Previous month:
July 2012
Next month:
September 2012

Welcome to the Crossroads

Cover - Crossroads - SmallOur latest chapbook is out today for the Kindle.

Crossroads features four new stories of devilish deals - stories of hope, loss, music, sex, rats, music and math(s):

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

Plus an introduction from Anne and, of course, that gorgeous cover art from Vincent Sammy.

All for 80p! (99 cents for those in America)

Crossroads UK

Crossroads US 

Don't forget, Lost Souls is also out now, with over twenty forgotten stories of loss and redemption. Includes work from Robert Chambers, Mary Coleridge, Benjamin Disraeli, Mary Wilkins Freeman, Amelia Edwards, Arthur Conan Doyle and many others (including new work from Apocalypse's David Bryher).

If you're in the neighborhood, why not join us for the launch party at the Pillars of Hercules (7 Greek Street, Soho). We'll be there from 7 pm, with readings from 7.30. Beer, books and good company - plus the chance of the pub's famous ghost making an appearance. More on Facebook (RSVP not required).

Failbetter Games' Cabinet Noir

Cabinetnoir_roseWe're huge fans of Failbetter Games. Their flagship title, Fallen London, ate the better part of a year. Then they did the game tie-in to the Kitschies-nominated Night Circus. PLUS, Alexis Kennedy, the company's Chief Narrative Officer (best title ever?) was one of our first - and still finest - interviews. Also, he's in Smoke. Basically, if we loved them any more, there'd be a restraining order.

Their latest scheme has been the creation of StoryNexus - a proprietary text-game creation platform that allows mad people like us to create complex, interactive, narrative worlds without any coding experience. StoryNexus is still in beta testing, but as of today, we can start playing new games on the platform.

Or, as the case may be, game. Set in the back alleys and private salons of 17th-century Paris, Cabinet Noir puts the player in the boots of an agent in Cardinal Richelieu’s secret intelligence service. We're a sucker for musketeer stories (tips floppy hat to Pierre Pevel), and this promises to take a very different, less Disney-fied approach to the backstabbery and skulduggery of the period.

“You will almost certainly end up doing some unsavoury things. But that’s the point," says writer Nigel Evans. "Cabinet Noir asks how far you’re prepared to go to advance an agenda that might not be your own.” Excellent...

Like the other Failbetter games, Cabinet Noir is free-to-play and runs in a browser. You don’t even need a social media account to play. Go buckle your swash and do nasty things.

On literary piracy

Corsairs Bride - Samuel Hollyer - © The Trustees of the British Museum"The value of any literary work depends upon the form which it gives to those ideas which belong to the common stock of truth. This form is the result of toil, toil which is more arduous and exhausting, toil which requires more patience and self-denial, toil which costs a larger outlay of time and money to prepare for it, and a greater wear and tear of vital tissue to execute it, than perhaps any other kind of labor. The disembodied ideas are no man's property; but the embodied ideas, which have been brought into shape and order by the lonely worker in the sweat of his brain, are his own....

When a thief gets into your library, the probabilities are that he will not carry off Hodge's Theology or Jay's Morning Exercises. He will seek diligently for something more to his liking. 

Nine-tenths of the books that are stolen are novels, and nine-tenths of those are novels of a doubtful character. It is no advantage to what is called, by courtesy, our reading public, to have these silly or pernicious tales offered to them for almost nothing.... It would be no loss to us if those books cost twenty times as much as they do today. It is one of our punishments that they cost so little that everybody is tempted to read them....

It is altogether idle and irrelevant to talk of 'the lonely rancher in Dakota and the humble freedman in the South', and their consuming desire to obtain cheap literature. The question is, how do they propose to gratify that desire, fairly or feloniously? My neighbor's passionate love of light has nothing to do with his right to carry off my candles. The first point to be determined is one of righteousness. And for this we need, not 'an olive-branch', which is generally crooked, but a good, straight oaken ruler, to measure and regulate our conduct in accordance with justice.

If we will apply this standard, we shall find out where we are and what we are doing. We shall be able to see that what has been euphoniously called 'the present method of uncompensated republication of books' brings us squarely up against the moral law; and that, therefore, the Christian Church, as a 'guardian of private and public morals', is not only entitled, but also bound, to take it up, and deal with it soberly and earnestly....

The right of every man to enjoy the fruit of his own toil and the reward of his own industry is universally acknowledged as a foundation-principle of social morality: and nowhere is it more clearly stated, or more strongly enforced, than in the Bible."

- Henry van Dyke, The national sin of literary piracy (Charles Scribner's Sons, 1888)

[File under: "nothing new under the sun"]

On the importance of research

Face of Evil

“When we get near the station there may be some more trouble,” I said.

“What kind?”

“Maybe gunmen. Whitey D'Arcy's men. The opposition knows an attempt will be made to do Black's expose on the political telecast at nine.”

“Gunmen. What's the term – 'gunsels'? A shamus named Podden, and a ring of gunsels around the station. Melodrama, Oxford, melodrama!”

Ann's voice was cold. “I had a friend who used to read those books. A Jewish friend who found those words very funny. He explained to me that some writer named Dashiell Hammett used them first, years ago, and used them right, but since then other writers have picked them up without knowing what they really mean.”

“Oh?” said Nile.

“A gunsel isn't a gunman. It's Yiddish for a young, weak homosexual. Shamus is a Yiddish word, too. It means somebody that's a know-it-all, not a private detective. A shamus is the janitor at a synagogue, and it's an old joke that he always acts as if he knows more than the rabbi. It's kind of funny.”

“It's still melodrama, but thanks for the explanation,” said Nile.

- John McPartland, The Face of Evil (Fawcett Gold Medal, 1954)

'The plague that is DRM' - Interview with the booksellers of Starfarer's Despatch

WorldCon. Authors. Fans. Artists. The Hugos. The grumbling-about-the-Hugos. And, most of all? The dealer room. The best and brightest in geeky retail will be converging in one enormous den of commercial wonderment. 

One of our favourites? Starfarer's Despatch, run by Arin Komins and Rich Warren. We wanted to know a little more about the fun and games of the bookselling world, and they graciously let us fire a few questions at them. 


Starfarers Despatch WorldconPornokitsch: What brought you to bookselling in the first place?

Rich: I have a Bachelors Degree in Library Science (my dissertation topic was 'Science Fiction and Fantasy, a History and Development of, with Relation to Public Libraries'). I then did an internship with Waterstones, way back in the early 90s. Later I spent four years working in a Barnes & Noble superstore, looking after their science fiction and fantasy section.

Arin: In college, I worked for a chain bookseller (Waldenbooks – remember those?) looking after their science fiction section…but I’ve been a book geek my entire life. I started collecting science fiction and fantasy as a tween, and have now been collecting for the last thirty years. I’m also an inveterate pimper-of-books to friends, relations, coworkers, unsuspecting bystanders, and anyone else I can get to hold still for long enough.

Continue reading "'The plague that is DRM' - Interview with the booksellers of Starfarer's Despatch" »

Introducing... Thy Kingdom Come by Simon Morden

We've been keeping this one quite close to our collective chests, and we're really excited to reveal it at last.

Last year, we started - somewhat obsessively - reading the works of Simon Morden, starting with his Philip K. Dick award-winning Metrozone series and working our way back. Much to our surprise, we discovered that his debut novel, Thy Kingdom Come, first published in 1992, wasn't just out of print - but that the publisher had completely ceased to exist.

The book is actually a collection of interconnected short stories. Mr. Morden describes it as:

The twenty stories are split into two parts: ten tell the stories of people caught up in what became known as Armageddon, as nuclear terrorism spread across Europe: the other ten involve one boy, growing up in Plainview, Nebraska, and his unhealthy fascination with events a whole ocean away. Needless to say, some of these stories are pretty strong meat. Religious fanatics using stolen nuclear weapons to hasten the Second Coming don’t tend to mess around.

"Pretty strong meat" puts it lightly. The book focuses on the impact of the apocalypse on completely ordinary people - flawed, regular humans. It isn't about superheroes or epic quests or plucky teens with destinies: it is about, well, us

Fans of the Metrozone will also recognise a few characters that pop up in these tales, making this, we suppose, a standalone prequel to the series. 

We contacted Mr. Morden about bringing Thy Kingdom Come back into print. Ten years later, it is as relevant as it ever was - if not more so. He agreed, but only on the condition that his share go to the Red Cross. Somewhat sheepish, we've followed suit, so 100% of the profits from this beautiful book will go to charity.

Simon Morden has also taken the opportunity to touch up the book - so it has some slight edits, plus a new introduction and conclusion. 

This new edition of Thy Kingdom Come also has an introduction from Robert Jackson Bennett, winner of the Shirley Jackson and Edgar Awards, and one of the great new voices in, for lack of a better term, Weird Americana. And, as evidenced by The Troupe, is no stranger to apocalyptic visions.

Finally, Thy Kingdom Come comes with a dust jacket and illustrations by the astounding Joey HiFi, who has picked up a trophy or two in his day, including the BSFA and Grand Prix d'Imaginaire for his remarkable work on Zoo City. 

Basically, we're the only ones involved who haven't won a major award. Not that we're insecure or anything. 

Thy Kingdom Come will be available this November as a signed, limited luxury hardcover complete with dust jacket and a few other treats. 

As mentioned above, all the proceeds go to the Red Cross, making this not only a gorgeous book, but one you can feel very good about owning. (And out in time for the holidays? What a coincidence!)


If you're interested in learning more, the best way to keep informed is to join our mailing list, and we'll let you know as soon as they're available to order.


Introducing... 1853, Stocking Stuffer 2012, Uncle Smoke and The Deakins Boys

As well as A Town Called Pandemonium, we have more chapbooks and novelettes on the horizon.

Our next digital-only chapbook is 1853, which will be released alongside A Town Called Pandemonium. In Town, all the book's events take place in one (tumultuous) year in one (very odd) town. In 1853, we broaden the horizon with slightly-alternate histories set all over the world. 

Pandemonium - Sarah Anne LangtonThe contributors are Marc Aplin, Laura Graham and Jonathan Green. Mr. Green is a Pandemonium veteran, from Stories of the Smoke and a familiar figure to fans of Black Library, Ulysses Quicksilver, Fighting Fantasy and more. Mr. Aplin and Ms. Graham are brilliant new voices, and we're delighted to be working with them on their first publications. 1853 will have a cover by Adam Hill, who is also doing the illustrations for Town.

The stories range from Scotland to China, and contain monsters holy and unholy, human and inhuman. No more without spoilers, but the world of Pandemonium is now a much spookier place...

Thanks to everyone who took the time to submit to 1853, we really appreciated your effort and enjoyed reading your stories.

The second chapbook is the Stocking Stuffer 2012, a new collection of darkly fantastic tales for the holiday season. We're still working on the contributors, but we've already got the cover.

This is another spectacular illustration from Sarah Anne Langton, who did such a fantastic job on the 2011 edition. We love the direction she took this time around, and it will inform the whole feel of the collection... 

Our chapbooks aren't (dead tree) printed, but they're a point of pride for us - we're really proud to bring new authors to print and provide a platform for established voices to try weird and wonderful new things.

In June, we released a set of three novelettes with an extremely limited print run (26!) - Pandemonium tales past, present and future in a deluxe format. They're fun collectibles and great stories.

Uncle SmokeWe're pleased to announce that our novelettes will now be a quarterly release. 

This winter's selection will be Archie Black's Uncle Smoke - her whirlwind aerial tour of London that first appeared in Stories of the Smoke (and recorded by Charles Hunt for Dark Fiction Magazine). Ms. Black is adding in several new sections to the story, with her feathered protagonists exploring even more dark corners of the city. 

Next spring, the novelette selection will be Will Hill's The Sad Tale of the Deakins Boys, which will first appear in November's A Town Called Pandemonium. As well as being a brilliant stand-alone introduction to the town of Pandemonium, The Sad Tale will contain some of the 'behind the scenes' world-building material as extra content.

Not all of our novelettes will be related to the anthologies. In fact, we've already found a few unpublished stories that we can't wait to bring out in 2013. The novelette is a lovely length and we enjoy the extreme collectibility of the 26-copy signed and lettered editions. Pounce quickly...


1853 is released in November. The Pandemonium Stocking Stuffer 2012 comes out in (surprise!) December, both will be on sale for the grand price of 80p / 99¢. 

Uncle Smoke will be out in November/December 2012. The Sad Tale of the Deakins Boys will be out early in 2013.

Best way to know when they're on sale? The Pandemonium mailing list.

Introducing... A Town Called Pandemonium

This may be the worst kept secret in the West, but we're delighted to announce our next Pandemonium anthology - A Town Called Pandemonium.

