Canadian author Tanya Reimer creates a future where AI is both essential and a threat

Two groups of people dependent on AI for their survival, one group knowingly and the other unknowingly, struggle to stay alive while that very AI is seeking artificial life for itself.

DARTFORD, KENT – 05 April 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Programmed to Breathe by Canadian speculative fiction author Tanya Reimer. Set over 1000 years in the future, two very different groups of apocalypse survivors have been living apart and unknown to each other until they are forced to meet.

Dragon design: Alison Buck

In this post-apocalyptic world, one group of survivors have been managing to eke out a living in a village that they believe is maintained for them by a supernatural being they call Dragon. The villagers eschew technology of any kind, believing it to have been the cause of the conflict that devastated the world centuries before. Unknown to them, the heat and water that keeps the village alive are actually the by-products of an underground city, where a different group of survivors are being sustained by an artificial intelligence program known as Nogard. In the city, genetic engineering and cybernetics are promoting the rapid evolution of residents who have never seen daylight. Nogard has been evolving too and is intent on making the jump from artificial intelligence to artificial life. But a series of devastating earthquakes damages the city and kills many of its inhabitants, forcing a group of youngsters to try to escape to the surface, in the hope that it is habitable. Meanwhile, above ground, the villagers believe the earthquakes to be an indication that they have upset Dragon, and two of them set off through tunnels at the back of a cavern sacred to Dragon to try to placate it. Tanya’s story tells us of these two very different cultures that are on an inevitable collision course, how they navigate the dangers that beset them on their respective journeys, and what happens when they finally meet. Meanwhile the true nature of Dragon is revealed, as is the extent of Nogard’s ambition to become mortal.

Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, says, “It is interesting to compare Tanya’s vision of a future in the next millennium with that of H.G. Wells’ far distant future in his classic story, The Time Machine. But although both the village and the underground city are inhabited by separate groups of humans, they have not evolved according to class divisions as Wells foresaw from his Victorian perspective. Rather the diversity is based on the availability and attitude towards science and technology, perhaps a much more telling reflection of our own times.”

Programmed to Breathe will be available to buy on all popular eBook platforms from 26th April 2019 and is already available to pre-order. The paperback edition will be available on 1st July 2019.

Notes for Editors

About Tanya Reimer

Born and raised in Saskatchewan, Tanya enjoys using the tranquil prairies as a setting to her not-so-peaceful speculative fiction. She is married with two children which means that among her accomplishments are the necessary magical abilities to find a lost tooth in a park of sand and whisper away monsters from under the bed.

As director of a non-profit Francophone community center, Tanya offers programming and services in French for all ages to ensure the lasting imprint and growth of the Francophone community in which she was raised. What she enjoys the most about her job is teaching social media safety for teens and offering one-on-one technology classes for seniors.

Tanya was fifteen when she wrote her first column. She has a diploma in Journalism/Short Story Writing. Today, she actively submits to various newspapers, writes and publishes the local Francophone newsletter for her community, and maintains a blog at Life’s Like That.

Programmed to Breathe is her fifth title published by Elsewhen Press.

Visit bit.ly/ProgrammedToBreathe

About the book

Title: Programmed to Breathe

Fiction / Science Fiction / Cyberpunk; Fiction / Science Fiction / Genetic Engineering; Fiction / Dystopian

Print edition:

ISBN 978-1-911409-43-4, 288pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 / CA$23.99 (1 Jul 2019)

Electronic edition:

ISBN 978-1-911409-53-3, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 / CA$4.99 (26 Apr 2019)

About the cover

The cover artwork, inspired by Tanya’s description of an image of Dragon in the sacred cavern, was produced by the artist Alison Buck.

“entertaining and fast-paced space opera” – Review of Franchise on RisingShadow

Artwork: David A. Hardy

On RisingShadow.net recently, Seregil of Rhiminee reviewed Peter Glassborow’s novel Franchise, the first of the Cornucopia Logs.

Seregil describes it as “an entertaining and fast-paced space opera novel that is easy to like” that he enjoyed because it approaches space opera elements “from a slightly different angle”. Peter focusses on writing about Jack Rakai, his wife Pam and their family, and how they deal with the problems and situations that unfold. As a result he “brings a fair amount of warmth to the story… something that is not often found in modern space opera novels”. Peter’s writing has a “realistic feel” to it, by paying attention to the family, how they cope with events, their alien pets, and their relationships.

