Imagine if smartphones were banned.

Author Simon Lowe’s new novel ‘The World is at War, again’ takes a witty look at a world where new technology is a war-time vulnerability and society must regress to the safety of old tech.

DARTFORD, KENT – 07 June 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that is becoming known for high quality, insightful yet entertaining speculative fiction. Their latest title, The World is at War, again by author Simon Lowe, although set in a near-future world, has a very retro feel about it. The global domination of new technology, from mega-corporations with no particular allegiance to national borders or political ideology, had led not to equality or a level playing-field but to an inability for nation-states to compete. Technology itself had become the fifth column, undermining governments and the military. The only solution was the Great Regression, rolling back insidiously pervasive technology and reverting to a world of paper, typewriters and land-line telephones. Against this background, Agent Assassins are deployed on covert missions because “Things Aren’t Going Too Well With The War” – including one agent who is tracking down another who has gone rogue, her cousin.

Cover design: Alison Buck

Lowe’s novel is neither dystopian nor post-apocalyptic fiction – the protagonists are attempting to pre-empt potential apocalypse. Nor, indeed, is it entirely fictional. Already, this year, cyber-security experts have been warning of the potential dangers of ‘smart cities’; ransom-ware attacks are on the increase, not just against businesses but also healthcare, government and infrastructure – the attack on software controlling an oil pipeline in the US caused widespread panic and public mayhem, including the terrifyingly stupid spectacle of people stockpiling petrol in plastic bags! The UK government’s own Centre for the Protection of National Infrastructure, CPNI, is warning industry and academia about the risks from ‘hostile state actors’. Meanwhile, during the pandemic, big tech companies (and their billionaire owners) have massively increased in value as their products and services have become ever more embedded and crucial to the lives of so many people. Where businesses used to be dependent on the goodwill of governments, the situation is now reversed, with the budgets of some smaller nations dwarfed by those of big tech, while much governmental infrastructure around the world is now under the control of a handful of corporations. How long would hostilities last if an enemy state could switch off the mobile phone network, the power grid, and the Internet within seconds of war being declared?

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press, says, “Science fiction has a long tradition of shining a spotlight on society’s problems, by recasting them in an alternative context (whether that’s an alien world, or a different time). The ever-increasing dependence on technology, and the impact that it has on our everyday security, not to mention long-term stability and defence, is an important issue that people are starting to consider. In The World is at War, again Simon Lowe has highlighted these serious concerns in a witty and entertaining way – after all, who hasn’t dreamt of becoming a trained Assassin and taking out a troublesome cousin. I know I have.”

The World is at War, again is already available in eBook format and is now available in paperback from today.

Notes for Editors

About The World is at War, again

The World is at War, again. New technology has been abandoned, a period of Great Regression is under way.
In suburbia, low level Agent Assassins Maria and Marco Fandanelli are given a surprise promotion as “Things Aren’t Going Too Well With The War”. Leaving their son Peter behind, they set sail on the luxury cruise-liner Water Lily City, hoping an important mission might save their careers and their marriage.

Dilapidated and derelict, Panbury Hall is not what Peter expected from boarding school. Together, with his celebrity dorm buddy, he adjusts to a new life that involves double dates, ginger vodka, Fine Art face painting and kidnapping, as they attempt to uncover the mystery of Panbury Hall.

Despite being a member of the Misorov Agent Assassin dynasty, Chewti is a reluctant AA. She only joined the Family Business to track down her cousin Nadia, the rogue AA who killed her mother. Really, she wanted to be a school teacher. So when Nadia is spotted loitering in the grounds of Panbury Hall, the opportunity to avenge her mother’s death and have her dream job is too tempting to turn down.

The World is at War, again blends genre and expectation as characters take on an extravagant, often comic search for identity and meaning in unusual times. It is both a novel and a rumination on how very bad and very good the world would be without technology.

ISBN: 9781911409830 (paperback, 296pp) / 9781911409939 (eBook)

About Simon Lowe

Simon Lowe

Simon Lowe is the non-nom de plume of the author Simon Lowe. From humble beginnings inside a Melton Mowbray pork pie, Simon spent a summer building insulation for the millennium dome (nobody ever complained about being cold, did they?) before working the daytime shift as a flair cocktail waiter in a bar next to Leicester train station, impressing commuters with his juggling skills before pouring their coffee and thanking them for their patience. He would eventually find his feet in the big smoke as a bookseller. For ten years, he passed sharpies to famous authors with an envious, often murderous smile. He later went on to take charge of a primary school library, issuing fines to four year olds with indiscriminate glee. Fearing burn out, from the heady world of books, he chose to settle down in Hertford of all places.

As it stands, Simon has one partner, one son and one cat. Alongside writing fiction, he is a stay at home dad with ambitious plans to leave the house one day.

His short stories have popped up in journals and magazines on three continents including Visible Ink, Storgy, Firewords, AMP, Chaleur magazine, Ponder Review, Adelaide Literary journal, The Write launch, and elsewhere. He has also written about books for the Guardian newspaper.

