Nick Mamatas

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Nick Mamatas
Nick Mamatas.jpg
Born (1972-02-20) February 20, 1972 (age 45)
Long Island, New York
Occupation Novelist, Short Story Author, Essayist, Editor
Nationality American
Genre Horror, fantasy, science fiction, personal essay

Nick Mamatas (Greek: Νίκος Μαμματάς) (born February 20, 1972) is an American horror, science fiction and fantasy author and editor for Haikasoru's line of translated Japanese science fiction novels for Viz Media. His fiction has been nominated for a number of awards, including several Bram Stoker Awards. He has also been recognised for his editorial work with a Bram Stoker Award, as well as World Fantasy Award and Hugo Award nominations. He funded his early writing career by producing term papers for college students, which gained him some notoriety when he described this experience in an essay for Drexel University's online magazine The Smart Set.[1]


Nick Mamatas was born on Long Island, New York and attended the State University of New York at Stony Brook and New School University. He is also a graduate of the MFA program in creative and professional writing at Western Connecticut State University, which he attended only after publishing a number of books, short stories, and articles. During his early writing career he wrote not just non-fiction, but also worked as a ghostwriter for college students needing term papers, an experience he later described in an essay called "The Term Paper Artist".[2] His non-fiction work has appeared in Razor Magazine, The Village Voice, and various disinformation books and BenBella Books' Smart Pop Books anthologies.

His first published fiction book was the 2001 novella Northern Gothic (Soft Skull), which was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award for Best Long Fiction in 2002.[3] In 2007, a signed/limited hardcover edition, illustrated and with a slipcase, was published in German by Edition Phantasia.[4]

His first full-length novel, Move Under Ground (Night Shade Books, 2004/Prime Books, 2006), combined the Beat style of Jack Kerouac with the cosmic horror of H. P. Lovecraft's Cthulhu Mythos. This novel was nominated for both the Bram Stoker Award for Best First Novel[5] and the International Horror Guild Award for Best First Novel in 2005, and made the Locus magazine recommended reading list for books published in 2004.

In 2006, Move Under Ground was one of the first books to be published in paperback by the German publisher Edition Phantasia. In early 2007 he decided to distribute it online for free under a Creative Commons license. His science fiction satire Under My Roof (Soft Skull, 2007) has been published in both Germany and Italy in addition to its American publication. The German edition was nominated for the Kurd-Laßwitz-Preis for science fiction originally published in a foreign language. It finished in last place in the voting.

In August 2006, Mamatas was named co-fiction editor of Clarkesworld Magazine. Clarkesworld's 2008 issues earned it a nomination for the Hugo Award for Best Semiprozine. Mamatas, along with editor Sean Wallace and publisher Neil Clarke, were named as the magazine's principals. The three were also nominated for the World Fantasy award for Clarkesworld in the nonprofessional special award category, also for the 2008 issues. In August 2008, he left Clarkesworld and began working for Viz Media editing the firm's line of Japanese science fiction, fantasy, and horror in translation published under the Haikasoru imprint. Mamatas edited the posthumous collection of short fiction, Queen of the Country, by dark fantasist D. G. K. Goldberg in 2008.

His collection of short fiction, You Might Sleep..., including a new novella, was published in March 2009. "The Dude Who Collected Lovecraft," written by Mamatas and Tim Pratt, was nominated for the Stoker award for achievement in Short Fiction in March 2009.[6]

Three years after leaving Clarkesworld, Mamatas was nominated for the Hugo award in the category of Best Editor, Long Form in 2010,[7] for his work with the Haikasoru imprint of Viz Media. Mamatas co-edited the original horror anthology Haunted Legends with Ellen Datlow in 2010. It won the 2010 Black Quill Award in the anthology category, the 2010 Bram Stoker Award for Best Anthology,[8] and was nominated for the Shirley Jackson Award. A Russian-language edition was published in 2015.

His third novel, the satirical science fiction Sensation, was published in May 2011 by PM Press, and in July a collaboration with Brian Keene, The Damned Highway, was released. It is similar in vein to Move Under Ground, but instead of being written in Jack Kerouac's Beat style, it is influenced by Hunter S. Thompson (here referred to as Uncle Lono, a reference to The Curse of Lono) in his famous gonzo journalism style. The fantasy Bullettime followed in 2012, and his first crime novel, Love is the Law was published in 2013. He co-edited the anthology The Future Is Japanese, which included Ken Liu's story "Mono No Aware," the Hugo award winner for Best Short Story in 2012. A small press edition of a zombie novel, The Last Weekend was published in the United Kingdom in 2014. These books contain themes common to Mamatas's work: radical politics and its failures, New York City settings, manipulations of point of view, and literary riffs on figures such as Thompson, Charles R. Jackson, and Frederick Exley.

