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More than 20 stories -- half of them original to this volume and the other half recent and classic gems specifically chosen for the timelessness of their satirical bite. Includes celebrate award-winners like Robert Silverberg, Allen Steele, Cory Doctorow, Jeffrey Ford, and Paul Di Filippo; a few brand-new writers making their debut; and acclaimed state-of-the art satirists such as Bradley Denton, Don Webb and others. The stories range in style from dark comedy to laugh-out-loud farce, from surrealistic fancy to ...
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More than 20 stories -- half of them original to this volume and the other half recent and classic gems specifically chosen for the timelessness of their satirical bite. Includes celebrate award-winners like Robert Silverberg, Allen Steele, Cory Doctorow, Jeffrey Ford, and Paul Di Filippo; a few brand-new writers making their debut; and acclaimed state-of-the art satirists such as Bradley Denton, Don Webb and others. The stories range in style from dark comedy to laugh-out-loud farce, from surrealistic fancy to cautionary satire.
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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Witpunk, an edgy collection of sardonic fiction, was inspired when someone asked on an Internet literary forum, "When did reading SF/fantasy stop being fun?" Claude Lalumière, a popular Canadian author and columnist, took exception to this and, along with editor Marty Halpern, put together an anthology of some of the best works of satirical fiction in the last two decades.

While some of the stories are speculative classics, like Robert Silverberg's "Amanda and the Alien," Pat Cadigan's "Mother's Milk," and Nina Kiriki Hoffman's "Savage Breasts," half the collection is made up of never-before-published works by some of the brightest authors in contemporary science fiction and fantasy, including Paul Di Filippo, Allen M. Steele, Bradley Denton, and Pat Murphy.

Included are stories about a science fiction writer gone temporarily insane, a post–global warming society where infertile infants are killed by priests in the name of God, a boy's friendship with a turkey, demonic light bulbs, and a secretary with lethal weapons under her sweater -- to name but a few.

The back of Witpunk says it all: "When the world is just too stupid, brutal, or annoying to believe -- strike back by laughing at it." This diverse collection of stories, which ranges from witty science fiction to black-humored horror to just plain bizarre fantasy, is a typical Four Walls Eight Windows offering: highly intelligent, brilliantly clever stories with that unique mix of style, irreverence, and attitude. Those afflicted with a twisted sense of humor will cherish this collection for a long, long time. Paul Goat Allen

The Washington Post
Interestingly, the shorter stories in Witpunk work better the shorter they are; all of the ones longer than 20 pages are something of a drag, while those less than five (and there are several) are quite good. Jeffrey Ford offers a series of fast-moving pastiches of old pulp-magazine templates — perhaps an easy target (and hardly transgressive), but they work. Best of the lot is Ray Vukcevich's wonderful "Jumping," which is all of two pages long. Vukcevich is a genuinely remarkable writer disguised as a merely excellent one, and his story — a six-page experience, since you read it three times in rapid succession while trying to figure out what the author just did and how he managed it -- begins strangely ("We stood waist-deep in the muddy green cattle pond"), grows rapidly stranger while seeming to explain things, then ends in a weird burst of almost-sense. You find yourself trying simultaneously to scratch your head and applaud. — Gregory Feeley
Kirkus Reviews
Twenty-six big laughs at the way the world turns, half originals, half reprints, mostly SF and fantasy but also crime fiction, horror, and realism. Lalumière, a Montreal writer, is a former magazine editor and owner of a bookshop devoted to "the fantastic, the imaginative, and the weird." Co-editor Halpern also edits SF's Golden Gryphon Press and was a 2001 World Fantasy Award finalist. In creating an anthology of strongly sardonic fiction, containing not just classics but flavored with contemporary tales by unknowns, they hit upon the facetious rubric "witpunk," which would not be filled with "rote reiterations of tired old tropes [that] bore you to death." Of the 24 writers, some slap you upside the head, others turn to dark irony. Among the standouts are the celebrated Robert Silverberg's wonderful "Amanda and the Alien" (filmed in 1995), in which an adolescent girl spots an alien masquerading as another adolescent girl and takes her home for the weekend to help the alien shape up her act. Two-time Hugo-winner Allen M. Steele's "The Teb Hunter" tells of hunting season opening on hungry little tebs. Tebs, it turns out, are bioengineered teddy bears that have developed vocal abilities and say things like "Come out and play. . . come out and play" and "I wuv you so much!" Loaded for bear, the hunters set traps with a tiny table, four wooden chairs, and kindergarten lawn furniture from Toys "R" Us. (". . . [If] God had meant animals to talk he would'a . . . I dunno. Given 'em a dictionary or sum'pin.") Jeffrey Ford's brief prose poem, "Spicy Detective," is "a shiv in the kidneys, a brass-knuckle sandwich for grandma," while Cory Doctorow and Michael Skeet's "I Love Paree" reports in mockParisian lingo ("normalment") on the night the lights went out in Club Dialtone on Boul' Disney. Ringingly brilliant, far better than its title.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781568582566
  • Publisher: Running Press Book Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/10/2003
  • Pages: 356
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 8.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Table of Contents

