“a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adult readers alike” – review of Cold Fire on Risingshadow

Earlier this week Seregil of Rhiminee reviewed Cold Fire, the latest book from Peter R. Ellis (I would have mentioned it sooner but I’ve been laid up with flu for a few days). The book is the first of a series of standalone novels recounting the continuing adventures of September Weekes, the heroine of Peter’s Evil Above the Stars series.

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

Seregil starts by saying that it was a pleasure to read about September Weekes again because she’s an interesting and fascinating protagonist. He says that it is “just as good and interesting” as the Evil Above the Stars series, and points out that it is perfectly possible to read Cold Fire without having read the original series, adding that it is a suitable “entry point to the world of September Weekes” and although it has much “in common with the previous novels, it’s a whole new adventure and newcomers will be able to enjoy it”. He describes Cold Fire as “a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adults readers alike” in which readers will find themselves immersed in the story as it unfolds.

Seregil compliments Peter’s good characterisation, and fluent writing. The “characters are resourceful and remind me a bit of the characters found in Enid Blyton’s novels” he says. He admits that even September’s nemesis, the Malevolence, has fascinated him since the beginning of the original trilogy – Peter has “created an ultimate evil entity, because it consumes everything it comes in contact with and leaves destruction in its wake”.

Seregil says that Cold Fire “combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an entertaining way”, with Peter writing “intriguingly” about the alternative version of our world with creatures such as mermaids, unicorns and dragons (although they avoid men). Peter’s writing about the impact of human population growth on these other creatures and their ultimate fate has a “bittersweetness” says Seregil, revealing hidden wisdom beneath the story on the themes of extinction, indifference and fear of the unknown.

Seregil also enjoyed the descriptions of alchemy and how phosphorus and its qualities fascinated scientists. Peter manages to “convey the enthusiasm involved in the experiments to his readers in a splendid way”, which he thinks is a result of Peter’s background as a teacher “because you get a feeling that he knows what he is writing about”.

Summarising, Seregil says that what he likes most about Cold Fire and the previous trilogy is that they are intriguing and different. He is glad that the “Welsh elements – history, mythology, names etc – that readers have come to love in the previous novels can also be found in this novel. They’re an important part of the fascination and originality of the story, because they make this novel stand out among other fantasy novels.”

Seregil concludes by saying that Cold Fire is a “charming and delightfully old-fashioned yet intriguingly modern fantasy novel” that “combines the charm of classic fantasy books with modern storytelling in a successful way”.

You can read Seregil’s full review here.

 

Cold Fire – Peter R. Ellis at Leominster Library

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

On Thursday 19th October 2017, Peter R. Ellis will be spending the afternoon in Leominster library to promote his latest book Cold Fire, a September Weekes novel that follows on from the Evil Above the Stars series. If you’re near Leominster, come along and say hello, check out the book and find out more about September Weekes and the cold fire of the title.

Peter R. Ellis

Leominster Library, Thursday 19 October 2017, 2pm-6:30pm, 8 Buttercross, Leominster HR6 8BN

Nine Worlds 2017 – we had a blast!

We had a great time at this year’s Nine Worlds Geekfest. We had only just returned from a wedding in the South of France (where we first had to acclimatise to the heat), when we were rushing around preparing for our biggest convention of the year, in the damp and dull London weather. But as soon as we arrived at the Novotel everything brightened up (apart from the weather!)

The first sight to welcome attendees was the sign inviting us into the convention centre and leading to the registration desks.

On arrival at Nine Worlds

We had the honour and privilege to be gold sponsor for this year’s Nine Worlds and had a very visible presence which was very humbling (every room had a display outside with our planet-clock logo next to the Nine Worlds logo as above). We were very proud to be supporting such a fantastically inclusive event.

One of the benefits of being sponsor was to be able to provide a booklet for the attendees’ goody bags. As we were having a launch party for two books on Saturday afternoon, it seemed like the best use of that opportunity would be to provide a sampler of both books, as well as the chance to show off our lovely authors, artists (and now, first voice artist) as well as all our book covers. (I have already blogged about this booklet when we delivered it on the Wednesday beforehand, but in case you missed that, here’s a look at it anyway:)

Elsewhen Press goody bag booklet for Nine Worlds 2017

Friday morning started off rather busy as we had exciting news to pass on: a Press Release about Rebecca Hall’s Symphony of the Cursed trilogy being released as unabridged audiobooks by Tantor Audio; and Peter R. Ellis’ new September Weekes novel Cold Fire (following on from his Evil Above the Stars series) being available in eBook format.

