Recent events have given conspiracy theories a bad name, says author

While conspiracy theories are ideal material for story tellers, author C.R. Berry is worried that they are no longer just harmless entertainment.

DARTFORD, KENT – 24 November 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction, often addressing current, real-world issues through a fictional prism. For author C.R. Berry, inventing new conspiracy theories and subsuming existing ones, has been an effective way to create thrilling, internally consistent stories that are entertaining but clearly far-fetched. In his Million Eyes trilogy, and related short stories, time travel is the underlying explanation for many inexplicable events throughout history. But now he is worried that using conspiracy theories as a fictional tool may become socially unacceptable.

“The past couple of years have given conspiracy theories a bad name,” says Berry. “With COVID deniers, anti-vaxxers and the Trump-fuelled Capitol riot, we’re seeing conspiracy theories that are dangerous and doing harm. Those that feature in the Million Eyes series, such as the claims that Princess Diana was assassinated and the Gunpowder Plot was an inside job, are just supposed to be harmless hypotheticals. But the current climate has made me wonder if I should be writing about them at all.

“When talking about my books, I already had to make clear that I’m not a tinfoil-hat wearer, but now I feel like I need to add that COVID is real and, yes, people should get vaccinated.

“Having said all that, I am very careful about which conspiracy theories I use. I wouldn’t incorporate any that are racist or would prolong a pandemic. And also, while the Million Eyes series does perpetuate the idea that there was a second shooter on the grassy knoll and that the Christian Church covered up the existence of a secret gospel, these events are explained with time travel, which is intentionally preposterous. That’s because, to me, conspiracy theories – some of them, anyway – make for great stories. Hopefully that’s what I’ve achieved with Million Eyes.”

The first book in the Million Eyes trilogy was launched in print just a few days before the first UK lockdown in 2020. The second book has recently been launched, at a time when many people are still suffering from the effects of the pandemic itself and the social and commercial impacts of attempting to deal with it. Berry is currently putting the finishing touches to the final book.

Nevertheless, he is now seriously reconsidering whether his books after Million Eyes will be so conspiracy-laden. “I do wonder if I should carry on incorporating such controversial material into my writing at a time when misinformation is so prevalent. Even though I’m just posing fun what-if scenarios, I’ve been contacted multiple times by conspiracy theorists who assume I believe everything I write about. I’ve had many an online argument with Flat Earthers and others who insist that the Royal Family are secret reptilians, and I can honestly say I wouldn’t want to meet any of those people on a dark night.”

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “We signed Berry for the Million Eyes trilogy long before the pandemic, at a time when conspiracy theorists were still a laughable minority. Now, as he says, they are a real and present threat, not just to stability and democracy but to the continued existence of the human race. I hope that Million Eyes can help to redress the balance by further undermining the obvious credulity of the stupid and gullible, and return conspiracy theories to their rightful place as merely humorous entertainment.”

Million Eyes II: The Unraveller by C.R. Berry is now available in eBook format and paperback.

Notes for Editors

About Million Eyes II: the Unraveller

Time is the Ultimate Saviour

Following an impossible discovery in East London, archaeologist Dr Samantha Lester joins forces with software developer Adam Bryant to investigate the events that led to the disappearance of his best friend, Jennifer, and to bring down the people responsible – Million Eyes.

Before long, Lester and Adam are drawn into a tangled conspiratorial web involving dinosaurs, the Gunpowder Plot, Jesus, the Bermuda Triangle, and a mysterious history-hopping individual called the Unraveller, who is determined to wipe Million Eyes off the temporal map.

But as the secrets of Million Eyes’ past are revealed, picking a side in this fight might not be so easy.

ISBN: 9781911409687 (paperback, 408pp) / 9781911409786 (eBook)

Visit bit.ly/Million-Eyes-II

About C.R. Berry

C.R. Berry started out in police stations and courtrooms – as a lawyer, not a defendant – before taking up writing full-time. He’s currently head of content for a software developer and writes fiction about conspiracies and time travel.

Berry was published in Best of British Science Fiction 2020 from Newcon Press with a Million Eyes short story. He’s also been published in magazines and anthologies such as Storgy and Dark Tales, and in 2018 was shortlisted in the Grindstone Literary International Novel Competition.

In 2021, he bought his first house with his girlfriend, Katherine, in Clanfield, Hampshire, discovering whole new levels of stress renovating it (not helped by a rogue builder running off with most of their budget). The couple are now in the fun stage, going full-on nerd and theming all the rooms – their bedroom is a spaceship, their kitchen a 50s diner.

 

Why do so many readers escape into fantasy worlds where politics is just as messy as in our world?

Reading to escape from the realities of life has become more widespread during the pandemic, yet many readers are turning to fantasy worlds where politics and unrest are just as real.

