Please join us for the launch of the limited edition of Robert Sharp's The Good Shabti - a brand new thriller that "masterfully mingles science with historical fiction, and updates the mummy story for the digital age". (Deji Olukutun said that!)
We'll be throwing a grand unwrapping party on Thursday, 29 January at thelovely Betsey Trotwood pub (56 Farringdon Road, EC1) for the occasion. Doors open at 7, brief talks at 7.30, then drinks, books and mingling with authors, Egyptologists and other lovely people.
Our extremely limited (and signed... and numbered...) edition of The Good Shabti can only be purchased in two ways:
Best Little Bookshop are an independent online retailer that promote the very best in (printed) books. We're delighted that they've partnered with us as the exclusive retail partners for The Good Shabti.
TV shows, films and comics reviewed: 60 (also excludes Friday Fives, Post-Scripts and lists)
Eerily, although the total number of things reviewed is almost identical as 2013, the proportion of book/non-book reviews has changed in favour of the latter. That's due to Anne, Jon and Mahvesh. And Jared slacking.
Stocking Stuffer 2014 with Becky Chambers, Erin Horáková, Richard de Nooy, Paul Ford, William Curnow and Rose Biggin (US / UK)
Pandemonium: The Rite of Spring with William Curnow, S.A. Partridge, Rose Biggin, Martin Petto and Esther Saxey (US / UK)
Pandemonium: Big Jim's Shadow with Archie Black, Martin McGrath, Damien Kelly and Stuart Suffel (US / UK)
The Brick Moon by Edward Hale, with an afterword from Marek Kukula and Richard Dunn and a new story by Adam Roberts (US / UK)
Lost Souls, a complete anthology of reprinted and 'remastered' fiction, featuring stories by Stephen Crane, Robert Chambers, Mary Wilkins Freeman, and almost two dozen more, including original fiction by David Bryher and introductions by the editors (US / UK)
All of these are free on Amazon today and tomorrow (31 December and 1 January). Fill your boots!
Caution - this is loooong. I go through all the results, what conclusions I've drawn from them and then how we'll be responding. I've front-loaded this with the more general information, as that's of use to more people (publishers, blogs, etc) and it gets more specific to Pornokitsch as it goes down. I've been really detailed about this - including a lot of spelling out my thinking - because a) it is fun and b) there's a chance it'll help other bloggers/websites/small publishers. As always, please join in the comments with your own conclusions and recommendations!
Last month, we shared around a survey about "reading short fiction online". We wanted to learn about people's reading habits and also, more specifically, get feedback around our weekly fiction project.
People were really kind about sharing the links around online, so it only seems right to share the results as well. We had a shade under 300 total respondents, about 60% from UK (and about 20% US, with South Africa, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Ireland, Finland and Australia all featuring repeatedly as well).
The first question (slightly awkwardly phrased) is about how people like to consume their digital, short fiction.
A few lessons:
Desktop ain't dead. Online fiction in the browser window is still the way to go. Possibly hidden behind the spreadsheets you're supposed to be working on.
That said, mobile devices are key. At 45%, mobile browsers were a popular pick. We had actually guessed this ahead of time, and held off launching our fiction until our site was moved to a responsive template. And this is also why we don't include heavy-weight imagery with the stories. As much as we'd like to have them, the mobile experience is important.
The dominance of Kindle over 'other e-reader' isn't a surprise.
What was a surprise? The relative unpopularity of email. Perhaps we're just old-fashioned, but the idea of having stories delivered feels like a touch of luxury. This may, however, be a sign of how little fiction is delivered by email (see below).
1st Place – “Leatherman” by Diane Awerbuck (South Africa)
2nd Place – “Ape Shit” by Sylvia Schlettwein (Namibia)
3rd Place – “In the Water” by Kerstin Hall (South Africa)
Honourable Mention – “The Corpse” by Sese Yane (Kenya)
This year's competition, Terra Incognita, encouraged wild imagination and new frontiers. Writers were urged to delve into the genres of speculative fiction: horror, fantasy, dystopian, sci-fi, alternative history and magical realism. The winner was chosen by Samuel Kolawole, who also helped select the shortlists with Richard de Nooy and me (it was a blind judging process, which was a first for me - and a really great experience). All of the stories from the longlist - selected by Tiah Beautement and Rachel Zadok - will be published in the annual SSDA anthology.
"The winning entry is among the most engaging pieces of short fiction I have read this year. A tale of longing and dark adventure, 'Leatherman' draws the reader into its rhythm and mystery through scalpel sharp details and sly wit. A deserving winner.
"'Ape Shit' is riveting, surreal and beautifully crafted.
'In the Water' is a thump to the heart. A great horror story with a satisfying ending.
"Finally, wonderfully stylistic and quirky 'The Corpse' deserves an honourable mention."
I've had an opportunity to read the entire longlist as part of the judging process, and they're absolutely fantastic. Just narrowing down to a shortlist was tough, picking a winner must've been nearly impossible. Congratulations to the four stories above, as they're all terrific.
All four stories were first published in 2014 on Pornokitsch.
I hasten to add - these are exactly the same stories that are available for free on the website. There's no bonus content, unless you consider finely-crafted xml and a nice bit of cover design to a 'bonus'. Nor is this a complicated get-rich-quick scam: these are listed for the lowest possible price.
The one and only goal here is to make these great stories available to a broader audience. I'm happy if people read them on the site, on their Kindle, on a boat or on a goat. (Please send in pictures of the latter.)
We talk through a webcomic - Emma Vieceli and Malin Ryden's Breaks. Plus, we pick through the results of a recent Vue survey about comic-to-film adaptations. Which were the best? Which were the worst? There are some... surprises.