Posts Tagged ‘Ian Whates’

NOW WE ARE TEN: Celebrating the First Ten Years of NewCon Press edited by Ian Whates

October 17, 2016 - 7:28 pm No Comments

NOW WE ARE TEN: Celebrating the First Ten Years of NewCon Press edited by Ian Whates
NewCon Press / 268 pgs / £12.99 paperback / ISBN 978-1910935194
Reviewed by Carol Goodwin
61p63iorkilThis anthology was released in July this year and (as implied in its subtitle) was issued to celebrate the 10th anniversary of NewCon Press. In the harsh world of independent press companies, to successfully survive for 10 years is a rare achievement. Indeed, NewCon Press has not only survived but has received many awards for the quality of the fiction it has published.
Whilst many anthologies contain mostly collected stories which have been previously published elsewhere (with a few new stories as an enticement) all the stories in this book have been specifically written for this volume. Anyone familiar with the British SF/Fantasy field will recognise many of the authors in this collection, such as Peter F Hamilton, Jaine Fenn, Eric Brown and Ian McDonald etc although it also includes excellent stories by some less recognised but quality writers.
The anthology includes both SF and Fantasy stories with a loose theme of 10, which leaves plenty of room for significant variety between the stories. In my opinion, this is one of its strengths as too restrictive or narrow a theme can result in too many similar stories which can leave a reader dissatisfied. This is most definitely not the case here.
The first story, “The Final Path” by Genevieve Cogman is an enjoyable story where adults trying to shield their children from dangers outside their walls fail to see the seductive menace infiltrating via the children’s computer games. Whilst not wholly convinced of its plausibility, I did like the structure and the role-playing games (RPG) elements.
“Women’s Christmas” by Ian McDonald is a wonderful observational piece about five sisters who meet up every Epiphany (or Women’s Christmas which apparently is a real festival) and consider their aunt who emigrated to the moon and has financed them all. In a short story it covers a lot about the gulf (both physical and emotional) between those who leave and those who stay behind and this emotional content gives it true heart.
“Pyramid” by Nancy Kress takes a little while to get into but it repays patience as the reader slowly realises it is a very clever allegory about writing, in particular SF/Fantasy. Identifying the references and metaphors in this story was a large part of its appeal to me and will be to many readers.
“Liberty Bird” by Jaine Fenn is ostensibly about privileged families racing space yachts for prestige, but also addresses multiple issues such as duty versus desire, having the courage to defy society’s expectations and the hope for change.
“Zanzara Island” by Rachel Armstrong is set in a near-future polluted Venice and has themes related to biotechnology. However, I found it confusing and hard to follow the narrative or discern the “message” of the story.
Eric Brown is one of my all-time favourite writers and in contrast to the last story, I was thoroughly entertained by his story, “Ten Sisters”. It concerns clones raised as spare parts for a rich businesswoman but they have their own ideas about that! It is clever, witty and amusing and has a plot consistent with the personalities of the participants.
“Licorice” by Jack Skillingstead has an unreliable narrator, so that the reader is never quite sure whether the protagonist could be a creator of universes or merely mentally ill and deluded. Unreliable narrator stories are not my favourite type of story and whilst competent, this story left me not particularly concerned about the reality or otherwise of the conclusion.
“How to Grow Silence from Seed” by Tricia Sullivan is a complex story which I think will really divide readers. It is a story which brims with ideas, which some people will love, but it throws the reader in at the deep end with little explanation and the constant new and hard to follow concepts can distract from following the central narrative. Although it didn’t quite work for me, I would not be surprised to see it as a great favourite of other readers.
“The Time Travellers’ Ball” by Rose Biggins is a story in 10 words only. With so little room for manoeuvre, it is very much to the author’s credit that she writes a very clever and amusing little story.
“Dress Rehearsal” by Adrian Tchaikovsky tells of a theatre company which travels across dimensions and the perils in an extra tenth performance. It is nicely plotted and atmospheric, where the reader knows that something is not right but the reveal is nicely concealed.
“The Tenth Man” by Bryony Pierce is another competent story, which reminded me of old magazine stories. There is a “mad scientist” locked up in an asylum who may have multiple personality disorder or be possessed by personalities from different universes. Whilst a little predictable, it was still amusing.
“Rare as a Harpy’s Tear” by Neil Williamson is a fantasy story told in 10 tears. Based on Arabian mythology, I really loved the use of language and vocabulary in this story. There is a very effective slow build-up of information and emotion and the reader really sympathises with the aching sadness of the “monster” in the story.
“Utopia+10” by J A Christy was about a man’s urge to provide food in a polluted world but was one that I just did not find particularly entertaining.
The next two stories “Ten Love Songs to Change the World” by Peter F Hamilton and “Ten Days” by Nina Allan both deal with time travel. I like the concept of the first story where certain people can only travel back mentally so it is their conversations/ideas that can change the past. The second is more traditional, where a woman tries to travel back in time to save a woman wrongly hanged for murder. It is a well-written story but did not hook me particularly on an emotional level.
The final story in the collection is “Front Row Seat to the End of the World” by E J Swift. I am a fan of E J Swift’s Osiris Project trilogy and here again she shows her excellent writing skills. When there are only ten days till the certain destruction of the Earth, in the tradition of Nevil Shute’s ON THE BEACH it expertly observes how ordinary people might react and focuses on whether a mother can heal the rift with her estranged daughter.
In summary, this is an outstanding collection of stories. There are some superb stories which I fully expect to see on award lists and whilst not everything is to my personal taste, (nor do I ever expect it to be in an anthology) there is a much higher than normal percentage of stories of first-rate quality. Its diverse range is a major strength and provides a splendid introduction if needed to some skilled contemporary SF/Fantasy authors. CG
(Review copy kindly donated by NewCon Press)

