The Humanity of Monsters in The Washington Post

In today’s edition of “Where has the book been spotted?”:

Nancy Hightower talks about The Humanity of Monsters, with shout-outs for Rachel Swirsky and Maria Dahvana Headley’s stories, in the November edition of her Washington Post book review column, “Three Science Fiction and Fantasy Books We Love.” :D

The anthology’s sharing space alongside books from Christopher Golden and Emma Newman, so, you know, no big deal, right?

I mean, come on, it’s just The Washington Post….

Yeah, I can’t do that with a straight face. :)

The Washington Post.

If anyone needs me I’ll just be over here squeeing….

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The Humanity of Monsters, Uh, Hit a #1 New Release Category on Amazon

So I’m not exactly sure what happened here, but The Humanity of Monsters appears to, as I write this, be the #1 New Release in Horror Anthologies on I’m also not exactly sure how the algorithms for the sales categories work on Amazon, and the subdivisions less so. So, mostly I’m going to just sit here and be shocked. If also thinking it fucking awesome.

And yes, I took a screencap:

As you do.

Although partly so that when this inevitably fleeting moment passes, I will still believe that that happened.

Also, the book is temporarily sold out on — though copies are still in stock on That happened fairly fast, since there were a not insignificant number of copies available on the US site yesterday.

All this coincides fairly well with the posting of the book’s first review on (There have been reviews up on Goodreads for a little while now.) So I’m thinking that may have had something to do with it. Especially since the review has been deemed quite useful by people visiting the page.

Anyway. I’m sure it’s a confluence of factors. But it does explain the uptick in traffic on the website here from Google searches from a dozen or so countries looking for the anthology.

Whatever the case may be, I’m just going to enjoy this moment. :)

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The Humanity of Monsters Reviews and Sales

Because The Humanity of Monsters just hit stores quite recently due to production delays and what have you, it can be difficult to gauge what kind of reaction it’s been met with thus far. The reviews out for it as of now (still in single digits for collective number of reviews) are all from online galleys, and the first Amazon review of the anthology (all the prior ones have gone up at Goodreads) went up yesterday.

Now, because I don’t have access to sales numbers, I’m mostly relying on things like those reviews to see what the reactions to the book are. And so far that response has been quite varied, ranging from unreservedly loving the book to absolutely hating it. As expected. I assumed there would be backlash against the anthology because of some of the things it’s doing. And I am not disappointed in that expectation.

Actually, the range of responses is reassuring. I don’t trust unequivocal or unanimous reactions to a book.

But until ChiZine Publications posted last week’s sales rankings of their titles, as they do regularly on Facebook, I had no real idea how the book was doing in terms of initial sales. Turns out it’s actually been doing quite well.

The following went up a couple of days ago (I’ve conflated two Facebook status updates below):

“Top Five at CZP, Canadian edition! Here’re the top-selling CZP TPBs in Canada last week:

2. THE HUMANITY OF MONSTERS edited by Michael Matheson
3. THE LADY PARANORMA by Vincent Marcone
4. THE ACOLYTE by Nick Cutter
5. THE H.M.S. BAD IDEA by Peter Chiykowski

Top Five at CZP, U.S. edition! Here’re the top-selling CZP TPBs in the States last week:

1. DEAD GIRLS DON’T by Mags Storey
2. THE HUMANITY OF MONSTERS edited by Michael Matheson
3. THE LADY PARANORMA by Vincent Marcone
4. YEAR’S BEST WEIRD FICTION edited by Laird Barron & Michael Kelly
5. WHAT WE SALVAGE by David Baillie”

And that’s just the physical editions. :)

The anthology’s in some excellent company, and appears to be selling well both here in Canada and in the US in its physical edition. I’ve no idea how those numbers will jump around in the following weeks, or even where the anthology was on those lists (if there at all) in prior weeks, come to think of it. But it’s decidedly nice to see it doing so well right now.