DARTFORD, KENT – 26 October 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction, often addressing current, real-world issues through a fictional prism. This includes fantasy books, which have long been seen as a way of escaping from the real-world. Authors too, get to escape into a world of their own imagination. Building a believable and engaging world is the hallmark of a talented author. One such author is Juliet Kemp, who has built a world and a series of books that have been gaining attention and much admiration from other award-winning authors such as Aliette de Bodard, Rivers Solomon and Malka Older.

The trite advice often given to new authors is ‘write what you know’. When it comes to a fantasy setting, is that really possible? Yes, according to author Juliet Kemp. The setting for Juliet’s Marek series is a port called Marek, part of a larger state called Teren, but virtually an autonomous city-state of its own. Politics, both civic and national, plays a large part in the life of the main protagonists – alongside magic and demons. While the supernatural elements are outside any author’s normal experience, Juliet can conjure the politics with some authority. “I have an academic background in politics, and have worked and volunteered in campaigning and activist organisations,” says Juliet. “I’m fascinated by the nuts and bolts of politics in its broadest sense: how people make things happen, how they negotiate and compromise or refuse to. How they interact with one another in groups that have shared goals, and what happens when those goals don’t align, or don’t align quite enough. How people are forced to make pragmatic decisions, when they refuse to, and what information they choose to listen to or ignore. Making things happen can be a messy process, and sometimes you have to work with people you’d rather not; I wanted to reflect that messy reality, and the fact that sometimes people make bad decisions, in Marek’s politics.” The latest Marek book, The Rising Flood, includes unrest both in the capital city of Teren where dissenters are being threatened with demons, and also in Marek itself where a frustrated underclass is seeking a voice. Juliet again, “In this book I also introduced those campaigning for change from a different angle; there’ll be more of that in the next book, which draws further on political history and the radical movements I’ve always been fascinated by.”

But why is Marek a port on the Oval Sea, with the river being such an important presence? Juliet admits it’s more of ‘what you know’, “I’ve lived in river cities all my life, and these days I spend my working day looking out at the Thames. No surprise that Marek’s river has become increasingly important over the series. Of course, lots of cities are built on rivers: they’re a water source, transport source. In Marek’s case, they define its history, founded as a port for Teren – and in choosing to make it the port for Teren, I could create more possibilities for political tension over control of that access to the wider world.”

In The Rising Flood, as the title intimates, there is not just the threat of political inundation, but also a very real risk of the river flooding. That too reflects Juliet’s daily life, “Where I live now is on the site of an old warehouse (we are, legally, still responsible for maintaining a bridge that no longer exists between one warehouse and the next), and when I look out of my window at high tide, the river is above the level of our front door. (I am regularly grateful for the river wall, and the Thames Barrier.) So no surprise that when writing this book, I started thinking about floods, and flood plains, and (looking further down my own river) what happens when people build on flood plains and just hope for the best.”

The Rising Flood is now available in eBook format on most platforms and will be out in paperback in December.

Notes for Editors

About The Rising Flood

Artwork: Tony Allcock
Artwork: Tony Allcock

Hope alone cannot withstand a rising flood

A darkness writhes in the heart of Teren.

The Academy is unleashing demons on dissenters, and refugees rush to leave the capital with nothing but their lives and a hope.

That hope brings them to the city of Marek, Teren’s only major port, which harbours dreams of independence. But Marek is not as stable as it seems.

Marcia, Heir to House Fereno, has spent the last two years fighting to keep Marek safe and prosperous – but with child, her relationship in ruins and the increasing threat of Teren to worry about, can she find her way through? The printing houses of the city run rabble-rousing polemic, penned by an increasingly frustrated majority who feel left out of the rule and riches of Marek. They demand change, and Marcia can’t help but agree with much of what they’re saying.

On the other side of the bridge, the tiny group of Marek’s remaining sorcerers must negotiate their way through troubles of their own. Cato, Marcia’s exiled brother, and Reb, her ex-lover, are trying to train a new generation of sorcerers and both are having problems. Jonas simply won’t take ‘no’ for an answer from Cato; and Reb’s two students feel held back, both know that change, and strife, may be coming – and neither are ready to deal with it. But Reb cannot bring herself to move faster.

Between them, the five sorcerers alongside Marek’s cityangel can expel a single demon. But Teren has many, and other fears loom on the horizon. Out-of-season storms rampage across the Oval Sea, threatening trade – and Jonas’ family, out plying the trade winds – and the unseasonable weather threatens Marek itself.

Menaced by the distant capital, by dissension from within, and even by nature itself – will the rising flood lift all boats?

Or will they be capsized?

ISBN: 9781911409885 (paperback, 392pp) / 9781911409984 (eBook)

Visit bit.ly/TheRisingFlood

About Juliet Kemp

Juliet Kemp lives by the river in London, with their partners, child, dog, and too many fountain pens. They have had stories published in several anthologies and online magazines. Their employment history variously includes working as a cycle instructor, sysadmin, life model, researcher, permaculture designer, and journalist. When not writing or parenting, Juliet goes climbing, knits, reads way too much, and drinks a lot of tea.

