The Kitschies: Storytelling Without Limits

via Warren EllisThree of the biggest names in mind-bending fiction team up to talk about storytelling. Join Lauren Beukes, Warren Ellis and Benjamin Percy at the Brixton Ritzy on 30 April for an evening of discussion, debate and a bit of tentacular fun.

All three authors are storytellers that span genres and formats alike - from novels to comics to films to documentaries to short stories to journalism to Twitter to children's cartoon series, these are writers that work without boundaries.

How does the platform change the story? How do you move a story from one media to another? What are the challenges and strengths that come with each? Also, what are you working on, what's your inspiration and do you sign body parts?

Storytelling Without Limits features a unique show-and-tell, as well as a discussion between the three writers. A Q&A and signing opportunities to follow.

Tickets: £6 (you can buy them online or at the Ritzy)

Tuesday, 30 April
Doors open at 7, fun kicks off at 7.30


Lauren Beukes (South Africa) is a novelist, TV scriptwriter, documentary maker, comics writer and occasional journalist. She won the Kitschies' Red Tentacle and the 2011 Arthur C Clarke Award for her novel Zoo City. She helped create South Africa's first half-hour animated TV show, URBO: The Adventures of Pax Afrika, and has written kids animated shows for Disney UK and Millimages in France. Her new novel, The Shining Girls, is out in April from HarperCollins.

Warren Ellis (UK) is an award-winning creator of graphic novels whose work includes Fell, Ministry of Space, Planetary, Transmetropolitan and Red, and the author of the novels Crooked Little Vein and Gun Machine. He has also written for many of Marvel Comics' top series including the Avengers, Iron Man and the X-Men

Benjamin Percy (USA) has won a Whiting Writers Award, a Plimpton Prize and two Pushcart Prizes. He is the author of the novel The Wilding and two short story collections, Refresh, Refresh and The Language of Elk. His work has appeared in Esquire, GQ, Time, The Wall Street Journal, The Paris Review and Best American Short Stories. His new novel, Red Moon, is his first UK release - coming this May from Hodder & Stoughton.


Photo from Warren Ellis (

The Kitschies: Winners, Playlists & 2013

AngelmakerLast night was The Kitschies' awards ceremony. This was only our second year of making a "thing" out of the presentation, and the first year of it being a stand-alone event, so we were a little nervous how it might go.

Thanks to a lot of rum, wonderfully enthusiastic guests and a lot of hard work from the Free Word Centre, we think it came together pretty well. As always, please send us suggestions on how we could improve the evening (

The stars of the evening were the winners:

  • Nick Harkaway for Angelmaker (William Heinemann) for the Red Tentacle 
  • Karen Lord for Redemption in Indigo (Jo Fletcher Books) for the Golden Tentacle
  • Dave Shelton for A Boy and a Bear in a Boat (David Fickling Books) for the Inky Tentacle
  • The World SF Blog for the Black Tentacle

One of the benefits of this year's set-up was that there were fewer acceptances by proxy, with Nick Harkaway, Jo Fletcher (Karen Lord is on a plane to Australia), Dave Shelton and Lavie Tidhar all there to pick up their prizes. Lavie wore his Tentacle as a scarf for the rest of evening. Nick has since blogged his thoughts about what "progressive speculative fiction" might be... it is a long and brilliant read, so make a cup of tea and settle in for it.

The Free Word Centre did an amazing job of hosting the evening. It wound up being a perfect squeeze, with exactly two more people than we had seats (and that counts Plarchie hogging an extra chair) - next year we'll have to find more chairs (or fewer finalists?).

Rob Sharp's Storify provides an excellent recap of the shenanigans. Plus loads of photos via Sarah McIntyre and the Tor team. Even the Guardian ran a wonderfully tentacular picture of the evening...

The playlist for the evening was provided by finalists past and present. It is insane.

UPDATE: [There's now a Spotify version, courtesy of @inCatastrophe!]

Continue reading "The Kitschies: Winners, Playlists & 2013" »

The Kitschies: The Method, Redemption in Indigo & Competitions!

One last round-up before this evening's fun!

