The Founder Effect – no. 20

20.

 

I light another cigarette, toss the match into the ashtray, and resume pacing around the room.

I ask, Is this what you meant when you said what you said to me that day in the pet shop?

“Don’t be so specific, man.”

Please. That time when Antonia and I were walking together.

Raat! Two peas in a pod.

Exactly. Is this what you meant? The superstitions, the followings? Beethoven said she is a goddess.

“…I knowww all there is to knowww about the crying gaaame…”

What do you mean?

Raat! Cut it off.

Cut what off?

“It’s not my fault.” “God made me this way.”

Electra, please. You’re mixed up. That’s not what I mean. I could plainly see under the black light that her hands bear the signs of stigmata.

Raat! “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?”

Well, that’s more in the right direction. But will you tell me: is that what you meant?

She’s no more a goddess than I am.

So that is not what you meant?

“Welllll, I do an’ I don’t.”

I ash my cigarette. I plead, Electra, I need to know.

Everything goes red.

Sheis th eMessi ah.

From behind a cloud of silt and ink, Beethoven unfurls a single tentacle, a limb as thick and twice as long as my own arm. Its suckers smush against the transparent boundary, warp and flatten, silent. They look just like the eyeless faces of burning, screaming souls.

The red ends.

 

I can hear my father now: Sinjoro devas marŝi, ne kuri. ‘A gentleman should walk, not run.’ But I wouldn’t expect him to understand my urgency.

I am out of breath when I top the stairs and enter the doors of the Kant-Gump Lane Branch of the Public Library. Behind me, amongst the tourists in the street surrounding the statue of our city’s founder, two women—one shouting, the other sobbing—are pointing and gesturing at me while being restrained by police officers in black uniforms.

Under the light of stained glass and chandeliers, amidst the smells of paper and stone, I get to the books I need: leatherbound, brittle pages. In 1224, two years before his death, St. Francis of Assisi manifested stigmata of the Christ, the first known instance of such a thing ever reported. Without cause, he bled from hands and feet as well as from his rib, where Jesus was speared on the cross. St. Bonaventure’s Major Legend (1266) records an anecdote about a portrait of St. Francis that temporarily displayed stigmata right before the eyes of the painting’s matron and a fellow witness, the marks becoming visible only when the two contemplated the miracle and vanishing from view just as swiftly. Nothing I read convinces me that the resultant stigmata tradition is anything more than a few hundred hoaxes exploiting superstition, but I cannot deny what I saw on Antonia’s hands under the black light in the bug suite.

A true stigmatic manifests all five wounds: both hands, both feet, and the flank of the torso. Outside the library, I stop to light a cigarette. A man with a shaven head wearing an orange toga and sandals kneels a few feet from me, his lips moving in prayer.

 

Everything turns red.

Imea nsh eis theM essiah.

I light another cigarette. I ask, Yes but what does that actually mean? Why does she have Christian stigmata on her? Of all things?

S he is the thirdr evela tion.

Fine, but why not the Sixth Sun or Shiva or Shangó?

Shebea rs thewounds ofcruxi ficti on. Ripp edf rom thec ross, handsa ndf eetsplit, and shehas heal ed andi srebo rn.

I think, I have no god. Or, at best, if I do, it’s the invisible hand. But not a thing worthy of worship. By no means.

An tonia is theo pposite ofyou.

The red ends.

 

In a brass Art Nouveau birdcage at the top of an eye-high pedestal, my new pride and joy snares and swallows yet another weevil.

She is magnificent, I say.

Antonia hugs my arm, leans her temple on my shoulder. On cheese prom México! Electra wheel loaf her.

I’m sure she will.

Antonia sighs, squeezes me tighter. A welcome gesture of sincere affection.

And yet my skin crawls. Ripped from the cross as Beethoven said. I think, For what crime was she punished? What heresy?

Antonia is the opposite of you. If so, I wonder: What is it she lacks?

I hear boots; the Frenchman appears. Stetson hat, bolo tie, velvet brocade on a gunfighter blazer.

Howdy patron, he says. Il dit que le camion livrera les dauphins demain soir.

I ask, Will the shipment include the herring?

