Sunday, August 2, 2009

Reviewer Time: Fabio Fernandes ["Post-Weird Thoughts"]

So far on the “Reviewer Time” I have had to comment upon websites I have frequently or at least semi-frequently visited for a very long time, enough to have constructed an opinion. But the case with “Post-Weird Thoughts” is a little different. I admit I am not gifted with effective time management skills or concentration to cover a wider number of websites and many decent blogs get overlooked. What I am saying with this lengthy prelude is that I will show to new readers “Post-Weird Thoughts” as they themselves would experience for the first time.

The first thing you are going to notice is that Fabio Fernandes is all the things book reviewers are interested in. He is a writer with several published short stories, a translator, a scriptwriter and a game writer as well as Cyberculture and Science Fiction researcher. With a biography like this you know in an instant that he can bring a fresh angle to every topic discussed in our circles. Up until now “Post-Weird Thoughts” has endured a slow period of irregular posts, but after a sudden galvanization the site is experience an interesting flow of activity aimed more or less towards the community and events rather than a singular work. His posts offer more coverage on events such as the Hugo Awards, commentary on the nominees and announcing of the winners. Then there are topics such as conventions, interesting interviews, major linkage and monologues on current events that transpire through the World Wide Web.

It’s safe to say that he is not an active reviewer and his particular strength is the discussion of his cultural surroundings rather than dissecting novels most reviewers do, but when Fabio reviews he does it in his own way. Through his reviews one can catch a glimpse of the writer as his sentences flow with their own distinctive spark that draw a person in and create an interest in a title, where for instance you would normally not exhibit. I find such is the case with the overview of the Hugo award nominated short stories, where the style an easy for the mind blend of conversational tone and intellectual prose lures the reader in. I for one sense that it’s worth the shot to hang around Fabio, because for one he is a multi-sided person with a great deal of understanding the literary world as well as being quite friendly to new commenter. Perhaps another tidbit worth mentioning as well is that among other endeavors Fabio is also a contributor to Fantasy Book Critic, which gives him extra credit.

As a conclusion, it’s a good place to visit if one wants a breath of something else the world of speculative fiction has to offer, since literature is just the beginning.

1. We usually know so little almost to none about the people behind the reviews, so I think it’s appropriate to kick off this interview with some personal questions. Who is Fabio in the life outside “Post-Weird Thoughts” and what does a regular day look like for him?

Fabio Fernandes:
Well, I usually wake up early, have a cup of coffee (I seldom eat breakfast – my main meal is lunch) and quickly sit in front of my computer to begin a day´s work – which goes like this: translation (when not translating novels, I´m translating VERTIGO comics for Brazilian Portuguese – I´m doing right now Y:The Last Man and Hellblazer), writing fiction (currently I´m writing a short story commissioned for an anthology and starting a novel, so that´s going to be a tough one, but I´m willing to bet I can do a bit more than 1k a day), writing non-fiction (basically book reviews and/or blog posts), then doing some housekeeping, cooking. After lunch, running some errands (pay bills, for instance) and going to the university to teach. It´s more or less like that any given day, but my teaching schedule changes a little according to the day of the week. Some days I teach classes in the morning, other days in the evening. The rest remains essentially the same.

Hopefully I´m adding swimming to my daily routine from tomorrow on, something I wanted to do for quite a while now (last check-up came out fine, but my doctor told me I need to lose at least 20 kg / approximately 44 lbs).

2. In the fun spirit of list-making, please tell us three things that people would probably never ever guess about you.

First, I have action figures on my worktable. Of all possible kinds. Currently, in no order of preference: Green Lantern (Hal Jordan, naturally – I´m a fan of the classic stuff), Flash (Barry Allen – ditto), Jack-Jack Parr (The Incredibles), a Baby Buddha and nothing less than two Ganeshs, one of die cast metal, other of orange plush – gifts from my wife, since she knows I´m a huge fan/worshipper of that Indian God of wisdom and science (in the Mahabharata, he is also portrayed as a scribe, so he is kind of a god of writers as well).

