“One of the most interesting experiments in fiction in recent years.”
— from TIME OUT 2003
‘Nemonymous’ was a word invented by DFLewis in 2001, with no hits on Google at that time. Historically, ‘Nemonymous’ was the world’s very first multi-authored anthology of anonymous stories.
LATEST: 10 June 2010: ‘Cern Zoo’ in final nominations for British Fantasy Awards for Best Anthology.=======================================================================
Also see Son of Nemonymous: ANONthology (HarperCollins 2009)
Inspired by study of ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ and experimentation in neutralising name-prejudice, Nemonymity has also chosen stories for publication before knowing who wrote them. And the effect of reading a multi-authored group of un-bylined stories has been said by many to lend itself to a ground-breaking ‘gestalt’ effect. And more…
NEMONYMOUS PRICES: HERE
Purchases HERE (Nemonymous Ten – 2010)
23 March 2010: Steve Duffy’s story ‘The Lion’s Den’ has been published in Ellen Datlow’s ‘Best Horror Of The Year’ book for 2009.
19 May 2010: “Strange Scenes From An Unfinished Film” by Gary McMahon has been chosen for “The Year’s Best Dark Fantasy & Horror” (due out in October from Prime; editor Paula Guran).
.June 2009: I am pleased to report that Joel Lane‘s newly released novella “The Witnesses Are Gone” – that I have just finished reading and consider to be a very important work – has this printed in its Acknowledgements:
“This story takes its core idea from ‘The Vanishing Life and Films of Emmanuel Escobada’, which appeared anonymously in ‘NEMONYMOUS 2’ and whose author has chosen to remain nameless, but has kindly given permission for the story to be developed in the present work. Thanks are due to him or her.”
July 2009: Here is an interview with DFL by ten of the authors in CONE ZERO, kindly posted on the TTA website regarding this book’s short-listing for the British Fantasy Award:
Link: CONE ZERO (Nemonymous 8) – 2008
Cone Zero (2008): ‘a flawless anthology’
Some interviews that deal at least in part with ‘Nemonymous’:
For NEMO’S ARK concept: HERE.
The Two Ways of Anonymity
(one) The most common way – to say something you don’t want to be known as saying, i.e. possibly for *devious* purposes (which could be spite, nepotism, insult, cruelty, dubious joke etc etc.) — or publishing pornography, issuing a Valentine’s card, hiding one’s identity to avoid reputation depletion etc, ghost-writing, being an artisan writer who is simply having anonymous fun on a literary internet discussion-thread, being in a war where identity-concealment could save a life…
(two) A way that is hardly ever used – to make an artistic statement (within the philosophy of Aesthetics), such as Nemonymity,
(i) whereby the fiction author wants some objective view of his work to be made without his name getting in the way — and I, as an editor, equally don’t want it to get in the way when I consider his submission for publication and
(ii) as an experiment in fiction anthology presentation as a new gestalt reading experience (i.e. stories written independently and remaining separate yet somehow more ‘together’) and
(iii) leading to a brainstorming approach to reviews and critical appreciation and
(iv) bringing fiction nearer to the artist-naming (late-labelling) approach of other arts such as fine arts, architecture, music etc. (instead of having the name on the spine, on the title page and, often, on the top of each alternate page throughout the book) and
(v) trying to bring fiction more easily to an interstitial or between/cross-genre optimum.
I think it true to say that some elements in (one) above bring anonymity into disrepute, a cross which Nemonymous has to bear.
Further input would be welcome.
Contains original work from A.D.Harvey, A.C. Wise, Tamar Yellin, Lavie Tidhar, Jeff VanderMeer, Simon Clark, Iain Rowan, Anonymous, Mike O’Driscoll, Steve Duffy, Rhys Hughes, D Harlan Wilson, Margaret B Simon, Brendan Connell, Joel Lane, Scott Edelman, Joe Murphy, Reggie Oliver, Ursula Pflug, S.D. Tullis, Tim Nickels, Nick Jackson, John Grant, Neil James Hudson, Gary McMahon, Gary Fry, Kek-W, Dominy Clements, Steve Rasnic Tem, Mark Valentine and many others even more famous.
“A first class collection.” — INTERZONE 201 re Nemonymous Five
“Nemonymous: It’s been a hell of a ride, and the world has been made a better place because of it.” – John Llewellyn Probert (2005)
“We should all thank Mr. Lewis for taking a risk and thinking outside the box. Nemonymous 3 is a testament to pure creativity.” — Carmela Rebe (2005)
Nemonymous has published 164 original stories: paying writers a flat rate of £25 per story in anthologies 1 (2001), 2 (2002) & 3 (2003) and £45 per story in anthologies 4 (2004) & 5 (2005). Stories in anthology 7 (Zencore 2007) were paid £50 each. Stories in anthology 8 (Cone Zero 2008) were paid £65 each. Stories in anthology 9 & 10 (Cern Zoo 2009 and Null Immortalis 2010) being paid £0.01 per word (maximum £100).
