50+ Places to Go, See, Eat, Drink and Shop in London


Guess what?! WorldCon and Nine Worlds are both in London! That's pretty damn awesome and, as a result of this consolidated awesomeness, lots of you are coming from non-London places to attend.

As your hosts, we want to make sure you leave the convention centre and enjoy the greatest city in the world.

We asked a host of Londoners to suggest a few of their favourite places in the city - chosen because they're fun, accessible, not-break-the-bank-expensive and very London-y:

Continue reading "50+ Places to Go, See, Eat, Drink and Shop in London" »

Nine Worlds – ALL OF THE BOOKS: The Debates!

GavelOne of the highlights of 2013’s inaugural Nine Worlds Geekfest convention was the Good vs Evil debate.

Full disclosure: I moderated the Good vs Evil debate – with the help of an Eye of Sauron talking toy – and the debate became so raucous that we got complaints from the Doctor Who panel going on next door. (Sorry, guys.) Good won out in the end, thanks to a not-at-all arbitrary point-scoring system which I instituted and maintained in secret. And explained to no one. (Which might suggest that, in fact, evil actually won the day. As you see, the debate rages on.)

In any event, the debate was popular enough that we’re doing more this year. And since we can’t do good versus evil again, we’ve moved along to two new and fruitful topics: science fiction versus fantasy, and dragons vs werewolves vs vampires vs warlocks.

And both will be moderated by a completely impartial, eminently* qualified** judge: me.

On Saturday we’ll be hosting the ultimate deathmatch smackdown between dragons, werewolves, vampires and warlocks. Each panellist will be arguing for their team: Elizabeth Bear will be counsel for dragons, Gail Carriger will be on deck for werewolves, Joanne Harris will be making the case for vampires, and Scott Lynch will be representing warlocks. Audio-visuals will be encouraged, as will funny voices and pantomime. You won’t want to miss it.

On Sunday we’ll decide the eternal debate between science fiction and fantasy. Blasters or bastard blades? Spaceships or sorcery? No middle ground will be tolerated (although, if anyone switches sides halfway through the debate… well, Her Honour will take the betrayal into consideration before rendering her verdict.) Daniel Polansky and Liz Bourke will be counsel for Fantasy, while Geoffrey Ryman and Zen Cho will be representing Science Fiction. As before, funny voices and sound effects will be encouraged.

Your completely impartial judge, jury and executioner will also be taking audience participation into account before rendering her verdicts. So, if you’ve got a horse in any of these races (or just like shouting about science fiction, werewolves, and mangled judicial processes) please come along!

*I have a lot of opinions about all these topics.

** I watch a lot of courtroom dramas.

Where's Pornokitsch? (Nine Worlds / LonCon Edition)

Here's where we are - and how to find us - at the two big London conventions this summer.

Nine Worlds

We're there from Thursday night to Sunday night, doing the wild and crazy ALL OF THE BOOKS thing. Generally speaking, you can find us in the BOOKS room (County C&D), but we're also planning ahead and making sure that we can do lots of other activities (I'm desperate to steampunk-style a Nerf gun and Anne's off to gin tasting...)

As for actually being on programming, Anne will be chairing the following debated:

  • Dragons vs Werewolves vs Vampires vs Warlocks: The Ultimate Deathmatch Smackdown (Saturday, 11.45)
  • Spock vs the Sorcerers, SF vs F: The Genre Deathmatch Smackdown (Sunday, 11.45)

And I'm moderatin', Texas-style:

  • Westerns (Saturday, 15.45)

We are both on:

  • CoffeeKitsch (Saturday and Sunday, 9.15 - 9.45) (Less of a panel, more of a 'have some coffee and hang out with us as we rustle paper around and figure out what we should be doing that day')
  • Wow. So Panel. (Sunday, 17.00)

But, again, we'll be around all weekend - so please, please, please come, introduce yourselves and chat for a bit! If you're a morning person, the CoffeeKitsch is meant to be a chilled-out sort of thing, where we can all introduce ourselves properly and make new acquaintances (also, free coffee).

There will be tons of Jurassic London books on sale in the dealer room and the CoffeeKitsch is sponsored by The Kitschies. 

The Nine Worlds programming can all be found here.

Bloggers at WorldConLonCon (WorldCon)

Anne's on the following programming:

  • Truth in Trash (Saturday, 12.00) 
  • Simply the Best [the mandatory awards panel] (Saturday, 16.30)
  • The Editorial View (Sunday, 12.00)

We're both at the Hugo Awards (look for: 'back row', 'dinosaur onesies', 'inappropriate giggling'). 

And, finally, we're teaming up with Justin (Staffer's Book Review), Ana and Thea (The Book Smugglers) for an informal blogger hangout on Saturday, 9 pm in the 'Fan Village'. This is not on the programme (or part of the official programming), we're just, you know, hangin'. Please come along!

If you spot us, please say hi! We look forward to meeting a lot of our online pen-pals in person.

The LonCon schedulematronic doohicky is here.

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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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.

The Kitschies present... Ben Aaronovitch, John Connolly and Triffids!

Tonight! Ben Aaronovitch and John Connolly, interviewed by Anne at Blackwell's Charing Cross. Peter Grant meets Charlie Parker. We're hoping it goes a bit like this:

The event booked out within a week! (Yikes!) We look forward to seeing all the lucky (and/or very, very quick) ticket-holders at the shop tonight. 

But also... Triffids!

The Kitschies are part of the Chelsea Fringe this year, and we're hosting "The Evening of the Triffids" on 21 May.

Marek Kukula, Public Astronomer at the Royal Observatory, will give a talk about the science of Wyndham and the awesomeness of astrobotany. 

