The Tangled Bank

At some point in the last month, I stopped scanning city parks and alleyways for good sleeping spots. I guess that’s as good a sign as any that I’ve readjusted to normal life, whatever that is.

Not only that, but rest and the regular rhythms of work and study have brought with them a burst of productivity. As well as making a start on my Japan book and drafting a bunch of short stories and poems, I’ve started a small press: Tangled Bank Press. The name is taken from one of my favourite quotes, the final paragraph of The Origin of Species:

It is interesting to contemplate a tangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent upon each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the conditions of life and from use and disuse: a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved. — Charles Darwin

Tangled Bank Press’s first publication is the e-anthology The Tangled Bank, details of which can be found below, or on the website. I’d love to be proven wrong, but as far as I know it’s the only fiction anthology celebrating the Charles Darwin anniversaries of 2009. If all goes according to plan, The Tangled Bank will be followed by another couple of TBP projects in 2010 and 2011.

Among other people, Kate Eltham‘s been a great source of ideas about electronic publishing, and I’m keen to make the most of digital technology to reach as many people as possible. More about that later. Kate’s one of the convenors of the fantastic bastion of learning that is Clarion South, and it’s worth mentioning that they’re in need of donations. A series of events outside their control, including cancellation by three tutors, meant they exhausted their treasure running this year’s workshop. You can find out how to help here — and how to apply to the 2011 workshop. With tutors of this calibre, you’d be crazy not to.

Anyhow, I’m looking forward to shaping the The Tangled Bank, so get creating. You’ve got 111 days to build your beast.

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This year marks 200 years since the birth of Charles Darwin, and 150 years since the publication of The Origin of Species. To mark the anniversaries, submissions are invited for The Tangled Bank, an e-anthology of speculative fiction, artwork, and poetry exploring the legacy of Charles Darwin and the theory of evolution. Illuminate — or obscure — the line between the real and the fantastic. The fiction may be of any speculative genre or cross-genre; demand to be included by the quality of your submission. Artwork and poetry need not be strictly speculative in nature, but must engage with Charles Darwin or evolution.

The Tangled Bank will be edited by Chris Lynch and listedat_12060_greypublished by Tangled Bank Press in late 2009. For submission guidelines and more information, visit http://thetangledbank.com. Submissions close June 30th.

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