Games industry veteran develops powerful new fiction writing system

From ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ in the 90s, through ‘Harry Potter, Goblet of Fire’ and ‘Avatar: The Last Airbender’ to the award-winning ‘Eufloria’, Rudolf Kremers’ game design experience enhances his story-telling.

DARTFORD, KENT – 29 August 2023 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction from talented authors. One of those authors is Rudolf Kremers, a BAFTA nominated game developer. Having spent over 20 years working as a designer and consultant to many of the largest entertainment companies in the world, as well as writing a well-respected text book on Level Design, Rudolf has written screenplays and video game narratives across various genres. His skill and experience naturally come to the fore when he writes fiction, and the publication of his debut science fiction novel, Birds of Paradise, has made him think about how his video games career has affected his writing and vice versa, leading to some inspiring conclusions.

Rudolf started making games over 40 years ago as an enthusiast, although it wasn’t a realistic career path in the Netherlands in the 1980s. But when he realised that things were different in the UK, which had a thriving video games industry, he moved to London to work with Douglas Adams at The Digital Village. Rudolf was recently called a “veteran” game developer, and although that description made him grumble a bit about “not being that old”, he realised that it’s not an unfair description. He’s now been working as a professional game developer in the UK for almost a quarter of a century, in all kinds of roles for several companies (before starting his own), and worked on a great variety of titles. He says that he has “the scars and stories to prove it”.

But he had always wanted to be a writer, having developed an insatiable love of reading from an early age, especially science fiction, fantasy and horror, but also books on mythology, space exploration, euro comics, superhero comics, and various other pulpy endeavours. He says, “I’m one of those poor sods afflicted with that famous ‘restless creative’ gene, which ensured that a desire to read also came with a desire to write. Luckily, as a game designer I often had the opportunity to work on game stories and lore and other such things. But writing for games comes with its own pitfalls and peculiarities and while that has its own charm, I eventually felt the need to do the kind of writing I fell in love with from a very young age. Initially, I took a detour where I wrote a bunch of screenplays but I finally arrived at a point where I just wanted to create something by myself, written for fans of my favourite genres. Something I would love reading myself. That wish turned into a big fat sci-fi novel called Birds of Paradise. I have had some of my short horror stories published, and I have finished a second novel, historical this time, set in 1630s Japan.”

With the publication of Birds of Paradise this summer by Elsewhen Press, Rudolf started to think about the relationship between game design and writing. He realised there had been a positive feedback loop between his video games career and his writing projects, indeed he concluded that “Every single one of those writing projects has made me a better game developer; and, conversely, every game I have developed has made me a better writer.” As a result he has begun to write a series of blog posts examining this conclusion. He has started with a topic that is the subject of frequent debate by writers: the pros and cons of meticulous planning and outlining versus more freeform writing and development – Rudolf looks into how both styles can be accommodated in a project, drawing on both writing and game development experience, to set out some unique writing techniques.

Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, says “It’s clear that there is a huge cross-over between literature and video games, especially in science fiction and fantasy. Indeed, games often beget books and books beget games, and they can all spin-off into films and TV! So it’s no real surprise that what Rudolf calls ‘restless creatives’ in any one of those media will likely excel in the others. Birds of Paradise is an epic science fiction story, a page-turner that would also be ideally suited as a thrilling blockbuster movie or as the underlying story-arc of an engaging video game. We were honoured that Rudolf approached us to publish it.”

Birds of Paradise is available as an eBook and in paperback from good retailers. Rudolf’s series of articles about the relationship between game design and writing is available on his blog.

Notes for Editors

About Rudolf Kremers

Rudolf KremersRudolf is a BAFTA nominated veteran game developer, author, photographer, producer, father, husband, cat person, filmmaker, dog person, and consultant. (Not necessarily in that order). Originally of Dutch/Spanish descent, he currently lives and works as an interactive entertainment consultant in Canterbury.

