[2] Paul Di Filippo provided a cover blurb that still tickles me to this day: "The ignorant hoi polloi can slander me as a gray cap and make me eat a raw cababari, but despite all their ill will I shall continue to maintain that it's passing wonderful to have back in print once more that classic volume by Duncan Shriek, The Hoegbotton Guide to the Early History of Ambergris. How I thrilled to this volume as a child! Its eerie magnificence, its blood-and-thunder gusto, its arcane cliometric tidbits--all delivered in the compulsively readable mordant style for which Shriek was justifiably famous--filled many a drab youthful day for me, and endowed me with a lifelong attachment to the astounding past of our unique city. From the gruesome solo harrowings endured by Manzikert I to the mass excruciations experienced by the victims of the Silence, I raced with boyish avidity, returning to the start of the book as soon as I reached the finish. And those footnotes, that glossary! No one could fill a footnote or endnote with more vituperation, consternation or exasperation than the haughty, witty Shriek! But surely Shriek's greatest act of literary legerdemain was his creation of the character of 'Jeff VanderMeer' as a straw man to hide his publication behind. As the shady demiurge whom we are meant to believe actually 'created' the historical personage known as Duncan Shriek, as well as the whole bloody history and complex culture of a complete world, the character of VanderMeer beggars the imagination. How could one fellow, even half-divine, manage to combine the literary qualities of Nabokov, Borges, Barthelme, Cabell, Clark Ashton Smith, Seutonius, and Bernal Diaz into one person? It's impossible to credit! No, Shriek's factual narrative is awesome enough, providing a lifetime's worth of pleasures, without us having to conjure another layer of invention above him. Suffice it to say that anyone who picks up this book will soon be plunged into a world so richly devious and tangled--so downright entertaining--that any farcical appeals to meta-authors will soon prove superfluous." (The line between nonfiction and fiction blurring even further, his review of "Dradin" had delighted me so much I used part of it as dialogue in "The Transformation of Martin Lake".)