 

Retired NHS Consultant finds a productive balance between his passion for diving, a flair for fiction and a love of life on the river.

Unable to pursue his love of diving due to the pandemic restrictions, David M Allan has instead made good use of the time, writing another insightful fantasy novel.

DARTFORD, KENT – 23 September 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction, often addressing current, real-world issues through a fictional prism. To date, they have published three novels by writer, David M Allan, a retired NHS Consultant.

In retirement, David has to some extent replaced the intensity and excitement of life in the NHS with a passion for diving. “I didn’t start diving until I was 58,” he says, “and I regret not having started earlier.”

Now an accomplished underwater photographer, he has dived extensively, in the warm, clear waters of the Red Sea, Indonesia and the Maldives. But, not content with spending as much time as possible under the water, David has gone one further and chosen to live on it. In addition to discovering a love of diving, David has also, in retirement, become a published novelist, exchanging the necessarily clinical sterility and reassuring solidity of the hospital environment for the gentle rocking of a houseboat on the Thames, where he now lives with his wife.

After the fast pace of his NHS career, David’s routine is dictated now by the patterns and rhythm of life on the river…

River-craft generally travel at low speed, their gentle wash causing little problem for moored boats such as David’s, but passing traffic is always felt. However, far from being disruptive, David finds activity on the water soothing, even helpful when he’s writing. He says, “What I see from my window as I’m writing are tour boats, rowing boats, kayaks and paddle boards. They are slightly distracting but also relaxing, as are the various waterfowl that inhabit this stretch of the river. You could even say the birds are, to some extent, inspirational as the constant movement stimulates me.”

From time to time, the calm flow of life on the river is interrupted…

Emergency service vessels are permitted to travel at higher speeds along the river and, occasionally, one will race past David’s houseboat. Indeed, Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, said “We were talking to David about his latest book, Thiever, recently and he mentioned that an emergency boat had just gone by and had literally ‘rocked the boat’. Not that David was complaining: he’d had to hold on to his computer as things slid about, but nothing was damaged and David certainly wouldn’t want the emergency services to have to slow down.”

The Covid pandemic has led to a severe curtailment of diving opportunities, but this has allowed David to concentrate on his writing. And he has used the time well, completing a sequel to Quaestor, his popular fantasy novel. Entitled Thiever, this continues the story of two young women from different cultures, backgrounds and races, who not only find love together but challenge a false god, help a beleaguered king, and sow the seeds of equality in a hierarchical society.

Thiever is now available in eBook format on most platforms and will be out in paperback in November.

Notes for Editors

About Thiever

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

Change is not always as good as a rest

After the events in Jotuk at the end of Quaestor, Anarya is no longer a Sponger but is now a Thiever – when she takes someone’s magic talent they lose it until she can no longer hold on to it. Worryingly, the power also brings a desperate hunger to take others’ talents, just as the false god did. As Anarya struggles to control the compulsion, Yisul is fraught with worry and seeks help for her lover. But Jotuk is in upheaval; the Twenty-Three families are in disarray, divided over how the city should be governed.

In Carregis, the king seeks to establish himself as an effective ruler. First, though, he must work out whom he can trust.

Meanwhile, the priestesses of Quarenna and the priests of Huler are having disturbing dreams…

Thiever is the much-anticipated sequel to David M Allan’s Quaestor.

ISBN: 9781911409878 (paperback, 386pp) / 9781911409977 (eBook)

Visit bit.ly/Thiever

About David M Allan

David M Allan got hooked on reading at a young age by borrowing to the max – 3 books, twice a week – from the public library. He was caught up and transported to fabulous other worlds by the likes of Wells, Verne and Burroughs (and later by Asimov, Bradbury, Clarke, Heinlein, Le Guin, Wyndham…). Alas, the journeys were temporary and he had to return to Earth.

His love affair with science fiction and fantasy had him thinking vaguely about writing, but he didn’t follow through until after retirement and his relocation, with wife and cat, to a houseboat on the Thames. It was reading one book which he didn’t think was very good that led him to say, “I could do better than that,” and then setting out to prove it. David has since had a number of short stories published in online magazines, and his debut novel The Empty Throne published by Elsewhen Press. Quaestor was his second novel and Thiever is its sequel. They too have been published by Elsewhen Press.

As disasters and refugees once again hit the headlines, Ira Nayman’s satire on the inability of governments to handle a refugee crisis seems ever more prescient

In his Multiverse Refugees Trilogy, the imminent destruction of an inhabited universe leads to the need for the managed immigration of aliens – despite incompetent governments, greedy corporations and opposition from protest groups.

