Author Archive

The Horrible, Horrible Roots of the Science Fiction Genre

Last month, I posted a piece on my own blog highlighting some of the real people and places from history that show up in The Edinburgh Dead, including a dastardly graverobber called Merry Andrew and houses of ill-repute called the Holy, Happy and Just Lands (the Scots had a rather dry and ironic sense of humour even then).

But shortly after posting it, I realised I’d left out arguably the most interesting fragment of historical truth lurking in the whole novel.  Annoying in one way – because when I first started thinking of doing that post I made a mental note to be sure to include that particular snippet, and then … didn’t, obviously.  D’oh! – but fortunate in another, because on reflection it’s worth more discussion than I would have given it over there, and probably deserves a post of its own here at the happy home of Orbit on t’Web.

So: here comes the tale of Mathew Clydesdale, his gruesome fate and what it has to do with the very beginning of the whole science fiction genre we know and love today.  Never heard of him?  I’m not surprised; neither had I, until I began researching The Edinburgh Dead.  But trust me: it probably won’t take you long to realise how he connects to the origins of science fiction. (more…)

When Genres Collide (or Merge, or Melt, or Whatever)

Here come some idle, and quite possibly delusional, musings prompted by a comment from The Exalted Beings of New York (aka the fine folk at Orbit’s US HQ).

Said comment arose in the context of casual discussion about The Edinburgh Dead, my new novel.  It’s historical dark fantasy with a liberal seasoning of crime fiction, horror, urban fantasy, science fiction, gothic thriller etc. etc., and that was kind of the gist of the comment: you’ve got a lot of genres in there, haven’t you, Ruckley?  Care to explain yourself in public?

Why, yes I do.  (more…)

The Tools of My So-Called Trade

So, you imagine that all a writer needs to get the job done is some ideas, a wordprocessing package and a keyboard, right?  Wrong.  Writers are fragile, delicate creatures who require far more in the way of equipment to armour themselves for the daily, soul-destroying struggle with the blank page.  Or just to distract themselves from it.  (more…)

Kill Them All! Okay, Maybe Not All of Them …

So, in my trilogy The Godless World, quite a few characters don’t make it through to the end.  That’s ‘quite a few’ in the sense of ‘quite a lot’, which when you think about it is an odd little quirk of the English language.  Anyway, more than one reader noted the frequency with which significant players in the plot meet with abrupt and terminal misfortune.  I’m hardly the first fantasy author to explore that particular territory in recent years, but I’d like to assure people that this kind of thing isn’t always easy for the author.  I did give this stuff some thought.  In fact, let’s review roughly how it went (note character names have been redacted to keep the dread beast Spoilerage firmly in its cage):   (more…)