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PK Interview: Jonathan Oliver (Part 3)

The third part of our session with Abaddon & Solaris editor, Jonathan Oliver. Previously, we spoke about his book, The Call of Kerberos

You mentioned him earlier – George R.R. Martin…

Yeah. I wish he’d hurry up and write the next fucking book.

Do we think that’s ever going to happen?

Oh, it’d better… I’ve invested a lot of time! Tyrion is one of the best fantasy characters I’ve ever read. He’s so good. He’s obviously not good, but that’s what’s great about him. The Battle of Blackwater Rush is one of the most brilliantly gob-smacking fantasy battles I’ve ever read. And I don’t  usually read big, epic fantasy but I'm now starting to get tuned into that a bit more.

He’s such an influence now for other authors.

He’s set the mark very, very high. Political fantasy can be a bit dry, but he’s made something really political, and not dry at all. The intrigues are brilliant, the characters are so well portrayed - they’re so individual. I normally read an epic fantasy and think, ‘Who is this guy? I kind of remember you mentioning him but now I'm not sure who he is.' But with Martin, you instantly know who he’s talking about – the characters are so well-defined, they don’t blend into one.

So why, when you spoke about him earlier, did you use him as an example what you’renotlooking for?

For Solaris, that’s exactly what we want. 

But Abaddon is more a pulp fiction model – stories you can dip into and out of. I don’t want to alienate readers and say, “this series is just for the  die-hard fans”. I want to draw people in, show them that this is good fun, and then encourage them to explore the other characters as well.  With something like George R.R. Martin, you have to read the books in order – that’s a necessity if you want to understand the story. But it really is worth it. And with the pulps, with Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & Grey Mouser, they’re short stories. The world feels rich still, it doesn’t demean it by being a series of shorts. I think they’re still some of the richest things written in fantasy.

Fritz Leiber’s just a beautiful writer - full stop. It’s not just his fantasy, I love his science fiction; his horror is astonishing. Our Lady of Darkness is one of the great horror novels. It’s a novel in which the ghost/monster is the city – San Francisco. Stunning, and when I went to San Francisco I got why the novel was written, it's such an evocative and beautiful place.

I love Leiber as well, but there are some fairly edgy parts to his stories. In fact, a lot of the pulp authors seem to draw complaints from modern readers.

Absolutely. As with Lovecraft, there are elements that just aren’t very nice. There’s a rape scene in one of Leiber's Grey Mouser and Fafhrd stories – and this is stunning and horrible to say – it seems to be played for comedy. And that’s very uncomfortable, and hard to reconcile.

With Lovecraft as well, unfortunately, there’s racism, there’s misogyny – well, not so much misogyny as he just doesn’t get women. You get the impression that he doesn’t like sex, or understand what it’s for. He was utterly horrendous to his wife.

And, conversely, there’s also that special sort of fandom that refuses to acknowledge anything negative said about H.P. Lovecraft...

It’s like Hitchcock. Hitchcock was a weird and kooky guy who did some horrible stuff as well as some great stuff. And that doesn’t stop the great stuff he did from being well and truly great but you have to acknowledge a person's faults too.

With The Call of Kerberos, I very consciously wanted to put women in it and have them as strong characters. Katya, Silus’ wife, is pregnant for the first half of the novel. I thought, well, it’d be awfully convenient if she had to stay at home and be protected. Instead, she had to go along. I wanted her to be there throughout the book, see Silus changing and be a foil for him. And Katherine Makennon, the head of the Final Faith. She’s so much fun to write. I didn’t invent the Final Faith. Matthew Sprange and Mike Wild pretty much created it and Mike has done the most writing about it. They’re so much fun – they’re like the Inquisition with black magic.

So, with the Twilight of Kerberos series, I wanted to keep the pulp fiction sensibilities, but not the worst bits. But I don’t think that’s exclusive to pulp fiction, or genre fiction. I think American fiction of that era had a lot of it going around – there’s still a lot of it going around for that matter.



Stay tuned, in the next segment, we get more into the past, present & future of Abaddon books. The Call of Kerberos is available through Amazon and your local bookshop. If you need help finding Leiber, Lovecraft or George R.R. Martin books... yikes.

