Previous month:
April 2012
Next month:
June 2012

The Art of The Fizzy Pop Vampire

The Fizzy Pop Vampire
Den Patrick and Sarah Anne Langton have released their children's book, The Fizzy Pop Vampire.

It is the quirky tale of a tiny vampire with a love for sweet beverages and, as Anne says, "The cutest book about the importance of good dental hygiene you'll ever find". Adorable rhymes, awesome illustrations.

Available through the iTunes store for a platry £1.99.

Illustration by Sarah Anne Langton


What book did you love the most as a child?

We all have our childhood favourites, those stories we discovered as children that we read over and over and over again. They inspire us, bring us comfort and linger at the back of our minds (and it is sometimes best that they stay there).

We know this is about Worlds of Tomorrow, but we also wanted to also a look into yesterday. Over the weekend, we asked Twitter "what book did you love the most as a child?", and here are the responses.

Please document your own childhood love in the comments. The more, the better!

Watership DownStephen (@stephendeas): Watership Down

Laura (@LorGraham): Enid Blyton's Faraway Tree Stories. I'm rereading them with my cousin at the moment, and I love them just as much now as I did then.

Gary (@gnorthfield): Enid Blyton's Magic Faraway Tree (and Asterix...)

Jennie (@Autumn2May): Outside Over There by Maurice Sendak

Gav (@gavreads): The Hobbit

Nicole (@mzeaster): The entire Oz series (the Frank Baum series, not Ruth whatsername)... Some quick odd history: he believed it was a real place and his family disowned and committed him for it.

Justin (@jdiddyesquire): Sword of Shannara. I read it a dozen times.

Saxon (@saxonb): A Princess of Mars by Burroughs. Was read to me by my Dad when I was six. (Plus, to be honest, pretty much anything with Doctor Who on the cover...) 

Continue reading "What book did you love the most as a child?" »


The Art of The Hobbit

Hobbit

2012 is, amongst other things, the 75th anniversary of The Hobbit. HarperCollins went a bit early, however, releasing The Art of the Hobbit last October. The book contains over 100 'lost' illustrations by J.R.R. Tolkien, including preliminary sketches, maps, plans and other charming scribbles. A wee gallery at the Guardian shows the changes in one particular image over time.

Cutest Smaug ever.


Ted Hughes' The Iron Man by Will Hill

The Iron Man

The Iron Man came to the top of the cliff. How far had he walked? Nobody knows. Where had he come from? Nobody knows. Taller than a house, the Iron Man stood at the top of the cliff, on the very brink, in the darkness.

How great is that? How utterly perfect? I can’t imagine how anyone could read those lines and not immediately want to know more. Decades after I read them for the first time, they still give me chills…

Continue reading "Ted Hughes' The Iron Man by Will Hill" »


Introducing Worlds of Tomorrow

Worlds of TomorrowOn May 22nd, some of the biggest talents in science fiction and young adult literature will be converging at Foyles for Worlds of Tomorrow, a wonderful think-in about the relationship between the two genres.

The event is hosted by the Society of Authors and, specifically, Philip Reeve and Sarah McIntyre. This sort of cross-genre, takin'-geeky-stuff-seriously event is Kitschies catnip, and we'll be there with bells on.

The young adult category is booming, but, more than that, the lines between children's and adult's reading are blurrier than ever. Over the next two weeks, we'll be looking at the issue from a variety of different perspectives. What makes a book a children's book? What books inspired us as children? How do books express ideas to children, and how to they use children to express ideas to adults? 

These are big questions and, thankfully, we're not going to be the only ones tackling them (whew). We've got some great guests lined up to discuss their favourite works of children's literature, starting this afternoon with Department 19's Will Hill.

Because art and illustration are such an important part of both children's books and science fiction, we'll also be highlighting a few of our personal favorites on the blog. For more arty whatnot, you can follow along on our Tumblr page

To learn more about The Kitschies, the prize for progressive, intelligent and entertaining genre fiction for readers of all ages, please see www.thekitschies.com.


Causing Pandemonium

As well as our bi-weekly round-ups of Pornokitsch and The Kitschies' news, we're also going to start throwing in occasional updates on the Pandemonium projects.

Pandemonium: Stories of the Apocalypse received a lovely shout-out from Tom Hunter, the Director of the Arthur C. Clarke Award. He even brandished a copy of the limited edition at the ACCA ceremony. ("Mao-like", noted one audience member.) Everything Tom said on the night is true. It is an amazing collection and proceeds from it do go towards supporting the prize. The collection still lurks around at a mere £2.49 on Amazon.

