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.

 

Available from today in paperback: Far Far Beyond Berlin by Craig Meighan

Cover artwork: Gordon Miller

The paperback edition of Far Far Beyond Berlin by Craig Meighan is available from today. Order online or from your favourite bookshop.

Howlish ABC for Growups – free download

Artwork: Alison Buck

In HOWUL, a life’s journey by David Shannon, the novel’s eponymous hero is given two books to help him learn how to write: Jack and Julie Learn To Read and The ABC Book. The world they show (our world) is filled with happy, smiling, well-fed children. Howul’s world (in the future) is very different.

Now, in Howlish ABC for Growups, he provides us with own savage, hilarious alternative. An ABC written by an angry, misanthropic 35-year-old. Envious of all the luxuries Jack and Julie have, he hates how easily they take them for granted. The first entry is “A is for Arseholes”. It neatly sets the tone…

An excerpt from Howul’s ABC appears in the published novel and has already been exuberantly seized upon by readers and critics (“A hilarious highlight” – Reader’s Digest). This fully-extended and fully-illustrated version of Howul’s ABC is now available as a free, 68-page download (pdf, eBook and Kindle – see below). We’re not asking you to give us your email address or sign up to anything to get it: it is completely free, with no strings.

Reading Howlish ABC for Growups will give you a good sense of who Howul is, what his life is like and what he makes of us (the “People Before”). If you like it, we’re sure you’ll also love HOWUL, a life’s journey.

You can download Howlish ABC for Growups from here.

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.”

 

Comic espionage thriller ‘The World is at War, again’ out today as eBook

DARTFORD, KENT – 02 April 2021 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of The World is at War, again by Simon Lowe. An espionage novel set in a near future where technology has been discredited and a period of Great Regression in under way, 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.

Cover design: Alison Buck

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 cover is by Alison Buck

The World is at War, again is available from today on eBook platforms and will be published in paperback in June.

About 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.

The World is at War, Again is both a novel and a rumination on how very bad and very good the world would be without technology.

 

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

 

David Shannon and HOWUL coverage in Mail Online and Daily Telegraph

Cover design: Alison Buck

Both the Mail Online Femail section (here) and the Daily Telegraph, today have complimentary news items about David Shannon and his debut novel HOWUL. They quote his wife, the award-winning author Bernardine Evaristo OBE, as saying that she thought he was watching football in his study when he was in fact writing his novel.

 

Realising a life’s journey – Interview with David Shannon in The European

In The European, an article about author David Shannon and his debut novel HOWUL predicts that he may be about to emerge as a major literary talent!

Cover design: Alison Buck

You can read the article and an interview with David on The European’s website here.

 

“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.