In the Reader’s Digest online Culture section, HOWUL by David Shannon is featured as the Must-read of the week.
The review by Timothy Arden describes HOWUL as “unconventional, quirky, extraordinary … unmissable” and “little short of a masterpiece”. Following the review is a fascinating interview with David Shannon. You can read the review and the interview here on the Reader’s Digest site.
David Shannon’s absurdist satire, HOWUL, recounts an unlikely hero’s journey, in a ravaged yet familiar future
DARTFORD, KENT – 15 January 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of HOWUL, a life’s journey by David Shannon. Provocative yet savagely funny, this absurdist satire is ominously relevant today despite being set, in North Wales, in a future following an undisclosed catastrophe which has radically affected technology, culture, and even language. Shannon says, “Buried in it is a howl against austerity and oppression. My inspirations were Riddley Walker, Don Quixote and Mad Max.”
Lindsay Nicholson MBE described HOWUL as “Un-put-down-able! A classic hero’s journey, deftly handled. I was surprised by every twist and turn, the plotting was superb, and the engagement of all the senses – I could smell those flowers and herbs. A tour de force.”
Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “HOWUL is a brilliantly unique book that sparkles with wit and tells a compelling story. It is an account by the eponymous ‘hero’ of events that befall him on his quest to seek answers and revenge. It is, therefore, written in the patois of the future that Howul inhabits – a clipped, almost pidgin, dialect of English which is nevertheless entirely comprehensible. It not only adds authenticity, humour, and at times pathos, to the story, but also illustrates the skill with which Shannon has constructed not just the world and the storyline but even a consistent grammar in which to tell it – comparisons with Anthony Burgess are inevitable.”
HOWUL is available from today in eBook format and will be available in paperback from 15th March.
Notes for Editors
About David Shannon
David Shannon grew up in Bristol, the youngest of 3 children. Yes, he was the spoilt one. After stints as a TEFL teacher in Italy and croupier in London, he had a first writing career as a journalist working for (among others) Cosmopolitan, the Sunday Times, the Radio Times, Good Housekeeping, Country Living and Best. He wrote a lot about showbiz, interviewing and profiling many celebrities. Even though any actors he met kept telling him what a difficult career theirs is, he then abandoned journalism for acting. Many years later he’s still doing it, using the name David France. How successful has he been at this? Judge for yourself. Have you ever heard of him? He’s done plenty of low-budget feature films (including Werewolves of the Third Reich) but makes most of his living by writing, running and acting in murder mystery events. Chronic shyness afflicted him for many years but he is now painfully opinionated about almost everything. And he loves pigs. Despite this, he remains happily married to a writer slightly more famous than him – the 2019 Booker Prize winner, Bernardine Evaristo. They live in London.
Books are dangerous. People in Blanow think that books are dangerous: they fill your head with drivel, make poor firewood and cannot be eaten (even in an emergency).
This book is about Howul. He sees things differently: fires are dangerous; people are dangerous; books are just books. Howul secretly writes down what goes on around him in Blanow. How its people treat foreigners, treat his daughter, treat him. None of it is pretty. Worse still, everything here keeps trying to kill him: rats, snakes, diseases, roof slates, the weather, the sea. That he survives must mean something. He wants to find out what. By trying to do this, he gets himself thrown out of Blanow… and so his journey begins.
Like all gripping stories, HOWUL is about the bad things people do to each other and what to do if they happen to you. Some people use sticks to stay safe. Some use guns. Words are the weapons that Howul uses most. He makes them sharp. He makes them hurt. Of course books are dangerous.
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.
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.
On his website Now Read This!, comics writer (and past chairman of the Comics Creators Guild) Win Wiacek has reviewed Fictional Alignment by Mike French, the sequel to An Android Awakes. You may remember that Win was very complimentary about An Android Awakes (a “captivating and fascinating tome”), and he is no less enthused about Fictional Alignment. He describes the new book as a “mind-bending Scientific Romance” which offers a “challenging odyssey through the theocracy of thought and depicts a trenchant guerrilla war between What Is, What Might and What Should be…”. He suggests it will appeal to devotees of Michael Moorcock, Brian Aldiss, J. G. Ballard, Thomas M. Disch among others. High praise! Thanks Win.
