Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Things That Never Happen” as Want to Read:
Things That Never Happen
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Things That Never Happen

4.16  ·  Rating Details ·  140 Ratings  ·  17 Reviews
'Like all good literature, Harrison's stories are worth reading again and again; the more you read, the more you understand.' Iain M. Banks Over the last thirty years, M. John Harrison has been inspiring readers and writers alike across the world. His return to science fiction in 2002 with the magnificent space opera LIGHT was a monumental triumph, shortlisted for every ma ...more
Published January 15th 2003 by Night Shade Books (first published January 1st 2003)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Things That Never Happen, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Things That Never Happen

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
A member of a science fiction/fantasy discussion group suggested this book to me.

Two stories I consider outstanding:

"Eganro" I mentioned this story before on goodreads. The narrator observes his employer descend into delusion due to the influence of a book.

"Running Down" In this story, the narrator observes a man who causes an increase of entropy around him--things break down, he is accident prone, even the earth shook.

Other stories I though highly of: "The Gift" is another story about an imag
Kitchen sink gothic horror magical surrealism but very English...only Ligotti and Borges are worthwhile comparisons for these beautiful tales..also of note this is some of the best prose being written anywheres...
Cindy C
Jul 06, 2007 Cindy C rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
This is the book that made me love the short story form. M. John Harrison is brilliant.
Van Vogt, a much celebrated and disputed master of Golden Age SF, wrote a huge body of short stories, many of which have been scaled into novels. He called these "fixups." The stories found in Things that Never Happen, or at least snippets of them have eventually found their way into novels like Climbers, Light, The Course of the Heart, Nova Swing, and even his latest publication, Empty Space (which seems to me to be a nexus of his works, with a little from everything).

You arrive at the narrati
Feb 26, 2008 kat rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: goodmanbrown, anyone who liked Light
M. John Harrison's style is somewhat pretentious, but I adore his words. Things That Never Happen is a collection of short stories which have been published elsewhere throughout his career. As such, they are arranged in chronological order, and tend to get more interesting and more sophisticated as the book goes on.

It reads well as a coherent body, though, especially since many of the stories share themes, events, phrases with each other, as well as referencing or prefiguring events and characte
Chip Howell
Mar 26, 2015 Chip Howell rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Slightly opaque stories that both demand and reward multiple readings: like Harrison's Viriconium stories (and novels) the tales collected here seem to trace their ways around the edges of the lives and events they depict. A Viriconium story actually appears in this collection, in a modified (Non-Viriconium) form: "A Young Man's Journey to London" is essentially "A Young Man's Journey to Viriconium" probably adapted for mainstream (non-sf/fantasy) publication somewhere, or is it the other way ar ...more
Oct 31, 2011 M rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Starts with a completely amazing China Mieville essay about immanence and transcendence, then the stories themselves start out (chronologically) like clunkier J.G. Ballard with more ripped-off Borges. By the end, though, you're getting glimpses of what might have happened if Dubliners allowed magical realism to seep into its epiphanies just to make the catastrophe ACHE more. (But in Thatcherite England.) Some incredibly powerful sublimity. His idea of women kinda sucks (they'd fit in Fight Club ...more
Donald Armfield
I seen this authors works in the back of a book and thought i would give him a try.

Most of the stories i kinda breezed thru, not really my style but enjoyed a few.

Isobel Avens Returns to Stepney in the Springs: I thought was good, had me laughin @ the end when the lady really took "I want to fly" to the next level.

Empty: This was also good, the author should start a serious with his detective he created.