 

“provocative, conspiracy-laden, entertaining, and delightfully crafted” – Review of Million Eyes: Extra Time on All Things Jill-Elizabeth

Cover: PR Pope

On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has written a review of Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry. The book is a freely downloadable collection of twelve time-twisting short stories that manage to demonstrate how almost every conspiracy theory you’ve ever heard of has been perpetrated by a specific group of time travellers. Of course, this is an introduction to the world of Million Eyes, to whet readers’ appetites in advance of the publication of the first in the Million Eyes series in January. Jill-Elizabeth writes that it is the most excellent world-introduction she’s seen in a long time.

Read her review on All Things Jill-Elizabeth here.

 

“All of the conspiracy theories are true!” – Review of Million Eyes: Extra Time on SFCrowsnest

Cover: PR Pope

On the SFCrowsnest website, Eamonn Murphy has written a review of Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry, the prequel to the Million Eyes trilogy which launches in January 2020.

Featuring a dozen time-twisting short stories set in the Million Eyes universe, which Eamonn describes as “very like our own universe but with time travel and conspiracy theories added for fun”. And then he adds “All of the conspiracy theories are true! It was the time travellers what did it.

Some of the stories have been previously published elsewhere. Having read, and praised, one of the stories when it first appeared, encouraged Eamonn to review this book. He avoids giving away any of the plots but says “if you can think of a conspiracy theory, chances are that C.R. Berry has it here”, adding that he “covers all the bases of urban legend”. He compliments Berry’s “very readable style” and the clever plots, and says it is an enjoyable read. He concludes by noting that the book is available for free download from the Elsewhen Press website, adding “Obviously, that’s a cunning ploy to get you to buy ‘Million Eyes’ the novel when it comes out but I think the ploy might work.”

You can read Eamonn’s full review on SFCrowsnest here.

 

“I adore how this book was written” – Review of Million Eyes : Extra Time on Storgy

Cover: PR Pope

On the Storgy Magazine website, Sandra Hould has posted a review of Million Eyes: Extra Time by C.R. Berry, which is available for free download here, as a pre-cursor to the Million Eyes trilogy (the first book of which will be published by Elsewhen Press in January).

Opening with “Wow, what a ride!”, Sandra clearly enjoyed the book – “It was for me like a drug” she writes – and was very taken with the whole alternative world where many of the best known urban legends and conspiracy theories are all linked to time travellers changing time to suit their own puporse. Of course we won’t know what that purpose is until Million Eyes is published – “I know I will certainly want to dive more into that world” says Sandra – but in the meantime these free short stories certainly set the scene. Describing it as “all very interesting and compelling at the same time” Sandra says she wasn’t able to put the book down and when she finally did she remembered “the conspiracies I had heard over the years and how they were so well knitted into the narrative of this book”. She said that while reading it “we forget that it is fantasy and it becomes so real”.

Her final verdict: “A true gem to read for all lovers of conspiracies that I highly recommend to all.”

You can read Sandra’s full review on the Storgy website here.

 

“a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare” – Review of Resurrection Men on The Book Dragon

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

On her blog The Book Dragon, book reviewer Nikki has reviewed Resurrection Men by David Craig. With 4.5 stars out of 5 (because “it is good”) she has given a very definite thumbs-up to David’s book. She writes, “In this seemingly normal story about a couple of body snatchers from Glasgow, Scotland in the late 19th century, David Craig takes us on a terrifying and unexpected journey fraught with creatures from a nightmare”.

Nikki begins the review with her impressions after just having read the first chapter. She was intrigued and wanted to know what happens next. So that was a good start!

After reading the rest of the book she wrote her full review. She admits, “This is my first real historical fantasy novels that I have actually finished. I tend to become bored with historical fantasy–especially urban–preferring instead the medieval sword-fighting kind.” But she tells us that, after chapter 3 or so, she got so engrossed in the book that she read about 40% in one sitting and only stopped when she “happened to glance at the clock!” We all know that feeling, and any author is truly gratified that their writing can have that effect on their readers. Nikki adds, “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a historical fantasy reader or a fan of vampires, even if you’re not, it’s still a great book!” She loved the elements of sarcasm in the dialogue, especially between the two eponymous Resurrection Men, it was, she wrote, “the perfect balance between mystery/suspense/horror and comedy. Rather than making the story swing to the absurd, the comedy instead strengthened the other elements and added just a bit of relief for the reader to catch their breath before diving in again.”

Nikki’s description of the ending needs to be read (you can read her whole review here), so I won’t spoil it for you except to say that she finishes her review by writing that the ending was “the perfect way to wrap up the novel.”

Thanks for a great review Nikki.

 

“fascinating time travel adventure” – review of Timekeepers on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Timekeepers by Dave Weaver, which he describes as “an entertaining combination of old-fashioned time travel adventure, modern storytelling and suspense”. Seregil says he is a fan of well written time travel fiction, and is happy to say that Timekeepers is “one of the best offerings to date”, very much in the same vein as The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Successfully blending young adult fiction elements with adult fiction that works well because “the story is gripping and suspenseful”.