DARTFORD, KENT – 20 August 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that is becoming known for high quality, entertaining yet insightful speculative fiction, addressing real-world issues through a fictional prism. Their latest title is Bad Actors by Ira Nayman. It is the second book in Ira’s Multiverse Refugees Trilogy (and hence subtitled Second Pi in the Face). Ira, a prize-winning satirist and past President of SFCanada, the organisation of science fiction and fantasy professionals in his native Canada, comes from a family in which previous generations had been refugees. He is well aware of the contribution that refugees make to a country that has become their adopted home, and is incensed by increasing xenophobia around the world. This has driven him to write this trilogy.

Ira says, “Anger is the satirist’s rocket fuel. I decided 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.

It is undoubtedly true that no-one else would write such a story quite like Ira. As Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press puts it, “Ira has a unique and highly distinctive way of telling a story: at times surreal, rarely predictable, always funny and often poignant.

In Ira’s story, the refugees are escaping an ill-fated universe that is in imminent danger of collapse. To live on Earth Prime they must undergo changes that irreversibly affect their physiology, and they are being helped to cope by non-governmental agencies and charities. Unlike those that we see in news bulletins, Ira’s refugees are short aliens, with blue skin, always wearing exquisite three-piece suits. Their beliefs revolve around humour and their only weapons, and defence, are jokes.

But Ira, as well as entertaining his readers, is keen to make a point and encourage people to think about the issues that he addresses. Peter Buck, again, “His skill as a satirist keeps you laughing all the way to the end, while gently directing your attention to the real-world issues that are at the heart of the story.

Can satire effect change? Ira certainly hopes so. Using aliens to encourage humanity in world leaders is his tactic.

Bad Actors: Multiverse Refugees Trilogy: Second Pi in the Face is now available in eBook format on most platforms and will be out in paperback in October. Good Intentions was the first book in the Multiverse Refugees Trilogy and Ira is already putting the finishing touches to the final book.

Notes for Editors

About Bad Actors

Cover artwork by Hugh Spencer
Cover artwork by Hugh Spencer

Two years after the discovery that Earth Prime 4-6-4-0-8-9 dash Omega is in imminent danger of collapse, the Transdimensional Authority has helped hundreds of millions…well, millions…okay, a lot of aliens immigrate to Earth Prime. How’s that working out?

Rodney              Pendleton, the first alien to make the move, is now a tech millionaire (hover technology is wildly popular – who knew?). Wainwright Walsh, lead singer for The Occidental Tourists (ask your parents… or, maybe your grandparents), puts together an all-star band to raise funds for a foundation to help the aliens adjust to their new home.

But all is not beat yas and scream on Earth Prime. An investigation into the first murder of an alien being leads to an anti-alien protest group, revealing a dark, speciesist strain of human emotion. And a different investigation into the disappearance of aliens in Latin America reveals a dark, greedy strain of human emotion.

It turns out, some problems cannot be solved by the swift, unexpected application of pie!

ISBN: 9781911409847 (paperback, 264pp) / 9781911409946 (eBook)

Visit bit.ly/BadActors-IraNayman

About Ira Nayman

Ira Nayman has been writing comedy for over 50 years. Bad Actors is the seventh novel set in the Transdimensional Authority/Multiverse series published by Elsewhen Press, the second in the Multiverse Refugees Trilogy. He has also self-published 12 books in the Alternate Reality News Service series, the latest of which is named Welcome to the Insurrection (We’re Not Sorry for the Inconvenience).

Ira will be celebrating the 20th anniversary of his web site, Les Pages aux Folles, in the first week of September, 2022. The birthplace of both the Alternate Reality News Service and the Transdimensional Authority, Les Pages aux Folles’ weekly updates of social and political satire will fill 38 books and will be comprised of somewhere between two and two and a half million words.

Ira was also the editor of Amazing Stories magazine for two and a half years, and is past President of SFCanada, the Canadian organization of science fiction and fantasy professionals.

About the cover

The artwork at the heart of the cover of Bad Actors was produced by Canadian artist Hugh Spencer, and provides a vision of the experience of travelling between alternate realities (according to Ira).

 

War veteran’s latest novel addresses the trauma, aftermath and ethics of a terrible war

Author Mark Iles’ own experience with PTSD, and in helping other sufferers, informs the character and behaviour of the protagonist in his latest novel Gardens of Earth.

DARTFORD, KENT – 27 July 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that is becoming known for high quality, entertaining yet insightful speculative fiction, addressing real-world issues through a fictional prism. Their latest title, Gardens of Earth by author Mark Iles, is set on a future Earth but tackles issues that are very real today, as well as others that our society should be preparing to address.

