The British Fantasy Society (BFS) have just announced the shortlisted nominees for this years BFS Awards. The shortlist for Best Artist incudes our very own Alison Buck. The winner will be announced at FantasyCon in September.
Glasgow author Douglas Thompson honours his late brother’s UFO obsession with new sci-fi novel considering the abductee as divine outsider.
DARTFORD, KENT – 15 July 2022 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is committed to publishing outstanding books by incredible authors. One of those authors is Douglas Thompson, from Glasgow.
Douglas was always sceptical of the fanatical belief in UFOs of his elder brother (the artist Ally Thompson 1955-2016), but since Ally’s untimely death from alcoholism, international news stories leaked from the American military have made Douglas wonder if his brother might ultimately be proven right. ‘White tic tacs’ and ‘off world vehicles’ have recently been publicly accepted as having ‘buzzed’ US boats and airplanes during military exercises while moving at speeds beyond any known terrestrial technology. Although the meaning and origin of these objects remains unknown, their existence is no longer denied or in doubt. Even NASA are entertaining the possibility that alien life may have located us before we’re able to locate them.
In homage to his late brother’s obsession, and bearing a dedication to him, Douglas Thompson’s new novel from Elsewhen Press, Stray Pilot, takes the notion of extra-terrestrial existence seriously by asking what would happen if a military pilot abducted by a UFO were to return 80 years later to his hometown to find everyone and everything aged while, for him, only a year has gone by (an effect known as time dilation according to Einstein’s theory of special relativity). Thompson has taken the starting point for his novel from classic UFO cases of the 1940s and ’80s that his brother ‘indoctrinated’ him with when he was in his early teens. The most famous of those was the tragic Mantell incident of 1948, when a 25-year old Kentucky Air National Guard pilot Captain Thomas Mantell was killed when he lost control of his P-51 Mustang while pursuing a mysterious silver disk as it rose to high altitude. Mantell’s crashed plane and body were recovered; but, in a similar case in 1978 in Australia, 20-year old pilot Frederick Valentich went missing in pursuit of a UFO and neither airplane nor pilot were ever found.
Rather than set his novel in Kentucky or Australia, Thompson wanted to use the story to shed light on his own contemporary Scotland, and its currently tense and complex relationship with the British state, which has a history of suppressing UFO data. He chose to turn Thomas Mantell into one Thomas Tellman and set his departure and return in a fictitious small town on Scotland’s north-east coast. Thompson explains: “Nobody says they won’t read or watch Shakespeare’s Macbeth because they don’t believe in the supernatural. And likewise I wonder if it’s time the contemporary taboo on talking about UFOs was lifted in favour of seeing the potential of this trope as a metaphor for the age-old idea of some divine messenger, be it angel or demon, coming to live among us for a while and thereby throwing light on the irony of human society, the weaknesses and strengths of homo sapiens. There’s always also the ‘changeling’ myth, the ancient anxiety that the missing child returns as something else in disguise…”
Thompson’s novel explores the creative tension between the closed intimacy of a small rural community and an outsider whose mind has been opened not just to an international, but stellar and cosmic perspective. Creating his own fictional setting for his altered version of the Thomas Mantell ‘myth’ has also enabled Thompson to add other ingredients into the plot mix. His fascination with his mother-in-law’s dementia has transmuted into the character of Tellman’s daughter now grown to be a bed-bound octogenarian, her loss of memory of the last 80 years standing in eerie parallel to her father’s disappearance. Tellman’s return also enables a penetrating perspective on the environmental damage humanity has done in that same time period.
So does Thompson now regret dismissing his brother’s ‘crank’ theories? Rather, he sees them as a message to the future whose value he has come to belatedly understand: “I still suspect that a lot of the UFO theories over the last five decades have been elaborate busking around a small core of mysterious facts. It’s the same with religion, in that the human brain won’t accept the unknown and seems always compelled to invent its own explanations. But just as with gothic cathedrals, we should never lose sight of how beautiful these inventions are, the stories we tell ourselves, since they are the very essence of all literature and art and essential to what we are as a species. If anyone or anything is studying us now and capable of being emotionally moved enough to find value in anything about us, I can’t help thinking it will be in precisely that capacity for invention and in our longing to meet something greater than ourselves. But regardless of any of that, maybe the real challenge is for us to try to become that greater thing we can already imagine and thereby save ourselves and our beleaguered natural environment before it’s too late.”