The Teb Hunter 1
Coyote Goes Hollywood 8
Spicy Detective #3 24
Auspicious Eggs 26
Timmy and Tommy's Thanksgiving Secret 50
Savage Breasts 56
I Love Paree 64
Arabesques of Eldritch Weirdness #8 101
The Seven-Day Itch 103
The Scuttling or, Down by the Sea with Marvin and Pamela 111
A Halloween Like Any Other 134
The Lights of Armageddon 138
Doc Aggressive, Man of Tin #2 152
Bagged 'n' Tagged 154
Amanda and the Alien 188
Diary from an Empty Studio 206
Is That Hard Science, or Are You Just Happy to See Me? 214
Six Gun Loner of the High Butte #6 228
Encounter of Another Kind 230
Tales from the Breast 237
Science Fiction 246
Mother's Milt 268
Deep Space Adventure #32 281
The Wild Girls 283
Jumping 315
Kapuzine and the Wolf: A Hortatory Tale 317
Meet the Witpunks 336
Acknowledgements 344
Credits 345
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Interviews & Essays

An Interview with Claude Lalumière and Marty Halpern

Paul Goat Allen: Claude, the preface to Witpunk states that you posted a list of recent genre novels that you considered fun. Can you name some of the titles on your list and indicate what you think are some of the best sardonic fiction releases in the last few years?

Claude Lalumière: The original list, posted in 2001, covered SF and fantasy circa 1996–2000. Some of the prominent novels on it were: Island of the Sequined Love Nun by Christopher Moore, Lunatics by Bradley Denton, Malignos by Richard Calder, Judgment of Tears: Anno Dracula 1959 by Kim Newman, and Ciphers by Paul Di Filippo. In the last two years or so, there have been a number of collections and novels that perpetuate the Witpunk attitude. Some of those I liked best include: Smoking Mirror Blues by Ernest Hogan, The Melancholy of Anatomy by Shelley Jackson, City of Saints and Madmen by Jeff VanderMeer, Meet Me in the Moon Room by Ray Vukcevich, and The Collection by Bentley Little. And a number of contemporary novelists whose work transgresses against genre labels with a Witpunk attitude include Chuck Palahniuk, Will Self, and Christopher Moore.

PGA: Marty, being an editor for Golden Gryphon Press for the past four years, you've likely seen your fair share of good and bad stories. How does Witpunk compare to other recent anthologies, and what exactly makes it noteworthy amid all the other collections out there?

Marty Halpern: Most anthologies tend to evolve around a theme, regardless of the genre. Witpunk, on the other hand, isn't a theme-based anthology but rather one of attitude. And though most of the contributors are indeed SF and fantasy authors, that isn't the focus of this anthology. What we sought out in the original story submissions was not just good storytelling but stories with attitude -- sometimes subtle, sometimes in-your-face attitude. Even if readers aren't particularly fond of SF and/or fantasy, I'm confident they will enjoy Witpunk. And given the current economic and political climate here and abroad, I believe everyone could use a strong dose of sardonic fiction -- stories that poke fun at life, stories that poke fun at ourselves.

PGA: When compiling the stories to include in the Witpunk collection, what were the first stories you included, and why?

CL: We knew we were going to mix new stories with reprints, so first we went after a few reprints we felt represented the kind of attitude we wanted to book to possess. "Amanda and the Alien" by Robert Silverberg, because it's such a wonderful, uncompromisingly funny story by a writer best known for his "serious" work -- and to enjoy the thrill of working with the legendary Robert Silverberg, who is one of my literary heroes. "Auspicious Eggs" by James Morrow, because Morrow is one of my favorite satirists, in addition to being so highly regarded. And that story in particular was a recent one that had been controversial and that we knew had yet to appear in book form. And Paul Di Filippo was the first author we approached, because he's the archetypal Witpunk. It would have been unthinkable not to include him. We knew we had to get a new story from him for this project to live up to its ideals.

PGA: Where do you see sardonic fiction headed in the future? Are there any particular authors that you see at the forefront?

CL: Paul Di Filippo, of course. Ernest Hogan. Chuck Palahniuk. Ray Vukcevich. Christopher Moore. Shelley Jackson. James Morrow. The idea is fiction with a sense of fun and transgression -- disregarding genre labels as obsolete, driven by the knowledge that fiction questioning the status quo is not only necessary but also fun to read. Writers can make a difference, can help to change the world, by propagating ideas not usually endorsed by mainstream media. And laughter is a powerful weapon. We need Chuck Palahniuk to shock us with Fight Club; Paul Di Filippo to propose delirious utopias, like those in "Campbell's World" and A Mouthful of Tongues; Tom Sharpe to tear into bourgeois pretensions and hypocrisy; Shelley Jackson to make us think about how culture transforms our bodies; James Morrow to never let us forget about the unacknowledged cruelty behind religious dogma; Ernest Hogan to point out that we're letting governments leak the pleasure out of life; William Sanders and W. P. Kinsella to remind us of the fundamental racism of white North American culture. We need to remember that life can be fun -- and that changing the world for the better can also be fun. Sardonic fiction laughs at those who want us to believe otherwise while seeing beyond their lies.

MH: I realize you're asking about the future, but sardonic fiction has a grand foundation as well, including works by Philip K. Dick, R. A. Lafferty, Robert Sheckley, and even Kurt Vonnegut. These authors, and others like them, have set the groundwork for today's Witpunk style of writing. But to get back to your specific question, I would have to agree with Claude that Paul Di Filippo is out in front of all other writers. When Claude and I contacted authors about contributing to Witpunk, I was quite impressed how many responded that we needed to contact Paul Di Filippo as well; of course, Paul was one of the first authors who agreed to contribute an original story to the anthology. I think some of the authors in Witpunk will surprise readers, because their stories are quite different from what the authors have previously published. We're hopeful that if Witpunk does well, and if the demand is there, we would like to consider a second volume of stories. Such an anthology would be the most opportune way for us to continue showcasing those authors we feel are at the forefront of sardonic fiction.

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