When loner Jack Johnson touches an old coin he suddenly finds himself transported back to a distant and perilous past; then forwards to a dark, dystopian future where rebels struggle to overturn an ancient and ruthlessly oppressive empire.
DARTFORD, KENT – 14 February 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Timekeepers by Dave Weaver, a new twist on a time travelling adventure.
Jack Johnson has an exceptional gift: a remarkable ability to absorb and memorise facts instantly and without effort. A lonely teenager, he has had little control over his life, having to leave behind friends and everything familiar, in the move to a new town, a new school, a new start. Jack misses his old life. He knows that his immediate future will not be easy – his astonishing memory has not always helped win him friends – but he can never have anticipated the incredible events that are about to befall him. Discovering what appears to be an ancient coin, Jack finds himself abruptly hurled back and then forward through time, by a technology and an intelligence beyond his control. Jack’s extraordinary memory, and his fascination with history, are to prove vital as he is thrown back across the centuries, to the early years of the Roman occupation of Britain, then forward to the heart of a vastly powerful totalitarian state. In both past and future, manipulated by opposing factions, Jack’s life is under constant threat. He will need all his ability and courage to survive. Whom can he trust? Can he save those he cares for? Will he ever return home?
Mike French was recently interviewed for the Alternative Magazine Online by Marty Mulrooney. Although it was predominantly to talk about Mike’s new book, Fictional Alignment the sequel to An Android Awakes, they covered a few other topics too (like house extensions, birthdays, and Blade Runner 2049). All in all an entertaining and informative interview, with a sneaky teaser at the end.
Oh, and “Oddball, enjoyable and original” was Marty’s description of Fictional Alignment not Mike. But there again…
Read the interview at the Alternative Magazine Online website here.
When Sapphira writes the first human-written fiction in a century, zealot androids vow to eradicate all fiction. They fail – her book is a best seller – so they send a team back in time to realign the historical record with her fictional stories.
DARTFORD, KENT – 12 January 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of a new book by Mike French. Fictional Alignment is a sequel to the ground-breaking An Android Awakes, a collaboration between Mike French and artist Karl Brown which was published at the end of 2015 by Elsewhen Press. In that book, Android Writer PD121928 is attempting to have a novel published, but is only allowed 42 failed submissions before he will be terminated. Despairing, as he waits to hear whether his final attempt has been accepted, he commits suicide; but it is accepted, so his successor, PD121929, passes himself off as the author. In Fictional Alignment we discover that, because fewer than a hundred copies of that novel were sold, PD121929 was himself terminated. The human Sapphira, who had been in love with PD121928, wrote a bestselling novel Humans (An Arrangement of Minor Defects) based on the stories he told her on the night they first met. It was marketed by the Altostratus publishing house as the first work of fiction by a human for over a hundred years. As a result, a handful of zealot androids massacred the senate and formed a new regime fuelled with a passion to eradicate the evil of fiction from android society. But however much they try, they are unable to remove the impact of Sapphira’s novel. If fiction cannot be made to align with reality, then reality must be made to align with fiction. So, in a desperate move, they kidnap Sapphira and force her to work with an oddball team that travels back in time to enact the events of the stories in her book – thus ensuring that they are historical records rather than fiction. This is the ultimate implementation of fake news.
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Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Katrina Mountfort’s third novel in The Blueprint Trilogy. Eager to read it, as he enjoyed Future Perfect and Forbidden Alliance the first two novels in the trilogy, Seregil says that Freedom’s Prisoners is a “stunning conclusion” to the trilogy that was both “immensely satisfying and intriguing” and “one of the best and most entertaining young adult science fiction novels I’ve ever read”. He says that the trilogy as a whole is a “rewarding reading experience” because Katrina has created a “terrifying vision of dystopian future and doesn’t underestimate the intelligence of her readership”, adding that The Blueprint Trilogy stands out from the many new young adult science fiction novels and series, as a “prime example of what can be achieved when an author pays attention to writing an emotionally challenging story, creates realistic characters and has courage to write thought-provoking prose”, outshining others “in terms of depth, prose and storytelling”. Seregil recommends all three novels in the trilogy to adults and young adults alike, describing it as “an evocatively written novel that will charm its readers with a good story and interesting characters who have to deal with real problems”.