Stray Pilot, was published by Elsewhen Press in eBook format on 1st July and will be out in paperback on the 1st August.
Notes for Editors
About Douglas Thompson
Glasgow writer, Douglas Thompson, won the Herald/Grolsch Question Of Style Award 1989, 2nd prize in the Neil Gunn Writing Competition 2007, and the Faith/Unbelief Poetry Prize 2016. His short stories and poems have appeared in a wide range of magazines and anthologies, including Ambit, Albedo One, Chapman and New Writing Scotland. Variously classed as a Weird, Horror, Sci Fi, Literary, or Historical novelist, he has published more than 17 novels and collections of short stories and poetry since 2009, from various publishers in Britain, Europe and America.
About Stray Pilot
A passionate environmental allegory
Thomas Tellman, an RAF pilot who disappeared pursuing a UFO in 1948, unexpectedly returns entirely un-aged to a small town on Scotland’s north-east coast. He finds that his 7-year-old daughter is now a bed-bound 87-year-old woman suffering from dementia. She greets him as her father but others assume she is deluded and that Thomas is an unhinged impostor or con man. While Thomas endeavours to blend in to an ordinary life, his presence gradually sets off unpredictable consequences, locally, nationally and globally. Members of the British Intelligence Services attempt to discredit Thomas in advance of what they anticipate will be his public disclosure of evidence of extra-terrestrial activity, but the local community protect him. Thomas, appalled by the increase in environmental damage that has occurred in his 80 year absence, appears to have returned with a mission: the true nature of which he guards from everyone around him.
Douglas Thompson’s thought-provoking novel is unashamedly science-fiction yet firmly in the tradition of literary explorations of the experience of the outsider. He weaves together themes of memory loss and dementia, alienation, and spiritual respect for the natural world; while at the same time counterposing the humanity inherent in close communities against the xenophobia and nihilistic materialism of contemporary urban society. Of all the book’s vivid characters, the fictional village of Kinburgh itself is the stand-out star: an archetypal symbol of human community. In an age of growing despair in the face of climate crises, Stray Pilot offers a passionate environmental allegory with a positive message of constructive hope: a love song to all that is best in ordinary people.
Cover design by Tenebrae
Short story ideas often interrupt Andy McKell as he writes his novels. His latest collection of those stories, ‘Galaxies and Fantasies’, spans multiple genres.
DARTFORD, KENT – 27 May 2022 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is committed to publishing outstanding books by incredible authors. Our authors write stories ranging from epics, through novels and novellas, to short stories. Some plan every scene in intricate detail, while others know their starting point and ending, but let the story unfold in its own way. But all stories start with the germ of an idea, an inspiration, a muse; ideas that come to the writer, often at inopportune moments. Many authors fill countless notebooks with ideas for stories, characters, events, or even just lines of dialogue, jotted down when they occur to them.
Author Andy McKell – well known for his Janus Paradisi series of science fiction novels – is currently working on a new series around the formation and collapse of galactic empires. As Andy says, “I’m an organic writer. While working on my next sci-fi novel, I let the characters lead the way towards what happens next: after all, they know their stories better than I do. I let them whisper into my subconscious: my fingers merely do the typing.”
But as he works on his novels, he gets ideas for other stories.
Andy continues, “BUT… my subconscious keeps hijacking my focus, thrusting new and totally irrelevant possibilities at me. It could be a biblical or mythical reference, a snippet of conversation, the echo of a movie, or an unexplored carry-over from another novel. I jot down the ideas or the opening line/paragraph and get back to the novel. The promise that I’ll return to the jottings usually placates my subconscious. Later, at a more convenient time, I look through the snippets and one or other fires my imagination enough to expand on the idea and there I go, down the rabbit-hole of some totally unexpected adventure.”