“Experience is never limited, and it is never complete; it is an immense sensibility, a kind of huge spider-web of the finest silken threads suspended in the chamber of consciousness, and catching every air-borne particle in its tissue.”
Henry James from ‘The Art of Fiction’ 1888
An anthology of parthenogenetic fiction and late-labelling
All available finance is ploughed into Nemonymous itself: exquisitely produced, and with the first five anthologies having been published in the traditional one-off print-run. Their quality of presentation/contents, finite quantity of copies and ground-breaking features should ensure their future value as a collectable. They have received much acclaim plus honours for many of its authors.
Nemo has given writers the rare ability to have a story initially printed anonymously – an experience many considered enlightening and, later, name-enhancing.
Nemonymous is a legend. Probably because many have queried how hard it is to obtain it!
If you have any queries regarding purchases or anything else, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
‘Nemonymous’ 1 to 5 have been printed traditionally and there is a stock of truly beautiful anthologies waiting to be sold at reasonable prices. Five different anthologies. Please see HERE for lists of their featured authors.
Nemonymous Five was published in 2005.
Many have said the cover itself is an amazing work of art, e.g:
“Nemo 5 has that Phil Dickian quality, an object that is not what it seems. It reminds me of my most memorable moment as a science fiction reader when in “Time Out of Joint” the soft drinks stand dissolves and Ragle Gumm is left with a card bearing the words ‘SOFT DRINKS STAND’.”
“Outstanding, Des. This is pop art. This is like Claus Oldenberg and his big soft electrical plugs. I shall try it in different positions all over the house. I’m now *very* pleased that I restrained myself from reading other folks’ cover comments until I’d seen this beauty. It’s left me with a deep and delighted smile.”
WITH THIS COVER, IT WOULD MAKE A PERFECT SURPRISE GIFT FOR SOMEONE!
The first story in NEMONYMOUS FIVE starts: Sit down and shut up!
Indeed, it is advised that the reader consumes the whole book silently in one sitting, in the order printed — not worrying too much if any particular story doesn’t, at first, truly cling. This will ensure the whole reading experience will be devastatingly memorable for the rest of your life.
NEMONYMOUS SIX in 2006 was something else!*
Nemonymous One became, in 2001, the world’s very first self-contained volume of anonymous stories (written independently by different authors) and collected as such. In 2002, Nemonymous Two published the world’s first blank short story in print (as far as it is known), together with the acclaimed ‘Vanishing Life and Films Of Emmanuel Escobada’ which is to be anonymous forever & the classic story ‘The Assistant to Dr Jacob’ which was reprinted in ‘Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror’. Nemonymous Three received an amazing nine ‘honourable mentions’ from YBF&H and Nemonymous Four is a sleekly white Stealth fighter-plane that missed nearly every radar! More ‘Honourable Mentions’ for stories in Nemonymous Five, Zencore! (Nemo 7) & Cone Zero (Nemo 8), including Zencore’s ‘England & Nowhere’ being reprinted in ‘Year’s Best Fantasy & Horror’.
Nemo #4 review says: “It is absurd there are so few publications in the small press produced to such a professional standard. Nemonymous, for its production values alone, should be a benchmark.”
On 9 December 2004, Keith Brooke (aka Nick Gifford) gave a lecture at Essex University for the Department of Literature, Film, and Theatre Studies’ weekly talk series. His title was “Names, Pseudonyms and Nemonyms” (about labelling in fiction), and featured ideas created by Nemonymous and a reading from it.
“One of the most interesting experiments in fiction in recent years.”
— from TIME OUT 2003
“…switching between the Pan Book of Horror Stories and one of HP Lovecraft’s wordier collections.”
— TIME OUT review of Nemonymous Five (2005)
“Utterly unique…this compact little book offers immense pleasure.”
— from ASIMOV’S 2005
A Nemo#4 author says: “What has attracted me the most to Nemonymous is that through its anonymity (a primary facet of the unknown, of the weird) it’s becoming, I think, a focal point for modern fantasy, a gathering, if you will, for a new school of weird.”
Rick Kleffel’s article HERE says: “This is a brilliant and exciting idea, and who else would come up with it but DFL, who has been pushing the boundaries of fiction for more than 20 years.”
This site says: “So very rarely does something truly innovative survive marriage to altruism in the harsh day to day reality of the business of literature. Check out DFL’s Nemonymous, be part of something great.”
Simply brilliant original poems by various poets all entitled Nemonymity.
“Long before The Secret Society of Demolition Writers, DFL, one of the finest literary terrorists we have, created Nemonymous, a literary anthology dedicated to an anonymous reading experience.”
