September 05, 2022

Weird. Curated, edited and introduced by S.T. Joshi

Weird. Curated, edited and introduced by S.T. Joshi

“The most merciful thing in the world, I think, is the inability of the human mind to correlate all its contents. We live on a placid island of ignorance in the midst of black seas of infinity, and it was not meant that we should voyage far. The sciences, each straining in its own direction, have hitherto harmed us little; but some day the piecing together of dissociated knowledge will open up such terrifying vistas of reality, and of our frightful position therein, that we shall either go mad from the revelation or flee from the deadly light into the peace and safety of a new dark age.”

H.P. Lovecraft

I bought my first Weird book about twenty years ago in a small bookstore in Guyana. This was an uncommon event for two reasons. Firstly, being one of the only two bookstores of note at the time in the entire country, one didn’t often come across books that sounded interesting enough to buy. And secondly, the purchase was based only on the cover art and blurb at the back as the bookstore didn’t let you actually leaf through any of the books. A rule enthusiastically enforced by an employee who was always within line of sight.

Little did I know how important this book was, as China Mieville’s Perdido Street Station would go on to usher the “New Weird” into the mainstream, even as the term itself would come a few years later.

Mieville’s first entry in the Bas Lag trilogy was important for me personally as well, as it was my gateway into the past and future of the genre. As the New Weird became more and more popular in subsequent years, I read as much of it as I could access. But it also sent me along a labyrinthine path into the past, reading as much as I could find from the authors who originated the Weird genre from the 1880s to the 1940s. I’ll date myself here, but at the time this typically involved Geocities and Tripod websites devoted to authors like Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, and William Hope Hodgson, whose work was public domain, as it was difficult to find much of it in print.

Over the past few years, there has been renewed interest in Weird fiction written by some of the genre’s earliest practitioners, due in no small part to the research and relentless effort by scholars to catalog and bring just attention to their work. And while this work has made Weird fiction more accessible today, well-deserved fine press treatments are few and far between. When they are published, the limitation is often quite small and they veer into livre d’artiste territory, putting them out of reach of many collectors.

Conversation Tree Press aims to correct this. We’ve started production of Weird., a planned collection of twenty fine press Weird fiction volumes curated, edited and introduced by S.T. Joshi. As a scholar who has dedicated most of his career to researching, writing and editing collections on many of the genre’s leading authors, and an authority on the genre as a whole, this collection draws from the work done throughout his entire career. We can think of no one better suited to collaborate with on this.

Each volume in the collection will be letterpress-printed, handsomely bound and include only the finest tales and poetry from the genre’s most impressive authors, including Ambrose Bierce, Arthur Machen, William Hope Hodgson, Algernon Blackwood, H.P. Lovecraft, Lord Dunsany, and many others.

One or two volumes will be published each year with original artwork in uniform bindings across Standard, Deluxe and Lettered states. The Weird collection will have its own set of rights starting from Volume 1, which will branch off from the most recently published book at that time. More details will be shared as we go deeper into production.