On his website Now Read This!, comics writer (and past chairman of the Comics Creators Guild) Win Wiacek has reviewed Fictional Alignment by Mike French, the sequel to An Android Awakes. You may remember that Win was very complimentary about An Android Awakes (a “captivating and fascinating tome”), and he is no less enthused about Fictional Alignment. He describes the new book as a “mind-bending Scientific Romance” which offers a “challenging odyssey through the theocracy of thought and depicts a trenchant guerrilla war between What Is, What Might and What Should be…”. He suggests it will appeal to devotees of Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, Thomas M. Disch among others. High praise! Thanks Win.
When loner Jack Johnson touches an old coin he suddenly finds himself transported back to a distant and perilous past; then forwards to a dark, dystopian future where rebels struggle to overturn an ancient and ruthlessly oppressive empire.
DARTFORD, KENT – 14 February 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Timekeepers by Dave Weaver, a new twist on a time travelling adventure.
Jack Johnson has an exceptional gift: a remarkable ability to absorb and memorise facts instantly and without effort. A lonely teenager, he has had little control over his life, having to leave behind friends and everything familiar, in the move to a new town, a new school, a new start. Jack misses his old life. He knows that his immediate future will not be easy – his astonishing memory has not always helped win him friends – but he can never have anticipated the incredible events that are about to befall him. Discovering what appears to be an ancient coin, Jack finds himself abruptly hurled back and then forward through time, by a technology and an intelligence beyond his control. Jack’s extraordinary memory, and his fascination with history, are to prove vital as he is thrown back across the centuries, to the early years of the Roman occupation of Britain, then forward to the heart of a vastly powerful totalitarian state. In both past and future, manipulated by opposing factions, Jack’s life is under constant threat. He will need all his ability and courage to survive. Whom can he trust? Can he save those he cares for? Will he ever return home?
Mike French was recently interviewed for the Alternative Magazine Online by Marty Mulrooney. Although it was predominantly to talk about Mike’s new book, Fictional Alignment the sequel to An Android Awakes, they covered a few other topics too (like house extensions, birthdays, and Blade Runner 2049). All in all an entertaining and informative interview, with a sneaky teaser at the end.
Oh, and “Oddball, enjoyable and original” was Marty’s description of Fictional Alignment not Mike. But there again…
Read the interview at the Alternative Magazine Online website here.
On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has recently reviewed The Wages of Sin by Zoë Sumra – the second book in her Underside series. Having enjoyed the first book Sailor to a Siren, Seregil was pleased that this book was “just as entertaining and epic”. In fact Seregil writes: “I’m glad to say that, in this novel, the author fulfills the promise that she showed in her debut novel and delivers a rewarding, satisfyingly complex and action-packed story that feels wonderfully fresh and exciting. I was positively surprised by it, because it exceeded all of my expectations.” Seregeil expands on this later: “Just like Sailor to a Siren, The Wages of Sin is a prime example of how to write compelling, fast-paced and gritty space opera for adult readers who want to be entertained by a good story. There aren’t any boring or stale moments in this novel, because the author makes sure that there’s always something going on to satisfy the needs of readers who enjoy action scenes.”
You can read the whole of Seregil’s review on Risingshadow here.
Seregil of Rhiminee recently reviewed Ira Nayman’s latest Multiverse novel The Multiverse is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There, the fifth book in the Multiverse (aka Transdimensional Authority) series. Seregil starts by writing “Ah, Ira Nayman has done it again!” and goes on to say that although this is the fifth book in the series “it is still as amusing, fresh and highly entertaining as the previous novels (to be totally honest, in certain ways this novel is even better than its predecessors).” Later Seregil writes that he finds Ira’s ability to parody popular culture absolutely brilliant and he was “once again amazed at his shameless way of writing genuinely funny and thought-provoking satire about TV series etc. Just like the previous novels, this novel has quite an amazing amount of references to popular culture, which is one of the reasons why I enjoyed reading it.” As he adds, “Virtually nobody and nothing is safe from his quirky humour and that’s an extremely good thing.” Seregil concludes his review with a plea to Ira: “More, please!”.