And I admit to being curious about how the book landing in various venues will affect those sales going forward, especially given whether or not those numbers reflect higher counts of the eBook, physical pre-orders, or general sales. (I honestly don’t know the breakdown.) But the book’s finally in stock in brick and mortar bookstores like Indigo, it’s been at Bakka Phoenix Books for a couple of weeks now, and it’s at other stores you’ll find linked to from the CZP page for the book. And the Merril Collection of the Toronto Public Library has their copy, which is deeply satisfying. I’m not sure if the TPL will be acquiring copies for general circulation, though I hope so. Reminds me I wanted to find out about that, actually. One more thing for the proverbial to-do list. :)

Lastly, for now, I will note that I’m delighted that The Humanity of Monsters is apparently bought frequently on Amazon along with Ellen Datlow’s The Monstrous. (Or so their system tells me.) Admittedly, I’m wondering if that’s not from the assumption that both anthologies are doing identical things with their contents? There’s overlap of intent to be sure from looking at Ellen’s introduction to her anthology, and the notion may be reinforced because the timing just worked out so the two books were coming out within a month of each other. I don’t know. There’s variation in what’s being discussed though, and why. But given how gorgeous Ellen’s book is, even just from brief perusal of my own copy as yet (because my pile of books to review is not inconsiderable and tends to come first), I am more than happy to have The Humanity of Monsters associated with The Monstrous.

Having one’s anthology considered well-paired with an Ellen Datlow anthology for any reason? Yeah, I’ll take it. ;)

Overall, it seems to have been a pretty good start to the release of the anthology. And I think that’s pretty much all one can ask for at this point.

Well. That and some reviews doing deep, academic-level critique of the anthology. But, you know, I’m patient around that last part. ;)


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Start a Revolution – A More or Less Final Update

Ever since I pulled the Start a Revolution anthology from Exile just the end of last year, I’ve been looking for another way to produce the book. Been shopping it around to other publishers, and was at one point going to self-publish the anthology, crowdfund it, and go the whole nine yards with that. That before I ended up moving, which ate up time and resources.

It was a long trek pulling the book together, consolidating This Patchwork Flesh into it, and then looking for homes for that project(s). But at this point I’ve heard back from the last publisher I had contacted about the book this year, and though all the responses along the way have been lovely (which is I think more due to the excellence of the book’s contents than anything else) the timing’s never quite been right, or the book’s never quite been right for the publisher I was taking it to.

And as I’m really not up for, over the coming year, doing self-publication of the book and pulling together fundraising and everything that entails, I’m retiring the project. I’ve already let the contributors know — all of whom have been extraordinarily patient and very generous with their work.

All of their stories are exceptional, and I’m fairly certain the stories from the book that haven’t already sold elsewhere, or were not reprints, will be things you’ll be reading in published form over the next few years. And actually, if you want to get a taste of the anthology you can currently read multiple stories that were originally written for the book or that I was going to reprint therein:

And I know at least one more story from the anthology has placed elsewhere, though I don’t think that sale has been announced yet, so I won’t be talking about that one until the author makes it public.

Even now that the project’s over, multiple components of the book are out in the world. They’re still having the conversations I drew them together to have. Because the stories are good enough to stand on their own.

The idea behind the book carries on.

And me? I’m heading on to other projects. There’s so much I want to get back to. Various things I want to finish or get off the ground. Some of which I’ve been doing here and there. Others I’ve had to neglect entirely over the last year. It’ll be nice to get back to those.

And in the meantime, hey, there’s an anthology called The Humanity of Monsters that just came out.

I hear that one’s pretty awesome too. ;)

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The Humanity of Monsters – Revised (Earlier) Release Schedules

I’m not sure how many times the release dates for The Humanity of Monsters have moved around at this point, but there’s another change to the non-Canadian release date (that release date we’ve had) for the anthology. And it’s some very good news:

After last being set in January 2016, the US and UK release dates for The Humanity of Monsters are moving up to November 19th and November 17th, respectively. This according to Amazon. Other sites may have slightly different release dates, though most of the sales channels look fairly consistent at this point.

Also, the anthology in both print and eBook formats can now be bought directly from the CZP website. The page linked there also has links to all the major sales channels the book is released through, so you’ve got a fair number of ways to buy the book at this point.

And now you can actually get your copy far, far sooner as well. :)

[ETA:] CZP should also be bringing copies of the anthology to World Fantasy, so if you’re attending you can likely pick up copies from the CZP table in the dealer’s room there.

