In City of Saints and Madmen, Jeff VanderMeer has reinvented the literature of the fantastic. You hold in your hands an invitation to a place unlike any you’ve ever visited–an invitation delivered by one of our most audacious and astonishing literary magicians.
City of elegance and squalor. Of religious fervor and wanton lusts. And everywhere, on the walls of courtyards and churches, an incandescent fungus of mysterious and ominous origin. In Ambergris, a would-be suitor discovers that a sunlit street can become a killing ground in the blink of an eye. An artist receives an invitation to a beheading–and finds himself enchanted. And a patient in a mental institution is convinced he’s made up a city called Ambergris, imagined its every last detail, and that he’s really from a place called Chicago....
By turns sensuous and terrifying, filled with exotica and eroticism, this interwoven collection of stories, histories, and “eyewitness” reports invokes a universe within a puzzlebox where you can lose–and find–yourself again.
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THE COLLECTION THAT CHINA MIEVILLE CALLED "ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF 2001"--ENHANCED WITH 55,000 WORDS OF NEW MATERIAL and innovative artwork and design by seven artists and three designers. A SUMPTUOUS FEAST OF TEXT AND ILLUSTRATION. This collection contains VanderMeer's Theodore Sturgeon Award finalist novella "Dradin, In Love" and his World Fantasy Award winning novella "Transformation of Martin Lake". Garry Nurrish served as chief designer on this ground-breaking project. John Coulthart, of Hawkwind and Lovecraft illustration fame, contributed several title pages. Here are comments on prior Ambergris titles by reviewers and authors:
"City of Saints packs so much literary and emotional matter into the confines of one city, it defies both the standard category of 'collection' and the newer label 'story suite'. Other fantasy authors may stripmine their invented worlds...for the last scrap of ore; VanderMeer keeps going deeper, and finding new forms of gold." -Faren Miller, Locus.
"...enormously talented, possessing a painterly mastery of the Grotesque that makes his intensely-wrought dark fantasy an experience to be savored." - Nick Gevers, Locus Online, the Top 10 SF & Fantasy Short Story Writers
"Ambergris is one of the great and unforgettable fantastic cities...it is a magnificent darkness." – Redsine
"[a] truly wonderful creation, the strange and ancient city of Ambergris pulls [the reader] deeper and deeper into pause-producing insights or startlingly nasty and/or beautiful revelations." - Gahan Wilson, Realms of Fantasy
"Written with a richness of language and imagery uncommon for fantasy, and the equivalent of the best offered by contemporary literary stylists, the authors blends... traditions both literary and social with an equal measure of playfulness. Descriptive passages possess an originality and individual vitality for which it is hard to find parallel." - William Thompson, SF Site
TERRI WINDLING, Editor Year's Best Fantasy & Horror "Walking into Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris is like stepping inside of a surrealist painting by Leonora Carrington or Remedios Varo. I recommend the journey to all travelers with a taste for the fantastic." -Terri Windling, Editor, The Year's Best Fantasy & Horror
S.P. SOMTOW "VanderMeer is a master craftsman. His finely-honed language, laser-sharp, penetrates to the painful core of human experience."
MICHAEL MOORCOCK "Examining VanderMeer one is reminded of the glories of Angkor and Anudhapura combined with the bustle and swagger of Captain Conrad's Indonesia, the adventurous intrigues of Byzantium and Venice, the brutal Spice Wars of the Dutch. But sometimes it is as if Proust intrudes, insensed and reminiscent. VanderMeer describes a world so rich and exaggerated and full of mysterious life that it draws you away from any intended moral or pasquinade deep into the wealth of the world's womb...Make the most of the tapestry of tales and visions before you. It is a rare treasure, to be tasted with both relish and respect. It is the work of an original. It's what you've been looking for."
CHINA MIEVILLE "Somewhere at the intersection of pulp and Surrealism, drawing on the very best of both traditions, is Jeff VanderMeer's Ambergris. Unsettling, erudite, dark, shot through with unexpected humour, the stories engross and challenge endlessly. Ambergris is one of my favourite haunts in fiction."
