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Rohan, Michael Scott

Entry updated 12 September 2022. Tagged: Author.

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(1951-2018) Scottish publisher, editor and author with a degree in law, with Elsevier International Publishing 1973-1978 and since freelance. Following a fiction debut with "The Planetoid in the Case: A Matter of Unnatural Law" in the Oxford University SF Group's Amateur Magazine SFinx #7 for January 1973, he began publishing sf professionally with "Fidei Defensor" in Andromeda 2 (anth 1977) edited by Peter Weston and "The Insect Tapes" in Aries 1 (anth 1979) edited by John Grant. Nonfiction books include a study of the Viking era, The Hammer and the Cross (1980 chap) with Allan Scott, and an introduction to home computing, First Byte (1983); he also reviewed for Opera Now. His first novel was Run to the Stars (dated 1982 but 1983), signed Mike Scott Rohan, a promising Scots-in-space Hard SF thriller featuring relativistic Weapons and an Alien message, with nasty Earth bureaucrats ready to attack their own space colony. Then, like several UK writers of the period, he began genre-crossing; most of his subsequent fiction was Fantasy – the genre in which he seems most at home – beginning with The Ice King (1986; vt Burial Rites 1987) with Allan Scott under the joint pseudonym Michael Scot (not to be confused with the Irish fantasy writer Michael Scott [1959-   ]), a supernatural thriller involving Norse Mythology and, specifically, the Norse version of the walking dead or Zombies: draugar. There followed the more notable The Winter of the World sequence beginning with The Winter of the World, Volume One: The Anvil of Ice (1986), set in an invented frozen world imagined in some depth; though the writing is sometimes floridly rhetorical. A young smith with the ability to create Technofantasy artefacts sets himself against the entropic Powers driving the oncoming Ice Age; quests follow; spring comes, but at a cost, which the fourth and later volumes detail down the generations. Devices employed against the Ice include a weaponized blast furnace and the titular tool of The Winter of the World, Volume Three: The Hammer of the Sun (1988), in essence a tactical nuclear Weapon.

Rohan then made a partial return to a kind of sf, in the jaunty, romantic Science Fantasy Spiral trilogy, comprising Chase the Morning (1990), The Gates of Noon (1992) and Cloud Castles (1994), where reality intersects with a system of increasingly magical Parallel Worlds known as the Spiral and the Core (see Science and Sorcery), and a Computer program can be used as a spell. The series is intelligent, well thought-out, and surprisingly full of acute observations about Near-Future Politics. Maxie's Demon (1997) is an otherwise unrelated standalone fantasy set in the same Multiverse. A second fantasy collaboration with Allan Scott, A Spell of Empire: The Horns of Tartarus (1992), was published under their real names. But perhaps Rohan's finest work is the solo historical fantasy The Lord of Middle Air (1994), set partly in the Border area of thirteenth-century Scotland and partly in a very convincing land of Faerie [see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below]. In this tale a young Scots chieftain encounters and has his life changed by Michael Scot (1175-circa 1232), who like several other real-life scholars of the past acquired the reputation of being a magician – a belief here literally true. (Rohan claimed Michael Scot as an ancestor.)

Rohan consistently grew in stature as a writer throughout his active career, but owing to illness fell silent as a novelist after Shadow of the Seer: A Winter of the World Novel (2001), the sixth episode in that series. He continued to write about classical opera. [PN/DRL]

see also: Eastercon; Games and Sports.

Michael Scott Rohan

born Edinburgh, Scotland: 22 January 1951

died Edinburgh, Scotland: 12 August 2018



The Winter of the World


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