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Review: Fables Vol. 21 (and Overall, Really), Gotham Academy 1, and The Ring of the Seven Worlds

Apparently it’s been over a year since I last reviewed anything on the blog. Which I can think of a number of reasons for. But there are several reviews I want to get around to writing on here, and since I’m doing what feels like a lot of ranting on Facebook about my comics reading, and what are effectively reviews there, I’m going to repost a couple of things here as a way of getting me back into doing reviews here more regularly.

From oldest to newest rants. (Just two, really. From the last few days.)

Fables 21 CoverFables 21: Happily Ever After by Bill Willingham & Mark Buckingham
ISBN: 9781401251321
May 2015

So, I’ve got one more collected volume of Fables to read until I finish the run. And I kind of fucking hate the series? I mean, it started interesting enough, but with huge problems in the writing and the characterizations (which were largely explained by finding out more about Bill Willingham). But the series at least kept much of its bullshit in check until volume 7. (I don’t remember which issue that TPB starts with.) And then things just went to fucking hell. And just kept doing so.

I suspect I’m kind of hate-reading it at this point. And have been since volume 7, though I wasn’t really thinking about it that way. More in an “I expect this to come together as not-shit again at some point” vein. But every fucking writing choice — every goddamn instance of totally unnecessary rape and degradation directed at women (rape never makes your book edgy; it is not a tool to be there to define your female characters; I am staring especially hard at you, in absentia, 1001 Nights of Snowfall standalone volume), the inability for women to be three-dimensional in the series (or to be neutered or in some cases just murdered once they gain agency), the unbelievably lazy plot writing, and the horrifying racism on display in the book — has been a masterclass in what not to do writing ongoing, serialized storytelling (or, really, other forms — I’ve read Willingham’s Peter & Max; it has many of the same problems, and I’m sure would exhibit the others if it weren’t incredibly limited in scope).

But I’m going to finish this fucking turkey because after reading the penultimate volume — so much rushing to kill off multiple characters to finish the series; otherwise known as the lazy writer’s wrap-up to ongoing content — I kind of want to see what utterly fucked-up ending this thing is going to come to. Partly because of the “I’ve committed so much time to this thing already that I’m just going to grit my teeth and see it through” approach.

And it’s funny noting that every time I pick up a Fables volume now it’s settling in for a slog, or in some cases skimming when I feel like whipping the volume across the room because of the dialogue (so much awful dialogue writing) or the content.


Gotham Academy 1 Cover(Gotham Academy 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy by Becky Cloonan, Brendan Fletcher & Karl Kerschel
ISBN: 9781401254728
DC Comics
June 2015)

Picking up something like Gotham Academy 1: Welcome to Gotham Academy, which is just extraordinarily good on so many levels: characterization; a light, effective hand in the writing (Cloonan’s writing is incredibly good and often deliciously funny — Maps; so much love for Maps); a cast of characters who actually feel like individuals; a well-represented and normalized spread of diverse characters, rather than calling attention to any of them; some fucking fantastic artwork; and a really solid storyline to that first volume. And it creates a series of effective hooks. And wraps a full arc at the close of the volume, so if you just wanted to stop there, you could. But the invitation is left open well, and the pace and introduction of elements layered so that you don’t feel overwhelmed stepping into what is, let’s be honest: a very busy corner of DC’s universe.

It’s not doing anything revolutionary with the storytelling. But it centres young women as its protagonists, has a diverse cast, is written by a very talented woman with a flair for dialogue (who also happens to be an amazing artist, to boot), and it’s YA-friendly because of the age range of the protagonists and the approach to writing them.

(It doesn’t hurt that it also pays homage to one of my favourite jokes from Batman: The Animated Series. Which I can’t elucidate on here without giving away one of the reveals in the volume.)

That’s a series I’ll be continuing with. And looking forward to.

The Ring of the Seven Worlds CoverThe Ring of the Seven Worlds by Giovanni Gualdoni, Gabriele Clima, Matteo Piana & Davide Turotti
EAN: 9781594650529
Humanoids Inc.
November 2013

You know how you sometimes come across a comic that spends it first 200 pages trying to be all kinds of different things (a lot of them Hayao Miyazaki narratives in this case) and ends up being this long list of drawn-out clichés, and then hits its pivot and spends 30 pages doing an impossibly fast wrap-up of all its dispersed storylines (some of which never actually get attended to beyond a very surface level, even in the wrap-up)?

