Fictional Alignment is a satire by Mike French exploring a future in which androids control culture

When Sapphira writes the first human-written fiction in a century, zealot androids vow to eradicate all fiction. They fail – her book is a best seller – so they send a team back in time to realign the historical record with her fictional stories.

DARTFORD, KENT – 12 January 2018 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication of a new book by Mike French. Fictional Alignment is a sequel to the ground-breaking An Android Awakes, a collaboration between Mike French and artist Karl Brown which was published at the end of 2015 by Elsewhen Press. In that book, Android Writer PD121928 is attempting to have a novel published, but is only allowed 42 failed submissions before he will be terminated. Despairing, as he waits to hear whether his final attempt has been accepted, he commits suicide; but it is accepted, so his successor, PD121929, passes himself off as the author. In Fictional Alignment we discover that, because fewer than a hundred copies of that novel were sold, PD121929 was himself terminated. The human Sapphira, who had been in love with PD121928, wrote a bestselling novel Humans (An Arrangement of Minor Defects) based on the stories he told her on the night they first met. It was marketed by the Altostratus publishing house as the first work of fiction by a human for over a hundred years. As a result, a handful of zealot androids massacred the senate and formed a new regime fuelled with a passion to eradicate the evil of fiction from android society. But however much they try, they are unable to remove the impact of Sapphira’s novel. If fiction cannot be made to align with reality, then reality must be made to align with fiction. So, in a desperate move, they kidnap Sapphira and force her to work with an oddball team that travels back in time to enact the events of the stories in her book – thus ensuring that they are historical records rather than fiction. This is the ultimate implementation of fake news.

This message has been approved by The Bureau for Fictional Alignment

Cover Art: Tony Allcock; Logo Design: Craig Nash

Cover Art: Tony Allcock; Logo Design: Craig Nash

Fictional Alignment is a satire set in the fashionably-predicted future where Artificial Intelligence has replaced humans as the source of culture. But it is not the technology that is being lambasted here, rather it is the society that deploys it. Technology can be a weapon or a tool, but ideology chooses how to wield it. Whether adhering to human religion or android dogma, zealots write, rewrite and control culture; culture reflects society, yet society is shaped by culture. However, the tale of Sapphira and the alignment of reality to her fictional stories is by no means bleak. There is still love among the stars.

With a stunning cover designed by renowned artist Tony Allcock, and interior illustrations by Mike himself, Fictional Alignment is set to be as ‘cool’ and ‘fascinating’ as Starburst Magazine deemed An Android Awakes.

Fictional Alignment will be available on all popular eBook platforms from 2nd February 2018, and can be pre-ordered now. It will be available in paperback on 2nd April 2018.

Notes for Editors

About Mike French

Mike FrenchMike French was the owner and senior editor of the prestigious literary magazine The View From Here during its life from 2007 to 2014. Mike’s debut novel, The Ascent of Isaac Steward, the first book of the Dandelion Trilogy, was published in 2011 and nominated for a Galaxy National Book Award, which presumably due to an unfortunate clerical error, was awarded to Dawn French. The rest of the trilogy, Blue Friday and Convergence, were published by Elsewhen Press in 2012 and 2013 respectively. An Android Awakes was published in 2015 by Elsewhen Press and launched on the main stage of the Brighton Film & Comic Con.

Born in Cornwall in 1967, Mike spent his childhood flipping between England and Scotland with a few years in between in Singapore. Mike is married with three children. He currently lives in Luton in the UK and when not writing watches Formula 1, eats Ben & Jerry’s Phish Food and listens to Gorillaz.

Visit bit.ly/FictionalAlignment

Praise for An Android Awakes

“One of the coolest and most fascinating reads out there” – Starburst Magazine

“Intriguing, surreal and evocative” – Geeky Monkey Magazine

“A Blade Runner-esque future – different from anything else” – Sci-Fi Bulletin

“The questions of what makes us truly human and what life means isn’t anything new within the genre, but the presentation of those timeless questions here is exemplary and fresh” – AMO Magazine

“One of the most pleasant surprises of the year” – Upcoming4Me

“A thoughtful creation which will inspire thought in its readership” – SFBook Reviews

“Smart, challenging and well worth any jaded fantasist’s rapt attention” – Now Read This!