Wroclaw wrote the passage below here : << DF Lewis’s Nemonymous anthologies have been a phenomenon running almost diametrically opposite to every major current in our diseased zeitgeist. In a society crazed to the point of hysteria at the slightest prospect of fame, for him to have made people queue up and long for: anonymity, has been a unique and perverse achievement. One is reminded of the Australian Aboriginal’s ultimate and most noble goal: to leave the earth entirely without mark or record of one’s passing. DF Lewis is a messiah of negation, offering each of us a seductive portal to non-entity. Something in each of us urgently longs to be erased by this man. >>
There seems to be something self-contradictory in the way DFL is portrayed by Wroclaw here. Perhaps that is why he appended the smiley. 🙂 In defence, the editor/publisher of Nemonymous is not credited in any of the Nemonymous books themselves. So it may not even be DFL who perpetrated them!
NEMONYMOUS is an acclaimed megazanthus of short speculative fiction — a Small Press publication conceived, edited, published and distributed by DFLewis as a labour of unrequited love.
REVIEW OF FIRST FIVE ISSUES OF NEMONYMOUS
I love Nemonymous. The idea, the execution, its weird size and shape, the stories. It has the feel of something bold and forbidden. Stories with no bylines? It’s a brilliant way of putting the fiction up front and center. No browsing the contents list to see who wrote what, no going to the familiar names first, and no scanning of the writer’s bio to read the accomplishments of the unfamiliar before giving their stories a read, and no skipping the authors who didn’t light your fire in the past. No, Nemonymous is all about fiction divorced from any context but temporary anonymity. And though the experiment is now on hiatus with issue five, Des Lewis has devised the “megazanthus” in such a way that each and every issue of Nemonymous can still be enjoyed the way it was meant to be if the reader so chooses … it just takes a bit more willpower for those who weren’t onboard the first time.
The magazine’s central conceit of temporarily anonymous stories is nicely preserved in its format, even after subsequent issues are available and the authors are revealed. A new reader has the option of approaching the stories with their anonymity intact, unless, of course, a story is so powerful the reader just has to know who wrote it. I admit there were times I wished I could grab the next issue and find out who wrote a particular story. I can’t say what I would have done had I the option to know who wrote what. Some stories begged for unmasking early and if given the opportunity of having issue two at hand while reading issue one, I probably would have skipped ahead to see who wrote something that really wowed me like, say, With Arms Outstretched.
While I liked every issue, Nemonymous two and three impressed me like no other, perhaps because I found their ideas so thought-provoking. Loss of memory, identity, emotion, relationships, and self are the sort of thematic concerns that enthrall me. In fact, two and three feel like one giant issue that needed to be divided, such was the importance of its thematic concerns. Never mind the submissions process was many months apart, these two issues feel like a unified whole with stories that could have fit comfortably in one issue or the other. While it was the premise of the magazine that drew me in, it was the execution and quality of the stories that validated my high expectations. Don’t get me wrong, there isn’t a bad issue of Nemonymous, it’s just these two are such stellar achievements you wonder why the future of Nemonymous wasn’t ensured from the start of its five issue run (one can hope there will be future volumes).
What follows is a review of sorts, but I’m only going to hit on a few stories and not even all those that resonated with me or else I’d spend too much time gushing about, say, Shark in a Foggy Sea (Issue three) or The Assistant to Dr. Jacob (Issue two) at the expense of gems like Buffet Freud (Two) or The Place Where Lost Things Go (three) because I’ve only so much time.
I’ll start with the second issue’s Climbing the Tallest Tree in the World. I want to single it out because it’s the perfect example of what Nemonymous can do for the reader and the author. I won’t mention the author’s name because I’m writing this to entice new readers and if nemonymity is still intact, it’s still possible to enjoy these issues the way they were meant to be, sans byline. I was semi-familiar with this writer’s work before reading the story. Maybe, had I known the author’s name, I would have saved this story for last or, worse, not gotten around to reading it, which isn’t to slight the author’s skill because he’s very deft with the written word and in crafting a story. No, it’s more of a thing where I was biased because the previous works I’d read hadn’t quite grabbed me. I didn’t know who he was and in this case I was blind not only to the author, but to the genre. This last is very important because it highlights the second thing Nemonymous does well; it temporarily strips a story of genre and believe me, there are plenty of genres represented within Nemo’s pages so you never know what you’re going to read next. So it was with great excitement that I started reading the first story of Nemonymous 2 and it soon became clear it wasn’t going to be the type of story that reveals itself perfectly by the last word. However, it was the language and the feel and the mood that made me appreciate what I’d read even when I didn’t completely understand it by story’s end. Sometimes it isn’t about “getting it” as much as it is “feeling it” and Climbing the Tallest Tree in the World is the equivalent of watching a film that makes you think as much as feel. In the beginning, I didn’t understand it (sometimes I’m just dense), but upon a second and third read the idea reveals itself in the pieces of symbolism the author chose…or maybe I’m totally on the wrong track, the fun is using your mind in a way you don’t with many other stories. Nemonymous made me reevaluate what I knew – or thought I knew – about this author. I won’t be putting off his stories in the future.