The Kitschies 2012 by Sarah Anne LangtonCharles Human reviews Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo for The World SF Blog and talks a lot about food. He also notes that it is a book about destiny: "not the not the orphan-born- under- a- special- star kinda destiny but the our-choices-shape-who-we-are kinda destiny that Lord is most concerned with, [and] it serves make the story very real and human."

Maureen Kincaid Speller takes a long look at Juli Zeh's The Method, and declares that "If you’re looking for a utopian happy-ever-after, this is almost certainly not the novel for you. However, if you like novels that are intensely argued and which step beyond the conventional rhetoric of the dystopia, The Method is undoubtedly worth considering."

You can find all the reviews - Red & Golden - on The Kitschies site.

There are also a few opportunities to win books going around: The World SF Blog is giving away sets of both Karen Lord's books (Redemption and The Best of All Possible Worlds) and Macmillan are currently offering a signed proof copy of Frances Hardinge's A Face Like Glass on Twitter. Move quickly, as the competition ends today.

Plus, of course, if you're keen on winning a squashy-wonderful Tentacle of your very own, don't forget to enter the prediction contest. It ends at 7.30 pm, when the festivities start. So get guessin'!

Predict The Kitschies, Win a Tentacle!

Tumblr_midnvl9Uu21s063ugo1_400Here goes... if you can predict all three Kitschies winners (Red, Golden & Inky), you win a cuddly, handmade mini-Tentacle of your very own!

(There's only one mini-Tentacle, so, in case there's a mad influx of oracular genius, don't forget to guess the size of this year's Black Tentacle.)

Poll here.

(Obvious T&C's - we'll ship anywhere in the world. Competition ends on 7.29 pm [UK] time, Tuesda, 26th February. Kitschies judges, board members and finalists aren't eligible.)

Continue reading "Predict The Kitschies, Win a Tentacle!" »

The Kitschies: Red and Golden Review Round-up

The Kitschies by Sarah Anne LangtonSix of the finalists have now been reviewed, with four more on their way. Have a look at what others think about this year's Kitschies shortlist. 

Agree? Disagree? Let the reviewers know what you think!

Red Tentacle:

"Bullington has a gift for dynamic description which invokes all of the senses to woo the reader, willingly or unwillingly, into his world." - Elloise Hopkins (British Fantasy Society) on The Folly of the World

"Harkaway asks a lot from his readers in terms of trusting him to make sense of his squalling, bonkers opening salvos, and always fulfils his promises." - David Barnett on Angelmaker

"This is a wide-ranging, engaging tale that plays fast and loose with a number of conventions. It’s less Space Opera and more Chivalry in Orbit. Seemingly against the odds, a most improbable love story is beautifully rendered..." - Penny Schenk on Jack Glass

(All the Red Tentacle reviews.)

Continue reading "The Kitschies: Red and Golden Review Round-up" »

The Kitschies: Seraphina and vN

The first two reviews of this year's finalists for The Kitschies are up:

Eight more reviews (from eight more great reviewers) will be popping up over the next few weeks. You can find the full list of those taking part here

Read either book? Agree? Disagree? Leave the reviewer a comment and let them know what you think...

The Kitschies: Shortlists Announced

The Kitschies, presented by The Kraken Rum, reward the year's most progressive, intelligent and entertaining works that contain elements of the speculative or fantastic.

Winners share a total of £2,000 in prize money, an iconic Tentacle trophy and a bottle of The Kraken's fine black rum.

The 2012 finalists for the Red Tentacle:

  • Jesse Bullington's The Folly of the World (Orbit)
  • Frances Hardinge's A Face Like Glass (Macmillan)
  • Nick Harkaway's Angelmaker (William Heinemann)
  • Adam Roberts' Jack Glass (Gollancz)
  • Juli Zeh's The Method (Harvill Secker)

The 2012 finalists for the Golden Tentacle:

  • Madeline Ashby's vN (Angry Robot)
  • Jenni Fagan's The Panopticon (William Heinemann)
  • Rachel Hartman's Seraphina (Doubleday)
  • Karen Lord's Redemption in Indigo (Jo Fletcher Books)
  • Tom Pollock's The City's Son (Jo Fletcher Books)