Gardens of Earth is military science-fiction, with additional aspects of both horror and fantasy – making this a truly cross-genre epic. Mark explains, “Imagine an alien life force that knows your deepest fear, and can use that against you.” In the book, Mark’s main character (Seethan Bodell) suffers from PTSD. In the story we can see the effects it has on him and the coping strategies he uses to mitigate them. Mark says, “Apart from a damned good read, I hope that readers will gain an insight and understanding of PTSD itself.”

Here in the UK, the NHS estimates that 1 in every 3 people who have a traumatic experience develop PTSD, sometimes immediately, sometimes months or even years later. Symptoms may remain unaddressed for a long time but, once diagnosed, sufferers can be successfully treated, even long after the traumatic event(s) occurred. Of course, one widely recognised cause of trauma is warfare and conflict. Mark Iles fought in both The Falklands War and the First Gulf War. He has friends suffering from PTSD.

Surprisingly, one relatively unknown effect is that many of those suffering from PTSD manage to channel it through creative outlets. There are those who do so through carpentry, leatherwork, painting, and also writing. Mark started writing science fiction and, now a well-published author, he also supports other veterans through the ‘The Scribe’, a creative writing site that he helped set up specifically to support veterans seeking to develop their own writing ability (https://thescribe.space).

Peter Buck, editorial director of Elsewhen Press said, “Mark’s latest book not only presents the horrors of war, albeit against an alien race, but also the implications and aftermath – both societal and personal. But it is much more than that. The protagonist’s co-pilot and lover is an android, but they have to keep their relationship a secret because of widespread bigotry and discrimination. Social justice, human rights and android rights are all themes explored by Mark in this book. In many senses this is classic science fiction, but the abilities of the aliens provide an environment, and archetypal creatures within it, that are also reminiscent of myth and magic fantasy. Truly cross-genre, Gardens of Earth is an exciting adventure, a heart-rending quest, and an eye-opening insight into the coping strategies of a war veteran.”

Gardens of Earth is now available to pre-order in eBook format on most platforms for release on the 6th August, and will be out in paperback in October.

Notes for Editors

About Gardens of Earth

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

Corporate greed supported by incompetent surveyors leads to the colonisation of a distant world, ominously dubbed ‘Halloween’, that turns out not to be uninhabited after all. The aliens, soon called Spooks by military units deployed to protect the colonists, can adopt the physical form of an opponent’s deepest fear and then use it to kill them. The colony is massacred and as retaliation the orbiting human navy nuke the planet. In revenge, the Spooks invade Earth.

In a last-minute attempt to avert the war, Seethan Bodell, a marine combat pilot sent home from the front with PTSD, is given a top-secret research spacecraft, and a mission to travel into the past along with his co-pilot and secret lover Rose, to prevent the original landing on Halloween and stop the war from ever happening. But the mission goes wrong, causing a tragedy later known as The Sundering, decimating the world and tearing reality, while Seethan’s ship is flung into the future. The Spooks win the war and claim ownership of Earth. He wakes, alone, in his ejector seat with no sign of either Rose or his vessel. When he realises that his technology no longer works, his desperation to find Rose becomes all the more urgent – her android body won’t survive long in this new Earth.

Gardens of Earth is the first book of The Sundering Chronicles. The story tackles alien war, a future that may be considered either dystopian or utopian, depending on who you ask, and a protagonist coping with his demons in an unfamiliar and stressful environment – not to mention immediate threats from a pathological serial killer, the remnants of Earth’s inhabitants now living in a sparse pre-industrial society under the watchful eye of the Spooks, and returning human colonists intent on reclaiming Earth.
 

ISBN: 9781911409854 (paperback, 264pp) / 9781911409953 (eBook)

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

About Mark Iles

Born and raised in Slough, Mark Iles began studying the martial arts when he was 14 and joined the Royal Navy at the age of 17. A voracious reader he used to devour up to three paperbacks a day – primarily science fiction, fantasy, and horror – by the likes of John Wyndham, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clark, Ray Bradbury, Brian Lumley, Frank Herbert, Stephen King, and a plethora of others. After The Falklands War Mark was drafted to Hong Kong, where he began writing features, for a variety of martial arts magazines, and short stories for a wide range of markets.

In 2012 he decided to challenge himself and undertook an MA in Professional Writing, followed by Diplomas in Copywriting and Proofreading. With over 200 short stories and articles under his belt the book he wrote for his MA Project, A Pride of Lions was published by Solstice – followed by two other novels, a short story collection, and four novellas. His latest novel, Gardens of Earth, book 1 of The Sundering Chronicles, will be published by Elsewhen Press in August. Currently Mark is working on the second in the series, as well as another short story collection. Now a 9th Degree Black Belt in Taekwondo, Mark is still involved in martial arts and has also written both a book and an app on the subject.

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.