Of course, this happens many times, and often such an idea is the germ of inspiration for a short story. Sooner or later, Andy has enough short stories to collect together for publication. Elsewhen Press are delighted to be publishing his latest collection, Galaxies and Fantasies. Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press says, “Having published one of Andy’s short stories in an anthology in 2016, we have been keeping in touch with him, as we do with all of our fantastic authors. When he told us, ‘I have a batch of short stories that just might interest the reading public – at least, I hope they do,’ we asked to read them and were very happy that we did. My first impression of the collection was of an ‘eclectic’ set of stories across a number of the genres that are encompassed by the term ‘speculative fiction’. That appealed to us because we are probably best known for the fact that most of our books cut across multiple genres, which is proving to be very popular with modern readers. But even more than that, all of Andy’s stories, however long or short, have a twist or surprise; they are stories that stay with you long after you have finished reading them. We can’t wait for everyone to be able to enjoy them.”
Andy is still working on his new series, the first book of which is due to be published later this year. Meanwhile, he continues to jot down story ideas that interrupt his writing.
Galaxies and Fantasies, Andy McKell’s latest collection of short stories, will be published by Elsewhen Press in eBook format on 3rd June and in paperback on the 27th June.
Notes for Editors
About Andy McKell
Andy was abducted by science fiction pulp magazines and fell in love with classic noir in his early teens. He worked in marketing, franchising, and computing in London and Luxembourg before launching his own web design company. In 2011, he sold the company and retired early to write, act, and travel.
His multi-genre short stories have appeared in various anthologies, he continues to develop science fiction novels, and has branched-out into classic noir. He has little time for acting, these days.
He hopes you enjoy reading the adventures of his imaginary friends.
About Galaxies and Fantasies
Prepare for the unexpected
Galaxies and Fantasies is an eclectic collection of tales from master-storyteller, Andy McKell, crossing genres from mythology to cosmology, fairytale to space opera, surrealism to hyper-reality. What they all have in common is a twist, a surprise, a revelation. Leave your pre-conceptions aside when you read these stories, prepare for the unexpected, the extraordinary, the unpredictable. Some are quite succinct and you’ll be immediately wanting more; others are more elaborate, but deftly devised, and you’ll be thinking about them long after you’ve finished reading. These are stories that will stay with you, not in a haunting way, but like a satisfying memory that often returns to encourage, enchant or enrich your life.
Cover design: Alison Buck
Simon Kewin’s police procedural book, The Seven Succubi, includes scenes set in the covert 13 Downing Street garden (shared with Number 10) where the protagonist notices empty wine bottles discarded in the foliage.
DARTFORD, KENT – 01 April 2022 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is committed to publishing outstanding books by incredible authors. It is often the case that speculative fiction turns out to be prescient, and in the case of our latest title this is once again true. Simon Kewin is an author of both science fiction and fantasy novels. At the end of 2020, Elsewhen Press published The Eye Collectors, the first book in Simon’s Witchfinder series – a police procedural with a difference, the protagonist works for the Cardiff branch of Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General, a shadowy arm of government which enforces the law against magical crimes. Somewhat tongue-in-cheek, the story is a whodunnit mystery set in a contemporary fantasy setting. The success of the book ensured that now in 2022, The Seven Succubi, the next title in Simon’s series, has been published. In this latest story, the investigator has to visit the London headquarters of the Office of the Witchfinder General, at 13 Downing Street, an address hidden inside 12 Downing Street and one that shares its garden with Number 10. Sitting on a bench in the garden he notices that “a dead wine bottle lurked in the shrubbery near my feet, and there was another wedged end-on into a bush as if someone had tried to conceal it.” This was written before the ‘Partygate’ allegations were made public. There’s no mention of a broken swing, but nonetheless it begs the question, if such a minor detail in the story is true, might the rest be too?
When asked about the discovery in the garden of number 13 Downing Street, Simon Kewin said “I’ve been asked by the Office of the Witchfinder General to make it absolutely clear that no crystal balls, divination spells, scrying devices or other illicit magics were used in the creation of this description of events in Downing Street. Definitely not. The whole thing is complete coincidence.”
Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press, says “When we read that scene in the book, we were amused but had no idea how significant an observation it was – not just a throw-away line as we originally thought. Once the Partygate allegations surfaced and were being officially investigated, we realised how prescient Simon had been. He has been allowed unprecedented access to restricted case notes and other material within Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General, the first time this has been permitted in over three hundred and seventy-five years. So it seems more likely, especially given his assurance that he used no methods outlawed by magus law, that those events have been known to various agencies within law enforcement for some time. Nevertheless, Simon has always been very careful to emphasise the fictional nature of the events in his books, albeit based on the experiences of OWG investigators. But, as is often observed, there’s no smoke without fire…”
The Eye Collectors, the first book in the Witchfinder series, was described by one reader as ‘Dirk Gently meets Good Omens!’ The book has appealed to readers of contemporary and paranormal fantasy, as well as fans of police procedural, true crime and alternate history.
The Seven Succubi, the second book in the series, was published in eBook format in February and is now also available in paperback.
Notes for Editors
About Simon Kewin
Simon Kewin is a pseudonym used by an infinite number of monkeys who operate from a secret location deep in the English countryside. Every now and then they produce a manuscript that reads as a complete novel with a beginning, a middle and an end. Sometimes even in that order.
The Simon Kewin persona devised by the monkeys was born on the misty Isle of Man in the middle of the Irish Sea, at around the time The Beatles were twisting and shouting. He moved to the UK as a teenager, where he still resides. He is the author of over a hundred published short stories and poems, as well as a growing number of novels. In addition to fiction, he also writes computer software. The key thing, he finds, is not to get the two mixed up.
He has a first class honours degree in English Literature, is married, and has two daughters.
About The Seven Succubi
Of all the denizens of the circles of Hell, perhaps none is more feared among those of a high-minded sensibility than the succubi.
The Assizes of Suffolk in the eighteenth century granted the Office of the Witchfinder General the power to employ ‘demonic powers’ so long as their use is ‘reasonable’ and ‘made only to defeat some yet greater supernatural threat’. No attempt was made in the wording of the assizes to measure or grade such threats, however – making the question of whether it is acceptable to fight fire with fire a troublingly subjective one.
Now, in the twenty-first century, Danesh Shahzan, Acolyte in Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General, had been struggling with that very question ever since the events of The Eye Collectors. An unexpected evening visit from his boss, the Crow, was alarming enough – but when it turned out to be to discuss his thesis on succubi, Danesh was surprised yet intrigued. Clearly, another investigation beckoned.
Cover design: Alison Buck
Elsewhen Press are pleased to be able to publish this facsimile of the 1999 illustrated, limited edition privately published by the author but since unobtainable.
When we published The Seven Succubi (the second story of Her Majesty’s Office of the Witchfinder General, protecting the public from the unnatural since 1645), the second book in Simon Kewin’s Witchfinder series, it referenced Dr Miriam Seacastle’s modest book Red Dragon, which was privately published by the author herself in 1999 in an illustrated, limited edition. We were keen to obtain a copy but discovered that there were no extant copies available. In his own book, Simon had mentioned that the OWG in Cardiff had a copy, so we sought permission to examine it. After much obfuscation and bureaucracy, we managed to contact the librarian directly. With a little persistence they were persuaded to allow us to peruse their copy in a secure facility. We were able to make a photographic record, which is what we have used as the basis for this facsimile edition.
We subsequently obtained permission to reproduce Red Dragon from Dr Seacastle, who expressed delight that her book would once more see the light of day, but conveyed her concern that all copies would again be seized by the OWG. We assured her that we are firmly of the opinion that this book is an invaluable collector’s item, and we will robustly resist any attempt to suppress its republication.
We also obtained the approval of the illustrator to use the original illustrations in this facsimile.
The Forge & The Flood is a heart-warming tale of friendship and love, inspired by the process of self-discovery and the bringing together of two families in preparation for the author’s wedding.
DARTFORD, KENT – 14 February 2022 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of The Forge & The Flood by Durham-based author Miles Nelson. On the face of it, The Forge & The Flood is an innocuous fantasy story about a growing friendship between two alien species (based loosely on otters and red pandas) who seem to have little in common until a catastrophe forces them together. However, beneath the surface, it is an allegory for LGBTQ+ alliance, coming out, and accepting people even if you don’t understand them. It also places great weight on learning from the mistakes of history, to avoid repeating them.