We had a double table in the Vendors’ room and spent the rest of Friday morning setting it up. If you’ve seen us at any other events you’ll recognise our layout:

Our table at the start of Nine Worlds

When the doors to the Vendors’ room opened at 1 o’clock, there was a queue of people waiting outside. But, overall, Friday was fairly quiet (as at most conventions). Throughout the rest of the weekend it was always clear when the panels had ended (there was a 45 minute gap between sessions to allow for winding down, setting up and getting from one panel to the next – a model that should be followed by other conventions!) as the Vendors’ room quickly filled up for about half an hour and then thinned out for the next hour. After the first of these influxes of people it became clear that we had insufficient light above half of our table (and some other vendors’ tables too) as most of the ceiling lights were in the centre of the room putting our table in the shadow of anyone who was standing trying to look at our books. Meriel from Nine Worlds was looking after the vendors and she and Jess (who was the Nine Worlds interface with the hotel) set off on a mission to resolve the problem. The hotel had no standalone lamps to offer, but a while later Jess re-appeared with a whole load of very cool strings of lights, that she had bought at a nearby Primark, and distributed them to those vendors who needed more light.

Our table at Nine Worlds with added fancy lights

The lights proved to be an attraction in themselves and I’m sure Jess could have made a decent commission supplying them to all the people who came up to ask where we had got them!

As at last year’s Nine Worlds, we spent the weekend chatting to some lovely people: imaginative, amusing, entertaining, thoughtful, even profound at times. It didn’t matter whether they were in the guise of a squirrel, dalek, alien, evil witch, jedi, lemming, or even human. The Nine Worlds attendee badges included communication preference overlays and pronoun stickers to help ensure not just inclusivity but also prevent inadvertent offence (another model that could usefully be followed by other conventions).

We also endeavoured to sell some books, of course, and had spirited discussion on the relative merits of eBooks and print editions (and, indeed audiobooks) with more than one visitor to our table.

On Saturday evening, at 5pm, we held the aforementioned book launch party. Setting up was greatly eased by the unexpected help provided by Nine Worlds staff who were on hand to reconfigure the room for us. We had John Gribbin and Zoë Sumra reading from their new books (Don’t Look Back and The Wages of Sin, respectively), and talking a little about themselves and their writing in response to questions from the audience and from our interviewer Peter R. Ellis. The audience was not as large as we had hoped – but it’s quality not quantity that’s important and they were a splendid bunch of people! The other advantage of fewer attendees is that we had plenty of wine left over to bring home (which we will be quietly drinking over the next few months).

Launch with Zoë Sumra, Peter R. Ellis, John Gribbin

All too soon, Sunday afternoon arrived and the Vendors’ room closed its doors and everyone started disassembling their tables. Within an hour, we had our books, posters and other paraphernalia all packed into boxes ready to be taken home (courtesy of our youngest daughter) – and once again the ever-helpful Nine Worlds staff quickly moved our boxes down to the loading area for us while we waited for the car.

All packed and ready to go home

Sunday evening was spent in a nearby Italian restaurant with friends, enjoying delicious food and lively conversation. Monday morning we checked out and headed for the train home.

Although we have been attending conventions almost since the inception of Elsewhen Press, it is still both exciting and exhausting. So we are always very grateful for the help that we get from our authors, friends and the convention organisers and volunteers. This year’s Nine Worlds was no exception. We made it through, more or less retaining our sanity, thanks to the support and help of our authors Siobhan McVeigh, Peter R. Ellis, Christopher Nuttall (along with Aisha and, of course, Eric who gains more fans at every convention!), Zoë Sumra (with Misha and Sylvianne), John Gribbin, Rebecca Hall, Edwin Hayward, and Susan Oke, and the support of Nine Worlds staff and volunteers especially Meriel and Jess.

