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.

 

Out today in eBook – Million Eyes II: The Unraveller by C.R. Berry

The second book in the Million Eyes trilogy is out today in eBook format. Million Eyes II: The Unraveller continues on from Million Eyes.

If you need a reminder of the story so far, watch the recap Previously in Million Eyes on C.R.Berry’s YouTube channel.

Artwork: Alison Buck

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.

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).

 

Gardens of Earth by Mark Iles, out today in eBook

We are delighted to announce the publication, today, of Gardens of Earth by Mark Iles, the first book of The Sundering Chronicles.

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 personal 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. Underlying all this are issues of social justice, human and android rights, and love that transcends difference. In many senses this is classic science fiction, but the abilities of the Spooks provide an environment, and archetypal creatures within it, that are 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 veteran.

Available in eBook format from today, Gardens of Earth will be available as a paperback on October 18th 2021.

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.

Revealed: Alex Storer’s Cover for Gardens of Earth by Mark Iles

Gardens of Earth, book 1 of The Sundering Chronicles is the latest science fiction novel from author Mark Iles, and the first of his books to be published by Elsewhen Press. 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 personal 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. Underlying all this are issues of social justice, human and android rights, and love that transcends difference. In many senses this is classic science fiction, but the abilities of the Spooks provide an environment, and archetypal creatures within it, that are 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 veteran.

We asked artist Alex Storer to work with Mark to produce a cover that could encapsulate all of that! We were concerned that it may have been a tall order, but we are delighted to reveal the cover that they have produced. What you can’t see here is how beautifully the cover artwork wraps round the spine onto the back of the book. You’ll just have to wait for the paperback to experience that 😉

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.

Cover artwork by Alex Storer

Available from today in paperback: Riftmaster by Miles Nelson

Cover art: Miles Nelson

The paperback edition of Riftmaster by Miles Nelson is available from today. Order online or from your local bookshop.

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.”

 

“little short of a masterpiece” – review of HOWUL and interview with David Shannon in Reader’s Digest

Cover design: Alison Buck

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.

 

“It reminded me of a Doctor Who plot” – Reviewer names Million Eyes one of her top reads of 2020

Cover: PR Pope
Calling it “tense, ominous and addictive”, book blogger Karen at Hair Past A Freckle posted a review of C.R. Berry‘s time travel conspiracy thriller, Million Eyes, the first book in the Million Eyes trilogy, in January last year. On New Year’s Day 2021, she named it one of her top reads of 2020.

Karen begins by explaining how Million Eyes begins in 1100 with King William II and something that very obviously shouldn’t exist in the 12th century. Like many readers, she knew of this event having seen the Rufus Stone in the New Forest where William was supposedly accidentally shot, and which Million Eyes says may not have been quite as straightforward as history tells it.

It’s difficult to review this book without giving away spoilers but I can say that there are some completely unexpected moments which totally shocked me.

She goes on to describe the two main characters, Gregory Ferro and Jennifer Larson, saying that they are “very different people” and that she “particularly enjoyed seeing how Jennifer’s understandable scepticism gradually diminishes as she realises that he is telling the truth”. She calls the characterisation “excellent throughout” and that Jennifer in particular is a “fabulous character”.

She rounds off her review by saying that “as a long-time Whovian, perhaps the biggest compliment I can pay to Million Eyes is that it reminded me of a Doctor Who plot”.

You can read the full review on Hair Past A Freckle here.