[photo of John] About Twistor
by John Cramer
[Twistor cover 2]


Twistor, Avon Books, (1997) 2nd printing paperback, 338p., ISBN: 0-380-71027-7; List price $5.99
Now available at better bookstores everywhere.
[Available online from Amazon.com (20% discount) A reader-submitted review of Twistor is also available at the Amazon site.]
[Available online from Barnes and Noble (20% discount)]
[Available online from The University Bookstore (free shipping)]

Twistor, Avon Books, (1991) paperback, 352p., ISBN: 0-380-71027-7 (Out of print.)

Twistor, Wm. Morrow & Co., Inc., (1989) hardcover 1st edition, 416p., ISBN: 0-87795-967-6; Original list price $18.95.
The hardcover edition of Twistor is out of print and has become a collector's item. It may be possible to order it from a dealer in collectible science fiction. Try Lloyd W. Currey, for example.


Here's the first chapter of Twistor, as provided by Avon.


Twistor was my first novel. Writing it resulted in a nomination for the Compton Crook Award (Best 1st Novel, 1990) and in two nominations (1990 and 1991) for the John W. Campbell Award (Best New Writer). It was also on the semi-final ballot for the 1991 Nebula Awards.

Twistor was written to fill a need I perceived in the SF market for good "hard SF" written by scientists about the business of doing science. It was edited by David G. Hartwell and published in hardcover by Morrow in 1989. It was also available in hardcover from the Science Fiction Book Club. It was published in paperback in 1991 by AvoNova (Avon) in the USA and by NEL (New English Library) in the UK. A Japanese Edition (Hyakawa - 1996) has just been published under the title The Shadow of Gravity.. In the USA Twistor has just (5/97) been reprinted by Avon in a new and slightly revised eddition, along with my new hard SF novel Einstein's Bridge.

John G. Cramer
July 10, 1996

[Twistor cover] This is the Twistor book jacket from the original Morrow hardcover edition (1989).
The cover painting was done by Bob Eggleton.
Click on the icon for a larger (25k) image.

[Twistor cover 2] This is the new Twistor book cover used on the Avon paperback edition (1997).
Click on the icon for a larger (25k) image.


This is the blurb about Twistor from the jacket of the Morrow hardcover edition:

Science fiction at its best is about how much fun it is to do real science, to experience the excitement of scientific ideas, and to use them to build wonderful new devices that do new things, that transform our lives. This kind of science fiction is called "hard SF" by the fans, the hard stuff that is the finest pleasure of the connoisseur. Twistor is hard SF.

Twistor is a first novel by John Cramer, who is known to SF readership for his "Alternate View" columns in Analog magazine. He brings the knowledge of the grit and detail of the everyday life of the working scientist to the story of David Harrison, the young physicist who discovers the twistor effect, an astounding breakthrough in experimental physics that puts alternate physical universes within reach of human exploration.

The plot thickens when some hired thugs are sent by a corporate espionage agent to steal David's experimental device. As David is about to send the whole shebang, including a big chunk of his lab, into another universe and out of reach of the thieves, he finds the two young children of one of his colleagues have hidden in his lab to surprise him. In a split second, David decides, and he and the children pass together through the twistor field into another world, leaving the bewildered thugs behind.

Stranded on another Earth not quite like ours, David must use his basic knowledge to become a Robinson Crusoe in this new place, to save himself and the children, and to find a way back home.

The forefront of science fiction is the scientific speculation found in hard SF. Twistor is based on real physics, provicative and even startling. Such writers as Larry Niven, David Brin, Gregory Benford, and James P. Hogan have made their reputations writing this kind of fiction. Add Cramer's name to that list. Twistor is essential SF.

John Cramer lives in Seattle, Washington, where he is professor of physics at the University of Washington. He plans a sequel to Twistor.