We're not the only publisher (tiny or otherwise) supporting the prize - NewCon Press' gorgeous Fables from the Fountain also donates to the Clarke Award and is a lovely book - definitely worth checking out.

Pandemonium - Lost SoulsThe first reviews of Stories of the Smoke have been trickling through and have been, as Dickens would say, "amazeballs". "A strong anthology", quoth The Fantastical Librarian and "a major success" wisely pronounces Stuff & Nonsense.

More Smoke news is in the pipeline, you'll hear it when it happens (that was a hint). The limited edition of Smoke is long sold out, but the ebook is available on Amazon.

Our next collection Lost Soulsis on track for its August release. The final artwork is in from the astounding Vincent Sammy. "Amanda Todd" is shown here, and there are a few other previews on the Panda site. We first saw Vincent's work in an issue of Something Wicked and were immediately blown away. Pre-orders for the limited edition of Lost Souls will open in June.

We're received the first two stories for our fall collection, A Town Called Pandemonium. Will Hill does truly terrible things to a family of miners and Archie Black has turned in a Roshomon-style stagecoach robbery gone terribly wrong (do they ever go right?).

Meanwhile, we've opened submissions for two new Pandemonium chapbooks: Crossroads and 1853. Crossroads' deadline is 1 June, so, if you're not scribbling away, now's a good time to start. 

To wrap up on a cryptic note, we have not one but two more 2012 titles that we haven't announced yet. These are a new direction for Pandemonium - not anthologies, but something slightly different. 

As alway, if you're interested in receiving the latest news of sales, submissions and release dates, we suggest the Pandemonium mailing list


The Weeks that Were

Harvey loves JessieFirst, a huge congratulations to Jane Rogers and The Testament of Jessie Lamb - a Kitschies' Red Tentacle finalist and 2012 Arthur C. Clarke Award winner! Ms. Rogers is an amazing writer and we're delighted by the ACCA's decision. 

The Kitschies are taking part in the Society of Author's Worlds of Tomorrow at Foyles (22 May, a few tickets still left - go!). To support the event, we'll be dedicating the next two weeks of the blog to a discussion of children's books (also, young adult books, adult books for kids, kids' books for adults and everything in-between). We've got a great line-up of guests and features, and it promises to be a blast.

The adorable tentacles (you can see them on the left) were drawn by Sarah McIntyre, one of the event's hosts and organisers. We love them.

Meanwhile... the last two weeks' reviews:

  • Matthew Bradley's Adultery in Suburbia (1964) (and how hell is other people – in Ohio)
  • William King's Blood of Aenarion (2011) (and world-building the fall of empire)
  • Helen Lowe's The Heir of Night (2011) (and making the hard things easy [with magical rangers])
  • Peter Orullian's The Unremembered (2011) (and how quantity doesn't mean quality, especially with Chosen Ones)
  • Brandon Sanderson's The Alloy of Law (2011) (and the difference between 'very good' and 'great')

We wrapped up our reviews of the David Gemmell Legend Awards' shortlists on Friday with some concluding thoughts. The discussion in the comments is great; how do you think epic fantasy should be represented in awards?

In film, Anne reviewed The Avengers and Catherine Hemelryk, curator, roller derby wunderkind and 2011 Kitschies judge, swung by to help us pick our favourite TV Themes.


The David Gemmell Legend Award Shortlist - In Conclusion

Snaga photo from Orbit BooksA month ago, when I started the process of reviewing the David Gemmell Legend Award shortlists, my goal was to examine the notion of "celebrating" fantasy. The award is consciously set up for this purpose - "to celebrate the history and cultural importance of fantasy literature" - and the engine for that celebration is a public vote. 

The DGLA is unique with this mechanism, but it makes critical evaluation more or less impossible. The more people who take part, the further diffused and re-interpreted any sort of criteria becomes. The result is, as billed, a celebration - with the most popular books becoming, by virtue of their popularity, the "best" books of the year. 

I'm in no way proposing to reform the DGLA's voting process. I like that there's a popular vote and I like that there's an award that specialises in epic fantasy. In general, the more awards, the better. They're recommendation engines, and you can never have too many recommendations. This is a fun award, people enjoy it and it gets fans involved. Bring it on.