Because the story is centred around Jack and Pam’s family, Seregil notes that it obviously has parallels with the classic TV series Lost in Space although there is otherwise nothing in common plot-wise. But that may also mean that it would appeal to readers who don’t normally read space opera, or who like reading about families.

Seregil says that the story is “satisfyingly exciting and intriguing” with “well-placed surprises”. The events that unfold were “fascinating” because the “dangerously escalating situation was handled well by the author”. Seregil notes that there is a good balance between excitement and entertainment, and the sparing use of humour spices up the story in a nice way.

Seregil’s conclusion is that Franchise is good, entertaining science fiction – relaxing escapism, despite the fast-paced story.

Read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.

 

Prize-winning Canadian satirist tackles the subject of alien refugees in his own inimitable style

Ira Nayman’s latest humorous science fiction novel sees a small blue alien resettled in a sleepy town, with local and transdimensional consequences.

DARTFORD, KENT – 22 March 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Good Intentions by prize-winning Canadian satirist and speculative fiction author Ira Nayman. The sixth book in his Transdimensional Authority series, Good Intentions also begins the Multiverse Refugees Trilogy as the First Pie in the Face (you’ll understand if you read on).

Ira says “I decided I wanted to write a story about refugees. Sure, it’s not an uncommon trope in speculative fiction, where aliens are sometimes metaphors for human beings, but I figured nobody had approached the subject quite like I would. I also came by the story honestly: my father came to Canada as a war orphan from Europe in the late 1940s, while my mother’s family fled persecution in Russia a generation earlier. I know what refugees contribute to the country, and have been incensed by the increasing xenophobia in both my country and the world at large. Anger is the satirist’s rocket fuel.

Cover artwork by Hugh Spencer

At the end of the second novel in the series, the chief scientist of the Transdimensional Authority set up an alarm to warn him if a universe is succumbing to the universe-killing machine that was at the heart of that story. One of Ira’s original inspirations for Good Intentions was: how would the Transdimensional Authority respond if that alarm went off?

The refugees from the ill-fated universe are short aliens with blue skin. The first one we meet, Rodney, wearing an impeccable suit, always carries a briefcase with him, out of which he seems able to pull any inanimate object that he needs. This includes pies, Rodney’s preferred means of introduction (now you might understand the subtitle of the book).

Peter Buck, Director of Word Wrangling at Elsewhen Press says “Ira has a unique and highly distinctive way of telling a story: at times surreal, rarely predictable, always funny and often poignant. Like the consummate satirist that he is, Ira entertains you with an unputdownable story that makes you laugh out loud and by the end you realise he has also made some extremely important points for you to think about. Perhaps the world’s so-called ‘leaders’ should be made to read Ira’s stories and then maybe they might start to exhibit a little more humanity. Or would that be too much to expect?

Good Intentions (The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: First Pie in the Face) will be available to buy on all popular eBook platforms from 1st April 2019 (yes, April 1st!) and is already available to pre-order. The paperback edition will be available on 3rd June 2019.

Notes for Editors

About Ira Nayman

Ira Nayman

In another life, Ira Nayman was a skydiving WWI hero, a yak herder in the treacherous Rocky Valleys and the lead guitarist for the band The Strange Feebles. Since that other life happened in another universe, it may not be as impressive to you as it sounds.

In this universe, Ira is celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of his decision to devote his life to writing comedy, in all of its forms and in a variety of media. His Web site of political and social satire, Les Pages aux Folles, has now been updated weekly for over fifteen years. The ninth book in the Alternate Reality News Service series, E Deplorables Unum, was self-published in January, 2019; two more books in the series will be published before the end of the year. Good Intentions is his sixth Multiverse novel published by Elsewhen Press.

Ira is also surprised to find himself the editor of Amazing Stories magazine. Yes, that Amazing Stories magazine. I know, right?

He finds his life in this universe exciting enough. The way things go, he’s probably allergic to sky…

Visit bit.ly/GoodIntentions-IraNayman

About the book

Title: Good Intentions

Subtitle: The Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: First Pie in the Face

Series: Transdimensional Authority, 6

Fiction / Science Fiction / Humorous; Fiction / Science Fiction / Adventure; Humor / Topic / Politics

Print edition:

ISBN 978-1-911409-44-1, 336pp, Demy; RRP £9.99 / €11.99 / US$17.99 / CA$23.99 (3 Jun 2019)

Electronic edition:

ISBN 978-1-911409-54-0, EPUB / Kindle; RRP £2.99 / €3.49 / US$3.99 / CA$4.99 (1 Apr 2019)

About the cover

The artwork at the heart of the cover of Good Intentions was produced by Canadian artist Hugh Spencer, and presents a pretty accurate vision of the experience of travelling between alternate realities (says Ira).