 

Science fiction publisher’s life saved by devices straight out of science fiction

DARTFORD, KENT – 30 April 2021 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house that pushes the boundaries in speculative and fantasy fiction. Their stories present otherworldly but terrifyingly prescient visions of the future, featuring Android writing machines, body-augmenting mind control and transdimensional crime-fighting. However, present-day technology can also feel like it has been sent from a future world, where even a watch can save a life.

Following complications with his heart over the Easter period, Peter Buck, co-founder and editorial director of Elsewhen Press, needed hospital treatment. But it wasn’t a doctor that told him he needed to dial 999 – it was his Apple Watch!

Buck explained: “My wife bought me the Apple Watch for Christmas because it measures heart rate, blood oxygen and ECG. Being of a nervous disposition when it comes to my heart, because I’ve suffered from hyper-tension for many years, I had been checking my ECG whenever I felt a skipped beat or ‘a bit funny’.

“Every time, the watch reassured me that it was a sinus rhythm and perfectly okay. However, over Easter, for the first time, it told me I was suffering from atrial fibrillation with a very high heart rate. Even so, I did it again a couple more times over the next hour or so with the same result, so was convinced by the watch that it was a genuine heart condition and not me being a hypochondriac.

“Later, when I saw the cardiologist in the hospital, he was impressed by the output from the watch’s ECG app. He wanted to do an echocardiogram and produced what looked like a tricorder from his pocket, grinned and said ‘You’re not the only one with fancy tech!’”

Thankfully, after a few hours of treatment, Peter was sent home to recover with a newfound appreciation for science fiction-inspired machinery.

Buck added: “It was a victory for geekdom, as a sci-fi gadget saved my life (as well as the NHS). The doctors told me that if I had not come into the hospital immediately, it could have been much worse, possibly fatal.”

 

This isn’t God’s first attempt at creation. A new comic fantasy reveals all…

Comedy writer Craig Meighan, tired of having to be creative with the truth to support the government’s dubious political agendas, took his wife’s advice and quit the Civil Service to be creative with fiction instead.

DARTFORD, KENT – 19 March 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Far Far Beyond Berlin by Craig Meighan. A satire on bureaucracy, it imagines the Biblical Genesis story as God’s seventh and final attempt to get his creation right. But what happened to the previous six universes? They still exist and one unlucky government worker accidentally gets transported to the first and must find his way home through each of them, which could have apocalyptic consequences for all seven universes and God himself.

Craig Meighan had written for short films, radio jokes and stand-up comedy but hadn’t been making a career in it. He joined the civil service and initially enjoyed it, but three governments, 4 Prime Ministers and 12 years later, he found himself in the odd position of working very hard to achieve things that were the exact opposite of his moral beliefs.

The decisive moment came when he received an existentially terrifying pension statement that suggested he’d have a further 38 punishing years until retirement. Afraid that he’d be stuck in the job forever, he told his wife Jen that he felt like he was wasting valuable time.

Craig says: “My retirement age was projected at 71. I checked my life expectancy and, because I’m from a predominantly working class bit of Scotland, that was projected at 68! I had a better chance of dying during a zoom call about welfare policy than I did of enjoying a retirement. Jen asked what I wanted to do with my life and I told her what she already knew, that I wanted to be a writer. She asked the killer question, which was, ‘Why aren’t you trying to do it?’ I didn’t have a good answer. She read my work and told me that she believed I was good enough to write professionally, that I would always regret it if I didn’t give it my full undivided attention to see where it could take me and that I should quit my job and just write. If I was no further forward after a year, I could go and get an office job again and at least I’d know that I’d tried. The next day I handed in my notice to the job I’d held for 12 years. When someone shows that level of support to your dream, you have to give it everything. You owe them 100% effort.”

Craig finished his book and submitted it to various publishers. Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press takes up the story: “As soon as we read it, we knew we’d love to publish it. The combination of fantasy, satire, and playing with the creation mythos, was irresistible. If you can imagine Hitchhiker’s in the style of Pulp Fiction, you’ll understand why we were hooked right away. We asked Craig which of the characters in the book were inspired by the ministers that he had worked for, but he wouldn’t tell us. The pandemic has delayed our publication schedule but we’re delighted that we can now share Craig’s book with readers, and they can try to guess for themselves.”
Craig adds: “Sometimes it’s all you need: one person to show some belief in your abilities, one person to back you. It’s nice to repay that faith, even if how you repay it is to write a book which features a sentient almond. I now spend most of my week writing fiction and I am 6000% happier than I was before. So Jen’s support has completely changed my life for the better, come what may.”

Far Far Beyond Berlin is available from today as an eBook, and in paperback on 17th May.

Notes for Editors

About Craig Meighan

Craig Meighan was born in Lanarkshire, in central Scotland. Both a keen drummer and a fan of science fiction, he grew up wanting to be either Animal, from The Muppets, or Douglas Adams. This has led to an unfortunate habit of smashing up his computer at the end of each writing session.