 

REVEALED: Cover of Cold Fire, the new September Weekes novel

In the Evil Above the Stars series by Peter R. Ellis, we were introduced to heroine September Weekes. In that trilogy, September discovered who she is and was called upon to save the land of Gwlad from the evil Malevolence (in case you haven’t yet read them yet – why not? – I won’t introduce spoilers by saying any more!) Now Peter has delivered the first September Weekes novel, Cold Fire. September is still at school and is still the Cludydd o Maengolauseren, but this time she finds herself closer to home, at least in space if not time. As far as she can tell, her appearance hasn’t changed, she’s even wearing her school uniform. But in a London of 1680, others see her as a lady of considerable social standing. She has been brought here to stop something happening that would give the Malevolence an opportunity to enter the universe. But she doesn’t know what. Her first stop is a tavern, to meet Robert Hooke, and then off to see Sir Robert Boyle demonstrate to the Royal Society the results of his investigations of the phosphorus and its cold fire. Far away at the edge of Wales an alchemist has learnt of Boyle’s discovery and, helped by his young assistant, is attempting in his own way to form the mysterious material, little suspecting that his work threatens to open the universe to the evil power of the Malevolence. September starts to understand what is happening but feels powerless to stop it. Then she encounters some fantastic beasts who may be able to help her, if she can work out how to save them from the Cold Fire.

The cover design by Alison Buck shows us September meeting one of those fantastic beasts, the dragon Obsidian.

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

Cold Fire will be available as an eBook at the beginning of August and in paperback in October.

 

“A fascinating fantasy adventure with strong elements of Welsh mythology. A finalist and highly recommended.” – Wishing Shelf Awards

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards 2015 FinalistSeventh Child by Peter R. Ellis, the first book in the Evil Above the Stars series, was a finalist in the 2015 Wishing Shelf Independent Book Awards in the teenager category. The Wishing Shelf Awards are judged by their target readers, not a panel of ‘experts’. Feedback from those readers is subsequently sent to the author, and we would like to share it here:

A very good book. I lie fantasy so this was perfect for me. I liked the characters and the way the hero September is not perfect.’ Girl, aged 14

I thought this book was a bit different to most fantasy as it has a lot of myths in it which were interesting. Exciting ending which made me want to read the next book. The blurb was good and enticing but I didn’t like the cover much.’ Boy, aged 15

Gwlad, the fantasy land was well described. The only problem I had with the story was trying to pronounce the words. For example, Cludydd o Maengolauseren. I had to keep stopping to try to get my tongue around them which kept interrupting the story. I enjoyed it though.’ Girl, aged 15

I thought the was an exciting story. The plot was twisty which kept me interested and I think the author has a lot of imagination. A few odd words in there but they added to the fantasy. I understood all of the story and the characters and settings were well described.’ Boy, aged 14

 

“a sharp collection” – 8/10 review of Existence is Elsewhen on Starbust Magazine

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Tommy James has just written a review of Existence is Elsewhen for Starburst Magazine. Describing it as a “sharp collection” of short stories, Tommy writes that Existence is Elsewhen presents an “eclectic range of ideas” producing an end result that is “extremely well written” and “rich with a wide variety of material”. That variety is shown in the choice of tones of the stories with some “genuinely amusing pieces which nicely punctuate the darker stories”, while singling out Douglas Thompson’s Bird Brains as a “provocative tale whose ideas will manifest themselves long after you’ve finished reading”.

Tommy concludes that Existence is Elsewhen is a “smartly presented collection” that anyone who enjoys short fiction “would be well advised to familiarise themselves with”, awarding it 8 out of 10 stars.

You can read Tommy’s full review on the Starburst Magazine website here.

 

Unity of Seven launch at Mancunicon

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

Also at Mancunicon, on Easter Sunday in fact, we had a launch party for Unity of Seven, the third volume in the Evil Above the Stars series by Peter R. Ellis.

Peter gave a brief overview of the main character of the series, September Weekes, with a hint at what had happened in the first two volumes. He gave a little background about the other land, Gwlad, where September has been combating evil and set the scene for Unity of Seven in which some of the story also takes place in Wales. He then read a few short extracts to help the audience better understand the characters of September and Malice as well as some of the locations.