Issue Two’s second story, Mighty Fine Days, particularly resonated. The protagonist’s plight is a chilling one where newspapers and signs have all become blank as if the details are lost before imprinting themselves in his mind. So, too, does his mind begin to unravel as his memories depart and, perhaps most eerily of all, no one seems to notice his plight, nor does he feel any profound sense of loss as he goes through the motions of life. Yeah, I probably revealed too much here, but the brilliance of this Mighty Fine Days is in its execution. I absolutely love this story to death and a lengthy plot summary cannot ruin the power of this story.
The Drowned, also issue two, is the best kind of character study, one that doesn’t feel faux or forced and doesn’t use a terminal illness in a clichéd attempt to make the reader feel something the writer doesn’t have the ability to pull off otherwise. The narrator and Kevin are alive and their experiences are perfectly suited to the titular metaphor. The second paragraph’s “The only time we went away together was pretty much a disaster. It taught us something about ourselves, but it wasn’t knowledge we could use,” is an amazing, thoughtful statement. Issue three’s Chemo is another excellent tale about a terminal illness and its effect on the stricken couple where the handling of the subject isn’t what you’d expect.
Issue three’s Genie was an excellent tale of love and loss. Some days it is my favorite story of the issue, sort of like when you get a new CD and different songs strike your fancy at different times. I absolutely love the way the story unfolds and the way the author doesn’t let the premise down by story’s end. It’s fabulous and the fact that so many other stories in the issue are just as good is a testament to Nemonymous’ consistently high quality.
And just when you think you’ve got Nemonymous figured out a tale like The Rest of Larry smacks you upside the head and you realize you really, really, never know what you’re going to get next. Another point about the bylineless format should be mentioned here. Because you don’t know the authors, you’re less likely to skip around—at least I am. Nemonymous is an anthology that should be read in the order the stories are presented. The Rest of Larry is…well, I can’t say anymore, but trust me; if you read the stories in order this one will surprise you. Trust the editor, he knows what he’s doing. The Rest of Larry is a great read and hilarious and unexpected read.
I’ll end with thoughts on the “denemonization” process itself. Nemonymous’ after-the-fact bylines gives authors a chance to reflect on the feedback their stories have garnered in the months since first publication. Instead of a simple statement of author identity and a short, generic bio, you often get to read thoughts tailored to the story or to the experience of being temporarily anonymous. Issues two and three have superb author notes, worth the original wait and still interesting for late-comers who have yet to experience Nemonymous and wonder what it was like for the authors to sit in silence all those months. These bios feel interactive. It’s a nice touch you don’t often get with fiction’s traditional modes of presentation where the bylines say “this is who I am; this is what I’ve done.” No, most of the Nemonymous bylines are an attraction in and of themselves and I don’t recall them getting their proper due. I like reading what was going through an author’s mind when he or she wrote something, or what the author felt when reading a particular review of the story, or how the author felt about anonymity. Plus, I was totally, utterly astounded by what the author revealed about issue one’s With Arms Outstretched when it was denemonised in issue two, just a little factoid about its history had his author bio been printed in any outlet other than Nemonymous. Like the gold coin on Issue three’s cover, the idea, the execution, and the result of Nemonymous is priceless. Highly recommended and readily available.
This review © Brent Zirnheld (December 2005)
*You could say that Nemo 6 was the blank edition. It just had to happen. After the blank story and the blank cover and…
I’ll get my coat!
DFL Obituary: HERE.
Each of the first five annual issues (2001-2005 inclusive) of Nemonymous was what I called a ‘megazanthus’: i.e. a cross between a magazine (or, rather, a literary journal) and a book anthology. The authors of the stories were not named at all in the actual issue in which they appeared but in the subsequent one.
The latest three issues (2007-2009 inclusive) have been large book-shaped anthologies. Each has its authors’ names randomised on the back cover and a year later assigned to the correct story in the subsequent issue.
The first three issues contained stories that were contracted for publication *before* I knew the authors’ identities myself! The later issues gave a choice to the author submitting a story to submit it anonymously to me or not.
From 2001, inspired by my study of ‘The Intentional Fallacy’ since the sixties as well as by an original experiment in the neutralising of author name-prejudice, Nemonymous is arguably the world’s first uncredited anthology of fiction stories. And the effect of reading a multi-authored group of non-by-lined stories has been said by many to lend itself to a ground-breaking ‘gestalt’ effect. And more…!
Forgive the pretentiousness, but I thought I should clarify the above points. df lewis