Sunday, April 29, 2007

John Gribbin

Penguin conducted a Q & A with John Gribbin, a Visiting Fellow in Astronomy at the University of Sussex who is best known for his book In Search of Schrodinger's Cat.

Part of the interview:

John, The Fellowship: The Story of a Revolution is your 100th book. 100 is a fantastic achievement. How do you feel about it?

I don't actually keep count, and when it was pointed out, I was particularly pleased that it should by chance be one of the books I'm most proud of. I'm not exactly ashamed of any of them, but you only get to a hundred by writing a lot of more ephemeral books (like The Little Book of Science, which was great fun but not one for posterity). The Fellowship, I hope, is not one of those. I don't really regard the number as an achievement - I used to be a journalist, and my friends on newspapers have written at least as many words as me in the past 30 years, it's just that their words don't get stuck between hard covers and put on bookshelves.

How did you originally start out as a science writer?

When I was a PhD student in Cambridge, and desperate for money to buy such luxuries as food. I started doing short items for New Scientist, and one thing led to another. I spent five years on the staff of the science journal Nature, and wrote my first couple of books during that time. But books only really took over from journalism in the mid-1980s.

Are there books that you have particularly enjoyed writing, or that you think have been the most significant in your output?

I have the fondest memories of In Search of Schrodinger's Cat, which was the first book I wrote for myself, without a contract before starting. It was turned down by eight publishers (including Penguin) before becoming my breakthrough title, and is still in print after 21 years. I enjoyed The Little Book of Science in a different way, as a chance to present science in an offbeat fashion. But like most writers, I usually think my current project is the best and most significant.

Read the entire Q & A.

See--The "Page 69 Test": The Fellowship.

--Marshal Zeringue