Tag Archives: alternate history

New: TOMMY CATKINS by Stephen Palmer

TOMMY CATKINS by Stephen Palmer

1915
Following a horrific experience at Verdun, Private Tommy Catkins – shell-shocked and suffering head injuries – is sent to a mysterious island hospital in Wiltshire, where he is subjected to the primitive treatments of the era.

But the island appears to be a portal to the enigmatic land of Onderwater, where lives a race of blue-skinned people with tails.

Will Tommy be tempted by Onderwater, or will the love of Nurse Vann pull him back to reality, and recovery?

“One of the most inventive and imaginative fantasy writers I know of…” Teresa Edgerton

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The first reviews for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors – and they’re smokin’!

The first reviews for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors are in!

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‘At turns laugh-out loud funny and heartbreaking, always wise and full of unexpected joys, this is a book you’ll reread, and recommend to friends, for years to come.’ Greg Bossert, Amazon

‘…absolutely wonderful … The whole thing has a lightness and then such shadows which leave a not quite graspable, but profound tracery. It’s just great and should somehow be a best-seller.’ Douglas Penick, Goodreads

‘…joins the ranks of those novels I have loved that is diminished by any form of review… I keep thinking about this book. Not an uncommon phenomenon with Tambour’s stuff. Will it make you feel good? Possibly, if you find Dostoyevsky a cheerful romp. Will it make you feel? Definitely. An important work from a important writer.’ David Kowalski, Goodreads


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Publication day for Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown’s Microcosms

Published today in print and ebook formats:

Microcosms: Forty-Two stories by Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown

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Microcosms

Forty-Two stories by Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown

microcosmsPhilip K. Dick Award nominated writers Tony Ballantyne and Eric Brown bring together forty-two fantastical short-short stories, featuring new takes on every SF trope from alien invasion, robots, and time-travel, to stellar exploration, the future of computing, and the nature of the human soul.

Tony Ballantyne is the author of the acclaimed Penrose hard SF novels, Twisted Metal and Blood and Iron, as well as the groundbreaking and surreal fantasy novels Dream London and Dream Paris.

Eric Brown has written many SF and crime novels including The Kings of Eternity, Kethani, and The Serene Invasion.

Together they are a hundred years old.

“Eric Brown spins a terrific yarn” – SFX

“This is as strange and unclassifiable a novel as it’s possible to imagine, and a marvellous achievement.” – Financial Times on Tony Ballantyne’s Dream London

“British writing with a deft, understated touch: wonderful” – New Scientist on Eric Brown

“A new British star has arrived to join the likes of Hamilton, Reynolds and Banks.” – Vector on Tony Ballantyne


Introduction to Micro…

This volume came about one summer a few years ago when Tony came up to Scotland with his family. We were wandering around the pretty seaside town of North Berwick and talking about recent short stories we’d written. Tony happened to mention that he was working on some short-shorts, which he hoped to place with Nature, and I mentioned a short-short market that I’d recently sold to, Daily SF. I then suggested that, when we had enough tales to form a volume, we should gather them all together and attempt to find a publisher.

Years passed; we wrote short-shorts between bigger projects, and Keith Brooke who runs Infinity Plus Books expressed an interest in publishing Microcosms.

Tony Ballantyne is not only a fine novelist – as equally gifted in the Hard SF sub-genre as in Fantasy – but he’s a skilled short-story writer, with several of his stories gracing the pages of Analog and other top markets, and appearing in Best of the Year anthologies. He also excels at the short-short story, where originality and incisive vision are requisite. In his intelligence, playful wit and economy of language, the writer he most reminds me of is the late, great Robert Sheckley. This volume contains such gems as “Dear Burglar”, “The Cleverest Man in the World”, and “The Scooped Out Man” – the latter an alien invasion tale to end them all. But my favourite is the irreverent, witty, self-referential story about a writer, Another (almost) True Story”, a tale which I would have given my right arm to have written.

And now, for fear of this introduction becoming longer than some of the short-shorts herein, I’ll sign off.

Eric Brown
Cockburnspath


Introduction to …Cosms

Eric and I met at the 2Kon SF convention in Glasgow in the year 2000. We both had a short story up for the BSFA award. Eric won, I lost, but by way of consolation I made a great friend.