“Real depth and resonance: A ramified, knotted artefact, existing beyond the normal two dimensions of the page” – Blue Book Balloon

“Wizardry of character building – 2000AD meets LOBO” – Base5 Magazine

“Great imagination, telling wonderful tales” – Geek Native

“Entertaining, sexy, terrifying, and beautiful” – The Compulsive Reader

“Each story is extraordinary” – Geek Syndicate

“Had me totally hooked” – SF Crowsnest

“A cult feel” – Comics Anonymous

 

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Instrument of Chaos now available

Artwork by Alison Buck based on feather photo by KPG_Payless/shutterstock.com

Artwork by Alison Buck based on feather photo by KPG_Payless/shutterstock.com

Instrument of Chaos, the concluding book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy by Rebecca Hall is available from today on all major eBook platforms. Mitch, Amelie and Nikola arrive in Dunedin in New Zealand to start their first year at University. What could possibly go wrong? Well, for one thing the Angels are back and they’re looking for Nikola.

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entertaining, fresh, and some dead-on satire – The Future Fire review of The Multiverse is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There

Cover artwork: Hannah B. Farrell ARNS Cover on wall by permission of Travis Miles

Cover artwork: Hannah B. Farrell
ARNS Cover on wall by permission of Travis Miles

On The Future Fire Reviews, Lisa Timpf has posted a substantial review of The Multiverse is a Nice Place to Visit, But I Wouldn’t Want to Live There the latest in the Multiverse (aka Transdimensional Authority) series by Ira Nayman.

Lisa writes that Ira’s novel “blends the elements of a police procedural with madcap humor and imaginative characters and locales” and the reader is “treated to humor that leaves no stone unturned” where “everything and everyone is fair game for Nayman’s wit” including employing “absurdity to good effect” and “a knack for giving old expressions a new twist”.

The book is liberally sprinkled with references to popular culture and Lisa specifically picks out the Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Star Trek, Mel Blanc, Jack Ryan and Canadian icons such as Margaret Atwood, Celine Dion and Tim Hortons. Aliens are also fair game for Ira’s fun, ranging from sparkling word play to slapstick humour. While some of the humour is purely for entertainment, some is intended to “pack a satirical bite based on Nayman’s observation of human nature” and “politics” as well as “observations about relationships, workplace dynamics, and our interface with technology that hit close to home”.

Lisa found the book to be “an enjoyable read, although I found myself reading carefully rather than quickly so as not to miss any of the sometimes-subtle humor”. It was, Lisa says, “entertaining, and the variety of types of humor and original turns of phrase kept things fresh”, there are “strong female as well as male characters, inventive and creative scene-setting, and some dead-on satire”.

Thanks for the review Lisa, we’re very happy that you enjoyed Ira’s book.

If you want to read the whole of Lisa’s review (and I recommend that you do), you can find it on The Future Fire Reviews here.

 

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“a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adult readers alike” – review of Cold Fire on Risingshadow

Earlier this week Seregil of Rhiminee reviewed Cold Fire, the latest book from Peter R. Ellis (I would have mentioned it sooner but I’ve been laid up with flu for a few days). The book is the first of a series of standalone novels recounting the continuing adventures of September Weekes, the heroine of Peter’s Evil Above the Stars series.

Artwork: Alison Buck

Artwork: Alison Buck

Seregil starts by saying that it was a pleasure to read about September Weekes again because she’s an interesting and fascinating protagonist. He says that it is “just as good and interesting” as the Evil Above the Stars series, and points out that it is perfectly possible to read Cold Fire without having read the original series, adding that it is a suitable “entry point to the world of September Weekes” and although it has much “in common with the previous novels, it’s a whole new adventure and newcomers will be able to enjoy it”. He describes Cold Fire as “a well-told fantasy story that will intrigue adult and young adults readers alike” in which readers will find themselves immersed in the story as it unfolds.

Seregil compliments Peter’s good characterisation, and fluent writing. The “characters are resourceful and remind me a bit of the characters found in Enid Blyton’s novels” he says. He admits that even September’s nemesis, the Malevolence, has fascinated him since the beginning of the original trilogy – Peter has “created an ultimate evil entity, because it consumes everything it comes in contact with and leaves destruction in its wake”.

Seregil says that Cold Fire “combines elements of fantasy and science fiction in an entertaining way”, with Peter writing “intriguingly” about the alternative version of our world with creatures such as mermaids, unicorns and dragons (although they avoid men). Peter’s writing about the impact of human population growth on these other creatures and their ultimate fate has a “bittersweetness” says Seregil, revealing hidden wisdom beneath the story on the themes of extinction, indifference and fear of the unknown.