And Lauren "Deadly Knitshade" O'Farrell will be hosting a workshop in which you can BUILD YOUR OWN TRIFFID.

Because there's a finite amount of awesome in the world, tickets are limited. So move quickly!

Nine Worlds: Tickets, Programming and All of the Books!

9Worlds_GeekFest_2014This summer's Nine Worlds convention is moving at pace - in case you missed it, the hotel booking link is now live:

The convention runs from August 8 to August 10, Friday to Sunday.

There are a lot of reasons we really like Nine Worlds. Things like this feedback report are one of them. Transparency, accountability, listening, adapting - all stuff that reminds you that cons (hell, all fandom 'structures') are there for you, not the other way around. Check it out. Amongst other things, it reveals that we're all in one hotel this year (woohoo!).

Jenni, Anne and I are looking after the ALL OF THE BOOKS track this year. Part of that is just coordinating with Fanfiction, LGBTQ+, Comics, Academia and Creative Writing - they've been amazing, and what's the point of having all these wonderful geeky interests if we don't all collaborate? Our specific remit includes encouraging people to read, write, publish and discuss books, and we'll have panels, workshops and interactive thingies on all aspects of that spectrum. 

As well as all the fantasy, SF, horror and speculative whatnot that you might expect, there are three mini-themes we're trying to develop this year:

  • Young Adult. We're really excited to be showcasing and discussing speculative fiction for readers of all ages. This is the hottest area in genre right now, and will be treated as such. 
  • Publishing. Both independent and traditional - we want to offer support that goes beyond the traditional "how to get published" panels. Whether that's finding an illustrator, using social media, handling feedback, we want to provide practical advice (in a fun way).
  • New Talent. Building on last year's (immensely awesome) New Voices, we want to create plenty of opportunities for new authors to strut their (literary) stuff. We've got some famous, wonderful Big Names coming, but we want to make sure that the next famous, wonderful Big Names get their share of the platform too.

As well as panels, we'll have talks, workshops, readings, signings and all sorts of interactive fun. We can't wait.

SO... if you're a reader, writer, publisher or discusser of books, formal or informal, amateur or professional, and you're coming to Nine Worlds, let us know! 

If you would like to get involved, get in touch with us officially at allofthebooks at nineworlds.co.uk. We've got a system set up to keep track of your interest and your contact details. (That system breaks if you express your interest through tweets or blog comments, so official email to official email address, please!)

Our details are here - as are those for all the other tracks. 


We've been quiet about this until after World Fantasy and book launches and stuff, but I'm delighted to say that we'll be looking after the ALL OF THE BOOKS program for Nine Worlds next year. 

The team will be Jenni Hill (who did such an amazing job last year), Anne and me. As Jenni & Anne both have (big, important) editing jobs to do, I'll going to be the person on point. (I don't say this to make us sound like Spider Jerusalem & Filthy Assistants - just that I'll be doing the admin and email, so blame me for the stuff that goes wrong.)

Anne and I have pondered at length about "dream cons" and that sort of thing, generally concluding that we'd be better off avoiding them with the regulation 10 foot pole (plus lantern, grapnel and everything else in the adventurer's kit). But... we loved Nine Worlds last year - it is fun, lively, energetic, progressive, multi-dimensional, enthusiastic and fresh. We genuinely couldn't be more excited about being involved and only hope that we can maintain the high standards that Jenni set last year. We'll be organising the traditional panels and reading (including the return of the New Voices Slam Sessions), and also workshops, debates, swaps, speed-publishing and other interactive and bonkers whatnot. 

Please don't start emailing us with panel suggestions, ideas, availability or meal requests just yet. There will be a form set up shortly for all that sort of stuff. 

But if you're, say, an overseas visitor coming over for WorldCon and contemplating an extra week in lovely London, it never hurts to plan ahead for 8-10 August 2014. Or, if you're looking to launch a new book next summer, say, between 8-10 August 2014, and want a captive audience of enthusiastic readers... Just keep that in mind, eh? 

Tickets are on sale already. For 8-10 August 2014. Hint, hint.

If you do have burning questions (which we probably can't answer yet), please use this email: allofthebooks@nineworlds.co.uk.


World Fantasy is over - and with it, one of the more frantic (and fun!) weeks of our geeky lives.

Only a week ago, about sixty people braved the Dread Storm of '13 and attended Blackwell's for The Kitschies' Secret Histories - a panel with Lavie Tidhar, Kate Griffin and Tim Powers, moderated by Anne. (Here's a great write-up from For Book's Sake.) Thanks to all who braved the weather to join us for what was a great evening. 

Tuesday was the grand launch of The Book of the Dead, in which many writers, Egyptologists and (best of all) readers, all descended into the dark tomb of the Phoenix for merriment, readings (from Louis Greenberg, Molly Tanzer and David Bryher) and general rejoicing. (Photos courtesy of author, and contributor, Jonathan Green.)

The contributors - of which... 13 were there, including illustrator Garen Ewing - signed a zillion books, including one hundred sheets for the limited editions. Again, thanks to everyone who joined - especially the gentleman in the full mummy garb, and the pair in brilliant adventure/journalist outfits! (The book itself is available here and here and here.)

(And, hey - check out the mummy-related specials over on Tor.com and The Speculative Scotsman!)

Wednesday, I went along to the Daniel Polansky interview (conducted by Paul, from J for Jetpack), which was one of the most amusing events, well, ever. Incredibly entertaining and very, very funny.

And.... World Fantasy. 

Continue reading "WFC, BOD, SH and OH MY GOD SO MANY BOOKS" »