By A Staff Writer
The Stephen Hawking Estate has announced that rights to a final book by the world famous theoretical physicist were sold to Nick Davies at John Murray (Hachette) for UK and the commonwealth including India; and to Bantam for North America.
Hawking, who is known for his work in cosmology and theoretical physics, notably for Hawking radiation and his work on Black Holes, was the director of research at the Centre for Theoretical Cosmology and Lucasian Professor of Mathematics at the University of Cambridge. At the age of 20 he was diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease, also known as ALS or Lou Gehrig’s disease) and was given two years to live. His ability to move and communicate were increasingly limited, as he was confined to a wheelchair and eventually forced to speak through a voice synthesizer. When he died in March, at the age of 76, he was the longest living MND survivor. His battle with the disease was featured in the film The Theory of Everything.
Hawking was the author of the classic book A Brief History of Time, which has sold over 13 million copies worldwide and shot back to the top of bestseller lists after his death, and many other books. The new book was in discussion at the time of Hawking’s death, and his Estate decided to go forward with the project, which is a selection of his most profound, accessible, and timely reflections from his personal archive. The book will be organized into four parts: Why Are We Here? Will We Survive? Will Technology Save Us or Destroy Us? How Can We Thrive? It will cover his discoveries and perspectives on everything from the creation of the universe, black holes, alien intelligence, and the existence of God to the importance of space colonization, and the perils and promise of artificial intelligence.
British and Commonwealth rights including the Indian subcontinent were sold by Robert Kirby of United Agents to Nick Davies at John Murray (part of the Hachette Group), the publisher of Charles Darwin, who are celebrating their 250th anniversary this year. Hachette India will release the local edition of the book in India. BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS will be published in hardcover in October 2018.
A percentage of the royalties will go to the Motor Neuron Disease Association and the Stephen Hawking Foundation. The Estate and the Publishers will announce further details in the coming months.
Lucy Hawking on behalf of the Estate said: “Communication was so important to our father in his lifetime and we see this book as part of his legacy, bringing together his thoughts, humor, theories and writing into one beautiful edition. We are very pleased to support BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS and happy to have the opportunity to finalize a project our father loved.”
Hawking’s agent Robert Kirby said: “The idea for this book rose out of the thousands of requests Professor Hawking received from people from all over the World for answers to the big questions of our time. With his characteristic wit and brilliant mind he began writing and collating his responses and I’m delighted his Estate has agreed to support publication of BRIEF ANSWERS TO THE BIG QUESTIONS, the last book he was working on before he died.”
Nick Davies, Managing Director, John Murray Press said: “Stephen Hawking did more in his lifetime to deepen our understanding of gravity, space and time than anyone since Einstein. He was also a great communicator and popularizer of his subject. So, we feel immensely privileged to be publishing his final book – what better way to mark our 250th anniversary? – and look forward to helping it reach the widest possible audience.”
Thomas Abraham, Managing Director, Hachette India said: “We are delighted that we will be publishing Hawking’s last work in India, particularly in the year of our two big anniversaries – our tenth year and John Murray’s 250th year. A Brief History of Time is one of the most read books of all time in India and Brief Answers to the Big Questions will undoubtedly be the book of the year… and probably next year too.”