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.
We had a great time at this year’s Nine Worlds Geekfest. We had only just returned from a wedding in the South of France (where we first had to acclimatise to the heat), when we were rushing around preparing for our biggest convention of the year, in the damp and dull London weather. But as soon as we arrived at the Novotel everything brightened up (apart from the weather!)
The first sight to welcome attendees was the sign inviting us into the convention centre and leading to the registration desks.
We had the honour and privilege to be gold sponsor for this year’s Nine Worlds and had a very visible presence which was very humbling (every room had a display outside with our planet-clock logo next to the Nine Worlds logo as above). We were very proud to be supporting such a fantastically inclusive event.
One of the benefits of being sponsor was to be able to provide a booklet for the attendees’ goody bags. As we were having a launch party for two books on Saturday afternoon, it seemed like the best use of that opportunity would be to provide a sampler of both books, as well as the chance to show off our lovely authors, artists (and now, first voice artist) as well as all our book covers. (I have already blogged about this booklet when we delivered it on the Wednesday beforehand, but in case you missed that, here’s a look at it anyway:)
We had a double table in the Vendors’ room and spent the rest of Friday morning setting it up. If you’ve seen us at any other events you’ll recognise our layout:
When the doors to the Vendors’ room opened at 1 o’clock, there was a queue of people waiting outside. But, overall, Friday was fairly quiet (as at most conventions). Throughout the rest of the weekend it was always clear when the panels had ended (there was a 45 minute gap between sessions to allow for winding down, setting up and getting from one panel to the next – a model that should be followed by other conventions!) as the Vendors’ room quickly filled up for about half an hour and then thinned out for the next hour. After the first of these influxes of people it became clear that we had insufficient light above half of our table (and some other vendors’ tables too) as most of the ceiling lights were in the centre of the room putting our table in the shadow of anyone who was standing trying to look at our books. Meriel from Nine Worlds was looking after the vendors and she and Jess (who was the Nine Worlds interface with the hotel) set off on a mission to resolve the problem. The hotel had no standalone lamps to offer, but a while later Jess re-appeared with a whole load of very cool strings of lights, that she had bought at a nearby Primark, and distributed them to those vendors who needed more light.
The lights proved to be an attraction in themselves and I’m sure Jess could have made a decent commission supplying them to all the people who came up to ask where we had got them!
As at last year’s Nine Worlds, we spent the weekend chatting to some lovely people: imaginative, amusing, entertaining, thoughtful, even profound at times. It didn’t matter whether they were in the guise of a squirrel, dalek, alien, evil witch, jedi, lemming, or even human. The Nine Worlds attendee badges included communication preference overlays and pronoun stickers to help ensure not just inclusivity but also prevent inadvertent offence (another model that could usefully be followed by other conventions).
We also endeavoured to sell some books, of course, and had spirited discussion on the relative merits of eBooks and print editions (and, indeed audiobooks) with more than one visitor to our table.
On Saturday evening, at 5pm, we held the aforementioned book launch party. Setting up was greatly eased by the unexpected help provided by Nine Worlds staff who were on hand to reconfigure the room for us. We had John Gribbin and Zoë Sumra reading from their new books (Don’t Look Back and The Wages of Sin, respectively), and talking a little about themselves and their writing in response to questions from the audience and from our interviewer Peter R. Ellis. The audience was not as large as we had hoped – but it’s quality not quantity that’s important and they were a splendid bunch of people! The other advantage of fewer attendees is that we had plenty of wine left over to bring home (which we will be quietly drinking over the next few months).
All too soon, Sunday afternoon arrived and the Vendors’ room closed its doors and everyone started disassembling their tables. Within an hour, we had our books, posters and other paraphernalia all packed into boxes ready to be taken home (courtesy of our youngest daughter) – and once again the ever-helpful Nine Worlds staff quickly moved our boxes down to the loading area for us while we waited for the car.
Sunday evening was spent in a nearby Italian restaurant with friends, enjoying delicious food and lively conversation. Monday morning we checked out and headed for the train home.
Although we have been attending conventions almost since the inception of Elsewhen Press, it is still both exciting and exhausting. So we are always very grateful for the help that we get from our authors, friends and the convention organisers and volunteers. This year’s Nine Worlds was no exception. We made it through, more or less retaining our sanity, thanks to the support and help of our authors Siobhan McVeigh, Peter R. Ellis, Christopher Nuttall (along with Aisha and, of course, Eric who gains more fans at every convention!), Zoë Sumra (with Misha and Sylvianne), John Gribbin, Rebecca Hall, Edwin Hayward, and Susan Oke, and the support of Nine Worlds staff and volunteers especially Meriel and Jess.
We were Gold Sponsor for this year’s Nine Worlds convention, and one of the benefits was to be able to supply a booklet to be included in attendees’ goody bags. As we were having a launch party for Zoë Sumra’sThe Wages of Sin and John Gribbin’sDon’t Look Back on the saturday night we thought it would be a nice idea to include an excerpt from each to whet attendees’ appetites. So, as well as having: a bit of blurb about us; pictures of all of our authors, artists and (now, ‘our’ first voice artist); and the covers of all our books; it also included chapter 4 of Zoë’s book and the eponymous short story from John’s.
But now Nine Worlds is over it seems a shame that anyone who was not there should be left out. So we have a pdf version for you to download here.
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.
