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Gribbin, John

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1946-    ) UK author known mostly for his very numerous science popularizations. Most of his novels have been in collaboration and have tended to a certain narrative predictability, though the science content has always been impressively presented. The Sixth Winter (1979) with Douglas Orgill is a Hard-SF tale dealing with the coming of a new ice age (see Climate Change). Brother Esau (1982), again with Orgill, charts the events following the discovery of the Yeti. Double Planet (November 1984 Analog by Gribbin solo; exp 1988) and its remote sequel Reunion (1991), both with Marcus Chown, are set in the same universe, though a thousand years apart. In the first, astronauts must intercept a Comet thought to be on collision course with Earth; in the second the lunar population comes under the influence of a cult claiming to hold the secret to the replenishment of the Moon's atmosphere. Gribbin's first solo novel, Father to the Man (1989), arguably his best book, is a readable and witty tale of a geneticist hero pitted against a world of spreading religious fundamentalism. Ragnarok (1991) with D G Compton is a Near-Future cautionary tale in a traditional vein: a Scientist threatens to end human civilization unless peace is declared; almost inadvertently, Ragnarok does indeed occur. Innervisions (1993), again solo, features a Pocket Universe that turns out, not unusually, to be the inside of a Generation Starship, which leads to a well-argued (though perhaps expected) Conceptual Breakthrough. More recently, Timeswitch (2009) deals with complex shenanigans of history-modifying Time Travel to eleventh-century England, while The Alice Encounter (2011) is a solo addition to the Double Planet universe, set in the twenty-sixth century and featuring both Aliens and the cosmological mystery of dark matter.

Gribbin's nonfiction is highly various, and although the roster of his titles of any interest begins with The Jupiter Effect (1974) with Stephen Plagemann and Beyond the Jupiter Effect (1983) with Stephen Plagemann, which deal rather spectacularly with speculations activated by the work of Immanuel Velikovsky, his later work has been increasingly sober-minded and useful to wide audiences. Some later titles of interest include In Search of Schrodinger's Cat: The Startling World of Quantum Physics Explained (1984), Hyperspace: Our Final Frontier (2001) and – decidedly more competent than some of its many competitors in this overfilled commentary field – The Science of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials (2003) with Mary Gribbin. [MB/JC/DRL]

see also: Anthropology; Apes as Human; Black Holes; Genetic Engineering; Parallel Worlds.

John R Gribbin

born Maidstone, Kent: 19 March 1946



Double Planet

  • Double Planet (London: Victor Gollancz, 1988) with Marcus Chown [Double Planet: hb/nonpictorial]
  • Reunion (London: Victor Gollancz, 1988) with Marcus Chown [Double Planet: hb/David Farren]
  • The Alice Encounter (Hornsea, East Yorkshire: PS Publishing, 2011) [Double Planet: hb/Stephen Leary]

individual titles

collections and stories

nonfiction (highly selected)


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