The 2012 finalists for the Inky Tentacle:

  • La Boca for Ned Beauman's The Teleportation Accident (Sceptre)
  • Oliver Jeffers for John Boyne's The Terrible Thing that Happened to Barnaby Brocket (Doubleday)
  • Tom Gauld for Matthew Hughes' Costume Not Included (Angry Robot)
  • Peter Mendelsund for Ben Marcus' Flame Alphabet (Granta)
  • Dave Shelton for his own A Boy and a Bear in a Boat (David Fickling Books)

Congratulations to all the finalists, and thanks to all the publishers and authors who submitted books for consideration. In 2012, The Kitschies received a record 211 books from over 40 publishers and imprints.

More on

The Kitschies: Railsea and The Broken Isles

Broken-isles-mark-newtonThe hardest part about the judging process is acknowledging when a book cannot be judged fairly. As a young award (4 years!), we're still adapting and shaping the awards process. Transparency is important to us, as is the opportunity for all books to receive their fair shot. We rotate the judging panels every year to to ensure that all submissions may be considered as objectively as possible.

It is important to us that the conversation surrounding the Kitschies remain focused on the books themselves. It became immediately apparent to us that there were two among the many 2012 submissions which we were not in a position to judge objectively. To repeat our eloquent phrasing from last year, this sucks.

Mark Charan Newton has been one of our favourite authors since he first put pen to paper. His Legends of the Red Sun is a four-book saga of the New Weird, concluding with 2012's The Broken Isles. His books are always challenging, fiercely progressive and wildly imaginative, and The Broken Isles is exactly the epic finish that the series deserves. (There's an excellent review of it at Fantasy Faction.)

Railsea-china-mievilleUnfortunately (for Mark), these authorial interests - coupled with his professional experience in social media and publishing - are why we invited him to sit on the Kitschies' board when we set up as a not for profit association in June. This conflict of interest prohibits us from judging The Broken Isles, and so it is with heavy hearts that we must excuse it from the competition.

China Miéville won the inaugural Red Tentacle for The City & The City (2009) and was a finalist in both 2010 and 2011. Railsea (2012) is his latest mind-bending, genre-spanning effort. It is a young adult retelling of Moby Dick that manages to fuse together high adventure, political philosophy, steampunk, daybats, natural history and post-apocalypticism in the way that only Mr. Miéville can. (Our favourite review is by Penny Schenk.) As one of the judges was a beta reader for Railsea, we must regretfully excuse it from this year's competition. 

Both The Broken Isles and Railsea are excellent books and we recommend them heartily for consideration for other awards. 

The Inky, Golden and Red Tentacle shortlists will be announced on Friday, 18 January.

The Kitschies: 2012 Submissions by the Numbers

We've received a record number of submissions for The Kitschies for 2012, both in volume of books and number of publishers and imprints sending books to us. We're pleased as (rum) punch, as the award has continued to grow from year to year.

The first year of The Kitschies, Anne and I went through a shade under 70 books. This year, the two judging panels - Patrick Ness, Rebecca Levene and I for the literary side, Lauren O'Farrell, Gary Northfield and Ed Warren on the cover art - have been discussing more than two hundred entries.

Math is fun, so I've taken the liberty of putting together a few charts:

Continue reading "The Kitschies: 2012 Submissions by the Numbers" »

The Kitschies: Inky Chili Sunday

Today marks the first judging meeting for The Kitschies - Ed Warren, Lauren O'Farrell and Gary Northfield are all trekking to our Secret Headquarters to leer at 2012's cover art. 

Inky Tentacle 2011Neither Anne nor I are judges this year, so our role is solely to "faciliate their judgementalisms".

Obviously, this includes chili.

Today's batch:

  • Lean beef mince
  • Lean pork mince
  • Onions
  • A couple thingers of tomato goo
  • Red kidney beans
  • Bell peppers (red and orange, if it matters)

Various stuffs and accoutrement, including (but not limited to): 

Continue reading "The Kitschies: Inky Chili Sunday" »