Don’t Look Back, the definitive retrospective collection of short stories by John Gribbin is now available to pre-order from major eBook retailers. Many of the stories in this collection were originally published in Analog and other magazines. Some were precursors to John’s classic novels Innervisions, Double Planet, The Alice Encounter and Father to the Man. As well as 23 Science Fiction short stories, three of which John wrote with his son Ben Gribbin, 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!
A real scientist writing science-fiction with real science ￼￼￼￼￼￼– what more could one ask? John Gribbin is a visionary, ￼￼￼￼￼￼￼and one heck of a good storyteller. – Robert J. Sawyer Hugo Award-winning author of QUANTUM NIGHT
Complementing John’s stories is the fantastic cover designed by legendary space artist David A. Hardy.
Don’t Look Back will be published in eBook formats on the 5th May and in paperback on the 7th August.
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
Tommy James has just written a review of Existence is Elsewhen for Starburst Magazine. Describing it as a “sharp collection” of short stories, Tommy writes that Existence is Elsewhen presents an “eclectic range of ideas” producing an end result that is “extremely well written” and “rich with a wide variety of material”. That variety is shown in the choice of tones of the stories with some “genuinely amusing pieces which nicely punctuate the darker stories”, while singling out Douglas Thompson’s Bird Brains as a “provocative tale whose ideas will manifest themselves long after you’ve finished reading”.
Tommy concludes that Existence is Elsewhen is a “smartly presented collection” that anyone who enjoys short fiction “would be well advised to familiarise themselves with”, awarding it 8 out of 10 stars.
You can read Tommy’s full review on the Starburst Magazine website here.
On Risingshadow.netSeregil of Rhiminee has just reviewed Existence is Elsewhen. He starts by saying that as an anthology it “wonderfully showcases” what Elsewhen Press has to offer and is “something special and mesmerising”. He especially liked the fact that there was a wide variety of stories “that highlight the imagination and writing skills of various authors” ranging from “entertaining stories to thought-provoking stories” with a diversity from “colonising new planets to reverse evolution”. He adds that it is “an interesting anthology to those who want to read something out of the ordinary and want to be thrilled by stories that push and stretch the limits of normality and strangeness in various ways”.
He then gives a brief overview of each story, with his comments on each (all good, I’m pleased to say), followed by a slightly more detailed review of some of the stories that particularly interested him. I won’t try to summarise his detailed review in any more detail, except to say that he concludes by describing it as “a perfect anthology for readers who want to experience something different. Some of the sights and wonders explored in these stories are seldom found in modern speculative fiction, and thus make for an intriguing reading experience”. You really should read his full review here.
Twenty stories from twenty great writers, also including Rhys Hughes, Christopher Nuttall and Douglas Thompson
DARTFORD, KENT – 18 March 2016 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the publication today of Existence is Elsewhen, an anthology of twenty science fiction stories from twenty great writers. According to Peter Buck, Editorial Director at Elsewhen Press, “The title paraphrases the last sentence of André Breton’s 1924 Manifesto of Surrealism, perfectly summing up the intent behind this anthology of stories from a wonderful collection of authors. Different worlds… different times. It’s what Elsewhen Press has been about since we launched our first title in 2011. We were thrilled when John agreed to headline.”
Headlining the collection is John Gribbin, with a worrying vision of medical research in the near future. Future global healthcare is the theme of J.A.Christy’s story, while the ultimate in spare part surgery is where Dave Weaver takes the reader. Edwin Hayward’s search for a renewable protein source turns out to be digital; and Tanya Reimer’s story with characters we think we know, gives pause for thought about another food we all take for granted. Evolution is examined too, with Andy McKell’s chilling tale of what states could become if genetics are used to drive policy. Similarly, Robin Moran’s story explores the societal impact of an undesirable evolutionary trend, while Douglas Thompson provides a truly surreal warning of an impending disaster that will reverse evolution, with dire consequences.
On a lighter note, there is satire as Steve Harrison uncovers who really owns the Earth (and why); and Ira Nayman, who uses the surreal alternative realities of his Transdimensional Authority series as the setting for a detective story mash-up of Agatha Christie and Dashiel Hammett. Pursuing the crime-solving theme, Peter Wolfe explores life, and death, on a space station, while Stefan Jackson follows a police investigation into some bizarre cold-blooded murders in a cyberpunk future. Going into the past, albeit an 1831 set in the alternate Britain of his Royal Sorceress
series, Christopher Nuttall reports on an investigation into a girl with strange powers.
Strange powers in the present-day is the theme for Tej Turner, who tells a poignant tale of how extra-sensory perception makes it easier for a husband to bear his dying wife’s last few days. Difficult decisions are the theme of Chloe Skye’s heart-rending story exploring personal sacrifice. Relationships aren’t always so close, as Susan Oke’s tale demonstrates, when sibling rivalry is taken to the limit. Relationships are the backdrop to Peter R. Ellis’s story where a spectacular mid-winter event on a newly-colonised distant planet involves a Madonna and Child. Coming right back to Earth and in what feels like an almost imminent future, Siobhan McVeigh tells a cautionary tale for anyone thinking of using technology to deflect the blame for their actions. Building on the remarkable setting of Pera from her LiGa series, and developing Pera’s legendary Book of Shadow, Sanem Ozdural spins the creation myth of the first light tree in a lyrical and poetic song. Also exploring language, the master of fantastika and absurdism, Rhys Hughes, extrapolates the way in which language changes over time, with an entertaining result.
Existence is Elsewhen, published today by Elsewhen Press on popular eBook platforms, will also be available in paperback from the 25th March with a launch at the 2016 Eastercon in Manchester.
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 at least the second part of that ambition 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. He 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.