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December 2010
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January 2011

The Kitschies: 2010 Black Tentacle Winner

[Check out the new Kitschies website - www.thekitschies.com]

MemoryThe Black Tentacle is the second of the three awards that we'll be handing out over the course of the next week. As a whole, the Kitschies recognise those books that best elevate the tone of geek culture: books that are progressive, intelligent and entertaining. The Golden Tentacle is awarded to the debut novel that best exemplifies these qualities, and the Kitschie itself (a red tentacle) to the best book overall. 

The Black Tentacle, however, is something a little different. It's an award we created specifically to recognize a novel that doesn't quite fit the award description but is so exceptional it merits the highest praise.  We don't expect to hand out Black Tentacles every year.

Of all the novels we read this year, there was one book that knocked our collective socks off; one book we have ceaselessly recommended; one book we honestly believe every single person who visits this blog should read and own and buy multiple copies of and give away at birthdays and bat mitzvahs and any other day that ends in "-day." 

That novel is Memory, by the late, lamented Donald E. Westlake.

Continue reading "The Kitschies: 2010 Black Tentacle Winner" »


The Week that Was

Another busy week in our Pornokitsch parts. In case you missed anything, here's a recap:

Next week, we're announcing the 2010 Kitschie winner (as well as one special Kitschie). We'll do our best to squeeze in all the reviews we can before hitting the road for SFX. 


The Kitschies: 2010 Golden Tentacle Winner

[Check out the new Kitschies website - www.thekitschies.com]

The Golden Tentacle is the first of the three awards that we'll be handing out over the course of the next week. As a whole, the Kitschies recognise those books that best elevate the tone of geek culture: books that are progressive, intelligent and entertaining. Specifically, The Golden Tentacle is given to the debut author whose work best exemplifies these qualities.

There were a sizable handful of debut authors on our long list of sixty(ish). Quite a few - The Passage, The Quantum Thief and The Left Hand of God - came highly-touted and are present in many, more conventional, "best of year" lists. Others, like Pat Kelleher's The Black Hand Gang and Sam Sykes' The Tome of the Undergates came to our attention in a more low-key way - and we're glad they did, as both books represent promising starts to series that we'll be following religiously.

However, when it came down to selecting the winner of the Golden Tentacle, one candidate stood out amongst the crowd: Maurice Broaddus' King Maker

Continue reading "The Kitschies: 2010 Golden Tentacle Winner" »


Underground Reading: Flight 685 is Overdue by Edward Moore

Flight 685 is Overdue 1960 was a very dangerous time for air travel.

In Flight 685 is Overdue, by Edward Moore, the titular plane goes through a hellish journey that makes the reader instantly convert to pedestrian travel for life. Or, more accurately, it would if the book was written with any degree of skill. As it is, Flight 685 is a catalog of ridiculous woes and half-assed anecdotes, all glued together by a protagonist who's best described as a cock.

In a turbulent nutshell, Flight 685 follows a passenger plane's travel from Chicago to Miami. It being a normal night in 1960, this would be fairly uneventful for Captain Joe Wilson: a few long hours in the sky, followed by a rigorous shagging of the latest (soon-t-be-ex) virginal member of the flight crew.

His "out of bed before breakfast" post-encounter demeanour doesn't earn him many repeats, but Wilson knows that a pilot is never short of willing women for cheap, meaningless sexual encounters. This is a fact - one repeated endlessly (and a bit wistfully) by Mr. Moore.

Continue reading "Underground Reading: Flight 685 is Overdue by Edward Moore" »


The Kitschies: What's Next?

[Check out the new Kitschies website - www.thekitschies.com]

KitschiesNow that we've looked at each of our five Kitschie finalists in turn, we're going to start handing out the hardware (or the software, as will be revealed later...). 

It starts this Friday, when we'll announce the winner of the 2010 Golden Tentacle, for the debut novel that best fits our demanding criteria of elevating the tone of geek culture.

On Monday, 31 January, we'll be handing out a special Kitschie, to a book that Anne and I collectively agreed was something genuinely exceptional. Unfortunately, it didn't meet several of our qualifying criteria. All will be revealed.

Finally, on Wednesday, 2 February, we'll be announcing the 2010 Kitschie winner. This is still very much undecided and we're in the critical "arguing amongst ourselves & throwing things" phase. 

The shortlist & our reviews:

Please take advantage of the next week, read our analyses of the finalists and chime in. We'd love to hear your thoughts.


The Kitschies: Aurorarama by Jean-Christophe Valtat

Aurorarama [This is the final entry in a set of five reviews - each looking at one of our 2010 Kitschie finalists. As part of our commitment to a transparent judging process, we'll run through each of the books in turn with our criteria in mind. Please take part in the discussion below!]

Aurorarama follows the adventures of Brentford Orsini and his friend Gabriel as they gallivant around the frosty streets of New Venice, fomenting revolution, uncovering lost secrets, engaging in a little Inuit cryptozoology and getting drunk. Orisini is an agricultural whiz and a political dilettante. Gabriel is a professor and notorious lech. Their friendship is based largely on trust - stemming from a long background of shared adventures.

The real star of the book is New Venice. Like Gormenghast or Viriconium - or New Crobuzon and Villiren - Mr. Valtat has created a unique and memorable setting that steals the show from its cast. The plot is a series of complex peregrinations that reveal more and more of his spectacular and memorable new world.

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Monsters & Mullets: The Warrior and the Sorceress (1984)

Warrior_and_the_Sorceress There's something appealing about the idea of transposing tropes associated with westerns into a fantasy setting.  Who doesn't love a nameless, morally-ambiguous goodish guy savin' the wimminfolk and the grateful townspeople with nothing but his wits and his trusty Colt .45/broadsword?  Steel Dawn may not have proven a particularly successful venture, but writer/director Lance Hool can't be faulted for trying to bring something new to the table.  There are only so many Conan knock-offs one can stomach, after all - and I say that as someone with a strong stomach for Conan knock-offs.

But spicing up your barbarian cheesecake with a little revisionist western nutmeg isn't quite the same thing as merrily ripping off a classic western and dumping it into genero-fantasyland.  Witness today's Monsters & Mullets feature, the 1984 David Carradine-starring The Warrior and the Sorceress.  If you feel like you've seen this movie somewhere before, you have.  Only last time, it starred Clint Eastwood.  And didn't suck.

NB to the above poster: there are no blonde women in this film.  The titular sorceress is a brunette.

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The Kitschies: The Folding Knife by KJ Parker

The Folding Knife [This is the fourth in a set of five reviews - each looking at one of our 2010 Kitschie finalists. As part of our commitment to a transparent judging process, we'll run through each of the books in turn with our criteria in mind. Please take part in the discussion below!]

The Folding Knife is the story of Basso the Magnificent, the First Citizen of the mighty Vesani Republic. The events of the book detail Basso's inexorable rise to power. From financial magnate to military genius to social reformer, Basso is unstoppable.

However, he makes a single mistake - one episode in which his emotions overrule his coolly logical disposition - and that haunts him for the entirety of his life. The Folding Knife is set up as a tragedy from its first pages, and when Basso's inevitable downfall comes, it is both swift and merciless.

Note: I'm captivated by the mystery of Parker's anonymity. Rather than bend over backwards with "(s)he", "his/her" and "them", I flipped a coin. KJ Parker will be referred to as "her" for the remainder of this review. 

Continue reading "The Kitschies: The Folding Knife by KJ Parker" »