BFS Award 2012, Best Novella, Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God
I was unable to attend the ceremony but my agent, John Berlyne, delivered a short acceptance speech on my behalf. It is reproduced below:
In 2007 I was living on a remote island in Vanuatu, and had asked people to send me books to read. The writer Mark Samuels was kind enough to send me three books, one of which was C.L. Moore’s classic collection of short stories featuring Northwest Smith and Jirel of Joiry. I had, of course, read them before. But re-reading them, in my bamboo hut in sight of the volcano, reawakened an old love in me. My sincere thanks, therefore, to both C.L. Moore and Mark Samuels.
I’d like to thank Pete Crowther for first taking a chance on Gorel; to Nicky Crowther, Nick Gevers and Mike Smith at PS, and my fantastic cover artist Pedro Marques. Thanks are due, always, to my friend and agent, John Berlyne, for keeping me on the straight and narrow, and to my wife, Elizabeth, for making it all possible.
The novella is my favourite form. It is an honour to be nominated, let alone win, this award. My sincere thanks to the members of the British Fantasy Society for voting Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God onto the shortlist, and to the judges for selecting it.
I received the latest issue of Postscripts, the hardcover anthology series from PS Publishing edited by Peter Crowther and Nick Gevers. It includes the first Gorel of Goliris story, “Black Gods Kiss”, which is Gorel’s second appearance in print, following the stand-alone novella Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God from PS (also available in Kindle edition). “Black Gods Kiss” will be followed by “Buried Eyes” in the next issue of Postscripts, and will also appear in April in audio form in Podcastle.
A hardcover collection containing “Black Gods Kiss” and “Buried Eyes” – together with a brand-new Gorel novella and two other long Gorel stories – and titled Black Gods Kiss – will also be published by PS.
A couple of new reviews have just appeared. First off, Pornokistch review Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God:
Lavie Tidhar’s Gorel and the Pot-Bellied God (2011) is a self-styled “guns and sorcery” novella. Mr. Tidhar, as previously noted, is one of the great masters of the pastiche. In this instance, however, Mr. Tidhar has created something uniquely his own – a delightfully Weird pulp tale that could easily sit on a shelf alongside Leiber, Vance and Moorcock. – continue reading or buy the book.
Second, Red Rook Review reads The Bookman:
The Bookman, a mesmerizing tour-de-force, refreshes Steampunk, while adhering to its basic elements and demonstrating the author’s encyclopedic knowledge of the genre and his endearing love of literature. Its major theme is myth; however, its subsidiary theme is books or, more, precisely literature. – continue reading or buy the book.
I don’t think we ever officially announced it, but I’ve just delivered the manuscript of Black Gods Kiss: A Guns & Sorcery Collection to PS Publishing. Black Gods Kiss is a companion volume to my recently-published PS Publishing novella Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God, and is due to be published in late 2012.
Table of Contents:
1. Black Gods Kiss – 5600
2. Buried Eyes – 9400
3. Kur-a-len – 24000
4. The Dead Leaves – 5900
5. White Queen – 7500
So that’s two stories, two novelettes and a novella, all featuring Gorel of Goliris - and plenty of sex, drugs, guns and sorcery!
The first two stories (“Black Gods Kiss” and “Buried Eyes”) will be published in the next two issues of Postscripts; the others will be original to the collection.
Here’s a little fun extract – the opening paragraphs – from “The Dead Leaves”:
‘I would like you,’ the sorcerer said, ‘to kill a man.’
Gorel of Goliris stared at the sorcerer across the table. There are many questions one can ask in response to such a statement. The amateur might ask, for instance, why? or who? – good questions both, for certain. The amateur might ask, What has he done? or Is he a good man or a bad one? The professional has other, more urgent considerations.
‘How much?’ Gorel said, and the sorcerer smiled, revealing blackened, broken teeth. Gorel hated sorcerers, but this one was, so far, paying for the drinks.
I’ve written a few stories that have LGBT characters or themes though not, when I look at it, an exceptionally large number. It just occured to me it could be interesting (for me, if no one else) to go over my short stories database and extract some common themes or group stories together, of which this is a first post.
A lot of the time, my reasoning is that, if there is a romance in the story, it might as well be a same-sex romance – girl-meets-girl or boy-meets-boy instead of boy-meets-girl, to reduce it to a plot component. Other times I’m interested in exploring sexual themes explicitly – most predominantly in the Gorel stories (of which more later). I’ve been particularly interested in Kathoey (Thai/Lao transgender, or “third sex”) as they’re very much a part of everyday life in Laos, with, it seems to me, far more acceptance than ever in the “enlightened” West, and they tend to crop up in stories.
