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June 2014
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August 2014

The Kitschies: New!

The 2014 Kitschies are now open for submissions - if you're a publisher-type, you can learn about what to do here

This year's Red and Golden judges are a pretty spectacular lot: Kate Griffin (one of last year's judges), Adam Roberts,  Frances Hardinge (both previous finalists for the Red Tentacle), Kim Curran and Glen Mehn. As always it is a nice range of academics, authors and readers, fantasy, SF, YA and more. Details here. There's a great line-up in the works for the Inky Tentacle as well, which will be announced later.

The prize also has a new Director: Glen Mehn. As well as being a wonderfully enthusiatic genre reader, Glen's a social entrepeneur by trade - his actual profession is making good ideas happen (which makes running The Kitschies a bit of a busman's holiday, I suspect). Glen's been a member of the prize's board for two years and has demonstrated that he is, appropriately enough, incredibly progressive, supremely intelligent and vastly entertaining. The prize is in great - the best - hands. Please wave a tentacle at him at @gmehn and, of course, @thekitschies

Anne and I are both immensely proud of The Kitschies. Somehow, over the course of five years, it grew from a silly idea into a good one into a - miraculously - working one. We did a lot right (sometimes intentionally) and a lot wrong (and mostly learned from our mistakes), and, on the whole, we're really  delighted with what the prize accomplished.

The very nature of the award is a progressive one - Anne and I always wanted it to become better every single year. And that means that, unlike our noble squid totem, we've had to learn to let go. Anne had to cease direct involvement with the award when she joined Hodder & Stoughton over two years ago and, after five years with the prize, it is my time to move on as well. Thank you to all the friends, judges, publishers, authors,  bloggers, libraries, booksellers, sponsors and readers that got us this far. Like you, we can't wait to see what happens next.


Fiction: 'They Also Serve' by Donald Westlake

The launch carrying the mail, supplies and replacements eased slowly in toward the base, keeping the bulk of the Moon between itself and Earth. Captain Ebor, seated at the controls, guided the ship to the rocky uneven ground with the easy carelessness of long practice, then cut the drive, got to his walking tentacles, and stretched. Donning his spacesuit, he left the ship to go over to the dome and meet Darquelnoy, the base commander.

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Crossing Over: House of M

Hawkeye

Each month I'm revisiting one of the big comic book crossovers of the last few decades. For my broad rules on what counts for consideration, see here.

If you’ve discovered superhero comics generally, and Marvel comics in particular, within the last ten years, it might come as a bit of a shock to discover there was a time when Brian Bendis wasn’t basically in charge of everything.  But before he took over (and ended) The Avengers with the highly controversial Disassembled storyline ten years ago this summer, Bendis was best known for his extended run on Daredevil and as the only writer to date on Ultimate Spider-Man. (He’s still now, several re-titlings and a lead character swap later, the only writer of it.) B

oth of those were outstanding runs, but were well away from the core of the Marvel Universe - two series no one really expected greatness of anyway. Taking on The Avengers was a massive leap into the heartland. Destroying the Avengers as his first act took enormous nerve and an even greater show of faith from the Marvel powers-that-be.

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Trolling the Hugos: Grab your goats!

All today's fun will be taking place on Twitter at #trolltheHugos - follow @thebooksmugglers, @thefingersofgod and @pornokitsch for enlightened banter and clever wordplay. Or something like that.

Your quick reference to today's events:

The Troll and Troll 2 drinking games are here.

The Book Smugglers' introduction is here.

The recipe for pulled pork that we're using is here.  (Although we eschewed their rub for one of our own. Plus, lots of chipotle peppers. Yum.)

The Hugo Awards' shortlists are here.

Troll and Troll 2 on IMDB.

"Monsters and Mullets" - Anne's series of reviews of [other] [terrible] 80s fantasy movies.

The Book Smugglers and Pornokitsch are both finalists in the Best Fanzine category. If you're at all interested, you can download our Hugo samplers here (The Book Smugglers) and here (Pornokitsch). 

See you at 4ish!


Trolling the Hugos: Rules of Engagement

Troll 2In the spirit of the Hugo Awards, we wanted our "Trolling the Hugos" session to have several thousand pages of incomprehensible rules. Except in this case, we're not doing something as trivial as deciding the year's "Best Novel". No no no... we're drinking.

Ana, Anne and I have never seen the infamous Troll duology, so we selected random things based on the movies' IMDB pages. Thea, who has actually seen the movies (bless her), vetted them for spoilers and gave us her blessing.

Each movie has sipping occasions (everyone sips) and drinking occasions (one person has to down their drink). For the sake of even-liveredness, we've divided the drinking occasions between us at random, and we're not entirely sure when they even take place in the movies.

(Please don't spoil this for us. The omnipresent threat of drink-downing is part of the fun.)

Here are the rules  -

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Friday Five: 5 Settings for Stories

Berit Ellingsen is a Korean-Norwegian writer whose stories have or will appear in W.W. Norton's Flash Fiction International Anthology, SmokeLong Quarterly, Unstuck and other places. Berit's work also includes a short story collection, Beneath the Liquid Skin (firthFORTH Books, 2012) and a novel, Une Ville Vide (PublieMonde, 2013). Berit's work has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize, the British Science Fiction Award, and included in the Wigleaf Top 50 longlist.

Berit's short story, "Dancing on the Red Planet", has been collected as part of the terrific new Apex Book of World SF 3. (Out now!)

Continuing the past few weeks' them of inspiration, Berit has shared a list of five stunning locations, and how they have inspired fiction.