He claps me on the back. Oui, bien sûr. Ils auront besoin d’accéder à l’ascenseur de service.

I’ll be sure to meet them when they arrive.

D’accord.

We shake hands.

Avoiding him, Antonia walks down an aisle, each animal in a cage or tank clamoring as she passes.

 

I unlock the door to my flat to find Rascal eating the remains of a pillow cushion. Goose down floats in the air like snowflakes, drifts of it piled against the walls. The cedar ribs of the sofa’s carcass horrorsplay from under torn fabric. What’s worse, Eve is balled in a corner where she never sits. She is licking in her groin what is an obvious wound. Neither Eve nor Rascal pay me any mind when I enter with the birdcage.

Raat! Who’s the fox?

She is your new companion, Electra. A Socorro mockingbird. From the Revillagigedo Islands.

Raat! Can we name her Elvis?

Of course we can.

The good news is the Keihanaikukauakahihuliheekahaunaeles in no. 20 moved out. They leave a letter they drop through the mail slot. I don’t have to open it and see that it is in fact from them to know so. Chimpy tosses it in with the rest in the now second mail closet (which is already near knee high).

Now all I need is no. 21.

 

“ancient magicks and daemons play out against the heat of a desert” – Review of Thorns of a Black Rose on BFS website

Cover design by PR Pope

On the British Fantasy Society website, Elloise Hopkins has reviewed Thorns of a Black Rose by David Craig. After an outline of the plot, Elloise introduces the two main characters, Tamira and Shukara, characters that are “easily likeable to the reader”. She adds that David Craig presents “well-rounded, believable heroines alongside worldbuilding richly woven with influences from North Africa and ancient history”. She compliments the pace of the story and says that at the end there is a satisfying completion while “tantalisingly” leaving scope for further adventures – which she says would be very welcome. In conclusion she says that Thorns of a Black Rose is a “modern young adult story with its roots very firmly in traditional fantasy”.

You can read the full review on the BFS website here.

 

“a highly enjoyable tale” – review by Jill-Elizabeth of Working Weekend

Cover by Alison and Sofia Buck

On her blog, Jill-Elizabeth has reviewed Working Weekend by Penelope Hill, which she describes as “an original spin on common supernatural themes, offered with a generous dose of humor and a peek behind the curtain at authors, writing, fandom, and the magic that is themed conventions”. She adds that it’s “snarky and funny and just the right amount of dark”. She says that it built a “nice tension” that kept her turning pages, and the characters were a good blend of personalities that “intermingled tropes and originality in a way I thought perfect”. She says that the ending left her cautiously optimistic that we might get to join Marcus in further adventures (take note Penelope!).

You can read the full review on Jill-Elizabeth’s blog here (it’s on Goodreads too).

 

Lord of the Hunt – The Glasgow book launch we couldn’t hold

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

We should have been sitting in a nice room in Glasgow at the Satellite 7 convention, about to listen to David Craig talk about and read from his latest novel Lord of the Hunt, the second book in his Sooty feathers series.

But thanks to COVID-19 we’re still here in Kent, David is in Glasgow (because that’s where he lives) and Satellite 7 has been postponed until next February.

But, hopefully, everyone who should also have been in Glasgow today for the convention would still like to hear about David’s book and hear a reading from it.

David used his permitted daily exercise to walk to one of the locations used in the story, which is not far from his home, as a backdrop to his reading. We hope you enjoy it.

You can watch the video on our YouTube channel here

“teasing out the truth is what makes these stories so incredible” – Review of Lord of the Hunt by Jill-Elizabeth

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck

On her blog Jill-Eliabeth has reviewed Lord of the Hunt by David Craig, the second book in the Sooty Feathers series. As she loved the first book, Resurrection Men (read about her review of that here), it is perhaps unsurprising that she also enjoyed this latest book. In her review she apologises for not having too much specific to say about the story as she doesn’t want to undermine the plot twists or introduce any spoilers.

She says that David Craig is a dab hand at “setting up expectations, only to knock them down like nine-pins” but without “ever generating an eye roll or sense of irritation”. She likes the fact that he doesn’t throw in red herrings to drive tension up artificially, his “misdirections and layered revelations are much more delicate and well-crafted than that and each one feels like an organic and utterly necessary part of the whole.”