What I would like to address is the mistaken notion that the DGLA exists because no one else is taking epic fantasy seriously

First, as noted a month ago, epic fantasy has popped on the shortlists of many juried and organisational awards in the SF/F community. These include the Hugos, the Locus Awards and The Kitschies. The British Fantasy Society reformed its own award format because, amongst other things, it felt it wasn't representing fantasy enough. These evaluations are out there. If epics are feeling slighted by literary awards like the Booker, well... stand in line.

Second, when epic fantasy is critically evaluated, the response should never be, "well, it is just entertainment" or "you're reading too much into it". It doesn't work both ways. Granular examinations for consistency, for racefail, for gender issues... that's what happens when a reviewer takes a book seriously. Speaking for ourselves, we at Pornokitsch don't claim to be right, but we respect epic fantasy enough to put it under the same brutal spotlight that we shine on everything else. That's what taking fantasy seriously means

Treating a book as "pure entertainment" does it a disservice. Enjoyability is, of course, important (it is one of our three Kitschies criteria), but it isn't an excuse. Don't blindly celebrate books - talk about them, address their flaws, and use that discussion as a platform towards getting even better books. 

So, 10 books, 5,000 pages and 17,000 words of review later, where did I come out on the DGLA shortlists?

Continue reading "The David Gemmell Legend Award Shortlist - In Conclusion" »


New Releases: Blood of Aenarion by William King

Blood-of AenarionBlood of Aenarion (2011) is the first book in a new series by veteran Black Library author, William King. Although Mr. King may be a familiar name to Black Library readers, this is the first time I've encountered his work. In fact, it is only the third book I've ever read from this publisher - so I've come to it almost completely ignorant of the storied Games Workshop tradition.

Blood of Aenarion is the story of two young twins, Tyrion and Teclis. They're elves - everyone in this story is an elf, by the way. Apparently humans and dwarves are mucking about somewhere, but this adventure focuses on the elves, their perspective and, perhaps most importantly, their fading colonial empire.

Tyrion and Teclis are rural nobility, raised in the back-end of nowhere with a distracted widower for a father. Fortunately, they have one another. Tyrion is a hearty physical specimen, who, even at his young age (16) is a natural with both swords and young ladies. His brother, Teclis, is frailer but smarter. He spends his day coughing his lungs out and reading obscure treatises. (If this sounds a bit like Dragonlance's Caramon and Raistlin, well... it is.)

Both Tyrion and Teclis are distant descendants of Aenarion, the first high king of the elves. Aenarion (as we learn in a wonderfully bloody prologue) saved the world from the forces of Chaos, but only by using a vile sword and channeling its evil to good use. As a result, his bloodline is, if not tainted, at least substantially altered. Aenarion's descendants have gone on to do both wonderful and terrible things. Some, like the dark elf Malekith, have embraced the 'curse'. Immortal and very, very crazy, Malekith rules an eeeevil empire and is at perpetual war with the good (well, 'better') elves. Many other descendants have successfully shrugged off the curse and grown into the elves' greatest wizards, warriors and healers. 

Continue reading "New Releases: Blood of Aenarion by William King" »


New Releases: The Unremembered by Peter Orullian

The Unremembered by OrullianPeter Orullian's The Unremembered (2011) is the author's debut. As the first book in a projected trilogy, The Unremembered evidences a species of wild ambition very different to any of the other DGLA 'Morningstar' (Debut) finalists. The book is a dense tome of over six hundred tightly-packed pages, but, although it does a lot, very little of it is new. However, what it lacks in originality, it certainly makes up for in enthusiasm. This is not necessarily a good thing.

The Unremembered takes place in a land repeatedly threatened by an ancient evil, 'The Quiet'. The Ancient Ones created the world, but one of their number got greedy. They chucked him behind the veil where's he's spent the rest of eternity making evil monsters and harrying humanity. As the eons trip by, the forces of evil gather whenever humanity is at its most fractious and weak. Heroes come, nations bond together, sacrifices are made and the Quiet is driven back. Rinse, repeat.

The book begins in such an age. Several promising young people are all living quiet...er... unremarkable lives in a pleasant rural village. But one day, it all goes wrong. At once.

Tahn, our hero, is out in the forest doing some rangering, that is, communing with nature and pondering the origin of his oddly-symbolic scar. A Quietgiven monster shows up and detonates an elk. Our hero runs to the village to warn everyone but gets distracted by a mysterious stranger that has appeared while he was out. Worse yet, the mysterious stranger that should appear - the Wise Old Storyteller - arrives late, and promptly dies (post-monologue) from injuries sustained by other (unrelated to the first) monsters.

Continue reading "New Releases: The Unremembered by Peter Orullian" »