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September 2011
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November 2011

Rattle & Boom: New Moon

New MoonWhat is it about charity shops and film tie-in board games? (Or television tie-in board games or even film-of-the-book tie-in board games, for that matter?) With Buffy the Vampire Slayer the Unplaytested Boardgame, I'd thought we'd reached the nadir of merchandising, but then, like a sparkle in the daylight, New Moon came glittering into our lives. Unopened. For a fiver. The unopened part is particularly telling - like some sort of well-meaning aunt stumbled upon this as the perfect Christmas present for her youf-ful nephew and his "rock and roll" music. "Look, Thomas, this has pale people and astronomical whatsits on it, just like those 'medal' bands you listen too!".

Regardless of the game's original provenance, as of last Wednesday night, it was cracked open and laid out for our distinctly non-Twilight, non-tweeny, thoroughly non-amused friends. 

So how'd it go?

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The Weeks that Were

The biweekly distillation of the pornokaos. Another busy (and eerily fast) two weeks have gone by.

First - an invitation. This coming Friday, 4 November, is the launch of Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse. The anthology is edited by us, introduced by Tom Hunter and features original stories from Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Lauren Beukes, Jonathan Oliver, Scott K. Andrews, Lou Morgan, Charlie Human, Tom Pollock, Sam Wilson, Chrys Balis, Den Patrick, S.L. Grey, Sophia McDougall, Andy Remic, Archie Black, David Bryher, Magnus Anderson, Oz Vance and Kim Lakin-Smith.

The launch takes place as part of Tate Britain's Late at Tate festivities. By signing up as one of our guests (it takes 3 seconds and we won't spam you), you get special offers including a glass of wine, a poster and (best of all) two for one tickets to the John Martin: Apocalypse special exhibit. We'll be wandering our flogging the ebook (the hardcover won't be in shops for another two weeks), listening to readings and generally making it the merriest apocalypse ever.

We hope to see you there.

Meanwhile, back at the ranch... a few reviews:

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Friday Five: 15 Awesome Horror Movies

Halloween is all kinds of wonderful. When we were kids, we used to go trick or treating. Then we had about ten years of dressing up as sexy witch/cat/scientist/aliens and doing horrible things to our livers. Now we just want to go trick or treating again. But until society says that's not creepy, we'll bide our time by watching scary movies.

Our Friday Five guest this week is Solaris & Abaddon's Jonathan Oliver, who edited the recently released House of Fear anthology, one of the scariest collections we've read in years. As the hottest name in horror, we thought we'd get Mr. Oliver's recommendations on some scary movies to watch in the dark.

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Pandemonium: Launch Party


Our first anthology, Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse, will be launched on Friday, 4 November 2011 as part of Tate Britain’s Late at Tate festivities. The evening begins at 6 pm, and the Pandemonium fun will start at 7.

The anthology contains eighteen original stories by Jon Courtenay Grimwood, Lauren Beukes, Jonathan Oliver, Scott K. Andrews, S.L. Grey, Sophia McDougall and a dozen other amazing science fiction, fantasy and horror writers. 

Late at Tate already features a lot of activities (performance, music, drinkin', some art...) and once you throw the Pandemonium readings into the mix, it promises to be a heartily apocalyptic sort of evening. We'll be there (of course), as will many of the Pandemonium authors (at least, the ones that don't live in the USA or South Africa).

Entry is free (except for special exhibits) and anyone who registers as one of our guests will receive special offers throughout the evening – including 2-for-1 tickets to the astounding John Martin: Apocalypse exhibition (save £12!), a free poster and some other perks that Tate keep throwing at us.

[Update: Includes a complimentary beverage!]

[Update 2: The room capacity is limited, so make sure to a) get your tickets and b) show up on time!]

There are more details - and the registration form - over on the Pandemonium Fiction site.

We hope to see you there!

Monsters & Mullets: She-Ra: The Secret of the Sword (1985)

Secret of the SwordJust a quickie guide before we get into this, the “feature-length” origin adventure of She-Ra, barbarian princess of tie-in toys. Mattel passed up the opportunity to produce the Star Wars tie-in toys, a decision they never came to regret despite the series’ immense and lucrative popularity. Oh, ha hah, I kid. How I kid. The Mattel muckity-mucks spent the next few years sacrificing Barbie dolls to Ba’al in exchange for another shot at the Lucasian stupid-money.

Then, in the very early ‘80s, Mattel’s lead designer slapped some clay muscles onto a doll made of knocked-together parts from some random line and Mattel declared his creation “good.” Then he named it He-Man, generic enough to be marketed really easily, and the Mattel called it “very good.” And thus, in 1982, was He-Man brought into the world. It was a world obsessed with swords n’ sorcery, delighted by all things barbarian, and right then, totally digging on Conan (the Schwarzenegger film was one of 1982’s major hits).

The toy line sold well, but Mattel wanted more. So they created a tie-in animated series and BOOM. Lucasian stupid-money achieved.