Seregil also enjoyed the descriptions of alchemy and how phosphorus and its qualities fascinated scientists. Peter manages to “convey the enthusiasm involved in the experiments to his readers in a splendid way”, which he thinks is a result of Peter’s background as a teacher “because you get a feeling that he knows what he is writing about”.

Summarising, Seregil says that what he likes most about Cold Fire and the previous trilogy is that they are intriguing and different. He is glad that the “Welsh elements – history, mythology, names etc – that readers have come to love in the previous novels can also be found in this novel. They’re an important part of the fascination and originality of the story, because they make this novel stand out among other fantasy novels.”

Seregil concludes by saying that Cold Fire is a “charming and delightfully old-fashioned yet intriguingly modern fantasy novel” that “combines the charm of classic fantasy books with modern storytelling in a successful way”.

You can read Seregil’s full review here.

 

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Please bear with us – we have no internet connection thanks to Openreach

Last thursday (2 November) at 18:44 our broadband vanished. After various tests and checks by our ISP it became clear that the problem was with the connection which is provided and maintained by Openreach. We were told it would be fixed within 48 hours. Today (monday 6 November) Openreach have said that it is a broken cable which is due to be fixed by the 22nd December (they didn’t say which year, I’m assuming 2017 but that may be hopeful). Apparently, despite having a Service Level Agreement with our ISP, Openreach feel no need to pay any attention to it. So we are without any internet connection (apart from by mobile phone) and incapable of conducting significant parts of our day to day work.

We have already lost business from one client today as a result.

If you are trying to contact us electronically, don’t be surprised if we are delayed in responding. Please bear with us.

UPDATE: After 6 days without any internet connection (I know, first world problems eh?) an Openreach chap arrived unannounced, put a device on our line and pinpointed the break to 585.7 metres away – “I know where that is” he said. I knew too, it was where other Openreach operatives were digging up the road and doing something to the buried cables. He left an oscillator on the line so he could track it and went away. At the end of the day he came back and confirmed that his colleagues had cut the cable by accident on the previous thursday. Rather than fix it immediately, they decided to leave it until the end of their work programme (i.e. 22nd December)! When he arrived to trace the problem they fixed it. He did warn me that they would be working on the cables in the village until late December so there was a very good chance they would cut the wrong cables again (apparently they use ‘concentric cable’ which makes it difficult to work out which strands go together, so instead of trying they just cut nearby strands and hope for the best). So we have our connection back, but who knows for how long!

 

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Cold Fire – Peter R. Ellis at Leominster Library

Artwork: Alison Buck

Artwork: Alison Buck

On Thursday 19th October 2017, Peter R. Ellis will be spending the afternoon in Leominster library to promote his latest book Cold Fire, a September Weekes novel that follows on from the Evil Above the Stars series. If you’re near Leominster, come along and say hello, check out the book and find out more about September Weekes and the cold fire of the title.

Peter R. Ellis

Leominster Library, Thursday 19 October 2017, 2pm-6:30pm, 8 Buttercross, Leominster HR6 8BN

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Instrument of Peace audiobook now available

Instrument of Peace unabridged audiobook from Tantor narrated by Matthew Lloyd DaviesThe Symphony of the Cursed trilogy by Rebecca Hall is being released as unabridged audiobooks by Tantor Media Inc. narrated by Matthew Lloyd Davies.

Instrument of Peace, the first book in the trilogy, is now available to buy as a downloadable audiobook from Apple iTunes and Audible. The second book, Instrument of War, will follow later this year and the final book, Instrument of Chaos, will be available in January 2018.

 

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meticulous and painfully familiar – Pen Tynan’s (sort of) review of SmartYellow™

Artwork: Leosaysays

Artwork: Leosaysays

On her blog Axes’n’Yarn, Pen Tynan has just written a very thoughtful (and thought-provoking) article, which is partially a review of SmartYellow™ by JA Christy but also a commentary on the current welfare state in the UK. SmartYellow™ is set in contemporary Britain, although when we read it we hope that it is an alternative reality and not ours!

I am not going to try to précis Pen’s article, nor do I want to attempt to reduce it to merely a review of SmartYellow™ as it is so much more. I will say that Pen finished reading SmartYellow™ a month ago and says it is still haunting her. The description of life in a council estate, Pen says, is meticulous and painfully familiar. The science alluded to, that enables the inhabitants to be monitored and ultimately controlled, probably does not exist (says Pen) but that doesn’t mean we can’t imagine those who have control using more mundane methods for achieving the same goals.