Her conclusion is that Lord of the Hunt is entirely enjoyable and definitely worth reading (and if you haven’t already read Resurrection Men, which she describes as also excellent, she says “I definitely recommend reading these in order”). You can read the full review on her blog here (it’s also on Goodreads).

 

COVID-19 update

The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic continues to affect everyone, in oh so many ways. 🙂

For us, the most immediate impact has been that we have not been able to attend conventions or hold book launches. However, we organised a virtual launch event for the four books that we were supposed to be ‘launching’ at Eastercon (see here).

But we are also self-isolating, so although we can do some of our work as usual (we generally work from home anyway) we are unable to despatch books from Elsewhen Towers. However our splendid printer is still operating and can print copies on demand, so we are able to fulfil orders for print editions by having them despatched directly by our printer. This means we can despatch orders in the UK, US and Australia, although delivery times might be a little longer than normal (but so far they have been doing a sterling job) – (see here to order print copies). But, of course, our books are all available as (virus-free) ebooks from your favourite ebook platforms (and they’re cheaper too!). So if you haven’t tried an eBook before, now would be a good opportunity. You don’t need an eReader, there are free eReading apps for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones from each of the different book retailers.

Finally, the other impact has been to disrupt our plans for forthcoming titles. We have signed up some brilliant new titles already (and are still considering some others) and editing is underway on the first of them, but with reduced time available from our personnel at the moment our pre-press production times will be longer than normal. To avoid disappointment and missed deadlines, we are refraining from announcing publication dates for the moment. But details of the books themselves will soon be appearing on our website.

Keep well, stay safe.

Eastercon 2020 Launch Party that wasn’t

Due to COVID-19 our book launch party at Eastercon couldn’t take place. Instead we’ve arranged a virtual book launch.

Cover by Alison and Sofia Buck
Artwork: Tony Allcock
Cover artwork: Alison Buck
Cover: PR Pope


See this page for details.

COVID-19 Impact

While we all prepare for an uncertain future, as Gaia fights back against humanity’s mismanagement of the planet, we need to make some plans and cancel others. We are lucky, here at Elsewhen Press, that we mostly work from home anyway; and spending much of our time with writers and artists we are used to dealing with social isolation 😉

As we have mentioned in previous newsletters, over the next few weeks we were planning on being at: Eastercon in Birmingham, in April; Satellite 7 in Glasgow, in May; and Cymera in Edinburgh, in June. All of those plans are now up in the air to say the least. Cymera has already been cancelled. Satellite have just announced that they’re postponing to next February. Eastercon hasn’t (yet?) been cancelled.

Already a number of our authors and readers have decided not to attend Eastercon, even if it is not officially cancelled. We were supposed to be having a launch party for four titles (Overstrike, Working Weekend, Shadow and Storm, Million Eyes) and at least two of the authors have already told us they won’t be able to attend. With the latest increase in virus activity and government advice, we are now self-isolating. We are just short of the ‘at risk’ age range, but are concerned about underlying health issues. Eastercon is now less than 3 weeks away, so we have made the decision not to attend, even if it goes ahead. This is a huge disappointment for us, our authors and (hopefully) our readers and potential readers. We have already informed the Eastercon committee.

We are investigating options for virtual book launches online and will keep you informed.

To our authors we have said: keep safe, keep writing (self-isolation is just another working day for a writer!), keep sane 🙂

To our readers we say: sorry, we are currently unable to directly fulfil orders for printed copies so we will have them fulfilled by our printer and despatched by them – which may take a little longer than usual. But, of course, our books are all available as (virus-free) ebooks from your favourite ebook platforms (and cheaper too). So if you haven’t tried an eBook before, now would be a good opportunity. You don’t need an eReader, there are free eReading apps for desktop computers, laptops, tablets and phones from each of the different book retailers. And keep safe.

Lord of the Hunt available from today

Lord of the Hunt, the second book in David Craig’s Sooty Feathers series is available from today on all popular eBook platforms.

Cover design and artwork by Alison Buck