With the ambition of becoming a screenwriter, he attended film college in Glasgow. He spent a short time making corporate videos and then after attending one chance meeting, he accidentally joined the civil service. Intending to stay for one summer, he ended up staying for 12 years (so think carefully before inviting him round for tea).

He is too polite to say which of the killer robots, demons and other assorted antagonists that appear in his book, are based on his interactions with actual government ministers.

His first novel, Far Far Beyond Berlin, was written in the evenings, after work, every day for a year, at the end of which time his wife Jen convinced him it was time to finally leave the safety of the office job and pursue writing full-time. She cunningly incentivised him by promising that if he managed to get his book published, he could get a big dog.

Craig lives with Jen, just outside Glasgow, where they like to play softball, enter pub quizzes and do escape rooms. He is delighted to say that he is now the proud owner of a huge daft greyhound named Ralph.

About Far Far Beyond Berlin

Even Geniuses need practice

Cover artwork: Gordon Miller

Not everything goes to plan at the first attempt… In Da Vinci’s downstairs loo hung his first, borderline insulting, versions of the Mona Lisa. Michelangelo’s back garden was chock-a-block full of ugly lumps of misshapen marble. Even Einstein committed a great ‘blunder’ in his first go at General Relativity. God is no different, this universe may be his masterpiece, but there were many failed versions before it – and they’re still out there.

Far Far Beyond Berlin is a fantasy novel, which tells the story of a lonely, disillusioned government worker’s adventures after being stranded in a faraway universe – Joy World: God’s first, disastrous attempt at creation.

God’s previous universes, a chain of 6 now-abandoned worlds, are linked by a series of portals. Our jaded hero must travel back through them, past the remaining dangers and bizarre stragglers. He’ll join forces with a jolly, eccentric and visually arresting crew of sailors on a mysteriously flooded world. He’ll battle killer robots and play parlour games against a clingy supercomputer, with his life hanging in the balance. He’ll become a teleportation connoisseur; he will argue with a virtual goose – it sure beats photocopying.

Meanwhile, high above in the heavens, an increasingly flustered God tries to manage the situation with His best friend Satan; His less famous son, Jeff; and His ludicrously angry angel of death, a creature named Fate. They know that a human loose in the portal network is a calamity that could have apocalyptic consequences in seven different universes. Fate is dispatched to find and kill the poor man before the whole place goes up in a puff of smoke; if he can just control his temper…

Visit bit.ly/FarFarBeyondBerlin

 

Author addresses the isolation and alienation felt by many in the trans community, with allegorical SF adventure

Riftmaster, a new novel from Miles Nelson tells a story about identity, empathy, and what it means to be human, which, though timeless, is especially significant here and now

DARTFORD, KENT – 24 February 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of Riftmaster by Miles Nelson. On the face of it, Riftmaster is a science fiction adventure about a college student who is whisked away from Earth by a mysterious and unpredictable force known as the Rift and stranded on another world where he meets a mysterious traveller, the self-styled Riftmaster. But at its heart it is an allegory of the isolation and social alienation felt by many in the trans community here on our own planet.

Miles Nelson says, “Riftmaster was in part influenced by my own personal experiences. I wanted to write a story about identity, empathy, and what it means to be human. At the time of writing I was myself going through a difficult period of my life. I felt as though I had very few people to turn to. I was engaged, but felt like I wasn’t the person I wanted to be when I was married. Even my fiancé, now husband, who had stood by me from the very beginning, couldn’t quite understand how I felt. I’m trans and autistic. All in all, a great recipe for feelings of isolation and the need for a magical journey of self-discovery. If there’s anything I can take comfort in, it’s the enormous size of the universe we live in. Riftmaster gave me the chance to fly away from all of those everyday problems to wonderful and beautiful worlds where earthly problems meant nothing, where so far away from societal expectations, a person is free to be whoever they want.”

How do we deal with these problems if we don’t have the opportunity to leave Earth and travel the cosmos? Miles Nelson adds, “Earth is the only home I, and everyone like me, will ever know, and this planet still has a long way to go before we can feel truly safe and welcome. I could do without seeing the horror on people’s faces when they hear my voice having already called me ‘bro’. One of the things Riftmaster addresses is small things like that, and how they can make you feel.”

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “Riftmaster will resonate with many readers who experience isolation and alienation, especially while most of us are still living through imposed social distancing and lockdown. But hopefully it will help people to understand and consider the impact of their words and actions on others.”