Pen concludes by saying that the “real thing that left me shaken and melancholy from reading SmartYellow was a real, deep and darkly certain feeling not that this could happen, but that it already is happening.” She says that she desperately wants to recommend this book to people but with the warning that it might affect the reader (or as she puts it “it might leave you feeling like shit”). I’m going to interpret that as a positive recommendation!

You should read, and think about Pen’s article (click here to read it), whether or not you have read or might read SmartYellow™. Of course we hope you will read the book too.

 

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“a fantastical story with plenty of excitement” – review of Instrument of War on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck

Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Rebecca Hall’s latest novel, Instrument of War, the second book in the Symphony of the Cursed trilogy following on from Instrument of Peace. Seregil enjoyed Instrument of Peace (see his review here) and says he was excited to read Instrument of War. So it’s just as well that it is “just as good” and is an entertaining read for those who love “exciting and fast-paced YA fantasy fiction”. In fact he says it not only lives up to the first book but “even surpasses it”.

The book is a “well written sequel” and he says that those who have read Instrument of Peace will feel immediately at home with the story and “be delighted to immerse themselves in it, because the author delivers a good story”, adding that she “wonderfully maintains tension and excitement in this novel and goes boldly forward with the story”. This book “deepens the story arc” offering exciting and thrilling moments because Rebecca “keeps on building upon what she created in the first novel”.

Seregil says he consider Rebecca’s books to be excellent additions to the increasingly popular YA fantasy genre because she “uses classic elements in a fresh and modern way”. The cast of characters, he says, is “delightfully versatile” with good characterisation because Rebecca writes fluently about “the characters’ feelings, lives and abilities”. He especially likes Rebecca’s “more entertaining and original approach” to vampires, avoiding the common clichés that are often overused in YA faction. He thinks that many readers will like Rebecca’s “vision of vampires, because in her novels the vampires feel much fresher than in many other novels”. He also finds her approach to magic to be “intriguing” and effortless, as is her ability to combine various fantasy elements. He says “I liked it a lot in Instrument of Peace, but now I find it even more intriguing, because she doesn’t seem to hold back anything anymore, but delivers a fantastical story with plenty of excitement.”

Seregil says that, although many YA novels have been written about magic schools and angels, “this novel stands out due to its interesting story and exotic setting” adding that the backdrop of New Zealand locations “adds lots of freshness to it”.

In conclusion, Seregil says that Instrument of War is “one of those rare novels that will captivate younger readers from the very first chapter and will make them read it in one sitting, because the story is immersive”. He is now looking forward to reading the concluding novel Instrument of Chaos (which will be published early next year) because “the story arc is fascinating”.

His final verdict: Good, intriguing and well written YA fantasy that is exciting and fast-paced entertainment for readers of all ages.

You can read Seregil’s full review here.

 

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“a meaty, classic collection” – review by Brian Clegg of John Gribbin’s Don’t Look Back

Artwork: David A. Hardy

Artwork: David A. Hardy

On the the Popular Science book review site at (www.popularscience.co.uk) scientist and science writer Brian Clegg has written a four star review of Don’t Look Back by John Gribbin.

Brian starts by pointing out that even a “diamond-hard writer” like John Gribbin who is “enthusiastic to write hard science fiction” and keen to keep the science real, sometimes has to “cheat a little with the science to make the stories work”. But as this is science fiction, Brian accepts that “scientific accuracy should always come second to the ‘fiction’ part”.

That aside, Brian says that this collection includes excellent stories, adding “I’m fond of short, sudden-twist-in-the-end stories, of which this collection includes some excellent examples.” One of his favourites was The Royal Visit, which “delivers a remarkable amount in just two and a half pages, including an enjoyably dark twist in the ending”. He says there are also longer stories that are “very enjoyable slower and more thoughtful pieces”, highlighting in particular The Best is Yet to Be and Something to Beef About.

Brian observes that many of the stories are in the style of classic science fiction from the 50s, and like classics some have aged better than others, especially where the science has moved on significantly in the intervening years. Nevertheless, overall there’s “plenty of good material here” and he concludes that it is a “meaty, classic collection”.

We’d like to thank Brian for his review. You can read it in its entirety on the Popular Science book review site here.

 

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