Some Time Never: A Fable for Supermen

Some Time Never: A Fable for Supermen is a 1948 book by Roald Dahl, his first adult novel. Dahl began writing it after editor Maxwell Perkins expressed an interest in publishing a novel length book if Dahl were to write it.[1] The book was met with predominantly poor reception and was considered to be a failure,[2] although it is historically noteworthy as the first novel about nuclear war to be published in the United States after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.[3] The story is a darker take on the same premise as Dahl's first children's novel, The Gremlins.

Some Time Never: A Fable for Supermen
Some time never.gif
Dust-jacket from the first edition
AuthorRoald Dahl
CountryUnited States
GenreFantasy novel, Satire
PublisherScribner's (United States)
Collins (UK)
Publication date
Media typePrint (Hardback)
Pages244 pp


In 1943, RAF pilot Peternip discovers a Gremlin or miniature being, drilling holes on the wing of his aircraft, so he sets off with his squadron to unearth the story behind them. Many years ago gremlins were the rulers of the world, but they were forced underground by the spread of humanity and have spent the time since then planning their revenge. They briefly emerge during the Battle of Britain, but the experience makes them decide that humankind would destroy themselves without their intervention. The gremlins wait until the time is right - after World War III and World War IV decimate the earth, they emerge and take over the world. The story ends with the gremlins, unable to exist in a world without humans, disappearing too; finally, only the worm remains.


Sometime Never was met with mostly negative reviews,[2] but did receive some praise from the Glasgow Herald and The Saturday Review.[4][5]


The work was first published by Scribner's in the United States in 1948 under the title Some Time Never: A Fable for Supermen. The UK edition, entitled simply Sometime Never, was published by Collins in 1949. The final chapter of the UK version was revised slightly to elaborate on the ultimate disappearance of the Gremlins.[6]

As of 2020, the work has never been reprinted in English, although a Dutch translation (Ooit en te nimmer) has run through several editions.[7]



  1. ^ Treglown, Jeremy."Storyteller: the Life of Roald Dahl by Donald Sturrock." The Telegraph, 9 September 2010. Retrieved: 31 August 2013.
  2. ^ a b Lennon, Peter. "Suffer the Little Children." New Straits Times, 25 August 1996. Retrieved: 31 August 2013.
  3. ^ Treglown 1995, p. 88.
  4. ^ Evans, Bergen. "Survivors of World War IV: Some Time Never, by Roald Dahl (review)." The Saturday Review, 3 April 1948. Retrieved: 31 August 2013.
  5. ^ "New Novels: Future of the Race." The Glasgow Herald, 31 March 1949. Retrieved: 31 August 2013.
  6. ^ Tuck 1974, p. 125.
  7. ^ "Some Time Never - Roald Dahl". Retrieved 6 January 2018. Some Time Never is still available to purchase in Holland, but is currently out-of-print in other countries.


  • Treglown, Jeremy. Roald Dahl: A Biography. New York: Harvest/Harcourt Brace, 1995, first edition 1994. ISBN 0-15-600199-3.
  • Tuck, Donald H. The Encyclopedia of Science Fiction and Fantasy. Chicago: Advent, 1974. ISBN 0-911682-20-1.

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