LitStack Recs: Wonderbook & Elsewhere, A Memoir

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction
Jeff VanderMeer

Here’s something new for me: recommending a book that I haven’t read yet. Jeff VanderMeer’s Wonderbook-large“Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction” just hit the shelves on October 15, 2013, and it’s already gotten a lot of buzz. I had seen a few publicity blurbs and Facebook posts on it, and read a glowing review in my local paper. Then, on Tuesday, it was announced as one of three books shortlisted in the Best Non-Fiction category of the upcoming BSFA Awards (British Science Fiction Association).

I had actually checked out “Wonderbook” from the library a few weeks back, based on the newspaper review and on my admiration of Jeff VanderMeer’s “Of Saints and Madmen”, which still is one of the
creepiest, coolest speculative fiction books I have read. But I didn’t keep the library book long – all I had to do was thumb through the pages once to know that I HAD to own this book. My copy came in the mail just yesterday.

Beautifully illustrated by Jeremy Zerfoss (and “many others”), and drawing on insight from some pretty high level contributors (George R. R. Martin, Neil Gaiman, Michael Moorcock, Catherynne M. Valente, Ursula K. Le Guin and Joe Abercrombie, to name just a few), “Wonderbook” is bright, vibrant, a touch spastic and just plain thick with ideas, input and inspiration. This is not your typical “how to” book! Treating its subject matter as some kind of whimsical and fanciful bestiary, it is literally brimming with exercises that get you thinking and creating and imagining. It truly feels like you are embarking on a trip into an exciting and engaging wonderland. I can’t wait to get started!

—Sharon Browning


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