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The Persolus Race: Volume One is a science-fiction short story anthology that I compiled during the COVID-19 Pandemic, whilst studying and working full time. I began writing in May 2020, and it was published in September 2021.
The project began after I was inspired by an anthology of famous science-fiction short stories called The Greatest Time Travel Stories of the Twentieth Century. From there, I thought of an initial premise of, ‘in our future, we travel amongst the stars only to find absolutely no aliens?’.
I proposed this premise to a Facebook group called The Science-Fiction and Fantasy Writer’s Guild -which I chose over others because it sounded cooler let’s be honest. Twelve authors and two copyeditors came forward, and over the next sixteen months, we contributed to a shared canon over the internet.
During the project I took on the role of Acquisitions Editor: essentially a project manager for the book. The copyeditors were responsible for the editing of grammar, a job I certainly could not have completed alone.
Alongside the other authors, I contributed two stories myself: In the Gardens of Eden and The Man in the Mountain. Both stories focus on the potential dangers of advances in human technology.
In the Gardens of Eden explores a conspiracy to cover up the destruction of an entire planet. Meanwhile, The Man in the Mountain focuses on an obsessive young man desperate to unlock the secret to time travel. The story was based on an idea given to be by my dad, a long-term classic science-fiction fan, who was very supportive throughout the project.
There was a big element of self-promotion during the project: putting together a website, Facebook pages for my penname and the book itself, and an Instagram account. Building up this online presence involved the consistent posting of updates, artwork, and even sneak peaks from the book. Friends of the authors came forward to help. Graphic designer Simon Thorogood-Hill put together a fantastic piece of cover artwork, and another graphics specialist, Andrea Mattevi, designed the book’s spine for the print copy.
The book underwent two rounds of edits, followed by adjustments suggested by beta readers, people from outside the project who read an early full draft and provided us with feedback. Eventually, the final version of the book came together, and after a couple of months of making formatting nips and tucks, it went up for online sale under my penname, Alex O’Neill.
I learnt a lot from the process of writing and putting together a fiction book, having loved reading and writing stories from a young age, especially science-fiction and fantasy. Working on the project gave me a focus throughout the Pandemic, and has given me the confidence to pursue a side career in creative writing while continuing my work in environmental education.
I can confirm that the creative team from Volume One will be reuniting to produce a second anthology, The Persolus Race: Volume Two. I will be continuing my role from the first volume and look forward to building on the world I helped create in Volume One. We hope to have the second volume published by Christmas 2022.
The Persolus Race: Volume One is now available in print and Ebook on various distribution websites, such as Amazon, Ebay and Google Books. For more information about it, please visit our website: www.thepersolusrace.com/, Facebook: www.facebook.com/thepersolusrace or our Instagram: www.instagram.com/thepersolusrace/