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…)