Fellow of the Royal Society writes SF novel exploring weird physics

Professor Ian Stewart, renowned mathematician and author, writes an ‘inventive’ ‘high concept’ science fiction adventure to speculate on ideas at the edge of known physics.

DARTFORD, KENT – 21 July 2023 – Elsewhen Press is a publishing house specialising in high quality, entertaining and thoughtful speculative fiction from talented authors. One of those authors is Professor Ian Stewart, a Fellow of the Royal Society, globally recognised award-winning mathematician, and celebrated author of text books and popular science books including The Science of Discworld. But while science books, even pop-science, can make mainstream science entertaining as well as informative, even renowned scientists relish the possibility to explore intriguing but less well-established aspects that push the scientific boundaries. The relative freedom of science fiction provides an ideal medium for such speculation and Ian Stewart’s latest novel, Loophole, seizes that opportunity to explore concepts on the edge of known physics while keeping within the bounds of probability: faster-than-light travel, wormhole-linked black-holes, alternative universes. At the same time, he tells a gripping adventure story of universe-shattering proportions.

Multiple award-winning hard-science-fiction author Stephen Baxter says of Loophole, “When universes collide … A multicosmos at war in a scenario of staggering, but scientifically authentic, invention … As if the Marvel multiverse collided with 2001: A Space Odyssey … I am awed, and I don’t awe easily. The highest of high-concept SF.”

Henry Gee, Senior Editor at Nature, and author of A (Very) Short History of Life on Earth and The Sigil trilogy, says, “There’s Hard SF. There’s Wide-Screen Baroque. Now with Ian Stewart’s Loophole we have Wrap-Around Rococo. Daringly inventive, Loophole is a mind-fryingly, Möbius-twistingly intense SF adventure of the first order.”

Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, says “We were chatting to Ian at a science fiction convention and he told us about the novel he had recently finished writing. We were intrigued by the concept and told him how much we were looking forward to reading it. So you can imagine how delighted we were when Ian submitted it to us for consideration. Once we had read it, there was absolutely no doubt that we wanted to publish such an awesome book. We are thrilled that Loophole is now available for readers. Initial comments from Stephen Baxter and Henry Gee were very gratifying and will undoubtedly reflect the response of readers everywhere for this ‘daringly inventive’ ‘high concept science fiction’ adventure.”

Writing the story was an adventure in itself, says Ian Stewart: “I wanted to write the kind of book I like to read: high-concept space opera. The central gimmick had been rattling around in my head for years. There was a plan, of sorts, on the computer, but I had to write the novel to find out what really happened. Once I started on the details, my characters took over and it ended up quite different from what I’d expected. … Which was what I’d expected.”

Elsewhen Press commissioned space artist David A. Hardy to produce a cover for the book, which thrilled the author. Ian said, “I’ve been a David Hardy fan for fifty years. His elegant cover captures a key moment in the story, and subtly conveys a hint of mystery and menace. You don’t watch a moon disappearing every day.”

Loophole is available as an eBook from today and in paperback from 21st August 2023.

Notes for Editors

About Ian Stewart

Ian Stewart is Emeritus Professor of Mathematics at the University of Warwick and a Fellow of the Royal Society. He has five honorary doctorates and is an honorary wizard of Unseen University. His more than 130 books include Professor Stewart’s Cabinet of Mathematical Curiosities and the four-volume series The Science of Discworld with Terry Pratchett and Jack Cohen. His SF novels include the trilogy Wheelers, Heaven, and Oracle (with Jack Cohen), The Living Labyrinth and Rock Star (with Tim Poston), and Jack of All Trades. Short story collections are Message from Earth and Pasts, Presents, Futures. His Flatland sequel Flatterland has extensive fantasy elements. He has published 33 short stories in Analog, Omni, Interzone, and Nature, with 10 stories in Nature’s ‘Futures’ series. He was Guest of Honour at Novacon 29 in 1999 and Science Guest of Honour and Hugo Award Presenter at Worldcon 75 in Helsinki in 2017. He delivered the 1997 Christmas Lectures for BBC television. His awards include the Royal Society’s Faraday Medal, the Gold Medal of the IMA, the Zeeman Medal, the Lewis Thomas Prize, the Euler Book Prize, the Premio Internazionale Cosmos, the Chancellor’s Medal of the University of Warwick, and the Bloody Stupid Johnson Award for Innovative Uses of Mathematics.

About Loophole

Don’t poke your nose down a wormhole – you never know what you might find.

Loophole by Ian Stewart; Artwork by David A. Hardy
Artwork: David A. Hardy

Two universes joined by a wormhole pair that forms a ‘loophole’, with an icemoon orbiting through the loophole, shared between two different planetary systems in the two universes.

A civilisation with uploaded minds in virtual reality served by artificial humans.

A ravening Horde of replicating machines that kill stars.

Real humans from a decrepit system of colony worlds.

A race of hyperintelligent but somewhat vague aliens.

Who will close the loophole… who will exploit it?

Find out more at https://bit.ly/Loophole-Ian-Stewart

Cover design: David A. Hardy