Seregil compliments Katrina’s ability to write believable characters, and says she “excels at writing about what her characters feel and what kind of choices they make”. The story is “thrilling and thought-provoking” as it explores “guilt, endurance, love, loss, fear and hope in a spellbinding way”. He says that Freedom’s Prisoners contains “many exciting and thrilling scenes which will impress readers and fans of the series”. But Katrina’s vision of this dystopian future is “evocative and terrifying, because humankind and society has changed a lot and people have almost forgotten what it means to be human”. this dystopian future is evocative and terrifying, because humankind and society has changed a lot and people have almost forgotten what it means to be human
Seregil says that one of the most impressive things about the whole trilogy is that Katrina has written “a story that reveals a lot about human nature and what humans are capable of doing to each other. There’s quite a lot of underlying wisdom in this story and also plenty of sharp commentary about our way of life and what may happen to mankind.” The story has a strong emotional impact on readers, and Seregil loves it because it is “captivating to read about the characters and their complex lives”.
Seregil recommends The Blueprint Trilogy to readers who have enjoyed Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games or Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, or indeed anyone who loves “emotionally challenging and thought-provoking stories”, and concludes by saying “There’s a strongly beating human heart at the core of each of these novels that will make you fall in love with the story and the characters. They’re something special for readers who love dystopian stories.”
But don’t just rely on this précis of Seregil’s review, you should read the full review on RisingShadow here.
Having favourably reviewed each of the first two books in the trilogy when they were published, Future Perfect (“A terrific novel”) and Forbidden Alliance (“Recommended for all lovers of books about future worlds”) it was no surprise that Terry should be the first to review the trilogy finale which she says was “fun to read”. She says it is a “terrific trilogy” that tells a lot about human nature and the “possible (and worrying) development” of some of humanity’s less likeable traits. Terry writes that she really appreciated Katrina’s “clever assessment of what technology would be like nearly 200 years from now” as too many other books set in the future have less convincing world building, adding that the “characterisation is great”. Concluding that Freedom’s Prisoners is “Very clever and well thought out” she recommends it to those who like “these sort of books, and to those who think they don’t, too!”
You can read Terry’s full review of Freedom’s Prisoners on her blog here. Her review of Future Perfect is here and her review of Forbidden Alliance is here
The Blueprint trilogy takes us to a future in which men and women are almost identical, and personal relationships are forbidden. In Book 3 of the trilogy, Freedom’s Prisoners, tensions have escalated since the breakout. Michael and his army of rebels may have won the first battle in their fight against the Citidome authorities, but can they win a war? The Citidomes are fighting back and no-one is safe any more as RotorFighters rain down fire on defenceless villages destroying them and their inhabitants.
Freedom’s Prisoners explores betrayal, guilt, hope and endurance in an explosive conclusion to the Blueprint trilogy which is perfectly portrayed in the awesome cover by Alex Storer.
Freedom’s Prisoners is out today in eBook formats on all popular platforms, and will also be available in paperback in November (with a launch at Novacon in Nottingham).
Praise for the first two books of the Blueprint Trilogy:
“one of the best modern YA sci-fi novels ever written”
[Seregil of Rhiminee, Risingshadow]
“I enjoyed reading this modern utopia. It reminds me in some ways of 1984 and Brave New World”
[Ian Blackwell, British Fantasy Society]
“I treasured Future Perfect’s closeness to reality, the nearest to realistic that you can get for a futuristic dystopian world”
“I LOVED this book! Read it over a period of 24 hours, hated having to put it down.”
“will be of special interest to readers who are familiar with the YA science fiction novels written by Suzanne Collins and Veronica Roth. If you’ve enjoyed reading The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, you’ll most likely enjoy this novel very much”