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November 2011
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Friday Five: Nightmare Creatures [Contest!]

Friday FiveWe thought we'd try something a little different in this week's Friday Five.

When it comes to scary monsters (and super creeps), everyone's got their own special fear. Jared? Spiders - which means beasties like Mark Charan Newton's spider-monster-woman-thing give him nightmares for weeks. Anne? She's fearless (or so she claims).

So what about you? What creature - real or imaginary - gives you the heebie-jeebies?

We've got an amazing prize for the best answer. Deadly Knitshade of Whoddunnit (and author of Knit the City and Stitch London) created a set of five Stitched Mini Slake Moths based on the horrendous creatures from Perdido Street Station. They were on display at last week's Steampunk Evening, and now's your chance to win one of them for yourself.

375359_328555183823822_167714559907886_1318368_749539080_nPhoto courtesy of Deadly Knitshade. (See more on her site.)

This adorable/terrifying creature needs a new home and fresh minds to snack on. Want to earn its love? Confess your fears below! (We've also got a bit of cool Kraken swag to hand out, thanks to The Kitschies, so there may be multiple winners. Ooooooh.)

Continue reading "Friday Five: Nightmare Creatures [Contest!]" »

Pandemonium Stocking Stuffer 2011

Stocking StufferOn sale now - the first Pandemonium Stocking Stuffer.

This bite-sized volume contains three original short stories from Archie Black, Den Patrick and Osgood Vance. They're vaguely united by the theme of being "darkly comedic fantasies", but mostly, they're three stories that made us laugh.

Den Patrick's tale, "The Shock of the New" goes behind the lines in a steampunk WWI, Archie Black's "Villainy Fair" examines some of the cruel inequities of epic fantasy and Oz Vance's "The Season" follows a thoroughly mediocre group of adventurers in search of their destiny.

The Stocking Stuffer has a beautiful cover by Sarah Anne Langton, commissioned specifically for this volume.  

All and all, there's not much complicated about it - a fun collection for a fun time of year. We hope you enjoy it!

You can pick up the Stocking Stuffer from Amazon (US) and Amazon (UK).

'I was rejected from every MFA program I applied to.' - Lev Grossman and The Magicians

Themagicians_coverThe Magicians Lev Grossman is one of the most exciting new authors in modern fantasy. The Magicians (a 2009 Kitschies finalist) introduced readers to Quentin Coldwater, Brakebills and the magical kingdom of Fillory. The Magician King (2011), the sequel, is no less acclaimed or controversial; an insightful look at the "un-chosen ones" in fantasy fiction.


Pornokitsch: You’ve some had pretty amazing news recently. What’s life like now that The Magicians is going to be a television series? Is the world a completely different place? Do you still go to the same restaurants?

Lev Grossman: I still go to the same restaurants. I could tell you how little money is involved with a TV deal, at least at the beginning, but it would only depress you.

We’re not talking life-changing numbers here. TV deals start small, and I mean tiny, and get bigger as they go. If – and it’s still a long shot – the show actually makes it to air, then the world will start filling up with rainbows and unicorns. But that’s a long way off.

Continue reading "'I was rejected from every MFA program I applied to.' - Lev Grossman and The Magicians" »

New Releases: Getting Off by Lawrence Block and Jill Emerson

Getting OffGetting Off (2011) is aptly billed as "a novel of sex and violence". The story follows Kit Tolliver, serial killer and sex fiend, as she cuts a swathe (figuratively and literally) across America.

Kit is a professional killer. She's not a hitman or assassin; hers is a simpler and less glamorous calling, she's driven to kill. As the book sets up, this doesn't seem to bother her. Kit seduces and removes one lover after another with chilly detachment. She never gives her real name, never puts down roots and never stays long after the deed is done. Kit's enough of a natural actor that she can easily feign a thousand competencies (my favorite is her impression of an MBA) and enough of a beauty that no one ever questions her presence. She's got a good (bad) thing going for her and she knows it.

Kit lives in a setting straight out of Jim Thompson - or, as a more contemporary comprison, Bret Easton Ellis. There's very little that's good or pure. Kit's not heroic and nor is she rational. But, as the reader quickly learns, nor is anyone else. The difference is, unlike the rest of the world, Kit knows she's crazy.

Continue reading "New Releases: Getting Off by Lawrence Block and Jill Emerson" »

The Kitschies' Steampunk Evening

SwiftlyThank you to everyone for taking part in last night's Steampunk shenanigans. We hope you all had as much fun as we did.

Below, we've put together a quick list of the featured guests from last night and some of their more overtly (or potentially or arguably) Steampunk work. 

This is by no means intended to be an exhaustive list of Steampunk (or quasi-Steampunk or alt-Victoriana or dustpunk or not-so-much-punk) recommendations. However, these are the lovely people who gave a lot of their time and energy towards the goal of lively debate.

If you enjoyed their discussion at the event, please take the time to check out their work in more detail - both Steampunk and otherwise.