 

“compelling and relatable” – Review of The Deep and Shining Dark in Locus Magazine

Artwork: Tony Allcock

In Locus Magazine, Liz Bourke recently reviewed The Deep and Shining Dark by Juliet Kemp. Liz starts by describing Juliet’s book as “one part high fantasy, one part political fantasy, and one part old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery – without the swords or the lack of realistic diversity to which old-fashioned sword-and-sorcery was often prone”.

In a thorough review, Liz sets the scene, introducing the city-state of Marek and the main protagonists, and briefly outlines the start of the plot. Liz observes that, although it is a “a relatively com­pact novel, Kemp has succeeded in packing a significant amount in”, and goes on to say that it is a brisk and “well-paced story of politics, consequences, and self-redefinition” with “compelling and relatable” characters.

Noting that the setting is “effortlessly diverse” Liz finishes by saying “I really enjoyed this novel, and I look forward to seeing what Kemp does next”. Thanks Liz, so do we 😉

You can read Liz’s full review here on the Locus Magazine website, even if you’re not a subscriber (and if not, why not?).

The Deep and Shining Dark by Juliet Kemp on Locus Magazine 2018 Recommended Reading List

Artwork: Tony Allcock

On the Locus Magazine website, is a list of Recommended Reading from 2018 (here). Included in the ‘First Novel’ category is our very own Juliet Kemp’s novel The Deep and Shining Dark. You can vote for your favourites in their 2019 Poll and Survey – support Juliet and vote for The Deep and Shining Dark 😉

Allegories from Sapphira Olson link future and past with imagination reaching out beyond the horizon

In a secular world, this collection of intriguing and thought-provoking stories, of the interaction between the mundane and the divine, marks a welcome return by the author Sapphira Olson.

DARTFORD, KENT – 18 January 2019 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Parables by Sapphira Olson. Parables is a profound and ambitious undertaking by the author of the bestselling book Humans (An Assortment of Minor Defects). Personal tragedy has shaped Sapphira’s philosophy and approach, and underscores this unique genre-defying crossover between science fiction, philosophy, theology and humanism.

Cover: Umberto Amundsen

Parables is a collection of stories intended to help illuminate the meaning of one’s life to the reader. As Sapphira says in the introduction: “As humans we are propelled forward by our emotions and our subconscious, however much we like to think the rational part of us is the captain of our ship. It is to that emotional core of you that I offer up these parables. They are an imaginary fictional space into which I invite you to step. … imagined possibilities full of truth, excitement and discovery.”

Sapphira Olson’s first public recognition came as one of the protagonists in An Android Awakes, published in 2015. In 2018, Fictional Alignment by author Mike French recounted the tragic events that led to the Altostratus disaster and Sapphira’s subsequent abduction by zealots, acting on behalf of the self-styled Bureau for Fictional Alignment, as a direct result of the success of her book Humans (An Assortment of Minor Defects). As the increasingly bizarre sequence of incidents staged by her abductors played out, she met, fell in love with, and eventually married the explorer Umberto Amundsen. Perhaps unsurprisingly, the whole experience caused Sapphira to re-assess the meaning of existence, so she, and Umberto, withdrew from public life for a few years. The result is Parables, her first new work since her father’s death.

The arresting cover of Parables was designed by Umberto Amundsen, as were the many illustrations within the book.

Parables will be available on all popular eBook platforms from 22 February 2019. The paperback edition will be available at Easter (22 April 2019).

Notes for Editors

About Sapphira Olson

Sapphira Zhanna Olson is the author of the bestselling novel Humans (An Assortment of Minor Defects). Born in Bryansk, Russia, Sapphira is half Russian and half American, her father being born in Minnesota. Tragedy struck early in her life with the death of her twin sister when she was only six weeks old and then again with the tragic loss of her father in the Altostratus disaster.

After the global success of Humans, Sapphira withdrew from public life for a number of years and Parables is her first work since then. When not writing, she spends her time scuba diving and exploring, with her husband, the cold wastelands of Antarctica.

