Previous month:
June 2012
Next month:
August 2012

Friday Five: 10 Great Gaming Worlds

This week's Friday Five features, Den Patrick. If you follow his blog, you'll know that Den's a man who's worked a game or two in his day. No surprise that he's now off brewing up a fantasy world for the big guns at Gollancz.

We cover some of our favorite settings: console, tabletop, PC and (randomly) CCG... what are yours? Tell us about your game world of choice in the comments.


When I’m not being Den Patrick I’m usually having fun being someone else, someone else that is somewhere else...

Iron-kingdoms-logo-whiteIron Kingdoms. Before the Warmachine and Hordes existed (both superb tabletop war games) the Iron Kingdoms were home to the Witchfire Trilogy, a campaign using the 3rd edition Dungeons and Dragons rules set. I was completely hooked and ran a heavily modified version of the campaign. Two of my players are none other that the very creators of this fine blog. Iron Kingdoms isn’t steampunk in the classic sense, it doesn’t hark back to a fictional Victorian age where the Empire is held aloft by coal and binary code. Instead IK is a ‘full metal fantasy’ where steam-powered technology stands shoulder-to-shoulder with magic, good sharp steel, and ranged black-powder weapons.

Continue reading "Friday Five: 10 Great Gaming Worlds" »

Crossroads - Table of Contents

Crossroads by Vincent SammyWelcome to the Crossroads: the electronic chapbook companion to Lost Souls. Four stories of demonic deals gone wrong (or right) - with hope, trickery, rats, sex and math.

We received stacks of submissions for this spooky little volume, and we are very grateful to everyone who sent us a story. 

The Devil is a very tempting figure (by definition, I suppose). The stories we selected are an eclectic mix, with four very different perspectives from a great combination of writers.

The stories are:

  • "Prignitz was an Innocent" by Christian Fox
  • "Georgia" by Jenni Hill
  • "(0,0)" by Robert Sharp
  • "The Golds" by Ian Whates

We're delighted to bring four new Pandas into the family - you can learn more about them on the Pandemonium site.

The cover art is by Vincent Sammy. It depicts the legendary musician Robert Johnson: king of the Blues and one of the greatest devil-wranglers in modern folklore.

Crossroads will be released on the Kindle in August. All orders of the Lost Souls limited edition (placed before August) will receive a copy of Crossroads for free. You can pick up your copy here.

Pandemonium: Lost Souls - Pre-Order Now!

We're delighted to announce our next Pandemonium title: Lost Souls.

Pandemonium - Lost Souls - by Vincent SammyLost Souls is an odd one - even by our standards. Instead of commissioning new stories, we've been quietly scrounging through archives, searching for the best, lost stories that meet our theme: tales of damnation and redemption.

The result is a collection that ranges from the haunting to the humorous, with stories from Latrobe Carroll, Robert W. Chambers, William Atwell Cheney, Mary Coleridge, Stephen Crane, Benjamin Disraeli, Amelia B. Edwards, Mary Wilkins Freeman, John Galsworthy, Richard Garnett, George Gissing, Bret Harte, Anne Sedgwick, May Wentworth and several others.

We've found tales about war and cowboys, popes and prisoners, poverty and parrots - even stories about the nature of stories. There's also a batshit thing about a chicken. Something for everyone. 

In many cases, Lost Souls contains a story's first printing since its original publication. And, where possible, we've gone back to the original text for each one. At 100,000+ words, that's meant a lot of re-typing, but it was worth every letter.

Lost Souls is illustrated - magnificently - by Vincent Sammy. You can see some of Vincent's work for the book here, and admire even more of it on his own page. The illustrations are simply spectacular. The cover (shown above) is from "Amanda Todd", by Mary Wilkins Freeman.

Finally, Anne and I have added in introductory notes for each story, to help tie them together and provide a little background about each of the authors and their fascinating lives. It was a lot of fun to do.

The hardcover edition of Lost Souls is limited to 100 numbered copies. You can order a copy below for £14.99. We'll be shipping them in mid-August and the Kindle edition will also be released at the end of that month. 



T&Cs: UK shipping is £3.25; US is £6.75. For other countries and/or multiple copies, please email me before purchasing, and I'll send you an invoice. If you're looking to match numbers with previous Pandemonium editions, please email me as well, and I'll do my best.

Double T&Cs: As always, it is worth mentioning that folks on the Pandemonium mailing list get first crack at all new titles and special offers. We've got at least three more books coming out this year - why not join now?

Review Round-up: London's Secrets

Londons Lost RiversUnder, over and all around: three different perspectives on London.

All of these are non-fiction (well, mostly), with an emphasis on reference books that make history exciting. (Anne would say that history is always exciting. I would counter with the fact that she's a big nerd. She'd then say that I'm a big nerd, because I think math is interesting. Then we'd just descend into name-calling, and eventually go get a pizza. There, I've just spared you forty minutes of a Twitter domestic. Also, now I want pizza.)

London's Lost Rivers: A Walker's Guide (2011) by Tom Bolton is, frankly, Pornokitsch catnip. Obscure London history, nicely organised walking tours, fun-facts galore and gorgeous presentation. Plus, an introduction by Christopher Fowler and photography by (this prompted a double-take) S.F. Said. The book explores - in depth - a single facet of London's lost history, the many, many, many rivers and tributaries that are all buried beneath London's streets. In many cases, the rivers still flow, but in unexpected and winding ways. 

As well as the perfect companion to Ben Aaronovitch's urban fantasy series, this is a nice little gift item. Being the sedentary type, I'm happy to use this as a reference – but my parents are going to love the self-guided tours outlined within its pages. Urban rambling at its finest. 