Peter R. Ellis reading from Unity of Seven at the launch
Peter R. Ellis reading from Unity of Seven at the launch

Peter R. Ellis launching Unity of Seven at Mancunicon
Peter R. Ellis launching Unity of Seven at Mancunicon


Peter will be reading from Unity of Seven at the Great Oak Bookshop in Llanidloes on Friday 1st April and he will be hosting a Myth and Magic in Mid-Wales event in June which also includes a walk around some of the sites mentioned in the book.

 

Existence is Elsewhen launch at Mancunicon

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Over the Easter weekend, the Manchester Hilton Deansgate was taken over by Eastercon (known this year as Mancunicon). Among the various panels and events was our launch of Existence is Elsewhen. Of the twenty authors of stories in this (excellent and wonderfully imaginative) anthology, nine were at Mancunicon, along with Alison who designed the cover and the fleurons inside the book. We held a launch party in the Presidential Suite on the 22nd floor.



View from 22nd floor at launch of Existence is Elsewhen just before sunset
View from 22nd floor at launch of Existence is Elsewhen just before sunset

We were supposed to start at sunset, but got underway a little late – but we still had good views out over the city. Each of the authors present read a short extract from their own story – just enough to whet the appetite of the audience who were very attentive, in spite of (or perhaps thanks to) the wine and beer that was also being consumed. And of course there were flying saucers to be eaten as well as small chocolate eggs.

View from the 22nd floor at the Launch of Existence is Elsewhen after sunset
View from the 22nd floor at the Launch of Existence is Elsewhen after sunset


Pete started with an introduction and then read Christopher Nuttall’s extract from The Girl in Black for him, as Christopher was busy soothing his one-year old who had just decided he didn’t like the room being so full.

Pete reading from Christopher Nuttall's The Girl in Black at the Existence is Elsewhen launch (while Christopher was busy trying to soothe his one-year old son outside the room!)
Pete reading from Christopher Nuttall’s The Girl in Black at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
(while Christopher was busy trying to soothe his one-year old son outside the room!)


Siobhan McVeigh read from her story Face the Music:

Siobhan McVeigh reading from Face the Music at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Siobhan McVeigh reading from Face the Music at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Susan Oke read from her story Hide and Hunt:

Susan Oke reading from Hide and Hunt at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Susan Oke reading from Hide and Hunt at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Peter R. Ellis read from his story In the bleak Long Winter:

Peter R. Ellis reading from In the bleak Long Winter at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Peter R. Ellis reading from In the bleak Long Winter at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Dave Weaver read from his story The Copy:

Dave Weaver reading from The Copy at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Dave Weaver reading from The Copy at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


J.A. Christy read from her story Inside and Out™ V.5:

J.A. Christy reading from Inside and Out™ V.5 at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
J.A. Christy reading from Inside and Out™ V.5 at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Tej Turner read from his story The Last Days:

Tej Turner reading from The Last Days at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Tej Turner reading from The Last Days at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Edwin Hayward read from his story Ambrosia:

Edwin Hayward reading from Ambrosia at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Edwin Hayward reading from Ambrosia at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Andy McKell read from his story Homo Sapiens Inferior:

Andy McKell reading from Homo Sapiens Inferior at the Existence is Elsewhen launch
Andy McKell reading from Homo Sapiens Inferior at the Existence is Elsewhen launch


Everybody had a good time, authors and audience alike. It was a very pleasant start to Saturday evening!

 

“excellent and wonderfully imaginative” – review of Existence is Elsewhen on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow.net Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Existence is Elsewhen. He starts by saying that as an anthology it “wonderfully showcases” what Elsewhen Press has to offer and is “something special and mesmerising”. He especially liked the fact that there was a wide variety of stories “that highlight the imagination and writing skills of various authors” ranging from “entertaining stories to thought-provoking stories” with a diversity from “colonising new planets to reverse evolution”. He adds that it is “an interesting anthology to those who want to read something out of the ordinary and want to be thrilled by stories that push and stretch the limits of normality and strangeness in various ways”.

He then gives a brief overview of each story, with his comments on each (all good, I’m pleased to say), followed by a slightly more detailed review of some of the stories that particularly interested him. I won’t try to summarise his detailed review in any more detail, except to say that he concludes by describing it as “a perfect anthology for readers who want to experience something different. Some of the sights and wonders explored in these stories are seldom found in modern speculative fiction, and thus make for an intriguing reading experience”. You really should read his full review here.

