Wonderbook by Jeff VanderMeer

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Supporter
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
6,310
I just saw this reviewed in the latest SFX magazine and thought it worth a mention for anyone who might be interested.

Subtitled 'The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction' it seems to be, as the title suggests a book that is there to help the writer develop the skills needed to write books specifically in the fantasy genre.

The review is mostly positive and the book is given 4 stars out of a possible 5

Standard price seems to be about £15.00

A quick check shows Amazon are selling it for £10.00
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
24,240
Location
Highlands
I remember the press release not long ago - certainly looks interesting. My concern would be that it appears to have as much focus on art as much as being about writer, so the book feels a little split between intentions. Not sure if I read that wrong, though. Unfortunately not seen a sample of the actual writing inside to see how focused it is.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Supporter
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
6,310
That was one of the impressions I got from the review too, but they were very positive about the actual advice, even to an extent that the reviewer seemed a bit surprised at how good it actually was.

I suppose there is only one way to find out for sure...

Off to Amazon.
 

Erin99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
3,194
Let me know what you think, Perp!



The book does look decent in a fun, quirky, wild way. Jeff (can you use first name terms with authors???) has talked about it on Facebook for a while. :) Anyway, I was going to PM him to ask if there's a sample anywhere, assuming he wouldn't mind the intrusion by a nobody, but then I found this:

Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction: Jeff VanderMeer, Jeremy Zerfoss: 9781419704420

I would like to buy something by Mr V., because Gio, my friend and member here, translates work for him, so I'm highly curious - and a book about writing is always welcome. One day...
 

Erin99

Well-Known Member
Joined
Feb 28, 2007
Messages
3,194
The sample is only on the US Amazon store, weirdly. Maybe they haven't updated the UK one???
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Supporter
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
6,310
Does look very interesting. I stopped myself buying it at the last moment, and added it to my wishlist.

If I buy anything for myself this close to my birthday Mrs Perp will kill me.
 

Perpetual Man

Tim James
Supporter
Joined
Jun 13, 2006
Messages
6,310
I meant to post this a bit earlier, but i got this for Christmas. God knows when I will find the time to read it, but will comment on it when I get the time
 

Mr Orange

Rhubarb rhubarb rhubarb...
Joined
Jun 17, 2013
Messages
1,482
Location
Noo Zillund
i'm about halfway through this and struggling to find the time to finish it.

it's good and there are certainly a lot of good points in it.

still not sure how much some of the illustrations add to it though
 

Toby Frost

Well-Known Member
Joined
Jan 22, 2008
Messages
5,262
I bought this book and, while I think it’s perfectly good, how much you get out of it will depend somewhat on how your brain works. I’m used to blocks of text – it’s what my brain is geared for reading and understanding – and so the use of art doesn’t actually help me very much. Also, as has been mentioned, I’m not sure how visual art is supposed to interact with writing text. Are the pictures supposed to encourage the reader to write about them, the way you might write about Gormenghast after looking at a picture of a castle, or is it a more subliminal thing designed to raise the reader’s general level of creativity? If that’s the case, I’m slightly suspicious. My own instinct is not to spend time with other “creatives” (a term I really dislike) whilst creating things, but afterwards.

That said, I enjoyed it and thought it was useful. I thought that the text was good quality. There’s definitely some deep analysis of the techniques used to write a novel going on here, and some of the things discussed here I’ve not seen elsewhere. So, overall, the content is good, and depending on how you think and work, the presentation might be very helpful or slightly hindering.
 

SirGeoffrey

Traveller
Joined
Apr 5, 2014
Messages
19
Location
After growing up in a military family and being in
Wonderbook is...well, wonderful. It makes you exercise your whole brain, flexing both the creative and analytical hemispheres. Jeff VanderMeer is a successful writer and editor within the SF/F genres. His wife Ann is also an accomplished editor in the same fields. I deeply value their insights in regards to writing. For anyone who is interested to learn more about this book and find some 'web extras,' just google it using the keyword, wonderbooknow.
 

RcGrant

Loves semi-colons
Joined
Dec 2, 2007
Messages
337
I've found it difficult, to be honest. It looks pretty but I wonder who it is aimed at. It seems to take a really long time to explain any concepts because it constantly tries to attach attributes of whatever it is trying to teach to alien creatures, monsters, whatever.

I just find myself saying "get a bloody move on, already!" all the time, which is no fun.

I'm determined to finish it, but I've not found it as useful as expected. As mentioned, I think my brain is better suited to a block of text I can then personally visualise (if I wish, or not, as the case may be).
 

HareBrain

Smeerp of Wonder
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Oct 13, 2008
Messages
11,210
Location
West Sussex, UK
I enjoyed reading it at the time but nothing has stuck with me except a couple of the images.
 

Brian G Turner

Fantasist & Futurist
Staff member
Supporter
Joined
Nov 23, 2002
Messages
24,240
Location
Highlands
It is an enjoyable book, but aimed more at the beginner writer, I think - mapping out the things they'll need to know long the way - while also providing encouragement and insight.

It is detailed and comprehensive, and does cover a lot of advanced topics - but if you feel you're almost there, it's more a reflection on where you've been, than where you're going.
 

M Harold Page

Writer and Smiter
Joined
May 18, 2014
Messages
43
Location
Edinburgh
It's one of those inspiring books arm-wavy books that makes you look at what you know in a new light, but doesn't really drill you in techniques. I enjoyed it, and its Steampunk companion book, in that light.
 

JonH

Refreshed and Renewed
Joined
Apr 28, 2014
Messages
299
Location
Joined a critiquing forum in the early nineties, w
It's one of those inspiring books arm-wavy books....
I blinked a couple of times reading your name in the list as it looked liked you were posting to the wrong thread. If you're the author of Storyteller Tools, reviewed in the next thread, you just racked up another Kindle sale this morning, which is why your name stood out to me.

Either way it's your first post, so welcome to the Chrons. :)
 
Joined
May 14, 2019
Messages
9
I hope thread necromancy isn't frowned upon here? Reading this old thread prompted me to borrow Wonderbook from the local library via Hoopla. It looks like some of those illustrations would be best appreciated in print, in person, and large as life, but I was impatient and ebook was available and now it is open in a tab in Bluestacks and life is good.

I hope I like it! I'm a big Vandermeer fan to begin with--one of those weirdos who thought the Southern Reach trilogy was perfect in every way and wants to read it out loud to everyone she meets for the sheer beauty of the language. So this may hit me right in the happy place, we'll see.
 
Top