Starve Better, a short how-to guide made up primarily of reprinted blog posts and essays from magazines such as The Smart Set and The Writer was published in 2011, and nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the category of Achievement in Non-Fiction.

The Nickronomicon, collecting Mamatas's short Lovecraftian fiction, was published by Innsmouth Free Press in 2014.

In 2016, Skyhorse Publishing an imprint of Night Shade Books released I Am Providence, which explores a twisted, occult world of obsessive fandom and convention culture through the story of a horror writer who finds herself drawn into a nightmarish mystery when she discovers a murder at an annual Lovecraftian fan gathering.

Career and themes[edit]

Mamatas is most known for his horror and dark fiction, but claims broad influences.[9] Writer Laird Barron described the short fictions in You Might Sleep... as running "the gamut of science fiction, fantasy, metafiction, horror, generic lit, to the realms of the effectively unclassifiable".[10]

The Internet Review of Science Fiction, reviewing You Might Sleep, contends that "J.D. Salinger [is] an obvious but unacknowledged influence" and also compares Mamatas' work to "Lewis Carroll with an ISP, Mishima hammering out his death poem on a Blackberry or Harlan Ellison hyped up on crystal meth..." while suggesting a certain immaturity to Mamatas's themes: "Despite his tremendous gifts, Mamatas dares little. One wonders how he would handle more profound materials, how his narrative sorcery might encompass (for example) bereavement, real tragedy or loss of self through enlightenment or love."[11]

A thematic touchstone for Mamatas is H.P. Lovecraft. His novel Move Under Ground, which combines Lovecraftian and Beat themes, was declared one of the best Cthulhu Mythos stories not written by Lovecraft by Kenneth Hite in the book Cthulhu 101. Mark Halcomb of the Village Voice reviewed the book and its peculiar meshing of Lovecraft and Kerouac, writing, in part:

"In fact, Kerouac's 'bebop prosody' and the Cthulhu mythos dovetail nicely, and what seems at first like literary stunt-casting actually gives Mamatas room to recast the Beats' fall from grace in fanciful terms unhindered by their tricky psychology, the strictures of reality and realism—or lingering platitudes."[12]

Publishers Weekly reviewed Move Under Ground, discussing the novel's "credible pastiche" of Kerouac's voice and declared the book "sophisticated, progressive horror..."[13]

A number of his short works, such as the novelette Real People Slash and the flash fiction "And Then And Then And Then", also explicitly combine Lovecraftian themes with the voices of non-fantastical literature. The short story "That of Which We Speak When We Speak of the Unspeakable", first published in the anthology Lovecraft Unbound is a pastiche of Lovecraft and several of the works of Raymond Carver. The Damned Highway combines a character based heavily on Hunter S. Thompson and Lovecraftian themes.

Satire is also a significant element of Mamatas's fiction. Ed Park, writing for his online The Los Angeles Times review column, described Mamatas's Under My Roof—a short novel about the formation of a microstate on Long Island—as an "accurate, fast-moving satire that transcends mere target shooting by virtue of its narrator, Daniel’s 12-year-old son Herbie".[14] A starred review in Publishers Weekly for the same title also highlighted the satirical elements in the work, declaring: "A big-bang ending caps the fast-paced novel, and there's much fun to be had watching Mamatas...merrily skewer his targets."[15]

Mamatas's nonfiction work includes essays on publishing, digital culture, and politics. A Village Voice piece on the Otherkin phenomenon[16] is cited as one of the earliest national publications on the subculture.[17] His essay about his settlement with the RIAA[18] for file-sharing has been cited in several law reviews,[19][20][21] as it is a relatively rare first-person account of the process of settlement with the RIAA. Essays from The Smart Set, Village Voice, The Writer and Tim Pratt's fanzine Flytrap were compiled, along with original material, into the writing handbook Starve Better in 2011, and published by Apex Publications[22] His essay "The Term Paper Artist" originally from The Smart Set, about his experiences as an academic ghostwriter for pay, has been discussed on National Public Radio, and reprinted in a pair of textbooks, both published by Nelson Education.[23][24]

Major works[edit]


Short story collections[edit]