Second, I´m a pantheist – I strongly believe in GodS instead of an only unique God. Don´t ask me why: I was a fervent Catholic until my 15 years old, then I became a fervent Buddhist of the Theravada tradition, after that a long hiatus of absolutely nothing, and for the last few years I became more and more conscious of different layers of reality other than our own. I still believe in Jesus and in Siddharta Gautama, but I also happen to believe in Krishna, Vishnu, Shiva, Ganesh. It´s very personal and I don´t talk much about it, but I don´t hide it either.

Third, me and my wife have six imaginary kids. Yes, we do, no kidding. And they talk to us (and to some lucky people when they feel like it, which is unlikely but not extremely rare). But I´m not elaborating about that. ;-)

3. Now to go nearer known territory. What’s the origins story behind your site?

I´m an old-time blogger. My first blog, the Lanceiro Livre (free-lance in Portuguese, a Journalism blog which I ran from July 2001 to May 2002 and it´s still online here - ) spawned several others, as the Lanceiro Livros ( , as far as I know the first serious book review blog in Brazil, though extremely short-lived (sept 2001 / jan. 2002) and Polis (, a technology blog, may 2002 / july 2003). After that, I remained quiet for some time just writing and translating, but disappointed with blogs – maybe because I still hadn´t found what I was looking for. Most of the Brazilian SF community didn´t have any blogs at that time, and if I wanted to make myself heard (or read) I only had the discussion lists on the Web, for I almost hadn´t readers. We always had this strange relationship to technology in Brazil – my generation of SF boasts a big love for high technology, but most of their members took a long time to go online; two of our best fanzines simply folded because their editors refused steadfastly (They still do) to have a site or a blog.

I, however, always was a sucker for the web and networks. I created the first Brazilian SF community in Orkut in 2004, which is still active (though I´m not there anymore – I left it in the hands of Ana Cristina Rodrigues, a very good friend of mine and also an accomplished writer) and had just started to teach classes in two universities, aside from being in the middle of post-grad studies (I had completed my Master´s Degree in 2004 and applied immediately for the Doctor´s Degree, which I got in 2008). Then, as the dust was finally beginning to settle down, I met Tiago Casagrande, a fine young guy that had created with Leandro Gejfinbein a veritable revolutionary blogger cell in the form of a “condo”, the Verbeat project (, a free collective which, in five years of existence, has been housing more than 50 blogs of all flavors, most in Portuguese, but some of them in English (and at least one of them bilingual, Portuguese/French). I browsed the condo for some time and suddenly I knew I had found what I´ve been looking for all those years. I approached Tiago, not sure if he would accept me – a mutual friend had scared me shitless, telling me that he would first kind of “interview” me and even then he could blackball me – she was having a joke at my expenses: turned out that he had read some of my fiction in the web and was my fan, so, sure, he could host my blog there, no problem.

First I created a blog in Portuguese only (the Pós-Estranho - which I quickly peppered with posts in English, as I reviewed some books for the Us market and started working as a reviewer for The Fix ( . Then, a few months later, I asked Tiago if I could have another blog in his condo – and he, extremely generous, not only gave the blogspace to me as he also did all the programming! (as he had already done in the other blog, without charging my a cent – how generous this guy can be? He´s on my personal pantheon as well.) I created the PWT to bridge the gap between Brazilian and Anglo-American SF; at least that was my intention in the beginning. Now it appears to have taken another direction entirely, but that´s good too. It´s still bridging the gap, and that´s all that matters in the end.

4. “Post-Weird Thoughts” is quite catchy. How in the world did you come up with it and as an additional question how did you pick the lit genres you discuss?

Oh, Post-Weird is a direct translation for Pós-Estranho. I love weird fiction (from Lovecraft and Poe to Jack Vance, China Mieville, M. John Harrison, Jeff Vandermeer) and I figured that, if I should have a distinctive voice in the blogsphere, then I should aim for the stars – or, as it was the case, for the weirdest I could get. So it came quite naturally to me.
As for the lit genres, I´m a sucker for science fiction first and foremost. I´m very fond of horror as well, but I must admit I didn´t like Fantasy very much until recently, when I read Miéville, Kelly Link, Joe Abercrombie and some other names that took my breath away. Then I found out that I had (still have) a lot of reading to do to catch up. But SF still is my bread-and-butter. I can´t live without it.