Friendship aside, I remain a massive fan of Eric’s. He has written an impressive number of novels and short stories; his output includes what is possibly my favourite short story collection ever: Kethani (Solaris 2008). As well as being a prolific writer he is an eminent critic with a deep knowledge of the genre. He is a keen champion of the new, the forgotten and the underrated, and is a valuable source of advice to writers no matter where they are in their career (he taught me the trick of just listening to the subconscious, of getting things down as quickly as possible on the page).

In this collection you’ll find scintillating flashes of his talent. His writing is by turns witty, melancholic, horrifying and deceptively gentle, but always imbued with his trademark sense of humanity. Take a look at “In the Recovery Room”, “Meeting Myself on Planet Earth”, “Memorial” and “The History of Earth” to see what I mean.

What the heck. Read them all, they’re all good. He deserved that award. And the other ones…

Tony Ballantyne
Oldham


Publication day for Anna Tambour’s Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times

Published today in print and ebook formats:

Smoke Paper Mirrors: a short saga for our times by Anna Tambour

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Smoke Paper Mirrors

a short saga for our times

atspmFrom the totally not bestselling author of Crandolin (shortlisted for the World Fantasy Award), an extraordinary and moving novel that confronts and defies boundaries.

“Thank you,” said Arthur. “There’s always hope.” He’d always hated that facile truism, but said it because he’d thought it was expected. From the Croatian’s startled expression, he knew how gruesomely wrong he was.

That night Mrs Ma’s butterfly brooch came to him in a dream – flying in, pinless, through the open window. It landed on his open palm and closed its wings in repose. Such a comforting sign, Melmet would say. But she read Turkish coffee mud.

“a very curious writer” – Ian O’Reilly, British Fantasy Society review of The Finest Ass in the Universe

“Anna Tambour is an example of one.” – Ben Peek, The Super Obscure, Nobody’s-Ever-Read, You-Must-Read, Pimp-All-The-Books thread

 


All three volumes of Stephen Palmer’s Factory Girl trilogy now available

Published 6th December 2016, part three of The Factory Girl trilogy:

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Girl with No Soul by Stephen Palmer

It is 1911.

Returning to Britain from Africa, Erasmus and Roka find themselves thrown into a perilous sequence of chase, capture and escape. Yet they must return to Sheffield as fast as they can, and in secret, there to prepare for an inevitable confrontation inside Sir Tantalus Blackmore’s Factory.

But it is not only Sir Tantalus whom they must face. As the British Army, automaton horrors, and a band of desperate Marxist engineers converge around the Factory, Erasmus and Roka must decide who to trust and who to work with…

Can they overcome the fiendishly complex defences of the Factory? Will the diabolical agents of the Clockwork Garden stop them, or will Sir Tantalus himself step in? Who, in the end, will reach the heart of the Factory to learn its terrible secrets?

The final part of a breathtaking adventure through an alternative Edwardian Britain and beyond, where clockwork automata and their makers threaten to change the world forever.

“A gonzo homage to the late Victorian/Edwardian British adventure yarn… imagine Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ Ripping Yarns doing a Steampunk episode with a large helping of early 70s British prog-rock psychedelia, some very peculiar flying machinora, and a chocolate train… Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking… Hairy London is strange, mad, subversive and possibly just a little bit dangerous. You won’t have encountered a vision of London like it.” Amazing Stories

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

“…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.” The Guardian, on Beautiful Intelligence

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UK – CreateSpace

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


Stephen Palmer’s Factory Girl trilogy: the first reviews

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer

The first reviews for Stephen Palmer’s fabulous alt-Edwardian steampunk romp, the Factory Girl trilogy, are starting to appear and it’s looking good! Great to see books like these getting such a positive response.

“I would highly recommend this to any steampunk lovers” SFF World

The Girl with Two Souls captures the feel of the Edwardian era whilst also introducing the fantasy and steampunk elements in a very natural manner… a very well written and enjoyable book” SFF Chronicles

 

The Girl with Two Souls ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
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The Girl with One Friend ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK 
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace 

The Girl with No Soul: published 6th December 2016

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


Publication day for Garry Kilworth’s Best Short Stories, and a novel with an exceedingly long name

Published today in print and ebook formats:
The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth
and
The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by 
Garry Kilworth

 

We’re delighted to announce publication today of two major new titles from Garry Kilworth, a retrospective Best Of… and a high-energy science-fiction romp of a novel with an exceedingly long title.

