Kelly Link

Small Beer Press, John Crowley, and Theo Fadel Resurrect 'The Chemical Wedding'

Since 2000, Gavin J. Grant and Kelly Link (recent Pulitzer Prize finalist for her story collection Get in Trouble) have built the reputation of Small Beer Press as a fearless independent publisher whose roster boasts a diverse lineup of genre-defying literature. Their latest project, The Chemical Wedding, furthers this dedication to publishing for the love of the book.

Jacob McMurray's design of the limited edition case cover for The Chemical Wedding.

Grant and Link have teamed with author John Crowley (Little, Big) and illustrator Theo Fadel to publish an English-language version of Johannes Valentines Andreae's book, which was first published in 1616 and is considered by some to be the first science fiction novel. As Small Beer mentions on the Kickstarter page for this project, “We are planning on celebrating the 400th anniversary(!) of one of the most outlandish stories in Western literature in a series of extravagant limited hardcover editions …” The project was recently profiled by Publisher’s Weekly.

Goreyesque spoke to Crowley, who told us, “It's an Amazing Wonder Tale about the outer reaches of science (the science of 1616—alchemy, astrology, clockwork, magic) and it features a great hero—Christian Rosenkreutz, a self-doubting, eager, horny, good old man trying his best to do the right thing and understand the weird events he finds himself in.”

Crowley and Fadel began collaborating on the project after he stumbled upon her studio, coincidentally located in Easthampton, MA, also home to Small Beer’s offices. Fadel is a carpenter, trained architect, and artist. As Grant tells it, Crowley was looking for artwork along the lines of “Maurice Sendak or even Edward Gorey in Renaissance dress.” According to Crowley, “If this book had been illustrated in its own day, it would have had pictures in the great German Baroque wood-engraving tradition—highly detailed, comic, a little dark. That's just what Theo Fadel's pictures are like. Coming upon her work was a major upscale for this book. Wait till you see.”

An illustration by Fadel featured in The Chemical Wedding.

Small Beer decided to launch a Kickstarter campaign for The Chemical Wedding in order to be able to produce limited hardcover editions of the book. Though trade paperback and ebook editions are already scheduled for the fall, as they state, “We could not resist the chance to make a weird and beautiful artifact out of John Crowley's long-dreamed-of project…” There is a slew of reward packages available at every price level. The deadline for the project is Fri., June 3.

Click here to visit the Kickstarter page, read more details, watch the video, and back the project!

- Todd Summar

Fadel with the printing press she hand built to print the woodcut she made as an extra for the book, a mock up of the case cover.