Seregil complimented Dave Weaver’s characterisation, believable vision of a Roman Britain, use of alternate history, time travel technology, artificial intelligence, and his deft handling of challenging themes and issues. He sums up with “a highly enjoyable, suspenseful and well written tale”.

You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.

 

“poignant and rewarding” – Risingshadow review of Cursed on the Prairies

Artwork: Alison Buck

On Risingshadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Cursed on the Prairies, the final volume in the Sacred Land Stories from Tanya Reimer. Seregil starts by commenting that Cursed on the Prairies brings the trans-generational story to a satisfyingly “poignant and rewarding ending”. He says that he “was impressed by the harrowing grittiness of the story arc. It’s great that the author avoids easy resolutions and delivers scenes that are not forced, but achingly realistic despite their occasionally fantastical and speculative nature. The author has a masterful control of elements related to past happenings, secrets and destinies, because she writes about them in a gripping way without preaching. This means a lot in the long run, because it creates a sense of realism that acts as an important counterbalance to the speculative fiction elements.” He continues by complimenting the quality of Tanya’s characterisations, story-telling and ability to tackle difficult subjects, “harsh realism”, in a way that does not feel artificial.

You can read Seregil’s full review on Risingshadow here.

meticulous and painfully familiar – Pen Tynan’s (sort of) review of SmartYellow™

Artwork: Leosaysays
Artwork: Leosaysays

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.

 

Cursed on the Prairies coming in September…

If you’ve read Tanya Reimer’s Sacred Land Stories Legends on the Prairies and Ghosts on the Prairies you’ll be delighted to hear that the concluding story Cursed on the Prairies will be published next month. An emotional journey that proves we can’t escape our destinies, Cursed on the Prairies is the culmination of a trans-generational timeline that started in Legends… and continued in Ghosts… If you haven’t read the Sacred Land Stories, now is your chance to read the first two before Cursed on the Prairies comes out.

This is alternate history suspense, incorporating the paranormal and magical realism, and infused with romance. They are stories that concern the Sacred Lands of the Ghost tribes in the prairies of Saskatchewan. But they also touch on the interwoven loves, hopes, dreams and tragedies of lives lived on those prairies by both the tribes and the settlers. Although each book in the series is a standalone story which can be read without any knowledge of the other two books, the greatest enjoyment is likely to gained by reading them in sequence.

With lingering spirits, a troubled girl, dark rituals, a love potion, cursed men plaguing their lands, a prison break, and the earth itself trying to suck them in, Cursed on the Prairies is a Sacred Land Story that shows that the prairies are a place full of secrets that even a ghost can’t bury.

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

 

“Excellent, thought-provoking and well written” – review of Legends on the Prairies on RisingShadow

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

On RisingShadow.net, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Tanya Reimer’s latest Sacred Land Story. An “excellent prequel” to her first Sacred Land Story, Ghosts on the Prairies, Seregil says that Legends on the Prairies “captures the reader’s attention from the first page”. He says that he considers Tanya’s novels to be “hidden treasures” waiting to be found by readers, because they’re wonderfully different from other speculative fiction novels due to their blend of literary fiction, speculative fiction, historical elements and paranormal elements. He goes on to say that Tanya “has her own original literary voice and she uses it well”.

Seregil was eager to read Legends on the Prairies because he had enjoyed reading Tanya’s previous novels Ghosts on the Prairies and Can’t Dream Without You, and was not disappointed. He was impressed by the story and found it “entertaining and thought-provoking”, adding that in his opinion it is “better and more rounded” than Ghost on the Prairies because it “has plenty of depth and the author writes more fluently about the happenings”. It is, he says, a “successful combination of several elements” including historical fiction and speculative fiction, and “The story pulses with substance and has clearly been written out of passion for storytelling”.

He compliments Tanya’s characterisation which is “satisfying and believable” as she fleshes out her protagonists’ traits in an “engaging” way, fluently conveying “their inner turmoil and conflicted emotions to her readers”. It’s great that she has “created realistic protagonists who are not perfect and flawless cookie-cutter characters”, such that the reader wants to find out more about them because she writes so “intensely about their feelings, lives and problems”.

Seregil says that Legends on the Prairies is a “powerful exploration of friendship, hope, love and growth”, and that Tanya writes “fluently about believing in yourself and what you’re capable of doing” while creating a “good story that has plenty of tensions and substance”. She has an “insightful way of writing about change and growth” and lets her characters “make mistakes along the way”. He also says that he enjoys the way she “writes about legends. She infuses her story with them, but doesn’t let them hinder her from concentrating on achingly realistic storytelling”.

Seregil concludes by saying Legends on the Prairies is “an accessible novel that can be recommended to many readers”; and, like Ghosts on the Prairies, “will appeal to both mainstream fiction readers and speculative fiction readers” – filled with “life and turmoil” it will “intrigue and please both readerships”. Inviting readers into a world where “myth and legend meet everyday life and the harsh and painful reality of existence in a powerful way”, it will “entertain and thrill” readers. His final verdict is “Excellent, thought-provoking and well written entertainment for adults”.

You should read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadow here.