5. Now let’s rewind to the beginning in a barrage of questions. Did you feel it was easy? Was it easy to supply enough books and how were you received at first?

It was easier than I thought it would be, for a foreigner, that is. Turns out that the Anglo-American market is very open now, and I´ve been even having some very fruitful conversations with writers and editors like Jeff Vandermeer, Lou Anders, Mark Newton, Jeffrey Thomas, Marty Halpern, Robert Sawyer and a host of others whom I thought would be dismissive of a guy from South America. Well, I stand corrected! And that was such a good thing, because we´ve been striking these global conversations the likes of which I could only dream of when I read Gibson and Sterling exactly twenty years ago. A year ago, Jeff Vandermeer had to stop blogging for some months in order to finish his latest novel, FINCH (which I´ll be reviewing soon, by the way) and invited writers from all over the world to be guest bloggers – and I was on his list. I felt very honored and happy, because I felt then I really belonged to a global SF community. Right now, I´ve been getting more books than I can review – but I´m working on a way to speed things up, so don´t give up on me!

6. What’s your approach to writing reviews, your signature so to say that makes you different from all the others? Can you give a tip or share something insightful about the craft?

I´ll try not to sound much too positive or Pollyana-like about it, but I when I was a little kid I learned something from my late aunt Herminia that I still follow to this day: if you can´t say anything good about someone or something, then you shouldn´t say anything at all. (I´ve heard that it is a very common saying in the US, though not in Brazil.) If I really don´t like a book, I don´t mention it – I don´t want to speak ill of it or its author, but if I don´t care about it, then its best place to me is oblivion, so why should I spread the word about it? Bad books should simply be forgotten. Anyone who likes them must have the right to read them at their leisure, there should be no censure and bigotry at all. This is my opinion, mind you, to be taken, of course, with a grain of salt.

7. What’s your reading schedule? How do you arrange your day to find time to read and review to keep up relative activity?

I´m addicted to reading. I can read anywhere, even in a hotel lobby waiting for the elevator to arrive. So I read while I´m cooking (one eye in the food, another in the book), while I eat (I know, it´s not healthy, but old habits die hard), and most of all in bed (I sleep late and most nights I almost don´t sleep at all).

8. In retrospect, have you ever done a negative review and how did you handle the situation? Every once in a while a book comes that doesn’t agree with a reviewer and there was a heated discussion revolving around negative reviews and what comes afterwards. Was there any fear of ruining your relationship with publishers?

I´ve done my share of negative reviews when I was a professional journalist, actively working for the Brazilian press. Most of the times I could just sweet-talk the editor and choose books that I knew I had all the more chance to like, and I can remember at least of one particular time when I told the editor I wasn´t going to review a certain book because it had been written by a Brazilian fascist right-wing “philosopher” – and fortunately all went well, because the editor respected my opinion, and she could find another reviewer best suited for such a job. In PWT, so far I have only done one negative review, which was the review of David Walton´s Terminal Mind, which incredibly won the Philip K. Dick Award with Adam-Troy Castro´s Emissaries From The Dead, which in my opinion should have won alone hands down. I sent e-mails to both authors to congratulate them and to tell them I had published review of their books. Both answered me very politely, thanking me for the reviews, and that was it. I never got a complaint from Mr. Walton, though I should infer that he probably didn´t like my review (I remained respectful of him and his work, however – I just made clear it was not award-winning material). But, thank God, I had no problems at all, nor I ever want to have to do it again – but if need be, I´ll do it. I think that, if a reviewer remains professional, he/she doesn´t need to fear ruining a relationship with publishers.

9. Now, how do you think you and your blog have grown from your first post up until now? Did the formula ever change and can you describe the path of your evolution?