Miles Nelson again: “When it comes to the people you know and love, try your hardest to do what makes them happy and comfortable. But… if you slip up or fail, don’t worry; it’s the trying that counts. Every time one of my parents apologises for using the wrong name or pronouns, I always smile. So long as they’re trying their hardest, it’s enough to fill my heart with so much joy. Over the course of the story in Riftmaster, it is not overt attempts to hurt someone, but the adamant refusal to change, that causes the most harm. There are many people in my life who, because they knew me before, refuse to even try. But, if I got a promotion at work, they wouldn’t still call me a cashier. How is this really any different? I know it takes time. But it really is the effort to change that counts. There are a lot of little things people can do to help someone feel just a bit less alien. Treating others as equals, for example, rather than calling them ‘sweetheart’ and ‘sir’. You wouldn’t think it’s a big change, but it can mean a lot more than you know.”

Bailey, the main character of Riftmaster, is himself not trans. He is someone anybody can relate to: a kind-hearted young man on the cusp of his prime, who was cruelly swept away from everything he’s ever known by nothing more than bad luck. As the story unfolds, Bailey is forced to confront his own personal biases in order to change and grow. Miles Nelson hopes that, one day, Riftmaster can help at least one of its readers to do the same.

Riftmaster is available for pre-order in eBook format; it will be published on the 5th March as eBook, and in paperback on 3rd May.

Notes for Editors

About Miles Nelson

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 is technically his fourth novel, he likes to pretend the first three don’t exist. Whilst he is primarily a sci-fi 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 Riftmaster

Cover art: Miles Nelson

How do you hold on to hope when you’re being repeatedly wrenched between worlds?

College student Bailey Jones is plucked from his world by a mysterious and unpredictable force known as the Rift, which appears to move people at random from one world to another. Stranded on an alien planet, he is relieved when he meets a fellow human, the self-styled Riftmaster, who is prepared to assist him. Although curious about his new companion’s real identity, Bailey hopes that, with years of experience of the Rift, this cosmic traveller can help him find a way to return to Earth. But first, as the two of them are ripped without warning from one hostile planet to another, Bailey must rely on the Riftmaster to show him how to survive.

Riftmaster, an adventure, an exploration, is concerned with loss, and letting go, while still holding onto your humanity and identity, even when life seems hopeless.

The cover artwork and illustrations in the book were also created by Miles Nelson.

Visit bit.ly/Riftmaster

 

Sex and Drugs and Mind Control

Latest novel from Simon Kearns is a literary fusion of science fiction, existential terror and psychological thriller in the style of the ‘New Weird’

DARTFORD, KENT – 22 January 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of The Night Has Seen Your Mind by Simon Kearns. In an isolated house in the snowy wasteland of the Arctic, five people take part in a cryptic experiment funded by a tech billionaire – although they will be well rewarded financially, have they even considered the potential psychological impact, and is it worth the gamble? Crossing genres, this story is the epitome of modern speculative fiction.

Peter Buck, Editorial Director of Elsewhen Press said, “Especially pertinent as we all live through yet another lockdown, Simon Kearns has successfully leveraged our inherent fear of isolation and bleakness to make us identify with his diverse characters as they slowly try to come to terms with their prolonged stay in the Arctic. That anxiety combines with a natural suspicion of hi-tech entrepreneurs, distrust of intrusive devices that attempt to read your mind, and the inevitable suspicion of stir-crazy strangers. The result is an exciting yet very well-grounded story that may literally blow your mind. Not only is sex and drugs and mind control an appropriate tagline for the story, it may also turn out to be how many readers have coped with lockdown.”

The Night Has Seen Your Mind is available from today in eBook format and will be available in paperback from 22nd March.

Notes for Editors

About Simon Kearns

Simon Kearns was born in London in 1972 and grew up in Northern Ireland. In his teens he returned to London to study philosophy. At the end of 2004 he moved to the south of France where he lives with his partner and two children. His debut, Virtual Assassin, (Revenge Ink, 2010), explores personal responsibility in a corrupt society. It was followed by Dark Waves, (Blood Bound Books, 2014), about a powerful haunting and the scientist determined to debunk it. His stories have appeared in publications such as The Future Fire, Litro, The Honest Ulsterman, and on numerous websites.

He revels in etymology, guitar, gaming, and the science of superstition.

About The Night Has Seen Your Mind

Tech billionaire, Mattias Goff, has invited five creative professionals – programmer, pianist, writer, actor, and photographer – for a month-long residency at Crystal Falls, his Arctic retreat. Researching brain waves, and especially the enigmatic gamma wave, Goff asks his guests to wear a kind of EEG cap in order to record the electrical activity in their brains while they engage with their respective disciplines. Although they will be paid $5Million each for the experience, they all start their sojourn a little wary – some more than others. Cut off from the outside world in the stunningly beautiful, if stark, Alaskan winter landscape they immerse themselves in their work. Soon, though, reality seems to be shifting. What is Goff really researching? Are his guests only being observed, or manipulated?

Cutting across genres, The Night Has Seen Your Mind is a literary fusion of science fiction, existential terror and psychological thriller in the style of the ‘New Weird’.

Visit bit.ly/TheNightHasSeenYourMind