Fictional Alignment is a satire by Mike French exploring a future in which androids control culture

When Sapphira writes the first human-written fiction in a century, zealot androids vow to eradicate all fiction. They fail – her book is a best seller – so they send a team back in time to realign the historical record with her fictional stories.

DARTFORD, KENT – 12 January 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of a new book by Mike French. Fictional Alignment is a sequel to the ground-breaking An Android Awakes, a collaboration between Mike French and artist Karl Brown which was published at the end of 2015 by Elsewhen Press. In that book, Android Writer PD121928 is attempting to have a novel published, but is only allowed 42 failed submissions before he will be terminated. Despairing, as he waits to hear whether his final attempt has been accepted, he commits suicide; but it is accepted, so his successor, PD121929, passes himself off as the author. In Fictional Alignment we discover that, because fewer than a hundred copies of that novel were sold, PD121929 was himself terminated. The human Sapphira, who had been in love with PD121928, wrote a bestselling novel Humans (An Arrangement of Minor Defects) based on the stories he told her on the night they first met. It was marketed by the Altostratus publishing house as the first work of fiction by a human for over a hundred years. As a result, a handful of zealot androids massacred the senate and formed a new regime fuelled with a passion to eradicate the evil of fiction from android society. But however much they try, they are unable to remove the impact of Sapphira’s novel. If fiction cannot be made to align with reality, then reality must be made to align with fiction. So, in a desperate move, they kidnap Sapphira and force her to work with an oddball team that travels back in time to enact the events of the stories in her book – thus ensuring that they are historical records rather than fiction. This is the ultimate implementation of fake news.

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Mike French interviewed on Alternative Magazine Online

Mike FrenchFollowing his recent review (which you can read here) of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown, Marty Mulrooney invited Mike in for an entertaining interview on his Alternative Magazine Online blog. Apart from talking about the inspiration behind An Android Awakes, they discuss the creative process, how Mike and Karl worked together to produce An Android Awakes, how Android PD121928’s experience of publishers reflects Mike’s (!), why science fiction is popular, and Mike’s next project.

You can read the interview on Alternative Magazine Online here.

 

“A must read sci-fi neo-noir” – review of An Android Awakes on Super Robot Mayhem

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

Adi Mursec has just reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown on the Super Robot Mayhem website. He starts by saying it’s “a classic sci-fi which will mature with age” adding that “it is like nothing I’ve seen before”. He says that even though the story is about “an android writing to stay alive you really feel for him” and that the reader can relate to Android PD121928 and want his submissions to be accepted. Adi says that each of the Android’s submissions make good stories in their own right covering “some very interesting science fiction concepts”. He also liked the detailed artwork which he felt complements the story really well, describing it as a “neo-noir style” which he says “reminds me a bit of Allan Linder’s Prisoner of the Mind which I really loved”. He says that Mike and Karl “are both masters of their arts and bring this story to life” and he is looking forward to reading more from Mike and seeing more of Karl’s illustrations. He concludes by recommending An Android Awakes to “anyone even slightly interested in sci-fi” and wants to know when it will be made into a movie 😉

You can read Adi’s full review here.

 

“amazing imagery” – review of An Android Awakes on SFcrowsnest

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

On SFcrowsnest Vinca Russell has just reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. Starting by saying “I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels in general” because there often isn’t enough story, it was good to read that An Android Awakes proved to be an exception. Vinca admits “I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book” adding “The story was really engrossing and I found myself rooting for PD121928”. Despite the fact that “the main character is an android, he was extremely easy to relate to”. Vinca enjoyed “the distinct style” of Karl’s artwork too, “particularly his humanoid figures”. In conclusion Vinca recommends An Android Awakes, suggesting it is a “nice crossover for people like me who enjoy the style of graphic novels but want more from the text content to draw them in”, with a great balance between text and illustration having “some amazing imagery in the writing” that is “complemented by some great artwork”.

You can read Vinca’s full review on SFcrowsnest here.

 

“one of the most pleasant surprises of the year” – review of An Android Awakes on Upcoming4me

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

On the Upcoming4.me website, An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown has just been reviewed. As in many other reviews, it starts with the observation that An Android Awakes may remind you of 2000AD. After describing it as a “beautifully designed paperback” the reviewer points out that it “is no ordinary book” but rather “an innovative hybrid that blurs the lines between a novel, or even a short story collection, and a graphic novel” adding that it’s a “quite clever concept which works remarkably well”.