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

The Best Short Stories of Garry Kilworth

Stories from the back of the brain.

These short stories span a period of 40 years. They are as eclectic as the insect world, ranging from the bizzare to the quixotic and back again. Plucked from an oeuvre of 145 stories, they are beautifully crafted tales, several of which have snatched awards from the jaws of oblivion or shouldered their way into short lists.

Though he writes longer fiction Garry Kilworth considers himself primarily a short story writer, which is his first and last love. There is science fiction, fantasy, horror, folk lore and legend within these pages. What does not fall into any of those categories is simply unclassifiable weird fish.

The first tale is a parallel world story in which we, the people who inhabit this planet, can walk on water. The last story involves the kind of madness which is brought on by too much discipline and good order. These two sandwich a vast array of brilliant and sometimes puzzling pieces of prose.

Cover by Dominic Harman; foreword by Claude Lalumière.

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The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit by Garry Kilworth

The Sometimes Spurious Travels Through Time and Space of James Ovit

A science fiction novel in three parts.

In which unstoppable time meets immoveable space…

James Ovit is a naive and slightly-lost maverick son of an elderly serial monogamist mother, whose mundane life is suddenly kick-started into headlong travel through time and space by a group of ruthless and callous scientists.

His journeys first take him spuriously into the near past and thence into the far future where, expecting to enhance his career, instead he finds other-worldly love. Finally, after tragedy causes him to cast off his loyalty to his superiors, he rejects the diplomatic corps for work as an assassin and is sent into the past to eliminate an illegal time traveller and a monster. However, things never do work out the way James believes they will and, when he finds himself researching the strangest biography of all time, he knows the authorities who gave him another chance will once again shake their heads in disbelief at his ability to ignore their orders.

Cover by piolka.

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“One is left in no doubt about the quality of the writing or of Kilworth’s talent…” Times Educational Supplement

“The tales are haunting, often almost poetic, but still chilling.” Fantasy Zone on In The Country Of Tattooed Men

“His characters are strong and the sense of place he creates is immediate and strong.” Sunday Times

“Kilworth is a master of his trade.” Punch

“Arguably the finest writer of short fiction today, in any genre.” New Scientist


New from Stephen Palmer: The Girl with Two Souls

Published 22nd November 2016, part one of The Factory Girl trilogy:

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen Palmer

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
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Part two to be published 29th November; part three to be published 6th December.

The Girl with Two Souls by Stephen PalmerEdwardian Britain: 1910.

Kora Blackmore, thrown into Bedlam mental hospital by her father – Britain’s leading industrialist Sir Tantalus Blackmore – is one day visited by a mysterious gentleman, who gains her trust then makes off with her to his family home in Sheffield. But Kora is afflicted with a bizarre condition, that the hospital believes is a second soul – the girl Roka – somehow living inside her.

Roka however is much more feisty than Kora, and far less obliging. Soon she is caught up in street politics, disorder and protest – and all without Kora’s knowledge.

With the agents of Sir Tantalus closing in, Kora and Roka must survive in their new circumstances and with their friends uncover the sequence of events leading to the incarceration in Bedlam; for although Kora is an illegitimate nobody, it seems her upbringing was devised to meet an enigmatic and ghastly end…

“A gonzo homage to the late Victorian/Edwardian British adventure yarn… imagine Michael Palin and Terry Jones’ Ripping Yarns doing a Steampunk episode with a large helping of early 70s British prog-rock psychedelia, some very peculiar flying machinora, and a chocolate train… Stephen Palmer is a writer you should read. His work is unique, original, sometimes challenging, always fresh and sometimes barking… Hairy London is strange, mad, subversive and possibly just a little bit dangerous. You won’t have encountered a vision of London like it.” Amazing Stories

“Stephen Palmer is a find.” Time Out

“Stephen Palmer’s imagination is fecund…” Interzone

“…a thrilling chase across a ravaged Europe, a burgeoning North Africa and balkanised US, interleaving excellent action set-pieces with fascinating philosophising on the nature of consciousness. A gripping read to the poignant last line.” The Guardian, on Beautiful Intelligence

Ebook: Amazon USAmazon UK
Paperback: Amazon USAmazon UKCreateSpace

The Factory Girl trilogy by Stephen Palmer


Hairy London: the deluxe collectors’ edition

Hairy London by Stephen Palmer - the deluxe collectors' editionAvailable now!

