Monday 3 January 2011

News Flashing | A Return to Ambergris

You all have Ecstatic Days bookmarked, right?

Trip into this, pot-heads.
Thoughtful and provocative, Jeff Vandermeer's blog has been a bastion of fascination for me for as long as I've followed the speculative scene - such as it is. And from time to time, the gentleman even clues us in on what we've got to look forward to in the months and years to come.

Because he writes the books too, you know. Finch, anyone? Stunning stuff. Worthy of all the superlatives I - amongst many others - bestowed upon it what feels to me uncountable aeons ago.


Finch was the third novel in the Ambergris cycle - after City of Saints and Madmen and Shriek: An Afterword - and it also purported to be the last feature-length narrative set in Vandermeer's singular, spore-ridden setting. Much to my upturned bottom lip, I might add.

Well, it gives me great pleasure to inform you lovely lot - should you have missed the announcement on Ecstatic Days a few days ago - that my lower lip trembles no more: there's to be another Ambergris novel, after all. Untitled, as far as we mere mortals know, and a long ways off as yet - Jeff says in the comments that he's "got two or three [other] novels to write first" - still, it was enough to make me a moderately happy chappy this New Year. A turn-up for the books, I'm telling you!

Be warned, going forward: spoilers regarding the events of Finch abound. But to whet your appetites alongside mine, here's the pitch, in full:

Five years after Finch...
Stark lives on... inside his brother Bosun’s head. In the wake of the chaos of the Lady in Blue’s attack, Bosun’s thugs have annexed the Spit and a large section of territory near it, bolstered by captured gray cap weapons.
The gray caps have retreated to the HFZ, launching periodic attacks. Their main enemies internally are Partials immune to their spores—driven out by the rebels and rejected by the gray caps. Their only chance is to reclaim the HFZ, or part of it.
Sintra has risen through the ranks and has a hand in the decision-making of the native tribes enclave in the religious quarter, which has spread beyond, to the edge of Bosun’s territory.
The rest of the city is controlled by the Lady in Blue, whose transformed rebels exist in uneasy alliance with "pures" – those who did not come through the gate. Both factions are riven through with the ghost of Hoegbotton-Frankwrithe rivalries. The remnants of the Nimblytod and Dogghe tribes that control the religious quarter have been told to assimilate with the rebel forces for the common good. They’re having none of it, but have held back waiting for the Lady in Blue to die and the rebels to implode.
Rumor has it that John Finch is blind now, victim of a wasting disease that has him confined to a wheelchair in a room somewhere in Rathven’s ever-growing underground tunnels. And Rathven? Who knows. There are more rumors about her now than there once were about the Lady in Blue. But the Photographer has been sighted recently, back in town.
Out in the bay: the ruins of the two towers, reduced by fire following the rebel attack. And something still hidden there.
Out in the bay: a single boat, late at night. A man, Bliss, who is not a man. More doors opening. All over the city.
What is coming out of them?
Bliss: "It’s a very long game, Sintra. Longer than you or anyone could possibly imagine…so why don’t you put the gun down, hmm?"

Whatever this is, it's due sometime in 2013 or 2014. The far-flung future, right?

Well. It can't come soon enough.


  1. That is good news. I broke one of my cardinal rules early in 2010 by reading Finch without having read the other two novels. Thought it was great. I'm currently reading his short story collection, The Third Bear, and am enjoying it so much I decided to go ahead and go out and buy City of Saints and Madmen this past weekend so that I can begin where it all began. It isn't often that I remember to get over to Jeff Vandermeer's blog, so thanks for sharing the good news.

  2. Excellent news. The Ambergris books are one of the few series that have been solidly excellent while also, somehow, having every volume feel completely different. No idea what will come out of VanderMeer's deliciously bizarre pen this time, but I can't wait to snatch it up.