He has worked with clients across the entertainment landscape for more than 23 years, including companies like Lionsgate Studios, Framestore and Electronic Arts, providing design and consultancy work for some of the biggest intellectual properties in the world.

Including his debut science fiction epic Birds of Paradise, which has just been published by Elsewhen Press, Rudolf has written two novels, a gaggle of short stories – some of which are collected in The Singing Sands and Other Stories (published by Demain Publishing) – a textbook on game design (published by CRC Press), several screenplays, and an abundance of video game narratives.

This gives him all the license he needs to continue writing sci-fi, horror, weird fiction, historical fiction, and whatever other muse he succumbs to.

http://www.rudolfkremers.com/

About Birds of Paradise

Humanity received a technological upgrade from long-dead aliens.
But there’s no such thing as a free lunch.

Birds of Paradise by Rudolf Kremers; cover art by Max Taquet
Cover art: Max Taquet

Humanity had somehow muddled through the horrors of the 20th century and – surprisingly – managed to survive the first half of the 21st, despite numerous nuclear accidents, flings with neo-fascism and the sudden arrival of catastrophic climate change. It was agreed that spreading our chances across two planets offered better odds than staying rooted to little old Earth. Terraforming Mars was the future!

A subsequent research expedition led to humanity’s biggest discovery: an alien spaceship, camouflaged to appear like an ordinary asteroid. Although the aliens had long since gone, probably millions of years ago, their technology was still very much alive, offering access to unlimited power.

Over the next hundred years humanity blossomed, reaching out to the solar system. By 2238, Mars had been successfully terraformed, countless smaller colonies had sprung up in its wake, built on our solar system’s many moons, on major asteroids and in newly built habitats and installations.

Jemm Delaney is a Xeno-Archaeologist and her 16-year old son Clint a talented hacker. Together they make a great team. When she accepts a job to retrieve an alien artifact from a derelict space station, it looks like they will become rich. But with Corps, aliens, AIs and junkies involved, nothing is ever going to proceed smoothly.

If you’re a fan of Julian May, Frank Herbert or James S.A. Corey, you will love Birds of Paradise.

Cover art: Max Taquet

Find out more at https://bit.ly/BirdsOfParadise-Kremers

COVER REVEAL: Birds of Paradise by Rudolf Kremers

We are delighted to reveal the cover for Rudolf Kremers’ scifi novel Birds of Paradise, which will be available in eBook from 7th July and in paperback from 7th August. The cover art is by Max Taquet.

Birds of Paradise by Rudolf Kremers; cover art by Max Taquet
Cover art: Max Taquet

The Last Star by Terry Grimwood – out today

The Last Star by Terry Grimwood is published in eBook format today.

Never forget that old saying: Beware god-like aliens bearing gifts

 

Stasis and inorganic self-repair, new spacefaring technologies for humankind, yet more gifts from its closest extra-terrestrial ally, the Iaens. There are, it seems, no limits to humanity’s outward journey.

Then Lana Reed, Mission Commander of the interstellar colony seeder, Drake, awakes from her own stasis to discover that all but three of the vessel’s other tanks are dark, their occupants suffocated, screaming yet unheard in their high-tech coffins. But the stasis tanks are not all that is dark. The sensors return no readings from outside. The external vid-feeds show only unending blackness.

There are no stars to be seen. No planet song to be heard. No galaxy cry. No echoing radio signals that proclaim life.

The Drake and its surviving crew are adrift and alone in a lightless, empty universe.



From Terry Grimwood, another taste of the human realpolitik alliance with the Iaen, begun in Interference.

The Last Star by Terry Grimwood; Cover design and artwork: Alex Storer
Cover design and artwork: Alex Storer

Author cites value of a close community in the face of growing environmental despair.

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

Stray Pilot cover design by Tenebrae
Cover design by Tenebrae

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

Visit bit.ly/StrayPilot