R.M. BERRY, New York Times notable novel Leonardo's Horse "A remarkable writer of highly original, utterly hilarious fiction, who continually pushes the boundaries of current literary fashion. The Early History and Dradin, In Love are literary tours de force, in which form and language stubbornly refuse relegation to instrumentality and reassert their irrepressible life. Few works I've read in recent years have given me such pure pleasure.
NORMAN SPINRAD, Asimov's SF Magazine "[The Early History of Ambergris] is the sort of thing that reminds us that while publishing modes, genres, literary schools and styles, and even the material matrices in which literature is encoded, come and go, there is a restorative impulse, a literary innocence, that transcends the maya thereof, that has not died yet, that remains eternal. Eternal because it generates literature that is written entirely for fun, without the slightest nod to the shrewdities of careerism...It restoreth the soul. It giveth hope."
PAUL DI FILIPPO "As the shady demiurge whoactually ‘created' the historical personage known as Duncan Shriek, as well as the whole bloody history and complex culture of a complete world, the character of VanderMeer beggars the imagination. How could one fellow, even half divine, manage to combine the literary qualities of Nabokov, Borges, Barthelme, Cabell, Clark Ashton Smith, Suetonius, and Bernal Diaz into one person? It's impossible to credit!"
LANCE OLSEN "If Franz Kafka had a son, and Jorge Luis Borges raised him with Jessica Amanda Salmonson, I imagine the result would look a lot like Jeff VanderMeer - someone who writes with dark dream-time logic, Escher-like precision, and pure imaginative fire."
BRIAN STABLEFORD "I enjoyed The Early History of Ambergris tremendously and I think it's a marvellous piece of work, artfully combining humour and horror to excellent effect. Its mosaic format works beautifully to emphasize and extend the uncertainties of the fragmentary narrative. The greatest challenge facing any modern author is to produce a tale quite unlike any that has ever been produced before, but Jeff has met that challenge head on and answered it triumphantly. I hope the book is a great success, as it deserves to be - and whatever its immediate fate, I'm sure there will come a time when it will be an important and much-sought-after collector's item."
NEW YORK REVIEW OF SF "A text of lethally hypnotic fascination...a masterpiece of ironic perversity [set in] a brilliantly-realized city."
ST. JAMES GUIDE TO HORROR, GOTHIC, AND GHOST WRITERS "He will make a major contribution to the field of neo-Decadent dark fantasy."
RAIN TAXI "Vivid and beguiling, excellent exercise for the imagination, and efficient means of transportation to other realities. [VanderMeer] liberates us from the miserable reality of our days."
INTERZONE "The author's prose is delicate and ornate, but the narrative has force and wit in plenty...dramatizes and celebrates the anxiety and exhileration of entering the unknown - quite excellent."
"...impressive work...I confess I tried to skim its pages - my usual procedure - but soon found that it was unskimmable and that every sentence needed to be read (and often reread)."
TANGENT "A really fine example of fantasy taken down the road a piece...well-drawn, tightly-focused...fantasy in fine fettle, healthy and vital, an intelligent, exciting exploration of the darker realms of the heart, with the good strong currents of myth and archetype to bear it along."
ED BRYANT, Locus "Set in the kind of no-time neverwhere city that Jorge Borges, Jack Vance, and Mervyn Peake might these days hiply program into their satellite locator systems...Lyrical, evocative, grim."
ASIMOV'S SF MAGAZINE "Assimilating and transcending such honorable influences as Clark Ashton Smith, Jack Vance, and E.R. Eddison, VanderMeer strides shoulder to shoulder with such currently working authors such as Paul Park, M. John Harrison, and Thomas Ligotti."About the Author:
Two-time World Fantasy Award winner Jeff VanderMeer has been a finalist for the Hugo Award, the Philip K. Dick Award, the International Horror Guild Award, the Bram Stoker Award, and many others. His recent books include Veniss Underground, the literary fantasy City of Saints & Madmen, and The Thackery T. Lambshead Pocket Guide to Eccentric & Discredited Diseases, which he co-edited. Books by VanderMeer have made the year's best lists of Amazon.com, Publishers Weekly, San Francisco Chronicle, Los Angeles Weekly, and Locus Magazine. He lives in Tallahassee, Florida, with his wife, Ann.
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