Emptycity_l5: Brasília

Brasília - the capital of Brazil, dominated by the architecture of the brilliant, but also criticized, Oscar Niemeyer (1907-2012). The architecture and plan of the city is fascinating and impressive in itself, the central areas, for example, form the outline of an airplane to symbolize the flight into a bright future. Today, Niemeyer's modernist architecture looks both retro and futuristic at the same time, with a dash of grandiosity and decay that gives it an even more haunting and beautiful look.

The architecture of Niemeyer's Brasília inspired the cover of my novel, The Empty City. A friend in Brasília was kind enough to photograph the Congresso Nacional do Brasil, one of the city's most distinct buildings, and send it to the book's graphic designer, who created a cover that fit the novel perfectly.

For someone who has never been to Brazil, not even to South-American continent, the landscape and climate of Brasília is something I can only imagine. Brazilian friends have shared that the city is surrounded by lakes with beaches where people go swimming and socializing, and that the city is so extensive that you can get isolated unless you have a car. I hope to someday write a story that is set in Brasília, and to have the chance to see the city in person.

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Underground Reading: High Hunt by David Eddings

High HuntI'm always fascinated by the occasions when famous genre writers - the legends of the legendary, if you’ll excuse the horrible workplay - write literary or non-genre fiction. In many cases, they're still exploring those same tropes and themes and issues that appear in their fantasy or science fiction. Is it possible for them to write about destiny and free will without prophesies? Or create escapism without dragons? To craft heroes without Dark Lords? 

Back before David Eddings set the world on fire (magical blue fire) with the Belgariad in 1983, he fiddled about in literary fiction. His first novel, High Hunt, was published in 1973. Contemporary and introspective, it is a far cry from the bombastic cosmic conflicts that would later make him famous. High Hunt is a bit like Robert Jordan's The Fallon Blood, in that publishers have tried - repeatedly - to republish and remarket it for the epic fantasy market. But that's where the similarities stop for, unlike The Fallon Blood, High Hunt is actually good.

High Hunt follows twentysomething Dan Alders as he returns from military service and tries to settle in back home. Like Eddings, Dan was posted to Germany (Eddings was in Germany during the Korean War, while Dan’s story takes place during Vietnam). And also like Eddings, Dan is a Washington native - in High Hunt, he returns to Tacoma. Not because he's particularly excited about seeing his old stomping grounds - rather, he's got nowhere else he needs to be.

And this is where the story begins: Dan, freed from service and, in fact, freed from everything. No girlfriend, no parents (his father is dead, his mother an alcoholic that he hasn’t seen for years), no friends - nothing. He’s got money in his pocket, a bag of civilian clothing and a vague plan to attend the University of Washington to get a graduate degree when it starts up next year. 

Like much of High Hunt, what happens next is comes down to a whim - a supposed impulse. Dan, casting about for someone to spend a bit of time with (he's just out of the service, after all), rings up his semi-estranged older brother, Jack. They get together and, much to Dan's surprise, they hit it off. And, again, for the apparently lack of anything better to do, Dan gets absorbed into the circle of Jack's life. He moves in to the same trailer court, he meets Jack’s friends (and wife) (and mistress); Dan commits to being in Tacoma until his degree programme begins.

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Trolling the Hugos

...just not how you might expect.

Ana and Thea (The Book Smugglers), Anne and I are all going to be watching Troll and Troll 2 this Sunday. From three different locations.

We are going to:

  • Drink too much
  • Eat too much
  • Make too many terrible jokes
  • Probably, but not necessarily, talk about the Hugo Awards
  • Tweet the whole thing at #trollthehugos

It'll kick off at 11 am Thea-time (EDT) and 4 pm Ana/Anne/Jared-time (BST).

We'll be on Twitter (@thebooksmugglers, @thefingersofgod, @pornokitsch) and, depending on the potency of the drinks, other social media platforms as well.

Please join in (or mute us) for the mayhem.


Jurassic: Announcing The Near Now

Jurassic LondonExciting news today - we (as Jurassic London) are extremely proud to be publishingThe Near Now, an anthology of near future SF, edited by Sam Wilson. 

Sam's done a ridiculous job reeling in the big fish, and the contributors to date include Lauren Beukes, Sarah Lotz, Tricia Sullivan, Harry Markov, Charlie Human, David Bryher, Kirsty Logan, Bram E. Gieben, Emad Akhtar, J.Y. Yang, Robert Sharp and Fabio Fernandes.

We're delighted not only to have so many amazing new authors as part of the extended Jurassic family, but such an outstanding new editor as well. 

The Near Now will be published in Spring/Summer 2015.

There's a blog devoted to the book - and inspirational, um, fodder - at www.thenearnow.net. And Sam's site is over here. And information about the book is, of course, over on the Jurassic London site.

P.S. If you've ever wondered about the rather cryptic names on our 'coming soon' page, this was "Project Falcon". 


Fiction: 'The Walled Garden' by Sam Wilson

Walled GardenThe new kid is crying. Someone should comfort him, but he’s the third one this week. We ignore him. He’s better off quitting.

No time to talk anyway. We’ve been slipping on our quota. The rules are clear: We each have to get through sixty thousand images a day, or we’re out. This is the kind of outsourced work that the Indians snap up, and we're lucky to get it.

On my screen is a five-by-five grid, twenty-five images at a time. They’re all from the same website. Every time a user flags an image as inappropriate content, it’s sent to us to be verified and, if necessary, deleted. Sometimes they click the “flag” button just because it’s an unflattering picture, but those times are rare. Mostly it’s porn. Sometimes it’s worse. And sometimes it’s much, much worse.

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