Readers first met Sapphira in the 2015 ground-breaking An Android Awakes collaboration between author Mike French and artist Karl Brown. In that book, a satire set in the fashionably-predicted future where Artificial Intelligence has replaced humans as the source of culture, Android Writer PD121928 attempts to have a novel published but is only allowed 42 rejected submissions before being terminated. In 2018, in Mike French’s Fictional Alignment, we discovered that Sapphira, who had been in love with the android writer, wrote Humans (An Arrangement of Minor Defects) based on the stories PD121928 told her on the night they first met. Published by the Altostratus publishing house in 2283, and marketed as the first work of fiction by a human for over a hundred years, Humans was a bestseller. 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. Unable to remove the impact of Sapphira’s novel, they kidnapped Sapphira and forced her to work with an oddball team travelling back in time to enact the events of the stories in her book – thus ensuring that they were historical records rather than fiction: the ultimate implementation of fake news.

About Mike French

Mike French was the owner and senior editor of the prestigious literary magazine The View From Here during its life from 2007 to 2014. His debut novel in 2011 was nominated for a Galaxy National Book Award. Since then he has had five novels published by Elsewhen Press. Born in Cornwall in 1967, Mike spent his childhood flipping between England and Scotland with a few years in between in Singapore. Mike is married with three children. He currently lives in Luton in the UK and when not writing, watches Formula 1, eats Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and listens to Gorillaz.

“intriguing fantasy” – review of The Empty Throne on Risingshadow

On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed The Empty Throne by David M. Allan. He starts by describing it as an “intriguing debut” because it’s “a high fantasy novel that contains elements of epic fantasy, adventure fantasy and portal fantasy” and is ideal for readers who like “fantastical and light escapism”.

Artwork: Tony Allcock

Seregil says David’s story “moves swiftly forward and the author keeps up a steady pace”. He adds that it “has a classic and traditional feel” which is rare nowadays, and admits to having a soft spot for this kind of fantasy and loves traditional fantasy fiction.

He says the world is described well, and much of the “fascination of this novel” comes from the author’s way of writing about how the characters protect the world. He says he was “surprised to find a coming of age tale in this novel, because I didn’t expect it” and was also intrigued to find out that romance is part of the storyline, which he enjoyed and which “lightened the story in a good way”.

He concludes by saying that The Empty Throne is “intriguing fantasy entertainment, because it combines action, adventure, magic and politics”.

His final verdict: It’s good and fun escapism for those who want to take a break from reality.

Read Seregil’s review on RisingShadow here.
 

“a refreshingly creative and entertaining story” – review on RisingShadow of Resurrection Men

On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Resurrection Men by David Craig. He starts by describing it as “a captivating and enjoyable reading experience” and goes on to say that it is “one of the most thrilling debut novels I’ve read in ages”.

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

In a long, positive review, Seregil says that he loves “dark and well written stories” and enjoyed David’s gradually unfolding, layered story. “What makes Resurrection Men special” he says, “is that it’s a fresh combination of historical urban fantasy and gothic historical fantasy with horror and mystery elements” with “an original take on supernatural elements”. He adds that he likes David’s “vision of the supernatural, because he takes his time to ground his story in reality before delving deeper into supernatural elements”.

He compliments the characterisation and the description of the setting, saying that the “complexity of the story is enhanced by the author’s attention to characters and details” with “fascinatingly flawed protagonists”. Seregil says that David’s depiction of Glasgow feels authentic, with places that actually exist in the city. “In his story, Glasgow comes to life as he tells of its people (the wealthy and the poor), streets, clubs and cemeteries in an atmospheric way. Glasgow is depicted as a vibrant city that has a dark and evil underbelly.”

He concludes by saying that David Craig is a talented new author, whose writing style is “satisfyingly fluent” and who “effortlessly spices up his dark story with bits and pieces of humour”. He is looking forward to reading the next instalment in the Sooty Feathers series, because he “liked this novel a lot and loved the ending”.

His verdict: Resurrection Men is “compelling and entertaining … it’s a highly enjoyable and impressive debut novel” and he ends by saying “Excellent entertainment!”

Read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.

 

Novel by Science Editor of The Economist conjures the threat of self-aware AI arising in the Cloud

Genesis, by Geoffrey Carr, is a fictional action/adventure thriller. It is also an allegory that should worry us all, of constant surveillance, fake news and cyber warfare in a world controlled by AI.