Andromeda One Programme

August 12, 2013 - 9:56 pm No Comments


At last I can present a draft programme for our one day SFF/Horror con on Sat 21st September.

As well as lots of exciting panels/klatches & workshops, we are taking bookings for an Urban Fantasy Walk of Digbeth, Birmingham on Friday 20th September 17:30pm and Sat 21st September 19:30pm. Tickets are £8.00 for an hour walk but including a free guide book to Digbeth including a collection of short stories by local writers telling local urban legends to spook you out. Proceeds go to our sister company Beorma Care CIC, a company set up to support writers and artists with care responsibility & disability issues. Our website will be live soon.

Book your place on the walk now via email at

Payment can be made via paypal at or by cash on the day.

Our programme is subject to change, but here it is! We have lots of guests who have yet to select panels they wish to take part in.

Andromeda One Draft Programme

PS at Eastercon

February 1, 2013 - 2:02 pm No Comments


They say: With our customary upbeat giddy one, the good news is we’re working on a totally far-out fivesome of science fictional gems which we’re aiming to launch at EasterCon on Friday 29 March. The titles are:

UNIVERSES by Stephen Baxter (£25 h/c; £60 sig and s/c)


STARSHIP QUARTET by Eric Brown (£10 p/b)
(Please note that there will be a hardcover edition of STARSHIP QUARTET signed by the author and containing a specially commissioned Starship short story . . . which Eric is writing even as we speak—AREN’T YOU, ERIC?!)


A VERY BRITISH HISTORY by Paul J. McAuley (£25 h/c; £60 sig and s/c and containing three additional stories in a second book housed in the s/c)


MARTIAN SANDS by Lavie Tidhar (£20 h/c; £40 sig h/c)


GROWING PAINS by Ian Whates (£20 h/c; £40 sig h/c)

The PS launch will be the very first Convention event after the opening address, and Nicky, Mike and I would very much like you to be there if you’re able.

The launch will kick off at 5 pm (as soon as the chairperson or whomever has stopped talking, in other words) and the format will follow the tried-and-tested Fantasy and HorrorCon approach of handing the punter a cloakroom ticket with each book purchased . . . each cloakroom ticket may then be exchanged for a glass of wine. We’ll also be offering a generous discount to anyone buying all five books—ie. £85 instead of £100 . . . plus, let us not forget, the best part of an entire bottle of wine (not a bad way to start a convention, I’ve always found).

We’d love to see you there. And you might also mention the event on your blogs and/or websites, not forgetting to twitter and tweet and even moan when an opportunity arises to do so.