Read the whole of Seregil’s review on Risingshadow.net here.
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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Lisa writes that Ira’s novel “blends the elements of a police procedural with madcap humor and imaginative characters and locales” and the reader is “treated to humor that leaves no stone unturned” where “everything and everyone is fair game for Nayman’s wit” including employing “absurdity to good effect” and “a knack for giving old expressions a new twist”.
The book is liberally sprinkled with references to popular culture and Lisa specifically picks out the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Star Trek, Mel Blanc, Jack Ryan and Canadian icons such as Margaret Atwood, Celine Dion and Tim Hortons. Aliens are also fair game for Ira’s fun, ranging from sparkling word play to slapstick humour. While some of the humour is purely for entertainment, some is intended to “pack a satirical bite based on Nayman’s observation of human nature” and “politics” as well as “observations about relationships, workplace dynamics, and our interface with technology that hit close to home”.
Lisa found the book to be “an enjoyable read, although I found myself reading carefully rather than quickly so as not to miss any of the sometimes-subtle humor”. It was, Lisa says, “entertaining, and the variety of types of humor and original turns of phrase kept things fresh”, there are “strong female as well as male characters, inventive and creative scene-setting, and some dead-on satire”.
Thanks for the review Lisa, we’re very happy that you enjoyed Ira’s book.
On her blog Axes’n’Yarn, Pen Tynan has just written a very thoughtful (and thought-provoking) article, which is partially a review of SmartYellow™ by JA Christy but also a commentary on the current welfare state in the UK. SmartYellow™ is set in contemporary Britain, although when we read it we hope that it is an alternative reality and not ours!
I am not going to try to précis Pen’s article, nor do I want to attempt to reduce it to merely a review of SmartYellow™ as it is so much more. I will say that Pen finished reading SmartYellow™ a month ago and says it is still haunting her. The description of life in a council estate, Pen says, is meticulous and painfully familiar. The science alluded to, that enables the inhabitants to be monitored and ultimately controlled, probably does not exist (says Pen) but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine those who have control using more mundane methods for achieving the same goals.
Pen concludes by saying that the “real thing that left me shaken and melancholy from reading SmartYellow was a real, deep and darkly certain feeling not that this could happen, but that it already is happening.” She says that she desperately wants to recommend this book to people but with the warning that it might affect the reader (or as she puts it “it might leave you feeling like shit”). I’m going to interpret that as a positive recommendation!
You should read, and think about Pen’s article (click here to read it), whether or not you have read or might read SmartYellow™. Of course we hope you will read the book too.
Ricky describes Ira’s series as “a collection of humorous examinations of the social interactions between a wide range of colorful characters who travel between alternate realities”, which is a pretty succinct outline. He says that this latest addition to the series is “compelling” because the events that are being investigated involve people having their consciousness exchanged with somebody else in a different reality. He finds the idea of a multiverse fascinating enough, he says, but add “Nayman’s penchant for literary wit to the mix” provides the reader with a “non-stop whimsical adventure that is both thought provoking and difficult to put down”.
Ricky draws the inevitable comparisons with Douglas Adams. Both Nayman and Admas, he says, “employ the same dry humor and ability to make the most irrational situation seem, well, commonplace”. His analysis of both is itself thoughtful and insightful and he concludes that “Adams’ work seemed limited to cultural and social issues dropped in a fantastic setting, but Nayman takes these concerns in a different direction by drawing on the fandom of science fiction and relying on the strength of his target audience’s knowledge of the genre to understand the humor”.
This is an interesting and well constructed review, not just of this book but of Ira’s approach to humour and storytelling. He concludes by saying that this book is “a fun read and a fine introduction to author Ira Nayman if you’re not already familiar.” He says he will now be adding the earlier books in the series to his “must read” list.
You can (and should) read Ricky’s full review on the Amazing Stories website here.