Sunday, June 17, 2018

Kristell Ink Sci-fi anthology launch in Waterstone's Oxford

Guests arriving: Sarah Higbee (in mirror, right)

It's not often three new Science Fiction and Fantasy anthologies come along at once! But on Friday night a week ago in Oxford, that was just what happened when small press Kristell Ink, part of Grimbold Books, launched three new exciting speculative fiction anthologies on an unsuspecting Oxford.

The anthologies, which we are featuring on the Showcase as new releases, are Infinite DysmorphiaHolding on by Our Fingertips, and Terra Nullius. The paperbacks are gorgeous, with cover art by Nele Diel, a series of haunting and tantalising images.

Sammy Smith with one of the anthologies

The launch took place in the cafe at Waterstone's Oxford, hosted by Sammy Smith, author and Creative Director of Kristell Ink, and authors Joel Cornah, Kate Coe and Pete Sutton, as well as graphic artist Joshua Cornah, who draws the Grim and Bold cartoon strip.

The light and airy venue  filled up quickly. The atmosphere was lively and informal, and the event began with Sammy welcoming everyone and thanking the editors of the three anthologies, Kate Coe, Ellen Crosháin, Amanda Rutter and Pete Sutton (though sadly Ellen and Amanda could not be present). Sammy explained the genesis of the project, which had first been imagined in 2014, and how it had come to fruition through several years of hard work and preparation.

The evening continued with a series of readings by contributing authors.

Megan Leigh reading

These varied from humorous, with the world-weary hero of Will MacMillan Jones' story First Contact setting out to terra-form a new planet in a beat-up used spaceship, to heart-stopping, in Charlotte Bond's story Retreat, which conjured the horrific prospect of a woman driven to rely on her abusive ex-husband in the face of a zombie apocalypse. Megan Leigh, who co-presents feminist SFF Podcast Breaking the Glass Slipper with Charlotte and Lucy Hounsom, read the story in Charlotte's absence.

Thomas J. Spargo

Thomas J. Spargo gave a dramatic reading from his story Countdown to Deliverance, a sinister tale of space exploration in which nothing was quite as it seemed; James Everington's bleak apocalyptic tale Heatstroke Harry looked death by global warming in the face, with all the threat of societal breakdown and hell; and David Sarsfield's Point of Periphery was a melancholy and ominous account of identity and death, as a clone and his "original" tried to come to terms with dissolution, and infinite regressions removed any certainty as to what was reality. 

Kate Coe and Joel Cornah at the Kristell Ink table 
with fantastic felines Grim and Bold

In the intervals between stories, there was plenty of time to talk to others in the audience, buy books, eat and drink. There were a wide selection of books from Kristell Ink, together with fun freebies such as badges, bookmarks and keyrings.

An incredible amount of work went into the publication of the anthologies, both from Sammy and the editors, all of whom have busy life and work commitments. Kate Coe worked on all three, and told us what a pleasure it had been, though reading the final stories for Holding on by Our Fingertips had been hard, with more than one moving her to tears.

The event was well-attended, with many authors present, including Sarah Higbee, John Bayliss, Phil Sloman, Terry Grimwood and Tom Lloyd Williams, and many more.

Terry Grimwood signing a book

For me the highlights (apart from acquiring several books and some swag) were meeting Sammy and Pete for the first time, as well as fellow contributors Sarah Higbee and John Bayliss. It was great to meet in real life, and to see Kate, Joel and Joshua again. I thoroughly enjoyed the readings, and was eager to read more in order to find out what happened. Waterstone's and their cafe did us proud.

Team Grimbold:
L-R: Joshua, Pete, Joel, Kate & Sammy

Thanks to everyone involved, particularly Sammy and the folk from Grimbold Books - and also to Stephen, my husband, who drove me all the way to Oxford and back!

If you want to find out more about Kristell Ink, their publications and authors, you can visit their web-site here; and Grimbold Books have a Patreon with regular stories and comic strips about the adventures of Grim and Bold available exclusively to patrons

Infinite Dysmorphia, Holding on by Our Fingertips, and Terra Nullius

Infinite Dysmorphia:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring how science and technology could change what it means to be human. Bio implants, cybernetics, genetic modification, age reversal, robotics and technology...what is the human experience of undergoing these procedures, and what is the advance of technology going to bring?
What does the future hold in store for those who are pushing the definition of humanity? 
Stories by: Ren Warom -- David Boop -- Isha Crowe -- Dolly Garland -- Thomas J. Spargo -- Elizabeth Hosang -- Ron Wingrove -- Sean Grigsby -- Courtney M. Privett -- Steve Cotterill -- Anne Nicholls -- David Sarsfield -- Frances Kay -- Alec McQuay

Holding on by Our Fingertips:

An anthology of science fiction and speculative stories exploring the many different reactions and experiences of people during the 24 hours leading up to the end of the world. Our base instinct is to survive, but when the end is nigh, do we simply lie down and die? Or do we celebrate our life and achievements?
Love, loss, forgiveness, revenge, or just that final goodbye… 
Stories by: Gaie Sebold -- James Everington -- Sarah Higbee -- Charlotte Bond -- Kim Lakin-Smith -- Steve Carr -- Leontii Cristea -- Charlotte Strong -- Tabitha Lord -- Theo Graham -- Adrian Faulkner -- Phil Sloman -- C.A. Yates -- Ren Warom -- Terry Grimwood -- Scott Hungerford -- Courtney Privett

Terra Nullius:

Land belonging to no-one. An anthology of speculative fiction that explores the colonisation of our Solar System and far beyond, where pioneers carve out a new existence under other stars. New worlds and new challenges bring out rich stories filled with alien races and strange technology, but against this backdrop there’s the many facets of human emotion as colonists struggle to make a new home.
This is human life on the final frontier. 
Stories by: Thomas J. Spargo -- Jessica Rydill -- K.N. Johnson -- Jessica Reisman -- Jonathan Oliver -- Will MacMillan Jones -- E. M. Eastick -- John Bayliss -- Gregor Hartmann -- G. H. Finn -- Matthew Pedersen -- Steven Poore -- Jill Hand

(All photos of the event courtesy of Sammy Smith apart from the first and the sixth, which are the writer's own)

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