  • Kwangju Diary (with Jae-Eui Lee & Kap Su Seol) - University of California Los Angeles (1999) ISBN 978-1883191030
  • Starve Better:Surviving the Endless Horror of the Writing Life - Apex Book Company (2011) ISBN 978-0984553587
  • Insults Every Man Should Know (Stuff You Should Know) - Quirk Books (2011) ISBN 978-1594745249
  • Quotes Every Man Should Know (Stuff You Should Know) - Quirk Books 2013 ISBN 978-1594746369
  • The Battle Royale Slam Book:Essays on the Cult Classic by Koushun Takami (with Masumi Washington) - Haikasoru (2014) ISBN 978-1421565996



Personal life[edit]

Mamatas is a student of Chen-style t'ai chi ch'uan.[27] In 2012, he won a push hands competition[28] at the 3rd Annual "Golden Gate" Chinese Martial Arts Championship in San Francisco, California. In 2015, he won the silver medal in push hands at the twenty-third Berkeley Chinese Martial Arts Tournament.[29]


  1. ^ "The Paper Market". On the Media. 2008-11-28. Archived from the original on 2009-03-23. 
  2. ^ "The Term Paper Artist" Archived 2008-10-24 at the Wayback Machine., article in The Smart Set by Nick Mamatas
  3. ^ "2001 Bram Stoker Award Nominees and Winners". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on 24 August 2000. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  4. ^ "Edition Phantasia's product page for Northern Gothic". Edition Phantasia. Archived from the original on 21 July 2011. Retrieved 8 May 2011. 
  5. ^ "2004 Bram Stoker Award Nominees and Winners". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on 24 August 2000. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  6. ^ "2008 Bram Stoker Award Nominees and Winners". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on 24 August 2000. Retrieved 4 May 2011. 
  7. ^ "The 2011 Hugo nominees". Renovation SF: The 69th Annual Hugo Awards. Archived from the original on 2011-04-29. 
  8. ^ "Homepage". Horror Writers Association. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 19 June 2011. 
  9. ^ "A Career In Thrashing Around All Night". Apex Book Company. April 2009. Archived from the original on 2009-05-17. 
  10. ^ "On You Might Sleep by Mamatas (or I come not to praise Caesar but deliver the goods on Caligula)". Imago1, Laird Barron's LiveJournal. September 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-08-18. 
  11. ^ "With Cautious Anticipation A review of You Might Sleep... by Nick Mamatas". The Internet Review of Science Fiction. May 2009. Archived from the original on 2011-09-27. 
  12. ^ "Beat Happening". Village Voice. May 25, 2004. Archived from the original on November 1, 2010. 
  13. ^ "Fiction Review: Move Under Ground". Publishers Weekly. April 12, 2004. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. 
  14. ^ "Review of Brian Aldiss's HARM and Nick Mamatas's UNDER MY ROOF". April 2007. Archived from the original on 2011-08-31. 
  15. ^ "Fiction Review: Under My Roof". Publishers Weekly. December 18, 2006. Archived from the original on October 6, 2012. 
  16. ^ Mamatas, Nick (February 20, 2001). "Elven Like Me". The Village Voice, New York. 46 (7): 35. Archived from the original on October 7, 2008. 
  17. ^ The Official Dictionary of Unofficial English. The McGraw-Hill Companies. 2006. 
  18. ^ "Meet John Doe". Village Voice. March 1, 2005. Archived from the original on June 21, 2011. 
  19. ^ "The Place of the User in Copyright Law". Fordham Law Review. 2005–2006. Archived from the original on 2016-03-04. 
  20. ^ "Comment: Copyright's Public-Private Distinction". Case Western Reserve Law Review. 2004–2005. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. 
  21. ^ "Leave Them Kids Alone - A Proposed Fair Use Defense for Noncommercial P2P Sharing of Copyrighted Music Files". Florida International Law Review. 2007–2008. Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. 
  22. ^ "Starve Better". Apex Publications. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-05-13. .
  23. ^ "Table of Contents: Essay Essentials". Nelson Education. 2011. Archived from the original on 2012-03-23. 
  24. ^ "Canadian Content, 7th Edition". Nelson Education. 2011. Archived from the original on 2011-07-21. 
  25. ^ Heller, Jason (August 3, 2016). "'I Am Providence' Is A Love/Hate Letter To A Literary Subculture". NPR. Archived from the original on March 8, 2017. Retrieved 2017-03-07. 
  26. ^ Nick Mamatas's Livejournal Entry about editorial job at Viz Media
  27. ^ "The Good Fight". The Smart Set. April 2, 2009. Archived from the original on October 19, 2012. 
  28. ^ "San Francisco Kung Fu Tournament Results for 2012: Taiji Push Hands". International Chinese Martial Arts Championships. Sep 22, 2012. 
  29. ^ "Berkeley CMAT Scores". Berkeley Chinese Martial Arts Tournament. March 16, 2015. 

External links[edit]