“a meaty, classic collection” – review by Brian Clegg of John Gribbin’s Don’t Look Back

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

On the the Popular Science book review site at (www.popularscience.co.uk) scientist and science writer Brian Clegg has written a four star review of Don’t Look Back by John Gribbin.

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.

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 site here.

 

“intelligent, intriguing and imaginative” – review of Don’t Look Back on RisingShadow

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

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 RisingShadow here.

 

Don’t Look Back by John Gribbin now available to pre-order

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

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!

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.

For more details and links to retailers visit bit.ly/DontLookBackJohnGribbin

 

“excellent and wonderfully imaginative” – review of Existence is Elsewhen on Risingshadow

Artwork by Alison Buck
Artwork by Alison Buck

On Risingshadow.net Seregil 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.

 

“surreal, daft anthropomorphisms of the everyday” – review of Mirrors in the Deluge on Starburst Magazine website

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

On the Starburst Magazine website, Jennie Bailey has written a review of Mirrors in the Deluge by Rhys Hughes. She describes the short stories in this collection as “surreal, daft anthropomorphisms of the everyday”. She says that there’s “fun to be had with the mythical… and the fantastical”, and as “promised by the book blurb, the book is filled with word play”. Having started her review by praising short stories and saying how the “best short stories tend to leave you wanting more”, her “small criticism” of Mirrors in the Deluge is that a few of the stories are too short. She sums up by saying that the stories in the book are “colourful romps told by a storyteller with a vivid and often witty imagination” and as such they “allow Hughes’s playful stories to whisk you along”. Thanks Jennie.

You can read Jennie’s full review here.

 

“pure pleasure and literary excellence” – review of Mirrors in the Deluge on Risingshadow

The Risingshadow.net website is not only one of the largest science fiction and fantasy book databases full of detailed book information, but also hosts well-written and absorbing reviews of many of those books. Their latest review, by Seregil of Rhiminee, is of Mirrors in the Deluge our new collection of 32 short stories by Rhys Hughes. Seregil describes Rhys as “one of the most imaginative authors ever to grace the field of speculative fiction” adding that his “stories have an enormous amount of originality, style and unpredictability”.

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

He starts by saying that “Mirrors in the Deluge is clearly one of his best books” and that “all the stories in it are excellent” going on to say they are “imaginative and well written, and they contain elements of fantasy, science fiction and horror. There’s a delightfully quirky and twisted edge to many of these stories that will charm readers”. He adds that it’s “easy for me to praise this collection” because it’s “delightfully different” and says that he “was very impressed by this collection and its diverse contents”.

Seregil then lists all 32 stories in the collection, with a brief outline of each (no spoilers, don’t worry!) followed by his own comments on some of them. I’ll quote some of his comments here, but you really must read the full review for all of them.

The Soft Landing is my personal favourite of the whole collection, and Seregil says it “is one of the most intriguing and brilliant science fiction stories I’ve ever read” adding that Rhys “is one of the few authors who have the ability to make this kind of a story work well and be of interest to readers”.

The Fairy and the Dinosaur”, says Seregil, “is a story that is impossible to forget once you’ve read it. In my opinion, this fascinating story about a fairy who travels back in time to eat a plum is one of the best and most entertaining stories the author has ever written.”

Vanity of Vanities is one of the most memorable stories in this collection”, says Seregil. A story about the internet achieving consciousness and taking over the world, but he adds “What the internet does will be quite a surprise for readers, because its actions are not what one might expect them to be.”

The Taste of Turtle Tears about butterflies who drink tears to get salt “is an excellent short story that will please readers who love beautifully written stories. This story is so enchanting that it’s almost like a fairy tale.”

Seregil says that Rhys Hughes is “an excellent author of short stories. He has an ability to create beautiful and mind-boggling stories that stimulate the reader’s imagination.” “Although many of his stories are short” he says, “there’s a wealth of depth in them.” He says that there are “no limits to his imagination”, he “can write about anything”, and “doesn’t shy away from difficult and weird material. Nothing is too weird for Rhys Hughes, because he boldly embraces the odd and produces intriguing speculative fiction that fascinates and thrills his readers (this collection has plenty of charming weirdness in it)”.

Seregil warns readers of these stories to “be prepared to be amazed, charmed, stunned and also shocked by what you’re about to read. You won’t find anything normal in these stories or if you do, you’ll find out that the author can easily twist the story into a totally new and exciting direction.”

He also praises Rhys’ way with words, saying that he’s “able to play with words in a genuinely funny way. For example, the titles of these stories are wonderfully creative”. He says that many of these stories “have been written so beautifully that at times you’ll feel almost like you’re reading weird fairy tales for adults.” Seregil says that Rhys is “one of the few authors who are capable of spicing their stories with fascinatingly absurd and brilliantly humorous elements” while being both “fashionable and original”.