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New Releases: The Consummata by Mickey Spillane and Max Allan Collins

The ConsummataThe Consummata (2011) is one of the first new releases from Hard Case Crime, the modern noir publisher that's just returned from a year-long hiatus. The Consummata has also been on a hiatus of sorts - pulp master Mickey Spillane began the book in the late 1960s but never finished it. He left this manuscript (amongst others) with Max Allan Collins, who edited Spillane's work and then completed the story.

The Consummata is a sequel to The Delta Factor (1967), Mr. Spillane's first (and, for forty years, only) book featuring Morgan the Raider. Morgan is a bit of a gray figure. He steals (a lot), but only from the wealthy and corrupt. He kills (a lot), but only in self-defense. He's hunted by the government (a lot), but he's not anti-American. He is, in short, the perfect anti-hero. 

The book picks up almost immediately after where its predecessor lets off and throws the reader straight into the action. Morgan is scampering around Miami trying to elude federal agents. He was involved in a forty-million dollar heist in The Delta Factor and the agents would love to rope him in and find the money. Morgan doesn't actually know where it is. This helps give him the moral high ground - he's not the bad guy - but the men in black suits refuse to listen.

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Friday Five: 15 Geek Anthems

When it comes to rocking out, geek-style, there are no better bandmates than Scott K. Andrews and Magnus Anderson.

Scott has written for virtually every media, from the Kitschies-nominated Children's Crusade to audio plays for Big Finish to the best book on Dawson's Creek you'll ever read (Anne laughed for two days). For those that have ever met Mr Andrews, you'll know why he's an obvious pick for this week's Friday Five - he's a font of musical lore.

Magnus has also been published by Big Finish and has appeared numerous times on Resonance FM's Lollards of Pop. He's our go-to guru for all aspects of geek culture and is currently distilling some of his knowledge into a mysterious project being released in 2012.

Those who are about to rock - we salute you! [Wow. I've always wanted to type that. Who knew?!] You can sing along with the YouTube playlist.


"The Ballad of Barry Allen" - Jim's Big Ego. This track creates some kind of music/geek interface critical mass. Jim Infantino, singer and songwriter with the awesome Jim’s Big Ego, is nephew of Carmine Infantino, legendary comic book artist and co-creator of The Flash, whose original incarnation, Barry Allen is the subject of this song from his nephew’s album They’re Everywhere, for which he created the cover art. GEEKGASM! All this would merely be fodder for pub quiz questions if the song weren’t so damn brilliant, clever and unexpectedly poignant.
Bubbling under: JBE do the same thing for Peter Parker in "Being a Bug"

"Code Monkey" - Jonathan Coulton. Although his latest album signifies a confident maturation, Jonathan Coulton started his singing career as the world’s foremost purveyor of geek songs. He’s got songs about zombies, Benoît Mandelbrot (free download), giant squid (I imagine this is on permanent repeat on the Pornokitsch office iPod), robots, more robots, yet more robots (free download), evil geniuses (free download) and much more. In the end I plumped for his melancholy lament for frustrated computer programmers, "Code Monkey".
Bubbling under: Far too many to choose from.

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Rattle & Boom: Pirates of the Caribbean Buccaneer

BuccaneerBuccaneer, in its many incarnations, has been around since 1938 and is still in print today. For 75 years, the basic tenets of the games have held true, but each manufacturer, producer, designer and cheesy film tie-in partner has insisted on fiddling with the rules.

Each player is the captain of a pirate ship (arrrr, avast, etc). You take turns sailing around the board to various destinations in search of treasure, crew and trouble. The goal is to collect various types of loot. There are 5 types that are worth between 2 and 5 gold each. There are also 5 pieces of each type. Once you get three (or more) of a single type of loot, you can safely stash it at your home port. It is taken off the board, and you have that much treasure to your name. The first player to match and stash 20 points of treasure wins. 

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Review Round-up: Quick-Fire Hombre and Blood and Hate

Another pair of paperback Westerns - Nelson Nye's Quick-Fire Hombre and Ward Langley's Blood and Hate.

Blood and HateDespite the appalling cover, Blood and Hate (1959) turned out to be an enjoyable little tale. Our hero, Paul Bascombe is new to the town of Prairie. Prairie is in the cattle business, the town's tiny main street surrounded by thousands of acres of unclaimed land, currently used for grazing. The biggest man in town is Bull Harris – owner of the Bar M Ranch. He's the richest, meanest and greediest - and, as according to the genre tradition, he's got the prettiest daughter.

Bascombe is a soft-spoken man, and not out to make enemies. As the book begins, he's saving the life of a Mexican stranger, just to reinforce to the reader that Paul here is a good egg through and through. But Bascombe rides into Prairie like the Four Horsemen combined - he wants to graze sheep. Bull Harris is livid. Sheep (allegedly) devour all the grass and ruin the land for cattle. Paul's woolly apocalypse also requires some of the (unclaimed) land to be fenced off, so his beloved cows can no longer roam free. Bascombe's got the law on his side as well - with the new Government land act, he can claim, fence and en-sheep some of the Prairie land. Sadly, Harris has no problem with illegal methods of persuasion.

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