I gave it 2 stars only because nothing really pulled me in, but im sure others will enjoy hi
Owain Lewis
Aug 04, 2013 Owain Lewis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Enchanting, uncanny and mysterious. Underpinning many of these stories is the theme of desire, of people dreaming of the impossible and what happens to them in their attempts to get what they so badly want. I think what impressed me most is Harrison's ability to ground the bizarre and fantastical in the banalities of everyday experience and the realistic psychological imperatives of his characters, that and his obvious technical prowess and seductive prose. One of Britain's best living writers w ...more
Aug 26, 2010 Joy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Good stories, many of which though were reworked as bits in other things like Nova Swing. I never quite know how to feel about that. With Philip K. Dick it heightened the sense of unreality in his work to read the same thing over with slight differences; here it was interesting as a writer to see some of the scaffolding underpinning Harrison's writing process, but if I had read the stories before the novels it would have spoiled some of the magic Nova Swing and Light had for me.
Oct 09, 2009 Dave rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A powerful collection of beautifully wriiten stories. Harrison has the ability to make the ordinary extraordinary, and vice versa. The horror in the stories is inernalised and that is what makes them so compelling. This is a collection that should maybe not be gulped down in a single sitting, but savoured and enjoyed.
Oct 16, 2009 Sazuru rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Poetic writer who can't quite be called lyrical--like all nerves are open in description and narration. Bleak-ish but not bleak because the fiction is so lush in a sensory way. New discovery for me, and wondering why I didn't run into his work before--another sudden find amongst the library stacks.
Jan 21, 2009 Brent rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What I've read of this book convinces me that M. John Harrison is among the really great short fiction writers. This is the first I've seen of his. I picked it up at the recommendation of a friend. I look forward to reading the "Viriconium" series, which if available in an omnibus edition by Bantam.

May 14, 2013 Marc rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Meh. There is few substance here, mostly vacated chapters from stories already told or partials that will later find their way into more established pieces. Not a disappointment but not an achievement. Only for true fans. The casual may wish to find Harrison elsewhere.
YAWN...........A real chore of short stories somewhat interrelated but they never get better or make any sense. Maybe someone smarter than I will be able to figure it out. I wouldn't bother with it.
Jun 25, 2007 Bob rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A retrospective collection of short stories from Harrison that shows both continuous development and some common themes and perspectives.
Andrew Hemsley
Andrew Hemsley rated it it was amazing
Jun 23, 2014
Cassiel rated it it was amazing
Apr 30, 2015
Matt Shockley
Matt Shockley rated it really liked it
Jul 09, 2016
Andrew Male
Andrew Male rated it really liked it
Nov 04, 2014
Lucius Cook
Lucius Cook rated it really liked it
Jul 14, 2012
D_samurai rated it it was amazing
Jun 04, 2014
Colin Sinclair
Colin Sinclair rated it really liked it
Aug 06, 2012
Anthony rated it it was amazing
Apr 21, 2012
Darrel rated it really liked it
Aug 17, 2012
Liam rated it liked it
Apr 24, 2013
William Maynard
William Maynard rated it really liked it
Sep 28, 2016
Alan DeNiro
Alan DeNiro rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2009
Cody Crane
Cody Crane rated it it was ok
Feb 03, 2008
Chichikov rated it it was amazing
Feb 28, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Third Bear
  • The Ends Of The Earth: 14 Stories
  • The Dark Eidolon and Other Fantasies
  • The Dark Domain
  • The Arabian Nightmare
  • Novelties and Souvenirs: Collected Short Fiction
  • Feeling Very Strange: The Slipstream Anthology
  • Tales of Pain and Wonder
  • Burnt Black Suns
  • Mother Aegypt and Other Stories
  • The Brains of Rats
  • The Heat Death of the Universe and Other Stories
  • Trampoline: An Anthology
  • Out of the Everywhere, and Other Extraordinary Visions
  • Fantasy Writer's Assistant and Other Stories
  • Fun with Your New Head
  • The Best of Michael Swanwick
  • Ana Kai Tangata: Tales of the Outer the Other the Damned and the Doomed
aka Gabriel King (with Jane Johnson)

Michael John Harrison was born in Rugby, Warwickshire in 1945 and now lives in London.
Harrison is stylistically an Imagist and his early work relies heavily on the use of strange juxtapositions characteristic of absurdism.

More about M. John Harrison...

Share This Book

“Identity is not negotiable. An identity you have achieved by agreement is always a prison.” 19 likes
“Egnaro is a secret known to everyone but yourself.

It is a country or a city to which you have never been; it is an unknown language. At the same time it is like being cuckolded, or plotted against. It is part of the universe of events which will never wholly reveal itself to you: a conspiracy the barest outline of which, once visible, will gall you forever.”
More quotes…