So, hey, in related news, I just read the hardcover trade translation of Gualdoni, Clima, Piana, and Turotti’s The Ring of the Seven Worlds….

Actually, all kidding aside, it’s fascinating, and I quite enjoyed reading it. Despite being aware that there’s so much stupid in this thing it’s painful.

But the editor in me is kind of wondering why the fuck this narrative wasn’t 500 pages instead of about 230. The initial pacing of the book sets up some very specific structural choices and plot events that never get drawn out properly or in some cases get massively glossed over. We’re talking huge amounts of narrative that should be in the book — as well as attending to several more cultural components and POVs than are actually featured. Alongside the problem of having characters just drop out of the narrative at various points, never to return. Which is especially irritating when you create an interesting character. (Even if one of the ones I’m thinking of is both interesting and mishandled from quite early on in their storyline.)

Also, technically, the central crux of the narrative doesn’t hold because the story posits seven interconnected worlds. Several of which, as entire societies, given their interactions, would have figured out the crux of the story which one lone characters figures out (in a rather effectively portrayed one-page reveal, actually) after no one else does. For I don’t even know how many epochs of interaction.

It’s both engaging and frustrating. And features some beautiful art. But so frustrating….

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The Humanity of Monsters is Alive!

I would insert a gif from Young Frankenstein at this point, but this post is actually going to be fairly picture heavy, so I’ll refrain. :)

But! The book is very much in the wild now. As said pile of physical author copies proves:

Real live physical copies were on sale at tonight’s ChiSeries Toronto. And several author copies may have followed me home. As books are wont to do.

It’s a lovely production. No less so for having been a little delayed — also as books are sometimes wont to do. Indeed, the front and back covers make quite an impression, as I think you’ll agree:

After four fucking years of working on this thing one way or another, it’s quite something to be holding a copy in my hands. And to open it and see this (it’s true, seeing your name in a book never gets less awesome):

And then to go look at the Table of Contents, and the first (of three ToC pages) looks like this:

Because god damn but this book is full of amazing writers. That first page of names alone would be an excellent collection of work. But there are twenty-six — twenty-six — extraordinary writers appearing in the book. I spent some time skimming through the book tonight, reacquainting myself with the pieces that make up The Humanity of Monsters. Every one still as beautiful, dark, twisted, exultant, gorgeous, glorious, subtle and/or brash as I remember. Each exquisite.

I am, of course, utterly biased. And happy to be so.

I still say it’s a collection that’s going to be polarizing. And predictably that there are now four reviews for it kicking around up on Goodreads, they’re 5- 4- 3- and 2- star reviews, respectively.

So already a little vindication on the assumption that the book is/will be polarizing.

It’s going to be fascinating to see what happens to those numbers with further reviews. I love reader reviews (for the sheer diversity of approaches, if nothing else), and I’m hoping for a fair number of them for The Humanity of Monsters. I do, in fact, read reviews of any project I’m involved in. Don’t really respond to reviews (I’d rather people feel free to say whatever they think about a story/book without expecting me to wander in and start arguing with them), but I read commentary because I’m always curious about interpretation. And am especially so in this case, with interpretation and perspective being such primary functions of what the anthology itself is doing.

I’m also fascinated to see which stories readers gravitate toward. Given the number of styles present in the book, I think that’s going to be something interesting to watch as well.

But in the end I’m just hoping people enjoy the book, whatever their reactions. The physical edition is a beautiful thing, lovingly put together. Even down to some of the interior work, as below:

It’s deceptively simple, and highly effective, design work. And I am grateful for it.

But enough from me. The book is finally available in physical form. And various retailers should start reflecting that fairly soon. And I expect contributor copies to be making their way out into the world as well fairly shortly.

In the meantime, the CZP page for the book links to various sales channels. And if anyone has questions about or relating to the book, by all means ask. I’ll answer what I can.

And, you know what? Fuck it.

I am going to employ a gif about the book’s release. :)

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