October 2021

A Swindon Radical Visits Venus
There’s been rather a lot of hobnobbing happening of late. By which I mean activities involving authors of the Hobnob Press stable. In the first instance, I’ve twice in recent weeks, dined at the Polish Club with David Bradshaw, author of Hobnob Press book Swimming without Mangoes. At those delightful dinners we swapped our respective titles. And there’s more about that in this Swindon in 50 Drinks post about żywiec Polish Pilsner Beer.

But the focus of this post is not one but two new Hobnob Press publications – both being collaborative efforts from Graham Carter and Noel Ponting.

You can buy both these books from Hobnob Press and the library shop in Swindon central library.

A Swindon Radical Visits Venus - two book covers

A Visit to Venus – a story by George Ewart Hobbs

I’ve got to admit, I’m very much looking forward to reading this special interplanetary issue of A Visit to Venus. I LOVE the cover – love a retro rocket! It’s all a bit Flash Gordon! Awesome! And on that I now have the Queen Flash Gordon theme in my head!

Back cover of a visit to venus

The Hobnob Press website explains how this book results from the remarkable vision and creativity of Swindon writer, George Ewart Hobbs 1883-1946.

Hobbs worked full-times as a GWR engineer for over half a century. During that time he was a prolific writer across a dazzling range of both fiction and non-fiction subjects.

In the first instance, A Visit to Venus was serialised in the Swindon Advertiser. Although it’s not his only work of fiction, it’s the longest and most ambitious. Further, it’s made all the more remarkable for being written in 1927 when the SciFi genre was a mere babe. The tale features believable characters and raises philosophical and theological questions. In so doing, the book sits alongside other, much later, quality examples of the genre in its purest form. Most notable of those being Star Trek, boldly dealing with what lies at the core of science fiction: the solitude of man. Because this is a story seeking not only what’s out there, but rather what’s inside us.

Edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter, published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 132pp, illustrated paperback, £9.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-22-2.

A Swindon Radical

Back in 2019, before we were consumed by Covid, Graham and Noel published A Swindon Wordsmith. More on that one below:

But now here we are with the never-intended second volume: A Swindon Radical: Life between the Wars with George Ewart Hobbs. Edited by Noel Ponting and Graham Carter.

When Graham and Noel published A Swindon Wordsmith in 2019, they felt satisfied that it achieved their two main aims:

1. To showcase the work of someone forgotten since his 1946 death.
2. `And also to open a fascinating window on Swindon past.

But! The surprise discovery of more of George’s writings made a a second volume unavoidable. This book then samples some of the articles he wrote and published in the 1920s and 1930s – in the main for the Swindon Advertiser.

Like the first one, this new tome covers George’s wide-ranging interests. From religion to philosophy to engineering and more. As George came to terms with a changing world at home and as the world spiralled towards the second declaration of world conflict in his lifetime, it chronicles the views of a radical thinker, always ahead of his time.

Along with a simultaneously published companion book, A Visit to Venus (George’s 1927 science fiction tale), A Swindon Radical completes the story of this fascinating wordsmith and free-thinker.

Published in association with Swindon Heritage. September 2021, 427pp, illustrated paperback, £14.95, ISBN 978-1-914407-21-5.