We’re delighted to announce the deluxe collectors’ edition of Stephen Palmer’s wonderfully weird, and relentlessly hirsute, Hairy London.

A limited edition of fifty copies have been produced of this soft-covered hardback edition, perhaps the first time a book has come in its own fur coat.

Due to the natural finish, each copy varies slightly in appearance. If you have a preference for left, centre or right parting, please specify when ordering.

Beautifully produced, it’s time to get tactile with the hairiest novel we’ve read in a long time!

Available 1st April.

For enquiries about pricing and ordering this book, please contact infinity plus.


Almost as Big as The Hollies… An interview with Ian R MacLeod

Ian Hart as an aging John Lennon

Ian Hart as an aging John Lennon in the Sky Playhouse adaptation of Ian’s story ‘Snodgrass’.

Your alternate-Beatles novelette ‘Snodgrass’ has been filmed as part of the Sky Playhouse series (first aired in the UK on 25 April, with repeats over the next few days). Tell us a bit more about the story.
The story features an embittered John Lennon who quit the Beatles just before they became famous, and ended up living a life of urban obscurity whilst his band became “almost as big as The Hollies.” In it, a rich and successful Paul McCartney attempts to make contact with his old friend, who meanwhile is trying to get work. It’s set in the 1990s. I’m not a great Beatles fan, although my sister was very much part of Beatlemania, but I’ve always been fascinated by those people who left big bands just before they became famous. To put John Lennon in this situation, and see how he got on, seemed like an interesting and amusing way of examining ambition, talent and failure.

How did it come to be filmed by Sky?
It was thanks in part of Kim Newman, who apparently gave the scriptwriter David Quantick a copy of the In Dreams anthology that he and Paul McAuley put together with a recommendation that he read the final story, “Snodgrass”, knowing he was a Lennon freak. I don’t think that David and the production company North of Watford Films were actively looking for Lennon material, but if fits in with some of the things they seem to like and I can see why it might have intrigued them.

What was your involvement in the screen adaptation? Were there many changes between print and screen versions? 
I had very little involvement. With some other stories of mine which have had some interest displayed (all of which, so far, have yet to make it any further) I’ve expressed some interest in working on the script, but to be honest I couldn’t quite see how Snodgrass was going to work at all – there are just so many flashbacks. I have been up to the film set and what they were doing looked very impressive, and I’ve seen the script but I haven’t yet seen the finished piece. The emphasis is somewhat more on the humour, I think, but we’ll have to see if that’s really the case, as that’s the hardest of all things to judge. This is actually only about a third of the whole story (which isn’t that long) so the hope is for further productions. Unlike me, David Quantick who wrote the script is also a huge Beatles fan, and he and the people at the production company really revere Lennon. Talking to them, we agreed that someone like me, who admired Lennon’s work but didn’t have a very strong connection, could have written debunking such as Snodgrass. Having a story you’re written bought to life and dramatised by someone else is a bit like being invited back by the new owners to take a look at a house you used to live in. You’re really interested to see what they’ve done, but at the same time, you’ve got your fingers crossed and you know it won’t be quite the same. I’m hoping they haven’t knocked down too many walls or installed purple toilets, but we’ll see.

“Snodgrass” is also the title story for your ‘greatest hits’ collection, published by Open Road this month. Tell us how you went about selecting them for the book. 
Not that easy, especiSnodgrass and other illusions - the best short stories of Ian R MacLeodally as not many writers have “hits”, me included. I thought it would be good to go for a variety of themes and settings, and a selection which covered my of my career. To be honest, I am most fond of my oldest stuff. But I think that’s what happened with most writers, musicians and artists. So I’ve done my best to cover the ground. To be honest, I don’t really like looking back. You either think the stuff you’ve done is great, and wonder if you can do anything as good again, or not so good, and wonder why you’re bothering. But perhaps that is just me!

