Both "Drink Me, Francesca" and "Out There Where the Big Ships Go" examine - in differing but related ways - humanity's first encounter with other intelligent life, and its inevitable profound consequences. In the former, one member of an interstellar expeditionary force is drawn into communion with an intangible, superior being; in the latter an astronaut, believed long dead, returns to Earth bringing with him an alien game whose subtleties the human race must master in order to show itself worthy of membership in the galactic community.
"The Attleborough Poltergeist" is an eerie account of an apparently paranormal phenomenon which proves to have an even stranger scientific explanation, while the long title story is a surprising - and successful - departure: a full-blooded, adventurous fantasy reminiscent of Rider Haggard. A Victorian Army officer, doing surveying work in Asia Minor, stumbles upon a hidden valley in a remote mountain range. There he discovers a cult whose members literally tend and spin the loom of human destiny, and who await his long-predicted arrival to fulfil a strange and unexpected role in their society.
Richard Cowper (1926 - 2002)
Born John Middleton Murry, Jnr, the son of writer John Middleton Murry, Richard Cowper was the pseudonym under which most of his science fiction was published (he wrote four novels under the name 'Colin Murry'). He served in the Royal Navy during the Second World War, although he as lucky enough not to see combat. After the war, he read Anglo-Saxon and English at Oxford. His works were shortlisted for the Hugo, Nebula, British Fantasy and Locus Awards. He died in 2002, four weeks after the death of his wife.