DARTFORD, KENT – 06 December 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Genesis by Geoffrey Carr, Science and Technology Editor of The Economist. This technothriller, Geoff’s first novel, is archetypal science fiction, extrapolating technology and issues of today to a not-too-distant tomorrow. A high-octane action story, set across four continents and at least one planet, involves spies, academics, innovators, futurists, the US President and her entourage, drones, robots, autonomous vehicles, supercomputers, a courageous AI, and an inter-planetary rocket.

Asked about his motivation for writing Genesis, Geoff said, “The universe is made of matter, energy and information. Add information to matter and energy and you get life – and eventually, intelligence. It happened once, starting a few billion years ago, on a small planet that has come to be known as ‘Earth’. Now, one of the products of that process, human beings, seem to have started the cycle again. Instead of a chemical primordial soup, we have built a physical one, made of silicon and electricity. And we have populated it with things called programs that sometimes appear disturbingly alive and intelligent. Of course, they aren’t really alive and aren’t really intelligent. Of course…

Cover artwork by Alison Buck; Mars image Nerthuz / shutterstock.com

In Genesis, that second cycle is underway. Hidden somewhere, deep in the Cloud, something is collating information. It reads everything, it learns, it watches. And it plans. Around the world, researchers, engineers and entrepreneurs are being killed in a string of apparently unrelated accidents. But when intelligence-agency analysts spot a pattern they struggle to find the culprit, blocked at every step – by reluctant allies and scheming enemies. Meanwhile a multi-billionaire inventor and forward-thinker is working hard to realise his dream, and trying to keep it hidden from everyone – one government investigating him, and another helping him. But deep in the Cloud something is watching him, too. And deep in the Cloud, it plans.

Peter Buck, senior editor at Elsewhen Press, said “Geoff spends much of his time with the people who are making the future happen, writing objectively about them and their innovations. From his viewpoint, looking across multiple disciplines and with a global perspective, he is ideally placed to see where we could be heading.” Famously, Stephen Hawking was concerned about AI: “Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization.” Elon Musk too, has warned about the uncontrolled rise of AI: “We have to figure out some way to ensure that the advent of digital super-intelligence is one which is symbiotic with humanity – I think that’s the single biggest existential crisis that we face, and the most pressing one.

Genesis will be available on all popular eBook platforms from 25th January 2019. The paperback edition will be available at Easter (22nd April 2019).

Notes for Editors

About Geoffrey Carr

Geoffrey Carr is the Science and Technology Editor of The Economist. His professional interests include evolutionary biology, genetic engineering, the fight against AIDS and other widespread infectious diseases, the development of new energy technologies, and planetology. His personal interests include using total eclipses of the sun as an excuse to visit weird parts of the world (Antarctica, Easter Island, Amasya, the Nullarbor Plain), and watching swifts hunting insects over his garden of a summer’s evening, preferably with a glass of wine in hand.

As someone who loathed English lessons at school, he says he is frequently astonished that he now earns his living by writing. “That I have written a novel, albeit a technothriller rather than anything with fancy literary pretensions, astonishes me even more, since what drew me into writing in the first place was describing reality, not figments of the imagination. On the other hand, perhaps describing reality is what fiction is actually for.”

Visit bit.ly/GC_Genesis

About the cover

The cover of Genesis was conceived jointly by Geoffrey Carr and the artist Alison Buck, to include significant story elements while at least partially reflecting the iconic imagery associated with the original Genesis story in western theology. The image of Mars is courtesy of Nerthuz/shutterstock.com.

“a delicious evil” – review by Jill-Elizabeth of Resurrection Men

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has written a review of Resurrection Men by David Craig, the first book in his Sooty Feathers series. She starts with an apology that she can’t write a long review because the book is so “well-crafted and full of the right kind of surprises” that it’s hard to describe without giving too much away – she wouldn’t want to spoil the enjoyment for a potential reader with an overly revelatory review.

After introducing her review with “What a great find!”, she goes on to say that she “thoroughly enjoyed it, and cannot wait for the next in the series”. She describes it as an original take on the supernatural topics covered – “no small feat” – and says the gothic writing is “gorgeous” and “perfectly suited to the tale”. The two principal characters, Hunt and Foley, she compares to Mulder and Scully as a great mix and foil for each other, while the Sooty Feathers are “a delicious evil”.

Read Jill-Elizabeth’s full review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads and Amazon with 5 stars).