What else is recently or soon out?
I have a couple of novellas due out, both in the autumn. One, The Discovered Country, is in Asimov’s and the other The Reparateur of Strasbourg is being published as a stand-alone chapbook from PS Publishing. Also I’ve just done a Borgesian fable that I’m not quite sure what to do with.

What are you working on now?
Just finished another longish SF story, this one set in a happy future where the human condition has seemingly been solved, and I’m exploring more of the vampire theme from The Reparateur of Strasbourg, but in other parts of history, which should end up as a novel. I have hopes that the world of The Discovered Country, where the virtual dead dominate the living, will also work as a novel. And I have a beta version of a young adult novel that I’d like to try out on anyone who’s prepared to read it. It’s called Lisa Moon and the Leonardo Timepiece. E-mail me via my site if you’d like to see and/or comment on an extract – although the plan is to put up a link to a pdf so people can download it direct pretty soon.

Describe your typical writing day.
If my day is free, ideally (ie – it doesn’t happen as often as it should) I write in the morning, do other stuff in the afternoon, and reflect a bit in the early evening. Oh, and I walk the dogs.

What would you draw attention to from your back-list?
Wake up and Dream by Ian R MacLeodEr – I think I’d say everything! But, if there’s one novel of mine which I feel deserves more attention than any other, it would be The Summer Isles. I think it deals with important issues, especially about being English, and reflects some of my best work. But good luck in getting hold of it – at least until the e-book comes out as  part of complete set of my work, which is also in the channels from Open Road Media, so should be within months. Otherwise, I think my alternate LA novel Wake Up and Dream should provoke thought and enjoyment in equal measure. Go out and buy a paper copy, or listen to the excellent audio book.

Which other authors or books do you think deserve a plug?
I’ve just enjoyed The Islanders by Chris Priest, but he probably doesn’t need my plug. I think Maureen McHugh is an interesting writer. Also Elizabeth Hand. I like thoughtful, well-written fiction. But I’m terrible with keeping up to date, and a lot of what I read comes from junk and charity shops. Not because I’m mean (or not entirely) but because I like to find things I’m not really meaning to look for. I’m just discovering D G Compton at the moment, and his stuff is well worth a look. I read much more outside the genre than in it, although I do keep coming back.

If you were to offer one snippet of writing advice what would it be?
At least some talent and a feel for language is necessary if you want to be a fiction writer, but it’s pretty common; probably five or ten percent of people have it. What really makes the difference in getting yourself known and published is being stupidly determined. It’s the same with footballers. The ones who make it are the ones who have the drive. Oh, and don’t – there are enough writers already. Just move on and do something else.

So… the easy one: what’s the future of publishing? How will writers be making a living and publishing in five or ten years? What will readers be reading?
I still think, as I’ve thought throughout my career and most of my reading life, that “SF” is a silly and outdated term. I’d like to think that the way other media have moved on with the fantastic, films especially, some broader sense of what can be done with non-naturalistic fiction, and what it should be called, will gain currency. I know the western had to pretty much die before it was resurrected, but nowadays no one dismisses that genre as shallow escapism. Meanwhile, I reckon the rise of e-books is unstoppable, and that I’ll miss the paper ones as much as I miss vinyl, although paper books will probably have a similar niche collectors’ following. Some inroads seem to have been made in preventing illegal downloading, but the main worry remains that the “for free” culture of the internet will mean that us writers will be reduced to wandering from village campfire to village campfire, telling tales in exchange for some food and a bed. I mean that figuratively, of course – unless things carry on getting worse.

Ian R MacLeod has been an acclaimed writer or challenging and innovative speculative and fantastic fiction for more than two decades. He grew up in the English West Midlands, studied law, spent some time working and dreaming in the civil service before moving on to teaching and house-husbandry, and now lives with his wife in the riverside town of Bewdley. His most recent novel, Wake Up and Dream, won the Sidewise Award for Best Alternate History, whilst his previous works have won the Arthur C Clarke, John W Campbell and World Fantasy Awards, and been translated into many languages.

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