Wednesday, December 07, 2005

that's entertainment 2

My old college buddy Bob Kay Jr. was driving me around Seattle yesterday in his jet black Buick LeSabre Limited Edition when I spied this swimmer poised on the corner of a downtown building. I had only a red light's duration to pull out my camera and snap this photo from below.

I have no idea what buildings these are or where downtown they're located, but putting yesterday's neon swimmer together with this one makes me wonder--are there more neon swimmers in Seattle? Is this a Seattle thing? If anyone out there has an answer or knows the location of yet more neon swimmers, please let me know.


Meanwhile, back at the book tour, I am told by my daughter that Entertainment Weekly doesn't do SF reviews very often and that the grade they gave my book--an A minus--is actually excellent because they rarely give out As. Moreover, they often brand the books in their own featured reviews with a B or worse.

Especially now, says my daughter, at Christmastime with people reading these reviews while on the lookout for gift ideas.

Then, a fellow named Jeff comments on yesterday's blog entry saying that he first became aware of my book through the EW review and went right out and bought it. And right on cue, my sales ranking on, which had sunk to the low 20K range this week, suddlenly shot up to 3250 this morning. Can this sales bump be attributed to the review? Anyway, I'm being impressed by my book's good fortune when I get an email from my Clarion West classmate Cindy Ward. She sends a link to a piece written by a reviewer for the entertainment magazine CFQ and its Yearbook edition. Go to

It's an article exposing the arbitrary process of picking a Ten Best list. The reviewer, Paula Guran, says,

"An entire section on "first novels" is scuttled except for Counting Heads by David Marusek and Jeff VanderMeer's Veniss Underground. The Marusek is another personal favorite that absolutely blew me away. It's flawed, yes, but the high level of imagination is incredible. But I go for the VanderMeer instead. I leave the worthy Veniss Underground on the list because I feel that although it is "new literate" (for lack of a better term) SF/F, it is accessible and enjoyable by a wide audience. It is also a bit of a cheat because it was originally published a couple of years ago by independent press, but I'm also supposed to be concentrating on major publishers, so if small press doesn't really count...then publication by a major does. Or something likes that."

Huh? Say again? You picked Jeff's over mine why?

Anyway, reading this makes the EW placement even more amazing, because the EW reviewer must have had to go through an equally capricious and indefensible winnowing process in reducing his list down to, not ten, but to four finalists. And since in this case we came up a winner, we're entirely good with it.


Anonymous said...

I can't think of two novels more different than yours and mine (at least from the description of yours I've read), so it's hard for me to see why they'd be in competition for the same slot, even though both first novels. But I'm thankful because as a reprint (first published in the indie press), it's hard to get media attention for Veniss right now.

But yeah--the "process" as explained is murky to me.


David Marusek said...

Jeff, may both of our tomes rise to the top of the heap.

That's a neat trick, going from indie (is that print on demand?) to big imprint. Congrats.