Clash of the Titans (1981) on the Silver Screen!

Medusa You're in luck, London folks!  The unbeatable Ray Harryhausen classic and Pornokitsch super-double-ultra favorite Clash of the Titans will be shown as part of a double-bill with Jason and the Argonauts on Monday, March 29th, at the Prince Charles Cinema in Leicester Square.

There is no reason you should not be there.  Tickets go on sale tomorrow.

Without Clash of the Titans you and I wouldn't be here today, in the most literal sense:  Jared and I originally made friends by bonding over our mutual affection for the movie, way back in 1998.  A decade later his wedding present to me was a mint-condition, vintage promo poster for the movie, signed by Harryhausen himself.

PK Interview: Jonathan Oliver (Part 2)

The second of our five part series with Abaddon & Solaris editor, Jonathan Oliver. Previously, we discussed the origins of the Twilight of Kerberos series.


Let’s throw in the traditional question about influences. People normally cite things like Tolkien and, more recently, David Eddings… but you’ve been talking about pulp authors so far. 

H.P. Lovecraft, certainly. “Call of Cthulhu” has to be one of the most influential stories within the horror genre. Lovecraft touched on a horror that no one had really touched on before. His stories seem really grandiose and cosmic, but at their heart they’re about an utter despair. “There is no God, the universe really is this cruel!” 

Atheism - jpg A friend of mine describes Lovecraft as High Church Atheism, which isn’t far off the truth. I say this as a Christian, but Lovecraft’s atheism is part of what makes him great. It doesn’t upset me – it gives him this unique take on horror. 

You say "Lovecraft" and people immediately just think tentacles and big sea monsters, and that’s really not at the core of what he does. 

Continue reading "PK Interview: Jonathan Oliver (Part 2)" »

The Week in Geek: March 13-20

Welcome, delicious friends!421 tolkien

Gail Carriger gave our Six Tips for Giving a Good Reading post a mention in her blog.  This gave us warm, slightly confusing feelings.

Speaking of things that give us warm, slightly confusing feelings - have you noticed our gorgeous new Pornokitsch font, up at the top of the page?  It's a wonderful combination of Barbarella and squish, don't you think?

We said goodbye to You Look Like a Little Kid with a Beard.

Someone is set to adapt A Wrinkle in Time for the big screen.  I know it's a classic, but I never warmed to Wrinkle.   The news leaves me unmoved.

Someone else, however, is adapting Robert C. O'Brien's Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIHM - now that is a novel I did love.  Here's hoping the new version is more faithful to the book than Don Bluth's 1982 animated movie.  Although I do honestly like The Secret of NIHM, the hocus-pocus crap at the end bugged me, even as a kid. In a perfect world, the new NIHM will keep all the science and all the graphic violence - and feature stop-motion animation.  (I'd settle for traditional cel animation, however.  Hell, I'd be glad if they gave Bluth another shot; his highly stylized animation has a kind of compelling grittiness to it, without ever quite straying into the outright ugliness of Ralph Bakshi's vision.)

Ian McKellen makes it sound like The Hobbit movie is finally getting off the ground.

Here is a (film) trailer for the new Pride & Prejudice & Zombies (novel) prequel, Dawn of the Dreadfuls.  Although I'm pretty tired of the Jane Austen Novel & Horror Cliche this isn't a bad way to waste a minute.

Happy weekend! If you're in or around London, don't forget to go see Joe Hill at Forbidden Planet on Saturday and Spaceballs at the Prince Charles Cinema next Tuesday!

PK Interview: Jonathan Oliver (Part 1)

One of the highlights of the SFX Weekender was meeting Jonathan Oliver, editor of Abaddon & Solaris and author of the recently-published The Call of Kerberos. Mr Oliver kindly agreed to an interview, and, even more generously, allowed me to test my new audio gadgetry and record the whole thing. We had a forty-minute, free-ranging chat that covered all aspects of the fantastic universe... and took a long time for me to transcribe.

As a result of this epic venture, we've got five, wonderfully free-ranging interview segments, all of which we'll be sharing over the next two weeks. 


