though they did get their books long ago. For this contest, I asked readers to submit reviews of non-existent books, tied however loosely, to Jeff VanderMeer’s recent collection The Third Bear.
Well, two came through with shining colors. The first comes from Stephen Gordon:
Jeff VanderMeer produces remarkable collections of short fiction, and Two Weird, his latest since The Third Bear, is no exception. If the collection has a unifying theme, it would be the manner in which language, in its gaps and failures, can produce a dread deeper than that instilled by any monster. The first and last stories are illustrative.
The first, “Two Weird,” is set in the aftermath of Macbeth and relates the interrogation of two of the weird sisters by Macduff (the third having been killed during their capture). The sisters reluctantly hand over manuscripts ofMacbeth and its alleged sequel, insinuating a terrifying paradox of intertextuality and fate.
The final story, “Turtles All the Way,” is as a mashup of The Matrix and Borges’ “The Garden of Forking Paths.” Whereas The Matrix presents a horrific world (“the desert of the real”) paired with a shiny but illusory cybernetic projection, each world in “Turtles” is a projection of some other, with the web of worlds never ending, although sometimes looping. The protagonist, a lonely young woman named Differance, travels from world to world fruitlessly seeking meaning, always a signifier, never a signified.
Stephen Gordon writes short stories that are just a little weird and a little fantastical. He can be found on the web at facebook.com/ironnoir,twitter.com/ironnoir, or firstname.lastname@example.org, as you please.