I think PWT grew very, very much since day one. The blog changed from a naïve, excited sort-of “Hi-mom-I´m-here-on-TV” (well, not that much, but that´s how I felt then, because I was so very excited to be writing for a wider audience) from a more professional look. I´m not a professional blogger because I´m not being paid for it, but I do take it very seriously. I tend to whine from time to time, to excuse myself to my readers because I couldn´t meet this or that date or some review I promised I would do. Approximately two weeks ago, the blog changed. There´s a brand new header (again a wonderful painting by artist Fabio Cobiaco – a REAL painting; he gave me the original, which I´m proudly going to hang in my scriptorium´s room wall), Tiago revamped the layout completely, gave it a whiff of fresh air. It also gave me a fresh slate of sorts to start with. In the next few weeks, after Anticipation and the Hugo reviews, I´ll be writing more about my creative process, alternating it with book reviews.

10. We know that you have been writing short fiction and successfully published some of your shorts. As a non-native speaker and writer how hard did you find writing and publishing in America? Also do you have any tips for aspiring non-American non-native speakers, who wish to tread on the same path?

I made a quick, very shy advance on publishing in America more than ten years ago. In 1998, I wrote a short story and got it published in an e-zine which, to my knowledge, is not online anymore. Aside from this small victory, I sent several stories by snail mail to magazines, but I was refused by all of them. But 1998 was a very hard year for me personally; I almost gave up on writing completely, even in Portuguese, so I ended up not sending any more stories in English-- Until the creation of Post-Weird Thoughts made me think this time was the right time, this time I could write in English and aim for the Anglo-American market, because I always felt more attuned to it than to the almost non-existent Brazilian SF market. (Though now this is changing; very slowly, but it´s changing all the same.)

The only tip I can honestly give to you is: write, write, write. Hone your skills. Non-stop. Abandon all excuses and throw yourself into the wondrous fray, the heat of the battle that is clashing with the words of a foreign tongue. Sleep with it, talk to yourself in it, make this otherworldly language your own, as if you had been born to it.

11. Can you also share a bit about your creative plans as well?

Certainly. I just began working on my first novel in English, which takes place in the universe of “The Boulton-Watt-Frankenstein Company” ( and “The Arrival of the Cogsmiths (oil on canvas, by Turner, 1815)” ( . I just sold this last story to StarShipSofa, which already podcasted the first one in the Aural Delights Editions 92 (
) – the story was delightfully read by Julie Davis, by the way, of the excellent blog Forgotten Classics ( . But I am finishing at least two more stories in that same universe, so readers should expect more “steampunk Frankenstein” and Cogsmiths adventures in the near future, featuring real-life and famous fiction characters.

12. Which are the authors you favor and have had most exciting times with and on the opposite spectrum, which are the ones you couldn’t connect with and avoid since?

Robert Silverberg and Frederik Pohl are among the most exciting ones to me still today. More Pohl than Silverberg, but they´re both great masters of prose. Jack Vance also grabbed me by the balls since the first book of his I read in my teens. (He still hasn´t let them go – that old mariner is tougher than Ahab, for crying out loud! I´m still amazed with his Dying World novels.) Today, I´m having great fun with China Miéville, Chris Roberson, Ted Chiang, Alastair Reynolds, Jeff Vandermeer, Joe Abercrombie, Patrick Ness, Hannu Rajaniemi, Liam Sharp, Paolo Bacigalupi, Elizabeth Bear, David Louis Edelman. The ones I can´t connect I wipe out of my mind. I avoid them so completely I couldn´t even tell you who they are, because I tend to forget.

13. What are your personal pet peeves when it comes to the speculative fiction genres?

Currently my personal pet peeves are very much restricted to Brazilian SFF. Despite the fact that there´s been a boom of new writers in the past couple of years, we´re still to see if they will be more than a promise, and that´s because most of them can´t write well in the SFF genre. All most of them they can do is to emulate old, stale RPG scenarios, and that simply can´t be. I already had my share of fighting with many of those so-called authors in the late nineties, but I gave it up in 2000, when I got out of Science Fiction Reader´s Club, the oldest Brazilian association related to the genre, due to a series of pointless arguments that left nothing but bitterness. Fortunately, since then I´ve been able to let those things behind and bury the hatchet with most of the people I had felt aggrieved.

