Collection of SF stories addresses issues especially relevant in a time of dubious politicians

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.

Artwork: David A. Hardy
Artwork: David A. Hardy

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 GribbinJohn 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. HardyDavid 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


Gelecek Bir Seçimdir – The Future is Choice


Turkish | English

Gelecek Bir Seçimdir

Bir dörtyol ağzındasın. Dört seçenek var önünde.
İlki seni buraya getiren yol.
O yolu seçip geldiğin yere dönmeye çalışabilirsin.
Bu kavşakta kural yok. Ne işaret ne de kılavuz bulabilirsin bu kavşakta.
Sana ne yapmanı, hangi yolu seçmeni söyleyecek kimse yok burada…
Seni buraya getiren yolu düşün. Sola döndüğün zaman o yolu hatırla.
Burada her şey farklıdır. Belki yolun kıyısı ağaçlarla süslüdür, geldiğin yolun çıplaklığına kıyasla…
Belki sadece sen biliyorsun bu yolun neye benzediğini.
Belki biri – arkadaşın, sevgilin olabilir – bu yolda senden önce yürüdü.
Belki şimdi orada. Bu yolu onun yolu olarak tanıyorsun.
Senin de yolun olacak mı? Belki. Sade sen biliyorsun.
Arkandaki ve solundaki yolları hatırla önündeki yeni yola bakarken.
İleriye bakarken hatırla. Şeffaf bir pencere camından bakar gibi.
Arkanda ne varsa, önündeki yolda da hemen hemen aynılarını görebiliyorsun.
Ama sen bu yoldaki çukurları ve tümsekleri biliyorsun. Değil mi?
Yolun sonunu görüyor musun? Ne kadar uzağı görebildiğini sade sen biliyorsun…
Şimdi dön ve sağına bak…
Göremiyor musun? Doğru, çünkü bu yol ilerideki yol gibi şeffaf değil.
Donuk bir pencere camından bakar gibi… Gözlerini kapat.
Yolunu bulmakta yardımcı olamaz zaten gözlerin.
Ama bu yolun haritası var sende. Hayır, cebinde değil. Oraya bakma. Hiç bakma.
Şimdi görebiliyor musun? Düşündüğünden daha parlak, değil mi?
Bir taslak gibi, ama buna rağmen sağlam ve dayanıklıdır.
Evet, öbür yolların hatıralarını bulabilirsin bu haritada.
Arkandaki, önündeki ve solundaki yolların hepsinin anıları burada.
Ama ne arkan ne önün ne de solundur bu güzergâh.
Korkuyor musun?
Eğer yardımcı olacaksa, şunu bil ki başkaları da bu yolda yürüdü. Şimdi oradalar.
İnanır mısın, onların haritaları seninkine çok benziyor…
Güneşin, gözle görünmeyen bir yere dövmelenmiş gölgesi gibi.
Onlar da senin gibi gözleri kapalı yürüyorlar bu yolda ara sıra sendeleyerek…
Sana bağlı. Bu kavşakta kural yok. Kılavuz da yok.
Gitmen gereken yolu gösterecek kimse yok…


Turkish | English

The Future is Choice

You are at a crossroads. There are four paths before you.
The first is the one that brought you here.
You may try to go back if you wish.
There are no rules at this crossroads. There are no signs, no guideposts.
There is no one here to tell you where you should go, what you should do…
Think about the road behind you. Remember it as you turn to your left.
Whatever the road behind you is like, this one is different.
Perhaps it is lined with trees, while the other lay bare upon a flat landscape.
Perhaps. Only you know.
Someone – perhaps a friend, a lover – has already taken the road to the left.
Perhaps he or she is there now.
You think of the road to your left as their road. Will it be your road?
Perhaps. Only you know.
Remember the road behind you and the road to your left as you look ahead.
It is like looking through a pane of clear glass.
Whatever lay behind you, you can see that it lies ahead, too.
But you know the potholes and the crags in the road that lies before you. Don’t you?
Can you see the end of the road?
Only you know how far you can see…
Now, turn to your right.
You cannot see? No, that is true, for this road is not clear like the road ahead.
Close your eyes.
Your eyes cannot help you find your way on this road.
But you have a map of this road. No, it is not in your pocket. Do not look there.
Do not look.
Can you see it now?
It is brighter than you thought, isn’t it? It is an outline, but solid for all that.
Yes, you can find reminders of all the other roads on this map.
But this road is not the road behind you, the one to your left, or the one dead ahead.
Are you afraid?
If it’s any help, I can tell you that others have taken this road. They are there now.
Would you believe it, their maps look a lot like yours… tattooed somewhere the eye cannot see,
like the burning shadow of the Sun.
They, too, travel with their eyes closed – at times stumbling…
It is up to you.
There are no rules at this crossroads. There are no signs, no guideposts.
There is no one here to tell you where you should go…

Sanem Özdural

An Android Wakes Part 8 : To Kill a Mockingbird

I got the letter this morning from one of the big five. This is the ms they accepted.

To Kill a Mockingbird
Machine wash at 40 degrees on a fast spin.  Wash separately. Iron.

It’s going to be published as a children’s book next year.  They want me to pad it out a bit but essentially they are raving about the idea. This they love – my two fingered salute to them I sent out believing I was about to be turned off for being a crashing failure.  My stories of The Amazing Arctic Sinking Man, OAP Extraction, Finn with a fish swimming in his eye, locusts and rusting submarines, paper bullion – all rejected for this. Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 8 : To Kill a Mockingbird”

Postcard From The Future #10

Our final postcard from the future comes from Professor Saul Deveraux himself, inventor of the Retro-Temporal acceleration technology being deployed at Geneva’s ‘Even Larger Hadron Collider’ to send messages back in time…


I hope you’ve enjoyed the previous nine messages over the last nine months. The same time as the gestation of a human child, perhaps not coincidentally. You see, the Retro-Temporal Postcard Program is very much my baby, my lifetime’s work, albeit so well assisted by thousands of other dedicated scientists, the world over. I thank them all.