Outlining the storyline and describing the way that Android Writer PD121928 submits stories to be published (only to have them rejected), the reviewer observes that the stories introduce us to “a truly fascinating piece of world building” but also help to provide background to the Android’s life in a way that provides “illuminating reading in itself”. Throughout, the “high quality of both storytelling and illustrations” is maintained. The conclusion of the review is that An Android Awakes is “an excellent science fiction story” that is “well recommended”.

You can read the whole review on Upcoming4.me here.

 

“delightfully peculiar” – review of An Android Awakes on Exeposé

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

Following his interview with Mike at the end of last month (see here), Harry Shepherd (online editor of Exeposé, the University of Exeter student newspaper) has reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. Harry starts by saying that An Android Awakes is “one of the most interesting books I’ve ever read”, which is a good start! He goes straight on to say that it is constantly “unsettling you as a reader and preventing you from settling into a comfortable rhythm” but it is a book not to be missed, which although not perfect is “experimental in all the right ways”.

Outlining the story premise and Android Writer PD121928’s struggle to be published, Harry observes that “what’s problematic for Android turns out to be enthralling for us as the reader”. The structure of the book, with the underlying story arc and the inclusion of PD121928’s submissions as short stories means that the reader has “new worlds and characters to get acquainted with which can be an odd, jarring sensation at times”. He adds that the stories aren’t all the same ‘type’ as the Android Writer flits “between action-adventure, romance and even Gothic” to try to get his submission accepted, but the stories are “interconnected subtly, providing extensive scope for you to re-read the book and pick up on the references that didn’t make sense the first time round”. The way that Karl’s illustrations are combined with the prose varies from story to story in a way that is “experimental and never settles into a knowable pattern”, making the book neither a typical illustrated novel nor a typical graphical novel.

Harry admits he would love to find out more about the world that the Android inhabits and hopes that Mike and Karl will come back to this world in the future and flesh it out a bit more. He concludes by saying that An Android Awakes is “delightfully peculiar” and “rewards you the more you delve deep into its existential questions and formal experiments”, adding that the Android’s stories are wide in their “generic variety and ambitious in their scope” and as a result “An Android Awakes will grip you in the same way it will bewilder you”. I’m pretty sure he means that in a good way 😉

You can read the whole of Harry’s review on the Exeposé website here.

 

“entertaining, sexy, terrifying, and beautiful” – review of An Android Awakes on The Compulsive Reader

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

On The Compulsive Reader website, Magdalena Ball has recently written a review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. She starts by identifying the influences and references that this “futuristic dystopia” conjures up for her – which she says include Bladerunner, Metropolis, The Matrix, as well as 1984, H2G2, A Clockwork Orange and Perdido Street Station. This is, she says, “science taken to its extreme, and it’s both terrifying and oddly evocative. It is, at times, also quite funny.”

She compliments Karl’s artwork which “add strong visual appeal” and are “sufficiently horrible, in a visually beautiful way, to increase the cognitive dissonance of the book”. Mike’s “rather clever meta-fictional plotline” provides “an interesting protagonist” in the “Scheherazade-like Android Writer P121928” who is struggling to be published rather than deactivated. Magdalena says the Android’s stories are “cleverly interwoven” in a way that is “both satisfying to the reader and oddly conspiratorial”. She then lists some of the “delights” of these stories with their “sheer inventiveness” and adds that there are “so many delightful connections between these stories and they’re so rich and complex that I feel the book could be re-read several times”.

She says the book is “smart, at times hysterically funny, and actually quite evocative in its science” and concludes by saying it is “an entertaining, sexy, terrifying, and beautiful novel, full of bleakness and fun” and readers will enjoy “the rich and powerful language, the complex plot lines, and the wacky and inventive landscape that both French and Brown have created in this superb graphical novel”.

You can read Magdalena’s full review on The Compulsive Reader here.

 

“Emotionally intelligent, engaging and literate” – review of An Android Awakes on Murder Mayhem & More

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

On Murder Mayhem & More, Rowena Hoseason has reviewed An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. She starts by describing this “substantial softback” as neither a normal text novel nor comic-book style graphic novel but “a blend of both, where Karl Brown’s crisp images are presented alongside Mike French’s sometimes surreal narrative”. With the overall story including the submissions of the Android desperate to be published, she says it can be read as an anthology of short stories or a full-length tale; it is, she says “neither fish nor fowl. Yet it is in places quite brilliant.”

She describes how “Mike French’s imagination runs riot with love, sex and death; science, space and time travel; religion, relationships and the reality of being an independent writer struggling to secure a book contract.”

She says that the underlying story of a writer struggling against rejection could have become old very quickly but happily Mike “doesn’t push the point beyond (my) patience, and instead uses it as a springboard for a series of wickedly humorous and entertaining interludes.”