 

Published today – Existence is Elsewhen, Science Fiction anthology headlined by John Gribbin

Twenty stories from twenty great writers, also including Rhys Hughes, Christopher Nuttall and Douglas Thompson

DARTFORD, KENT – 18 March 2016 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication today of Existence is Elsewhen, an anthology of twenty science fiction stories from twenty great writers. According to Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, “The title paraphrases the last sentence of André Breton’s 1924 Manifesto of Surrealism, perfectly summing up the intent behind this anthology of stories from a wonderful collection of authors. Different worlds… different times. It’s what Elsewhen Press has been about since we launched our first title in 2011. We were thrilled when John agreed to headline.”

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

Headlining the collection is John Gribbin, with a worrying vision of medical research in the near future. Future global healthcare is the theme of J.A.Christy’s story, while the ultimate in spare part surgery is where Dave Weaver takes the reader. Edwin Hayward’s search for a renewable protein source turns out to be digital; and Tanya Reimer’s story with characters we think we know, gives pause for thought about another food we all take for granted. Evolution is examined too, with Andy McKell’s chilling tale of what states could become if genetics are used to drive policy. Similarly, Robin Moran’s story explores the societal impact of an undesirable evolutionary trend, while Douglas Thompson provides a truly surreal warning of an impending disaster that will reverse evolution, with dire consequences.

On a lighter note, there is satire as Steve Harrison uncovers who really owns the Earth (and why); and Ira Nayman, who uses the surreal alternative realities of his Transdimensional Authority series as the setting for a detective story mash-up of Agatha Christie and Dashiel Hammett. Pursuing the crime-solving theme, Peter Wolfe explores life, and death, on a space station, while Stefan Jackson follows a police investigation into some bizarre cold-blooded murders in a cyberpunk future. Going into the past, albeit an 1831 set in the alternate Britain of his Royal Sorceress
series, Christopher Nuttall reports on an investigation into a girl with strange powers.

Strange powers in the present-day is the theme for Tej Turner, who tells a poignant tale of how extra-sensory perception makes it easier for a husband to bear his dying wife’s last few days. Difficult decisions are the theme of Chloe Skye’s heart-rending story exploring personal sacrifice. Relationships aren’t always so close, as Susan Oke’s tale demonstrates, when sibling rivalry is taken to the limit. Relationships are the backdrop to Peter R. Ellis’s story where a spectacular mid-winter event on a newly-colonised distant planet involves a Madonna and Child. Coming right back to Earth and in what feels like an almost imminent future, Siobhan McVeigh tells a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of using technology to deflect the blame for their actions. Building on the remarkable setting of Pera from her LiGa series, and developing Pera’s legendary Book of Shadow, Sanem Ozdural spins the creation myth of the first light tree in a lyrical and poetic song. Also exploring language, the master of fantastika and absurdism, Rhys Hughes, extrapolates the way in which language changes over time, with an entertaining result.

Existence is Elsewhen, published today by Elsewhen Press on popular eBook platforms, will also be available in paperback from the 25th March with a launch at the 2016 Eastercon in Manchester.

Notes for Editors

About John Gribbin

John GribbinJohn Gribbin was born in 1946 in Maidstone, Kent. He studied physics at the University of Sussex and went on to complete an MSc in astronomy at the same University before moving to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, to work for his PhD. After working for the journal Nature and New Scientist, and three years with the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University, he has concentrated chiefly on writing books. These include In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, In Search of the Big Bang, and In Search of the Multiverse. He has also written and presented several series of critically acclaimed radio programmes on scientific topics for the BBC (including QUANTUM, for Radio Four), and has acted as consultant on several TV documentaries, as well as contributing to TV programmes for the Open University and the Discovery channel.

But he really wanted to be a successful science fiction writer, and has achieved at least the second part of that ambition with books such as Timeswitch and The Alice Encounter, and stories in publications such as Interzone and Analog. But as John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi so nearly said “Sf is all very well, John, but it won’t pay the rent”. Another thing that doesn’t pay the rent is his songwriting, mostly for various spinoffs of the Bonzo Dog Band. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical and Royal Meteorological Societies.