Will you people of the early twenty-first century believe that these messages are real? –That we in the 23rd century, really have mastered such incredible technology as to be able to send information back in time to you? As I write, there is no evidence in any of our libraries or history annals that these attempts were successful. But I confidently expect to go to the same data sources tomorrow and find that history has updated itself. Of course it will. But will I know? This paper I write on would have to disappear into thin air, in order for me not to know, and that seems unlikely. So history is going to change and we’re going to see it change, almost instantly before our eyes. How extraordinary. That has never happened before in the history of our planet. Or has it? You see the irony? Continue reading “Postcard From The Future #10”

An Android Wakes Part 7 : OAP Extraction

Mr Cricklewood ran his fingers over the paper. Raising the letter to his nose he breathed in and let the smell transport him to bluebells, birdsong, young love.
      Sighing he replaced the letter in the envelope, slipped it back with the others. Around him: panelled walls, a stained glass window showing a picture of a mockingbird, oak spindles of a staircase that once led him to her embrace. It was time, he thought.
      He walked over to the writing desk.
      His old fingers creaked and clicked as he sealed each letter with wax, the smell filling his nostrils. When each was dry he lifted it to his lips, kissed it, said goodbye. Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 7 : OAP Extraction”

Postcard From The Future #9

This month’s postcard from the future comes from an information technology technician…


Everybody in the past thought we’d be building robots here in the future, didn’t they? Well, you got that kind of half right and half wrong I guess, all at once. Let me explain. There’s tons of robots alright, except that none of them look human. Dust-vacuuming robots for the home, grass-mowing and weeding robots for the garden, garbage robots for the street sweep-up. These guys are all just a foot and a half high by two feet long at most. They don’t have silly faces on them and they don’t talk back. Mostly they don’t talk at all, just get on with it. Continue reading “Postcard From The Future #9”

An Android Wakes Part 6 : Is That a Fish in Your Eye?

He was watching Master Chef when it appeared over his retina. At first his brain miscalculated and inserted the angel fish into the programme, where it swam through the steaming crust of the Mockingbird pie. Then after a moment the fish popped out of the screen and passed through the wall into the hallway.
      Finn blinked and rubbed his eyes, looked at his watch. It was late. He really should get to bed earlier. He turned off the TV and sighing got to his feet. As he did the image of the fish appeared again: flickering with the beat of his eyelids.
      He tried closing his eyes but the fish was still there floating in a sea of blackness. It turned, swam towards him and disappeared. Finn slapped his hand over his eyes, stumbled and knocked over the cans of beer at his feet. Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 6 : Is That a Fish in Your Eye?”

Postcard From The Future #8

This month’s postcard from the future comes from a 23rd century policeman…


A message to the past, eh? Tell you what, I’ve always loved reading detective novels and I’m kind of envious of you guys back then with real crime and real criminals. All we get to do these days is fill out forms and liase with sociologists and behavioural psychologists. In fact, I had to get a degree to get this job. Surprised eh? Yeah, in theory I could still “beat the crap out of a punk” (God, I love that old 20th century noir cop patois), but I rarely get the chance these days. My history tutor used to tell me that all those old crime novels were “romanticised” and “escapist” but that strikes me as weird. What kind of screwed-up century were you living in where murder, robbery and rape seemed like escapism? Oh I know…. I’ve answered my own question. I enjoy reading that stuff now because I’m bored and there’s so little crime today, but come on guys, you had plenty of the real things, wars, famine, terrorism, plagues, riots… why did you have to make up shit too? Continue reading “Postcard From The Future #8”

An Android Wakes Part 5 : The Amazing Arctic Sinking Man

No-one would believe him but Albert Mockingbird had discovered the elusive Hawking Particles whilst visiting his great aunt at Scunthorpe. He’d spotted them next to her bed floating with her false teeth. He could recall the precise eureka moment with clarity as he’d picked up the glass, noticed the unusual weight to it, and swallowed the fluid – his aunt’s teeth bumping off his shoulder and falling onto the paisley carpet.
      Of course he had known he couldn’t risk staying there a moment longer, the Bureau for Scientific Discoveries had been following him for months and wouldn’t hesitate to kill him in order to assign the discovery to one of their paying clients. Scribbling a note, he left without waking his aunt and headed for the airport intent on smuggling them through customs.

His boss at CERN had smiled when he confided in him the day after and he was retired off: a carriage clock the answer to his breakdown. So sad after a life-time’s work, they had said. Albert knew though. He could feel them buzzing around his body like fire flies. Continue reading “An Android Wakes Part 5 : The Amazing Arctic Sinking Man”

Postcards From The Future #7

This month’s postcard from the future comes from a 23rd century medical practitioner…


My area of speciality is the old, or Senetics as we call it, a word which will be unfamiliar to you people of the past, if what the scientists are saying is correct and they can indeed send a message back to you. In your time when people became advanced in years they had no choice but to decay slowly, their skin giving way under the onslaught of the sun’s radiation, their bowels becoming unreliable, their bones brittle. In short, by one route or another, they usually died a slow, painful and undignified death. I have great admiration, even astonishment, at how people were able to suffer such a situation, since it is scarcely necessary any longer in our present. Continue reading “Postcards From The Future #7”