I have no idea if I’m doing a particularly good job or not. My guiding principle is fairly simple though – people are people, and sexual identity is one part of a person. I can well imagine some characters who are consumed by sexual orientation/gender identity to the extent it overshadows everything else, but I’d imagine that’s quite rare, and can apply equally whether you’re gay or straight. Anyhow, here is a handful of stories with LGBT themes.
High Windows – Strange Horizons 2006 – an alienated teenage boy travels across the future solar system, trying to find his place in the world. One reader comment said it was “basically internet porn, given a veneer of respectability … thinly imagined, flaccidly written and altogether unstimulating. ” Another wrote: “This story is truly a work of sick self indulgent porn.”
“High Windows” obviously (I think) corresponds with some of Samuel Delany’s fiction as well as with Philip Larkin’s poem ”High Windows”. It also includes a line about transitioning that both I and the editors thought would be problematic, though it hadn’t been commented on.
It is interesting that the readers above equate “sexually explicit” with “porn”, though I have no problem with it. I did write a couple of stories that deal specifically with pornography and that you might want to check out – 304, Adolf Hitler Strasse on Clarkesworld and “The Love-Craft” in Postscripts (not online).
Covenant - Apex Digest 2008 (but reprinted online in Basement Stories) – a story about religion and aliens which features a lesbian couple. If “High Windows” was a story about alienation and sex, here the romance is simply another part of the story.
“How To Make Paper Airplanes” – published in the special Mundane SF issue of Interzone, 2008, edited by Geoff Ryman, and not online, alas – deals more explicitly with a gay relationship in a culture (Vanuatu) where it is both socially unacceptable and illegal, though again this is one aspect of the story, about four men stranded on a desert island and the meeting of alien (yet human) civilizations.
The Night Train – Strange Horizons, 2010 – well, this little beasty is somehow a Theodore Sturgeon Award nominee, has two reprints in Year’s Bests anthologies, and is available in audio at Escape Pod. I have to admit I mostly wrote the story because I love the night train from Bangkok to Nong Khai, and I love the Hua Lamphong train station. I found the various comments on how the story “exoticises” strange, as for me it was writing about everyday life (admittedly in a somewhat weird future). The main character is a kathoey, the story adopts and corresponds with American cyberpunk tropes and ends, I thought quite appropriately, with a cup of tea.
There are other stories, I think, but those are the more prominent ones. The other stories I wanted to mention are the Gorel of Goliris stories, of which the first one to be published is the novella Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God (PS Publishing 2011).
Two more Gorel stories will be published in PS Publishing’s Postscripts anthology series – “Black Gods Kiss” and “Buried Eyes”, and a small collection of Gorel stories (probably titled Black Gods Kiss) will be published by PS next year.
The obvious inspiration for Gorel has been C.L. Moore, with her Jirel of Joiry and Northwest Smith stories, though with Gorel it was obvious to me from early on that it would be more explicit, almost to the point of the gratuitous. I did want to write something that had plenty of sex and violence – my guiding line for Gorel early on was that he’d “kill anything and sleep with anyone”, though in the course of Pot-Bellied God he enters a fairly stable menage a trois relationship (at least for a while!) and also, I suspect, falls in love. I’m looking forward to finding out what Gorel gets up to next!
My latest book, the guns & sorcery novella Gorel & The Pot-Bellied God, is now available to order! It is released in two states, a regular hardcover and a jacketed, signed hardcover limited to just 100 copies, and is available directly from PS Publishing. There will also be an e-book edition soon, and copies should hopefully be at Eastercon too. Hooray!
A legend tells of the Mirror of Falang-Et: a magical object in the city of the frog tribes, which can tell all manner of truths…
There is only one truth Gorel of Goliris – gunslinger, addict, touched by the Black Kiss – is interested in: finding a way back home, to the great empire from which he had been stolen as a child and from which he had been flung, by sorcery, far across the World.
It started out simple: get to Falang-Et, find the mirror, find what truth it may hold. But nothing is simple for Gorel of Goliris… When Gorel forms an uneasy alliance – and ménage à trois – with an Avian spy and a half-Merlangai thief, things only start to get complicated. Add a murdered merchant, the deadly Mothers of the House of Jade, the rivalry of gods and the machinations of a rising Dark Lord bent on conquest, and things start to get out of hand. Only one thing’s for sure: by the time this is over, there will be blood.
Not to mention sex and drugs… or guns and sorcery.