Previous month:
July 2013
Next month:
September 2013

Irregularity & The Rite of Spring - Open for Submissions

Jurassic LondonTwo new titles, now open for submissions

Irregularity is our next major anthology after The Book of the Dead. It will be published in partnership with the National Maritime Museum, released to coincide with two of their upcoming exhibitions.

The stories should be focused on the period between 1660 and 1860, and those brave and motivated men and women who promoted scientific thought, skepticism and intellectual rigour in the face of superstition and intolerance. From Newton to Lovelace, Harrison to Darwin*- these people attempted (both successfully and unsuccessfully) to bring order to the world.

It is a tricky one, but to help, we've put together a very detailed brief (with a timeline and pictures) over on the Jurassic site

3,000 - 6,000 words. Deadline: 7 November. Will be published next spring as a limited edition hardcover, paperback and ebook. Original stories only please, no reprints. Contributors will receive a royalty share and gratis copies (of all editions). 

*FYI: We already have stories for Charles Darwin, Isaac Newton and John Harrison, so I suggest not writing about either of them. If you're looking to get inspired by a historical figure there are a lot of good starting points in the brief.


We're also on the prowl for our next chapbook - The Rite of Spring. This is another "flash fiction" ebook, set in the shared world of Pandemonium. This time, I'm looking for stories set in 1913 (which was a pretty fascinating year) and outside of the United States. If you're following along at home, this gives us a sequence of events that looks a bit like this:

Anyway, The Rite of Spring: strict maximum of 750 words, due 15 December (this is to give you time to read Ash, in case that helps inspire you). The stories should be "slightly alternate histories" - weird, creepy, fantastic, speculative stuff that's just a bit out of the norm... Pandemonium is a shared world, but everything stands alone. Reading the earlier chapbooks isn't a bad idea, but don't feel you need to throw in existing characters or settings.

Payment is £15 and Rite will be published as one of our digital chapbooks.

I wrote a quick list of tips for writing short-short fiction that might be of help.


All the details are available here. I'm happy to answer questions in the comments.

Underground Reading: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed

This is part of a slightly Quixotic attempt to read and review all nine finalists for the David Gemmell Legend Award before the winner is announced at the end of October. As this is the first one, I suppose a bit of a heads up - I'll be approaching these books in a slightly templated fashion: plot summary, good stuff, not so good stuff, conclusion. 


Throne of the Crescent MoonTell me a story.

Throne of the Crescent Moon (2012) is an awards juggernaut. A Hugo finalist, a Nebula finalist, a Locus winner - and now a DGLA finalist. Saladin Ahmed's debut is hacking through prizes like a dervish through ghuls (see what I did there?). 

Throne is a fast-paced sword & sorcery adventure. Doctor Adoulla Makslood is a ghul hunter on the verge of retirement. He's battled the forces of evil enough for several lifetimes, and he'd really like to settle down, eat a pastry, marry his ladyfriend and read books. Who wouldn't? Adoulla's sidekick is Raseed bas Raseed, a kickass young warrior who has pledged his life to fight evil. He is the brawn to Adoulla's brain. There's is an exaggerated Holmes and Watson relationship. Adoulla is wise, with infinite depths of experience to draw upon, as well as an inexhaustible network of useful friends. Raseed is fiercely principled, but also quite young. Adoulla's rather free-wheeling (and slightly jaded) path towards doing good perplexes Raseed, who still sees things in black and white. 

Fortunately, like the good Watson, Raseed's also got an eye for the ladeez. In this case, he's served up a love interest in the form of Zamia, a young tribeswoman who can turn into a lion. Their paths cross when the rest of her band are devoured by mega-ghuls (like normal ghuls, but, er, more ghulish). It turns out that Adoulla isn't quite ready for retirement just yet. A sorcerer is using mega-ghuls to topple the (admittedly quite loathsome) Khalif from his throne. Adoulla's a bit of a political malcontent (he's not-so-secretly impressed by a completely different group of revolutionaries, led by the dashing Falcon Prince), but dark sorcery and mega-ghuls just aren't pretty.

That sounds fun! 

And, you know what? It (mostly) is. Throne's got two, seemingly contradictory, things going for it. First, progressive fantasy fans love to cite Throne as a representative of a whole new outlook on non-Western epic fantasy and the herald of a new era of progressivismitude. Second, fantasy fans who only want "escapism" see it for what it is - monsters get walloped with swords and/or magically 'sploded. "Swashbuckling," quoth io9, and this is a book that swashes and buckles a-plenty. Starburst hit the nail on the head by praises Throne as a book that "comes from the school of entertaining swords and sorcery tales that don't have a point to prove" (the same review also notes that this is "a great way to waste time" - which isn't a pejorative, as they conclude with an 8/10 rating). 