The Call of KerberosWhy don't we begin with your new book - what are the origins of the Twilight of Kerberos series? How did you came up with the idea for the Twilight world? 

I really love sword and sorcery. I love George R.R. Martin as well, and I love serious fantasy, but Fritz Leiber’s Fafhrd & Gray Mouser stories are my favorite things in fantasy ever. 

I wanted to do something that captured the zest and the fun of those stories, while also providing a series structure. We'd already had a fantasy series with Dreams of Inan which didn’t quite work as I wanted it to, though there were some very fine books there. This was way back when I first started and what we actually ended up with was something that was really more space fantasy. It was a bit Buck Rogers-y than I'd intended it be. Entirely my fault. 

Continue reading "PK Interview: Jonathan Oliver (Part 1)" »

Guest Editor Mr. Pickles Strikes Again

Thanks, PickMr. Pickles occasionally selects books for us to read, in the middle of the night, by pulling them gently from their shelves and allowing them to fall, with a barely audible thump, to our hardwood floors.

Some - of a more cynical persuasion - might suggest that he engages in this behaviour to encourage us to feed him at difficult hours, but I choose to believe that he has only our best reading interests at heart.

This morning's haul: two Ed Noon novels and There Is Something about a Dame, (note the emphasis!) the title of which never fails to make me break out into song.

Liveblog Spectacular! Half of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! (the better half)

HarryPotterHalfBloodPrinceUkrainian8.29 pm.  In keeping with a well established tradition, (I, uh, liveblogged the Resident Evil movie on Twitter, once.) Pornokitsch guest-editor Mr. Pickles and I, your fearless editor-who-isn't-Jared, shall go forth and liveblog!  Tonight's movie: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, which we started last night but never finished.  (My friends, it is a long movie.).  I'm not sure how far along we got last night, so this may be a very short liveblog.  Or not.

We are comfortably situated on our squashy beanbag sofa in front of the television.  Those of us who wear pyjamas are jim-jammed out; those of us who do not are not.  Mr. Pickles is seated next to me, with his paws on my left leg, purring.  I have just finished a gigantic meal.  Bring it!

8.32: And we're on!  Dumbledore and ol' Harry are having a serious conversation to portentous music.  Oh, hell, this could be at any point in the series, much less this movie.  I have no idea how much more of this film we have to go.

Continue reading "Liveblog Spectacular! Half of Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince! (the better half)" »

The Week in Geek: March 6 - 12.

Helloooooo nurse!  Your Pornokitsch production team has had a hell of a week and, horrifically, has not had the time to keep on top of developments in geekery.  We intend to punish ourselves by dramatically overfilling our wine-glasses with cheap chianti tonight.  In the meantime, however, we must content ourselves with a selection of Wonderful Things I Found on the Internet.

First off:  Patrick Stewart!  You may know him as the dead-sexy Jean-Luc Picard, and you may recall the episode of TNG in which he ran around in a Speedo, and you would be right to Article-0-08A9DC4B000005DC-220_468x756do so.  You may not, however, know him as a seriously fucking ripped Oberon in a loincloth, and thus your life is incomplete.  Well, it was.  Click on this link and you can die happy.  (Safe for work, although you might swoon.)

From our "Ten Thousand Other Types of Awesome!" file (sandwiched between "Squid!" and  "Daleks!"), this: Museum staff discover bird-sized beetle was shot out of the sky by Victorian insect collector.  

Both squid and daleks are, by the way, two awesome things so awesome they get their own files.

More Gorey covers from Kate Beaton!

The AV Club covered Pornokitsch favorite Kinky Friedman's career as a country singer this week.

Anything we missed this week in geek?  Let us know in the comments.

A warning - Jared is off to some sort of super-secret training thingie next week, leaving you at the tender mercies of Pornokitsch mascot and occasional guest editor Mr. Pickles and yours truly.  We promise not to post too many pictures of kittens in Jared's absence.

And finally!  Here is the classic movie Evil Dead, redone as a 30 second claymation short.  Yay!

Evil Dead done in 60 seconds with CLAY - 2010 from Lee Hardcastle on Vimeo.