Please note that we not be able to put aside convention-signed trade copies to be sold through the website although we will be offering the unsigned quintet at the same price (though without the five glasses of wine, of course!) and the deluxe fivesome at £180 (a saving of almost 20%). Postage will be charged as usual, of course for all purchases made through the website.

NewCon Press Sampler

January 18, 2013 - 2:19 pm 1 Comment

NewCon Press Sampler
Author: Various
Publisher: NewCon Press
Page count/size: 292KB
Release Date: 6th Jan 2013
Reviewer: Theresa Derwin
What can you buy for 77p these days? Not a bottle of coke, not a tub of butter and certainly not a loaf of bread. So, what can you buy?

This excellent collection of short stories A deliberately low-priced anthology providing a taster of what NewCon Press is all about.

Showcasing publications from 2012 and 2013, seven stories from seven premier genre authors: Nina Allan, Tony Ballantyne, Chris Beckett, Gary McMahon, Mercurio D. Rivera, Lisa Tuttle, and Adrian Tchaikovsky. Science fiction, fantasy, and horror at their best.

There are a couple of stand out stories in this piece; Mercurio D. Rivera’S story about a bird-like alien race, a protected species abused by humanity, with a key environmental message. The less I reveal about this story, the better.
Then we have Lisa Tuttle’s ‘The Ragged Claw’ and interesting piece about a so called Utopia and the challenging ten year journey to reach paradise and what the consequences of signing up could be. In Tony Ballantyne’s ‘Janet Verdigris’, we meet his Penrose citizens. This is a new and original slant on the robot sub-genre. Thinking ahead of business relations, Ravel & Benton come to an agreement that they will both produce a child (Goethe & Janet) woven in such a way as to be determined to marry each other. But was ‘love’ inserted into the contract?

In Nina Allans story, ‘The Phoney War’, we meet Nicky, who is waiting endlessly for a train to take her to Dungeness amidst the turbulent world where any day the Earth excepts alien invasion. But is the world worth living in with all of its constrictions? And is the threat real?

I won’t say any more about these stories (I hate spoilers), but needless to say, this is a top notch anthology with some of the most respected authors in the genre. A must buy.

Imaginings – Newcon Press

December 13, 2012 - 12:58 pm No Comments

I like a bargain book me! So, here I introduce a collection of bargain books you may be interested in from

NewCon Press is proud to announce an exciting new venture, Imaginings. A series of short story collections (approximately 50,000 words); each volume features the work of a single selected author, bringing together the very best of that author’s previously published but uncollected short fiction, as chosen by the author themselves, plus original stories.
Imaginings is published at three or four month intervals. The first volume appeared in January 2012.
The books are available as signed and numbered hardback editions, limited to between 100 and 150 copies, plus an e-book version. No paperback edition.
Each volume of Imaginings features generically similar cover design and layout (though with individual cover art), so that the books build into a credible series.
The signed hardback editions of Imaginings are available to buy via the NewCon Press website, priced at £19.99 (plus shipping, currently £2.50 per book within the UK).
Or… Imaginings can be purchased via subscription. The advantages?
Reduced price. four volumes: £74.00.
Shipping within the UK will be free (and discounted for overseas subscribers).
Subscribers will ‘buy’ a number within the limited edition run. Every volume you receive will feature that number, which remains yours exclusively until the subscription lapses, at which point it will become available to others.
In addition to the hardback volume, subscribers will receive a free copy of the e-book.
Subscribers are guaranteed a copy of a high quality, very limited book which is likely to sell out rapidly and become highly collectable.
The existing and anticipated schedule for Imaginings is shown below. The precise order of publication may vary.
#1 Jan 2012 Cold Grey Stones – Tanith Lee SOLD OUT
#2 April 2012 Last and First Contacts – Stephen Baxter SOLD OUT
#3 Sept. 2012 Stories from the Northern Road – Tony Ballantyne
#4 Dec 2012 Objects in Dreams – Lisa Tuttle
#5 April 2013 Microcosmos – Nina Allan
#6 July 2013 Pat Cadigan
#7 Oct 2013 Twember – Steve Rasnic Tem
#8 Dec 2013 Jon Courtenay Grimwood
#9 April 2014 Paul McAuley
#10 Aug 2014 Paul di Filippo
#11 Dec 2014 Adam Roberts
To subscribe and ensure you don’t miss out, contact Ian Whates at: