Brian starts by pointing out that even a “diamond-hard writer” like John Gribbin who is “enthusiastic to write hard science fiction” and keen to keep the science real, sometimes has to “cheat a little with the science to make the stories work”. But as this is science fiction, Brian accepts that “scientific accuracy should always come second to the ‘fiction’ part”.
That aside, Brian says that this collection includes excellent stories, adding “I’m fond of short, sudden-twist-in-the-end stories, of which this collection includes some excellent examples.” One of his favourites was The Royal Visit, which “delivers a remarkable amount in just two and a half pages, including an enjoyably dark twist in the ending”. He says there are also longer stories that are “very enjoyable slower and more thoughtful pieces”, highlighting in particular The Best is Yet to Be and Something to Beef About. The Royal Visit… delivers a remarkable amount in just two and a half pages, including an enjoyably dark twist in the ending
Brian observes that many of the stories are in the style of classic science fiction from the 50s, and like classics some have aged better than others, especially where the science has moved on significantly in the intervening years. Nevertheless, overall there’s “plenty of good material here” and he concludes that it is a “meaty, classic collection”.
We’d like to thank Brian for his review. You can read it in its entirety on the Popular Science book review sitehere.
On RisingShadow, Seregil of Rhiminee has reviewed Don’t Look Back by John Gribbin. He starts by saying that he considers it to be “one of the best sci-fi short story collections of the year” adding that he found John’s way of “combining science and fiction highly effective”. He goes on to say that because John is a science writer and an astrophysicist he has “invaluable insight into the source material and he’s capable of writing stories that intellectually stimulate readers. This truly makes a difference, because his stories have … an element of credibility that can’t be found in many other stories.”
Seregil then lists the stories (and two essays) in this collection, with a brief outline of the essence of the story followed by his own comments on each one – comments that frequently include “excellent”, “intriguing”, “fascinating” and “wonderful”. I will just single out one, Something to Beef About, which Seregil says “perfectly demonstrates how good a storyteller the author is”. He says that what is best about these stories is that they use “science and scientific facts as a basis” but don’t “forget the value of imagination, storytelling and surprises”. Seregil also liked John’s “effortless way of adding humour, sharpness and … subtle wittiness”.
Although this is a retrospective and definitive collection of John’s short stories originally published over many years, Seregil observes that “they have stood the test of time well, because they contain themes and issues that are still relevant”. He compares John’s writing style to Arthur C. Clarke and Isaac Asimov, and says that “his prose is simultaneously intellectual, imaginative and unornamented”, adding that this is good because “this kind of ‘hardcore’ science fiction doesn’t need florid literary expressions and complex prose to be intriguing”.
Seregil suggests that these stories would appeal not only to science fiction fans who “know a thing or two about science” but also to those who are “not familiar with sci-fi stories, because its contents will appeal to the intelligence of many readers”. He also hopes it may entice readers to seek more knowledge about science, physics and the universe. In conclusion Seregil gave Don’t Look Back five stars because “it contains stories that appealed to my intelligence. It felt satisfying to read these stories, because the author had interesting ideas and views about life, technology and universe.” He finishes by suggesting that readers will “find this collection fascinating”.
Seregil also commented that the “cover art by David A. Hardy looks atmospheric and evokes a sense of awe and wonder”.
You can read Seregil’s full review on RisingShadowhere.
Science Fact joins Science Fiction in Don’t Look Back, the definitive collection from pre-eminent writer and broadcaster, John Gribbin
DARTFORD, KENT – 10 March 2017 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the forthcoming publication of Don’t Look Back, the definitive collection of science fiction short stories by science writer and broadcaster, John Gribbin.
John Gribbin, widely regarded as one of the best science writers of the 20th century, has also, unsurprisingly, been writing science fiction for many years. While his novels are well-known, his short stories are perhaps less so. He has also written under pseudonyms. Here, for the first time, is the definitive collection of John’s short stories. Many were originally published in Analog and other magazines. Some were the seeds of subsequent novels. As well as 23 Science Fiction short stories, three of which John wrote with his son Ben, this collection includes two Science Fact essays on subjects beloved of science fiction authors and readers. In one essay, John provides scientifically accurate DIY instructions for creating a time machine; and in the other, he argues that the Moon is, in fact, a Babel Fish!
The stories, many written at a time when issues such as climate change were taken less seriously, now seem very relevant again in an age of dubious politicians. What underpins all of them, of course, is a grounding in solid science. But they are also laced with a dry and subtle wit, which will not come as a surprise to anyone who has ever met John at a science fiction convention or elsewhere. He is, however, not averse to a good pun, as evidenced by a song he co-wrote for the Bonzo Dog Doo Dah Band: The Holey Cheeses of Nazareth.
Peter Buck, editorial director of Elsewhen Press said “we were honoured when John approached us with the idea of putting together a collection of his short stories. For anyone familiar with John’s scientific writing, they will be a fascinating insight into his interests, while existing fans of his novels will find superb stories here, including some which ultimately led to his best known novels. Anyone unfamiliar with John’s writing is in for a real treat. Despite the exhortation of this collection’s title, this IS a perfect opportunity to look back at John’s short stories. If you’ve never read any of his fiction before, now you have the chance to acquaint yourself with a body of work that, while being very much of its time, is certainly not in any way out of date.”
Elsewhen Press are also very proud that legendary space artist David A. Hardy agreed to produce the cover art for the book, much to John’s delight.
Don’t Look Back will be published in digital formats in May 2017 and in paperback in August 2017.
Notes for Editors
About John Gribbin
John Gribbin was born in 1946 in Maidstone, Kent. He studied physics at the University of Sussex and went on to complete an MSc in astronomy at the same University before moving to the Institute of Astronomy in Cambridge, to work for his PhD.
After working for the journal Nature and New Scientist, and three years with the Science Policy Research Unit at Sussex University, he has concentrated chiefly on writing books. These include In Search of Schrödinger’s Cat, In Search of the Big Bang, and In Search of the Multiverse.
He has also written and presented several series of critically acclaimed radio programmes on scientific topics for the BBC (including QUANTUM, for Radio Four), and has acted as consultant on several TV documentaries, as well as contributing to TV programmes for the Open University and the Discovery channel.
But he really wanted to be a successful science fiction writer, and has achieved that with books such as Timeswitch and The Alice Encounter, and stories in publications such as Interzone and Analog. But as John Lennon’s Aunt Mimi so nearly said “Sf is all very well, John, but it won’t pay the rent”. Another thing that doesn’t pay the rent is his songwriting, mostly for various spinoffs of the Bonzo Dog Band.
John is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, as well as being a Fellow of the Royal Astronomical and Royal Meteorological Societies.
About David A. Hardy
David A. Hardy, FBIS, FIAAA was born in Bournville in the UK. In 1950, at the age of 14, he had already started painting space art. He has illustrated many books, including more than one with astronomer-author Patrick Moore, and has been the recipient of multiple awards. His artwork has also graced the covers of classic SF magazines and books. In 2003, asteroid 1998 SB32 was christened Davidhardy. Find out more about Dave’s work at http://www.astroart.org