Here's what well-known SF authors and reviewers said about Twistor when it was first published in hardcover:

  • "Finally, the most exciting novel about the cutting edge of physics since Timescape. Twistor takes you into the lab and through the world of far-out theory, all in a swooping story of adventure."
    David Brin
  • "A fine hard-science fiction thriller, very enjoyable. Twistor is an auspicious debut for Dr. John Cramer."
    Greg Bear
  • "... interesting and dramatic kernel of physics speculation ..."
    Publisher's Weekly (2/3/89)
  • "Twistor is a rare blend of high imagination and fun by a writer who understands how research really works, both on the scientific and the human levels. It made me feel as if I were back in the lab myself and glad to be there."
    Stanley Schmidt
  • "...often scintillating hard science... A promising debut: good on science and scientists ..."
    Kirkus Review (2/89)
  • "John Cramer's Twistor is a wonderful romp through the several universes of real science, from the thin abstraction of particle theory to the grubby, greasy, problem-plagued experimental laboratory, and on to the intricacies of departmental politics and the pitfalls of institutional funding. Before Cramer has finished telling his ingenious tale, Twistor has taken us right out of this world into a plausible universe next door. The ideas are as startlingly original as anything in the work of Robert Forward or James P. Hogan, with the added attraction of likeable flesh and blood characters and an order of magnitude better storytelling."
    Paul Preuss
  • "Twistor tells an exciting story that employs concepts even more exciting. Authors who not only know science but practice it are all too rare. John Cramer's distinguished career as a physicist enables him to give this novel a ring of authenticity, not only scientific, but human."
    Poul Anderson
  • "John Cramer's Twistor is conspicuously a Hard Science Fiction novel ... this book kept me up an extra hour to finish it. It has a lot of 'sense of wonder,' just like the old days. It's like getting an old issue of Astounding and curling up with it for a few hours. It's definitely fun, and the message ... isn't a bad one."
    LOCUS (2/89)
  • "John Cramer's first science fiction novel has two great things going for it. His scientific background includes degrees in physics, and he has been teaching the subject at university level. And somehow he also learned to intertwine his far-reaching knowledge with a wonderful, exciting story. Twistor may well be the best SF novel of the year."
    A. E. van Vogt
  • "John Cramer's first novel has fascinating extrapolation, strong characters, and accelerating suspense. Once you've read Twistor, Cramer will be on your Must-Read list."
    F. M. Busby
  • "Cramer kindles real scientific excitement through scrupulous attention to technical detail. Ideas unfold naturally in tandem with narrative tensions, and at the midpoint of the novel it becomes a page-turner techno-thriller. It is a satisfying read ... The novel knows how 1980s science differs from stereotypes. Experimentalists think quite differently than theorists. Physics department rivalries put political spin on research decisions. Even the computer hacking is authoritative ... Twistor stresses fidelity to science as it is experienced first hand, the primary asset of 'hard' science fiction ... the novel's implications leave us wanting more."
    Gregory Benford, LOS ANGELES TIMES (2/89)
  • "Twistor marks the arrival of a major new science fiction talent. John Cramer knows science, and people. He possesses to a phenomenal degree the wit, ingenuity, and soaring imagination all of us hope for; and they make Twistor a book no intelligent reader should miss."
    Gene Wolfe
  • "This book originates, then, not only from a scientist well up in his profession but also from deeply felt and throroghly incorporated SF traditions. Twistor ... is as handsome and well-formed a work of its kind as one could ask for ... The sense of rigor derives from Cramer's ingenuity in finding unexpected and charming ways to show us the shadow universe in which the bulk of the extraterrestrial action occurs, and in it things captivatingly like-but-unlike things in our world ... captivatingly better ... If there is a 'hard-science' genre, John Cramer has excellently filled our needs in that respect, and one looks forward to a sequel. This book is what SCIENCE fiction is demonstrably all about. The rest of what is done in SF has more to do with the fiction."
    Algis Budrys, MAGAZINE OF F&SF (4/89)

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