Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Two of weird fiction's most famous visit USF

TAMPA — It can be difficult to describe the kind of fiction Jeff and Ann VanderMeer write, edit and publish.

Called weird fiction, it's a mix of fantasy, science fiction and horror. And there seem to be no set rules.

"It's not Harry Potter and it's not The Walking Dead. It's kind of a combination of both," Jeff VanderMeer said.

"It's when the strange and surreal intrude upon your real world," added Ann VanderMeer, his wife.

The couple spoke at the University of South Florida Tuesday night as part of the school's annual science fiction symposium.

Both are famous in the science fiction world. Jeff VanderMeer, 44, is a World Fantasy Award winner. His fiction has been published in more than 20 countries. Ann VanderMeer, 56, is a publisher and editor, and only the second female editor, of the horror magazine, Weird Tales. And together, they have published the critically acclaimed anthology The Weird: A Compendium of Strange and Dark Stories. They live in Tallahassee.

On Tuesday, Jeff VanderMeer added one more accomplishment to his list. Before his presentation at USF, he learned his latest book, Annihilation, and the trilogy it is part of have been optioned to become movies by Paramount Pictures and Scott Rudin Productions.

"I can't believe I'm saying this," he said as he announced the news to the audience full of creative writing students.

The book is about Area X, a forbidden zone of wilderness concealed by the government for 30 years. Eleven expeditions have entered the area to try to discover what's going on inside without success. The book follows the 12th expedition, VanderMeer said.

While the genre of weird fiction may seem unfamiliar, it's more popular than one might think.

Weird fiction has been around since Gothic novels 200 years ago, said Rick Wilbur, a professor of mass communications at USF and organizer of the science fiction symposium. Edgar Allan Poe would fit into that, he said.

More recent authors such as Ray Bradbury and Margaret Atwood write stories of a similar feel, too, Jeff VanderMeer said.

"A lot of people read darker fantasy fiction," he said, "and don't even realize it because it's in the mainstream."

Shelley Rossetter can be reached at or (813) 226-3401.

Two of weird fiction's most famous visit USF 03/28/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 27, 2013 3:11pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. 13 killed, dozens hurt when van plows into crowd in Barcelona


    UPDATE: A regional government official in Spain says 13 people have been killed in the van attack at a historic shopping and tourist area of Barcelona.

    An injured person is treated in Barcelona, Spain, Thursday, Aug. 17, 2017 after a white van jumped the sidewalk in the historic Las Ramblas district, crashing into a summer crowd of residents and tourists and injuring several people, police said. [Associated Press]
  2. Malala Yousafzai, Nobel winner shot for promoting education, to study at Oxford


    LONDON — Nobel Peace Prize winner Malala Yousafzai, who was shot by a Taliban gunman for speaking out for girls' rights to an education, has been accepted by the University of Oxford.

    A Tuesday, July. 18, 2017 file photo of Nobel Peace laureate, Malala Yousafzai, gesturing, during a visit to school in Maiduguri Nigeria. Malala Yousafzai has gained a place at the University of Oxford. The 20-year-old education activist tweeted her acceptance to the school, saying she was "so excited" to win a spot to study philosophy, politics and economics. [Associated Press]
  3. New Safety Harbor post office will be on McMullen-Booth Road

    Local Government

    SAFETY HARBOR — Although a move-in date is months away, representatives for the U.S. Postal Service recently signed the lease for the city's new post office.

    In June of next year a new post office will open at the site of a former Fifth Third Bank branch at 1703 N  McMullen Booth Road, Safety Harbor.
  4. Former owner of Sirata Beach Resort purchases two Tampa Bay shopping centers

    Real Estate

    ST. PETERSBURG — After selling the Sirata Beach Resort and Conference in February, Nicklaus of Florida, Inc., has purchased two Tampa Bay shopping centers to diversify the firm's portfolio in the area. Colliers International, representing the sellers, announced the transaction this week.

    Sirata Beach Resort and Conference Center, one of Tampa Bay's last family-owned beach hotels, was sold to a Texas-based company, Crescent Real Estate LLC for $108.19 million. [LARA CERRI | Times]
  5. Shania Twain arena tour includes Tampa stop this time


    Shania Twain is coming to Tampa as part of a major U.S. tour in support of her forthcoming (and long-awaited) new album Now.

    Shania Twain will play Amalie Arena in Tampa in 2018.