Jonathan Green (The Pax Britannia series)

Frances Hardinge (Fly By Night and Twilight Robbery)

Kim Lakin-Smith (Cyber Circus)

China Miéville (Perdido Street Station)

Philip Reeve (The Mortal Engines series)

Adam Roberts (Swiftly)

Lavie Tidhar (The Bookman, Camera Obscura and The Great Game)

Continue reading "The Kitschies' Steampunk Evening" »

Review Round-up: Walls and Watchmen

In Kings BywaysStanley Weyman's In Kings' Byways (1902) is a collection of short historical romances from Europe of the 16th through 18th centuries. They all follow the classical definition of romance - that is, 'adventure fiction' rather than 'snogging', although to be fair, Mr. Weyman does include his fair share of the latter.

Like his contemporary, my beloved Robert Chambers, it is fairly evident that Mr. Weyman has never let the truth stand in the way of a good story. Rather, he sees history as the inspiration for a rollicking tale. Like Chambers, Mr. Weyman also keeps his stories driven by characters, rather than action - preferring to invent personalities than recreate battles.

Most of the stories in In Kings' Byways are focused around (imaginary) bit players in sweeping events: scribes caught up in plots against the crown, pages that accidentally eavesdrop on battle plans, students that encounter Kings in disguise. Mr. Weyman's protagonists are all enjoyable, but also a bit repetitive: young men and old men.

The young men are chivalric, dim and filled with good intentions. Their stories are generally driven by the combination of gambling debts and an overdeveloped sense of honor - straight out of Dumas. The older men are clever, proud and a touch nostalgic. Their stories generally involve discovering dangerous plots against the throne, disguising themselves (alongside their King) and facing said danger in person - essentially retellings of Harun al-Rashid tales from the Arabian Nights.

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Walls and Watchmen" »

A Blackwell's Kitschies Steampunk Rum Night!

KrakenJust a reminder that Pornokitsch (in our less sweary, more book-award-awarding guise The Kitschies) will be hosting a Steampunk Evening tomorrow night at Blackwell's flagship store on Charing Cross Road, in London. Please join us as we discuss Steampunk, mingle with authors and artists, imbibe a festive and warming liquid, and browse and buy books at one of London's finest bookstores.

Guests will include authors Adam Roberts, China Miéville, Lavie Tidhar, Philip Reeve, Kim Lakin-Smith, Jonathan Green, and Frances Hardinge; artists such as Gary Northfield, Sarah Skeate, Nicola Tedman and Deadly Knitshade; and the cephalapodic celebrity Plarchie the Giant Squid. (And many more!)

The event is totally free and boasts, in addition to all the delights listed above, tasters of rum from the Kitschies' sponsor The Kraken Rum. You can register for the event on Facebook, here

We look forward to seeing you tomorrow night!

A Kitschies Steampunk Evening
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Blackwell's Bookshop
100 Charing Cross Road
London WC2H OJG
6.00 pm - 8.30 pm

From "A Thousand of the Best Novels" (1919)

From A Thousand of the Best Novels - Fourth Edition (Newark Free Library, 1919):

It pleases some to write the fanciful romances. They lay the scene in fairyland, in Caesar's Rome, in Cromwell's England, or in a Kansas country town, as is to them easy and attractive. If well done they seem true to fact as one reads them.

They portray men and women who seem like the men and women of our daily experience. Between this good romance and the best of realistic novels, who can draw a line of separation?

The complete list is online thanks to I've gone through and picked out a few titles of genre and personal interest, these are all below the jump. I've also included the price and publisher as included in the original publication.

Continue reading "From "A Thousand of the Best Novels" (1919)" »

Review Round-up: Gods and Boy Scouts

Two books with very little in common. Lavie Tidhar's Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God and George Ralphson's Boy Scouts Beyond the Arctic Circle

Gorel-and-the-pot-bellied-godLavie Tidhar's Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God (2011) is a self-styled "guns and sorcery" novella. Mr. Tidhar, as previously noted, is one of the great masters of the pastiche. In this instance, however, Mr. Tidhar has created something uniquely his own - a delightfully Weird pulp tale that could easily sit on a shelf alongside Leiber, Vance and Moorcock.

The titular Gorel is a gun-fighting mercenary of the haunted and close-mouthed persuasion. As the story begins, Gorel has just closed the book on another mysterious campaign, and is returning to his core mission of finding his lost homeland. Gorel's adventurous past is hinted at in a hundred different ways - references to old battles and dead gods among them. 

In this particular case, Gorel is off hunting for a particular sort of McGuffin, a magic mirror that, of all things, ties into the (reinterpreted) fairytale of the Frog Prince. Gorel must penetrate an entire culture of frog-people and steal their most venerated artifact. If that wasn't hard enough, he's saddled with untrustworthy allies, a drug habit and the ticking timebomb of an invading army. 

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Gods and Boy Scouts" »

The Weeks that Were

Two busy weeks on Pornokitsch and the other tentacles in our brand-squid.

Our second collection, Pandemonium: Stories of the Smoke, is now open for submissions. We're looking for stories about London, inspired by Charles Dickens. The details can be found over on the Pandemonium site. If you haven't read it yet, Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse is currently half price for the holidays - 18 original stories of the end of the world for £2.49 (or $2.99, depending on geography).

The Kitschies have an event coming up on Thursday night - the award is hosting a Steampunk Evening at Blackwell's Charing Cross. Entry is free and the guest list includes authors, artists and plastic squid. We've also been curating a series of guest posts on the Blackwell's blog, authors and bloggers sharing their thoughts on the genre.

Meanwhile, back on the blog, we got to reviewing again:

Continue reading "The Weeks that Were" »