But the story behind the writing of the book is itself like something straight from the pages of a romantic novel. Which is why they have chosen Valentine’s day to launch the book.
Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “We first met Miles in 2020, when he submitted a novel to Elsewhen Press that we subsequently published as Riftmaster, in March 2021. While talking to him about his writing, he mentioned a story that he had written as a wedding present for his husband Chris, when they had married at the end of 2019. The story was called The Forge & The Flood and Miles had only produced enough copies for the guests at their wedding. When he wrote the story, Miles had not intended for it to be published, only to be read by family and friends. But as he described the story to us, we were intrigued and asked if we could read it. He sent us a copy of the manuscript. We read it, and Miles and Chris agreed to publish such a wonderful story for a wider audience.”
Miles Nelson says, “The Forge & the Flood is a young adult fantasy novella which was written as a gift for my husband-to-be on our wedding day. It was based on an idea he had given me on our first anniversary, five years before, at a noodle bar that has since closed down. Because it was a wedding gift, I wanted the themes of the story to be joy and unity between two dramatically different families – even if those families happen to be adorable aliens. 15 copies were printed to be given to close family and friends and now, 2 years after our wedding, I can’t wait for everyone else to share that same joy.”
Peter Buck, again: “Anyone who meets Miles is immediately enchanted by his enthusiasm and joie de vivre. We hadn’t yet met Miles and Chris when they got married, but it is easy to imagine the sheer joy of their wedding. Giving a copy of this story to their guests would have been both romantic and delightful for all of them. We are honoured to be able to bring this story to a wider readership, in a way that remains true to its original meaning.”
The Forge & the Flood is a poignant tale of two creatures from different species who meet under adverse circumstances and grow close. A catastrophe forces the Ailura to leave their island home on makeshift rafts. One of the Ailura, Sienna, makes friends with Indigo, a creature he sees in the water. Indigo is a princess of the Lutra, and with his help the Ailura manage to land on the Lutra’s island. Indigo’s father, the Queen of the Lutra, tasks Indigo and Sienna with finding a suitable place for the Ailura to live. As they look for an appropriate habitat, Indigo and Sienna become ever closer, gradually confronting the differences between their two societies. But they also discover that these two species, who apparently have no prior knowledge of each other, may actually have had a turbulent, shared history.
In the afterword to this version of the book, Miles wrote, “As we approach our second wedding anniversary, and enter our eighth year together, it seems only fitting that we should start by sharing this story, that has meant so much to us, with the world.” He added, “Chris finished this book on our honeymoon. And he cried. A lot.”
The Forge & The Flood is available from today, Valentine’s Day, in eBook and paperback format.
Notes for Editors
About Miles Nelson
Miles was born and raised in Durham. He studied video game design at Teesside University, graduating in 2018. Since then, he has taken a step back from coding to work on his writing career, and has since led several masterclasses with New Writing North. He has been writing all his life, and although Riftmaster was technically his fourth novel, he likes to pretend the first three don’t exist. Whilst he is primarily a scifi writer who loves long journeys, strange worlds and all things space and stars, he has also had brief flings with the genres of fantasy and horror.
He often writes stories highlighting the struggles faced by the LGBTQ+ community, and tries to include themes of empathy and inclusivity in all he does. Even then, though, Miles stands firm in the belief that this is not the defining element of his stories. And although he tries to represent his community as best he can, these themes are never the main focus; because he believes that (in most cases) a person shouldn’t be defined by their deviation from standard norms.
Outside of scifi and fantasy, he has a deep-rooted fascination with natural history, and collects books told from unique perspectives (be they animal, alien, or mammoths from Mars). The older, the better; his oldest book is just about to turn 100! He currently lives in Durham City with his husband, Chris, who so far seems unworried by Miles’ rapidly growing collections.
About The Forge & The Flood
When history itself seems written to keep them apart, can two radically different peoples really find it in their hearts to get along?