As well as complimenting Mike’s story, she like Karl’s beautiful artwork, especially that they don’t compete with the text or attempt a mere illustration of the events in each episode. Instead, she says, “the striking line drawings convey the essence of the action and emotion without limiting the reader’s scope to individually interpret the text”. She recommends reading the book in print rather than as an ebook so you can appreciate the images at full size, and says “Some of the double-page spreads are simply stunning”.

She concludes that An Android Awakes is graphic sci-fi for a mature audience.

You can read Rowena’s full review here.

 

“fresh…never boring” – review of An Android Awakes on Skuds’ Sister’s Brother

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

On the website Skuds’ Sister’s Brother, Skuds in Life has written a review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown. Skuds starts by saying that, while reading the book, he kept thinking of a kaleidoscope because the various stories written by Android Writer PD121928 include characters and motifs that keep cropping up in different ways. He says that there are “enough ideas in the book to make several books”, which he says he felt when he read one of Mike French’s other books, which has the effect of keeping “the novelty coming” so that as well as “fresh events” you are “getting fresh character, scenarios and everything else every few pages” which he says can be exhausting but is never boring! He says that some of the characters will stay with you for a long time – he cites as examples the Button Man (“who has a real League of Gentlemen bizarre scariness to him”) and the superhero angels.

Pointing out that this is neither just a novel nor is it a typical graphic novel, he describes the illustrations as having a “similar feel to the old 2000 AD comic”. He concludes that you could “just read the words and ignore the pictures but you would be missing out” because although they don’t add to the plot they do “contribute greatly to the mood and tone of the book”.

You can read Skud’s full review here.

 

Deliciously irresistible, amazing and cool pageturner – review of An Android Awakes on Risingshadow

On the Risingshadow.net website, Seregil of Rhiminee has written a very flattering and detailed review of An Android Awakes by Mike French and Karl Brown.

Artwork: Karl Brown Cover Design: Craig Nash
Artwork: Karl Brown
Cover Design: Craig Nash

He starts by describing the book as “a beautiful and extraordinary package filled with entertainment, style and originality”, adding that it’s one of the most original speculative fiction novels he’s read this year due to the fact that it’s “full of novel ideas that are handled masterfully”. When you open the book and start reading, Seregil says, “you’ll immediately notice that you’re about to read something extraordinary”. As you keep reading the feeling intensifies, and when you reach the end you’ll “most likely be stunned by what you have just read, because this novel grabs hold of the reader’s imagination”. He observes that the main story “unfolds fantastically towards the end” and that journey to the end is “entertaining and rewarding. The story reads almost like an exotic blend of Blade Runner and Sin City that has been coated with Rhys Hughes-like inventiveness.”

Seregil goes on to discuss the characters in some of the stories written by Android Writer PD121928, some of which are “amazing” and the stories are “fascinating”, as well as how grim and bleak the existence of an android writer is in the future that Mike has created. He adds that including details of the rejection letters that were sent to the android writer “added a bit of harsh realism to the story”. The stories and artwork “deliver readers a feast of unique sights” that are “awesome in their inventiveness”, says Seregil who then says that it’s been a while since he’s read “anything as inventive as this novel.”

He commends Mike’s writing as “excellent” and says that the story is “a veritable page-turner, because you want to find out what happens to the android writer”, with the tension growing nicely towards the end as time is running out. Seregil says that the stories demonstrate how good a writer Mike is, and show the “same kind of imagination and fascinating surrealism that can be found in Mike French’s The Dandelion Trilogy”; he says Mike is a talented author who “dares to use his imagination in a creative way”. He writes stories and novels that are “intriguingly different and highly entertaining … full of subtle beauty and different kinds of wonders”.

Karl’s “beautiful pictures”, Seregil says, fit this novel perfectly complementing the story to “make it an interesting reading experience”. Karl has “an eye for small and important details, because he captures elements from the stories and represents them in detailed black-and-white pictures that stimulate the reader’s imagination. I look forward to seeing more of his artwork.”

Seregil concludes by saying that An Android Awakes “manages to do what most novels fail to do” – it challenges the reader’s view of what novels can be like and makes the reader think about what happens in the story. He says, “It offers escapism, intelligent entertainment, visionary storytelling and beautiful art in an amazing all-in-one package. It’s truly something to behold, because it’s a unique achievement in storytelling.” His final thoughts are that it is “deliciously irresistible”, and “so amazing and cool that you can’t put it down until you’ve reached the end”. Highly recommended! Don’t miss it, says Seregil.

This has been a (long) short summary of Seregil’s review (and I hope he won’t mind that I’ve included lots of quotes from it!). You should definitely read the full review on the Risingshadow.net website here.