His recommendation is to read Mirrors in the Deluge “as soon as possible. It offers good entertainment, thought-provoking moments, plenty of surprises and beautiful prose in one package.” His final summary is “This short story collection offers 200 pages of pure pleasure and literary excellence for quality oriented readers.”

Read Seregil’s full review here.

 

REVEALED: The cover of Mirrors in the Deluge

Here is the first sight of the cover of the new book of tales by Welsh master story-teller Rhys Hughes which will be published by Elsewhen Press in March. Rhys has entitled it Mirrors in the Deluge, and in the foreword he explains that titles are very important to him. This title in particular is almost an homage to a bygone writer called Abraham Merritt. As Rhys explains “Merritt wrote books with beautiful titles, evocative titles that suggest a deeper sense of mystery and wonder than the actual works can possibly deliver. Perhaps he did his best to match content to subtle promise, perhaps not, I don’t know. But it still seems to me that his Dwellers in the Mirage is one of the finest titles ever conceived; a title so superb I always wanted it for my own. I couldn’t steal it unaltered, of course, but I’ve finally managed to assuage my envy by adapting it to my own needs. Hence Mirrors in the Deluge, a curiously Welsh reversal, I feel!”

Artwork: Alison Buck
Artwork: Alison Buck

The title obviously inspired the cover image too. Rhys’ own notes to Alison, when she was designing the cover, were simple: When I finished this book, the cover I had in mind was of a mirror in the pouring rain, but the image in the mirror was not of rain, but of a magical sunlit world. When he saw the design that Alison had produced, his response was quite understated and restrained, he said “I absolutely LOVE the cover! It’s magnificent!” Phew!

 

Absurd Welshman brings latest collection of stories to Elsewhen Press

Renowned Welsh author Rhys Hughes signs with Elsewhen Press for a collection of stories that encompass almost all aspects of speculative fiction.

DARTFORD, KENT – 27 October 2014 – Elsewhen Press, an independent UK publisher specialising in Speculative Fiction, is delighted to announce the signing of a deal with Rhys Hughes, widely known for his absurdist work, to publish a collection of quirky tales called Mirrors in the Deluge. Currently one of the most prolific and successful authors in Wales, Hughes has published more than thirty books and his work has been translated into ten languages.

Mirrors in the Deluge is a collection of 32 stories that take elements from fantasy, science fiction, horror and other genres and give them a lateral shift. Like much of Hughes’ work these quirky tales between them encompass parody, pastiche and puns.

“The fun, as ever,” says Peter Buck, Rhys’ editor at Elsewhen Press, “starts with the title of each story – gently leading an unsuspecting reader into preconceived ideas and expectations; expectations that are soon spun around, turned on their head (or other extremities), and pushed in an unexpected direction. Thus, even a saunter through the contents page is already a hugely entertaining experience and one more akin to savouring the hors d’oeuvres of a grand banquet than consulting a list of shortcuts into a literary tome. In fact, the gastronomic metaphor serves us well here; the courses on offer range from tantalising tuck to a foody’s feast, but never mere vittles – perhaps the way to enjoy this book is to digest one story, three times a day (four if you’re a halfling who needs second breakfast), rather than trying to gorge on all the available delights and delicacies at one sitting.”

The stories include: The Soft Landing, a unique story told from the perspective of a photon; Travels with my Antinomy, how do you solve a paradox when you’re part of it?; Vanity of Vanities, the internet achieves consciousness and takes over, but with very different consequences from those you might imagine; The Fairy and the Dinosaur, in which a fairy can’t find what she wants for her picnic in the goblin market, is offered cloned prehistoric plums but turns to a time-travelling robot to go back to the age of the dinosaurs and eat an original plum. Other intriguing story titles include The Prodigal Beard, A Dame Abroad, The Unkissed Artist Formerly Known as Frog, The Goat That Gloated, The Taste of Turtle Tears, The Bones of Jones, and The Haggis Eater.

Mirrors in the Deluge will be published by Elsewhen Press in 2015 in a digital edition and a paperback edition.

Notes for Editors

About Rhys Hughes

Rhys HughesRhys Hughes was born in 1966 and began writing from an early age. His first short story was published in 1991 and his first book, the now legendary Worming the Harpy, followed four years later. Since then he has published more than thirty books, his work has been translated into ten languages and he is currently one of the most prolific and successful authors in Wales. Mostly known for absurdist works, his range in fact encompasses styles as diverse as gothic, experimental, science fiction, magic realism, fantasy and realism. His main ambition is to complete a grand sequence of exactly one thousand linked short stories, a project he has been working on for more than two decades. Each story is a standalone piece as well as a cog in the grand machine. He is finally three-quarters of the way through this opus.