Sienna is an Ailura. His kind live on the lonely island of Veramilia, bound under traditions forged by countless generations.
Indigo is a Lutra. His kind goes with the flow, having lived as free as the ocean waves since the beginning of time.
When a great calamity strikes and the Ailura are forced to flee their island home, the Ailura and the Lutra come face to face for the first time in known history. In these turbulent times, it is Indigo and Sienna who are chosen to find a suitable habitat for the displaced tribe. One a princess destined to rule his kind, the other the only son of a would-be chief, the pair seem like a natural choice.
But as friendship blossoms into something more, and their journey takes them further and further from known lands, the wanderers begin to uncover secrets hidden among the ruins. Secrets which suggest the two species may not be as alien to one another as previously thought.
The cover artwork and illustrations in the book were also created by Miles Nelson.
In the time-honoured tradition of science fiction writers holding up a mirror to society, using a story ostensibly set in the future or on another planet, Interference explores how grubby political deals would still infect our dealings with other planets and civilisations.
DARTFORD, KENT – 18 January 2022 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thought-provoking speculative fiction. Many science fiction stories address current, real-world issues but through the fictional prism of an alternative society. Interference, the latest story from author Terry Grimwood, well-known for scrutinising politics in his science fiction, is no exception.
Terry says “Science fiction is the perfect lens through which contemporary social and political issues can be examined. Transplanting one or more aspects of the human condition into a futuristic or alien setting gives the writer space to tease out, and study, its heart.”
If a government envoy, trying to examine a foreign request for military aid in a contentious war, becomes aware that what is on offer in return is potentially valuable to their own government, how do they maintain an ethical position? If it would also be personally rewarding, the temptation would be even greater; or if the health of sick family members would be improved…
Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “Terry very quickly builds a believable setting in which a statesman is subjected to ethical dilemma, profound temptation and unconscionable pressure. Being a science fiction story where the politician is a human negotiating on behalf of Earth with a powerful alien species may make the situation easier to imagine and understand, and in many ways more believable, but it does not make the moral choices any less real. At a time when many of us are rightly questioning the principles and standards of conduct to which our leaders should be held, Interference sheds a light on human behaviour under duress, the ease with which bribery can be self-justified, the inexcusable defence of ‘just following orders’, and how small corrupt deals may be denounced by political leaders or the media but the biggest corruptions are hailed as statesmanship. It was intriguing to see the very same word, ‘interference’, being used by MI5 in their warning on the very day that Terry’s book became available for pre-order. Science Fiction is often prescient!”
Elsewhen Press is delighted to announce that Interference is available for pre-order in ebook and print editions, in advance of publication at the end of this month.
Notes for Editors
About Terry Grimwood
Suffolk born and proud of it, Terry Grimwood is the author of a handful of novels and novellas, including Deadside Revolution, the science fiction-flavoured political thriller Bloody War and Joe which was inspired by true events. His short stories have appeared in numerous magazines and anthologies and have been gathered into three collections, The Exaggerated Man, There Is A Way To Live Forever and Affairs of a Cardio-Vascular Nature. Terry has also written and Directed three plays as well as co-written engineering textbooks for Pearson Educational Press. He plays the harmonica and with a little persuasion (not much persuasion, actually) will growl a song into a microphone. By day he teaches electrical installation at a further education college. He is married to Debra, the love of his life.
The grubby dance of politics didn’t end when we left the solar system, it followed us to the stars
The god-like Iaens are infinitely more advanced than humankind, so why have they requested military assistance in a conflict they can surely win unaided?
Torstein Danielson, Secretary for Interplanetary Affairs, is on a fact-finding mission to their home planet and headed straight into the heart of a war-zone. With him, onboard the Starship Kissinger, is a detachment of marines for protection, an embedded pack of sycophantic journalists who are not expected to cause trouble, and reporter Katherina Molale, who most certainly will and is never afraid to dig for the truth.
Torstein wants this mission over as quickly as possible. His daughter is terminally ill, his marriage in tatters. But then the Iaens offer a gift in return for military intervention and suddenly the stakes, both for humanity as a race and for Torstein personally, are very high indeed.
Cover design: Alex Storer