14. Is there a tendency for these pet peeves to resolve?

In all honesty, I don´t know. Sometimes I think there is, and I fervently hope so, but there are times when I think that there are people who are just content to let things stay the way they are. So be it. It´s their problem, not mine. I can´t do anything for them, for I´m not their keeper.

15. What do you think of self publishing? This is a very interesting topic as of late with the numbers of authors self-publishing on the rise and the treatment they receive not only from reviewers, but the whole book publishing community including readers.

This is happening a lot in Brazil. I think that may be interesting for a writer who is really starting, but not if you already have a reasonable body of work published. But I must point out that in Brazil the situation is completely different – here self-publishing is expensive and means no publicity at all. You should do your very best with your book, but, alas, we also don´t have a massive book review blogger community here – not enough to help boost up sales. You must do a lot of PR all by yourself, going to events and let yourself be seen. But it can be tiresome sometimes, because you must have an awful lot of friends – here in Brazil, you must know influent people so they can introduce you to inner circles of journalists, bloggers, clubbers, and so on. Once I interviewed a famous editor that told me the following: “In America any, say, truck driver can write a book, and, if this book is good, he or she will become a celebrity; here in Brazil, first you must become a celebrity; then you will be able to publish a book.” That´s a very Bizarro-world approach to editorial matters, but that´s absolutely true. So, self-publishing here is not a good option.

16. Tell us a bit about your involvement with Fantasy Book Critic. It’s impressive to be a contributor there and I think a lot of people would be interested in hearing about how you got started there.

I was a reader of FBC for a while when I read a post by Robert Thompson asking for contributors, because he had some personal matters to attend to. So I talked to Jacques (Barcia, my best friend and until two weeks ago, co-editor of PWT) and told him “Hey, that sounds good, let´s offer a hand to him”, and he accepted it. Robert is a great guy, and so are Liviu Suciu (a reviewer from Romania who lives in New York and is currently the main man of FBC) and Cindy Thompson, who are holding the fort superbly.

17. Do you think there are still areas fantasy has slipped that you would like to cover in other mediums? And how far do you think the fantasy/sci-fi culture will enter mainstream? This I ask because art purists denounce fantasy and sci-fi on a regular basis and yet they keep coming back full speed ahead.

I never considered myself an art purist, on the contrary. So I can only be for Fantasy and SF all mixed in the mainstream. Some of the best novels I´ve read are considered mainstream by mainstream reviewers and SF by SF reviewers – take 1984 or Brave New World, for example. More recently, we could easily say the same thing about Thomas Pynchon´s steampunk-ish Against the Day – No mainstream writer in Brazil will ever admit it, but Pynchon writes SF-related stories. His short story “Under the Rose”, written in the 50s, is pure steampunk.

I like to think like J.G.Ballard: SF has already penetrated mainstream via pop culture, a long time ago, and nobody noticed it (nobody outside the SFF circle, that is – and that´s even a point to discuss, since I think that´s hypocritical: mainstream always knows when it´s being penetrated.)

18. Also there has been much denouncing of urban fantasy in pretty much the same vein mainstreamers give fantasy and sci-fi the cold shoulder. Where do you stand in this matter?

I´m all for quality in all genres. If a novel is good, is good. The market forces are doing their job – that´s why a Michael Chabon may publish an excellent adventure novel called Gentlemen of the Road, a tribute to Fritz Leiber´s Fafhyd and the Grey Mouser, and still nobody outside the genre will call him a Fantasy writer, for example. But who do they think they´re fooling? Not us.

19. I am not sure what a closing question sounds like at this topic, so you are free to some some closing words on your own regarding reviewing.

This I would like to thank you for the opportunity, and to tell you that this may well be the best and most comprehensive interview I ever gave. I can only hope someday I will publish a novel in English and get read by so thorough a reviewer.


Cindy said...

Just like you learned about me I learned a lot about you! Thanks for the interview!

Fabio Fernandes said...


Harry Markov: daydream said...

Thanks for stopping by.

The Reader said...

Excellent interview Harry & great answers Fabio... Didn't know you liked collecting Ganesha idols.


Harry Markov: daydream said...

