Monday, 6 January 2014

That was the Year that Was (a round-up by co-Chairman Ian Whates)

So we bid a fond farewell to 2013, a successful year for the NSFWG and its members in many regards.

Now resident in Spain, chairman-in-exile Ian Watson made a welcome return to the pages of Asimov’s in July when his story “Blair’s War” appeared there, to be followed by his poem “Catalogue Note by the Artist” in the December issue.  Ian also saw stories published in French and Romanian and had an original piece feature in Daily Science Fiction, while his classic “The Very Slow Time Machine” was reprinted in The Mammoth Book of Time Travel Stories. His greatest achievement of 2013, however, was undoubtedly to marry the lovely Cristina (clearly a brave woman).

Nor is Ian the only member of the group to have tied the knot.  In May, members Donna Bond and Neil K Bond were married in a wonderfully relaxed steam-punk themed event at a Northampton hotel.  A month later, Donna, who continues to edit books on a freelance basis for several publishing houses, took over as chair of the British Science Fiction Association from yours truly (clearly another brave soul)  She also had a story featured in Daughters of Icarus, an anthology of new feminist SF and fantasy from Pink Narcissus Press.

Mark West has enjoyed one of his most successful years to date as a writer.  In addition to editing an anthology, The Anatomy of Death, for Hersham Horror Books and co-editing "ill at ease 2" for Pen Man Press, Mark saw his short novel Conjure reissued by Greyhart Press and had no fewer than seven short stories appear in various anthologies, including “Jack In Irons” in The Bestiarum Vocabulum: 2 (Western Legends Publishing), “The Bureau Of Lost Children” in Ill at Ease 2 (PenMan Press), and “It Was A Dark And Stormy Night (tale for Emma)” in The Book Of Horrors (Spectral Press). In addition, Mark’s story “Fog on the Old Coast Road”, which appeared in 2012’s Hauntings (NewCon Press), gained honourable mention in Ellen Datlow’s Years Best Horror.

Another member to gain honourable mention from Ellen Datlow was Emma Coleman, with “Home”, her debut appearance in print, which featured in NewCon Press’ 2012 anthology Dark Currents.  The story was also longlisted for a Bram Stoker Award.  Emma has recently sold a story to PS Publishing for a future edition of Post Scripts, expected in 2014.

Demi-Monde: Fall, the fourth and final volume of Rod Rees’ ambitious and original series, appeared from Jo Fletcher books in August. Various instalments of the Demi-Monde series were also published in Germany, Turkey, Croatia and France. Not content with that, Rod followed the Demi-Monde up with the feisty dystopian short novel Invent-10n (Alchemy Press) in December.

Nigel Edwards’ debut novel, Badger’s Waddle, an anarchic and surreal take on life in a warped English village, appeared from Greyhart Press in May, while his parable-esque tale “The Last Star” closed the NewCon Press anthology Looking Landwards in October.

Andy West’s debut collection Engines of Life, published in July by Greyhart Press, includes a story that won the University of Central Lancaster’s SF prize.  For much of the year, Andy has focussed on the climate change debate, producing several controversial blog posts on the subject.

Paul Melhuish’s story “Time Television” featured in Twelve (Horrified Press), an anthology of Gothic time travel stories, and he is currently working on his next novel.

Tim Taylor’s Greyhart Press continues to go from strength to strength, with ten new titles appearing in 2013, including three via new YA imprint The Repository of Imagination.  The year’s highlight for Greyhart was hitting the #1 bestseller spot on the alternate history and time travel romance charts in June, while the second edition of Tim’s own guide to laying out books for Createspace became his first ever paperback to pass a thousand sales. When Tim added up all the editions of all books he had laid out for paperback or eBook during 2013, the total came to 227. No wonder he felt busy! Notable ventures included working with Peewee Hunt to bring out his tales of life aboard the Ark Royal in the 1950s, and completing the reissue of Jeff Noon’s back catalogue as eBooks.

I’m sure there’s another member of the group who is involved in publishing… Oh yes, that would be me, Ian Whates. In 2013 NewCon Press enjoyed our most prolific year to date, publishing a total of nine new titles, including debut collections from Adrian Tchaikovsky, Stan Nicholls, and Mercurio D. Rivera, and a first SF collection from Steve Rasnic Tem. Highlights included Chris Beckett’s The Peacock Cloak occupying #1 bestseller spot in Amazon UK’s science fiction short stories for both kindle and books, producing the Looking Landwards anthology to commemorate 75 years of the Institution of Agricultural Engineers, and compiling Legends: Stories in Honour of David Gemmell.  The signed hardback of the latter (150 copies) sold out almost immediately, and the title continues to feature high in the kindle sales charts.  Personal highlights included the publication of my second short story collection Growing Pains (PS Publishing) in March, having my novella “The Smallest of Things” appear across four consecutive issues of Aethernet (April to July), and seeing seven new short stories feature in various venues, including “Eros for Anabelle” in a January edition of the science journal Nature, “Default Reactions” in The Alchemy Press Book of Urban Mythic in October, and “Without a Hitch” in the anthology End of the Road (Solaris) in December.

Nor have the other members of NSFWG been idle.  After five years immersed in academic study, Heather Bradshaw has emerged with a doctorate and has begun to write her own brand of cutting edge SF once more, Steve Longworth continues to craft his unique style of short stories while wrestling with the demands of working as a GP in modern day Britain (a task often more surreal than anything he might write as ‘fiction’), and Susan Sinclair continues to develop the themes and narratives of various ongoing novel projects.

So, that was 2013.  Watch out 2014: the Northampton Science Fiction Writers Group has you firmly in its sights!

Ian Whates
Co-Chairman NSFWG
January 1st 2014


  1. Hi Ian and all,
    It sounds as though you have an impressively prolific writing group. I have been thinking of joining one myself recently, as i am an aspiring fantasy author.
    Is your group full up for 2014?
    Would be grateful to hear from you,
    Ross Hughes

  2. Hi Ross

    Mark here, I moderate the blog. The group works on a 12 person limit, which it currently has and I think Ian has a few people on the waiting list. I'll pass your details to him though.

    I don't know if it'll be helpful in the meantime but there's another group in Northampton that meets up (I think one of our gang is also in it) -