So... which is right? Are we looking at a book that's the new champion of the progressive? Or a brainless sword and sorcery tale? 

Continue reading "Underground Reading: Throne of the Crescent Moon by Saladin Ahmed" »

Review Round-up: Never Knew Another and Tears in Rain

I mentioned Never Knew Another in passing on Monday, but it deserves a little more space. Plus, Rosa Montero's post-cyberpunk detective story, Tears in Rain.

Never Knew AnotherJ.M. McDermott's Never Knew Another (2011) is a stunning example of one of my favourite new sub-genres - the fantasy/mystery mash-up, set in a secondary world (see also: Tomorrow, the Killing and Drakenfeld.) I can only imagine how tricky these are to write - the two genres each have their own rules and themes, and convincing them co-exist is a rare talent.

In Never Knew Another, our cops are a team of, to express it in D&D terms: druids. In this case, they're called Walkers, and they serve as both exorcists and investigators. They've found the body of a demon in the wilderness. A demon's taint is a filthy and cancerous thing, but, fortunately, they were just in time to purify the ground before the contamination spread any further. The real problem is that the demon had to come from somewhere, so the Walkers need to retrace its steps and clean up its mystical mess.

By using the demon's skull, the Walkers can investigate its memories - and this is where Never Knew Another becomes genius. The narrative splits in half. In the past, we have the fragmented memories of Corporal Jona, scion of a collapsed noble family and secret demon. In the present, we have the Walkers, using those same fragments to track down and cleanse the city of evil.

And, without a doubt, Jona is evil. His blood is poison, his sweat rots through cloth, he is a physical manifestation of all that is awful. His own behaviour is... dubious. Jona feels drawn towards murder and violence, but we're left unclear if that's his nature or his nature. Is he evil because he's a demon? Or is he evil because he feels he has no other choice? Never Knew Another is a complex and insightful discussion of predestination. Everything changes for him when he meets Rachel - another demon. She's also been hiding for her entire life, on the run with her brother and living in fear. 

Continue reading "Review Round-up: Never Knew Another and Tears in Rain" »

Nine Worlds

Ladeez of Grace AdieuWell, that was the best con I've been to in ages - sort of the sneaky lovechild of SFX and EasterCon, with the best traits of both. It had the multi-media focus and enthusiastic fans of the former, plus the in-depth programming of the latter. Plus smoothly organised, charming and... well, fun. Bonus points go to the Red Wedding cosplayers, everyone in the indie gaming room, a literary stream that ran like clockwork, whatever workshop it was that was churning out steampunk weaponry and the Bronies (next year's goal: learn more about what that was about, because they were having way too much fun).

My only quibbles are with myself: I didn't pay enough attention to the scheduling, so my time there was mostly spent going "wait, I how did I miss that? And that?!". 

Huge kudos to all the organisers for making this work, and I can't wait until next year, where we will be taking a hotel room for the weekend, bringing far more costume options and living life to its geeky fullest.

(In fairness, I was wearing Wampa shoes. I'm proud of that.)

Also, thanks to everyone that was in / on / around our panels. I think the Heroes vs. Villains debate was the best panel I've seen in years (if not ever), and apparently the various cheers and hoots interrupted the Doctor Who programming next door (take THAT, Whovians!). Other notes from the day's panel include: "Kate Griffin should be on everything", "Never argue against Adrian Tchaikovsky when death is on the line", "Zen Cho loves to champion the underdog" and, please god, next year have Stan Nicholls lined up for a SF vs Fantasy debate, because he was great on that topic.

Also, being a con? I bought the hell out of everything. Loot update!

Continue reading "Nine Worlds" »

David Gemmell Legend Awards: Shortlists & Reviews

The 2013 David Gemmell Legend Awards shortlists are:

Legend Award (Best Novel)

Morningstar Award (Best Debut)

Ravenheart Award (Best Cover)

  • Didier Graffet and Dave Senior, for Red Country by Joe Abercrombie
  • Dominic Harman, for Legion of Shadow by Michael J. Ward
  • Clint Langley, for Besieged by Rowenna Cory Daniells
  • Silas Manhood, for The Blinding Knife by Brent Weeks
  • Colin Thomas, for Stormdancer by Jay Kristoff
  • Stephen Youll, for The Black Mausoleum by Stephen Deas

I'll going to try to review as many of the Legend and Morningstar titles as I can over the next few months. Not totally sure of the order yet, as I haven't read everything - how does "vaguely alphabetical" sound?

[Updated: Summary and conclusions can be found here.]

Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo

Welcome to the Weirdness Rodeo - wonder and strangeness, courtesy of Joey Hi-Fi.
You can follow Joey on Twitter at @JoeyHiFi and admire his work here.

Villainous from Paul Constantakis on Vimeo.

"Villainous" - A delightfully macabre short film featuring a host of villainous action figures in a kids room. [Vimeo]

Very clever piece of street art in Shoreditch, London. [Neatorama]

Joanna Newsom may be in Paul Thomas Anderson's new film "Inherent Vice". [AV Club]

10-Year German boy finds Egyptian Mummy in his grandparent's attic. [Geekologie]

Freaky book trailer for Apocalypse Now Now by Charlie Human. (Baxter’s Porn-On-Betamax Remix) [Vimeo]

Cher-A: Princess of Power. [Twitter]

Love tattoos? Love Breaking Bad? *connects index fingers*. Breaking Bad tattoos. Gustavo 'Two-Face' Fring FTW [Flavorwire]

Neil Gaiman says a black actor turned down an offer to play the Doctor. [AV Club]

Vintage Chemistry Manuals. Interesting graphics. [Evil Mad Scientist]

"How Marvel Unified Its Movie Universe (And Why That Won't Be Easy for DC)" [Underwire]

Good grief. China's largest state-run news agency mistakes fetish porn stills for a real American execution. [Gawker]

Man vs Beast also pitted 44 little people against an elephant - in a tasteless airplane pulling contest. So wrong. [YouTube]

"8 Patents for Inventions that Purport to Protect You From Sharks." No.7 - The 'Shark Protector Suit'. Wow. [Mentalfloss]

Post No Bills. [Neatorama]

Mind-blowing 3D animal art created using layers of resin. [This is colossal]

Star Trek voiced by the cast of Archer! "Starcher Trek". I wish this was a real show. [io9]

Teaser trailer for Sherlock Series 3. Looking forward to this one. Series 2 was killer. [Den of Geek]

'35 Cartoons You Never Realized Were Voiced By Celebrities'. Uncle Phil (Fresh Prince of Bel-Air) was Shredder!? [Buzzfeed]

Warwick Davis (Wicket) & Carrie Fisher (Leia) reenact one of their scenes from Return of the Jedi. [Topless Robot]

To celebrate their 5th birthday, is offering a free download of over 151 sci-fi & fantasy stories! [

Introducing... Joey Hi-Fi's Weirdness Rodeo

Joey Hi-FiHere's something new and fun!

Your hard-working Pornokitsch editors look at the massive round-up posts on other blogs with nothing but envy. Look at all that cool stuff! Where do they get it?! We've always wanted one of our every own.

But... how to do it differently?

The other blogs are all doing a lovely job of collecting the latest in book news, covers, TV updates and general nerdery. We're not a news site, nor do we want to be. How do we go about finding cool links that would keep people entertained?

So we hmm'd and haww'd and decided to work from first principles. Who shares links that we click? And for that, there's only one answer: Joey Hi-Fi.

If you follow the legendary illustrator on Twitter, you'll know that he's a one-man clipping machine of the surreal, bizarre and utterly wonderful. Plus, this is the "vibrating aboutness cluster" of a great artist's subconscious: all the bits and bobs that go into his brain as he goes about doing his fantastic work.

Starting tomorrow, we're pleased to announce that Joey will be dazzling you more-or-less weekly with an array of links, videos and other amusements to help keep you distracted on your lazy Sundays.

If you're not following Joey on Twitter, you can find him at @JoeyHifi. And if you've never taken the opportunity to stop and admire his work, now's an excellent time to do so...

Upcoming Events: Derry, Bristol, Secret Histories, Mummies and GOD

Upcoming events, and there are a few of them:

Age of GodpunkThursday, September 5: I'll be interviewing James Lovegrove at Blackwell's Charing Cross for the launch of Age of Godpunk (and general chat about the Ages of Ra, Odin, Zeus, Voodoo...). I can't promise that the conversation will be anything but free-ranging, but, given the subject matter, there may be a lightning bolt or two. The details are here (Facebook) and here (Solaris)

And some Kitschies goodness! Last year, one of the big pieces of feedback we got from our events was "LEAVE LONDON". Thanks to some fantastic new friends, we've been able to hitch our squiddy little prize to the underbelly of some great partners and make this happen.

Friday, September 13: The Kitschies hit the City of Culture! Off the Page: Storytelling without Borders is a day long creative hackathon in Derry~Londonderry, run by Social Innovation Camp and featuring workshops with creative professionals such as writers Tom Pollock, Lou Morgan and Den Patrick and editors Jenni Hill and Anne Perry. The day looks awesome.