Below the jump, Paula Dempsey's The Book of the Smoke and Chiang Yee's The Silent Traveller in London...

Continue reading "Review Round-up: London's Secrets" »

re: Fifty Shades of Grey

Everyone seems to have an opinion about Fifty Shades of Grey, and the genre community is no exception. The relentless displays of contempt range from the frothing to the hilarious. Rarely has a single book so united us. 

This makes perfect sense. In fact, let's catalogue some of the common complaints:

50 Shades of GreyIt is porn.

Disgusting. The idea of reading for escapism is anathema to fans of science fiction and fantasy. Furthermore, there's never, ever explicit sex in our books. And, speaking for myself, whenever I do stumble upon a bit of prurient material, I immediately call my local MP. 

It is boring.

I couldn't agree more. The dullness of Fifty Shade of Grey stands in stark contrast to the cinematic mathematics of Cryptonomicon, the breath-taking action of library research in The Name of the Wind or - dare I say it - the pants-wetting thrills of barge travel in A Dance with Dragons.

It started as fan-fiction.

That's just appalling. The best books begin as role playing games, like the Malazan series. And, more importantly, every idea should be completely and utterly unique, unless it stems from Tolkien, Lovecraft or Joss Whedon. 

...Twilight fan-fiction.

Shameful, shameful behaviour. Absolutely nothing should be taken from Twilight. Except for the cover art, which should be imitated endlessly. And the self-loathing female protagonist in love with a supernatural being, which is basically public domain. 

It is demeaning to women. 

As fantasy and science fiction have long been the champions of feminist fiction, I couldn't be more delighted that we've raised this particular flag. For one thing, Fifty Shades of Grey is about sex between consenting adults. Were it set in a secondary world with an under-aged protagonist being repeatedly raped... well, that's a different story - and one that's on HBO. As Patrick Rothfuss proved so eloquently in The Wise Man's Fear, feminism isn't about equality: it is about treating women like the precious jewels they are, and trying to fuck as many of them as possible. 

It is badly written.

Well, obviously that's not anything we do.

It is read by people who don't appreciate good books. All these stupid people are walking into bookshops for the first time and asking for this shit book.

BLASPHEMY. We should have a test. Only readers accredited by special examination should be allowed to purchase books. Bookshops are for the few and the proud - the elite readers with certified taste! Bookshops and publishers will rejoice. The industry is saved!

Everything WE say about Fifty Shades of Grey is something THEY say about genre fiction.

That's just ridiculous.

Introducing Den Patrick and Andrew James

[Update: You can whet your appetite by downloading one of Den's short stories, "The Shock of the New", for free until 7 July.]

GollanczDen PatrickDen Patrick, Pandemonium author, gentleman, geek, brilliant Dungeon Master, vampire wrangler, great friend and snake-hipped lord of the dance, has signed a three book deal with Gollancz.

Den will be composing fantasy war manuals: tactics and traditions for Orcs, Elves and Dwarves. But, as Gollancz honcho Simon Spanton points out, these aren't "dry.... There is a world here, there’s a history, there’s bloody battles (told from three very different and competing perspectives) and there is a huge amount of fun." 

Continue reading "Introducing Den Patrick and Andrew James" »

'I still have my full complement of fingers' - KJ Parker and Sharps

SharpsHaving worked in the law, journalism and numismatics, K.J. Parker now writes and makes things out of wood and metal. Although we can't vouch for the wood and metal, the writing part seems to be going awfully well. Parker's books are simply spectacular: complex, clever, funny and dark. 

As long-time (and slightly lunatic) fans, we were delighted to have the opportunity to interview K.J. Parker. 


Pornokitsch: Your new book, Sharps, has a lot of breath-taking fencing, but the most intimidating fights are those that involve the iconic 'messer'. How did you plan the fight scenes with this weapon? Is that move actually possible? Do you still have all your fingers?

K.J. Parker: I made a couple of messers (they were supposed to be something else, but that’s what they turned into – at the forge where I play at blacksmithing, we can’t harden and temper blades longer than 22”, which partly explains the preponderance of short swords in the works of K. J. Parker); and when I’d done striking them off and sharpening them, I looked at them and they looked at me, and there, more or less, was the idea for the book.

Continue reading "'I still have my full complement of fingers' - KJ Parker and Sharps" »

Brixton Book Jam - Tonight!

BrixtonbookjamOur regularly irregular schedule of reviews and ranty whatnot will resume tomorrow - tonight, we're off to the Brixon Book Jam!

Billed as "an eclectic gathering for people who are passionate about books and the written word", the Book Jam is a delightfully wonky event combining readings, panels, talks and discussion. It is, in short, directed enthusiasm, and, as such, straight up our alley. 

Readers and speakers include Adam Mars-Jones, Steve Dempsey, Glen Mehn (reading from Smoke), Tom Pollock (reading from The City's Son!) and Kate Harrad. Plus, five minute talks from James Wallis ("How to write a novel in a week"), Mark Pilkington ("running a small press"), Rhodri Marsden ("on crap dates") and many others. It sounds bonkers.

Stone Skin Press, Strange Attractor and Jurassic (that's us!) will all be there, flogging our delightfully boutique books. We are almost completely sold out of our lovely novelettes: there remain two of Not The End of the World and a half-dozen each of the stories by Adam Roberts and Arthur Conan Doyle

The Book Jam is at the Hootananny (that's actually a real place), 95 Effra Road, SW2 1DF. Closest tube is Brixton (of course). The event starts at 7pm and runs until closing time. No tickets required. A bit of a Facebook preamble is happening here.