Thanks, Mihir. It was a pleasure working with Fabio. :)

almostakbl company said...

شركة شراء اثاث مستعمل بالرياض والقصيم وجدة
يسر شركة المستقبل ان تهتم بكافة الخدمات التى تساعد فى تحقيق اعلى مستوى من الخدمات المطلوبة والمرغوب فية من قبل الكثير من عملائنا فى كل مكان فى المملكة العربية السعودية ، فنحن نهتم باعمال الشراء لاى قطعة من الاثاث المتواجدة التى اصبحت لا فائدة لة او القطع من الاثاث المتهلكة او التى بية اى مشكلة فاذا كنت تعانى من اعمال الشراء والتعرض الى الكثير من المشكلات فعليك ان تتعاون وتتواصل مع شركة المستقبل المميزة فى الشراء والتى تحقق لكم افضل واعلى الاسعار المتواجدة دون ان يتم البخس باسعار الاثاث .
شراء الاثاث المستعمل
الاغراض التى تقوم شركة المستقبل بشراءة
تهتم شركة المستقبل بالتواصل بشكل مباشر بجميع عملاء الشركة والعمل من خلال توفير عدد من الخدمات التى تحقق افضل الطرق فى اعمال الشراء من اهم ما تقوم بيه الشركة الاتى :-
1. 1- التعرف على عدد القطع المراد القيام بشراءة والتعرف على مدى جودة وصلابة والمتانة التى تتميز بية كل قطعة من الاثاث .
2. شركة شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالرياض
3. 2- التعرف على قيمة القطعة حتى يتم تحديد الاسعار وتهتم الشركة باعطاء الاسعار وان يتم المحاسبة على الفور عند القيام بالاتفاق .
4. 3- الاهتمام بكل الالتزامات التى تساعد فى الحصول على اعمال الشراء الى ان تصل الى الحقين الخاص ببيع الاثاث بالرياض .
5. 4- الاهتمام باعمال البيع مرة اخرى عقب ان يتم القيام باعمال الدهانات واعادة التجنيد والاصلاح فى مقابل ارخص الاسعار وارخص من اسعار الاثاث المتواجد فى الاسواق .
6. شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالرياض
تهتم شركة شراء الاثاث المستعمل بالقصيم باعمال الشراء للاثاث المتواجد فى كل مكان فى المملكة من اهم الاشياء التى تقوم بشراءة جميع الاثاث المكتبى – الاثاث المنزلى – الاثاث الفندقى و.....غيرها من الاثاث بالاضافة الى ان الشركة تقوم بشراء غرف النوم – غرف الاطفال – المطابخ – الدواليب – السفرة كاملة بمحتواياتها- الصالون ....وبالاضافة الى القيام باعمال الشراء للاجهزة الكهربائية مثل الثلاجات – الغسالات – التلفزيونات – الشاشات ال سى دى -.... والاهتمام بشراء ايضا كافة المفروشات من السجاد والموكيت والستائر .......وغيرها من الاشياء المتواجدة فى المنازل باكملة ، فلا يتوقف عطاء شركة المستقبل عند حد معين فنسعى الى شراء اى شىء متواجد فى المكان وعليك ان تتواصل مع الشركة بشكل مباشر للقيام بهذه الخدمة الان .
ارقام شراء الاثاث المستعمل
تتميز الشركة بالمصداقية والامانة والتعامل مع كافة عملاء الشركة فى كل مكان من اجل ان يتم توفير الكثير من الخدمات التى تسبب جشع التجار او التخلص من الاثاث فى مقابل اى اسعار متواجدة بهدف التخلص من الفوضى التى يحدثها الاثاث المستعمل المتواجد فى المكان .
شراء الاثاث المستعمل بجدة
شركة المستقبل تتواجد فى اى مكان فى المنطقة الشرقية وجدة واى مكان فى الرياض بهدف تحقيق رغبتكم ومتطلباتكم فى الاثاث المستعمل .

NohaKhan said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
NohaKhan said...

شراء اثاث مستعمل جدة
شراء الاثاث المستعمل بجدة
شراء اثاث مستعمل بجدة

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