Deep in the New Mexico territory sits the played-out boom town of Pandemonium. Built up during a silver strike, Pandemonium is now fading fast. But with the local businesses firmly in the grasp of savvy cattle baron Rep Calhoun, there's no escaping. Calhoun grows richer, and the people grow a little poorer, a little more trapped, every day. 

Those are the people that live in Pandemonium. And those that come visiting? They're even more desperate...

A Town Called Pandemonium combines two - well, three - things that we've always loved.

First, it is a shared world: a bit of a grand experiment. We got ten of the brightest, wackiest, most flexible and weird minds together in one virtual room and started kicking around ideas (and occasionally one another). Everything takes place in the same town, through one tumultuous year, with the characters and locations taking on lives that aren't confined by any one story. 

Second, it is (in case you couldn't tell), a Western. We love them: John Wayne to Clint Eastwood, Zane Grey to Frank Castle to Elmore Leonard. The atmosphere, the tension, the stripped-down worlds and the individual drama. Back when a man was a man, a horse was a horse and the world was his enemy. Except, in this case (and that's the third point), a bit of genre has crept in. Some of the stories are straight-up Westerns. Some... aren't

The contributors are Scott Andrews, Chrysanthy Balis, Archie Black, Joseph D'Lacey, Will Hill, Jonathan Oliver, Den Patrick, Sam Sykes, Osgood Vance and Sam Wilson. Which is about the maddest group of hatters you can possibly imagine. We're especially delighted to welcome Mr. Hill, Mr. D'Lacey and Mr. Sykes to the Pandemonium ranks. 

The illustrator is Adam Hill. You can admire his work at (we have). Adam's ability to create contemporary, subversive work using traditional styles and techniques is completely spot on, and this will be one gorgeous book. 

A Town Called Pandemonium will be released November 2012 as a limited edition hardcover (100 numbered copies) and an ebook. We'll open 'er up for pre-orders in a month or so - best way to keep informed? Join our mailing list.

Pandemonium: Lost Souls - Out Now!

Lost Souls

We've got lots of Pandemonium news this week, and here's the one to kick off it: Pandemonium: Lost Souls is now on sale.

The limited edition - 100 lovely purple hardcovers - can be purchased at Forbidden Planet and through the Pandemonium website for a mere £14.99.

Kindle owners can snaffle copies from (for £2.99) and (for $3.99)

The third Pandemonium anthology collects twenty-one unusual stories, all on the twinned themes of loss and redemption. These are (almost) all out of print stories that we dug up in archives, proofed, tidied up, edited and made as pretty as possible. The authors include Arthur Conan Doyle, Amelia B. Edwards, Bret Harte, Stephen Crane and George Gissing, as well as Calista Patchin, John Reynolds, Robert Chambers and Mary Wilkins Freeman. 

The two exceptions to the 'out of print' rule are a completely new short story from David Bryher and Osgood Vance's work on the prison diaries of John Reynolds (the latter was more an extensive edit than a new story, but we didn't envy him the task). Plus, introductions by the editors, which were a lot of fun - and very enlightening - to write. 

The illustrations, by Vincent Sammy, are pretty breathtaking. Vincent also signed a few bookplates for us, that we've tipped in to the pre-orders as an a "thank you". 

As with all our projects, a portion of all Lost Souls' proceeds go to a selected charity partner - in this case, Samaritans. The rest of the money will go right back in to the Pandemonium kitty, helping pay our chapbook authors and covering the print costs of future anthologies.

Vincent Sammy

Of all our books, Lost Souls has been the most labour-intensive on our part. We read untold hundreds of dusty old books and retyped hundreds of thousands of words. And, if people like the result, we'd do it again in a heartbeat...

Life Goal #475: Make a purple book. Check.

The Weeks that Were (and the books that came with them)

Back on track with biweekly round-ups. Maybe. Read on for a recap of the last two week's whatnot, plus some glamorous photography and a preview of next week's Pandamadness™!

The reviews:

[Average date of publication: 1931. Pornokitsch: on the cutting edge of genre fiction!]

Our Hindsight series - in which authors discuss what they would change in their own books - continued with the legendary Jon Courtenay Grimwood and his debut novel, NeoAddix.

Continue reading "The Weeks that Were (and the books that came with them)" »