Saturday, October 19: THE KRAKEN RISES! The utterly bonkers folks behind the Bristol Festival of Literature are running a day long creative writing competition and the theme is... Krakens! Run around and tell stories with authors David Gullen, Jonathan Howard, Tim Maughan, Emma Newman, Gareth Powell and Gaie Sebold. Plus, the top stories get published by Angry Robot and there's a cover contest for artists as well. Basically: KRAKEN. BRISTOL. AUTHORS. GO.

And... looking a little further ahead, a few "save the dates":

Monday, October 28: "Secret Histories". A panel at Blackwell's Charing Cross featuring three fantastic authors from different corners of the genre, all talking about... well, secrets and history. Details to come, consider this your secret teaser. We'll also be doing our Kitschies digital arm-waving ahead of time, so expect a lot of great guest posts, competitions and chit-chat on this very topic.

Tuesday, October 29: The Book of the Dead - launch night! Yup. Back-to-back nights, but that's part of the fun. There will be wine, revelry, readings and mummies as we join up with the Egypt Exploration Society to release this anthology from its tomb. More details to emerge on this as well. Probably the best thing to do is tag along on Facebook!


For a convenient list of all events related to The Kitschies, check out this page. And/or join the mailing list. For all Jurassic London launches and news, we suggest joining this list

The Biggest Fantasy Series of All Time is...

According to Wikipedia:

  • J.K. Rowling's Harry Potter (7 volumes, 3 supplements) - 450m
  • Star Wars (300+ volumes) - 160m (missed this the first time around, whether or not it is fantasy or SF, I'll leave to you...)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings - 150m (Wikipedia classifies it as a single volume)
  • C.S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia (7 volumes) - 120m (The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe alone - 85m)
  • Stephanie Meyer's Twilight (4 novels, 1 novella, 1 guide) - 116m
  • J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit - 100m (Not a series - unless you're Peter Jackson)
  • Anne Rice's Vampire Chronicles (12 volumes) - 80m
  • E.L. James' 50 Shades of Gray trilogy (3 volumes) - 70m (For comparative purposes)
  • Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins' Left Behind (16 volumes) - 65m
  • Terry Pratchett's Discworld (39 volumes) - 55m (65m according to the author's note in Unseen Academicals)
  • Edgar Rice Burrough's Tarzan (26 volumes) - 50m
  • Suzanne Collins' Hunger Games (3 volumes) - 50m [The Hunger Games alone - 23m)
  • Robert Jordan and Brandon Sanderson's Wheel of Time (14 volumes) - 44m
  • Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Cycle (4 volumes) - 33m [40m now]
  • Stephen King's Dark Tower (8 volumes) - 30m
  • Terry Goodkind's Sword of Truth (12 volumes) - 25m
  • Terry Brooks' Shannara (20 volumes) - 21m
  • Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl (20 volumes) - 21m
  • Isaac Asimov's Foundation (3 volumes) - 20m
  • Brian Jacques' Redwall (22 volumes) - 20m
  • Dragonlance (150+ volumes) - 20m
  • Charlaine Harris' Southern Vampire Hootenanny (21 volumes) - 20m
  • Douglas Adam's (and Eoin Colfer) Hitchhiker's Guide (6 volumes) - 16m
  • Raymond Feist's Riftwar (25 volumes) - 15m
  • George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (5 volumes) - 15m

Random thunks below...

Continue reading "The Biggest Fantasy Series of All Time is..." »

Platform Sites: Do magazine brands have value?

AmazingStoriesApril1957I don't know if this is the first in a series or just a one-off amble. Justin and I have been scheming (as we do), which has spurred a lot of discussion about platform sites - specifically, what makes them good and what makes them successful.

This is mostly a rambling encapsulation of some of my own (incomplete and ill-formed) conclusions.

First, by platform sites, I'm thinking of the "new magazine" - sites like, primarily, but also anything from Lightspeed (very magaziney) to the ghost of Suvudu (very much not magaziney): an edited platform that pays for content. There are a few other examples as well, and I'll touch on them below.

Generally speaking, like any other sort of publication (online or offline), the business model is pretty simple, as there are only three ways of making money back:

  1. Advertising (anything from banner ads to sponsorship to affiliate links)
  2. Content (selling subscriptions, putting stuff behind paywalls, repackaging free content in omnibus editions, etc.)
  3. Donations (auctions, fundraisers, etc)

Building a business model around donations makes me nervous - and simply aren't appropriate for a professional (as opposed to fan or semi-professional) platform. I suppose there are also some clever variants I'm not thinking of. A platform that gets strong rights agreements, for example, may be able to pay the bills purely by reselling content to other publishers and platforms. I can picture how that would work in theory, but not really how it would be sustainable. 

Continue reading "Platform Sites: Do magazine brands have value?" »